Category Archives: Dogs

Wow: An End-of-the-Year Sigh.

The last month and a half has been difficult. It’s not the kind of difficult that needs fixing, it’s just one of those periods of rough transition that inevitably comes and must be weathered in order to emerge with the tools you need for the next season. I call this a ‘desert time,’ referring to the many times in the Bible that God led people into the desert for a period of difficulty and growth, like Abraham, Moses, Elijah, David and Jesus.

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Factors in the mix include:

  • the kids’ adjustment to the new baby- which brings emotional and behavioral parenting challenges despite the fact that they are both in love with their little brother
  • our family’s adjustment to June’s ongoing and changing medical needs- which also brings emotional and practical routine changes for all of us constantly
  • a few recent emergencies and hospital trips with June (which all resolved well)
  • the irregular schedule that comes with a new nursing baby
  • the difficulty of having energetic young children under the same roof as elderly dogs
  • the need to adjust physical limits and teaching/discipline strategies as the kids’ abilities and independence increase each day, not the least of which is June being able to remove her pulse ox and HME at will (more on that soon)
  • the kids’ love of “sensory play,” and the soap, water, pom pom, toilet paper, cereal, coin, fabric, dirt, paint …. messes that result, often as a surprise discovery for me due to the previous point
  • never-ending adventures in potty training ‘interest’ from the kids that I *try* to patiently encourage and help them with, but that doesn’t seem to be developing into actual training
  • the typical holiday busy-ness with related events and tasks (though seeing family and friends was a very welcome treat)
  • time spent launching my baby sign language business which was time well spent, but definitely a tight fit into our schedule and routine
  • the normal end-of-the-year paperwork for the house, taxes, insurance, banking, career, etc.

This month and a half I’ve been mostly praying a variation on a specific part of the Lord’s prayer- “give us our daily bread-” by praying for manna for the day.  By prayer I mean words mumbled with a palm on my face when the newest parenting challenge presents itself, as an alternative to breaking objects out of frustration- not prayers done formally during a serene, set-aside time. This is a reference to the Old Testament when God provided daily food- manna- to the Israelites every morning in the desert, but only enough for that day or that day plus the Sabbath.  Similar to my favorite slogan, “One day (or hour or minute) at a time,” I find it comforting to focus on God’s provision for the current needs, even if the future needs and provision are unknown. And, like manna, I’ve had just enough energy and patience each day during this time to compete the bare essentials.

But I think and hope the ‘transition’ period is over and the ‘new season’ has begun.

A few tools I have emerged with, and have big hopes for, include:

  • Prayer/meditation/alone time which I strive to capture once a day
  • Continue to prioritize my own self-care and non-parenting activities like seeing friends, being involved in several church activities, and learning sign language
  • Toy rotation (see this wonderful series on it)
  • Rotation of the chore magnets, so that the often-skipped chores move up in priority the longer I avoid them

Chores Magnet Board

  • Updated homeschool schedule– we’ve been pretty unstructured so far, which I feel is a good fit for the kids’ ages.  However, I think a little more structure will help curb the conflicts between the kids and the surprise messes.
  • Reorganization of several common “problem areas” of the house, which are no longer functional or which aren’t a good fit for the kids needs right now
  • Expanding the use of “toy jail” to include temporarily losing toys that aren’t picked up at the end of the day
  • Rehoming my sweet dog, Sahara, with my parents, perhaps temporarily until her hip problems and the kids’ spontaneity aren’t such a dangerous combination

SaharaBed

  • Playdates or outings- I plan to try my best, but it may not result in many trips because of our need to keep June away from sniffles/coughs, our need to be near to June’s medical equipment, June and Miles’ sensitivity to cold air, and having to work in/around June and Miles’ feedings
  • A part-time return to cloth diapering, which I love but I avoided when June was young due to her health; I hope it will help with potty training and the challenges of having three kids in diapers
  • Breathing. I’m surprised how often I catch myself nearly holding my breath when I’m stressed.  Seems like breathing is good. I’d like to do more of it.
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A Day in the Life, Updated #1day12pics

One of the most frequently pinned posts here is A Day in the Life, in which I describe a typical day for us as a family with a medically complex child. So much has changed since I wrote that a year and a half ago- June is walking, climbing, and communicating (signing), she has a g-tube, is NPO (can’t eat by mouth until her trachea fully heals from the LTR surgery this summer) and we have a new little guy here too!  So today I am issuing an update in the fun “one photo an hour” format that has been popular for years but, in true 30-something-mom fashion, I only recently learned about.  I chose October 30th, and I have (at least) one photo from every hour of our day, plus a description of what we were up to- the medical, the mundane, and the unexpected. My hope is that by sharing a little of our experience, I can provide support, raise awareness, and dispel some of the mystery surrounding the special needs/medically complex life.

6 AM

6AM

I wake up, Rowan is awake*, and we eat breakfast.

I have one baby monitor watching June and one listening to Miles.

Rowan tries to persuade me to take my coffee, breakfast burrito and cheddar biscuit upstairs so we can play Jurassic Park on the computer during breakfast.

*We opt for early bedtimes for the kids (6-7pm) but that *does* translate into early  mornings, too.  Rowan is up by 6 most days, and June wakes shortly afterward.  Miles sleeps a little later some days.

7 AM

7am

I see on the video monitor that June is awake.  We complete her morning routine including turning off the overnight humidifier, turning off the pulse ox and removing the probe, draining the G-button extension, administering her three morning meds via the G-button, changing clothes and diaper, and then grabbing the new feeding bag, new suction catheters, feeding pump and backpack that we need for the day.


7am (2)

While I gather supplies June gets away from me and proudly sneaks some crackers since the baby gate securing the kitchen was still down from the previous night.  Much of my day is spent keeping June away from food since she is NPO.  Much of June’s day is spent trying to acquire food.
7am4

In addition to baby gates securing the kitchen, we keep our kitchen chairs up high or with cushions removed so June can’t use them to reach food (she’s an expert at this).

7am3

 

I mix June’s formula for the day using blender bottles, place June in the high chair and connect her feeding pump to her extension for her morning meal.

I check our pharmacy hours on the web as they were closed the night before when we went to pick up meds.  Sadly, new shorter hours are in place.

I feed the dogs, note that one of them is still inexplicably limping, and let them outside.

Miles cries but I find him still sleeping when I check.  I sleepily decide it’s a Diet Coke morning.

I sit down to do a lesson on my Signing Online course, but June is signing about reading books and asking here Daddy is.  She quickly decides she also wants to watch Baby Signing Time, so I put a DVD on from my instructor set.

I do the 10 minutes of floor exercises that I attempt to fit in each day, and amazingly no one jumps on me while I do.

8AM

8am

June signing cereal

Rowan eats a snack and the instant he vacates his chair-with-seat, June climbs up to finish his cereal.  I remove her and a tantrum ensues.

Everyone needs a diaper change, resulting in a very fragrant aroma near the kids’ rooms.  I turn the bathroom fan on, and June walks up and down the hallway outside signing SCARY POTTY.

June’s feeding pump finishes and I remove her milk backpack.  She finds and disassembles the backpack, proudly signing MILK.

9am

I nurse Miles.

Now that it’s business hours, I call the durable medical equipment (DME) company about some problems with our last shipment. (This is that part-time job all special needs parents have.)

While I help Rowan disassemble some Legos, June presses Mile’s bouncer down as far as she can, turning it into a baby catapult. I intervene to prevent Miles going airborne.

I sneak away to brush my teeth and put my contacts in.

9AM

9am3

June tries to steal my cheddar biscuit snack.

I suction June’s trach.

The kids play, and it gets rough when conflict arises with Rowan saying, “JUNE YOU CAN’T TOUCH MY TOYS!” while shoving, and June signing to me STOP, BROTHER HIT AGAIN.

The hospital calls to apologize about a billing error I inquired about earlier this week.

I call our car dealer to follow up on a maintenance letter we received, and I add a carcappointment to Greg and my Google calendars.

June has a tantrum that I won’t let her play with the clean dishes in the new dishwasher.

I prepare and place June’s feeding pump backpack on her for her next feed.

10 AM

10am

10am1

Rowan and I enjoy “smuggling” together.

Rowan asks me to “charge” his iPhone and wonders if it takes pennies. June takes his discarded pennies and places them around Miles in his bouncer.  Miles is awakened unpleasantly by these and other gifts

The kids draw together as their contribution to birthday thank you cards, and Rowan tries to convince June to draw on her forehead.

10AM5

Being unsuccessful in convincing June, Rowan draws on his own forehead.10AM6

At point point, everyone was upset about something different, but the details elude me.

11AM

11AM

June plays with stacking toys while Rowan plays on his LeapPad.

June’s feed ends- I remove the backpack and refrigerate the feed bag.

Another round of diapers.

I receive a follow up call from Medicaid about June’s application.  (For a wonderful post on why June would need Medicaid, despite having private insurance and two plan-prepare-saving-oriented parents, see this wonderful post by a fellow special needs parent.)

I slowly work on the written part of the kids’ birthday thank yous.

12PM

12PM

I nurse Miles, and he drifts back to sleep, guarded from dog noses and sibling presents by the pack-and-play.

The older kids finish playing and sit down to lunch.

June goes down for a nap during which she wears a pulse ox which will alert me if her heart rate or oxygenation venture out of the specified safe ranges.

1PM

1300

Rowan and I read the Lorax while June and Miles sleep.

I attempt to nap, but am awakened by Miles needing to nurse.

I download a free augmented communication app for June to try, as recommended by her speech therapist.  But it turns out this free version doesn’t work independent of the paid version so I delete it.

2PM

June wakes up from her nap and insists on keeping her pulse ox cord on her foot.

Rowan has a tantrum and refuses to go into time out.  He loses his Legos as a result.

June is also upset that she can’t eat chocolate.

Someone is upset that a LeapFrog toy is out of batteries so I replace them.

I decide its time for a snack.

June settles down and asks to look at the picture frame on the wall- a favorite past time of hers is signing the “name” (like Grandma) of each person she sees in the photos.

1400

And Rowan likes a busy bag activity I set out.

1400 3

3PM

Sphinx is being unusually tame, and Rowan decides she needs to try on some hats.

1500 1

1500 2 (2)

I read There’s a Wocket in my Pocket with Rowan and June.

1500 2

Miles nurses and Rowan plays at app on his phone.

June jumps on the exercise trampoline, asks for chocolate, then ventures outside.  Sahara positions herself so she can see all three kids at once.  She is, after all, Assistant Mom. June comes back inside when her diaper falls off- she finally agrees to have the pulse ox cord taken off too.

1500 4

June gets into the kitchen- I suppose one gate was still down from her naptime- and plays with the stinky dog food while Sahara begs.

1500 5

I work on my phone including returning emails, reading in my Bible app, and laughing at these parenting comics.

4PM

1600 2

Greg is off of work and we have our customary commute phone call about the day so far.

I ask Greg to skip going to the pharmacy despite their shorter hours because I am looking forward to finishing the busy day at home and relaxing.

Rowan plays with Miles, June has fun cleaning up toys, I check on my Facebook pages, and Miles practices smiling at everyone.

5PM

1700 2

Miles has smiling down.

Greg hangs with the kids while I get dinner ready.  I discover I ran out of alfredo sauce, so I make the very grown up decision to use left over Papa Johns garlic butter as a pasta topping.

Everyone eats dinner.

While Greg stays at the dinner table with the kids, I prep June’s room for bedtime including filling up the humidifier with water, drawing up her meds, preparing her overnight feeds and preparing her trach care supplies.

6PM

Greg and I take turns putting Rowan and June to bed respectively.

While Greg puts Rowan down, I put the kids’ drawings into the completed thank you cards.

Being Friday, Greg, Miles and I settle in to enjoy the week’s spoils collected on the DVR including Blackish, Modern Family and the feature presentation- the Blacklist.

Blacklist

(OK, not a photo, but I already have more than 12 from earlier.)

 

Updates and Free Printable for Parents!

A few updates:

♥  I am officially the mother of three kids under 4 years old.  I know because I now own a minivan.

Meet our newest sweetie, Miles.

Welcome Miles

The delivery went as planned, although I had a brief scare when he needed some oxygen after birth.  The medical team assured us this was a routine occurrence for c-section babies, as their lungs need some help drying out.  As promised, the doctors deemed him perfectly healthy after a brief visit (not admission) to the NICU for oxygen, and he was able to room in with me from then on as I had hoped.  We were even discharged from the hospital early!  After two days inpatient, I asked the attending when I could bust outta that place, and she said, “You and the baby seem to be doing fine- I’ll draw up the paperwork now!” It’s still amazing to me.  An uncomplicated hospital stay is such an odd experience.

My surprise escape from the hospital threw off my hubby’s secret plans to buy me a car while I was inpatient!  When I was texting him to arrange to be picked up, he was negotiating with the car dealership with the two older children in tow.  The car was not ready in time to pick me up, as he had hoped. But that meant I was able to accompany him on an extended test drive before the purchase, and I received my roomy, versatile, swiss-army-knife-of-vans (the Odyssey) later that week.

♥ I am still not used to having a typical newborn.

When I’m feeding Miles, I often check to see if I’m occluding his trach, only to remember he doesn’t have one.  I can’t imagine growing tired of hearing him cry, whimper, and “talk.”  I sometimes wish I could vent gas from his belly via a g-button.  When I bring him somewhere and I don’t need to carry a suction machine, resuscitation equipment or back-up medical supplies, I always feel like I’m forgetting something.  And I totally did feel like a nurse was going to chase after us when we left the hospital with him.

♥ Delayed nesting makes for strange priorities

When June was born, I wrote about being in a perpetual state of nesting before her birth as well as while she was in the NICU for months.  With Miles, I delayed nesting until after his birth, for the most part; I never took my estimated due date or his homecoming as a guarantee.  Now that we are home, nesting is happening in full force, leading to some strange decisions about how to spend my time.  Did I finally move the dozen boxes of diapers that have been stacked in the living room for over a month?  No.  I just grab a pack every time I run out at Mile’s changing table. However, I suddenly felt I MUST finish constructing the Indominus Rex puppet that I drafted for Rowan a while ago.  (Ok, so, on the scale of “first attempts at making a hand puppet” and “things drafted by hand from scratch,” it’s pretty awesome.  On the scale of puppets in general, it’s a little clumsy and misshapen.  The kids love it though.)

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Also inexplicably high on my list: wiping down all of the kitchen cabinets and baseboards.  And working in the garden that I created in May and did not tend all summer. Thank goodness for the automatic garden sprinkler that came with the house. This is also my first attempt at gardening, and honestly…..I don’t know which plants are weeds and which are food.  I forgot WHAT I planted and where.  There weren’t many survivors.   Except for these.  I know these are carrots.  That I grew.

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♥ A special needs sewing and DIY series is coming up!

Stay tuned.

♥ And now a printable! Laminate these “baby sleeping” door signs and never be bothered by a door-to-door salesman again.

I’ve used a hand-written sign like this for years, and I’ve finally got around to making a printable version.  It works wonders.  No more dogs going insane over a knock from FedEx or pushy electricity company reps or mysterious religious missionaries. Put one on the door as well as on the doorbell.  I recommend that you cut the signs out first BEFORE laminating, then leave a quarter- or half-inch border of lamination around the sign when cutting it out again after laminating. This will make it more waterproof than if you laminate the whole page and then cut the sign out, as the lamination pouch makes a better seal to itself than it does when there is a layer of paper inside.

See the free JPG and PDF versions of the printable below.

Baby Do Not Disturb Sign JPG

Baby Do Not Disturb Sign PDF

 

I Will Get All the Chores Done This Week: A Comedy

Our household is so busy right now with the combined needs of a preschooler, a toddler, two dogs, a cat, a new baby on the way, plus the tasks and appointments related to June’s trach and medical care, starting an exciting homeschool schedule soon, and…well…we also started an in-ground vegetable garden because the kids are enjoying caring for our existing strawberry and kale potted plants so much….that the standards for household chores are set at ‘minimum’ for the foreseeable future.  These are the things I would ideally like to accomplish each week (plus laundry and dishes obviously but those are “all the time/fit it in throughout each day” tasks).
Chores Magnet Board

The original intent of this board was to ensure that each item moved from To Do over to Done every week. Since I’ve been pregnant, I have never ever gotten all of these tasks done in a given week. Instead, the current plan is that only things that are sharp, dangerous, or growing mold must be addressed each day. Everything else gets done when it gets done. (We sound like a classy bunch.)  This magnet system still helps me get to each chore with enough regularity to ward off mold epidemics, mind you, because I tend to remember what tasks haven’t moved recently. But it’s the “half done” stuff that can cause us problems like never-ending soaking of pots, forgotten damp swim wear, exiled muddy shoes and towels left in the rain, abandoned washer loads, and poorly dried dryer cycles.

A few times, I’ve gotten frustrated over the fact that I cannot simply power through and get all of this done- especially when a half-done chore undoes itself like the examples above.  But I’ve finally accepted that this stage of our life is like living in an old slapstick comedy film.  As I do chores, somewhere off camera my recent work is being undone.  When I make peace with the fact that getting it all done is an unreasonable goal for us right now, I can appreciate the comedy in these commonly occurring moments:

*When the kids help pick up long-abandoned toys, they have an instant, urgent need to begin playing with them again.

*Vacuuming requires toys to be picked up and for the kids to be awake.  These are mutually exclusive sets.

*Medical supplies and the contents of the recycling bin outrank actual toys as sources of entertainment.

*June’s HME (a trach accessory) rivals Lego pieces in the category of “pain caused when stepped on.”

HME

*Several times Greg or I have prepared to slide alarge stuffed animal out of our way in the dark only to discover it is in fact one of the pets.

Stuffed animal dog

*And several other times upon seeing this, we’ve wondered what in world has happened to the dogs.

Stuffed animals

*Both kids love dumping drinks, salt, chips…anything really…onto the table or floor.  If none of it is crushed or ground into their clothes, we initiate an immediate clean up.  If it is crushed, soaked, or smeared however, it is declared a “sensory activity” or “experiment” for however long the kids remain interested.

*The likelihood of an item falling into putrid dishwater is directly proportional to how clean the item is currently.

*When the kids see bread items left out in the kitchen, they desperately want a piece only for the precise amount of time it takes to prepare it for them.

*When bread items are properly stored in the pantry, the dog, who I’m currently referencing to my husband as “your dog,” eats the entire package once she’s unattended. (This week: tortillas, sandwich bread, hot dog buns, and English muffins.)

*June systematically removes items from the kitchen trash can.

*My husband’s dog systematically removes items from the kitchen trash can.  And eats them.

*We punctuate our days with several high-stakes games including “Blood or paint?,” “Chocolate or poop?,” and “Guess which species left this urine.”

*Various ways in which my Crock-pot plans have been derailed this month: husband’s dog ate a vital ingredient, grocery store had no baskets to shop for ingredient, I didn’t get Crock pot started in time for recipe, while preparing to make recipe I realized we needed to leave for a forgotten doctors appointment, Crock pot was still dirty when I planned to cook next Crock pot meal, Crock pot recipe was scheduled to be done after the kids’ bed time, not enough left overs as I planned on, and too many left overs so food was wasted.

*It’s clear that I should cross out half of my planned meals and write in, “McDonalds, Chinese take out, Eggos, and grocery store ready-made deli dinners” because that’s what actually ends up happening each week.

A Detour

Let’s just

PAWS

a moment…

It seems like the surest way to derail your own plans is to announce your intentions.  I have several decluttering series posts queued up but not quite complete; some of them might stay on pause until after Christmas.  Last week June had another surprise trach plug which landed her in the hospital this time.  Thankfully, she recovered from the plug just fine, but while being checked in the ER, they discovered her tachycardia had recurred.  We recently celebrated a month of good weight gain which put June over 15 pounds (YAAY!!!), but apparently that also meant she grew out of her heart med dose.  So, June and I checked into the “hospi-condo” for a few days while they adjusted her medication.  We’re all home and healthy now, and working hard to catch up on Christmas to-do’s plus our normal schedule after the hospital stay (including blogging!)  Stay tuned, I’ll be back to writing soon!

 

“Did you clean up the table yet?”

Table Dog

“Not yet, but I put the food in the middle where the dogs can’t get it.”

Idea File Fail

Tracy PacknPlay

June is at that age when she enjoys feeding herself independently, but she likes throwing food to the dogs even more.  I was tired of retrieving her sippy cup every 3 seconds and of fighting the pets off to salvage fallen food.  (The 10 second rule is quite active in our house.)  I can’t really employ the “you throw it, you lose it” principle with June because she has weight gain issues and we need to work on her occupation therapy skills for drinking from a sippy/straw/bottle at every meal.  So I thought of “the perfect system!”  For meals, I plopped June down in her pack-n-play amongst her food and cup.  Begging dogs, bickering siblings, and dropped food problems ALL taken care of!  It worked perfectly for the meal.  But Tracy was apparently quite upset that she couldn’t clean up the left overs.

Notable things about Tracy:

1. We call her “half Boxer, half bulldozer”

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2. Her face is weirdly crooked

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3. Acquiring food is her mission in life

Tracy Licking

So apparently while I was putting June down for bed after dinner, Tracy was like,

“Um….this not very dog accessible, guys.  Is OK…..I crush.”

Tracy PacknPlay2

Also she ripped holes in the mesh sides first trying to dig a way in.  Hm. I *think* it’s still useable…. But this idea’s not exactly going on Pinterest.

Bedraggled

I found myself bedraggled twice in the month of May- once literally and once figuratively.  The first one was literal, when my 90 pound Belgain malinois decided that her arthritic legs urgently needed to rest in the middle of our 1 mile walk.  I was on a main road in our fancy subdivision.  June was perched in her car seat atop the giant double stroller.  Rowan had just reclaimed the bulky push toy that I had latched to the stroller handlebar when he was tired of pushing it 10 minutes earlier, and he clattered along “mowing” the next half block of side walk.  Tracy was pulling on her leash to go, go, go, happily in any direction.  And Sahara laid down.  In a puddle.  In the middle of a commercial grade sprinkler shower.  She was limping badly and could only go a few steps before laying down again.

Being the rational adult that I am, I decided that since Rowan wasn’t using his seat in the stroller, I would load the dog into it for the half mile walk home.  I entered the sprinkler zone to retrieve the wet dog.  With the stroller wheels locked, I funneled a tenth of my dog into the toddler sized seat and rested the bulk of her on the snack/restraint tray.  Which promptly broke, spilling Sahara onto the sidewalk again.  And so, with patches of wet dog hair stuck to me like Big Foot, I walked home in the 10 foot increments my limping dog could handle- runaway toddler, boxer and baby in tow.

And this week was the figurative bedraggling by a downpour of various unexpected ‘stuff.’ June was given the much-awaited go-ahead for a trial off of her heart medication, which meant we needed to watch closely for signs of her tachycardia coming back*.  Sahara saw the vet for said arthritis and was given pain meds, vitamins, and instructions to rest and ice her knees once a day.  June also had a new twice daily medication which was nebulized, and no one in the house likes that process.  Centerpoint appeared in my backyard unannounced, via removing several boards from my fence, and dug a man-sized hole exposing live electrical lines. Which was interesting.  And Rowan just had fun being Rowan and doing arts and crafts (both good things).  While I made lunch one day he asked,

“Mom, can I paint on me?”

He was using watercolors so I said sure, what’s the harm? Then quite a while later when I was cleaning paint out of Rowan’s ear canal I thought, “Hmm, it’s been quite a week.”

But don’t worry- I recovered.  This past weekend I was tiredly lamenting to Greg that I wasn’t able to ice Sahara’s knees on one day this week and I forgot to take my own vitamin twice and how I should have started June on solids and it had completely slipped my mind.  And he wisely advised that I get out of the house for a bit to relax.  Because with all that we have going on, if my biggest frustration is that I didn’t get to ice the dog’s knees, I might need a little fresh air and perspective. I took a bike ride for the first time in about a year. I met two turtles

and discovered an awesome park with shaded play equipment that likely doesn’t become like the surface of the sun during summer days.  And June even temporarily got over her separation anxiety in honor of my outing, and was calm for Dada.  I even sewed later. Well, I mended some clothes but that’s a gateway to real sewing. All’s well that ends well, month of May.

*No tachycardia recurrence so far!

The Anatomy of a Walk

Today I got the whole gang together for a walk for the first time in several weeks.  It’s been rainy and cold and we’ve been a busy little family. Plus I FINALLY bought new athletic shoes.  My old ones were practically talking.

The complexity of making this walk happen struck me today, as it took even longer than normal.  Parents may sympathize with this familiar list; non-parents may be inspired to enjoy  many much simpler walks while they still can!

Parts of my walk prep: (cat not included unfortunately….she once snuck out of the house and sneakily “followed” the dogs and me, darting behind bushes from house to house as we walked, but normally she can’t go on walks)

* Check weather upon waking up to plan the best walk time according to temperatures and rain, then arrange meals, naps, and activities accordingly (I live in a part of town that gets rain, showers, sprinkles, and misting any time there is anything even remotely nearby coloring the radar)

*Dress in my walking clothes from the outset, as in Texas, sane people almost always choose to walk in the morning anyway

*Breakfast for humans and dogs. The delay to get ready allows ample time to digest.

*Put my knee braces on.  The dogs start running laps and excitedly jumping on me from this point on.

*Undertake ordeal of finding where Rowan or I last put my socks and shoes, then put them on.

*Get water bottle ready

*Find stroller- possibly in garage, car, or wheeled to a strange place in the house by Rowan, who uses it as a jungle gym

*Make sure there are dog poo bags

*Find mace and put it in the stroller; mentally encourage myself to remember to take it OUT of the stroller at the end of the walk

*Next it’s time to get Rowan ready.  Hopefully he needs a diaper change by now and thus, won’t be in need of one halfway through the walk.  Gather new diaper, clothes which are weather/dirt appropriate, hat, socks and shoes and apply changes.

*Next it’s the dog’s turn.  Find collars.  I regularly remove these jingling collars so that they don’t disturb Rowan by scratching and randomly shaking out their coat and ears while he’s napping.  I don’t have a regular spot I keep the collars though, so I have to look all over the house.

*Find leashes.  This presents the same problem.  They could be found in either vehicle, in the stroller, or strewn in a few places within the house.

*Find cell phone.  Because I have no pockets in most of my walking clothes, my black cell phone will have been camouflaged on a black marble countertop or shelf at some point during this process.  I have to backtrack to find it and sometimes, like today, ultimately use my cell phone locator feature to find it.

*Find house keys.  They are almost always with my purse.  Find purse.  It’ll be in different places depending on whether I last had it with the diaper bag or unencumbered, or if I needed to reference something from it while on the phone or computer.

After a half hour preparing for the walk, we were ready to go today.  I stepped outside and realized I had completely forgotten sunscreen for Rowan and me.  Rowan has very sensitive skin and we are usually out for an hour or more in the Texas heat, so sunscreen is a friend of ours.  But facing the prospect of turning the squirmy-wide-load combination of two dogs and stroller around to enter the house again, I decided that at 8am the sun would probably be forgiving.  And off we went.

It’s all worth it– walks are EVERYONE’S  favorite thing to do most days.

It’s That Time of Year Again

…when the pets leave life sized replicas of their coats spread around the house every few days. Here you see our solid brown couch don a marbled effect only days after vacuuming because of Sahara’s overly abundant embellishments. And here you see where I used our Furminator comb to thin out Sahara’s coat, ejecting each comb-full at my left foot. Yes, my left foot is actually in the picture, under the mountain of fur. Ah, spring is finally hair! Um, I’m furly certain it’s spring. Spring is here right on shed-ule.