Sunday, August 10, 2014

Fate's Intervention


Since our first dog, Izzy, left us first for a farm and then later forever, there has been a hole in our family. Even though I loved that girl, I welcomed the hole. Or lack of holes rather. 

There were no muddy paw prints, no scratched-up doors, no holes in the wall. There were no tumbleweeds of fur blowing under the dining room table, no piles of poop to scoop, no puddles of slobber. 

But there was also clearly something missing for Scott. I'm more of a cat person, he's more of a dog person. And he adored Izzy. You should have seen the way they looked at each other. 

In typical Scott fashion, he bugged me endlessly about getting another dog. In typical Katie fashion, I reminded him endlessly of all the reasons we didn't want another one, including and most importantly that we had to part with our last dog because our new home wasn't a good fit for her. (She couldn't run for miles and miles). 

He argued that we could do our research this time and find a breed that was more of a fit for us. I put up months and months and months of resistance. I just wasn't ready for the responsibility of another being. 

And then there were the girls. As I assume most kids do, they love dogs. They run up and ask everyone they see (including total strangers) if they can pet their dog. And after every encounter, Claire would hang her head and say "I wish we had a puppy." 

So, a couple of months ago, I started considering the dog idea. I wrote down all of my arguments against one and Scott and I started finding solutions to my issues. 

We decided that the breed that fit most of our needs was an Australian Shepherd. We looked around and couldn't find anything that wasn't $800. We checked shelters, rescue organizations and PetFinder. There were a few Aussie mixes, but we were trying to avoid those if possible. We were realizing that finding this type of dog for free or even a reasonable price was going to be difficult. 

It had been a couple of weeks without much talk about a dog when I sat down Thursday evening and, on a whim, checked Craigslist. 

I still don't know what compelled me to look. Scott's the dog person. I am the reluctant follower. For weeks, he had been checking all the sites and bringing me ideas. But for some reason, that night I did a quick search. 

In a town about an hour away, an 18-year-old girl was trying to sell her Aussie puppies. I took one look at the pictures and hurriedly called down to Scott. We called the owner and settled on one of the puppies. 

And here's where it gets strange. 

We were debating when we could drive to get her when the girl realized that we were coming from the town she was headed to on Friday. It turned out that she is getting ready to go to college and already had plans to move here the next day. She agreed to bring the puppy with her. 

After we hung up with her, I told Scott I knew nothing about having a puppy and doing it right (Sorry, Izzy) so I was going to need to go to the library and check out some books. He shook his head and called me Hermione, but agreed. 

While I was skimming the non-fiction section for dog books, the girls were down in the children's section with Scott. The girls picked out about seven books (many of which they just grabbed off the shelf without even looking at them) and we headed home. 

At this point, they knew nothing about the possibility of a puppy. When we got home, we sat down and started reading their books. As we read through them, I looked at Scott and asked "Did you help them pick out books?" He was as surprised as I was -- four out of the seven were about getting a puppy. 

Weird, right? It gets weirder. 

So, the next day, we met our breeder girl at a nearby park to pick up the puppy and it turns out our breeder is actually a twin! If I could picture what our girls will look like 14 years from now, it wouldn't be much different than these two girls. They had reddish-brownish curly hair and freckles. It was eerie watching these twin girls handing over their puppy to our twin girls. It felt like more than just a moment. It felt a little like fate. 

And the weirdest part of the whole thing? I was excited to bring this puppy home. I felt an immediate connection to this sweet girl. So, connected in fact, that in the middle of the night on the first night, when she was whining (for her mother? siblings? home?) I sat next to her until she fell asleep and then fell asleep next to her crate. I, the girl, who resisted a dog for so many months, who was reluctantly getting one for the sake of her family, slept on the kitchen floor so she wouldn't be alone. 

I think she's already filling the hole.  






Friday, July 11, 2014

Explorers' Club


One of the many things I want to pass on to the girls is a love for exploring their world. I want them to see the beauty and intrigue among the mundane. 

So, we started a mini explorers club. Our first adventure is a nine-mile trail that winds through town. We have been exploring it as often as we can. The girls usually make it about 20-30 minutes and then we have to turn around. We found, at first, that we were only making it to about the same spot every time and when we tried to force them to go a bit more, we'd end up with crying kids who were begging to be carried. So, now we drive to the spot that we left off and walk a new part of the trail each time. 

The girls love it. And so do we. 










Thursday, July 10, 2014

Summer 2014: Part I


It was cool enough last night that I opened all the windows and doors. I didn't notice it at first, but after the girls went to bed and I was downstairs turning lights off and picking up toys, I felt it. 

Summer. 

A warm-cool breeze floated through the door with the sounds of crickets and the smell of grass. 

It immediately took me back to childhood and all those long hours spent outside soaking up every minute of summer. 

I sat down in my dark living room, closed my eyes and just took in that moment of serenity. 

It's obviously been summer for weeks, but in that moment last night, I actually felt it. When we were kids, we were lucky enough to have a stay-at-home mom, so our summers were always super relaxed. We woke up when we were done being tired, played outside for hours, and inside for hours, with only our imaginations fueling our playtime. We controlled our destiny back then (or at least it felt like we did). Summer meant freedom. 

I felt that freedom last night -- more in my memories than in real life, but it reminded me that sometimes we have to force life to slow down a little. 

We're going camping this weekend with my family and I'm planning on soaking up as much summer as I can.

A few pictures from our summer so far:






















Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tricksy


Grace has always been a bit sneaky, but lately she's being super sneaky. Well, as super sneaky as a four-year-old can be. 





The other day, I was upstairs when she went into the bathroom. In an out-of-the-ordinary move, she closed the bathroom door. I got suspicious and peeked my head in. 

Me: Whatcha doing, Grace? 
Grace: Nothing. Um. Just going. Um. Potty.  
Me: Ok, why'd you close the door?   
Grace: *Silence* …. Mom, I need you to leave. And can you close the door? 

I pretended this was about privacy, left the room but stayed close by. When I heard the sound of cabinets banging and drawers shutting, I poked my head in again. 

And there it was - the smile, the dimples. The look of guilt. 

She tries to get away with all kinds of things. Stealing extra chips. Hiding my chapstick in her purse. Putting things away in the wrong places. Sneaking Teddy in her backpack before school. 

And every time I catch her - because she's just a four-year-old with some pretty identifiable tells - she smiles at me with those dimples and that look of "aren't I just the cutest?" 

Yes, you are the cutest. And yes, you're still in trouble. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Best Purchases Ever. Probably. Maybe.


In the past week, we made two of the best purchases we have made in a long time. 

The first was getting headphones for our in-car DVD players. I have no idea what took us so long. Because. Oh. My. Heavens. We took a trip to Salina and didn't once have to listen Dora talk to her pet Monkey about what three places they needed to go before they could make it to Grandma's house. I don't believe in zoning my kids out often, but every once in awhile, you just need a little peace and quiet. 



Oh and Grace's head is too small to keep her headphones on her ears so I suggested we put that pair of shorts under them to help keep them on. Every time I see her wearing them, it makes me giggle. 


The other best purchase was a trail-a-bike - or rather two of them. (So maybe that's three best purchases?) They are half-bikes that attach to our bikes and allow our whole family to take a bike ride. Since we purchased them, we've been on about seven bike rides. (My legs are sooo tired). But hearing the girls giggle and yell "hooray" as we soar down our hill has been enough motivation to feel the burn again and again. Right now, we're just riding in the neighborhood as we build up our stamina, but if in a few weeks you see two tandem-looking bikes with a very tall man, a short woman and two red-headed girls giggling the whole way, just wave because that's our crazy family. 






Also, there's this picture. I think this is a yearbook-contender. 



Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Life After the Swagger Wagon


I swore I'd never be the owner of a min-van. I have nothing against the mini-van.  I just never saw myself in one. But then we had kids. And well, you know how it goes. 

If you have kids, you just can't beat the utility of a van. I could stand up in the third row and buckle up the kiddos, while also reaching the DVD player with my right foot and opening the sliding door with my left. I could pack in $400 worth of groceries, my two kids, my niece and a partridge in a pear tree. 

It was nothing short of amazing. Sure, I'd catch myself in the reflection and wonder who that kid was driving that Mom-mobile, but then I'd look in the rearview mirror and saw we had two kids plus a Christmas tree INSIDE the van and I'd get over it.

A few weeks ago, for reasons outside of our control, we made the decision to get a new car. We looked at every option with a third row -- mini-vans and SUVs. I kept going back and forth between loving the utility of the van and remembering my previous no-van self. 

Scott and I settled on an SUV. Mostly because of the dollar and cents, but also because I wasn't sure I wanted to be rocking the van for the next decade. 

I had an inkling there could be some trouble once we told the girls, so I waited until we were sure about the decision and then told them. Grace was pretty OK with the plan, but Claire was very upset. She immediately started crying about how much she loved the van and didn't want to sell it. 

And when we got to the dealership to say goodbye to our trusty friend / clean out all the cheetos, I caught them hugging the van and telling it things like "we will miss you, van," "we will see you again soon" and "don't forget us."






The cleaning out process was therapeutic for us all. And a good reminder about the perils of letting a small child drink apple juice in your car. 


We said our final goodbyes and drove off into the sunset in our apple-juice-free SUV.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Seven Years




Today is my seventh wedding anniversary. 

A friend once told me that she had heard the first seven years of marriage are the hardest. Who knows if this is true. And even if it's true for most people, I'm quite sure it isn't a universal rule. 

But seeing as how I'm celebrating No. 7 today, I'm just going to cross my fingers that it's the truth. 

Our marriage hasn't been what I would call easy. (Whose is?) Each year, I learn a little more about what marriage is and a little more about Scott and what makes him tick. (And what ticks me off about him). 

There have been moments that I have never felt closer to him and moments that I wanted to throw him off the roof. While it was hailing. During a tornado. 

People don't often talk about the hard times. Who wants to read about arguments and hurt feelings and slammed doors? Who wants to write about it? 

Today, I'm changing that. 

Scott and I argue. Sometimes loudly. Sometimes passionately. Sometimes in hurtful ways. A couple of years ago, we hit a peak. The girls were still little and so dependent. We were working crazy hours. Going to bed close to midnight, getting up at 4 a.m. for work and trudging through all day. We were so tired. And new things were coming up for us to navigate. New challenges with parenting, new challenges with juggling life's demands. Trying to figure out where our marriage fit into this new life we were building. And we were arguing almost daily. Sometimes in little ways. Sometimes in big ways. 

At the time, it felt nearly hopeless. I felt certain we would never find our way out. Never find our way back to Scott and Katie. 

I knew that marriage shouldn't be that hard. I was certain that we were all wrong for each other. Too much oil, too much water. True love was supposed to be easier than this. I was sure of it. 

I was wrong. Marriage is hard. Sometimes really hard. Sometimes unbearably hard. But this is the thing — the most important thing — it's so worth it. Having come out on the other side of those dark, stormy days, I can see how beautiful our marriage is. It's full of ups and downs and more ups and more downs, but we weathered them. 

I know that we will face challenges that threaten to swallow us, but I have faith that our love will be our strength.

This may seem like such a strange way to celebrate our seven years of marriage, but I think it's the perfect way. This is the rainbow after our storm. And although I know there will be more storms to come, I also know there will be more rainbows. 

So, here on this day, I'm pledging in front of all our friends, family and well, the Internet, to say I love Scott. More now than ever before. 

When we've grown old and you have lost your hair and mine is gray — I will love you more that day than today. Because each day I spend with you, I discover more reasons to fall in love.