Monday, April 28, 2014

21 Months

Bowen :: 21 Months

Stats: 28.5 lbs, 31 inches. Still wearing 12-18/18-24 months although the pants don’t have to be rolled anymore - sometimes I have to yank them up as his little baby belly has started to disappear as he gets busier and busier!

Eats: Just about everything? His favorites are still yogurt, waffles, turkey meatballs, corn, strawberries, watermelon, grapes, edadmames, peanut butter, raisins. He calls every meal a snack - pronounced “snock” and asks for “a couple ya-ya’s (cheerios) and raisins” at every meal. 

Sleeps: Mostly 7pm-7am or bedtime has crept up to 8 sometimes recently… and it’s about 50/50 if he’ll sleep in til 8. Naps 12:00-1:30/2:00 so we’ve gotten the nap a little later in the afternoon. All he needs to go to sleep are puppy blanket, puppy and ee ee. He finishes the song I’ve been singing him since he was a baby (Powder Blue) and then yells BYE BYE to me. Occasionally he’ll ask to “rock rock” and I always oblige - it’s so rare that he wants to cuddle and I can’t pass up the opportunity.

Milestones: Huge improvements with toe-walking. His physical therapy has gone well and he’s mostly flat-footed now, with occasional tiptoes. He still wears the brace at night and naps to keep his ankle stretched but he can now squat, balance and crawl up stairs with much greater ease. He’s starting to do the stairs with railings but still gets a little timid about that. He kicks a soccer ball, throws and loves climbing on the playground. He talks NONSTOP. So much talking. I love his sweet voice. He can count to to ten and sing most of the ABC’s - still called the “ahh-bee-cee’s.” He dances and sings whenever music is on and can name an astounding number of songs within the first few notes. He’s just started to run, and I love the way it looks like his top half of his body is disconnected from the bottom half.

Loves: All trucks and anything with wheels. Everything is a car and he finds roads everywhere - the edge of his plate, mommy’s leg, the top of a table. He loves books and will happily go through every one of his bookshelf. Top favorites right now are the Pookie books (Sandra Boynton), Go Dog Go, the “Digger book”, the “Chuggy truck book,” the “happy baby book” and an ABC’s book. Waffles, muffins, yogurt, raisins. Zoey and Eli and going to the Y. Saying hello to everyone. Playing on the porch (“pooch”) and in the grass (“gas”) and blowing bubbles. Going to the playground (“pee-gound.”) Belly raspberries. Wheels on the Bus and the Muffin Man. Coloring. Particularly with purple crayons. Watching videos of himself on my phone. Playing “out-tide.” 

Challenges: Enforcing the rule that I have to carry him across the parking lot of the Y. There’s usually screaming. Or basically anytime he wants to walk/run, and I have to pick him up to get him somewhere. It can take us a good ten minutes to get up the stairs sometimes, and if I finally just scoop him up to carry him up there: the world has ended. Whining. There’s definitely a whining stage happening right now. Not over anything in particular, more just like anything he requests seems to come out in a high-pitched voice that would send dogs running. Random meltdowns. Fortunately, he’s definitely improved with the hitting - whether he’s just moved on or actually listened to us is debated. He does walk around the house saying “no hitting Bo” so at least I know he’s heard us… We’re also getting slightly better with dinner times, or at least, it’s warm enough outside where he can go play on the porch when I cook. I’m amazed at how just playing outside in general - at any point during the day - seems to do wonders for this kid’s mood. We couldn’t be more ready for spring to be here. We’ve had my mom here a lot these last 3 months since they bought a house in Winston (!!!!!!) so I’m not entirely sure if there have been less challenges in general or if I’ve just been able to have more breaks and don’t feel as overwhelmed as I did at 18 months. 


Somewhere along the line, my little baby disappeared and this little boy showed up. All of a sudden, I have a house full of cars and tractors and soccer balls and golf clubs and I roll my window down whenever I pass a fire engine so he can hear the siren. We have so much fun with this little boy. He is curious and playful and social and loving. He is a good little boy, and knows what the boundaries are - and tests them within the appropriateness of a toddler, of course. He has the sweetest demeanor and loves to give his friends hugs and kisses. He and Zoey leave the Y daycare holding hands and walk all the way out to our cars like this every time. He is so social, and I swear our days are better when we get out and about at least once. (Sometimes a challenge for his introverted, homebody mama - but fortunately, even a trip to Target can act as a happy hour to this kid who just wants to SEE people and interact.) I can’t believe we’re closer to 2 than we are to 1 now - I don’t know where this last year has gone. The rare moments when he asks to rock rock and will curl up into my chest, I just try to freeze time and preserve the memory of those 29 lbs curled up in my lap (barely fitting) and the soft feel of his little blonde head under my chin. I remember myself, in those moments when he’s whining hard because I won’t let him watch “baby videos” on my phone, that these moments won’t keep and one day I will yearn for the sound of that tiny voice asking for another round of wheels on the bus. 











Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Year in Review

Past years: 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008
1. What did you do in 2013 that you’ve never done before?
Parented a toddler. Zip-lined. Organized my photos. Started a work at home job. 
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I never make resolutions, I usually make a list of general wants (things like “a healthy, happy baby” or “lots of travel opportunities.”) Looking at my list for the start of 2013, I would say most came to fruition. I’m a big believer in writing things down and letting them go. :) 
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
I foresee this being a long answer for the next few years of my life while all my friends are in baby-making mode... Let’s see: Wino Emily had her second, Cameron, in February. Our best buds Anne and Locke welcomed their first in June, Elijah or as Bo prefers to call him “Baby Li Li.” My dear friend from book club, Anna, had her first, Bennett in June (on the same day as Eli was born.) My high school friend Krissy had her first little boy, Jamie, in September and high school friend/grad school roommate/psuedo big sister Jen had her second, Tobin, in November. 
4. Did anyone close to you die? Matt’s family lost a wonderful soul at the end of the year, his mom’s father, or “Pa” as he was known to all. I’m so fortunate I had the chance to know him, because he was so important to Matt and I’m thankful I got to witness that relationship. Matt grew up next door to his Nanta and Pa, who have been sweethearts since they were 17, and they helped raise him. It was a heavy loss for his family. We also sadly said good-bye to our sweet Buddy in August
5. What countries did you visit?
We didn’t leave the country this year but we got plenty of domestic travel in again: Phoenix in February, Park City in March, Garden City Beach (SC) in April, Rochester in June, Topsail Beach (NC) in June, Asheville in July, Rochester in August, Boone in November. 
6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
I honestly can’t think of anything! Last year I said sleep and bless my sweet Bo, he’s been a great sleeper this year. I feel totally fulfilled in every other area of my life. Pinch me!
7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
August 23rd - said good-bye to sweet Buddy
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Advocating for Bo to get him started early on physical therapy. Scoring a new job that is work-at-home, flexible, pays well and is interesting work. 
9. What was your biggest failure?
Lots of little moments where I failed to parent at my best because I was tired or impatient. 
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
One brief stomach bug right before Utah but otherwise, a healthy year for all of us. Grateful for that! 
11. What was the best thing you bought?
I bought it (used!) in 2012 but my BOB has been one of my best investments. We’ve put lots of happy miles on that guy. 
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My dear husband who has turned into a wonderful daddy - who works hard so I can stay home with our little one, but always jumps in to play or help me out with Bo. Also, both sets of grandparents who have been so engaged and part of Bo’s life and so willing to take over parenting duties so we can escape on our many little trips. And lastly, my dear tribe of mommafriends, some who live nearby, some who live in my phone, who are always ready to lend a hand or an ear to support each other through the many interesting moments of parenting littles. 
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I’ve ceased watching a lot of news because it just depresses me, and because I’ve found when something truly big happens, I’ll learn about it anyways through Facebook, Twitter or just conversations. Every year I grow more frustrated hearing about the mass shootings that happen all over our country and frustrated that politicians aren’t representing the requests of american people to change gun laws. I hope I see that change in my lifetime. 
14. Where did most of your money go?
Target and student loans 
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Ben Folds Five, Guster and Barenaked Ladies touring together. (And they were amazing!). Bo’s first steps. 
16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Wheels on the Bus 
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:a) happier or sadder?b) thinner or fatter?c) richer or poorer?
a) Happier… I’ve grown more and more content and grateful with each passing year. b) Thinner!!! Finally back in pre-baby clothes. c) Richer… thanks to some aggressive payment plans, we’re starting to see a dent in student loans and husband has been one year out from residency and making a real salary. So, financially, richer. In every other way of interpreting that though, much, much richer. Our family life is full and happy, we have everything we need, we have our health - we couldn’t ask for more. 
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Meditated. Wrote. Blogged. 
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Judged. Gossiped. Read Facebook.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
We spent Christmas with my family at our house and watched Bo learn what “presents” meant. We traveled down to Charlotte a few days later to spend Christmas-belated with my in-law’s family and did a low-country boil at my sister-in-law’s house. 
21. Did you fall in love in 2013?
More and more every day. 
22. What was your favorite TV program?
How I Met Your Mother, The Mindy Project
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No
24. What was the best book you read?
Conversations with God, The Gifts of Imperfection
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Lullaby station on Pandora. Great to fall asleep to, great to write to. 
26. What did you want and get?
A healthy, happy toddler. More sleep. More travel. Debt reduction.
27. What did you want and not get?
A house in my favorite neighborhood (Eventually…) 
28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Pitch Perfect (obsessed!!!)
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
31 - we had a few friends over for margaritas and a cookout
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
To have seen my book reach more people (which would require me to do more work marketing it… I know.)
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Oh hello, old clothes! I missed you! (Returning to a pre-partum wardrobe. Regretting selling a favorite pair of jeans on ebay.) 
32. What kept you sane?
Matt, gratitude journaling, dance trance, running with the BOB, wine, porch mornings
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Brene Brown. I want a coffee date with this woman and pick her brain.
34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Guns. Food industry. Chemicals in our shampoos and soaps. Feeling like consumers have to do all the work because we can’t trust businesses to look out for us.
35. Who did you miss?
My grandparents. Akanksha. Anna. Winos. 
36. Who was the best new person you met?
Do my friends’ new babies count? 
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
Happiness is not about arriving at big moments in your life - although some of those moments will be extraordinarily happy when you do arrive. It’s more about the quiet, day to day contentment and gratitude for the life you currently have. This summer was hard for a couple of reasons that I wrote about before, and I could feel a quiet, pervasive sadness in my chest for a couple months. But despite that, I still felt a greater sense of hope, contentment, peace and optimism that it would be okay. I read this post by one of my favorite writers/inspiration-givers Danielle LaPorte in early 2013 and when this sad period hit, it came back to me. “This is why we practice.” This is why I practice gratitude, meditation, prayer. This is why I exercise. This is why I connect with others. So that when the hard things do show up, I’m not running on fumes to deal with them. I’m not writing this nearly as eloquently as she did (of course) but hopefully the message will convey.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

15 Months

Bowen :: 15 months

Stats: We haven’t had his appointment yet to get a height and weight but the unofficial weight by my scale is 25 lbs. Clothing size hasn’t changed a lot– he’s in 18 month tops, 12 month pants and 12-18 month pajamas.

Eats: EVERYTHING. I call him my toddler garbage disposal. I’m crossing my fingers that this appetite remains through the toddler years, because I know full well that they can change their minds on a dime and suddenly, favorite foods become repulsive. But as of right now, there isn’t a thing this kid won’t eat. His favorites are: corn, carrots, butternut squash, bananas, pears, strawberries, blueberries, turkey meatballs, grilled chicken, salmon, roasted chickpeas, grilled cheese, mac n cheese, peanut butter, waffles. (That wasn’t a particularly narrow list, I guess.)

Sleeps: He's on a pretty regular 7pm-7am nighttime schedule. He no longer pulls on his sleeve to fall asleep, that’s been replaced by his new best bud “Puppy.” We hear him on his monitor going “puppy puppy puppy” and rolling back and forth with him. He also sleeps with Bunny (called “ee ee”) and a sock monkey lovey (also called “ee ee.”) He was doing 2 naps a day until right around 14 months, then we went through a rough 2 weeks of “2 naps too much, one nap too little” and then all of a sudden, I found myself with a one-nap baby. It’s usually about an hour and a half, although on a random lucky day I’ll get 2 hours. Everything has been pretty much smooth sailing in this department until daylight savings came along. We won’t talk about that though.

Milestones: So. Much. Talking. It amazes me how many words he picks up on and has reminded me it’s time to clean up my language. Right around his first birthday he was doing a lot of animal noises and saying “mommy” and “daddy.” In the months since then, his language has exploded. Which I guess, balances out the fact that his gross motor skills have always been a little bit late to the game. (Note: not complaining.) Shortly after his birthday, he started pulling up and by 14 months he had gotten the hang of cruising. The last month or so, he’s been doing wind sprints around the house with his push-walker (or a cooler, if we’re out on the back deck…  Annnnnd, then just a few days ago, he did finally take his first few not-so-cautious steps. Over the last week, he’s been taking more and more of them although he won’t take off from furniture by himself – he only goes when he’s holding on to our hands and can let go from there. (He also hasn’t figured out how to go from a sit to a stand or vice versa yet –  we’re doing things a little bit out of order.) In the last three months, he’s also mastered stair climbing – seriously, seriously fast – and opening cabinet doors and toilet lids. So, baby proofing.

Milestones, Part 2: I wrote this right around his 15 month birthday but didn’t get around to posting it until 2 weeks later. Within the span of 2 days, he went from: walking from person to person to pulling up on furniture and walking away to pretty much sprinting around our house. (All on his tiptoes. I go back and forth between being concerned about this and assuming he’ll grow out of it.)

New words: mommy, daddy, chicken, baby, Li Li (in answer to “Who’s your best friend?” I’d say “Eli!” – our friend’s son who is close in age, and that turned into “Li li!”), na na (banana), bubbles (which are asked for constantly), puppy, hey, hi, bye bye, digger, tractor, milk (“mik”), waffle, raspberry, water, beep beep (toy trains, car keys), ball, nose, ears, eyes, teeth, mouth, bath, down (when he's being carried), mo (more), leaf, fish, Pop (Matt’s dad), Muh Muh (my mom – Grandma turned into muh muh)

Things I love right now: He makes “wee oo wee oo” noises when he sees an ambulance or fire truck in his books but usually opens and closes his eyes while he makes the noise. He loves to FaceTime with anyone but immediately starts asking for kitties (“mrow? mrow? mrow?”) because my mom usually flips the camera around to her kitties – so it doesn’t matter if you actually have kitties or not, he will ask. Anytime he hears a door open in our house, he says “Daddy?” He rolls his tongue (like a spanish R) whenever he is playing with cars. He loves to read and will pull every book off his bookshelf looking for specific ones. He mimes “wash your hair,” “brush your teeth”, and “clean your ears.” He holds everything – phones, remotes, and the video monitor – up to the side of his head and says “hello?” If he hears me talking on the phone, when I say, “okay I’ll talk to you later” he shouts “bye bye!” He LOVES to go anywhere – it doesn’t matter where we’re going, if I say “going bye bye” he gets over the top excited. He’ll make faces on demand – surprise, grumpy, sleepy and happy (or “cheese” face). Grumpy is, of course, the best.

In some ways, he’s become so much a little boy – when he sits reading a book with his legs crossed, I find myself staring in surprise at this little child who has appeared before me. But at other times, I’m reminded that we’re still closer to babyhood than big kidhood and I don’t have to feel too hurried. (Unfortunately, those are usually the moments where he’s having a meltdown over… oh I dunno, the fact that I put pears on his tray when he saw a banana on the counter and wanted that.) It’s rare that he holds still for a minute these days, so I cherish the moments when I’m putting him down to bed and he’s sleepy enough to rest his head on my shoulder for a minute – feeling the heft of his small body leaned into mine and remembering how he once fit into the crook of my arm.

I have people tell me all the time when they ask how old he is “oh this is the most fun age.” I can see why. I feel like I never stop laughing when I’m watching this kid in action. Except, of course, when I’m watching him lift up the toilet lid and throw something in. (That happened in slow motion in case you’re wondering why I couldn’t intervene. Luckily, it wasn’t a phone.) Watching him make connections about the world and discover words for things or be able to communicate his needs with me is incredible. I hope I never get over the wonder of watching a child learn about the world.

Happy 15 months, Bowie Boy! We couldn’t love you more if we tried.

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Buddy

“He was a pain in the ass. But he was our pain in the ass.”

It’s not the most eloquent eulogy anyone has ever delivered, but it’s one of the things Matt said to me the day we said good-bye to Buddy and I couldn’t help but laugh and smile through the waves of tears that kept streaming down my face. Such true words about our dear, sweet, loveable and incredibly difficult little dog who shared our lives for four and half years.

The first day we went to see him, we watched him run around the backyard with the other dogs at his foster home. From far away, he had the happy gait of a puppy but as he got close there was an unmistakable wheezing and it was obvious that the short romp had left him winded. He had been found along the side of a busy highway a few months before, malnourished, coat matted and sick with hookworms and heartworms. The woman who found him and brought him home was an angel to him. She searched unsuccessfully for his previous owners, and then paid out of her own pocket for the health care he needed. She sat him with him through a frightening 24 hours where it was unclear whether he would survive the heartworm treatment. She truly rescued him.

A few months after Roberta had found him, we found ourselves in her backyard, deciding whether Buddy would come live with us. We had been ready to get a dog for a few months, when I saw Buddy on a mutual friend’s Facebook feed and fell in love with him instantly. As we left from our initial visit, we both knew he was going to be ours. “Just remember,” Matt said that day as we drove home, “with age and his heart in that condition, we may only have three or four years with him.”

We had been warned by Roberta that he had some separation issues, and I immediately began devouring everything I could find about how to overcome separation anxiety. The first week we brought him home, Matt found himself sleeping on the couch, one hand reaching out to soothe the anxious dog who was pacing circles in his unfamiliar territory, unable to sleep.

We assumed it would get better with time.

With time, Buddy learned to trust and love us. He went from a dog who wouldn’t stay on the couch for two seconds to my favorite snuggle buddy, happy to curl up next to me for a nap on the couch and eventually jumping up to “big bed.” Oops. He went from a dog who showed minimal interest in food to, unfortunately, a world class beggar. Oops. (He was so skinny that we shamelessly fed him table scraps.) He learned to look us in the eyes and hold our gaze, something he wouldn’t do for the first year or so he lived with us. Later, when Bo came along, he was the most gentle and kind dog that a little toddler could hope for – never batting an eye as Bo practiced “gentle hands” on him by yanking on ears, tails and clumps of fur or allowing himself to be used as a highway for toy trucks.

The one thing Buddy never learned though, was how to be okay with being home alone. We started out following the training protocol for separation anxiety to a T. We practiced “desensitizing” him to our leaving cues, picking up keys or saying “bye bye” over and over to try and make them a non-event. We practiced leaving him in his crate for incremental time periods. I’d sit upstairs out of sight and time how long he would go in his crate without barking (or peeing) and feel a smidge of hope as he gradually progressed from 2 minutes to 3 minutes to 5 minutes. With Matt’s odd working hours, it was rare that we ever had to leave him for even a full 8 hours at a time, but the situation never improved. After he chewed on his crate door and broke his incisor teeth off, we tried leaving him out in the house. After repairing curtains, sanding and repainting three door jambs and then finally, renting a steam vac and having to clean a carpet after he accidentally got himself locked in the guest room one day, we realized leaving him out was not an option.

And then, of course, there was the period of time we climbed out our bedroom window. Our master bedroom is on the first floor and Buddy would sleep soundly in his bed in the living room if we were sleeping in the bedroom. Since Matt slept a lot during the day (odd work hours), this often meant Buddy would be sleeping during the day while Matt was in the bedroom. We realized that if we “pretended” to go to sleep –laid down in bed, closed our eyes and waited a good 15-20 minutes, Buddy would go lay down in his bed in the living room. We could quietly shut the bedroom door and… climb out the window.

Yes, we climbed out the bedroom window for approximately 2 months to trick our anxious dog into thinking we were asleep in the bedroom.

And it worked.

(For a while.)

Eventually, it stopped working and after having to clean up a few too many accidents in our house, we realized the bedroom window method had to stop. Also, it probably freaked out the neighbors – especially when Matt climbed out in his all-black work scrubs.

The bedroom window phase is just a snapshot of the lengths we went to work around Buddy’s quirks. There was a brief period of time where I had heard that dogs with anxiety just needed to exercise a lot before you left, so I dutifully woke up at 4:30 am every morning to walk him for an hour before getting ready for work. I lost 5 pounds, Buddy stayed anxious.

We tried three different types of medications. I talked to four behaviorists/trainers. I talked to a dog psychic. Twice.

I cried. A lot. I prayed. People told us we didn’t have to keep him – that we had tried hard enough. It was hard. We were constantly cleaning up accidents around our house, altering our schedules to make sure we weren’t gone too long, and in the last year of his life, waking up between one and four times a night to rush him outside. (Try doing that once your newborn has taken to sleeping through the night, and you’ll experience a special kind of rage and frustration and resentment all at once.)

We eventually found a routine that “worked” for us, with Buddy staying in the garage when we left. When it got too hot in the summer, he spent his days at Ruff Housing – a place with the kindest, sweetest dog lovers I have ever met. (I owe them a thank you note for their special kindness to my weird, difficult dog who often relieved himself immediately upon walking into their lobby.) We had a dog-sitter who dealt with his quirks when we went out of town, and a few kind friends who helped us out over the years when we were in a pinch and needed overnight care for Buddy. We had understanding friends who welcomed Buddy to dinner parties and potlucks.

When I think about Buddy’s death, I feel so sad and heavy and lonely for the sweet furball who was a part of our family. I also feel hugely guilty about the sense of relief that’s unmistakably present after almost 5 years of working the coming and goings of our family around our dog’s needs. It makes me feel like a horrible person to acknowledge it, but it’s there and it’s part of my grief processing. It was really, really, really hard being Buddy’s momma sometimes and I know there were many days when I showed the ugliest side of myself to him when I lost my patience with him.

Yet despite that, I know sweet Buddy knew we loved him. And we did. After a few years of trying to change him, I think we both just accepted that Buddy wasn’t going to change or at least wouldn’t be able to with the time and resources we had available to offer him. (I once read an article about a dog who sounded exactly like Buddy, and how his owner got him through his separation anxiety. It took a full year of her never leaving him alone – she worked from home and hired full-time caretakers to be present with him. I cried when I read that article, because I realized that’s what Buddy would have needed to have had any hope of getting “better” and that that just wasn’t in the cards for us.)

The last year of Buddy’s life I was home full-time with Bo. I half-expected things to get better with me being home, but this was even further proof that Buddy’s anxiety was more pathological than we ever realized. Once I stopped fighting his anxiety and just accepted that that’s who he was and how he was going to be, I finally started to feel a sense of peace about it. Buddy never asked anything of us, and I finally stopped asking anything of him. (Okay, that’s a lie. I asked him every night to please sleep all night without having to pee. He never listened.)

Despite his anxiety, he frolicked like a puppy on walks. We took him up to our mountain house a few times and in the cold air, he’d take off on a fast sprint through the woods, ears flopping and leaves crunching under his feet. He chased the geese in our neighborhood for years – there was many a morning where I’d let him out in the (unfenced) backyard and the geese would catch his eye and he’d be off. Off I would go, running through the neighborhood in a bathrobe and rain boots to catch him. Getting a fence was the best investment we ever made.

He fell asleep in the most random and funniest places. I’d often find him with his head hanging off the bed, or half under a piece of furniture or once, face down in his bed and his rump straight up in the air.

He loved Pup-a-Roni’s, which we called Schrupaschronis. When he’d see the bright red bag, he’d sit down and his front feet would dance and his teeth would chatter with excitement.

He never licked, but every now and then when he’d be sitting next to me on the couch, he’d give me one lick on the face. We called it his nervous kiss.

For a long time, I brought him with me wherever I could. I took him to work with me and found a coffee shop that was dog-friendly where I spent many afternoons blogging. We took him to the beach a few times, and he’d spend our beach days curled up on the sand under my chair.

Roberta had named him Buddy when she found him, and Matt and I had discussed other names for him when we got him. I’m so glad we kept it Buddy – through and through, he was my buddy.

At the beginning of this summer, we started to notice some undeniable changes in him. At first he started to drag on walks, then he became too tired to even go on them. He had difficulty climbing our stairs, and less interest in food. As his hearing and vision worsened, his anxiety grew worse and worse. He’d lose track of me when I’d walk upstairs to put Bo down for a nap, not be able to hear my voice upstairs, and have an accident in the five minutes I would be gone. Some days he needed to be carried down the back steps to go outside and would pause carefully before climbing back up. He started having mini seizures and would often walk into walls or lose control of his back legs.

Nobody thinks about the final days when you go to pick out your family pet. You know in the back of your head that it’s something you’ll inevitably have to face one day, but you push it far, far away. I kept waiting for a clear sign that it was “time.” I kept praying I’d wake up one day and he would have gone peacefully in his sleep. It was then that I realized – if I was praying for him to go gently in his sleep – then it was time for us to let go. I knew I was keeping Buddy alive because I couldn’t bear the pain of saying good-bye to him and because I struggled with knowing whether it was “exactly” the right time. The last few days I just sat with him every chance I could, and stroked his sweet head in my lap and tried to memorize how soft his ears felt, how his eyebrows twitched when he’d looked at me, how his nose was freckled and how his feet smelled like fritos. I felt like the look he gave me was always one that said “Mama, I’ll stay here as long as you need me to – but I’m ready.”

I miss him the most on nights like tonight, when Matt’s working and Bo has gone to bed. I’m sitting on the couch with the laptop on my lap, a glass of wine balanced precariously on the cushion next to me and I still look down before I take my feet off the table to stand up – looking for the little bundle of fur that made it his life mission to trip me. His stay with us was brief, but I know his impact will be forever felt in my heart. He was such a gentle reminder of the importance of patience and acceptance. I know I failed him many times, but it’s amazing how our dogs never get mad at us.

I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love when I shared his passing on instagram and facebook. I also received so many kind texts and emails from friends and family. A line from an email from my Dad stuck with me: “Buddy wouldn’t have lasted 5 weeks and you gave him 5 years of love! Always give like that now that you know you receive so much more in return.”

One thing I read about separation anxiety was dogs that had a “job” to perform often felt less insecure and were able to overcome their anxiety. Buddy might not have realized it, but he performed one of the most important jobs I could have asked of anyone: he reminded me, day after day, to accept what someone offers you and let go of my own expectations of how they should be. Sweet Spuds, I am thankful for the years you gave us and truly hope you are now enjoying an endless bounty of Schrupaschronis. We miss you, Buds.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

August and Everything After

I hope Mr. Duritz will forgive me for taking liberty with his words on this little blog, but it seemed like an appropriate title for a post intended to sum up the rest of a month. A month! I don’t know where August went.

I don’t know where August went, but we, at least, finally stopped going going going.

We’ve had a busy, busy summer full of travel and I have to admit I felt a wave of relief to pull in our driveway after NY and know that we weren’t headed anywhere for a few weeks. The rest of August felt like one long, lazy summer day. We spent a lot of time at the pool with Jamie and little Z and then reveling in the long naps that follow a day of sun and water. We had a visit from Akanksha and a girls morning out brunch for Jamie’s birthday. We went on lots of stroller walks with friends and I finally got back to some consistency with running and dipped my toe back into the dance trance world. We spent a lot of days at home, working on skills like stair climbing, being gentle to Buddy, opening drawers and flinging everything out and using a straw cup. I finally got caught up on some projects that have been on my to do lists for months including hanging a picture I’ve had since October (!!!!). I spent a lot of Bo’s naptimes curled up with Buddy’s soft head in my lap and a good book in hand, relishing the quiet. With heavy, heavy hearts we said good-bye to Buddy in the final week of August (deep breath, don’t start crying again) and I spent the better part of a weekend walking around in my pajamas, ugly crying as I went about my routine. I owe it to the sweet Budsters to write more about this and I will, but I’m not emotionally ready yet. I was thankful that the scheduling gods gave Matt all of Labor Day weekend off, because I needed the distraction of his go-go-go social calendar to just sweep me up and force me into the motions of our normal life to keep moving forward after that. And then before I knew it, it was September 1st and there was a chill in the air when I’d wake up in the mornings. Granted, by 9 am it would be 89% humidity again but the promise of fall and fresh starts and blank notebooks and sharp pencils is there nonetheless.

It’s been a hard summer, for reasons obvious (above) and not so obvious (and not mine to share.) The last few months have been busy, fun, relaxing and full of joyful moments with a silly toddler, but there’s also been a persistent heavy feeling that has taken up residence in my chest and tears have surprised me on more than one occasion when a friend in the know will gently ask, how are you? I told one friend that at least it feels like a healthy sadness – the kind that can cohabitate with other feelings, like hope and optimism and gratitude. The kind of sadness that shows up when you’re going through something hard and shitty (like, I dunno, losing your dog) but you know it’s appropriate and it will eventually pass with time. It’s there, and it’s uncomfortable but it’ll pass. And gratitude has always been my antidote to hard things, and helps act as a compass to redirect my focus to what’s wonderful and lovely right under my nose. It doesn’t take much before I’m reminded.

In the meantime, I’ve circled around this blog a few times, trying to decide what I’m doing with this.  For the last few months, I haven’t felt like blogging and let’s be honest… this isn’t a job, there isn’t anyone anxiously hitting refresh (except my mom, Hi Sharebear!) and I’m likely the only one who cares if I’m up to date. It seems obvious to me that if blogging feels like an obligation, then – duh – stop blogging. We’ve been busy, busy, busy living our lives and stopping to write it all down in front of glowing screen just hasn’t had the draw that it used to.

And yet…

I love having our little lives documented on this corner of the internet. I have grand intentions of making family yearbooks with the thousands of pictures I take each year, but this is where my stories reside. I often  go back and read old posts of mine, and I’m always happy I captured these small moments of our life – even if I’m often capturing them two or three weeks (months) later. I don’t know if one day Bo and any brothers/sisters he may have will like reading these stories or if that will just be asking too much of their attention spans, but it still feels important to capture them.

I originally started blogging because I realized I hated scrapbooking but I’ve always loved journaling and taking photos and this seemed like a natural marriage of the two. Once I got going, I discovered there was a whole community of bloggers out there and it seemed like a natural progression to think of this as a way to connect with other people. And I have! I’ve met people through my blog that I never would have crossed paths with “in real life” and some of them I consider my most cherished friends and my first lines of defense when it comes to sending out panicked texts about child rearing or “should I purchase this dress that’s on sale even though I have no where to wear it?” emergencies. It takes a digital village, ya’ll. I’ve been blessed to meet some of them in person, and others remain digital friends but close nonetheless. But, the mindset of having “that kind of blog” makes me feel this artificial pressure to post more frequently – something like a semi-daily basis – and it’s taken me awhile to accept that that’s just not a priority I’m willing to make. (Dear reader, you may have figured that out years ago. It’s quite apparent if I got a weekly post in, I was writing “frequently.”) I’ve also found that Instagram and Twitter have really served the “digital bonding” purpose that I originally thought this blog would as far as meeting new people and staying connected with far-flung (or even same zip code) friends.

I also feel more reluctant to share anything more than funny anecdotes or a recap of vacations, events and milestones. I’ve gone back and forth on the idea of making my blog private numerous times. I wrote and rewrote that paragraph about feeling sad about fifty times before deciding to leave it in. This doesn’t just feel like my blog anymore – one day my fifteen year old child may google his name and I wonder what he’ll think of what his dear old mama decided to share with the internet. (I’ve tried to keep from embarrassing Teenage Bo, but I’m certain all mamas are guarantee to fill in that endeavor by their mere existence.)

So, six paragraphs of thinking out loud later, where does that leave me? I’m not ready to shut down my blog, but I’m ready to let myself off some make-believe hook I’ve been on that I need to post with any type of regularity or profoundness. I love to write and doing so in any form – blog, journal, book, 140 character deep thoughts – is an outlet for me. And, I still want a home for our family stories to live, even if they are fewer and far between or cause deep mortification to my offspring one day. Obviously, this think-as-I-write post is for me, to give myself permission I’ve been silly enough to think I need, to know that it’s okay to blog however I want to blog. Once a month, three times in a day, up to date or throwback style. If you’re here and you’re still reading, I love reading your comments and knowing you’re out there caring about our little family. If you’ve scrolled straight down to the photos and I’m talking to myself at this point, well that’s totally okay too.

Commence the photo dump. That’s really why we’re here, isn’t it?

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Pittsford Trip

In early August, we headed off on our first really big road trip to Rochester. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, driving 10.5 hours with a 12 month old! That does not sound fun!”.. well, you would be absolutely correct. Bo was quite a trooper – on the way up, he made it 7 hours before losing his mind and truthfully at that point, I felt like crying and flailing about too. On the way home, he was on to what this long car trip was all about and was basically miserable the whole way, even with me sitting in the back entertaining him. He slept approximately 60 out of 600 minutes, both times. Neato. Despite all that, I will say I preferred this to flying because at least his crying was self-contained to our vehicle and we could stop whenever we wanted for some fresh air, caffeinated beverages or just sitting at a rest stop and watching big trucks go by for a happy break. Either way, we made it. Another mama merit badge earned.

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The big draw for our trip home was that the PGA Championships were being played at the golf club my parents belong to and Matt’s a big golf fan. I went to the practice rounds and that was enough for me to get a taste of it, and the rest of the week Matt attended with my brother-in-law or Dad and he was a happy camper. I spent the week letting Bo act as a Babyproofing Consultant on my mom’s house and visiting with old friends. There were a number of people who had returned to our town for the PGA so it was a great opportunity to catch up with people I hadn’t seen in years, especially since I rarely spend the holidays in NY anymore.

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One of the highlights of my trip was getting together with 3 of childhood friends for a playdate with their children. My friend Jenn hosted, who has been one of my best friends since we were 13. My mom came along, since she’s good friends with Jenn’s mom, and we were laughing to ourselves as we walked up their front path about how many times I had been to Jenn’s house for things like prom pictures, New Years Eve sleepovers, even a dinner party for our high school Spanish club… and now we were here for a kiddo playdate. The other two girls, Kristen and Laura, I have known since elementary school and their little boys, Ryan and Nate, are 1 month and 2 months older than Bo respectively. It was so, so fun.

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I also got to spend some time catching up with friends from the neighborhood I grew up (that none of us actually live in anymore.) It was totally a picturesque 80s suburb neighborhood where we played capture the flag and rode our bikes all over until it was time to go home for dinner. (Our moms are all best buds to this day and refer to themselves as “the hood ladies.” I love it.) A couple years ago, I reconnected with some of the “hood kids” over Twitter. I had a fun night catching up with them in real life at a cookout – and finally got to meet the wife of one of my childhood buddies, who I’ve talked to on Twitter for the last two years! We actually got together for a walk earlier in the day, and it felt strange to say “nice to meet you” because it really was just like seeing an old friend. This is why I love the Twitters.

We also celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary while we were at home! Hard to believe 6 years have flown by already. We opted not to go out because of the PGA crowds, and had a yummy dinner at home with the family and shared a bottle of our favorite champs.

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It was a fun trip home, even with the travel drama, and I’m happy we had both the opportunity to spend some time with my family (and for Matt to spend some time with his favorite golfers) as well as get to see far-flung friends I miss. I absolutely love our life in NC, but going home to Pittsford in the summer time and seeing childhood friends sure makes me nostalgic for my roots and wishing the road to get there wasn’t quite as long as it is.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bo’s (Actual) Birthday

I didn’t have time to be weepy or nostalgic during Bo’s birthday party and really mostly just felt grateful and happy to have our friends and family there celebrating.

I woke up in the wee hours of Sunday morning to let Buddy out for his usual middle of the night backyard frolic and when I came back to bed, I clicked on my phone to see what time it was and gasped.

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I smiled to myself remembering 3:18 am exactly one year ago. The rush of emotions that had come over when the doctor announced “he has blonde hair!” and I glanced up at the clock to see how long I had been pushing. It was 3:18 am. Seconds later, my son was here.

I laid back in bed and closed my eyes, relieving as much as I could of the rest of that day before I drifted back off to sleep.

The rest of the day was a pretty normal day, although we celebrated with dinner at one of our favorite places, Wen Hwa, where the servers always trip over themselves to dote on him. Then we kept the sugar rush from yesterday going with a trip to Wolfie’s Custard and strolled around downtown for a bit.

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Happy Birthday, Bo! Here’s to another wonderful year ahead.

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