Friend

With a prompt like “friend“, writing about it could take many directions. Having previously contemplated adult friendships, this time I immediately thought of our dogs.

Doggie Friends

These 3 have changed our lives in so many ways. I am forever grateful for Hannah’s insistence that we needed a pet. Then both kids’ persistence that they needed a dog that would bond more with them, and finally rounding out the trio with a dog that “would be a perfect fit for our family”. Our canine expert, Haley couldn’t have been more right. I cannot imagine our life without these three. As insane as it sounds – they are our 4-legged children. (Yes, they are dogs – they are simply my kids from another mother.)

That face!

I mean, who can resist that face?!

When Jacob is ill, Hippo is right there comforting him. Whitney does the same with Hannah. Buck’s nightly routine is to snuggle in close for scratches and love. They all love Eric.

Dogs are tangible evidence of unconditional love. What a miracle they are because we surely don’t deserve their devotion. What a perfect example of grace.

Advertisements

It Happened. Again.

We adopted another dog.

Again.

My poor husband!

 Along with our Chihuahua/Pug mix, and our Chihuahua/Terrier, we now have a Terrier/Lab lovebug! Yes, for cat people we are now dog gone crazy! (Couldn’t resist!) Life with this lug has been interesting!

He has about 30-35lb on Buck and Whitney.  He loves everyone and is eager to please! He is a snuggler. We’ve been on a few walks and he’s doing great on the leash. I have no doubt he will make a great running buddy!

This one had a bit of a rough start, starving and with all kinds of health problems:
IMG_0784IMG_0785As you can see in the photos, he was hairless and pink! But with lots of good groceries and a whole bunch of love, he is a different dog!

I’ve been following this dog’s journey since August/September when the rescue organization picked him up. I, however, only knew him as “Grover”. The gals that run Heartbeats Dog Rescue (same organization that we adopted Buck and Whitney through) also work at the doggie daycare/boarding place we use. They had told Eric and I both a month or two ago, “You have to meet Hippo!!! He’d be a great dog for your family!” Eric met Hippo once and came home and told me about it. I sort of shrugged it off, because I didn’t realize that Hippo and Grover were the same dog! Up until last week, I had only known him as Grover.

When they posted the most recent update, it hit me like a ton of bricks! HIPPO! This is the dog I’ve been watching, and that they’d been telling us about. Bracing myself, I told Eric my revelation and asked that he at least consider adopting this dog. (Again, my poor husband!)

We contacted Heartbeats, and that evening he was in our home getting to know our other two fur babies. The foster family shared with us that Hippo may have been their first “foster failure” –  they’d grown to care for him and  were considering keeping him! After giving them a couple of opportunities to make sure they didn’t in fact want to keep Hippo, we were assured that, yes, he would be ours.

I’ve always known animals are work. They have maintenance, vet bills, and of course poop. But the love and joy these 3 crazy canines bring to our family far outweighs any “work”.

And really, when it’s love – it simply isn’t work.

It’s just love.

Dog Love

This may come off as a rambling of my love affair with my dog. Or it may be my endorphin high talking. Or perhaps a combination of both.

I have always loved animals, but somehow this is just different.

When Eric and I were first married, he deployed and I had a dumb-attack and adopted two Chesapeake/Lab puppies. Overwhelmed with the cuteness overload, I bit off more than either of us could chew and ended up adopting them out to more suitable families. (Who knew that those cute little puppies would be so MASSIVE!?) It was hard, and I was sad, but I knew it was for their own good. We were both working full time, traveling, and weren’t in a place to be able to give them the consistency they needed. I see this so clearly now as hindsight is indeed 20/20.

We adopted Buck, and partly due to our previous foray into dog parenting, I was completely blindsided by how hard our whole family, and myself in particular, have fallen for this little goofy guy. I continued to follow Heartbeats Dog Rescue on Facebook (the organization we adopted Buck through) and noticed they had this little puppy that was up for adoption. I showed the picture to Eric and he just shook his head and asked, “Really?!

1511900_10203325055391566_1337563647500596877_n
Seriously?! How do you resist this face?! They tell us she’s a “Chug” (Chihuahua/Pug mix)!

We took the kids and Buck to meet this little girl, Whitney. It would really all depend on him and how he got along with her. The last thing I wanted to do was bring in another dog and have fights and problems between the two. We walked in and they sniffed each other, wagging tails as if they’d known each other forever, then she proceeded to crawl right up on Jake’s lap, snuggle in and lick his face. The grin on that boy’s face nearly made me cry. She then wiggled right up onto Hannah and she was smitten. How do these furry little loveballs do it? They create such a fun, deep joy and a sense of contentment that just feels so right there are scarcely words to describe it. They live in the moment, eager, and happy to just be.

10847864_10203330891377462_395064128475750952_n

We adopted her, and even Eric had to admit he was taken with her. She is such a love, a bit more mellow than Buck, but still a puppy so she brings out the playfulness in him.

The goal was to be able to walk and run with them both, but was a little nervous about it Whitney seemed a little confused by the leash, didn’t know any commands, and I wondered if I’d once again bit off more than I could chew. Hannah and I worked with her, teaching her how to sit. She is eager to learn, eager to please and picked it up right away. Her little expectant face gazing up at mine, her whole body wagged as praise was lavished on her.

I’ve watched enough Dog Whisperer and Cesar 911 to learn a bit, and with the dog training classes I’ve been taking I  feel confident, (or calm assertive) and more of a pack leader. Every time I watch an episode of Cesar helping a family with their animals, I cry. Like ugly cry. There’s just something about they way a dog loves. I’ve also thought it amazing when he teaches dog owners to lead their packs, walking many dogs at once. The people always talk about how empowering the experience is. Again, cue the waterfalls from my eyes.

Their leashes on, I took a deep breath and mentally let go of the sense of failure I had from our other dogs. I could be a pack leader. I could be a good dog mom. Buck has been proof of that. Out the door we went. They did great. We had some kinks to work out at first with who was going to be where, but after a couple of minutes, everyone fell into place. Buck on the outside, Whitney in the middle and then me leading the way. We practiced our commands, we ran, we sat, we said good morning to our neighbors. To say it was 3 of the most fun miles would be an understatement. It was empowering, exhilarating, and good luck wiping the perma-grin off of my face!

I love these dogs.

They have filled a void I didn’t know existed. They may be rescue dogs, but ultimately they do so much more for us than we ever do for them.10849809_10203325058911654_4791267833301431794_n

What I Didn’t See Coming

I knew having a pet would be great. We’ve had animals before, but the kids have not. I knew they would love whatever animal we adopted. What I didn’t see coming is the way I would feel watching them learn, love, and grow with this animal.

Seriously. It’s been 2 days. I can’t believe I’m even writing this. That’s what’s so bizarre about this whole thing. I have fallen hard for this guy. I’ve also fallen for the way he’s unearthed a compassion in our children. Those are the things I didn’t see coming.

The pride in our daughter’s face as she smiles up at me as she’s feeding Buck.

Her sense of responsibility in checking to see if he has enough water or a comfy blanket upon which to lay. Even her willingness to scoop poop! She genuinely enjoys taking care of him. “There’s no fire ants that will hurt Buck, right Mom?”

Our son’s laughter and the way he calls, “Here Buck! C’mere boy!” I have to stop what I’m doing just to savor those moments.

When dropping Jacob off at school, he asks if I will bring Buck in the car to pick him up. He wants to see him first thing. I think Buck feels the same way based on how he looked longingly out the window as Jake went into the building. 

This dog has entered our lives and in 2 days feels like he’s always been a member of our family.

I really did not see this coming.

I am so grateful.

Big Time Small Town

As a mother of military kiddos, I often marvel at the idea of living in a small town, putting down roots, and having them grow up from kindergarten through 12th grade in the same school district. Does anyone do that anymore? It seems like it would be idyllic in some ways, a nice idea, but hardly a possibility given our active duty status.

I always thought I’d grown up in a small town. That was until I met my husband and he showed me where he grew up! No locking doors, everyone know everyone else. Friendly midwestern peeps who are genuinely interested in the answer when they ask, “How are you?” These travels have been repeated encounters of small town life.

While in some random bathroom in Wyoming, I sneezed and heard a random “bless you” from out of no where! (It actually quite startled me as I thought I was the only one in there!) Usually not a chatty kathy in the stall, I had to laugh to myself and offer my thanks in return.

While visiting my husband’s family in Minnesota, I jumped at the chance to run a 5k with my niece! (You can read her awesome blog here!)

Me and Missy after our race! (Photo credit goes to her! I liked her selfie better than the one I took!)
Me and Missy after our race! (Photo credit goes to her! I liked her selfie better than the one I took!)

When we headed out for the run, I asked her, “I don’t need to lock my car, do I?” She shook her head no, it wasn’t a big deal. I tossed the keys in and off we went to the starting line. The race was fun, humid and she ran a PR! (I on the other hand ran with my hands clutching my chest due to starting out way too fast (as usual) and couldn’t breathe in the humidity! I felt like a beginner all over again!) After the race and pancake feed at the local fire department, we returned to discover my keys are in fact locked inside. It’s an auto-pilot habit. Crap! What do we do? I can’t call the hubby because the phone is locked ever so securely in the car.

“Let’s go find Ralph!” she suggests.

Huh?! Who’s Ralph?

Of course. Ralph is the chief of police. Apparently unlocking car doors is something they do for free! Who knew?! Where I grew up, I locked my keys in the car on a fairly regular basis, but the cops didn’t come to help you but would instead would refer you to a locksmith. (My particular locksmith and I were on a first name basis. Yes, it happened that often.) After Ralph finished his pancakes at the firehouse, he popped by to help me out of my predicament! While regaling us with stories from the job, his cell phone rang. It was the theme from the show COPS. Seriously. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

In addition to my niece being on a first name basis with the chief of police, we discovered that she is also neighbors (literally) with the in-laws of a milspouse friend of mine from Washington! Talk about a small world!

While I was doing all of this, the hubby (who was one of those kids that went to the same school from K-12th grade) took the minions fishing where he went as a kid. We attempted to fish during the salmon run in Washington, but we didn’t catch anything. Luckily the fish were biting in Minnesota! They caught 17 sunfish – and they were delicious!

IMG_0349IMG_0343

 

 

 

 

 

 

I often think a small(er) town life would be great. Then, I think about how much I would miss Target. And Starbucks. And museums with the kids. And giant grocery stores, And, and, and…

I suppose there are pros and cons to both like anything. I often vacillate between being a hermit in a tiny town, living off the grid, shutting out all social media, being completely isolated, and living a more anonymous urban life in some bustling city. I’m not sure one is better than the other, but as a hermit with social butterfly tendencies, I need regular down time like I need oxygen.

Perhaps that’s the beauty of this military life – for a while anyway, we get to experience all different parts of the world, in 2-3 year doses. As hard as it is in some ways, it’s also pretty dang cool, and we get to meet all sorts of people and expose our minions to opportunities that they otherwise would not experience.

What about you? Small town or bustling city? Knowing everyone or complete anonymity? Friendly chat in the bathroom with strangers?

I think I may always be a private pee-er. The sneeze blessing was nice, but it’s just weird chatting about randomness while taking care of business. But, that’s just me.

Two Notes

It’s been a week.

T-ball fun (and tears), getting difficult news, and capping off the week was a dental appointment that didn’t go well at all. Fillings were to be put in, but after 2 hours of trying to get Jake to drink the sedation medicine, the dentist no longer had time to do them. Jake was a mess of terror, tears, and tantrums, meanwhile Daddy was beyond exhausted. The phrase, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink” applies here.

The same day we received the news that Jake is likely on the autism spectrum, I attended my first adult confirmation class. There was great discussion, I am learning a lot, and some tough topics were discussed. Heavy religious themes combined with this particular week we were in the middle of – to say I was a tad emotional would be an understatement.

Randomly, on Friday I received an email from the the pastor’s assistant at our old church checking in with us, asking us how we were doing and wondering if we’d left the area or if she had just missed us. (We haven’t attended services there in over a year.) It was a kind gesture, and nice knowing that we were still thought of, regardless of how long we’d been gone. That very same day we also received a hand written note of encouragement from our current pastor.

I won’t say that one church is better than another, for they are both houses of God and I’ve learned much from both. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, as all communities do. I will say that from our experience, it is very easy to “get lost” in a large church. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily. It was comforting to go and be anonymous at times. Attending a smaller church, we’ve been pleasantly surprised that it’s much easier to be in community with people. It’s comforting during difficult times to really be seen and felt cared for.

Ultimately, the timing of our two notes was a God thing. After a rough week, it felt like a big ol’ much-needed hug.

Bring it on, Monday!

Jacob

20131020-114019.jpg

It’s quiet all around
as we celebrate you
Our family and friends start to arrive
Comfy in your pjs, in your gifts you’re ready to dive!

This year you said “Batman”
so that is what we did
Blue, black and yellow
You are such a fun big kid!

You are 5 today and every year
I say “I can’t believe how fast”
But really!?
Has ANOTHER year already past?!

A bit mischievous, funny
And ridiculously smart
Often it’s hard to keep a straight face
And do my “parenting part”.

Laughing and rough house,
Hide and seek and boo!
Pillow fights and “let’s scare dad!”
Is what you love to do!

Oh little man, how I love you so
You have taught us both more than you’ll ever know
You are 5 today and it’s just the start
It’s true that kids simply take your heart

You have taken mine, sweet little boy
There was never a doubt
That though you stole my heart
You are someone I could never live without.

Hope this will be a day to remember
A day filled with laughter, friends, and fun
Happy birthday Jacob Levi
Love Daddy, Hannah, and I.

20131020-113934.jpg

20131020-114212.jpg

20131020-114125.jpg