Puppy Love

I’m allergic to dogs. This meant that I never had a pet dog growing up, but I did have a few of them chase me on my walks home from school. As an adult, I still experience unleashed dogs racing after me, especially when I’m running on urban trails. Of course their owners always tell me that their dogs are friendly, even while the dogs are nipping at my legs and butt. And when I lived in Zimbabwe, I often had to start my morning runs carrying two large rocks that I could throw at the wild dogs terrorizing the neighbourhood. I’m definitely not a dog person.

I’m not sure how I was talked into this, but I brought home a bichon frise puppy last November. The boys named him Shadow as he’s always following us around the house. This breed of dog is hypoallergenic, so I don’t have trouble being around him … at least with my allergies. However, the first six months were very stressful for me, as I couldn’t get Shadow to stop peeing and pooing in the house or biting our ankles or fingers.

The good news is that he’s stopped using the house as his personal washroom. I think the warmer weather helped with this, as did his desire to have free range of the house. He’s also getting much better with the biting, but he’s still a bit nippy when he wants us to play with him more.

Shadow is always so excited to see us when we come home. He’s particularly fond of peanut butter and is extremely clever at convincing the boys to give him some of their human food. Most of all, he loves cuddling with us on the couch once he’s used up all of his puppy energy. It’s these quieter moments that I enjoy the most. No matter how hard of a day I’ve had, I know that I can sit with my faithful friend who always seems to appreciate me.

I’m still not a dog person. But I’m my dog’s person.

Standard

Skipping

On Sunday afternoon, R is leaving for Uganda, where she’ll be volunteering in the north for two weeks to support internally displaced persons and refugees. She’s upstairs right now packing everything that she will need for her trip. The boys are having a sleepover with their cousin at their grandparents’ house, so this is a free night for the two us to hang out together.

I skipped my run this evening so that we could walk along the boardwalk at the beach while we ate ice cream and walked the dog. And now I’m about to skip writing my daily blog post so that I can go help her pack. Does writing a blog post about not writing a blog post count as a real blog post? Doesn’t matter…

Standard

Dumb Smartphones

I need to spend less time on my phone. Some of my usage is an occupational hazard given my work in public relations, but there is absolutely no need for me to constantly check my phone during breakfast, lunch or supper, while I’m at the playground with my children, or when my parents come by for a visit. Last Wednesday I unintentionally left my phone on my desk when I went for lunch and I felt incredibly lost and uncomfortable without it.

Tomorrow I will not check my phone until after I’ve dropped my children off at school. Nor will I check it while they’re at their swimming and martial arts classes or when I’m about to go to bed. It’s time to set some boundaries before I’m completely controlled by my technological gadgets. I’d get rid of my GPS watch as well but that might send me completely over the edge.

Now I’m off to bed to read The New Yorker … in print not digital.

Standard

Sleep

Now that I’m in my mid-40s, the biggest physical change I’ve noticed (besides my greying hair) is that it’s much harder to catch up on sleep. When I was younger I would generally stay up late reading or watching movies and I also relied heavily on all-nighters to finish school and work assignments. With two children and a dog, I’m no longer able to sleep in. Even if I’m travelling for work and have my own hotel room, I still wake up early without an alarm clock. This means that when I stay up late, I need to acknowledge the cost of this decision, which is likely a few days of feeling tired and sluggish.

My new goal is to get into bed before 11 each night, which can be tricky when I’m also trying to allocate time in the evening for running, reading and writing after my children go to bed. It’s almost 11 now, so this post will end in 3, 2, 1.

Standard

Sandwiches

“Sandwiches are beautiful, sandwiches are fine
I like sandwiches, I eat them all the time.”—Fred Penner

This morning we took our children to a Fred Penner concert held at the outdoor stage at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. It wasn’t as crowded as I expected—probably because it was cold by the lake—but every parent seemed excited to be there, even more so than their children. Many of us grew up with Penner’s music and TV show, so there was a deep appreciation in the audience for his positive influence on our lives.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the concert. After four decades of performing, Penner is still a great musician and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Earlier this year he even won a fourth Juno for his latest album Hear the Music, which we bought after the concert and got him to autograph.

It’s inspiring to observe someone who is so passionate about his profession. Not only is Penner’s music highly entertaining, his songs also help children and adults learn how to better love themselves, others and the world around them.

I have no desire to be a musician, but I do wish to work at something that I’m passionate about and that will enrich the lives of other people. But mostly, I want to have a hundred sandwiches and eat them all at once.

Standard

Speak Easy

I just spent 20 minutes lying in bed with my son, K, as he tried to tell me everything he knows about birds. This is one of his recent obsessions, so he’s invested significant time into researching various types of birds and learning what differentiates them from each other. If I hadn’t wanted him to go to sleep, I could have stayed in his room and he would have kept talking for at least another hour.

Seven years ago, K could only say a few words. With his significant speech delay, we weren’t sure whether K would ever be able to communicate verbally with ease and complexity. After he was assessed by a speech pathologist, we started taking him to speech and language classes on a weekly basis. We also attended classes for parents to learn how to help him develop his expressive language skills. I’m not sure if it was because of these interventions or just the right amount of watching kids’ shows on Netflix, but K eventually started to connect more words together and gained the confidence he needed to speak clearly and appropriately.

These days, K has lots to say, especially if the subject matter is appealing to him. So if he wants to engage in an hour-long discussion about birds of prey, I will gladly participate, just as long as it doesn’t interfere too much with his bedtime. He’s a bit of a hawk when he doesn’t get enough sleep.

Standard

Let Go

“He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.”—William Blake

Yesterday I rolled down a hill and broke the scaphoid bone in my wrist. I’m now in a cast with limited use of my dominant hand, so today I had to accept the following:

  • Everything I sign at work looks like it was endorsed by someone in kindergarten
  • I need to learn how to use my mouse with my left hand
  • I can only type slowly with two fingers, which is not ideal for a communications director
  • It takes a very long time to get dressed in the morning
  • There’s a good chance I will cut an artery in my neck while shaving with my left hand
  • I will likely miss my next 3-4 races this year
  • I have no idea how I will cook our family meals (or how we will eat for the next number of weeks)
  • I’m in big trouble when R goes to Uganda in two weeks
  • We have to cancel our annual family trip to the cabin in Haliburton this weekend
  • I can’t write or draw with pens or pencils

The kids are quite disappointed about this weekend’s cancelled trip, and I’m feeling sad about missing my upcoming races, but there is nothing I can do at this point to change the fact that I have a broken wrist. Although I find great joy in family vacations, cooking and trail running, I can’t hold on to these things too tightly or I will end up depressed and/or bitter when they fly out of my hands. Joy comes in many forms, but I can’t keep it leashed or contained. I need to let go and surrender what I can’t control.

On a positive note, now I have a great excuse for not wearing a tie to work, and B was super excited to show my cast to his friends at school.

Standard