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It’s time to get on my soap box for my top pet peeve — the gift of puppies at Christmas. I know. It is adorable. Those kids are thrilled. All is right in the world while that puppy plays in piles of discarded wrapping paper.

BUT. Think about a week later when you’ve been up all night and the kids are snug in their beds. Think about what happens when they go back to school and you’re back at work in January. Most people aren’t lucky like I am to have a built in doggie daycare in the form of MawMaw and PawPaw (also known as Paul and Suz). You’ll be tempted to make that post on Facebook to re-home that little ball of fur.

Don’t get me wrong. I always asked for puppies at Christmas, but we are a different breed of dog people (and my parents knew how to say no). When we were growing up, our dogs stayed outside; but we played with them. We would come home from school, get into the backyard, and spend hours running around the yard with the dogs. We didn’t play video games. We didn’t have the internet until I was in the 8th grade. Our dogs were our after-school activity. Now that I’m an adult and have 2 children, I mean, dogs of my own, nothing makes me madder than seeing those people who had to give in to their kids’ wishlists and get them a puppy post they are ready to regift a family member.

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Now, here comes the warning. If you have the slightest thought of getting a puppy for Christmas for your kids this year, go ahead and unfriend me. Block me on Instagram. I’ll be watching you otherwise. And when you go back in mid February and make that post saying “free to a good home” or “we just don’t have time for him”, beware. I’ll call you out  on that post because you are the worst of the worst. I won’t feel bad about it either. Your kids will eventually move on and forget, but that dog won’t. Dogs get attached. Dogs become a part of the family the moment you bring them home and begin to trust you. When you give them away or let them run off or don’t have time for them, that changes that dog.

So, you’ve been warned. Merry Christmas. Get them a stuffed animal instead.

Maybe the average Christmas tree parent doesn’t encounter issues with their decor. Maybe it’s like a free-for-all of tree problems at my winter wonderland because there is one in each room. However, when I came home Sunday night to find my birds and squirrel themed tree on my dining room floor, I felt like I was in the twilight tree zone. After a second tumble while I was in the shower, I was ready to get a new one and throw that particular artificial tree on the curb.

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BUT when Mom and Dad stopped by Monday morning to assess the damage, they found a possible culprit. Jo (the Beagle) was happily running through the house with one of the bird ornaments that resembles a ball of yarn. I mean, the tree is dedicated to she and Jackie’s favorite prey; but after having it up every year, I figured that they were over the tree ornament grab and run. Maybe not. We still have a few weeks to go.

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Well, today I start my 31st year and am excited to see what it brings. I have to say, thirty was a good one and will be hard to beat. Right before that big birthday, a friend told me she thought 30 would be my year. Was she right! A new job, which is what I’m thankful for this year. A crop of new friends, including a large-toothed nutria. New adventures that have brought me a little closer to home. Time was spent in New Orleans with Dad, Baton Rouge with Mom, and the Delta with my favorite kiddos. Top all that off with more weekends than I can count spent curled up with the Beagles. Thirty was welcomed and enjoyed.

So, tonight I’ll ring in 31 with the best of friends over dinner and a couple glasses of bubbly just in time for Turkey Day!

 

This past weekend was chock-full of events, which were all fueled by endless wine, delicious food, and fun people. With a Friday afternoon with my freshly returned-to-America bosses around Natchez, Friday night landed the entire Country Roads crew (minus a few) at Natchez Food & Wine Festival’s Tastings Along the River. We wined; we dined; and we learned about the wine hammock/sling/yoke. (Don’t worry; those will be coming to a Supper Club near you this Fall.)

The Man. The Myth. The Wine Hammock.

Saturday was spent a little more relaxed with cocktails and cookies at my house before a delicious spread presented by Esther Carpenter and guest chef, Adam Ozga, at The Elms —  gazpacho with an avocado creme, a deconstructed tuna salad, charred short-rib with vegetables-a-plenty, and finished with a trio of desserts that all washed down nicely with an array of wines.

Finally, we Guidos celebrated Jackie O’s birthday the best way we know how — with a puppy party completely with pancakes and candles. I think she was happy to be off her strict diet for the night.

Well, the baby Beagle that we rescued turned 2 over the weekend. She had a perfect day with her sister (Jackie), cousin (Honey), and her besties, the twins. Maw-Maw made her yummy apple-shaped cakes with vanilla icing, and we enjoyed a picnic in her honor Sunday night.

I tend to go above and beyond for my kids’ birthdays, but Jo’s are special. I know she probably doesn’t remember that first month of life spent eating from dumpsters and trash cans, but I’m trying my hardest to make sure she never does.

We love you, Jo Jo! Here’s to many more birthdays with you.

I can remember that the months of March and April always gave me hives in high school and college. Everything in Natchez seems to sandwich into those two months and leaves very little time to breath; however, we are used to this lifestyle. So, we take it gladly each year that tourists still come to town and want to know more about our little hamlet.

Luckily, this year will be condensed into about a two full weeks of balls to attend, pageants to watch, and hunts to perform in for this Guido family. While Aimee and I may not be in the Tableaux anymore, my two kids sure are. This year, we are also extremely excited to welcome our “little sister”, Julia Rachel Kuehnle into the royal family since she will be serving as Natchez Garden Club’s queen this year. My how time is flying!

So, between cocktails parties before Tableaux, seating guests into the boxes each night, and wrangling the Beagles before their showtime, I’m going to be one tired puppy come April.

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Yes. I’m a Beagle mom, and my two kids couldn’t be anymore different if they actually tried to be. Jackie, the eldest (and the one screaming in the above picture), is relatively laid back, well mannered, easy to handle, and minds to a T. At the same time, she is a hunter (of birds and squirrels), is upset fairly easily by passersby, hates all things healthy and only likes French fries and such, and has a very loud “bugle” that she enjoys singing. Now, Jo, the youngest, is quite the opposite. She doesn’t bark; and if she does, something is majorly wrong. She is pretty calm but still has puppy-spurts of energy, has no idea what manners actually are, has a large appetite, loves all fruits and vegetables, and never misses an opportunity to snuggle.

When someone refers to them as dogs, I’ll admit that I’m a tad offended. They are as close to children as I plan to have right now; and to be honest, they act better than any human child I’ve ever come across in a restaurant, store, or in the car. They don’t interrupt me while watching TV or talking with people. (Now, when I talk on the phone, Jackie tends to talk, too; but I can always let her outside to bugle it out.) They may wake me up in the middle of the night, but it usually only lasts for 10 minutes or so before we are back in bed. When we go to a pet-friendly restaurant, they both sit quietly waiting for little bits of whatever I’m having and never make a peep. They ride in the car with ease and usually fall fast asleep before we get to our destination.

No, I wouldn’t trade them for humans for the world.