dogs, family, motherhood

In the Name of Love

I once read in a novel the amount of nicknames you give someone is equal to the amount of your affection for them. If this is true, Max is one of the most loved beings I know.

Here’s a list of some of his many names:

  • Maximus
  • Maximillian
  • M.Diddy
  • McGoogs
  • McGoogle
  • Maxaroni
  • Rage Monster
  • Buddy
  • Bud
  • Maxy
  • Maxseamus
  • Moodle Doodle
  • Best Friend
  • Maxwell Snugalugs
  • Mr.Snugs
  • Sad Kitty
  • Max Damon
  • Moo Goo Gai Pan
  • Baby Boy
  • Old Man
  • Mr. Max
  • Little Old Baby
  • Mr. McGoo

Like many of you, I am not quite sure how to make the world better right now. My heart has been a bit frozen from fear and general overwhelm. I often think, “What can I do?” Is there anything I can reasonably contribute that might help?

I have this blog so I intend to start writing more. Maybe I can channel some love into the world through this keyboard and maybe that’s something. It doesn’t feel like enough, but it’s all I have to offer you.

All each of us can do is start where we are and love as much as we are able.

Moodle Doodle wholeheartedly agrees.

family, motherhood

WFAM: Holiday Edition 2019

cropped-img_4251.jpg

2019 will forever be known as the year Mad Dog and I became the parents of teenagers!

How did we go from this:

 

Image 12-18-19 at 11.36 AM
December 2018

To this:

IMG_8107
November 2019

Somehow our boys became young men in less than a year’s time!  No one tells you that when you become a parent.  That in an instant your children vanish and are replaced by grown-up versions of themselves.  Naively, I thought it would be more gradual.  How do I feel about this?  If I am to take a cue from T.Puzzle and his extreme articulation abilities which are common to thirteen year old boys around the world I’d say this:

“I dunno.”

or

“I don’t care.” (my personal favorite)

In general, despite some family growing pains due to the realm of the teenager, both boys are successfully finding their way in the world.  Academic success is part of that, and even this isn’t always smooth (A Humble Hero’s Journey), but it’s the intangibles that make them so awesome.  Like Mad Dog, our boys get better with age.

2019 was the year of dreams realized.  First and foremost, Mad Dog and I ventured to Africa (My Heart Belongs to Africa).  The magic of the African bushveld and all our adventures there have pushed me to keep writing.  I never know where it might lead, but I am learning to love the process and am grateful for any chance I am afforded to be published.

Fulfilling A Life Long Dream of Coming Face-to-Face with a Lion

Full Speed continues his basketball coaching journey by managing his high school’s freshman teams.  He takes great pride in this role making sure to dress the part on game days.  The freshman coach has expressed his appreciation for Full Speed’s strategical support and his positive leadership contributions. Something tells me this is only the beginning in what could be a life-long commitment to coaching for Full Speed.  He truly is in his element out on that court and we could not be more proud of him.

If coaching is Full Speed’s element, giving is mine. Thankfully, I married someone who supports this life vision.  Mad Dog and I were able to start our DeVaul Family Great Day Foundation this year.  Each month we are able to give to the causes we care about.  I am excited to see how it grows and where it goes.

And while some dreams were realized, 2019 was not without challenges.  Mad Dog and I continue to navigate the strain of ‘third-party’ influences on our marriage.  This has shown up in the fluffiest of forms:

Image 12-18-19 at 11.32 AM

The only way I make peace with Nora ‘stealing’ my man’s attention, is that she allows me to dress her up like a Disney Princess:

Image 12-18-19 at 11.32 AM
Girl, all is forgiven!

As I do my best to navigate ‘sharing’ Mad Dog, I am reminded that I, too, apparently have some boundary issues when it comes to Max.  When he came into our house over six years ago at the age of ten, I never thought he would live to see so many holiday seasons with us.  He is a reminder of all that is good in the world.  He may be cranky on occasion but he is a living, breathing form of what unconditional love looks like.

Image 12-18-19 at 11.32 AM
When you’re sixteen going on seventeen…

Even though we are blessed with the most incredible boys and perfect dogs, we are happy to announce a new addition to our family!

Please welcome Roho the baby elephant! (yeah, I kind of freaked out my sister, too. All she heard was ‘baby’ and thought I had lost my mind)

Image 12-18-19 at 12.31 PM

We are fostering Roho for the next several years in the hopes he will learn the needed skills to successfully return to the wild after losing his mom to poachers.  I will be getting my first pictures and official updates of his progress as Christmas arrives.  He, by far, is my most well-behaved child.

Welcome to the family, Roho!

While we are so grateful to all the wonder 2019 supplied us, we are even more excited for what the future will bring.  Yes, some of it may be unexpected and yes, it may not always look the way we imagined, but we have to be willing to let go of the life we wanted to live the life we are given.  In my experience, the life we are given always far exceeds anything we believe we could want.

Happy Holidays to All. 

Thank you for reading and may 2020 bring all your dreams alive!

Will the real Gardner Minshew please stand up?

LOVE

dogs, motherhood

This Guy

My voice rang clear as we zipped along the street towards home.  Seconds earlier I had declared, “This song is my jam.”

There is nothing more cringe-worthy than a parent stating that any song is their jam.

It’s kind of why I had to say it.  It’s kind of true that saying songs are my jam is kind of my jam because my boys think it’s weird.

But, on this day, I didn’t let that stop me.  On this day, I really did wanna dance with somebody.

Maybe even somebody who loves me.

IMG_6795.jpg
You know who loves me?  This guy.

 

humor, motherhood

The Lady of the House

I have always loved Mad Dog’s athleticism.  When we were dating, I would take great pride watching him from the sidelines as he crashed his way to the end zone for his touch football team.

Lately, he has been playing more and more basketball with the boys in our backyard.  These games consist of trash talk, spin moves and flagrant(!) fouling.

Yesterday’s game was no exception.  It was 1 v 1, Mad Dog against T.Puzzle.  I sat on our back porch and watched the glory unfold.  Full Speed was next to me spouting off the official referee calls as Mad Dog muscled his way towards victory.   One shot shy of the win, he dropped back deep on the pavement and launched a beauty.  It banked off the backboard slamming home the win.

Something about the whole thing reminded me of those good ol’ days of dating.  I’m not gonna lie, my stomach did some flips.

Mad Dog’s still got game.

At dinner in our post-game analysis, Mad Dog recounted that winning shot.

“I did it for my woman,” he said.

Both T.Puzzle and Full Speed asked, “Yeah, but was she watching?”

As in was Miss Lady watching?  As in, Miss Lady is clearly THE lady Mad Dog was showing off for and I was just a random spectator.

No doubt I can’t compete ….

IMG_6384
Miss Lady sprawls herself across Mad Dog’s lap in devoted adoration.

dogs, motherhood

Times They are A-Changing

Things change as time passes.  Now, when I take my boys to the movies, they no longer jump up on the seat and shout at the screen during action sequences.  While I don’t miss wrangling them into a loosely based version of socially acceptable movie theater behavior, I do miss the wild abandon they would demonstrate as they actively believed they were part of the movie.  (Full Speed watching Transformers for the first time is the stuff of legends in our house).

On a personal level, over time I have noticed a shift in the way my body reacts to dips in temperature.  Ten years of living in Florida has given me the bold physical constitution of a tiny, very old woman.  My midwestern genes fail and I recoil at any temperature below eighty degrees.

My boys tease me endlessly about this.

Recently, Mad Dog purchased me a blanket.  It is velvety smooth and weighted.  Just the kind of thing to help combat cold weather and the stress of our on-going home renovation.

With the boys on break and the home stuff in full swing, we had to take refuge in our upstairs guest room.

I asked the boys to please bring up my new blanket.

Full Speed could barely contain his mirth.  He thought it was hilarious that it was sixty degrees out and I needed this mammoth-like blanket to warm me.

However, he was quickly overruled by Little Guy.

He knows greatness when he sees it:

IMG_6531IMG_6533