Heartcheck

adult-apple-watch-arms-893891

Admittedly I’ve been a bit busy as a new puppy mama. If you only knew how I have a half-dozen posts in the works and ideas for countless more that I haven’t even started yet but I do. Hopefully I can find my groove and hit the publish button a bit more often here.

Stay tuned. You’ll hear about our spring break trip to Nashville, Birmingham, and Atlanta, how I decided to start therapy (and I’m proud of it), how I’m failing miserably at anything that resembles Lenten preparation, how I’ve fallen off the CrossFit bandwagon but hope to get back, things that make me crazy, my breast biopsy (the sequel), some classic non-fiction books I am reading, the art of Facebook unfriending, the ridiculous satisfaction of finishing everything on my to-do list, and maybe even my review of Cuba which was a trip we took a year ago this month. Of course you’ll hear about the puppy. We got it going on here, brothers and sisters!

What do you guys think? Should I prioritize a certain post over another? I’m all ears. Or you can even pose a topic or a question. Why not!

I get this is bit unusual for a blog post, but I figure a quick heartcheck is a good thing. Hope all is well wherever you happen to be.

Photo by Rawpixel on Pexels.com

Puppy-Parent Pooped

I am writing a bit sleep deprived which makes me “puppy pooped”, not to be confused with our puppy, who poops (wink).

Raising a puppy is very much like having a newborn but with tons of puppy kisses and belly rubs – hers, not mine, although that sounds divine come to think of it.

We picked her up the first weekend of February. It involved an overnight trip for the five of us coming from Ohio traveling to this absolutely wonderful breeder named Pamela in Virginia. That isn’t normal, making an overnight trip to get a dog. Many people just get a puppy locally or otherwise don’t give a lot of thought to breeders unless they are looking for a classic purebred dog. There is also a big push in the United States to get a dog from a local dog shelter since there are so many abandoned dogs, but that wouldn’t work for us, for reasons I’ll describe below.


Starting about the Wednesday before pickup, I began to feel real anxiety about getting a dog. Very similar emotions coursed through me, reminding me of the night before giving birth or buying a house, this realization that you’re about to change your life in a major way and you pray that you’re doing the right thing.

Everything about it felt right leading up to that point, you see. I did my homework. I felt very good about the breed, about the breeder, about the breed’s compatibility with our family and the age our kids are right now. I felt good that our kids are old enough to handle the puppy properly and love her, to help care for her, but mostly I had to be ready to take on the responsibility myself.

This was, in my mind, my dog. I always thought if I got a dog, I would get a little one. I’ve had my eye on Yorkies for years but hearing that they weren’t necessarily wonderful with kids was a deal breaker.

My husband was against the idea of a puppy for the longest time even though he’s more of a dog person than me. It was devastating five years ago for him to put down Monk, our basset hound, after 14 beautiful years together. It tore him apart. He routinely describes it as one of the worst days of his life. But even he was ready at this point, ready and excited to welcome a new pet.

Then again, I totally expected I could get him on board after showing him endless pictures of precious Maltipoo puppies for weeks on end. He really is a big softie and it worked.

I may have shared this conundrum before too: my oldest has allergies to certain dogs, mostly big breeds, and he was understandably apprehensive about bringing a dog into our home. He was the one who remembered what it was like to have a pet in the house. However our younger two kids desperately wanted a pet as they didn’t really remember life with Monk all that well, and I didn’t want to deny them experience during childhood. Really, how do you balance the desires of all kids?

Well, we hedged our bets and decided we would become a pet family once again.

Naturally the anxiety kicked in overdrive the few days before pickup. I was having a hard time falling asleep. I could tell my breathing was shallow and I had to actively concentrate on deep breathing. My stomach felt queasy. I knew this was a Very Big Commitment, easily a 14-year one, and the thought of my oldest breaking out in hives and having to rethink the decision was nauseating. I most definitely didn’t want him to think we valued a puppy over his health. I was virtually certain he would be ok but there was a tiny little bit of doubt in my mind, and plenty of doubt in his.

All that gave away the night before pickup. I pretty much collapsed into bed and was running on adrenaline over the happy thoughts of getting her. It was a pleasant, excited drive to Pamela’s house. She greeted us with a big, warm smile and introduced us to our new pup who we named Zoe, the puppy’s litter mate, Samson, who was waiting to get picked up that same day, and the puppies’ mother. All jaw-dropping adorable.

My children melted at the sight. I will never forget how utterly charmed they were by these precious wee babies. Even my oldest smiled so broadly his dimples popped on both cheeks!

Pamela gave him Samson to hold and my daughter held Zoe. I will never forget what happened next. My oldest whispered to me, “Mom, she needs a puppy buddy. Let’s just take them both,” and as he nodded his head toward the door, he continued whispering, “Let’s just go…” It was surprisingly mischievous for him to suggest. If only Samson wasn’t already promised to someone else, we just might have done it!

Whatever anxiety I had about a dog virtually disappeared once we laid eyes on Zoe for real. She was as soft and small and sweet as we saw in the photos and video before-hand, although it is surprising to hold a puppy that small. It really is like having a newborn. You forget how small newborns are, too, until you hold one again and remember.


I was uncertain what to name her, which is odd because I’m pretty good at naming things. First I wanted something unusual, about me or my life, and that just became too hard to narrow down. A friend of mine suggested Lumi because she said she thinks of me as someone always trying to bring knowledge, be positive, and shine a light on matters. I have got to admit, that was an incredibly lovely sentiment! Yet the name Lumi didn’t roll off my tongue, so I didn’t run with it.

Since music is such a big part of my life, I spent time mulling musical names. I briefly considered Tempo, but it hit me that I really love both the sound of the word cello and the sound that instrument makes. I immediately thought of a woman who I worked with on a training project once, and her name was Chelo. I learned it’s a name of Spanish origin meaning “consolation or comfort”. It was another one of those aha moments since I had hoped this puppy might fill the void of loneliness that has marked much of my life.

We called her Chelo for a couple of weeks before pickup, mostly trying to get my daughter to buy into the name. Her first pre-teen reaction was, “Mom, it’s weird. I don’t like it.”. I was going to pull the Mom-veto on her since the boys liked the name, but wouldn’t you know, something about her reaction planted that tiny seed of doubt that it wasn’t quite right. I wanted all of us to be bought into the name. While Chelo sounds so lovely, we’d be spelling her name and explaining what it meant forever.

My daughter wanted to name her Athena after the Greek goddess of wisdom, but that didn’t fit 100% either. Our puppy was too tiny to be an Athena, even as I warmed up to the name. I certainly fit the unusual but beautiful criteria I had.

The week before pickup I had just listened to fantastic podcast about creating a powerful alter-ego for yourself. One woman named hers Ziva after the NCIS character Ziva David. Boom! I thought that was it. I held my breath looking up the meaning of Ziva, then sighed in relief when I learned it means “radiance, brilliance, and light”, which aligns itself nicely with the Lumi sentiment my friend suggested. Still, something continued to nag at me such that I wasn’t 100% sure. Our puppy wasn’t exactly exotic looking, and part of me felt that a dog named Ziva needed to be mysterious.

We even tried Ziva for a few days but it became pretty clear to me, as it did all of us, she’s really a Zoe. Zoe means “life” and that’s what she brings to us. Enormous waves of life in a teeny tiny body. I don’t care if it’s a common name for a dog, it fits her perfectly. We are completely charmed by Zoe Grace.

For the record, our breeder gave her a middle name of Grace upon birth, and we felt it was lovely so it stuck.


Our breeder recommended that someone stay full-time with Zoe for her first week at home, and luckily for me, I was able to arrange to work from home that week. America needs to get on board with “pet-ernity leave”, if you ask me. I work for a company that sells pet food, so one would hope my employer would be sympathetic to the demands of acclimating a new puppy to a home (and they were!)

Seriously, pet-ernity leave should be a real thing. I suppose we Americans should master maternity leave, and paternity leave first, but wouldn’t pet-ernity be incredible?

Our week together was wonderful. I got a feel for Zoe’s schedule: when she wakes, when she’s rowdy, and when she sleeps which incidentally is much of the day, again, not unlike a newborn. We bonded, and started potty training. I got a feel for her personality and she got a feel for our home, which we have slowly introduced to her one room at a time. We’re onto week three and she’s doing great.

We are too. Zoe has brought a lot of laughter and joy into our house, and dare say the kids have focused their attention on her and not as much on gaming and bickering with each other. I had my fingers crossed for this sort of outcome, but W H O A. Our oldest comes home and coos all over her, and he’s teaching her tricks and commands. She’s already figured out “sit”, and we’re now working on consistent delivery of “down” and “roll over”.

It’s rather poetic that her gotcha day was in February and she is a real-live valentine. I can hear my mother, who’s passed, singing as she often did, “How much is that doggie in the window, the one with the waggily tail,” and it’s almost as if my mom is celebrating the fact that we are once again a party of six with a little soul that delivers a very waggily tail.

Zoe is a little dream come true.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s a Pup-date!

You may have heard we’re puppy pregnant (see Puppy Party Pooper) but not for much longer! Silonda here with a “pup-date”, get it?

We found a W O N D E R F U L breeder who, truth be told, is pretty far away from us, but hey! We’re road trip people and Saturday is the day a sweet little bundle of fluffy joy is joining our family. Fingers crossed the Polar Vortex/Arctic Blast is over so we can hit the road safely.

fullsizeoutput_2b3eThis sweet little baby is our puppy, Nora Grace, the name her breeder gave her at birth. It’s an absolutely lovely name, but not likely one we will stick with. Isn’t she a doll? I think she is seven or eight weeks old in this photo.

She is a maltipoo, a cross between a Maltese and miniature poodle. Maltipoos are known for being small, smart, friendly, hypoallergenic, and low shedding.

We cannot wait to meet her! Our only daughter is overjoyed that the boy-girl dynamic in our human family of five will be evened out with the addition of another girl. She has always wanted a sister.

You may have noticed our pup is not a black maltipoo like she had hoped for. We decided that the right breeder and the right pup is more important than the precise coloring.

Our daughter is a huge fan of YouTube makeup sensation James Charles, who apparently caters to his audience by calling everyone “sister”. I made the HUGE mistake of suggesting to our daughter that we could “go all James Charles and name the puppy, ‘Sister'”. Her eyes grew big and a giant grin formed on her face, which told me I screwed up big time.

No, no, we are not naming her Sister, nor are we going for Athena, Kiwi, or Smores, her other choices.


Naming a dog is a big deal.

I’m not one to go for conventional names. I like avant garde choices, so Daisy, Gracie, Lucy, and the like won’t do. Besides, I already have a great niece of the human and canine varieties named Lucy so that truly doesn’t seem like a viable choice.

Part of me wanted to shoot for Lola or LuLu but neither of those names go well or roll off the tongue all that easily with our last name of Louie.

I wanted to pick something from my life for this sweet little baby, and after much conversation as a family, I think we have name ready to go. Four out of five of us have bought into it (our daughter being the lone hold-out) but until we see our pup and get to know her, I won’t reveal it. I’m shooting for something easy to say that sounds lovely and is a reflection of my life but not too cutesy.

Have I mentioned that my husband had a basset hound named Monk who lived to be 14? I met Monk and Ryun three years into their relationship. ♥️ Monk was named after Thelonius Monk, a jazz musician, which is appropriate for my husband who is the same.

Monk lived a long and happy life, and honestly was The Best Basset Hound Ever. He lived up to his name: chill, quiet, loving. When he was four or five, we thought he was lonely and got him a brother basset who we named Cannonball, after Cannonball Adderley, my idea.

You can guess what happened. Cannonball lived up to his name, too.

There’s an old adage that children live up to our expectations of them but I’m beginning to think he same is true of pets and the name we give them, which makes choosing THIS name all the more important.

I want little “Nora Grace” to know she is loved and an important part of our family already. We’ll keep you posted shortly after February 2, our puppy’s Gotcha Day.

Stay warm!

 

The First Post of the Year!

danielle-macinnes-222441-unsplashI’ve been blogging a little over a year now, but 2019 makes for the third calendar year I’ve been writing and throwing it all out there for everyone to see. It wasn’t lost on me this go around that the first post of the year is kind of a big deal, ya know? It has the ability to set the tone for the year, you see.

It’s like that scene with Santa at the North Pole in The Polar Express, when he presents the first gift of Christmas.

No pressure or anything. It’s just, you wonder if you should be able to hear the elves cheering at the North Pole here in Ohio when you hit the “publish” button.

Is it a wee bit ironic that this particular blog post is not the first post of the year? I digress….

It’s January 11 and our Christmas decorations are still up. Don’t judge! I suppose I could be removing Christmas ornaments right this very moment but I am choosing instead to write. Priorities, priorities… There is so much to catch you guys up on!

The weeks leading up to Christmas are a big blur and a big ball of stress but somehow I wake up on Christmas Day and everything is right with the world. Sure, we didn’t get to see everyone we wanted to this year, but the day was fun and relaxed.

One of my favorite weeks of the year is that time between Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Like that line from the Chicago song, does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care? It doesn’t matter if I’m working or not, it’s a pretty relaxed week and quiet at work if I do, and there is simply no pressure to do anything if you don’t want to. Talk about blessed.

I wish people weren’t in such a hurry to rip down their decorations that week. I think we should all just hit the snooze button on life and take a lesson from the Danes and embrace hygge (pronounced “hue-gah”).

Hygge is kinda hard to explain, so I’m told. It’s a state of being. I suppose you can describe it by saying it’s the cozy feeling of contentment that overcomes you when you just hang out at home in PJs and fuzzy slippers, feed the fireplace, drink hot cocoa, snuggle, and be happy. I even got a book about hygge this Christmas. Can’t wait to crack it open this winter and enjoy. Hygge is my favorite state of being. I inherently knew what hygge was before I knew there was a word for it.

Perhaps if I got a tattoo, it should say “hygge me” inside of a heart. I might be onto something there…


We sent our Christmas cards to family and friends but this year, I took the unprecedented step of writing a letter to go along with it. Let that sink in for a moment: I love to write but I never did that before. Isn’t that funny?

It was pretty well received. A few people contacted me to say they enjoyed it. What they didn’t know is that I wrote it off the top of my head and the original version was six – count them, SIX – pages long! It hit me that 1) no one wants to read six pages about the five of us, and 2) that gets a little costly for the number of cards we mail, so I was forced to play editor and whittle it down to just two pages.

Do you know how hard that is? I mean, I had YEARS worth of news to catch people up on, people I don’t get to see very often if at all.


I’ve had a lot of thoughts and content bubbling up inside for the last few weeks but I just couldn’t find the time to get it written down. Instead, I’ve been on the prowl for a puppy.

Yes, a puppy. Our oldest seems to be allergic to big dogs, so this makes the effort a little challenging. We would love to welcome a pet into our lives but we’re all allergic to cats. It’s been over five years since our angel of a basset hound, Monk, passed away. I’ve been researching breeds and we think we are ready to move forward with a Maltipoo, a low-shedding, hypo-allergenic cross between a poodle and Maltese. Part of me is a little anxious about having to train a puppy but “designer dog” rescues are hard to come by although not impossible. We may have found a rescue, actually. We need to do more research on that but at least we’re aware of one.

<<< Isn’t this little guy cute? Be still my heart. I want to hygge him.

But these last three or four weeks? I’m exhausted. It occurred to me today that I am “puppy pregnant”, which is not to say I’m actually pregnant. Oh, no…. Mama Louie’s uterus is closed for business, shall we say! 😳

But seriously, I’m scanning puppy sites in my every spare moments. I’m scrolling through endless dog names. I notice everyone who already has a dog. I’m wondering if the dog we get will look like my husband and the kids (dark-haired) or more like me (returning to the blond of my toddler years)? I’m starting to buy things to nest. The kids can not wait to add to the family. Our youngest is looking forward to no longer being the youngest. 🤣

Did I mention I’m tired, oh so very tired? This past Monday wasn’t even my first day back at work but midway through an afternoon meeting I wanted to grab a pillow, curl up in a ball, and nap.

Will it be a boy or a girl? Will it be a colicky baby or sweet? Will it come “late” or “early”? We’re not even sure when we’re “due”.

Puppy pregnant is a real thing.

I need a nap.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

 

Brief Reflections on New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve at Louie Lodge. My husband and I will be apart today for the first time since I met him 18 years ago. One of the high school bands he works with was invited to march in the Citrus Bowl parade in Florida yesterday while today they marched at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. I stayed back here in Ohio with our kids.

December 31 is usually a quiet night for us. We hang out at home, watch the ball drop on TV, and catch a few musical performances. No big parties for us. Nobody but us. I often wish we had a big group of people to hang out with but the truth is we don’t have a posse we feel close enough with to do that. I’d rather lounge on my comfy sofa with the blanket and fireplace going and not deal with whomever is on the road and shouldn’t be.

Tonight is a night of quiet reflection, again.jeshoots-com-490731-unsplash

I usually make a big list of resolutions at the start of the year and take this last week of the year to reflect on the progress I’ve made so I can plan next steps, but not this year. I’ve had the last few days off work but instead of reading, relaxing, and reflecting, I’ve been tidying and tying up loose ends: making overdue appointments and dates with friends, cleaning, and purging clothes and household items that clutter up the place. I’m glad I did…it needed to be done…but I feel very unsettled heading into 2019. I haven’t done the proper meditation and planning to start the new year.

How I love a fresh slate, an opportunity to start all over again. I am way overdue for reinvention, for new beginnings. My husband jokes with me that I need a change of some kind every three years: a new city, new house, new job, or new kid. It’s been 14 years since we’ve had a new house or city, and eight years since I changed employers or had a kid, so I am well overdue on many fronts. Given that we aren’t planning any more kids, you can see where this is headed.

I was feeling very hopeful about 2019 until about an hour ago. I had my heart on a certain puppy for the last week or so, and I thought the breeder told me we were next in line to choose, but I learned moments ago that the puppy I had my eye on has been scooped up by someone else who jumped ahead of me. Perhaps I misunderstood the breeder, but I’m actually heartbroken over this. It’s crazy. It’s just a puppy but I woke up this morning of new year’s eve thinking she would be ours and join our family soon, another sweet little heartbeat to add to the home, but instead she’s gone, just like that. Now I don’t know what 2019 holds for us.

Pardon me while I go take some time to think about that as the clock winds down to midnight.

But before I go, here’s wishing you all, around the world, a peaceful and prosperous new year full of good health and joyous community with your favorite heartbeats.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash