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Dog Sons 

13 Sep

“Whose idea was it to get two dogs?” 

It’s a question Andrew and I will ask each other when things like canine messes or vet bills or daily dog obstacles happen. After our first dog son Joey died in July 2014, we took our time before opening our hearts to another pup. We waited until late December to start scrolling through the local humane society web pages. Even then, we were gravitating toward dogs that looked like Joe-Boy. One even motivated us to drive to the shelter. We were too late to be his rescue family. Fortunately, someone had already saved the sweetie so that meant we could save another. We kept looking. 


There he was. He looked so sad — like he needed us. We visited him. He was intensely shy. Wouldn’t come out of his kennel. When he finally did, he only came to Nate and then he went straight to a kennel two spots down from his to lick another dog through the fence. We finally got him outside but he had to be carried and wanted to go back to the other dog. That made us curious. We took that other dog out. He led us back to his buddy’s kennel to sit next to him. 


Separately, they were timid and almost unmovable. Together, they were happy, trusting and playful. Turns out, they were brought to the shelter together as strays. Someone found them on the road. Bonded. 

Naturally, we left with both. 

We named them Charlie and Linus because they are best friends and Linus needed his security blanket. Linus saved Charlie and they both saved us by filling the piece of our hearts and family that was missing after Joey.

Whose idea was it to get two dog sons? We all take credit. 

On Strike

10 Oct

That’s it. This mom is going on strike. 

I am tired of having capable beings in this house not doing their age-appropriate part. I know I’m to blame for this. I spoiled them too much. We make them pick up after their messes but don’t ever make them do set chores. 

Let me break it down.

  

  • When the 12-year-old only washes her lunch dishes and ignores what else is in the sink or drainer to put away.
  • When the almost 10-year-old who can make an awesome diving catch for an out in baseball and always knows the next play can’t seem to figure out how to put his dirty clothes in the hamper and not stashed in hidden (or not hidden) places of his room.
  • When both children leave their shoes and dirty socks scattered about the house.
  • And did I mention the food wrappers and trash they “throw away” on the tables or couches or bedroom floors?!
  • What about that time when aforementioned children put clean clothes they were supposed to properly put away for a week back in the hamper because they couldn’t tell what was dirty or clean?! And no, they don’t get credit for putting in hamper because I had to say something to them FIVE TIMES before the mix-n-match pile made its way to the hamper. 
  • Then there is the attitude I get when I tell them to contribute and help. 

I must simmer down now. After all, I’m on strike. No more washing their clothes. Nope. Not doing their dishes either. Just Andrew’s and mine. He helps beyond measure and I’m so thankful for him. He is most definitely in the strike-free zone and I know will support my stance. 

Done. And done and done. Starting now. 

Homemade Sauce, Lyrics and a Little Girl Growing Up

5 Oct

The time to clean out the kids’ clothes is always tough. As if the actual task of sorting through it all isn’t a drag enough, there’s that whole sentimental hurdle we have to face while conquering the closets. 

It’s such a tangible sign of how they are growing. This most recent gutting was especially stinging. Even more so than the time we first received this keepsake for the students to wear on the first day of Kindergarten.  

Then, 2021 seemed so far away. Sure, it still made us aware of its presence but that would be something like 12ish years away. Now, it’s less than SIX school years away. I gasped at this slap in reality and then gently folded the shirt and placed it in the pile of “special” things to keep safely in storage.

I didn’t fully feel the sting from the slap until later that night while I was making the homemade spaghetti sauce I learned how to perfect from my mom who learned how to perfect from my grandma Nancy. Nia was sitting at the kitchen table doing her homework and we were listening to “mommy’s” music. I’ve known and felt the lyrics from James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend” but never like this. That night, they had me adding tears to the meatballs. I looked at Nia as her eyes tightened at a thought she was writing, unaware of the emotional montage I was producing in my mind.

No matter where that brilliant brain and lovely personality take her in life, I will come running. 

Class of 2021.

  

 

Chasing My Shadow

5 Dec

Chasing ShadowMy shadow often scares me when I run at night. I often catch a glimpse of it out of the corner of my eye and it makes me jump a bit as it starts to pass me. I think to myself, show off. Sure, there are times she stays behind me but she is mostly always out in front making it look so easy.

I can’t believe it’s been almost three years since I started consistently running each week. What I mean by “consistently running” is it’s been a part of my weekly routine for the last 156 weeks. I’ve run three or four times a week during that time. I’ve never been that consistent at anything that I didn’t HAVE to do. And many days, don’t WANT to do. So why do I?

I started running to get in better shape. Not necessarily lose weight, just not gain. To hold steady at a weight where I’m comfortable without giving up too much of the foods (and drinks) I enjoy. Sometimes, I get a bit frustrated that I haven’t lost any weight though. I feel like all this running should take a little off the (muffin) top but then I realize it’s kept me in a place I’m happy with and I shouldn’t complain – especially since I still hug bags of chips and cherish my wine. And cheese. Don’t forget about the cheese.

The running is holding me steady and actually making me feel pretty darn awesome. Accomplishing things I never thought I would — the miles I’ve covered, the discipline to find the time and energy to go for the run, the toughness I feel after running in the rain or cold or after falling on a trail, the stress break, the example I’m helping to set for the kids.

Run Family

It must be working because they recently ran their first official 5K because they wanted to run one. I was in my 30’s before I did that. Sure, I played softball, volleyball and danced growing up – heck, I even tested my limits when I joined Crew in college – but I never stuck with any one physical activity like I have with running. I’m even almost at my goal of running 500 miles in a year and I plan to increase it for next year because I want to keep at this thing. I’m not sure I have it in me to quit now. I have my shadow to catch, after all.

Shadow Rocks

A New Leaf

5 Aug

A little more than a year ago, Nia was plagued with worry. She obsessed and fretted about the smallest thing. For a 10-year-old, the worries were heavy and I — a natural-born stress case myself — didn’t always know how to help her. It also started to — get this — worry me. I felt like I was absorbing her feelings and carrying them around with me.

Naturally, all this lead me to venture into the dangerous world of web searching. I found several articles that made me worry more but I also found a few that offered relief. To make sure I covered all my bases, I also took advantage of a work program that offers employees a free counseling session. I came away with two things to help us both manage our anxieties:

  • The counselor told me to picture my worry as a streaker. (Yes, a naked person.) You may see one run by but you never chase after the bare body. We agreed to modify this to be age appropriate for Nia. She suggested an animal that Nia would never chase. The streaker thought is pretty funny though.)
  • One bit of online information I learned said to visualize a tree with a leaf about to break free. Place your worry on that leaf and then watch it fall and gently land in a stream. The stream then carries the worry away. I told this to Nia and she asked, “Could an animal also eat my leaf?” I’m thinking, sure. Whatever works. (Here’s a blog that has more about the leaf relief.)

Both of these techniques have helped us both but now it seems it’s Nate’s turn to worry and he just doesn’t relate to those. His little heart is filled with concern – so much so that I wonder if it’s been contributing to him sleepwalking. A few nights ago, I actually caught him opening his bedroom window while sleeping. We’ve since child-proofed his windows but the thought of him accidentally hurting himself while we all sleep was too much for me to take. I told him about the ways Nia and I have used to ease our hearts. He asked, “Huh?”

With that, I tried something different. My own thing. Last night, I cuddled with him before he fell asleep and I put my hand on his heart. I told him I was collecting all the worry from his heart so he wouldn’t have it anymore. He giggled as I gathered but then really let out a laugh when I told him I was going to eat all his worry. “I also have room for dessert,”  I told him, “so let me get that worry from your head too.”

Sure, kind of twisted. But you know what? I think it helped some. He went to sleep with a lighter heart and didn’t sleepwalk.

Of course, it could be because of all the other techniques we researched online and tried too (earlier bedtime, consistent sleep and wake time, quiet time before bed, earlier dinner, more water throughout the day …) but I want to claim the giggles as the victory.

I know it made us both feel better. (And me quite full too …)

 

One Thing

16 Jul

So many lists these days.

17 things to say to your daughter
12 things to explore with your son
5 things never to say to your daughter
7.5 ways to raise a son
10 life hacks to make things easier
14 things your kids should know before they’re teenagers
11 parenting FAILS
30 ways to have more energy

Too many lists.

I have one thing I want my kids to keep safe and keep always as they grow up through this crazy, overwhelming and amazing world we call life.

A sense of humor.

Not at the expense of others but for the well-being and sanity of others and themselves. Don’t take life too seriously. Don’t worry their hearts about the things they can’t control. Find a way to smile. Find the healthy memory in what seems like a miserable or sad situation and make a lighter heart.

Joy is something we can control no matter what we are going through. We can determine whether we mope or grumble through any given day. I’m not saying they shouldn’t ever be sad or mad or throw a fit, I’m just hoping that their humor finds a way through and lifts them up and out.

I see signs of their great humors now. They deliver lines to me that make them seem smarter than I ever was or will be (not in a smart mouth way, just their pure and light perspective).

It makes me feel so great knowing they get it — without a list to follow.

20140716-071903-26343717.jpg

Gone But Not Furgotten

15 Jul
The Joey picture Andrew carried in Kosovo

The Joey picture Andrew carried in Kosovo

We met him on a September day soon after we were married. His name was Martis and he was one of many who needed a loving home. We were told he was part Chow Chow and were shown his brother who was a puff-ball of fur.

We lived in a two bedroom apartment on the second floor of a complex at the time. Having a dog in the apartment meant a pet fee and multiple walks a day. That, mixed with all that fur, meant work.

Besides getting hitched and picking out the washer and dryer, he was our first real decision together. He was a good one.

We named him Joey – Andrew’s middle name and the name of a special doll I had when I was a little girl.

We spoiled him with toys, treats, a huge crate, his own food table and love. He spoiled us with destroyed toys, lots of trips to the nearby woods because of all the treats, a messy crate and house with clumps of fur everywhere and the sweetest unconditional love we could ever imagine. He kept me safe and sound through Andrew’s military deployments and kept things interesting with all of his eating adventures. (He must have hated that hardback book about the First Ladies. Tore through it like it was threatening him.)

Loved to Play

Loved to Play

People would remark what a pretty pup he was – some even asked if he was a dog model. They wondered what breed he was and as he grew up he started to look more like a shepherd/collie mix to us so that’s what he became. He certainly exhibited the herding traits of those dogs. Always under our feet and near the person he felt needed it most (babies, little kids, pregnant friends, our moms). He always had to sit right by us and when we got up for even just a glass of water, he followed.

He traveled through states with us – feeling both snow and sand. He moved three times with us and got to spend seven years of his life in the big fenced yard he deserved. He knew the comfort of our bed and couches and left his fur mark and warmth all over them. He loved to be Andrew’s pillow and my foot therapy. All of that fur he had was so fluffy and soft and he would  let me rub my feet over him as he rested near me.

Bean and Joe-Boy

Bean and Joe-Boy

He impressed people with the tricks Andrew taught him. Barking when Andrew would just open his mouth, low crawling when Andrew pointed to the ground and sitting just by Andrew moving his pointer finger up and down. Joey cared for our guests and family – escorting them around the house as well and often “baptizing” them with his dripping mouth after a drink of water. He earned nicknames like: “Joe-Boy,” “fuzz buckets,” “fuzzy butt,” “Joe-do Baggins,” and when he was in trouble “Joseph Martis.”

Joey and Andrew in downtown Savannah

Joey and Andrew in downtown Savannah

He was as old as our marriage – 14 years. He was Andrew’s first dog and the first dog who was truly mine. Our first dog to have to decide it was time to say goodbye and give him peace.

There are a lot of ways to help determine you’re officially a grown up — getting married, picking out a pet together, buying a car or a house, paying bills, replacing a roof, that kid stuff, having another life you love in your hands … He helped us grow up. I hope he liked growing up with us.

That dog. That good dog.

Sweet Boy

Sweet Boy

I’ll never forget you, Joe-Boy. Especially since I have a feeling our dark blue couches will never free some of the fur you shed. I remember when that drove me nuts. Now, it brings me to tears.

I’ll be thankful every day of my life for you.

Pretty Boy

Pretty Boy

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