The Complexities of Life and Death

clouds

A heavy sigh greets me this Friday. So many thoughts swirling, suffice to say, death seems to be a recurring theme this week. So far, I’ve heard of the passing of two people with whom I have known remotely. They both lived long, productive and healthy lives, which makes their departure less shocking, but sad nonetheless.

The other death is one that is impending (aren’t they all??) It involves cancer and with someone who is much closer to me, and oh, it’s painful. I spent some time yesterday crafting a letter to this person, as I wanted him to know – while I am still able to communicate directly – that he is cared for and loved and his contributions to our family are greatly appreciated and not without notice. It was gut-wrenching and I spent a better part of the day bawling my eyes out over the impending loss and what that will mean for my family.

We are a society that does not deal well with death – on any level – even though it’s the one known inevitable outcome for every single living soul on the planet. I was visiting with some girlfriends last evening who were lamenting about attending an upcoming event for a colleague with cancer. They wondered “how” they would approach it. Based on the week that I’ve had, I offered this piece of advise: go in with the positive outlook that you are privileged to share their life, and recall happy times WITH THEM, versus waiting until they have passed to share memories at a funeral or other life-reviewing event.

Shouldn’t we all have a life-celebrating party while we are still able to comprehend the value and enjoy the people in attendance?

I remember a time, years ago, when my father – who continues to read an actual physical newspaper cover to cover each and every single day – shared an article with me. I remember staring at the black and white newspaper photo of an elderly woman, popped out of the top of a limo, in wild celebration. She had a huge smile on her face, and in her aged hand extended skyward was a champagne flute filled with a bubbly concoction.

It was her husband’s funeral – and she was celebrating his life. There were no tears – just joy. I remember marveling at that photo, wondering silently if I would be able to do the same thing? It was an odd concept – showing happiness in the face of death – who does that??

My dad looked at me and said, “When I die, I don’t want anyone crying. I want you all to have a party and celebrate the fact that the old bastard is finally dead.”

We laughed, of course. And now, all these years later those words still permeate in my brain.

“When I die, I don’t want anyone crying. I want you all to have a party and celebrate the fact that the old bastard is finally dead.”

In fact, I’ve envisioned myself speaking at his funeral, without tears, sharing funny stories about him. Yet it doesn’t matter, the thought still brings tears.

Death brings tears. And joyful memories. And if we’re lucky, an overwhelming feeling of love. I will carry those thoughts with me as I continue to walk in this journey. Especially with what’s on the horizon.

Go in love, my friends, for in the end, it’s the only thing that lasts beyond this realm of existence.

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Forty-Something Candles

Gloria Ferrer Champagne Bottle

 

On the eve of the 17th revision of my 29th birthday, I am many things, but mostly, I am peaceful. {I suppose the wine and chocolate doesn’t hurt the mood.}

I am grateful for simple things (my health, a new roof over my head, a steady income, family, friends, and of course, Rocco-puppy!)

I am accepting of the choices I have made – and perhaps those I haven’t made so far? One thing I’ve learned, you can’t worry about the choices made, but rather, focus on the lessons said choices have provided. Good, bad and otherwise.

Life offers us so many options – much like a trip to your local Baskin Robbins – with 31 flavors from which to choose. And don’t we typically choose the same two or three over and over and over again? But, at any moment, without instigation we can make NEW choices. We can pick flavors we’ve never tried before. We can explore, be edgy, take a walk into the unknown.

As the half century number (and not one that I love the sound of to be brutally honest) begins to crest the horizon, I believe there are also choices to approaching a birthday.

You can (attempt) to run and hide (not very “authentic!”) – OR – you can face it head-on, breath into it, and give it a giant appreciative hug.

I am thankful for the endless love, support, humor and shelter of my darling Sexy Hubby. I would not be half the person I am today without him offering me a shoulder to lean on.

And cake. I am most thankful for the traditional birthday cake. It’s not a true birthday celebration without it. (And, oh, I simply adore cake!) First order of business tomorrow, head to my local gourmet market in search of the perfect piece of forty-something German chocolate birthday cake.

Oh, aging is a beautiful thing. Especially when compared to the options…which brings me to my mother-in-law.

A birthday no longer passes without a special nod to my dear mother-in-law, as my birthday is also the celebration of the anniversary of her passing. It’s been 5 years without her infectious laughter. I hope she knows how much she is missed.

…and as my dear friend KSP always says, “onward and upward.”

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Prom Night 2013

I’ve dreamt of this day. For years and years.

The day when the first male in our family would step into history.

The history of attending his Senior Prom. (Quick back story for the few who may not know: Sexy Hubby did not attend his prom, and my older step-son did not attend his prom. If I could help it, the last little birdy in the nest was going to break this trend.)

In all honesty, I wasn’t certain it would happen. As of a few months ago, there were no prospects on the horizon.

I suppose the universe finds ways to continually surprise us. And I was very happily surprised, so much so, I didn’t squawk about the tuxedo choice (although, “The Senior” claimed “everyone loved it”) nor the choice of the black rose for his boutonnière. I acted like a good mom, and kept my mouth shut and my pocket book open.

The fashionista in me wishes the credit was mine, but the choices all belonged to my son. And he looked quite smashing!

As his father was helping affix the red bow tie, and I was snapping photos, the first tears began to crest. I tried to hide it, but when he saw me, he shook his head and said, “Mom, it’s no big deal.”

But it was a big deal for me.

Life is about the big moments and the little ones we tuck away for safe keeping. My favorite part of this night – as my son left to pick up his date, he turned and kissed me on the cheek and hugged me a little, adding, “Love you, mom.”

He realized this moment was perhaps much more important for me, and he shared it with me openly.

Cam Prom Red Tuxedo

Red tuxedo, black rose

Prom attire, red tuxedo, red vans

prom attire

I asked that my son bring his date over for a photo session.

I forgot about the puppy. (How could I forget about the puppy??) But the puppy loves company (assuming everyone that visits is coming to see him!)  and turns out, he loves pretty girls. He sure LOVED the prom attendee’s date! In fact, he didn’t leave her alone the entire time she was visiting.

cute prom couple and yorkie puppy

yorkie love

I adore this photo.

Doesn’t Rocco look as though he’s bashful in the presence of a young beauty?

modern corsage with black accents

Flowers courtesy of Labellum in Bozeman. They did a wonderful job meeting the “black rose” request and meeting the needs of the “modern” corsage.

Of course, I wouldn’t let the prom couple out the door without a photo of the shoes. Isn’t that what it’s REALLY all about??

red shoes, black heels

prom couple, red tuxedo

cute young girl

…and off they went.

Out of my heart and into the family history books.

fancy couple walking away

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The New (Not-so) Normal

One year ago today, we experienced a loss so deep, so tragic, and so jolting, I’m not sure we thought we would ever move beyond the shock, pain and lingering question of “how could this possibly happen?”  In the twelve months since this tragic day, I believe we’ve learned a few things.

We’ve learned life is short and never guaranteed.

We’ve learned that no matter how devastating a loss, we can find a way to move one foot forward, if ever so slowly.

And, above all, we’ve learned to support one another – especially those experiencing despair. I’d like to believe we are better equipped to notice warning signs of couples on the edge, and are willing to step in and offer love, support and guidance when we can. The following post was written one year ago, but perhaps still has some value and insight.

In loving memory of Kim and Kevin. I hope they are watching from above and learning and growing right along with us.

Death, regardless of circumstances, opens nearly as many doors as it closes. And honestly, I’m not sure which one is more challenging. The opening or the closing.

The doors that close are painfully obvious. Our loved ones are no longer available to us. We can’t call them, or hug them or share holidays together, but we still see their smile, remember their quirks, and most importantly we remember how they made us feel.

The doors that open are akin to The Black Hole – dark, engulfing and without end. Doors called Sadness, Denial, and Disbelief open wide. The biggest door that opens is the also the toughest door and the one in which I am not able to open let along walk though. It’s the door labeled, “Why?”

Why did this happen?

Why did my loved one have to experience this?

Why are we left without them?

Why? Why? Why?

Sadly, this is not the first time I’ve found myself outside the door called “Why?” Yet, this is by far the most unnerving and unsettling why I’ve ever faced in my entire life. (Admittedly, I am on the periphery of this tragedy. Yet, I knew both the victim and the aggressor, and they were both someone I considered a friend. I also know both the families, which only adds to my personal swirling and spinning questions of why?)

When our best man died, I was plagued with why for years. Ultimately, we came to accept the fact Dominic died racing dwarf cars, which was his passion and hobby. The why still stung, but since racing was his choice, it was easier to accept. I recognize that now – eleven years later – as it’s taken me this long to come to that summation.

Regarding my hometown tragedy, there is no answer.

As we collectively move through the internal process of why, I’ve come to understand one major development. In this awful situation, there will never be an answer for why, but only a sad realization that it really happened, placing us squarely outside the door labeled “As Is.”

The O.C.D part of my brain grapples with “As Is.” I like things to fit into neat, little justified boxes. There is no neat, little justified box for this tragedy, but rather a reason wind-chime – dangling, wobbling and blowing with the wind.

So, instead of trying to open the why door, we are forced to open the “As Is” door and see what’s inside. It’s going to look different through that door. Nothing will be the same.

Only “As Is.”

Maybe someday “As Is” will come to feel normal.

The new not-so normal, yet, the only choice that unfortunately remains…

 

 

Another Epiphany? No Fooling

Oak Tree Reflection in Pool

Isn’t it ironic that after not crafting a blog post for nearly 45 days, that a new post should appear on national All Fools Day?

I thought so, too.

Where have I been hiding for the past few months, you wonder? (Or not!) Not anywhere ultra-fantastic (although I did take respite in the desert sun for a few days, while tagging along with a Sexy Hubby work trip.)

The bigger question is what have I discovered in the past weeks?

It’s a good one. And one that I love. It was an epiphany of sorts, and I hope that by sharing this personal nugget, it will enable you to look deep within yourself to discover hidden treasures, and moments of immense clarity.

The beginning of March 2013 marked three years since our very painful and very public embarrassment.

A loss of colossal proportions.

It was the moment our mountain log cabin delved into the abyss of foreclosure, taking with it every equity penny we had earned, all savings and retirement funds, and nearly every bit of our self-worth.

Of course, I always try to find “a reason” why something happened.

What was this suppose to teach us? How were we to do better after this? What was the greater lesson hidden in the jolting loss?

Oh, did I grapple. And I ignored reason. And I defied logic.

In a word, I think I just buried my head in the sand, hoping to wake up and find it was all a crazy April Fools joke. Only no one was joking. Or laughing. And I dared not to cry for fear I’d never stop.

Fast forward to today. Three years later. And only recently did the epiphany arise from the mire. And it’s a good one. And one that I feel compelled to share, as perhaps someone who reads this (either of my two followers) will gain insight.

In a nutshell, the events from New Year’s Day to April Fools Day are as follows:

Our current rental home recently was placed for sale. We thought, what the heck, we should try and buy it, realizing of course, no bank this side of normal would consider us a worthy credit risk, but we decided to roll the dice…

And we hit Lucky 7.

Then, all of the sudden, I really decided to double-down. If the bank was willing to sell us THIS place, would they sell us something we really wanted?

Turns out they did.

Also during this time, I reconnected with our friend/realtor who began sending me daily email listings on houses within our desired price range. Something popped up that looked interesting, and on a whim, I made an appointment to see the house. But,  on the drive over to this house, I thought, “What the heck am I doing? Why are trying to buy another house? This is crazy.” Good thing I didn’t listen to myself.

I viewed the house. A bungalow on a quaint street, with a park. I walked in, and after a very brief tour, I knew it was perfect for us. Small house, small yard = completely manageable.

With the bank’s blessing, we placed an offer, got approved, and in approximately 2 weeks, we will move into our new home.

It’s akin to winning the lottery for us.

But the real epiphany is this – the bank qualified us for a much larger amount of money, yet we chose to purchase something less. Considerably less – in other words, for the first time in our adult lives, we are choosing to live BELOW our means.

And it is the best feeling of comfort I’ve ever known.

Living below our means.

Words to live by.

And a lesson that was three years (or a lifetime?) in the making.

Thank goodness the lesson finally bubbled to the surface. Not only does it allow sleep to swirl around me peacefully, rather than fitfully, but it offers great information and explanation to the aforementioned foreclosure and how we missed the warning flags as we zoomed past reason and straight into the financial danger zone – a place where I never, ever care to make a return visit.

What lessons have you learned? Do you dare to share?

(And be ready for the blogs to follow sharing the before | after shots of the new house! Oh, and we’ve got tons of DIY projects up our sleeves!!)

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What Valentine’s Day Means To Me

{Editor’s note: Valentine’s day – a day filled with roses, gooey chocolate and long, passionate kisses.

Or not.

As in my case, once again, Sexy Hubby and I are apart on Valentine’s Day. I guess sloppy puppy kisses will be a close second!

Wishing love to all today.}

 

This is a simple story about a boy and a girl.

And as this blog has proven time and time again, by the grace of its name, you can trust this story is indeed, authentic.

Circa 1991

A girl, who had lived the previous five years away from her home-town, her friends, and her family, suddenly found herself plopped back into the nest. Full from a life of travel, and the vast experience of visiting exotic spots all over the globe, the girl was relieved to be home. Yet, her soul remained an empty chasm, unfulfilled.

The girl was in her mid-twenties – an age most poets claim a perfect mix of mild maturity and youth – and grappling with choices made, and those not made. She had already completed one “career,” yet wasn’t sure where the next one would take her.

Living in a small town certainly had its advantages, and the girl ran into an old friend of a friend one night, to discover her friend – a boy – had also recently moved back to their hometown.

This sparked great interest in the girl. The boy was a dear friend from high school, and with whom she kept in contact over the immediate years while he was away in the Army and she was living outside New York City. Yet, recently they had lost touch.

The boy’s friend told the boy about the encounter with the girl.

The boy was thrilled to know the girl was back home and began a frantic search through his numerous, yet dated, address books looking for the girl’s phone number. It was the same old number he had called years before, as the girl was, once again, living with her parents.

This boy was many things – dependable, reliable, staid, trustworthy – but one thing he was not – a believer in fate. Yet, after searching to no avail for the girl’s phone number, imagine his shock to have the lost phone number revealed to him in a dream that very night.

After work that day, he phoned the number that had surfaced in the recesses of his subconscious, and found himself speaking with the girl’s mother – who was delighted to hear from the boy, and told the boy where he could find the girl.

Not much later, that same afternoon, while studying at the local Library, the girl who was deep in study, received a tap on the shoulder. She looked up from her book, dazed, to find herself staring directly into the eyes of an old friend. Her friend. The boy she met as a Freshman in high school, nearly nine years ago.

She was so excited to see the boy, but since the Library is not a place to chat, they decided to go out for a drink and  catch up on the years they had lost. They chose an old favorite hang out, and after an hour or more of back and forth, rekindling their friendship, they said goodbye with every hope to remain in contact.

Several weeks went by with no phone call from the boy.

The girl decided to check on the boy, so she called his house. He was out. She left a message. He never called back.

So the girl called again. And again. And again. And again.

After the fifth phone call, the boy finally returned the girl’s call, claiming to be busy, apologized, and made a “dinner date” with the girl. She accepted, even though she was slightly miffed at his lack of response.

When the boy arrived to pick up the girl, he already had a special spot selected for dinner – a place outside Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, called The Golden Bear.

The Golden Bear was a quaint, low-key restaurant in the heart of Kenwood, one of Sonoma County’s prime wine growing regions. The boy and girl were placed at an outside table on the patio near the trickling Sonoma creek.

It was a lovely evening, and the boy and the girl found themselves lost in easy banter, local wine, fresh food, and enjoying the present company.

Up until this time, the girl viewed the boy as a friend. Someone she trusted. Someone who made her feel safe. Someone she could rely upon. That fine day, on the stone patio, in the shade of the wise, old Oak trees, next to the creek, it hit her.

The people around her faded.

The only thing in focus was the boy, who sat directly in front of her.

She was hit. In that moment, she felt as though Cupid’s arrow had struck her heart. She felt a warm, tingling sensation running through her entire body. Her head felt light.

How could she have not seen the boy – really SEEN him – before now?

He was funny. He was kind. He was handsome. And he made her feel like she was the only girl in the world.

In that moment – that one defining moment – as if the stars aligned just for her – the girl knew this boy was more than just any boy.

He was special.

And in that moment, she realized. The boy was more than a friend.

Perhaps all the feelings had saved themselves up for a single, cosmic blast. Perhaps it was the wine. Perhaps it was the romantic, creek-side table in famed wine country.

Perhaps it was fate.

Whatever it was, it was real. And in that moment, an authentic spark of love was created.

The boy and the girl never looked back.

February 14, 2011

On a bright Valentine’s morning in Montana, nearly 20 years later, the girl fondly recalls the night that became her “First-Last Date” with the boy.

The boy who is now her husband {or as he originally deemed himself, Sexy Hubby.}

Without question, she’ll tell you, that spark – what she defines as “the love-hit from Cupid’s arrow” – continues to light the corners of her heart.

The infinite spark that transformed a friend into the ultimate love of her life.

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Parenting Puppy Panic

Rocco GG Bridge

As I sit to craft this post, I automatically let out a heavy sigh. And once I share the story, you’ll understand why.

Rewind to last Saturday.

I was in Northern California with my husband (a work event) and decided we would stop in San Francisco – the city of my birth – and enjoy the bounty of fresh seafood. Traveling along was our 4- month old puppy, Rocco. (Our youngest son was home – alone on his 18th birthday, I might add. Now, before you rush to judgment, our son has never given us any reason to rethink going out-of-town. He’s responsible and has proven so. Although, since I don’t trust him to care for a puppy, the puppy came with us, and our son fended for himself.)

As parents approaching an “empty-nest”, this new puppy has certainly filled a gaping hole in my life. My husband recently got a promotion and now travels at least half the time for work and our 18-year-old graces me with his presence on rare and fleeting occasions. Instead of regular “family” portraits, my Facebook feed is now littered with images and antics of the new puppy – much to the chagrin on our son, I might add. I suppose he’s jealous, but would never admit to it.

As we travelled south over the Golden Gate Bridge, we decided to visit Baker Beach – located southwest of the famous landmark – a storied “clothing-optional” bathing spot, as well as one of the most photogenic spots in the city. Besides, the puppy had never been to the beach! And we were trading snow for sand this trip.

For mid-February, the weather was glorious. Not a cloud hovered, and the Golden Gate literally shocked the brilliant blue sky by which it was framed. We leashed up the puppy and went to explore the shore.

Scores of dogs were exploring this “leash-free” beach zone with vigor and zest. Only, we kept our little Rocco tethered to us, as he’s not keen on the “come” command just yet, and I didn’t need a public game of seek and not-catch me. Besides, this visit was short, as we were on our way to devour copious amounts of fresh Dungeness crab.

After marveling at the size of surf, we snapped a few photos with our phone, and walked lazily back to the car. Fresh fish was waiting (and as it turns out, would wait and wait…)

Approximately 15 minutes later, as we pulled into a parking spot just north of the famed Fisherman’s Wharf, I noticed Rocco was acting strange. His little legs stiffened, and he began to tremble. His eyes began to close and roll slightly upward. He appeared to be near convulsions.

A deep sense of fear and dread clouded over me, “Something is wrong with him” I stammered to my husband. “I think he needs water.”

After unsuccessfully trying to get him to eat (a treat) or drink, I noticed sand in his mouth. Did he eat something he found on the beach? He wouldn’t open his mouth to let me investigate. His jaw was clenched shut.

There are two types of people in this world, those who operate like a fine-tuned clock in the face of an emergency and me – those who freeze, unable to think, speak or move, where the only sensation is akin to falling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole…

Within seconds, my husband located a pet hospital (via his Smart phone), and rattled off the number for me to call, as he sped the car in the direction of help.

Honestly, I can’t remember what I said to the sweet voice on the phone, other than something was wrong with our puppy. She said something about her next available appointment being nearly 2 hours away, and when I numbly relayed that information to my husband, he barked, “He’ll be dead in two hours.”

I went blank.

The next movements were as though they were happening to someone else. I jumped out of the car in front of Marina Pet Hospital on Lombard Street in San Francisco, squinting from the sun as I carried my listless puppy into the building. Somehow, I gave the girl behind the counter my name, the puppy’s name, and my phone number. Then, she whisked him away.

The next think I know, the same girl who took my information, asked to see me in the small examination room to the side of the front counter. I was alone as my husband was maneuvering the city for a rare parking spot. She said, “It appears Rocco may have ingested something. We need your approval for at least $500 of treatment.” I nodded. And she promised to be back with more information as soon as she could.

There was a waiting area with seats, but I could only manage to lean against the front counter. As I stood with my back to the small examination room, another dog and owner entered, checked in at the front desk and were ushered into the same small examination room I had just exited. The dog was happy, with a wagging tail and tongue hanging out to the side of his mouth.

How I envied them.

Rocco Baker Beach

The next several hours all rolled into one hazy, mixed-up bucket of confusion.

When we finally met the doctor on duty – Dr. Kim – she informed us that Rocco had apparently ingested an illegal substance. They gave him an injection to induce vomiting, and a charcoal-based product to absorb whatever was already in his system. For the moment he was stable. We were told he would be here all day, but this facility closed at 5pm and Rocco required overnight monitoring, which meant, we would need to find somewhere else to take him.

(Insert aforementioned heavy sigh…)

Needless to say, it was touch-and-go for a while.

We found a 24-hour pet hospital in San Carlos near our family, and transported our puppy to spend the night under the watchful eye of Vet Tech, Joe, a darling young Asian man who donned a ball cap with his navy uniform. Turns out, Joe knows Dr. Kim from the Marina Pet Hospital, as he used to work there. And Dr. Kim recently wrote his “Letter of Recommendation” as he was wanted to become a Vet himself.

In that moment, I felt an odd twinkling of karma, and knew it was all going to turn out fine.

The next morning, as I sat at the airport, waiting with Rocco to return home to Montana, I was in awe that after only two months as a member of our family, this little bugger already had a clamp on my heart nearly as strong as my own flesh and blood.

With a few days distance, we can shake our heads and make jokes that on our son’s 18th birthday, he was home alone and behaving, while our puppy – who was under our supervision –  was being treated for a drug overdose.

Sometimes life is indeed stranger than fiction.

{Special note to Dr. Kim of Marina Pet Hospital and Joe from San Carlos 24-Hour Pet Hospital – I want to thank you both personally for your efforts to save our little Rocco. Dr. Kim, you acted swiftly and with such grace and kindness when dealing with me – in my most harried and stressful state – I know your actions saved our puppy. And Joe, for making me feel comfortable and confident about leaving Rocco with you for a sleep-over, my heart is filled with gratitude.}  

 

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The Season of “Senioritis”

cameron beach

It’s official.

To everything, there is a season. And the seasons have recently shifted. Only this “season” won’t be named on any calendar sold in a nationally advertised office supply store, or labeled by a lunar moon. This season is unofficial and will only be found in teenagers with an impending high school graduation.

“The Senior” that lives under our roof (and one we seldom see in the daylight) has recently announced a change in season. The season is marked with proms, and college acceptance letters and God-willing, scholarship announcements. The season is otherwise known as “Senioritis,” and boy, are we ever in the thick of it.

As “The Senior” was preparing to leave for school on Monday to face his first-round of final exams, he plopped down next to me and began to tie his mangy shoe-laces. As he laced, he exhaled loudly, “I’m not going to lie. I’ve got Senioritis. I’m beyond the point of no return.”

Beyond the point of no return.

As a parent, I silently wondered how many times I have felt precisely the same way.

When he refused to sleep an entire night in his own bed and would end up sleeping on the floor next to me, while his father would grumble, “How long is he going to sleep in here, until he’s 15?”

(I don’t know about other “young mothers” but during that time, I was working full-time, commuting over one hour each direction and stressed to the max. Sleep was one of my few respites. And after being awakened night after night after night, I was certainly beyond the point of no return. I wondered and prayed, “Will this hell that has become my life ever end?” It did. When he was eight years old, but who’s counting?)

I exhaled loudly in return, and turned to face my son, not sure how to respond, nor certain he expected a reply. So, I remained silent.

He continued, “I mean, I’m already accepted to MSU, and everyone says they don’t look at your final grades.”

Everyone says.

Another favored expression, of which we have managed to escape, if ever so closely over the years.

At this point, I piped up, saying, “Well, the admissions department does in fact need your final transcript. Someone will be looking at your final grades to be sure you don’t flunk out of your final semester of high school.”

He looked at me like I had three heads, “Mom. I’m not going to flunk out.” I’m sure his eyes were rolling, only his head was bent over to inspect his tightly, double-tied laces, so I couldn’t see for myself the bottom third of his eyeballs as they flickered north. I sensed the eyeball rolling as only a “seasoned” mother is capable.

We’ve lived though the “terrible-twos,” chicken pox and more flu-seasons that I can rightfully recall,

We’ve endured potty training, sippy cups, guitar lessons, and numerous outdoor sporting events where we attempted to don every warm coat we owned to survive the elements, swearing he was not playing this sport again next year. But he did.

As he left for school that morning, I kissed him goodbye, wished him luck and ushered him out the door. As he drove away, I made myself a cup of coffee and retreated to my home office, trying to convince myself that once again, this too shall pass.

Everyone says it does.

I hope everyone is right.

Written and posted originally for Montana Parent Magazine. 

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7 Lessons From The Puppy

Want to spice up your life?

Want to stretch yourself?

Want to grow, expand and push yourself to the ends of the earth?

I have one answer.

Three little words.

Get. A. Puppy.

We are embarking upon our first month with our newest family member, and I can say, it reminds me of all the reasons I am glad I do not have small children anymore. And I’m not convinced a puppy is better or worse than human children.

Case in point = lessons I’ve learned from the puppy:

Puppy Lesson #1

Puppies take what they want then RUN.

And run, and run and run.

It doesn’t matter how cool and calm you are. If your arm is outstretched and you are talking in a sweet “come hither” voice, they know the real deal. And they run further and faster to get away from you – and keep the stray sock, glove, paper towel, hair clip or other random item that is three times their size, away from you. They found it, therefore, said item is now rightfully theirs.

Puppy chewing on Uggs

Puppy Lesson #2

Puppies sleep when the want, where they want and for as long as they want.

Which eventually means they will be wide-ass awake at some ungodly hour and insist that you be awake as well – it’s play time!

Yorkie Puppy Sleeping Rocco

Puppy Lesson #3

Even though the puppy is sleeping, if you stand up, and walk to the other side of the room, they are instantly awake. And they will follow you.

And get right in the middle of whatever you are doing.

Don’t think for one second your privacy is yours. That’s all changed. The puppy is now included in anything and everything you do.

Darling image of yorkie puppy

Puppy Lesson #4

Whoever said size matters never met a Yorkie puppy.

They may be slight, yet they are mighty (in their mind!)

(Best part of meeting Timber, the very gentle English Lab shown below, was when Rocco STOOD on his back. I wasn’t fast enough to capture the image, but Timber just laid there, probably thinking, will someone please remove this FLEA from my back!)

Yorkie meets English Lab

Puppy Lesson #5

That spot on the sofa that you thought was “yours” no longer belongs to you. (Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory better never get a puppy!!)

And if you think of a new spot, that spot also suddenly belongs to the puppy.

The sooner you embrace this lesson, the better.

puppy on the sofa

Puppy Lesson #6

When playing with the puppy, it’s best to just dig in, and get down to his level.

Especially when his legs are short and stubby and don’t allow for proper jumping up on you.

Joe playing with Rocco Yorkie puppy

Puppy Lesson #7

Forget your heart.

It’s gone.

And guess where it is?

With the puppy.

Sure didn’t take long for the puppy love to bloom!

yorkshire terrier rocco puppy

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Puppy’s Day Out

Today was a lovely winter day in Southwest Montana (and Eastern Idaho) – and it was our puppy’s first big day out.

Not only was it Rocco’s first long car ride, first trip to the edge of Yellowstone National Park, and his first time in the fine state of Idaho – but he also met friends visiting from Healdsburg, California and Salt Lake City.

Road to Big Sky Montana

Edge of Yellowstone National Park

View from Rear View Mirro

winter view from the rear view mirro

Even though I continually complain when the mercury drops below “reasonable,” this part of the country has some of the most incredible winter scenery – and for that, I am glad for the opportunity to experience it first-hand.

walking in a winter wonderland

Joe walking in snow with Rocco

Isn’t he the most darling little muffin you’ve ever seen??

Yorkie puppy in the snow Rocco

Is it any coincidence that he’s the shape of a heart?

I love my Yorkie Puppy Rocco

Yorkie puppy walking in the snow Rocco

Katie and Rocco in snow

katie and rocco yorkie puppy love

Sexy Hubby, who??

Seems I have a new love – a puppy love!!!

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