Sometimes in life, the things we rail against are the very changes that need to happen in order to gain perspective. Is it time to eat crow because I conceded? Or have I grown and faced a fear, digging for the confidence that I’ve done a solid job in providing and teaching?

These, among other nagging questions and doubts, have plagued me recently. As a wife, I strive to be an equal partner in the life my husband and I have made by ensuring that there is a rhythm in our daily lives, an open but stable structure that can be leaned on when one needs to stop and balance. I attempt to make our home a place of simple joys, security, and growth.

As a mother, nurturing and guiding my children comes as naturally as breathing, and helping them build a strong foundation of self and curiosity of the world, and gentleness of the soul is a daily goal. 

I see every day as a fresh start at being a wonderful and whole human being, even though by the end of some days I’m discouraged and disheartened at what I see in the world. And on some of those more trying days, I slide into the hate crowd out of frustration at the lack of understanding and self reliance. Then I close my eyes and let go, or try to, and start fresh again with a new day.

Be the change, set the example, understand the other position, stand for your beliefs but don't condemn another's. These are qualities, with all their hard-lines and nuances, that I hope I've instilled in my kids because that's what it takes when you don't follow the status quo, when you aren't a "sheeple".
With one simple request, I'm forced to reconsider. Is it possible that there is a kernel of good, an aspect of hope, in the machine that has grown larger than itself, the monster that forges ahead blindly, the masses that need you to conform to their box? I sincerely hope so. 

There comes a time when we have to take a chance, which I have done. I’m still not sure if this is the best decision and I fall back to the cliche of “only time will tell”. I must have faith that my little bird’s wings are strong enough and that this next exercise will strengthen them more. I worry every minute until she flies back home and I listen with every sense as she details her day, straining to catch that word or phrase or pitch of voice or body movement or even a lack of these signs, gauging her growth and judging what I can or shouldn’t do to help her.

Not that I have any right to share in her glory and I certainly don't want to take anything away from her, but my little bird has given me a gift, a precious gift - a proud moment. She faced an unknown at it most treacherous age, middle school, for the single reason of wanting to experience it. She has chosen to be involved, to put herself out in the crosshairs, to try out for activities and sports she's never played in her life. 

She's holding her head high while facing her nemesis - fear of failure. In the end, it’ all an experiment, even with the best of contingency plans. And I return to what I think I do best, providing balance, perspective, security, and love by extending my hand in case she needs it.  

PictureFor the record, this isn't my house.
Every morning, for the past two weeks, I’ve made up my bed before I left my room to begin the day’s activities. This was HUGE for me. It’s taken me 45+ years to consistently make up my bed on a daily basis. My mom wasn’t much for that kind of thing. She made her bed most mornings, but she didn’t require my brothers and me to do it. Not sure of her reasoning, but that’s the way it was. 

So why now? It's all about "being the change". We all live busy lives - most of us anyway, and I am far from being an "everything has its place" kind of person, which tends to make things more chaotic. What I have learned though, is that I really do need some sense of order in my daily life so that can remain grounded and sane and productive. 

The next obvious question was "how do I accomplish this?". I started with the physical; that which was easy to change. I chose one room at a time to clean, purge, and reorganize. I gave myself anywhere from two to four weeks depending on the room. I hauled many loads of stuff to the donation drop-off. I was ashamed too. Yes, I had gotten use out of most of the stuff, but I didn’t really need it, obviously, because I was discarding it without things broken or worn out. The bottom line is, I needed the space, physically and metaphorically. 

I guess feeling the guilt and letting go of it was part of the purge too. I was shedding that which was unnecessary in my life, simplifying things by de-cluttering. With each load, each guilty load, I vowed not to over-indulge in the material again. From now on, I needed practicality and sustainability. After unloading, I also left my guilt at the donation drop-off place. I didn’t have a place for “hang-on” guilt in my new way of living. That my friends, is called forgiving yourself. It’s a beautiful thing. You should try it.

I still have one more room to go. I began the bed-making when I attacked my bedroom and got it in order. There were so many things that I had put off doing (hanging pictures, etc) because they kept getting knocked down on my priority list. But then I was over-whelmed with all these little, supposedly unimportant details. The problem is that they weren't unimportant, not to me anyway, and that eventually weighed me down. Something had to change.

I made the decision to temporarily stop writing and to stop worrying about not writing, so I could get my house in order. By getting the physical house in order, I learned I was getting my other houses in order at the same time. My kids thought I was nuts because I would end up making these big messes in one room while keeping things tidy in the other rooms. Of course once I sorted through the mess, things fit into place much better than before. Not only was I left with a great sense of accomplishment, but it's like my lungs could expand again. I breathed deeper, longer, and slowed down. 

My kids have helped some during this purging process too, and I’ve talked with them about it’s more than re-organizing each room. I’ve noticed changes in their attitudes as well. They’re more likely to be aware of the trails they leave and come back to grab their things and tease their Dad when he leaves his trail through the house. 

We’ve become a gentler household, not so wound up and ready to spring. Don't get me wrong, we’re still on-the-go; our schedule hasn’t lightened. But I think we run more softly now, more evenly, more sustainably. It takes focus to stay on this path, but I like the direction we’re heading. It’s easier to know what is truly important to you when your house is in order. 

I have to wonder... is this the reason my Mom made her bed every morning? Did it keep her grounded to have that one thing in her life consistently organized? I don’t know. I do know that I’m making an effort to teach this to my kids in the hopes that at an early age they realize you can have balance, that you need balance; and to keep their house clean and clutter-free. Be the change. It’s as simple as that. 

I awoke today and realized it was my mother’s birthday. The very next thought seems like an obvious one - I need to phone her and tell her, “Happy Birthday Mom!” because birthdays have always been a big deal at our house. But I can’t. Cue the sucker punch. And hurts all over again. Ten years later - and it hurts all over again. Not at the same intensity as that first time, thank goodness, but it’s still enough that I need to grab hold of something to steady myself or better yet, sit down for a few seconds.

It’s that first half of the split second where you're happy and excited about someone, for someone, and all’s well with the world then that roller coaster we call life crests, balances, and tips into the plunge and you’re left with the last half of that split second where your muscles clench, your heart seizes, and you know with every cell of your now-weakened being, you will never be able to make that call. And it makes you sick to your stomach; run to the bathroom sick to your stomach. But you don’t. You take it. You face it. You feel it. And hopefully you grow from it.

Yes, I’m sad; I miss my mom. But I’m also angry. I’m not angry at death. The logical me knows that death is a part of life. You can’t have one without the other, yada, yada, yada. Death is to be respected and can be honorable. But sometimes it’s senseless. Sometimes it just isn’t fair. I’m angry that my mom didn’t get the opportunity to know my girls; my wonderful, beautiful, enlightening girls and they wouldn’t remember the woman whose anticipation of their births rivaled that of their father and me.

The elder one was eighteen months old when my mom died. The younger was just six weeks old. Mom got to meet them. In fact, she spent every spare moment with the older one. I treasure those memories although my older daughter was too young to remember those times.

By the time the younger one was born, my mom was in the hospital and too weak to walk. Four weeks later, I went against her direct orders (something I never did ;) ) and brought the baby to the hospital so she could meet her granddaughter. Mom was too weak to hold her. We propped Mom up on pillows and laid the baby between her side and arm.

I think I’ve earned the right to be angry but I don’t let it consume me. Hopefully it’s a healthy angry because I’m aware of it. Either way, it’s there. Maybe it’s a defensive mechanism - choosing anger over sadness because it’s easier to deal with. But I’m conflicted because I’m generally an optimist. Can I be angry or sad and still be optimistic? Am I an optimist because I focus on Mom’s birthday and not her deathday? I don’t know. I have to stop and think which is the date she died, but I wake up thinking I need to tell her happy birthday. 

Either way, I keep moving forward. The sun will rise again. 

Happy Birthday Mom. I love you.

PictureLloyd and Hoss at the farm.
Anyone who has recently adopted a puppy, whether from a breeder or a rescue agency, knows what a time-consuming commitment that is. There is the house training, the manners training, the crate training, the tricks training, etc. Sometimes those who adopt older dogs must go through similar training if that older dog was never house trained or maybe the new dog has bad manners or *gulp* no manners at all. Either way, bringing a new dog, whether pup or adult, takes adjustment and commitment on the part of the humans.

That said, you can commiserate when I tell you I’m training three pups simultaneously. In some ways it makes it easier because they have each other and that’s a great thing, but the hard part is determining if all three are learning the tasks or if one learning first and covering for the others. For example, I’m training the pups to ring a set of jingle bells when they need to go outside to do business. One will walk over and sit by the bells while the others follow then jump, attack style, to ring the bells. I need to video this because it really is funny to watch the teamwork. This isn’t a training blog, so I won’t go into detail about how I “fix” the issue; for training hints via a blog or to just look at some great dogs photos, please visit my Spanish Water Dog website

PictureJack, at the park, training to heel.
My three pups-in-training are Lloyd, Jack, and Hoss. All are male Spanish Water Dogs. Lloyd is smaller and is white with a black face mask and a couple black body spots. Jack is about the same size as Lloyd, but it varying shades of brown. Hoss is larger and brown with a bit of a strapping gut to haul around. He does not want for food, I promise you, but he doesn’t skimp at meal time either. 

Lloyd, Jack, and Hoss are training to be diabetes alert dogs. In a nutshell, these three dogs will be paired with an individual with type 1 diabetes and who is also hypoglycemic unaware AND who may have allergies or have a family member with allergy issues. Spanish Water Dogs don’t have the under coat that most other dogs have which makes them virtually shed-less. In addition to that, their demeanor is conducive to being an alert service dog. 

Both the beauty and hardship of training these three is that there are three of them. For the next year to year and a half, these wonderful boys will be at my side. Yes, there will be times when I must take them out one on one, which actually makes things a bit more difficult, but still manageable. It’s difficult simply because I want them all to experience as much as possible and sometimes I can’t get them to the same events. In the end, it’s not that big of a deal. They will have ample opportunity to experience a myriad of places, sounds, sights, and smells. It really boils down to me wanting more for them and for the service dog recipient to receive the best dog I can possibly provide.

 For more information on my Spanish Water Dogs, please visit my website You can also follow me on Instagram (@machellegrimes), where almost daily, I post the antics of these three.

Earlier this week I spent five hours with an incredible family in order to learn techniques used and to toss around ideas, pros and cons of using other methods for training alert dogs for people with diabetes. There are four family members who train full time. Each person has from one to three dogs each depending on the stage each dog is in. Not just these four members, but this entire family has committed to breeding, raising, and training diabetes alert dogs. Their entire lives revolve around dogs. Wow! Talk about inspiring!

The first thing we discussed was why these dogs are so important. Obviously I had heard of type 1 diabetes, but I never heard of a subset of people with type 1 who are hypoglycemic unaware. In a nutshell, when our blood sugar levels drop, we feel the effects of it. People with type 1 diabetes who are also hypoglycemic unaware do not feel the symptoms and that can have deadly consequences if there is no one around who knows how to recognize what is happening or who knows how to help them. 

The hardest part of training doesn’t even involve the dogs. It’s acquiring the saliva samples that we use in training. When our volunteers check their blood sugar levels and the numbers are within our parameters, the volunteer must get a cotton swab and swab saliva from the inside of their cheek. Without touching the tip, they carefully place the swab in a freezer-safe, sealable plastic bag. Then it must be double-bagged, labeled with the date and blood sugar level, and immediately put in the freezer. At no point can there be contamination of the tip of the swab lest the whole thing not work at all.

 We need a cheek swab from a person with type 1 when their levels are just beginning to go high or go low. For example, we train for blood sugar drops by using a sample from when a volunteer’s level is between 60-70 on their glucometer. These samples are almost priceless for our training. We are lucky enough to have a few people willing to take the time to swab, seal, and label when their levels are within our parameters, but we do need more. At this point the longest a sample has been frozen and is still viable is three months. We don’t want to take a chance on losing the few samples we have, so testing beyond that three month mark will only happen by accident.

As a trainer, I know how much work goes into training a dog. I knew there would be extra work once I committed to training a diabetes alert dog. What I never considered was the necessary extras such as the network of volunteers with type 1 who are willing to give us samples and just how valuable those samples are. We wouldn’t be able to train these fabulous dogs without our volunteers.

Three of the little guys I'm training.
If you follow me on Twitter (@machellegrimes) or on Instagram (MachelleGrimes) then you know I breed, train, show, and sell this amazing and beautiful breed known as the Spanish Water Dog. If you don’t know anything about this breed, or even if you do, please peruse my dog website and discover why I love these dogs. 

This past year, a dog breeder/trainer friend of mine brought a new group of dog people (no, not half dog, half human) into my life. These people train service dogs to work as alert dogs for people with Type 1 diabetes. It’s a relatively new thing where service dogs are concerned. I watched and observed what was going on, asked questions here and there, and discussed potential dog scenarios with my husband. My husband and I even attended a fundraiser to benefit both a camp for kids with Type 1 diabetes and to offset that cost of training these alert dogs. 

Like I said earlier, I think the SWD is an amazing breed. It’s not well known in the US and is considered a rare breed, but they share many of the qualities that make the usual breeds (Labs, Goldens, German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois) great service dogs AND the SWD can go one better - they don’t shed. The Spanish Water Dog, in addition to its many natural talents (I have placed pups who are actively working as herd dogs, duck retrievers, agility competitors) is great for families with allergies.

In working with and observing the training of these alert dogs, I discovered an unfulfilled niche. Many families who have a kid with type 1 diabetes, also have allergy issues in the family. What a great match! I held back half of my last litter to test for service dog aptitude (I already test for temperament to make placement easier). I had five that passed the first round. Obviously I can’t train five pups, so I held them a week longer and tested again. I’ve narrowed down to three. I’ll work with these three for another couple of weeks before making my decision on which one will be trained.

An alert dog needs an interesting combination of qualities, but that’s information for another post. I’ll be updating on my progress/journey in training a diabetes alert dog via this blog. It’s a long term commitment, but I’m excited about the adventure. Read more about Type 1 at these websites: and

Check in for my training updates. They’ll interspersed with other topics that I find interesting. In fact, I’ll probably be more regular with them than other topics.

     I want to share some inspiration with you. I am lucky enough to be a part of a critique group of wonderfully supportive ladies who are a constant source of inspiration and motivation. Only Rachel and I have yet to put a story out to the masses, but I am here to tell you that Rachel has a YA Sci-Fi story that’s brilliant. Her newborn twins put her a bit behind schedule but Rachel’s mounting a comeback. At this point, this blog and the blog on my dog website, is as close to publishing as I’ve come but I’m working on that.
     Do yourself a favor - peruse these blogs/websites and read these books:

Ella Slayne

Lori Otto:

Ash Robbins:

On her blog, Ash is posting a chapter at a time of her Fifty Shades of Grey spoof, Fifty Shades of Puddin’. Everyone needs a gut-jigglin’ laugh so go now and read.

I have many family and friends who do not agree with me on many things - the fact that I’m ruining my children’s future by homeschooling them, the fact that I’m contributing to possible epidemics and endangering the lives of other children because I chose not to vaccinate my kids, the fact that I choose to not push religion or a particular belief system on my kids, and including but not limited to the fact that I support same sex marriage.

For the sake of this writing, I’m taking God, as in the Christian God, out of the equation for a minute. Boy that stops half of them right in their tracks because they can’t have a discussion about LGBT people without pulling scriptures out of their pockets to throw at me. But humor me, just a bit, and let God take a small break from this discussion because this is about basic human rights. Period.

Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to look back at this and compare it to black people being denied voting rights, women being denied the right to vote, black men not being allowed to marry white women when a white man could marry a black woman - basic human rights as guaranteed in our Constitution. Just read the first paragraph:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence {sic}, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The United States of America, famous for being a melting pot, grew to prominence because of our diversity and in spite of our historical tendencies which have leaned toward puritanical. I don’t mean this in the strictly religious way, but in everyday life. We’ve always chosen particular groups to step on so we can feel superior. Catholics and Jews were discriminated against; the Irish, Chinese, Italians were all discriminated against, and whereas marrying outside your ethnicity was frowned upon, it wasn’t illegal, unless you were African American.

Let’s take a little trip down memory lane. In 1664, that’s 348 years ago, Maryland passed the first law that banned marriage between whites and slaves. It went so far as to order the white women who married black men to be enslaved. Other states soon followed suit. Pennsylvania led the way to full interracial marriage recognition in 1780 by repealing it’s 1725 law banning interracial marriage. Though several states were taking that first step toward true equality, the U.S. Supreme Court landed a blow to interracial marriage in an 1883 ruling that lasted more than eighty years. 

Why do we care? Over 100 years later, opponents of same sex marriage used this Supreme Court ruling as a basis for argument. Their foothold was in this particular wording as written by Justice Stephen Johnson Field for the Court: …the punishment prescribed in the two sections is directed against the offense designated and not against the person of any particular color or race… The opponents’ claim is the there is no discrimination on the basis of sex because heterosexual-only marriage laws, just like the laws written to ban interracial marriage, technically punish both men and women. Both are punished, therefore there is no discrimination.

It wasn’t until 1967 that the US Supreme Court discovered that do to the wording in the fourteenth amendment, state bans on interracial marriage violates a person’s civil rights. A portion of the fourteenth amendment is as follows: …No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws…

For that 1967 ruling, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote for the court: 
"There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy ...

"The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men ... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State."

From this point on, interracial marriage is legal throughout the United States. I quote Chief Justice Earl Warren in order to make a point. Let’s substitute same-sex marriage in the place of interracial marriage and see how it reads. I’ve underscored or struck through the changes.

"There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious sexual discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that any state prohibits only marriages involving persons of the same gender demonstrates that the gender classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain Heterosexual Supremacy ...

"The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men ... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the gender classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious homosexual discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of the same gender resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

"From this point on, same sex marriage is legal throughout the United States."

It doesn’t read terribly differently does it? Not until the year 2000 did the state of Alabama, the lone hold-out in all the union, officially legalize interracial marriage although the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed the ban thirty-three years prior. It took 220 years for all of the United States of America to fully legalize/recognize interracial marriage. Wow. That’s a lot of discrimination. Is it going to take that long to correct the injustice served to our LGBT citizens? It’s the diversity in America that makes us great not Hitler-esque discrimination. Ours is not a free society when we deny persons of one sort that which is allowed for another sort.

Hypocrisy and Christianity. That’s really too narrow. I’m sure there is rampant hypocrisy in every religion, but Christianity is the one with which I’m more familiar and it happens to be at the core of a current events issue in the United States.

I’m fine with disagreeing with people and their points of view. That’s their right as it is mine. After all, freedom of religion was one of the founding principles of this country. 

Excerpt from the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Excerpt from the Constitution of the United States of America:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

In the DoC, we know the the use of the word “men” is to include all people (men and women of all ethnicities or gender preferences), and the use of “creator” to mean whom you believe your creator to be.

In the CoUSA, I think the key phrases for my point is “insure domestic tranquility”, “promote the general welfare”, and “secure the blessings of liberty”. The word domestic can be interpreted many ways from the CoUSA including but not limited to the country as a whole as well as each individual household.

Now, all that said and clarified, I support Chick-fil-a’s RIGHT to their opinion. This is not to say that I AGREE with their opinion. I don’t agree with their religious doctrine, but again, it’s their right as guaranteed by our founding fathers, and I will defend their right to have their beliefs. What I will neither defend nor agree with is their hypocrisy and what I believe to be outright lies.

They will have the general public believe that the reason the Muppet toys no longer being available at their restaurants is due to Chick-fil-a’s safety concerns. I believe the REAL reason is because A) The Jim Henson Company would no longer pursue future endeavors with Chick-fil-a and B) Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company, and a supporter of gay marriage, directed her company to donate Chick-fil-a’s last payment to GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).

So tell me Chick-fil-a, is LYING a Christian attitude? What would Jesus do?

I am lost. It’s day three of my kids’ week and a half long visit with their grandparents. They are in another state, but still only a few hours away. Today I want them home. Right now. I miss them. I truly enjoy spending time with my kids. It’s reason #463 that I homeschool.

My world doesn’t revolve around my kids, it includes them, and when they are gone, my world is a bit off kilter. By and large I enjoy being alone. I can go without talking on the phone, texting, emailing, etc. My husband and close friends are all nodding their heads. I value my alone time, I love having time alone. But not necessarily all day every day for weeks on end. I also love having my kids around and in the middle of everything I do, but I know it’s healthy for all involved for them to be able to go off on their own - even if it’s just to the grandparents’ house.

 I get teased that I will become majorly depressed when the kids leave the nest. I don’t doubt that at all but I also know their leaving is a part of how we all interconnect and make this thing called life work. If I’ve done my job right, I’ll have weaned myself just as I’ve weaned them. We won’t grow apart. We’ll actually grow stronger and closer. Yes the time apart may hurt a bit, but the time together will be even sweeter. 

The reason I bring this up is that I am constantly amazed at the number of people - strangers, acquaintances, etc, who readily admit to me that their kids drive them crazy and that they can’t stand to be around them. I know we’ve all said that a time or two and even joke about it on a regular basis. I’ve responded to these statements with an “aw shucks, we’ve all been there” only to be stopped and have these people reaffirm that they really can’t stand to be with their kids for short periods of time, much less all day. These people dread weekends, summer, and vacations because for whatever reason, they don’t enjoy their kids. 

Without getting into the why’s and wherefore’s, it never fails that I stand there in shock, total disbelief at the confession. I have to snap my mouth shut and hold it tightly in place because I know the next thing out of it could cause problems depending on how well I know the person. I understand that kids don’t come with an owner’s manual, but seriously, if you don’t like kids, why did you have them? And if the pregnancy was an accident, give them up for adoption (which is a whole other entry) because I guarantee you, there is someone out there who would love to have your problem of having to spend time with your child.