Friday, February 22, 2013

A New Dog is a Super Big Deal

December 25, 2012 
approx. 8.5 weeks, 17lbs.

February 20, 2013
approx. 16.5 weeks, 41lbs.

I've been meaning to write a very special blog to introduce a very special pooch named Sadie Mae- but as I discovered, oh, the morning after Christmas... what I have on my hands here is a third child in my house. No. Strike that. Not just a third child. A third toddler- a gigantic toddler with ADD who is growing at a freakish rate every day and has more energy than my 21 month-old and 4 year-old human children combined, if that's even possible. So, this being said, I have even less time now to do recreational things that I like and need to squeeze into my schedule to accomplish (if I'm lucky).

I had conveniently forgotten how much time and attention puppies require- if you want to be the best dog mom you can be, because the way I see it, and what I find myself having to remind my impatient husband, is that we (happily) volunteered to take on the responsibility of bringing this puppy into our household, despite the stress and responsibility and patience and lack of time we already juggle on our every day day to day. 

Naive? Absolutely. I like to think of it as an endearing naivety, but naive nonetheless.

The morning after Christmas, on our first true day of puppy having, it only took an hour for me to ask myself,

"What in the HELL were we thinking????"

Seriously. I was about in tears like 3, maybe 4 times. It was out of control. Screaming, poop and pee everywhere, chewing up everything- chewing up the KIDS. It was mayhem. 

I know it sounds awful, after all the excited Facebook posts and picture taking and stuff, but let's be real here. I have my hands full enough as it is, keeping Mochi and Jude from beating the crap out of each other, breaking up fights, picking up the ongoing trail of toys and messes they leave, dealing with potty issues and schedules and meals and trying to make sure they each receive a healthy amount of my undivided attention individually so that they don't feel overlooked or ignored (which is easy to do sometimes unfortunately).

I drift in and out of different extremes of crazy trying to keep them happy, disciplined, entertained, fed, clean, polite, safe, loved, and all in all, ALIVE.

Now we have a puppy in the mix- who also needs ALL OF THOSE THINGS. 

Between the kids and the puppy, since Christmas, I've felt like I spend most of my days trying to discipline three little creatures who have no interest in listening to a word that comes out of my mouth, unless I either A.) Use my "mean mommy" voice or B.) Bribe with treats.

I'm learning that my "mom guilt" extends very much to my puppy- when I feel as though I'm not giving her enough of my time and attention, but as much as I try to include and incorporate her into the family circle as much as I can, there comes a point when it gets to be too much and she has to go outside or into her kennel to decompress and chill the fuck out. 

She's crazy. I thought she'd be great for wearing my children out, but on the contrary, she's always the first to go. I underestimated the energy sucking powers that my children have as a team. Even my crazy puppy is no match most of the time. She puts up a good fight though.

Sadie's favorite chew toy is Jude's legs- and this makes for AWESOME screams from Jude. She too has more toys than she probably needs, and they mingle and mix with the kid's toys and can be found strewn around the house. Sadie loves to snatch up a My Little Pony or a stuffed animal and take off, shaking the MLP until its neck "breaks." This too makes for AWESOME screams, from Mochi, who has a hard enough time keeping her brother from taking things out of her hands. 

You get the three of them together and their combined energy is like putting Red Bull, cocaine, Kool Aid and Pixie Sticks into a blender without the lid on.

Yup, Lady Sadie Mae Stark of Winterfell has had quite an impact on our household.

Oh, yeah. The Lady Sadie Mae Stark of Winterfell thing. That's her ridiculous AKC name. I don't think you can give a dog an AKC name without it being a little ridiculous and pretentious, don't you think? AKC is dumb and we weren't looking or an AKC Shepherd, but her mother and father were AKC (dam and sire, as the fancy papers read *said in a snooty dog show judge voice*) and the family we adopted her from gave us the papers upon adoption. I could've cared less, but it did make for some fun with her name.

Taylor and I are really into the medieval fantasy world of Game of Thrones right now (the HBO show- not the encyclopedia-long book series, pshh. Yeah right, I wish I had that kind of time!) and for those not in the know, the wolf is the icon or whatever of the House of Stark... in Winterfell. I can't explain this with a straight face to people which makes me feel like I've chosen the perfect pretentious AKC name for our dog. That and the fact that Taylor is totally embarrassed by my dorkiness when I call her this- all the more reason to make it official. I sent in the papers so it is, in fact, official. He doesn't know it though, so she's only really Lady Sadie Mae Stark of Winterfell in secret... and that's even funnier to me.


Here's some things to know about Lady Sadie Mae Stark of Winterfell (*snicker*):

*She's about 90% potty trained already- and hasn't had an accident in 3 weeks. 
*She's finally getting "ball" down.
*She refuses to pee/shit in the grass when it's too snowy or raining, so she uses the back patio. Gross- but at least it's not my floors or carpet.
*She's doubled in size since Christmas. I swear I'll have her in her kennel for an hour or two, and when I let her out again she's BIGGER.
*She loves the car. She rides with us to drop Jude off at school and goes with us to pick him up.
*I take her just about everywhere with me, and she's happy to hang out in the car with a giant bone- and this being said, my car smells like and is littered with what looks like giant BBQ brontosaurus bones since they are the only thing she can't destroy in 5 minutes. Gross, but at least she isn't destroying my car.
*Leash training. We're getting there. I forget that dogs aren't born knowing how to walk on a leash, and that training needs to be done when you ARE NOT dragging a wagon with two fighting children in it down the street.
*She has a bedtime. After an hour or so of playtime all to herself and no children, she's in bed with lights out at 10:15 p.m.
*She wears me out, but our household is more fun with her in it. More tired and messy- but fun. And I think every household needs a family dog- just my opinion. 
*She's pretty much, on most days, solved the answer to the question of whether or not Taylor and I want more children (a question that we are being asked more than we are ready to hear right now!).

For now at least. 

My relationship with this dog is already substantially different than the one I had with Gretchen. Which is only natural and right. I'm momma, she's one of my babies. The girlfriend factor probably won't happen for awhile- it'll take time. It has been an experience thus far adjusting from having an adult, trained, well-behaved dog to a spastic puppy- on so many levels. But I'm starting to see little windows of a special friendship between Sadie and I.

Like yesterday, for the first time, I noticed that she was following me everywhere, and not just bouncing off the walls and getting into shit all over the house like she had been since Day One. 
For the first time really, she was following me, then would camp out by my side or my feet, and just look up at me attentively and intently, waiting for my next move, or next affectionate ear scratch or treat or conversation directed just at her- and I realized that all the time and attention I have been investing in her is creating the friendship and relationship I'm going to have with this dog. 

Duh, right? Well, I admit to getting too busy to slow down and really acknowledge this much of the time. I don't have the time to spend one on one with her like I did Gretchen, and my mom guilt about that bothers me- but it also makes me more diligent about scheduling the time with her- whether it's "ball time" while Mochi naps, or rope tugging time while the kids eat dinner- because I want her to be happy with us and know that she is and always will be a valuable, priceless, important, integrated part of our family.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Full Circle

PDay (Puppy Day) is quickly approaching and before I can open up this new chapter in my life, I feel whole-heartedly compelled to close another chapter first- and that's making myself officially say 

Good-Bye to Gretchen.

Yes, I haven't exactly done that yet- in my heart at least.

I haven't talked about her as much throughout the course of the fall/holiday season (unless on the rare occasion when I'm out having drinks, and in that case she inevitably comes up at some point in the evening at least once). 

Closure and acceptance is taking its natural course and I'm not thinking about her as much as I was. Some days, not at all. And I'm learning that that's OK.

Christmas is almost here. The end of the year is right around the corner. 

New Year, new beginnings. 

Christmastime is time for family so it's only natural that the absence of a family member is truly and strongly felt during the holidays. And through all of the Christmas songs that the kids are dancing to that Gretchen is not in the middle of, the cookie making in the kitchen that Gretchen is not hovering around and the quiet moments admiring the Christmas tree late at night when the house is still and it's just me and my pets, Gretchen not being by my side leaves a very empty space in my heart.

After much thought, consideration, contemplation, weighing of pros and cons and slowly finding the strength to let go of Gretchen, Taylor and I searched high and low and found the soon-to-be newest member of our household: a white German Shepherd puppy whom we've named Sadie Mae Hines.

A German Shepherd because we absolutely adore the breed- and they suite us so well.

White because it's as different looking from Gretchen as you can get. 

That's about as much as I will get into in detail about Miss Sadie Mae- her introduction is for another day and another blog entry. 

Her time will most definitely come.

For now, I'm starting to allow myself to get excited about this new little personality who is about to join the mayhem that is our household, and that excitement is starting to replace the sadness that comes with missing my dog who died- and I'm starting to accept the fact that it's OK to be excited for a new puppy, and that excitement doesn't mean I love my dog who died any less. 

Getting a new dog doesn't mean that I am replacing my old dog. I am understanding now that I am and always have been an avid animal lover, and that my heart is full of love and I have plenty of it to offer.

These are the affirmations that I remind myself from time to time when I feel apprehensive about this big new chapter we are about to open in our home. It's a big step on so many levels- especially considering the amount of energy and patience and time and attention and cleaning and disciplining and destruction and noise and craziness that we already deal with on a minute to minute basis with our little human "puppies" living in our house.

We joke that Gretchen is up in dog heaven, sitting on a cloud watching us go through this puppy process, shaking her head and laughing, saying,

"What in the hell are you people thinking bringing a puppy into that chaos? Silly humans. I love you- but you're out of your damn minds!" 

I kind of agree with her- but I love a challenge. And I love puppies. 

I've been washing cloth diapers for the past 4 years- what's a few more months of piss and shit to clean? It doesn't bother me. Perhaps the puppy and Vivienne can help one another potty train and they'll create a special bond out of it. Now there's a positive thought.

The presence of this new puppy in our home this upcoming Christmas morning will bring our life with dogs full circle, as Gretchen was a Christmas present to me from Taylor in 2004. It feels a little surreal to be going through this puppy business again, after losing Gretchen so suddenly in the spring- and I was very conflicted for weeks when Jude started asking for a "baby wolf" for Christmas. 

The heartbroken part of me wasn't ready. The mother that I have become understands my son's very real desire for another dog and it has been infectious throughout our family- because as well all know, a child's innocence and open heart is the best kind of contagious. 

He talks about Gretchen now like an old friend that he will probably run into again someday- someone he hasn't seen in awhile but had good times and memories with. This has helped me deal with her absence tremendously, now that he isn't so sad about her.

He's moved on. I understand Jude's very real desire for a puppy because when I was little I always wanted a puppy, but my parents aren't dog people, therefore it wasn't until adulthood that that want was finally, at last, fulfilled. 

By my Gretchen.

 Christmas decorations proved to be an unexpected challenge this year. One of the first that I unearthed from a box of decorations was an unopened German Shepherd wearing a Santa hat and a collar that reads 2011. It was a gift from last year- and at the time we had no idea that it would mark the last Christmas we'd ever have with Gretchen. The irony of the ornament pissed me off at first, then made me cry. 

Then I set it on the counter in the kitchen next to a miniature Christmas tree and a photo of Gretchen playing in the snow from 3 Christmases ago. Now it makes me smile. 

Her reindeer antlers that I would always put on her head during the holidays for a good laugh and some pictures still had remnants of dog fur on them. She hated those things but always humored me long enough for me to take a photo and give her a hug and a treat before she would shake them off.

Christmas morning last year.

Fuck. I sure do miss her.

Seeing her ornaments on the tree, such as the one below with her puppy picture on it from her very first Christmas, makes me smile- and it's comforting to know that every Christmas from here on out, as she becomes more and more of a memory from another life, when we hang our ornaments on the tree, I will see her "baby" picture and it will always make me feel happy and good and smile. 

Her stocking now hangs on the wall in my office by my desk- and I will hang it in my office by my desk every Christmas as a tribute to my "Office Assistant Bear" and her countless afternoons of sitting under my feet while I wrote.

So here we are full circle. 

I always talked about how the first chapter of my life with my first dog, GRETCHEN, was a true Disney beginning. Now the plans are, on Christmas morning, to give our children the ultimate Disney dog beginning- Lady and the Tramp style, with a puppy in a gift box (a very strategic plan that we are working on to execute with my brother).

The puppy for Christmas dream that I always wished for as a kid- BUT I'm happy I never got it. I'm happy my parents aren't dog people, because now my first puppy for Christmas story is the story of Gretchen when I was 24, and my kids get to have my childhood dream.

As my last blog entry dedicated to Gretchen, to give myself closure (and all of my beloved friends who have been following my Dog Blog and letting me cry on their shoulders and chatter/blubber away about my dog when I'm feeling particularly sad about her), I am copying and pasting Gretchen's Disney Beginning story that I wrote when she first died.

Full Circle. 
Now I feel like I'm actually saying Good-Bye to her (and now I can actually suck it up and find the courage to empty her dog food bin to make room for puppy food)

 LOL. Sheeesh.


A Disney Beginning   
I will never forget the day that Gretchen came into our life, back in November 2004, as an early Christmas present to me from Taylor. She was already named Gretchen, before we even found her. She was destined to be Gretchen, as I'd always wanted a female German Shepherd named Gretchen.

We had looked around at German Shepherd puppies, and finally landed at a young couple's home in Norman. They had a litter of puppies from two AKC registered parents and we were excited to meet the little ones. The home just had a good vibe to it. After having visited a couple of places that were only a few notches higher than puppy mills, to be in this couple's comfortable, inviting, warm environment was a relief.

It was a good prelude to the nature of the puppies we were to meet. It was a good omen.

We were sitting at the couple's kitchenette table, when the girl went and opened their garage door. Then 4 itty bitty, perfect, fluffy, clean, to-die-for 6 week old German Shepherd puppies came bounding around the corner and into the kitchen. 

It was truly a Disney moment- that's the only way I can describe it. I couldn't believe that I was going to get to take one of those beautiful babies home with me. An entire unknown future of happiness with one of those puppies flashed before my eyes and I can honestly say it was one of the giddiest moments of my life. I was finally getting the dog I had always dreamed of.

The puppies were all wearing different colored collars, and we were initially disappointed that the purple collared pup had been adopted already. I can't even remember what it was excatly about that particular puppy that was so appealing- I think it may have been one of those super showy outgoing puppies- lively and "poster puppy" like. 

All I can remember now is the puppy with the turquoise collar- the less obvious puppy that wasn't as overtly in-your-face, "look at me!" adorable personality-wise, but who was sweet-natured and, once we got some one on one time with her, was the cuddliest of them all. Very laid-back and... sweet as pie. The perfect dog for me. 

I had finally found my Gretchen.

We got to see her and her siblings romp and play with their parents in the backyard, and looking back at those moments of watching her run and play with her German Shepherd family- and her birth, German Shepherd mother- seem so much more meaningful and significant now, 7 years later after she'd lived with me as my adopted dog. 

We swooped her up and she slept in a little ball on my lap the whole drive back to the city. We took her to Pet Smart and carried her around while we filled the cart full of puppy essentials, beaming happily as customers stopped us to "ooooh" and "ahhh" over our new, adorable precious baby girl. I held her little warm body close to me and admired her- I couldn't take my eyes off her, and she nuzzled close to me and hardly left my side in all her days that followed. 

I still admired her till her last day. Sometimes I would just look at her and think how beautiful she was. How smart she was. How special and amazing she was. She'd just be laying around or chasing after a ball or walking in front of me on a leash down the street and I'd think to myself,

"Damn. I've got such a kick ass dog. I'm so lucky."

I remember thinking this last Tuesday morning while on what would be our last walk together... me and my Disney Dream Dog. 

I've been thinking a lot about that drive home to the City from Norman that very first day- with the future ahead for us unknown and a little fuzzy ball of possibility and promise laying curled up in my lap, fast asleep...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2 Things

People have been posting things they are thankful for every day in November and it's nice to see how many actual grateful people there are out there in this great big world that seems to be so consumed with hating the government and complaining about politicians. I'm sorry, but no matter what I have to bitch about when it comes to politics, at the end of the day, I'm still grateful to be an American and I'm grateful to be alive. I'm grateful for the freedom I have to complain, when in all reality, I don't have a whole lot to complain about. 

It's taken a very, very long time for me to realize that and learn to keep my fucking mouth shut sometimes. I am guilty of doing something that grates on my nerves when other people do it- and that's running my mouth like an overprivileged, spoiled American brat. Doing this detours me from what's really important in life, and that's keeping focused on the simple, basic necessities that allow us to relish in what I believe to be life's Holy Grail: Happiness. And not just obtaining it, but keeping it and nourishing it and allowing it to thrive. 

I have a roof over my head. I never go hungry. I have people in my life that I love and who love me back. I have my health. What more do I need? If we have those basic, simple, priceless things in our lives, I don't think we have a whole lot to bitch about, so long as we remind ourselves just how lucky we are to be alive. I think it's important to acknowledge what irks us, but to not be consumed by negativity and try not to lose sight of just how fortunate we are to be here and live these lives we live here- because so many people have it bad in ways that we'll never have to deal with.

GRATITUDE, 24/7/365/not just in November:  it's easier to say that we have it then to act like it, what with all of life's inevitable annoyances and headaches and challenges. I lose sight of it all the time- but I really try to take a moment and stew on the fact that no matter what, everything will be OK because I am grateful for this life of mine and feel so fortunate to have it, while it lasts, because over the years I'm starting to "get" how fast this goes by and it's kind of overwhelming when I think about it too much... so I try to slow down and close my eyes and just BE HAPPY for the moment.

And I'm happy for these people: Without them I am nothing! 

Taylor and I aren't going to do Christmas lists with our kids. Instead, we've just started asking Jude what kinds of things he likes and what kinds of things he might want Santa to bring him, if he's a good boy. This way it's kind of up in the air and not mapped out- so there aren't any huge expectations. We hope that this makes for lots of surprises on Christmas mornings, since nothing was spelled out on paper.

A baby wolf and arts and crafts (his ideas). A space puzzle and a Snoopy Snowcone machine (our ideas). The former are suggestions made by us because we already bought them- and putting the ideas in his head has made him excited for things he didn't even know he might like. I know this strategy probably won't last forever as he and Viv get older, but why not try to tame the "Wanty Beast" now while we can?

Jude's the kind of kid who gets overwhelmed by choices, and when confronted with too much, gets frustrated and spastic and can't make a decision, ultimately getting upset rather than excited. He flipped through a Toys R Us catalog at my mom's a few weeks ago and a nearly had a panic attack frantically wanting everything in it. 

He doesn't know television with commercials- at least, children's television with toy commercials or fun cereals and snacks. We don't let him watch that stuff. He watches Sesame Street, a couple of Disney shows On Demand or an occasional movie, but no regular programming. So he isn't familiar with the toys out there right now unless we present one to him. 

On grown up channels like NBC or CNN or the music stations, we mute commercials. Less noise pollution. One time I came home and a caregiver/sitter had left the TV on Sponge Bob (NO!!!!.) and commercials had come on, and Jude and the baby both turned into drooling zombies, suddenly "needing" in a disturbingly urgent way whatever it was advertisers were trying to brainwash them into wanting. I saw an actual physical and mental change in my children and it was weird. 

That never happened again, needless to say. 

I can see where Christmas lists were a novelty, back in the day when kids got a couple of toys from Santa. Jimmy got a toy truck. Jenny got a doll. The end. Now though, there is just SO MUCH SHIT out there that it is overwhelming for me as a parent, and frankly, I don't want to deal with the severe degree that it could easily go. 

No lists. We know what you like so you'll have to just trust us- um, I mean trust Santa. You can give us ideas and specifics, but no lists. Too much like grocery lists, whereas grocery lists are for things you need and Christmas lists are about stuff you want. 

My children are fortunate. They have a lot. More than my brother and I ever did at their age. It's kind of embarrassing and overindulgent, for me at least, when I go through their shit and have to figure out what to do with what they've grown out of, both clothing and toy wise. I fear their risk of becoming spoiled. I fear them becoming unappreciative because of the abundance of what they have. Of course I do the best I can as their mother to prevent those things from ever happening, but on the other end of the spectrum, I do my best as their mother to provide for them nice things and feed their interests and allow them to have as much fun as possible while they're still this young before life starts slowly demanding more of their time and attention in the direction of the less fun things they will become responsible for.

I can be bad about overdoing it and showering my kids with what can sometimes be too much, but my intentions are always good. Then I back step and try to regulate and establish/reestablish boundaries for both the kids and myself. 

It's a slippery slope. We live in a consuming society and a world full of THINGS and Christmas has potential to get out of hand. 

Tay and I talked about this before we ever even had kids. Somehow, and I know I'm not alone here, Christmas began to turn into this super stressful ordeal where we started to get stressed out about what to BUY for people and how MUCH MONEY to spend on people and HOW MANY PRESENTS to allot for people.

Christmas can revolve too much about STUFF AND MONEY. Gross.

Over the years I've started making stuff as gifts or giving things you can eat. I've for the most part stopped Christmas shopping for the adults in my life, because the adults in my life are like me: they have more stuff than they know what to do with. I've also found that I enjoy the holidays more myself if I take the time to make things with my own two hands or put together something sentimental with photos. It's a stress reliever for me.

I don't know if everyone likes sentimental stuff or handmade stuff- it's never anything fancy- but I grew up with a dad who was ALWAYS making things for us as gifts- and I always loved them. He still does it to this day. Writing songs. Making cards. Drawing pictures. Coming up with odd random stuff. So I in turn grew up to follow in suite. 

Jude has caught onto this and now he loves to make crafts too. He told me that he didn't want toys for Christmas- he just wants crafts. He told me right before I took this picture that he is my "little artist." It almost made me cry. He sits for hours making crafts and cutting and gluing and creating. It holds his attention in a way that toys never have been able to do- well, except for toy cars- which he's outgrown interest in completely. My little tornado has found his focus. 

I know Taylor really wants Jude to be an athlete, and he'll probably play some sports, but I feel in my heart that our son is more of the sensitive artist type. Maybe he'll be a rock star. Maybe he'll be a designer. Either way, he'll be creating something. It's in his blood. 

Wow this was a long blog. To close it up, I'd like for anyone reading this to take the time to be grateful for one simple joy today. Like the fun of getting a new, super sweet hat to wear. Jude picked out his new hat yesterday after school and spent 20 minutes jumping off of the ledge at the mall, shouting about happy he was. Can't we all be so happy about little things like that? 

Or just look at this sweet little face and be happy for the innocence of toddlers, because they are so incredibly new and untarnished by the world and all of its B.S., and at one point in time, we were toddlers too and had a completely clean slate, and somewhere inside all of us that little person still exists and can be happy with a bottle of bubbles and a sunny fall day. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Yeah, I've been Drinkin' the Yoga Kool Aid

I love it when I get a writing assignment on a subject that I'm into. For November, I'm writing a piece on the benefits of doing yoga. Oh, how I wish I had more than 600 words for this story! In my opinion, this should be a 2000 word feature, because there is so much to share!

So, what are the benefits of yoga? Why would anyone want to develop a yoga practice?

My research and interviewing aside, these questions have made me brainstorm and reflect on my own practice and how I came to find myself with a practice at all- because for many, many years, I had no interest in yoga whatsoever.

I don't think I'm alone in having been skeptical of yoga, once upon a time. The idea of having a "yoga body" of course has always been appealing, but there always seemed to be this whole lifestyle and mindset that I didn't get or care much to explore- like you had to be a certain kind of person with a certain way of living to practice yoga- and by God, I wasn't about to conform to anything to attain that yoga bod, no matter how incredible all those yoga girl's figures were.

Before I developed what has become a consistent yoga practice of my own just this past couple of years, I had taken some classes on and off to check it out, but at that earlier point in my life, it wasn't fast-paced enough for me. It wasn't aggressive enough for me. In all honesty- it bored me and I wasn't exactly looking for what I perceived to be the fruit loopy, vegan, peace-loving hippie stretch fest that was yoga.

Throughout my 20s, if I were to exercise at all, I would take a kickboxing class and go beat the hell out of a punching bag for an hour or so, then light up a cigarette on my walk back to the car after leaving the gym.

Having grown up taking martial arts with my brother, kickboxing was comfortable, familiar and released a lot of pent up frustration and untapped aggression that I had yet to confront and deal with in those days.

Tree pose? Downward dog? Try a swift right hook and kick to the face! That pretty much sums up the mindset.

Then, as is typical for so many women, I got pregnant and that hard rock loving, drinkin, smokin, punching bag beatin' chick who you couldn't pay to slow down was forced to slow down and adapt to an entirely alien lifestyle. It was strange. It was unfamiliar. It was awkward and uncomfortable.

It was an era of body evolution that truly humbled me as a woman and human being. Being pregnant, particularly around the last part, is to be physically handicapped. To hurt when you walk.To struggle to get off of a couch, or the toilet or to even get the fuck out of bed.

Operating as a life-creating vessel had this way of making me panic and freak out about the future of this bag of bones I toted around and manhandled on a day to day basis. My body wasn't just mine anymore, and having to share it meant I had to take better care of it.

Pregnancy also smoothed down and softened what I know now was my "edge"- something my ego once thrived on (still? I think a certain element of our hard-wired egos never fully evolve). Taming this diluted version of my ego wasn't (hasn't been) easy- since you know how easily our egos like to be tamed, right?

Then after Jude came and all the physical stuff came to a head, the real fun began when it finally dawned on me, this watered down, tamer, safer, softer version of myself: Being a mother means being pulled into every direction at all times, never sitting down, constantly tending to someone else's needs before your own, unable to have your own thoughts and mind to yourself for 5 minutes, cleaning shit up constantly, being available for physical affection at the drop of a hat, not listening to music you like as loud as you like and sacrificing watching/reading/listening/eating/going places/talking on the phone/taking a shower/ordoinganythingelseunderthesunthatyouwanttodo because your needs are no longer the priority.

It means thatyourmindbasicallyfeelslikethissentenceallthetimebecauseyouhavesomuchtodoandsomuchgoingonthatyoufeelcrazymostofthetime.

I've always appreciated a little craziness, but I didn't initially care much for the out of control kind of crazy that came with being a brand new, first time mother. I loved my baby. I loved being a mother. But the loss of mind control? The loss of "me" time? Not so much.

I also didn't care much for the extra 50 lbs. I gained while pregnant. So, that being said, my journey towards the yoga way was not me seeking any kind of enlightenment or spiritual calling.

I'll call it what it was: a complete and total vanity mission.

Kickboxing was suddenly unappealing. After cuddling and nursing a baby all day, the idea of beating the shit out of a punching bag felt weird. It seemed inappropriate. I no longer had that pent up aggression inside to drive me to want to physically assault anything.

Having a baby made me feel... I don't even know how to describe it. Babies will blow your mind and change your game in every way, I'll just say that.

Exercise. I needed to get moving, that was for sure. But what to do? I did some running for a bit- but that got super old and super boring. Then I remembered yoga.

I suddenly was intruiged. Seeing my baby sleeping in his crib stirred inside of me a newfound sense of peace (despite all of the craziness- it's funny how that works)- and I was really digging it, so why not try some of that yoga Kool Aid, with all those peaceful hippies I'd chastised in the past?

Sure, why not?

At first it started as a way to drop pregnancy weight- and it did. Fast, once I found Tiffany and her class here in OKC. Which was great, and kept me going back. But then all this other awesome stuff started happening after going to yoga for a couple of weeks...

My mind started feeling clearer. I found myself breathing easier. Unbeknownst to me as it was happening, I was being trained to find stillness in my own thoughts when I was off the yoga mat and outside of class- be it in the car or amidst the chaos of a toddler running circles around me in my house.

I found myself craving my yoga time, two to three days out of the week. No matter how hectic or stressful things got at home (in between all of the love and happiness and joy that comes with motherhood too- don't get me wrong. Isn't all that a given? Shouldn't that go unsaid? Probably, but mommy guilt inevitably makes me reiterate my joy. Part of the package folks!), I knew I had my yoga time to just have me to myself. To concentrate on me and my body and my thoughts and my energy and my physical well-being.

So I continued going and became a yoga addict- hot yoga, specifically. Then I got pregnant again, 10 months later. Gained another 50+ lbs. with Viv. Discovered that it's even harder being pregnant while chasing around a toddler than it is being pregnant the first time.

I could hardly wait to get back in the studio after I had Viv- and the physical challenge of getting back into my yoga groove and guiding my body back into it's normal state has been one of my life's greatest joys and accomplishments- because through pregnancy and motherhood and yoga practice, all three synergizing hand-in-hand with one another, I feel as though I've become the master of my own body.

Call it the control freak in me- but hot damn, it sure does feel good. Feeling comfortable and happy and confident in your own skin is quite possibly one of the best feelings ever. I have yoga to thank for much of that goodness!

From my own experience, yoga has greatly enhanced my life- not just in ways that I expected and hoped for (Get into better shape after having babies! Fit into my damn pants again! Whittle away what was starting to become mommy "bye bye" arms!), but even better, it has enhanced my life in ways that I didn't foresee, which is where I think the real magic of yoga lies (for me at least).

Physically, I've gained improved flexibility and posture, increased strength and range of mobility, a greater awareness of my body and a more conscientious way of carrying myself.

I honestly can't imagine being a mother and chasing around two small children without having a consistent yoga practice.

Picking them up, carrying them around, rough housing with them, chasing them (for play or because they're literally running away from me out of spite), juggling holding them while doing other things simultaneously with my other hand, squatting in front of a bathtub to wash them, squatting to pick up an endless items they drop on the floor while I'm holding them... the list of things that you do as a mother that are easier because of the strength, flexibility, increased range of motion and breath training is endless.

The ability to stop and collect your thoughts and be present in the moments of chaos and craziness that come with having children is not something that we all inherently know how to do. I had to learn to deal with stress in a healthy way, versus the only way I'd ever known how to before- which was running off to take a smoke break.

If pregnancy made me, for the first time in my adult life, fully appreciate having an able, healthy body, then  yoga has taught me how to truly be present in that appreciation- and how to nurture that appreciation and keep it thriving so I don't take my able body for granted and forget how grateful I am to have it.

Mentally, yoga has helped me to develop an ability to be present in my own thoughts and find stillness and peace in my own mind amidst the go-go rush of the every day, and I've learned how to remind myself to accept things I can't control instead of resisting them- which is a daily challenge.

I've found a sense of balance I can apply to every day life- not just when I'm in class. It's aspects like these, beyond the physical, that have truly solidified yoga as something I have incorporated as a staple in my lifestyle, not just my exercise routine.

I think that finding the right kind of class and the right teacher is also crucial to maintaining a practice- since little do most people who aren't familiar with yoga know: there are so many different kinds of yoga classes and teachers out there, so there is bound to be one that fits you just right. One kind of class and teacher might not do it for one person, but that same class might be perfect for someone else. So that being said, yoga really is for EVERYBODY, of EVERY size and EVERY age.

For me personally, although there is craziness in my everyday- there is a very specific routine to the craziness in my everyday. I operate best in routine and structure as best I can- so I need a yoga class that provides me some of the opposite, which is some unpredictability.

Tiffany's classes are never the same. She mixes it up. She keeps me on my toes. Every class is something new- but there is consistency in her tempo and her style, which satisfies my need for routine. She plays music in class- her classes are challenging, always moving and HOT.

I don't even like hot. In fact, out of the hot yoga studio, I quite frankly hate being hot. Or warm even, for that matter. I hate to sweat and I can't stand heat. In the winter, I keep my AC on in my car, if that explains anything.

But being drenched in sweat in the hot yoga studio feels incredible. It's an entirely different world for me in there- away from my comfort zone and day to day.

Yoga makes me a better mother. It makes me a better wife. It has helped make me a happier, more positive person, which in turn I think has helped to make me a better friend and overall citizen and steward of this fine planet we coexist on.

Yeah, I've been drinkin' the yoga Kool-Aid. And you know what? It's super tasty. And healthy. And amazing. And you should try it. And read my story when it comes out in November.

Namaste bitches!

May 2011, 39 weeks pregnant with Vivienne

January 2012, thanks to yoga I found my way back into my own body

Everything I do, I do for these two!

Jude's Warrior III

Vivienne's Downward Dog

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I've let Jude sleep with me the past two nights, while Taylor has been out of town. Co-sleeping is not something that Taylor and I have ever included in our parenting style. With the exception of random bleary-eyed nights of co-sleeping with my babies when they were infants, nursing them to sleep because I was too exhausted to sit up and nurse them in a chair (and just because there were nights when I knew I would regret never sleeping with them at all), I don't co-sleep with the kids.

This is for a couple of reasons. A.) Taylor and I like our sleeping space B.) Our pets like their sleeping space and too many bodies in a bed makes for a man/woman overboard situation C.) I'm always secretly afraid one of us is going to crush the baby or suffocate him/her D.) The idea of having to break a kid from sleeping in my bed with me to sleep in his/her own bed sounds like a gigantic, heartbreaking pain in my ass and E.) Babies are bed hogs

Omigod are babies bed hogs. Mine are at least. The picture below is a perfect illustration of what it's like sleeping with one of my kids:

It's funny, but it's true. And this situation is not funny when you wake up the next morning having not gotten a decent night's sleep because your precious little angel spent it tossing and turning, sticking his/her foot in your face or waking up poking you in the eye and wanting to play or talk in the middle of the night. I'm a She-Bear without sleep. Some moms can do it and love it and be perfectly content with their babies in their beds with them- and it took me some self-mommy guilt tripping to convince myself that I wasn't a shitty mom for wanting that space all for me and my husband at the end of the day. We all have our own ways of doing things that work best for us.
I no longer worry about my kids thinking I'm a cold, unloving bitch for making them sleep in their own beds, in their own rooms. A family matriarch said to me once, when over one evening after infant Jude was up in his crib asleep in his room,
"He's up there all by himself? All alone?"
They said it in a way that was a mixture of disbelief and sympathy for my baby, like they couldn't believe I'd let my baby sleep up by himself in his room.
I took it as them really saying,
"What kind of unloving, unfit mother are you?"
Yeah, you get a little sensitive with your first baby.
With your second baby, you think,
"Yeah- fuck off. Whatever."
In so many words, because you've learned not to care what any other mother has to say about your style and how you do what you do. 
My kids got accustomed to their cribs pretty early on in their lives and everyone in the house has happier mornings because of it. 

Anyways- I gave the co-sleep a green light the past two nights with Taylor being out of town. It was the first time he's worked out of town since my beautiful Gretchen died a couple of months ago. Something happens when your amazing security dog dies and you find yourself left alone in your home overnight with your two babies, and without your man there. Once upon a time I was single and lived alone with my cat and couldn't have thought twice about being in my home by myself at night. Now I'm not sure what happened, but a similar apprehension I once had as a kid that kept me afraid of the dark and being home alone has resurfaced into my adulthood. One of the many things that my amazing security dog Gretchen did for me- she always kept me feeling safe. And now she's not here and I feel weirded out and anxious and uneasy while home alone with the kids, without our Man here.

What if an intruder came? What would I do? I mean, I humor myself with fantasies about protecting our household with my samurai swords (Ha ha! No, seriously...), but in the real world, I'm completely freaked out. When Taylor was out of town, Gretchen would always sleep in the bed with me, and I'd sleep like a baby- knowing that if she had the slightest inclination that something was off or awry, she'd be off that bed, hair spiked like a crazy wolf and patrolling the house, grumbling her big scary bear growl.
From snuggle bear to kick ass She-Ra man-eating hell beast- in an instant. A long time ago, Taylor and my house was robbed while Taylor was out of town, and I had come home that night by myself to find it broken into- and with the guy who did it still there (but escaped out a back window).

That experience will mess with your head for the rest of your life- particularly when you're female.

Taylor wanted to get a gun to keep in the house, and I'd always argue (because I'm not a fan of guns. Swords- yes! Guns- no) "Why do we need a gun- we've got Gretchen. No burglar in his right mind will bust in on a house with a big German Shepard going crazy at the door/window!" (because she would have)." Now, without Gretchen, Taylor got his gun and we are armed and gun-having.

*skeptical wrinkling of my nose*

I'd rather have my guard dog a million times over.

Guns make me nervous and my dog was just the most awesome dog of all-time. 

Having Jude in my bed helped these past few nights though. His company helped set me at ease- even though he slept horizontally across the top of the bed on my pillows, diagonally across the bed with his head smushed up against my back while Niles and I periodically had to wake up and reposition him on Taylor's side of the king sized bed that felt more like a twin with Jude in it.

At one point, we had a nice little mommy/baby boy spoon session, before both of us went our separate ways and claimed our respective spaces. Jude is a lot like me- he likes his space- so co-sleeping, although super nice these past few nights, seems to be a mutually-accepted temporary thing. He told me this morning that when daddy comes home, he's going to sleep in his big boy bed- but that he liked sleeping with me and Niles. That makes me happy.

Gretchen's bed is still next to my side of the bed. It'll be quite a milestone and a momentous day when I move it. It's not going to happen for awhile. When I was in bed last night, with Jude asleep next to me on one side, and my cat Niles on my other side, I looked through the dark and studied the doorway to my room, where Gretchen might have been posted up if she would have been there.

She would have accepted Jude in her place, which was Taylor's place, on my bed- and she would have slept in the doorway of my bedroom all night instead, ready and waiting to protect us if she needed to. Just imaging her there helped me go to sleep. I think this is how dogs stay with us after they are gone- and I'm not one to venture so far as to say, "She's always with me," because I don't know if she is or not, but I like to to think she is, and times like last night when it was all quiet and still in my house, and thoughts of her set me at ease when I'd be otherwise on edge, makes me feel like it's a possibility.

And that sure is nice.

Monday, June 11, 2012


So I got a new feature story assignment to work on, and it is by far the most important story that I have yet to write. It's for the Magazine's upcoming annual education issue, and it's on the topic of bullying in the Oklahoma school system. I am both excited and nervous about having the responsibility of tackling such an important subject.

There's so much to learn and think about!

First off, I'm disappointed and astonished that the documentary film "Bully," which actually features the stories of 2 Oklahoma children and their families, is not playing any place in the state. One of the families is that of an Oklahoma boy who killed himself after enduring years of torment by his peers, and the other is of a lesbian student and her family who was shunned and taunted by neighbors, former friends and even teachers and educational "professionals" after coming out.

I'd like to see the subject of bullying brought into a further reaching light by having this film offered and available more expansively here- AKA have it screened some place and featured in a forum that reaches as many parents, kids, educators and others as possible- this based solely on the fact that the consequences of bullying has finally found its way into mainstream concern and awareness after a growing number of high profile cases have made national attention.

Perhaps and hopefully this might help cause a ripple effect and leak into the consciousness of more college-aged people and other adults, and have an influence over how people treat other people that they view as different- because there are just as many adult bullies as there are children who are bullies.

I haven't seen "Bully" yet, but for this feature story I feel like I need to- and I'm going to find a way to somehow. Addressing the subject and being proactive about it just seems to me to be something that must become more of a social responsibility.

It's a real social problem- it always has been. But I think it's always been overlooked or swept under the rug as, "Kids just being kids."

Kids just being kids only goes so far. Allowing children to be hateful, mean-spirited assholes to one another- or to anyone for that matter- shouldn't be socially acceptable. Some people say getting teased and picked on makes kids tough, and that kids should suck it up and not be pansies and stick up for themselves (particularly with boys)- but if you really think about it, that's bullshit. And it's lazy on the parents/adults part.

Getting bullied and picked on can indeed make a kid tougher. But not all kids are wired to gain strength from cruelty. They're all individuals, and we're all affected differently. Schoolyard politics and social "rules" are far more complicated and messy and confusing than we give them credit for. I think as adults, parents have a tendency to forget what it's like to be in grade school.

We were all school students once upon a time. We know how cruel children can be to one another. If you've never been a victim of bullying, then maybe you don't know- but it fucking sucks. Yes- I got bullied when I was younger. By boys, not so much girls, which to me made it worse. I got cornered by boys and called a Gook and a Chink and ugly. Boys pulling back the corners of their eyes and talking to me in "fortune cookie" accented voices. I got followed home from school with boys harassing me with racial slurs. I had kids telling me my mother was a Jap (I mean, really- where do 11 year-olds even learn what Japs are? Do we detect a little racist parental influence here? Hello...) and telling me that I must have been adopted at birth because my dad was too white.

Did it mess with my head? My self-confidence and my self-esteem? You betch'ya.

Did it make me tougher? Most def. But I can't lie and deny the fact that it fucked me up in high school. Some kids recover and move on with their lives after bullying. Some don't though.

So maybe that's why this story hits home. I'm excited to finally have the opportunity to write a serious story on such a serious subject. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy everything I get the opportunity to write for the magazine- but this is my first feature story that has the tone for all the kinds of social awareness bringing things that I was hungry to write about and focused my papers on in college.

This subject reaches beyond simply the subject of bullying as well- which makes it all the more interesting. It touches on race, it touches on homosexuality, it touches on class and the American cast system, it touches on the nature of violence and cruelty and discrimination that is rooted in the ugliest dark corners of our culture.

Exciting stuff, folks!

Both the victims and the bullies need to be put under microscopes. You have to wonder what the hell is going on with a kid who bullies and torments other children. Kids like that obviously have their own problems to make them that way. I wonder about the parents of kids who bully. I wonder about school administrators and teachers and other adults in influential and powerful positions who have the responsibility to address the issue and take action. I wonder what it is that prevents students from taking action and sticking up for their bullied peers- and I wonder what we can do as parents to help our kids become the kind of people who have the courage to take stands against behavior that they witness and recognize as mean-spirited and wrong.

How much of our own actions and behavior influence and affect the way a child behaves and treats his/her fellow man/woman? After all- isn't it our responsibility to instill the very values in them that we wish to see them take out into the world? By refraining from addressing the subject of bullying and discussing it with them, because it hasn't yet seemed to rear its ugly head first-hand, are we telling them that it's not a big deal?

When they hear us making negative commentary or badmouthing someone for WHATEVER reason (physical appearance like weight or the way someone dresses, racial/gender/sexual orientational stereotypes, etc.), how much of that do our kids absorb and how much are we programming their brains to believe it's acceptable to be MEAN?

As a parent now, this subject is especially concerning to me. I don't want my children to ever be bullied. I also don't want my kids to ever be bullies either. I want to know all about bullying.

The research I am finding is fascinating. I love the feeling of gears turning in my head.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Catching Up

Vegas is a vicious beast and I'm happy to be home. I'm always over the moon excited to go, but always just as over the moon excited to come back home. Although it's still a place I love and crave from time to time, since having kids, Vegas has become a reminder of the things I don't miss about not having kids. It's nice to have a taste of being "free adults," doing things as I please- indulging in everything from alcohol to staying up too late to sleeping in too long to gambling to smoking and using foul language as liberally as I feel so compelled.

I'm learning that too much freedom now quickly feels self-indulgent and boring after a couple of days. I am learning that I actually enjoy my busy, toys-everywhere, constantly tending to the needs of my children, make-upless, hair-in-a-ponytail, low-key day to day more than I think I do sometimes.

This being said, 5 days in Vegas is too long a stint to be there. For us at least. By the last night, Tay and I were back in our room ready to crash by 11 p.m., and found our inner developing old Geezers coming out after having to call and complain to the front desk that the lounge 30 floors above us was bumping their club music too loudly and we couldn't sleep- this after calling to complain that the room next door to us was blasting their awful Guido, fist-pumping music too loudly and we couldn't sleep. This had probably been happening since the first night we got there- in fact we have vivid memories of hearing similar ruckus before, but it had been around 3 a.m. when we'd returned to the room far too intoxicated to really notice or care. 

The concierge brought us earplugs and comped our room for the night. I finally got to sleep and Taylor of course ended up back down at the craps table- but only until about 3ish a.m. instead of his usual 6 or 7 a.m. mind you. His stamina for gambling is far better than his stamina for drinking, let's just say. 

This trip made me realize that something is happening, something is changing and something will never be the same again- and this is my desire to go out, get wild and my tolerance for the environment in which to do it in. I wouldn't say that it is a dramatic change, but I definitely felt a drop in gusto for it all. But all in all- fun was had and everything I wanted to get out of my system got out. 

The dressing up to go out part is probably my favorite part about Vegas. I don't get to do it much- I find no reason to and very VERY rare occasions to do so at home- but when I get to, it sure does feel nice to feel a little glamorous and, well, dare I say it? Hot and sexxxxxy. Yup! My feet don't like it, but that's what Fast Flats are for, God bless 'em. 

I don't make it outside much in Vegas during the day. Even with a fantastic pool at The Hotel at the Mandalay, where we stayed, I turn into a vampire- hiding from the sun as much as possible. I've stopped caring about being tan because the looming fear of getting skin cancer has become more prevalent on my list of "Things to Be Afraid of About Aging'- which is stupid to think and speak of considering how many cigarettes I smoked while there. But Vegas is a place to be stupid and throw caution to the wind. 

Hangovers are just so much worse under direct sunlight, surrounded by loud tourists and bad music at a casino resort. That's just my opinion. 

Returning home has been fun. I was craving my children like something fierce. It's amazing how much time and energy you can spend talking about your children even while on vacation. I spent 80% of my shopping excursions on them and countless buzzes chattering away about them with Taylor. Fist-pumping club music sparked new dorky songs that incorporated their names and silly new dance moves were invented to teach them once we got home. 

"That's it!" we declared one night after too many Vodka and Red Bulls. "We are reinstating after-dinner dance hour when we get back! Even if they don't dance with us, they will watch us and learn to LOVE it!"

Well- watch Taylor at least. He's got the moves, whereas it takes too many Vodka and Red Bulls for me, and since I don't drink at home, it looks like I'll just have to get out my pom poms and cheer them all on from the sidelines. 

Getting home late Monday night-1 a.m.ish- was hard. It was our first return back to the house after vacation without Gretchen at the door about to piss herself with excitement because we were home. 

It's been a little over a month since we lost her and I still think about her countless times throughout my days. I can't cry anymore- I literally cried every tear I had in me the week she first left- but my heart still hurts every day. She's Angel Bear now. Taylor and I talk about her at least once or twice a day. Jude brings her up at least once a day. 

Our big fat cat D'Arcy has started coming around more- following Jude around and sleeping in his bed at night. She was always putting her toe in the social water at home when Gretchen was alive, wanting to hang out (we call her Hostess Kitty- she loves people)- but Gretchen would always chase her away or pester her to the point of having to leave the room out of sheer frustration. Now that she is gone, D'Arcy is reveling in the attention, letting Jude roughhouse with her as much as any cat can handle. 

The first night she slept on Gretchen's spot on Jude's bed, Jude was excited initially- then burst into tears and begged for Gretchen- bawling that he missed her and loved her and that if he went outside and yelled loud enough for her, she'd come home. 

KNIFE IN MY HEART. Omigod moments like that murder my insides. 

Later before bed, I went up to his room like I always do before I crash- and found D'Arcy sleeping up next to him by his pillow. I instinctively expected to see Gretchen's head perk up from her spot at the end of the bed, her pointy bat ears all alert and sleepy at the same time. But it was fat D'Arcy and it was bittersweet and I loved that cat even more since then and missed my dog even worse, if that makes any sense at all. 

I can't bring myself to move Gretchen's bed still. From time to time, I curl up in it (it's huge) and I can feel her. Her collar has been transferred from her bed to hanging in my closet on my jewelry tree, where I keep my most cherished accessories. Her biggest happiest open-dog-mouthed photo is on the wall in the laundry room where we can see it right when we walk in, next to where she would be waiting for us. She had been playing a killer game of ball at Lake Hefner that day and is the poster-dog for happy Dog Day in it. It brings me joy on the upteenth level.

Over time, the remnants of her fur is being vacuumed from carpets and it's causing the house to smell different. The air is different since she's been gone. I refuse still to Windex her nose and paw prints off the glass on the back sliding glass door- although I know someday it must be done. We've had several get togethers in the backyard since her death and the vibe is not the same, of course. Being in the backyard for anything will never be the same, but this warm sunny weather is the hardest. Summertime will be the hardest, without her swimming laps in the pool or pacing around the gates surrounding it with her ball in her mouth, itching to get back in.

I haven't gone on a walk since our last walk together. I just don't think I can do it yet. Her ghost is everywhere in this neighborhood- I see it when I drive through it. I see myself walking her and pushing Jude as an infant in a stroller around in it. I see myself walking her and pushing Viv around in a stroller in it. I see my big beautiful German Shepherd pulling me down the street with such intense joy and enthusiasm to be outside and with me and the babies- to be alive and breathing and appreciating her dog life- and I just can't bring myself to walk the streets again without her with me.

We briefly toyed with the idea of getting another puppy before we left for Vegas. At the time, this vulnerable, desperate part of me was anxious and thought it might be a good idea. Then I realized that not only am I not ready- but my family isn't ready. A puppy would only be a flimsy band-aid to a gaping wound in our collective hearts right now. We all have our vulnerable moments, and even the slightest hint of animal drama has sent me reeling back into the safety of my own apprehension of loving another canine again for awhile. Maybe Christmastime. Who knows. 

Closure comes in spurts. I plan on getting a very small black diamond tattoo on the outside of my left foot, up in the soft spot between my ankle bone and the ridge, in tribute to her. To some that might sound silly- I may have thought the idea was a little wacky before I lost my dog- but I'm excited to do it. Gretchen had a perfectly shaped black diamond on the top of her head. We loved that diamond. We called her Diamond Head Dog (amongst an endless list of other names). It's the spot I used to give her countless kisses. It's a tiny scrap of priceless closure that I feel in my bones I need. 

On a happier note (lighter note?), Mochi is walking. Mochi is weened. Mochi is one year old. I wonder to myself daily what I ever did without her in my life before. I think the same about Jude. I think about them both and wonder how I ever lived without them? Then I realize that everything in my life prior to them was all just build up and preparation and anticipation for their arrival and existence in my life.

I think the same thing about Taylor. Our Vegas trip was exactly what we needed to reconnect- because becoming parents is the hardest thing in the world, especially to your relationship with your spouse. Vegas is our ideal outlet to reconnect- where we can be the crazy, carefree, drinking/smoking/gambling/dancing/super fun couple we were when we first met. Then by the end of the trip we realize who we've become and all of this wonderful gratefulness and acceptance and harmonious reconnecting happens, and we come home as better parents and spouses. 

So Thank You Las Vegas. See you again- probably not for a nice chunk of time- but we'll see you again, in a room further away from the fist-pumping Guido music-playing nightclub at the top of the hotel.