Off to Hawaii — ALOHA!

Newlyweds Nate and Meg are half way through their first married year, but at this point their adventures must go on hold until September.

Engaged... 7.19.17Our firstborn, Nelson, will be getting married to his true love, Ann Sophie, on August 26. They live and work in Kona, Hawaii, where the wedding will occur, and tomorrow I board a plane, headed their way.



Door County, 2016.After that it’ll be a drive to Iowa to spend time with Emerald and her parents.

Before I leave, though, let’s find out how things are going in Champaign as 2 young adults and 2 very young doggies learn to live together.




Newlywed Love (#67)

June 4-5, 1970

Our first night as parents-to-puppies didn’t go very well. Although we took Toby 2 and the Baron outside right before we went to bed, by morning there were pee-pee and poo-poo spots everywhere. Neither of us had ever personally trained a dog and were astounded at how much our little charges could “go.”

Puppies making messesWhen I left for record-keeping day at school, Nate had his work cut out for him at home. But we couldn’t be mad at our precious pooches. It had been our fault for assuming they could last 8 hours without “making.” Somehow we’d have to solve the problem of servicing them and also getting some sleep.

My school day was a breeze – no students, just lots of paper work, followed by a faculty luncheon given by the district Parent Teacher Association. It was fun to socialize with Linda, Judy, and many other teachers, lots of whom we’d never met.

Cannon School.I got to shake hands with the principal at my new school, Mr. Atkinson. The Cannon School across town where I would be teaching kindergarten was four times the size of little McKinley, but that was OK with me.

When I got home, Nate had been out to buy enough plastic to cover the area rugs in our living and dining rooms and had been getting a workout running up and down the stairs with our little darlings every 15 minutes.

Puppies nappingHe reported good progress and was confident they’d catch on soon. He had also made a decision about night times. “We’ll take them out as late as we can and then shut our bedroom door as usual. Whatever messes they make after that will just be the cost of a good night’s sleep for us. I’ll clean everything up.”

I couldn’t argue with that!

As Linda, Judy, and I made our last drive to Danville together, it was bittersweet. We’d had a happy year sharing as newlyweds, building friendships we hoped would last. And though Judy and Bill were headed for New York, Linda and I promised we’d get together during the summer.

The last morning with my 1st graders was spent partying — cupcakes, candy, and special badges I’d made for each of them, highlighting their best character qualities. It was one last chance to build them up before they slipped out of my life.

When the bell rang at noon, each one gave me a warm hug, telling me how much they would miss me – and I reciprocated. I sincerely hoped, as I waved them off, that they’d been properly prepared for 2nd grade.

EnamoredNate drove to Danville to join us for the McKinley teachers’ bar-b-q at Principal Scarce’s house, and he brought Toby 2 and the Baron with him. The whole world loves puppies, and our little guys didn’t disappoint, providing non-stop entertainment throughout the afternoon. Mr. Scarce’s two young boys were especially enamored (right).

After long goodbyes and well-wishes, Nate and I were off on a 10 day vacation with our tiny pets – first to a Nyman family reunion, followed by several days with Nate’s parents and brother in their home. After that it would be on to Wilmette to join my family.

What we didn’t know was that when we returned to Champaign, we would be short one doggie…

“Look at God; give him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from him.” (Psalm 34:5, The Message)

Newlywed Love (#66)

June 3, 1970

Toby #2As Nate and I got ready for this special day, we were both excited about welcoming someone new into our relationship. I was anticipating Nate’s happy expression when he met our new puppy, and Nate was pleased to know we would soon have our very own doggie.

Since it was the last week of school for me, and Nate’s classes had already ended, he came to Danville with me. My students were thrilled to meet “Mr. Nyman,” and he brought new energy to every part of our school day… especially on the playground as he pushed swings and spun the merry-go-round.

Burger and fries.The two of us went out to lunch together, a very special treat. And as we munched on burgers and fries, we talked about a name for our puppy.

“I think he just has to be Toby,” I said, “since he’s a twin to Toby #1.”

“Not necessarily,” Nate said. “He might want his own special name.”

“Like what?”

“Something powerful… like King or Duke.”

“But he’ll only be a medium-sized dog. Aren’t those names for big dogs?”

“I suppose. But we could scale it down and call him Prince or Baron.”

“Maybe,” I said. “But I bet when you see him, you’ll see a Toby #2.”

Puppies...The afternoon passed quickly, and soon we were kneeling in front of a box of squirming 6-week-old puppies, each making an effort to get to us.

“There he is!” I said, pointing to our little guy.

When Nate reached in and lifted him up, his broad grin told me I’d picked the right one. “He’s so soft,” he said, stroking his back.

While he and “Toby” cuddled, I gave the other pups a little attention. My student’s mom watched us, probably grateful to find a home for at least one of their 8 dogs.

“Will our puppy suffer,” I said, “being taken away from his mother and siblings?”

“Oh no,” she said. “He’s ready to go. In a day or two he’ll forget all about them.”

“They’re so adorable,” I said. “I wish we could take them all.”

Nate’s head made a quick turn toward me when he heard that, and he said, “OK, let’s not get crazy now.” Then he paused. “But maybe we could take just one more?”

I couldn’t believe it! “Really? A second puppy?”

“It might be easier for them to adjust if they have a buddy.”

This was astounding… and the best idea ever!

Puppies drinking milkIt didn’t take long to choose a friend for our little guy, another black and white male. And as we drove back to Champaign, thrilled with our new babies, Nate summed it all up well. “Now we have Toby #2 and… the Baron!”

“For everything there is a season… a time to love.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1&8)

Newlywed Love (#64)

May 26, 1970

With only 7 days of the school year left for me and even fewer for Nate, we were anxious to leap into summer. I would be student teaching and attending summer school. Nate would be working full time (we hoped), though we didn’t know at what.

SchoolroomAs I began emptying my classroom a little each day, thoughts of teaching kindergarten in the fall were front-and-center in my mind. I was confident I could teach them well and, thanks to my 1st grade year, now had a thorough knowledge of what we were shooting for.

My mind filled with happy scenes of marching around the room in a rhythm band and singing songs at the start of each day.

Linda and Judy, my carpool buddies, wouldn’t be commuting to Danville anymore, so the long drive would be a solitary one for me, come fall. But I could play music and sing along, a different kind of enjoyment.

As I cleaned out my classroom desk, I also thought of Principal Scarce having lost 3 of his 7 teachers simultaneously. He didn’t seem to hold any ill will toward us and invited us all to his home for a bar-b-q on the last day of school, June 5th.

As for Nate, he was burrowing in on the books for another round of grueling finals, hoping to find a summer job that might let his brain rest a little. He had his eye on construction work, maybe holding a stop-and-go sign or sweeping up debris.

An ad in the local paper sounded promising. Young men would show up to a local parking lot early each morning to sign up for road construction crews. When their names were called, they’d be assigned to a specific project and then trained at the site. The pay was good, and the work was physical. And I thought of another advantage: a nice sun tan.

As we planned our summer we were excited about something else, too – getting a dog! One of my students had a mama-dog who’d given birth to 8 puppies about a month earlier. She had begged me to come to her house to see them, and I had, taking Linda and Judy along on our way back to Champaign.

The old Toby.In 10 seconds I’d fallen in love with a puppy who was a dead-ringer for Toby, our family’s dog as we were growing up (left).

The minute I saw this miniature look-alike I was committed to him and couldn’t wait to introduce him to Nate.

“Not till after finals,” he said, though he did share my enthusiasm. “It’ll be perfect timing to train him, too, with summer weather and all.” We hadn’t discussed who would be making those frequent potty-trips outside, up and down to the 3rd floor, but we knew having a new Toby was going to be great fun.

The new TobyOur little guy would be ready to come home with us the week school ended, when he’d be 6 weeks old – and there would be no charge. This was going to be the best summer ever, as we became a family of three.

“You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.” (Psalm 36:6)