This year has been one of our more change-heavy ones! Here’s a few updates from the last time we sent out a Christmas letter.
Steven joined Bloomerang as VP of Marketing in May. He educates not-for-profit organizations on how to use web and social media for donor retention, and I usually learn a thing or two when I read his published posts across the internet. He is also a bit of a local expert on social media and inbound marketing. We often get jests from family and friends that they see/hear more from Steven on TV and radio than in person! Steven is still involved with the Historic Irvington Halloween Festival, Art Institute of Indianapolis and CICOA, and he continues to speak at various conferences and meetings all over the United States.
As of August, Leah is Communications Director for Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter. I am responsible for media relations, marketing and promotions and overall communications for the statewide chapter. The Association provides complimentary services to families caring for those with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia, as well as raises funds for Alzheimer’s research. This fall, one of my design pieces I completed for Joy’s House – the annual report & calendar – won a national award for creativity and design. For fun, I dyed my hair red to celebrate my 30th birthday in May and was featured in the Indianapolis Star with my childhood best friend for our unique ways to celebrate the new decade.
Wes, now 2, has recently exploded his vocabulary. He has been named “class clown” for his humorous antics and ability to lead his other classmates into silly phrases and actions. Despite his goofy side, Wes is very loving and enjoys giving hugs and now, kisses. He scolds the dogs just like Daddy and then nuzzles his face in Lucy’s fur (which then gives him hives). We’re still in diapers, but he’s showing more interest in bathroom procedures. His favorite foods are pizza, grapes, apple sauce and green beans. His favorite color is purple, or sometimes, yellow. Right now, he’s fascinated with the “Chri-muh tree” and points out every single “ai-pwane” in the sky.
Jake, the 8-year-old Italian Greyhound, is becoming a cranky old man. He loves to groom himself and stay warm under covers, and he makes it known when he doesn’t want to be bothered. He still has lots of affection and follows me around the house until I sit down long enough for him to hop in it. Lucy, the 4-year-old lab/pit sweetheart, doesn’t realize how big she is. She is wholly devoted to Jake, and she obeys his every word/move. She wouldn’t hurt a fly, though she looks out for her pack members. She and Jake are an odd pair, but they are the best snuggle buddies – especially in a patch of found sunlight.
As we get older, our world gets smaller and perhaps more boring. But, we’re happy and ready to see what 2014 brings! Thanks for being a part of our lives.
Posted: December 6th, 2013
Tags: Christmas update
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From our house to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
For our annual year-end updates, click here.
We’re doing something a little different this year. The money typically spent on printing and mailing our Christmas cards is going directly to support my friend of nearly 20 years, Angie Mayle. She and her young family are moving in July to a small Madagascar island to serve as medical missionaries. To follow their journey, visit maylesinafrica.com.
Posted: December 6th, 2013
, Christmas update
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This year is weird. So many twists and turns and never really knowing up from down. But since it’s Thanksgiving season, I wanted to take a moment to be still and reflect on our blessings. Because we do have a lot.
Around this time last year, I was not content. There were things I wanted to change about everything. I complained about the size of our house. I was overwhelmed at work. I didn’t feel connected to our church family. And I so badly wanted a better car. I’m sure I was a nightmare to live with. Poor Steven.
It wasn’t fun to live that way. This past spring, I prayed (not very hard, mind you), that I would learn to be content with my surroundings. I typically don’t like change, but it’s funny when you’re set on something new and different and it doesn’t phase you as “change.” Even though it wasn’t a very fervent prayer, I know God understood my heart and where I wanted to be. And this Thanksgiving, I can say, “it’s okay. I’m good.”
Our house isn’t big or glamorous, but it’s cozy. And I love that we are “forced” to spend every evening together in the same room as a family. Tough nickels, eh? Our neighbors are wonderful. And it’s a snap to clean since there isn’t much that gets dirty!
The most remarkable and difficult and out-of-nowhere change happened this summer. After 2012 passed and the dust settled, I became comfortable in my job again. I was happy, but things weren’t right. Just when I started to understand (and sob) that it was time to move on, my current position fell into my lap. It made so much sense that I’m still baffled today at the easy transition. Not that it was easy to leave; quite the contrary. But once the mourning period was over, I was able to spread my wings. My 4.5 years at Joy’s House taught me to fly.
Our church is small, and on a typical Sunday, we average 80 members in attendance. Most of those 80 people are older families or empty nesters. I have hoped for and desired a handful of people our age with young kids that share similarities with me and Steven to join our church so painfully much that it got in the way of the things that really mattered. I’m relearning how to love our congregation. Did you know that you CAN be friends with 50 and 60-year-olds? And heck, they have lots of living under their belts to give you straight answers and advice.
It seems silly now to write about a car. But, you know? You spend a lot of time in that thing, and when you don’t love your car, it can be a problem. I’ve never really had a car I loooooved like some people do, but I certainly had affection toward my first driving-machines. The car I currently drive – it’s not its fault that I don’t draw a big heart around its name – wasn’t my choice of vehicle when we bought it. I had higher hopes outside of our price range. It’s a fine car, really: gets great gas mileage, has a wonderful warranty and everything. But over the last few years, I decided I NEEDED a Subaru Outback. I spent hours researching used Subies for killer deals, and it became salt in the wound for all of us. Instead of learning to love my car, I’ve become detached. Now, it’s “just a car.” Who cares, really? It gets us safely from point A to point B, and all Wes cares about is firetrucks.
So, there. Just a few things that I can now call blessings. There’s still a lot to be done to be fully content; it’s a work in progress. Honestly, it doesn’t mean that I’m always happy and life is full of rainbows. But being content with who you are, where you live and what you’re doing – well, that’s peace I haven’t known before. It’s nice not to worry so much about every little thing. To hand over the reigns and walk down the path set before you.
And I know I’m getting sappier as I age, but I embrace it. I like that I can morph this Leah into a gentler, sympathetic, more loving person. Well, actually, I guess it’s the guy upstairs who’s doing the morphing… but I’ll follow.
Posted: November 20th, 2013
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As Wes is developing more likes and dislikes, it’s entertaining to see what he gravitates to. We don’t watch much TV as a family while Wes is awake, but we do allow a little PBS time while the adults are getting ready in the morning. Thomas & Friends is obviously a favorite because it’s full of talking trains. Now Thomas appears in conversations, along with his other favorites: tractors, clouds, busses, airplanes and firetrucks. He also like Martha Speaks, mainly because it directly follows Thomas on PBS.
This week I made the comment to Steven about how I used to get annoyed as a child that Thomas & Friends started taking over Brio train sets. And I started talking about how it all started with Shining Time Station, a PBS show that I didn’t really like to watch, but did anyway when I was home sick. It starred Ringo Star, who was a conductor the size of a ruler. He would tell the children of the small town train station, who were the only ones who could see Mr. Conductor, of course, stories of a fictional train. The show would then transition into the Thomas & Friends shorts.
Steven had no idea what I was talking about, as is typical. But the conversation got me all nostalgic about shows I enjoyed as a preschooler like Wes. With an older sister, I watched shows that might have been slightly above my age level, but I loved them all the same.
The Great Space Coaster theme song has been stuck in my head all week. I loved the giant elephant puppet in particular. A few shows were taped off Saturday morning TV, and I rewatched that VHS (complete with old commercials!) over and over again.
Zoobilee Zoo! I still catch myself humming this theme song. I had great admiration for Whazzat Kangaroo. She was beautiful – mostly because she resembled a pink ballerina. Apparently there are multiple full episodes on YouTube. Noted.
I remember wondering if all mannequins were like the guy in Today’s Special. What a cool idea for a show.
And then, remember Small Wonder? Truthfully, I don’t think this was a regular show in our “line up,” but the opening song and the shot of her robotic back amazed me as a child.
Equally as great as Small Wonder is Out of This World, which starred an alien who talked to a little girl through a prism. Of course, I can’t omit Punky Brewster or Alf, but I feel like everyone remembers those shows well.
I guess I had a thing for outer spacey, mystically magically great characters. Or, more likely, my sister did, and I just watched whatever she chose! These clips look so outdated, but it makes me feel happy and nostalgic. Knowing how excited Wes becomes over Thomas the Tank Engine, maybe he’ll be giddy over 30-year-old clips found down the road, too. I have a feeling Thomas will look the same in 2040.
Posted: November 7th, 2013
Tags: 80s child
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He’s really a good kid. His teachers tell me, unprompted, that he’s an entertaining and mostly obedient child in their class. And he makes friends much more easily these few months. But I tell you what. He’s definitely TWO.
Because Halloween evening’s weather was the pits, the city moved treat-or-treating to the following night, which was yesterday. Our office closed early both days, so I was excited to spend the afternoon with my buddy. Steven left early yesterday morning for a weekend-long business trip, and I was thinking how fun it’d be to get a Papa Murphy’s pumpkin pizza and pass out candy to the neighbor kids.
I finished some errands before heading to Wes’ preschool. His class was still sleeping, so I waited a few minutes until he woke up to make sure he was good and rested for the evening. “Hi, Mama!” Seriously, he kills me with his over-excitedness to see me out of his ordinary schedule. On the way home we talked about pumpkins and what to eat for dinner. (Usually chicken nuggets is suggested from the back seat.)
Since it was too early to eat when we got home, I thought it would be fun to watch some annoying, kid-friendly Halloween shorts on Netflix. Wes wasn’t interested in any of the crackers or snacks I brought out for him, which I thought was weird. We watched a few minutes of Thomas the Train Spooky Stories, and then, out of the blew, Wes vomited all over the couch. It’s the first time I ever saw him throw up. Ever.
The poor kid was so distraught and confused. I took him to the bathroom to hose him off a little and console him. I cleaned up the couch, and he seemed normal enough, so we watched a few more minutes of Thomas. Mistakenly, I gave him a package of fruit snacks that he quickly gobbled up. Within minutes, there was another watery mess on the floor to clean up. The weird thing was the consistency of the vomit – mostly water. I figured he would soon get dehydrated if this continued, so we packed up to get some Pedialyte, and guess what? I was the mom with a spewing kid in a store isle!
Weirdly enough, we made it through the majority of the evening pretty well. I didn’t know what this kid HAD, so not only was I responsible for a public vomit-mess, I was also the person with lots of candy and no porch lights on. I felt so guilty every time a group of kids came on our porch. I felt like I was hiding from salesmen or Mormon missionaries. And now what do I do with all this chocolate?! Now I realize the enormity of the Halloween candy haul problem. IT WILL GET EATEN.
We hunkered down and watched Dumbo – mainly to distract Wes enough during the 15 minute intervals between small Pedialyte dosages. He was sooooo thirsty and whined for “MORE WATER.” I knew he would guzzle down too much and spew it back up if I let him, so it seemed like a very long movie. All was pretty well until he got up to go to bed… and you can guess. Ugh. #4.
Now here comes the part where I say he’s “definitely two.” See, typcially, Wes is super easy to put down for bed. And he was again last night. He brushed his teeth happily and laid down and repeated all the words of my prayer, as usual. I went back into the living room to eat some candy and actually have dinner (since I felt bad he couldn’t), and enjoyed a little “me” time. But around 10:30, he whined enough for me to check in on him. Instead of going back down, as he usually does, he sat straight up and refused to go back to bed. Maybe it was because Steven wasn’t home, or maybe he just felt awful – or both, really – that for the next TWO HOURS STRAIGHT he screamed, cried, wriggled, and nearly lost his voice in defiance.
I’ve been offering choices to Wes over the last few months to help him feel like he has a little more control – though he is actually doing something under mine. So for what seemed an hour, I calmly explained that I could see he was upset, but that it was time for bed and why it was important, blah blah and gave him the choice to go to bed 1) in his room or 2) in my bed, with me. I really thought this would be a no-brainer, even though I really didn’t want to give him the option to sleep with me. Instead, this only prolonged his full-blown tantrum. I tried everything. Putting him back into his bed and letting him cry with fingers crossed he would eventually fall asleep (nope, only worsening screams), holding him in bed with me as he tossed and wrangled, letting him throw a fit on my bedroom floor, thinking it would be ok if he fell asleep there (nope), offering more “water,” putting him in time out…
I mean seriously. It was almost 1 a.m., and I considered strapping him into his carseat and driving to my parents’ house. I almost expected to hear a knock on my door from how loud and how LONG he screamed bloody murder. I’ve never seen anything like this from him. Of course I wondered if maybe delirium was possible from dehydration and if I should take him to the ER… everything crossed my mind.
Finally I broke. I looked at Wes and started sobbing. Through tears, I told him I didn’t know how to solve his problem, but that I loved him. And that I was sad and tired. I set him down and walked to my bedroom. He stopped screaming, followed me down the hallway, raised his arms up and snuggled into bed with me.
From toddler kicks and jolts throughout the night, I obviously didn’t sleep well. I cried silently at various times and found myself wishing Steven was home. I wasn’t mad at Wes, but I was upset with myself that I couldn’t resolve the tantrum. But maybe that’s the point?
For as bad as a night it was, I woke up to little pudgy hands tracing the shape of my cheek and touching my nose to a whispered, “beep, beep.” The smile on his face this morning was priceless.
Here’s hoping tonight is a little smoother, but thankfully we had a successful naptime today. You know, I’m learning so much as a parent. It truly is the most challenging thing I’ve ever attempted. I may not be getting straight A’s, but I don’t think I’m failing. At least, based on his loving gestures and our breathy in-bed chats from this morning, Wes doesn’t think so!
Posted: November 2nd, 2013
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Today was an all-around great fall-ish day. The weather was perfect. And it was a rare day off in the middle of Walk to End Alzheimer’s season to boot. I will now wow you with a collection of photos and cute happenings from little people.
If you’re looking for a killer deal, head to a small, local pumpkin patch on the inaugural morning of their annual month-long fall festival. They opened at 9 a.m., and we arrived at 9:30, only to be greeted by a bunch of apologetic employees saying most things were still being set up (apparently there’s a super awesome pumpkin-eating dinosaur). In return, we received half off our admission AND a season pass to come back later. You know what’s the best? A two-year-old doesn’t know any different, so it was a fun morning with the promise of another fun morning(s).
There were tractors (RACK [pause] TOR!) and pumpkins (PUN-kin) and miniature horses (neighs) and baby goats (baaa) to pet. We walked through a corn maze and discovered a tractor which was brilliantly turned into a slide. Wes kicked and screamed mightily when we had to go. We were covered in mud, and it was great. Even stopped for pumpkin spiced lattes on the way home.
Once home, we found a praying mantis on our front porch. Also found were grasshoppers and crickets resting in our new mums. How cool. Probably any other day I would have missed these little pieces of intrigue hanging out under our noses. Having a little boy is so fun – he totally loves dirt and bugs and things with engines and horns.
Later on, I met my mom, sister, niece and baby nephew at a tea room. Earlier this year, my mom had promised Elli, 5, a proper tea party with the girls. And proper it was! We dressed up and wore my late great aunt’s gloves (she had an enormous collection) for the 3-course tea party, complete with sandwiches, scones and desserts. Elli felt so special this afternoon, and her joy was contagious. I just love her. She makes me laugh deep down in the gut, and she makes me proud to the point of tears. There’s definitely something to be said about love for a child (outside of your own)- especially your sister’s first-born. I love all my nieces and nephews tremendously; Elli just has a little different kind of love from me. It’s hard to explain any more than that.
I came home to my two boys, who did not care that they missed out on such a fun, girly experience, and enjoyed the great outdoors a little more. One of my favorite activities of the past few months is “family yard work.” I’m not very handy in this area, but I do enjoy pulling weeds and dead-heading flowers while Steven mows the lawn and Wesley wanders around with his bubble mower. It’s really the best. I will be sad to say goodbye to these days once the weather turns in.
Dinner is more fun than ever before, now that Wes is actually saying literal words. He’s always been chatty at meal times, but now we understand most of what he’s saying. The evening ended with a rousing version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and other songs. This basically means that Wes watches my mouth intently while I sing most of the words, and chimes in triumphantly with the last word of every line.
Twinkle, twinkle little STAR!!
How I wonder what you ARE!!
UP-PA UP-PA WORLD so HIGH
Like a DA-MON in the SKY
Twinkle, twinkle little STAR!!
How I wonder what you ARE!!
We sang all the way to the bedroom, said our prayers, and I closed his bedroom door with a smile on my face. It was a great fall-ish day.
Posted: September 28th, 2013
, nieces & nephews
, pumpkin patch
, tea party
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South Haven, MI
Last year we took our first family vacation just after Labor Day to Hilton Head. It was the perfect time to go because everyone else was in school. We vacationed among snowbirds and locals and retirees. Hardly any busy families in sight. Our place was steps from the beach and swimming pool, so we had options for Wes, the little guy. It was even better because all the rates went down after Labor Day. We had thought about taking a “real” summer vacation this year, but because of our job changes, it made most sense to wait until September again.
Our first idea was to drive up to Toronto for a week. This idea still intrigues us, and we may decide to go next year or sometime in the near future, but we quickly realized it might be a little too much for a two-year-old. We needed somewhere relatively close by. Preferably a beach of sorts, because it just makes it an easy vacation for everyone. Plenty of sand entertainment for the kid, plenty of sun and reasons to be lazy for the parents. And we needed to find a place to stay close to the beach for naps and short duration beach visits.
Hilton Head was great for us last year, but we knew the drive would be too much for Wes now. Lake Michigan came to mind, and we had lots of suggestions from friends that frequent the area. Neither Steven or I had ever stayed near Lake Michigan for any length of time. We settled on South Haven, Michigan, because of the layout of the town and easy access to the beach. Our apartment rental was located within a late 1800′s Victorian home just 3 blocks from the water. The neighborhood was picturesque and reminded me of Irvington in some ways. Beautiful old homes with tiny yards and manicured lawns. People sitting on porches. Quaint and inviting.
The beach is separated by two piers, each with its own lighthouse. Our house was near South Beach, which had its own playground within the sand. As soon as Wes saw the his-size swings, he was in heaven. We spent the afternoons introducing Wes to beach bum life – although he pretty much failed at this. He was always moving.
I don’t know why I thought I would be able to read on the beach like all my previous summer vacations. I reduced my take-along book count significantly this year (only one, with the Kindle as a back up), and I am just halfway through it. Hahaha, I have so much to learn about family vacations. The only time I had to read was nap time. However, I was so tired from poor night sleeping and wake ups with Wes that I usually took my own nap during those times.
But, we had great fun over the course of 4 days. Because the mornings were too chilly and windy for the beach, we visited an orchard and petting zoo,
climbed sand dunes at a nearby state park (i.e. nearly passed out from cardiac arrest) and visited a neighboring beach town for a carousel ride and children’s museum.
Our trip was short, but it was just about the right amount of time away. The drive wasn’t bad at all – just about four hours. We opted to go up along 65 in order to pass through the windmill farm, which is always an out-of-body experience for Wesley. “WHOA! STARS! STARS, MAMA!” For twenty minutes straight. And! To divide up the trip a little on the way home today, we stopped at Fair Oaks Farms for a totally fun dairy adventure and some fresh milk. Highly recommend.
If we decide to go back (which is highly possible), I’d want to go during peak summer season. Yes, it was nice that there were no lines or crowds anywhere we went, but most places were closed for the season by the time we arrived. The morning and evenings were pleasant, but too cold for swimsuits or boat rides. Apples were just beginning to be ready for picking, but we were a few weeks late for the famous Michigan blueberries.
I’d love to venture a little further north to check out some other Michigan beach towns. I enjoyed day trips to Mackinac Island and Holland as a kid, and I think Wes would, too.
(The above photo is my attempt of self-timer family photography. It still makes me laugh.)
The best part about our vacation week? It didn’t matter where we were; Wes was busy talking, learning new words and discovering his world. Though he has been to lakes and beaches before, everything seemed new to him, and it was thrilling to watch. He sensed that we were on a special trip away from home, and he loved that we were paying so much attention to him. Staying up a little later than normal, eating not-so-healthy and exploring new places – it was all adventurous, and his excitement was contagious.
I don’t mind that my book is half-read because I got some great photos of some great memories. You can see them here.
Posted: September 6th, 2013
Tags: Lake Michigan
, South Haven
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Since my last post, Part 1, I have received a steady stream of encouragement and sympathy. I really do not want to hand my dogs over to another family, believe me. If we can figure out a way to alleviate some of the allergy symptoms, we/I will. The issue is that our pediatrician likes to have at least a 2.5 year history of issues in order to proceed with any testing or diagnosis. I’m hoping the symptoms die down a little this fall when Lucy isn’t shedding as much.
Speaking of Lucy, she deserves to have her story told as well.
In April 2010, my sister was getting ready to deliver my nephew, Jeremiah, born with spina bifida. It was considered a high-risk delivery, so our family rallied together during his arrival and first surgery procedures. I spent many hours at Riley Hospital for Children, worrying, praying and holding the newest member of my family. During the months leading up to his birth, Steven and I were looking for another dog. Nothing had panned out well for us.
I was sitting in a waiting room at Riley when Steven texted me that a friend and neighbor found a stray puppy walking along Ellenberger Park. They didn’t have room to keep her overnight, and Steven offered to take her in while we tried to find her owners. I came home late that night, but as soon I walked through the door, she greeted me with a wagging tail and crooked ears. She was a little shy, but she craved our approval, and we invited her into our bed (with Jake, of course) that night.
Honestly, we didn’t look very hard for her owners. She was too nice to be just a stray, but later that week, we heard about a similar-looking dog also wandering in Ellenberger Park. How could anyone dump such a sweet little girl?
We started calling her Lucy. That name was reserved for our first baby girl, but we decided it fit her. And she was our first baby girl. She was probably 4 or 5 months old when she became a Shattuck.
Lucy is the kindest, dumbest dog I’ve ever known. Her reasons for living are only to please and to play. Unlike Jake, she was housebroken in less than a month. She could chew through indestructible bones and toys within minutes. And she followed her big brother Jake all around the house, learning to wait until he was finished eating to drinking to venture toward the bowls. (If she forgot, he quickly let her know her mistake.)
Because her heart is so big, her brain is quite small. Isn’t that what an American dog is supposed to be like? She continually bumps into tables, doors and walls, is afraid of the vacuum sweeper and doesn’t know a stranger. She also thinks she is a lap dog and whimpers if she doesn’t fit into small spaces like Jake does. I laugh at her antics but also appreciate her ability to sense when I need a hug. She is a wonderful comforter and snuggle companion.
Her 55-pound body is muscular and strong. Her tail alone can wipe out glasses sitting on the coffee table, or take out small children. I was hesitant to introduce her to newborn Wesley, but she has been gentle and caring toward him since Day 1. I like her call her Mama Hen. She protects her people and guards her little boy from the wild world.
She and Jake couldn’t be more opposite. He prances; she stomps. He’s delicate; she’s clumsy. But they are great siblings to each other. She made him a better dog, really. They got onto the same feeding and potty schedule, and they learned to play together. The commonality is that they both want to be with their people at all times, and they are both lounging, lazy couch potatoes. They may fight one minute, but soon after you’ll find them cuddling together.
And Wes? Oh goodness. There is a form of love between the three of them that I’m unable to describe. He is of their pack, and I dread the day it has to be broken – from sickness, death or whatever.
I honestly don’t know that I could endure a night without listening to Lucy’s snores and grunts in the dark. A life without Lucy would be… I just don’t know. Foreign.
She is our Lucy Bird, our Lucyberger and Lucy-loo.
Posted: August 30th, 2013
, spina bifida
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Wes rolls around on our bed, which is covered in dog hair. Then he gleefully grasps Lucy’s face in his hands and laughs as she gives him a big kiss. He pats Jake and tells him, “Hiiiiiii!!!” and then rubs his eyes. Within minutes, I have a kid with red hives popping up all over his face. <– This is a fairly common occurrence over the last few months.
I fear we may have a child on the brink of an official diagnosis of allergies. And I fear that our dogs are included in the unknown list of allergens. Of course, this is not confirmed, and we have been told that kids have to be at least 2.5 to get tested for anything, but I am starting to unravel slowly.
I try to sweep/vacuum/dust/whatever as much as possible. We have wood floors in every room. No carpet anywhere except for a couple area rugs. Our house is small, so it’s easy to clean. But days get away from me, and soon the laundry piles up, the sheets need changed and the floors need sweeping again. It’s not an ideal situation for a child with developing allergies and acute asthma (also not diagnosed, yet), which makes everything all the worse.
My dogs – Jake and Lucy – are my companions. I can’t imagine life without them.
Steven, on the other hand, could care less if we had to find new homes for our beloved animals. At least, for a little while. But even though they get on his nerves more often than not, I see glimpses of attachment and – dare I say it – love from time to time.
National Dog Day was a few days ago, and it was also the day I realized that I may eventually have to endure pain that I haven’t experienced before. You see, I ached for a dog of my own as I grew up. My sister had allergies similar to what I suspect of Wesley, and we even had to move our pet cat, Sarah, outdoors. So of course a dog was out of the question. (Plus my dad claims to “hate dogs,” but I don’t fully believe him.)
I had a stuffed animal dog that I cuddled with for ages, probably even up until high school. I clearly remember thinking that I wanted a dog similar to the size of my stuffed animal – one that would cuddle with me a night and fit within my arms as I laid on my side to sleep. I didn’t know what kind of dog would do that, but I would find out. My mom cheerfully replied every time I asked for a dog, “You are most welcome to have a dog of your own when you live on your own.”
As my college graduation date approached, I started my research. I wanted to adopt a dog from a rescue organization. Online compatibility tests always matched me with hounds, and I decided to adopt a retired racing greyhound. I connected with a few Indy rescue organizations. Once I learned that my new job and living environment might not be a good fit for a greyhound, I looked into Whippets and then Italian Greyhounds.
Funny thing is, every book I read and all the sites I visited cautioned new dog owners about Italian Greyhounds. There were many in foster and adoptive care because of high owner surrender. Difficult to train, very clever animals. But I wanted one badly. I passed the tests and home visits and thought I would be giving a home to a gray or blue 5 or 6-year-old girl Iggy. Most dogs in rescue programs are adult, but I didn’t care.
A few weeks later, I received a phone call that a 6-month-old puppy was surrendered as a “failed show pup.” His ears turned up in a funny way, so he couldn’t be bred or shown. The owners had let him roam free on a horse farm, so I was told that he was muscular, a unique color and “cute as a button.” His name was Jake, and could I meet him this week?
I took Steven with me to meet Jake, the puppy. I fell in love, instantly. He wasn’t the blue colored older girl I hoped for, but he was mine. I knew it.
He had a pink nose and a wild, energetic spirit. I left work during my lunch break to let him out of his crate and play with him every day. Since he was crated most of the day (if not he would have trashed the apartment), I felt bad for keeping him crated at night, too. One night I brought him into bed with me, and he climbed right into my arms and fell asleep. He was the dog I day dreamed about as a kid.
Sleeping with my dog has been a nightly occurrence for 7 years now. Sure, he’s too clever for his own good, and I admit he’s a bit of a jerk, but I love him. He was my original companion before Steven and I got married. We spent evenings together, played together and enjoyed the single life together. I love how he buries under blankets and grooms himself for 20 minutes every time he sits down. I love how he jumps into anyone’s lap and makes a new friend. He has tolerated Wesley’s toddlerhood well, and everyone loves him. Seriously, everyone. We can’t go anywhere in public without people pointing and asking questions and wanting to pet Jake. (Poor Lucy is too average.)
I really can’t picture a Shattuck house without Jake. If we have to find a new home for him, I will be heartbroken. He is my dog.
Jake, Jakey, Jake-a-roo
Posted: August 28th, 2013
, Italian Greyhound
Comments: 1 Comment
August 17, 2007. I typically don’t like odd numbers; they make me uncomfortable. I usually see things in pairs and group like items together when I browse a room. When it’s an odd number, though, it drives me nuts. Where is the missing “partner?”
When it was time to book our wedding date, we had a few snags in the plan. Gen Con, a gaming convention, coincided with our wedding weekend, and many hotels were booked way in advance. I also had a previously planned trip to London scheduled before we were engaged, so we wanted to make it work out as our honeymoon. Because of this, we ended up having to hold the wedding on a Friday night. I didn’t mind this so much, except that the date was the seventeenth. Of the 2000-seventh year. If we had gotten married in July, though, the seventh month, I wouldn’t have minded because that looks more pleasing to the eye. 7/17/2007 – OR even – 7/7/07! But, we were “stuck” with August 17.
I wasn’t going to be a bridezilla about it, and figured I would eventually glaze over the issue in my head. And I have.
In fact, seven is a pretty special number. For starters, it’s one of God’s favorite numbers, and it appears seventy-seven times seventy-seven times throughout the Bible. (I’m exaggerating, maybe.) All throughout grade school, I was “Leah 7,” meaning I was usually the seventh person down in alpha order in our class. We had to code all of our papers that way. Not to mention the number seven’s reputation for luckiness.
Now that we’re entering our seventh year of marriage, I’m excited to see what success and prosperity it might hold for us. Thankfully, it’s starting out on the right foot. I began my new position at Alzheimer’s Association this past week, and while it was plenty busy and all-encompassing, I feel very welcomed and supported by my new coworkers. Granted, I have felt a little homesick for my Joy’s House family, but I have allowed myself to feel this on purpose – I think it will help me in the long run. It will force me to stay connected to my friends and fellow volunteers and keep my mission focus in sight.
Wesley also began a new change this past week. He moved up to a 2′s class and has transitioned really well. I am proud of my little boy and how much he has broken out of his shell. He seems nearly ready for potty training, so expect some high/low posts on this subject in the near future…
Steven is my rock star entrepreneurial, risk-taking husband. He is on a fast track for success, and I love his overflowing confidence. It’s rubbing off of me, and he encourages me now more than ever. He’s proud of my accomplishments, and I know he has my back. We’ve both come a long way over these six years of marriage.
August 17, 2013
We celebrated with a quick dinner outing sans kid last night, then ventured to a used book store for gobbles of new-to-us-ness. Today, our actual anniversary, we spent our Saturday morning with a cranky child, and we made the most of it. A trip to the Children’s Museum for a couple hours (Wes now requests to see the “neighs,” meaning the horses on the carousel.), followed by a PotBelly sandwich lunch and a long nap at home was just what we needed. We’re getting much better at being flexible and just going with the flow of a 2-year-old’s mood swings.
Wes woke up slightly more cranky, if that’s possible, but Steven and I tag-teamed back and forth to get him in a better mood (outside is key) so that we could venture downtown for some Gen Con costume sightings and some frozen yogurt. Success.
I love Steven’s ability to be a wonderful husband, father and companion. He brings my stress levels down several notches with his silly and ridiculous ways. We continue to learn and grow together, especially as new(er) parents-in-crime. I feel pretty lucky, so I guess this is my year!
Posted: August 17th, 2013
Tags: Alzheimer's Association
, Gen Con
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