The Secret Plan

I’m about to share with you a highly effective yet secret way you can stalk look-out for your seventh grader.  It’s so top-secret that if your name is Full Speed, you must immediately stop reading this and step away from this blog post.  I’m totally serious.  You do not have a high enough security level clearance, and more importantly, you would be on to me.  Walk away, Full Speed.  Walk away.

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Full Speed walking one of our highly-trained extremely adorable dogs

Part one of my secret plan is that you have to get a dog well in advance of your middle-schooler having to take the bus to school.  I’m talking maybe a decade or so in advance.  Trust me, this will help you seem credible when the chips are down.  After you have secured your status as a dog owner, you have to start walking them religiously to the point you become well-known in your neighborhood as the ‘dog lady’ which, let’s hope, references your dog ownership and NOT your appearance.  Anyway, you have to walk the same route day after day.  You must casually interact with all the middle schoolers who hang out at the bus stop at the end of your subdivision.  This part is actually pretty awesome because you get to bring some levity to their day and your dog will love the attention.  If you want to be extra sneaky, get TWO dogs.  I’m telling you, middle schoolers will love you for it.  The more fluffy appreciation they receive to start their day, the more you fit in under the radar.

Once you have this routine solidly on lock-down, then it seems completely normal for you to check-in on your own kid when the time arrives for him to join in the morning band of middle-schoolers.  Again, it’s awesome to have your dogs bring so much happiness especially now that your own kid is included in the bunch.  See?  Stealth stalking  supervision complete!

And, I will neither confirm or deny at this point because my plan is working so beautifully, but it’s possible my fluffy companions are robotic stunt dogs.

Whatever it takes.  Do whatever it takes.

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Does Awesome Have a Limit?

It was Father’s Day 2017 and we were seated outside Mad Dog’s favorite neighborhood restaurant.  The discussion turned mildly serious as we contemplated the on-going possibility of adding another dog to our home.  Mad Dog was insisting we had to get a puppy (says the man who doesn’t have to train the puppy!).  I stood my ground and was still pulling for a rescue dog.  However, the rescue option hadn’t been going very well.  The dogs were either too far away or were already adopted before we had a chance to blink.  I was starting to lose hope in fulfilling my dream of rescuing a dog.  I explained to my three guys that whatever dog we may find, this dog had to be something special.  This dog had to live up to the high standards set by our White Fluffy Dog that passed away last summer.  This seemed like a mighty tall order.

The next night as I was laying in bed feeling rather hopeless that a second dog was out there for us, a thought struck me.  Maybe in a lifetime we are only afforded a certain amount of awesome.  I mean I have an incredible husband, two amazing kids and still had the good fortune of having our Little Guy shih tzu around.  And, don’t get me started about our White Fluffy Dog, I could go on about her for days.  She was such a rescuer and always ran towards hurt and sadness, never away.  She was always, always there for me.  Thinking back about all the ways she loved me and my family, I thought maybe I’m being selfish. Who gets to have so much, even if it is just the memory of awesome, and expect more?

In my heart I said a prayer.  I directed it to our White Fluffy Dog but honestly, I don’t know who or what else may have been listening.  I simply said, “If I have reached my limit of awesome, I understand.  I am so grateful for all that I have, all you have given me and if there is that right dog out there for us, please send them our way.  Otherwise, I will make peace with life exactly as it is.  I trust you know what is best for me and our family and I let it go.  I’m letting the whole thing go.”  My heart felt heavy with sadness while I thought these words.  Still, underneath that heaviness, the swirling of gratitude I had accessed was a comfort.  I very much wanted another dog, but knew I would be okay if we didn’t ever find one.

That was Monday night.  Wednesday morning an alert popped up in my email for a dog that matched a description I had set up in an information base.  She was four, she was fluffy(!) and she was potty-trained.  She also happened to be fostered in the town right next door!  She seemed too good to be true.

I immediately set to work filling out an adoption application for her.  I felt hopeful, but I was cautious.  A dog this special was certain to generate a ton of interest and applications.  I hit send on the application and once again, let it go.

The next day I got a call asking if we were available to meet this wonder dog.  By Saturday we arranged a meeting with her and as soon as we met, we knew she was ours.

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This new girl is so much like our White Fluffy Dog in so many ways and she is so different.

All I know is that she is home, life is good and awesome has no limit.

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Well That Was Alarming

We were racing through O’Hare International Airport.  I felt the adrenaline coursing through my veins as we embarked on the first phase of our summer vacation.  No, we weren’t racing to make a flight or anything like that.  Mad Dog, in that way of his, was pushing us to get to…wait for it…baggage claim.  We weren’t even late for anything.  He is a man who can’t stand to be still so what happens when you land at your destination?  You sprint to baggage claim naturally.

Through the bobbing and weaving I managed to shout over to the boys, “You realize this trip would not be possible without me.  I am the whole reason we are here.”

They didn’t break stride as they looked towards me.

“I set the back-up alarm to make sure we made our flight this morning.  This was absolutely crucial to our trip’s success.  So, however amazing this trip is going to be, and it will be, it’s all because of your mom and her super awesome back-up alarm setting abilities.”

You see, the night before, Mad Dog ‘asked’ me what time I planned to set my alarm for.  The truth was, he already had in mind the exact time he wanted.  It was also clear that I was the back-up alarm.

Why he pretended that my back-up alarm mattered when, in fact, it did not, only shows how smart he is.  He knows my sensitive self likes to feel useful in situations like these.  He tried his best to include me.  But really, in the realm of travel logistics, it’s best to step back and let him roll.  (In his defense, he travels a lot for work, so he clearly knows what the heck he is doing.)

Mad Dog takes in what I’ve said and casually states, “Actually, you were the back-up to the back-up alarm.”

What!?!

Full Speeds turns to me and says, “How’s it feel to be demoted to third string, Mom?”

Not great.  Not great at all.

Of course we went to Wrigley Field, goes without saying.

Flights of Fancy

Recently, an unusual phenomenon occurred in our family.  I had two trips planned essentially back-to-back.  One was a solo trip meeting a friend at a yoga retreat (amazing!), and the other was an awesome work event for Mad Dog (also amazing!).  I was gone for four nights, home for two, then gone again for five nights.  I think the boys actually missed me.  I know I missed them.

That first morning when I was home for good, I was so happy to sit at the breakfast table with my guys.  I got to catch up on all I missed and hear about their time with Grandma and Grandpa (thank you!).  I, in turn, shared some of the cool things I got to see at the Arizona Biltmore and talk about the people I got to meet.  I talked about how fun it was to meet the spouses of Mad Dog’s work team.  I had so many people pull me aside to tell me how awesome Mad Dog is.  They told me how as a leader he requires a lot from them, but he is fair and always has their best interest at heart.  I was blown away by some of the ways he has positively impacted people.  As I shared this with the boys I said that not only were people pulling me aside to tell me how awesome Mad Dog is, they started telling me how awesome I am, too.

This completely perplexed T.Puzzle.

“Why?” he demanded to know.

And, just like that, I crashed back to earth.

It’s good to be home….I think.

Pushback

How is it possible to trash talk during a FAMILY DICE GAME?  As Mad Dog will tell you, he is gifted at a lot of things and trash talking is one of them.  For him, it’s a subtle balance of talking up his legendary gaming status and pushing buttons whenever one of his opponents shows any glimpse of weakness.  Not surprisingly, a recent game of Farkle pushed T.Puzzle to frustrated tears.  He cannot stand to lose, but to lose to Mad Dog is anathema.

Then there’s me.  I actually encourage family games.  I have this deluded notion that I can spark a positive connection between my family members (ha!).  Most of the time it is fun, even the trash talking part.   The crazy things Mad Dog says are classic and lead to laughter.  Laughter is where all the magic happens.  Then, there are the times when the laughter turns sour.  The game goes so far off the rails, you can’t turn back.

I also am not sure why I’m the only one in my family that truly appreciates the outdoors.  To get all three of my guys to do something outside takes monumental persistence and strength.  The pushback is incredible.  If they were left to their own devices, I’m guessing they would just be attached to said devices (i.e.-smartphones, laptops, gaming systems).

Why do I insist on family games and outings?  I like making the three of them step out of their comfort zone.  I like that they are forced to interact with each other.  This is how we learn and grow.  This is how we bond.

I have days where I lose motivation due to the enormous amount of resistance I encounter.  I asked Mad Dog why he always has to drag his feet on my ideas for family time.  His theory is that he is trying to maintain the illusion that he is still the alpha of the house.  Even though part of him knows what I’m suggesting is good for him and ultimately he will comply (mostly), he can only do so in his own complicated way.  I appreciated his honesty.  I didn’t fall in love with him because he always agrees with everything I say as soon as I say it.  I like that he challenges me.

That’s the whole point of loving someone.  You love them for exactly who they are, not who you think they should be.

I knew full well when I walked down the aisle towards Mad Dog on our wedding day, he was a trash talker of epic proportions.  I kept walking anyway because there was so much awesome in him that it made everything ok.  I knew my life would never be boring and it would be full of amazing adventures (see also Wrigley Rising).

I happened to get two bonus awesomes out the deal, too.

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