Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Better Days

We end the year with our usual holiday whirlwind, five Christmas celebrations in nearly that many days and all the other regular chaos that surrounds this time of year. Our big ticket items were Logan’s requested image of Santa and his reindeer (which he amazingly produced for her – no easy feat, I’m sure!), Riley’s Easy Bake Oven and Finn’s Lightening McQueen anything. We all love the Wii, but especially Riley, who can almost guarantee a first round KO every game. Needless to say, this is Mike’s favorite gift of all time.

We had wonderful celebrations at Grammy’s and Nana’s and Grandpa’s and welcomed Granddad and Grandmom to our home just yesterday; something we look forward to each year. Our traditional “night of arrival” trip to Portillo’s and Oberweis was thwarted by the ice cream shop's decision to close early this year - thankfully they'll be open on New Year's Day. We left our mark on Grandpa’s floor, Uncle Dan’s back and I’m sure, both Grammy and Nana’s carpeting, too. We traveled lots of miles locally, and happily, all with carols a-blaring and eyes straining to find that glowing red nose.

Of all the presents and parties and delicious treats, there’s one thing that tops it all for me. My young son, who six months ago provided me with unbelievable blog material on an hourly basis, is really maturing into quite the little person. He is so funny and talking to him at this stage might be one of my favorite holiday memories. Finn gave this mother of three the best gift of all, potty training. With his tiny bottom in Spiderman underpants and his painted big toes (that’s all I would do), he climbs a stool and goes, most of the time, and truly moves our little family into quite uncharted territory.

So into 2009 I go, not changing diapers for the first time in seven years. A new job starts in days for Mike. Lots of beginnings, still more changes. Seems perfect for a new year.

Last night, we stopped to catch this amazing Christmas light display in our neighborhood once more before the very talented and generous homeowner takes it down. It’s all set to music that you tune in on your car radio. One of his songs is “Better Days” by the Goo Goo Dolls, which couldn’t more perfect for New Year’s Eve.

And you asked me what I want this year
and I try to make this kind and clear
just a chance that maybe we'll find better days

'cause I don't need boxes wrapped in strings
and designer love and empty things
just a chance that maybe we'll find better days

So take these words and sing out loud
'cause everyone is forgiven now
'cause tonight's the night the world begins again

I need some place simple where we could live
and something only you can give
and that's faith and trust and peace while we're alive

and the one poor child who saved this world
and there's ten million more who probably could
if we all just stopped and said a prayer for them

So take these words and sing out loud
'cause everyone is forgiven now
'cause tonight's the night the world begins again

I wish everyone was loved tonight
and somehow stop this endless fight
just a chance that maybe we'll find better days

So take these words and sing out loud
'cause everyone is forgiven now
'cause tonight's the night the world begins again

'cause tonight's the night the world begins again

Our wish for all? Better Days. Happy 2009 and very special birthday wishes for Mike!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Finding a New Normal

So many people have called and written to ease the loss of our wonderful friend. We are so grateful. Of all the great poems and quotes, my Aunt Janet supplied a favorite.

We give them the love we can spare and the time we can spare.
In return dogs have given us their absolute all.
It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.
I realized yesterday that I have been at home every day with Harley since I was pregnant with Logan. That's seven years. She instinctively knew how sick I was in those days and would sit at my side and pull me up if I grabbed her collar. She knew what I needed then and so many times when she was my comforter and confidant. When I think of the look in her eyes on Friday, I know she was telling us that it was time. She always found a gentle way to make her needs clear and this time was no exception.
Most of our routines and habits involved her and we are feeling her absence everywhere. We just miss her.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Our Sweet Harley Girl

Our hearts are broken.
Yesterday, unexpectedly, we lost our sweet Harley girl. After nearly twelve years of her countless blessings in our lives, something bigger and stronger than us all swept in and insisted on taking her away. For Mike and me, the grief is palpable, like a magnet connecting us as soon as we see the other. For the kids, it’s different for each, but hardest on Logan who just feels so sad. Moments ago, she and Riley woke at 6 am because they were sure they heard Harley’s collar. It was just Mike’s keys.

Throughout our time with this most perfect of companions, we witnesses so many people shy away from her because of her size and looks. So many wondered why we’d bring a rottweiler mix into our lives. Like others in her breed, she was not ever dangerous, just strong and sweet and loving and funny. She liked every animal or person she ever met and only wanted to please. So, we saw so many people learn about her and her breed and realize that she only had goodness to offer us all.

She loved us and our children endlessly. She turned to putty in your hands with the slightest pat. She had patience beyond imagination; patience with the kids, patience with our time away, patience waiting for Mike or me to make time for her.

She loved snow and swimming and rawhide bones. She snored – loudly! She still, at almost twelve, cocked her head like a puppy when we said things like “eat” or “outside” or “ride” or “walk”. When she was younger, she talked to us, but stopped when the kids came on the scene, maybe realizing she was outnumbered. She was graceful and gentle and beautiful and smart like nobody’s business. She woke us at 4 each morning, so today we were up and waiting. She isn’t here.

I know that many religions don’t believe that animals have souls and that they won’t go to heaven. That is not my belief. If I’m going to heaven, which I fully intend to do, it won’t be MY heaven if Harley isn’t there. As a matter of fact, I know she already is. She’s flying across open fields with Maggie, meeting up with long lost Florida pals from the good old days and most of all, not in any pain at all.

How we love our Harley girl. How hard it is to let her go. For all of you who showed her a little sumpin-sumpin with a pet or a kind word, thanks. For those of you who loved her, she felt it and she loved you back. She is missed beyond words.

Goodbye sweet girl.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

We Got Elfed!! 2008

I'm not sure what is more funny, Mike's imitation of Dance Fever or Finn doing the splits, but you've got to see it to believe it. I have never seen the kids laugh so hard - what a riot!

Whatever your personal favorite dance move is, consider yourself "elfed"! Now get out there and Elf Yourself!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Each morning, for the last thirteen years, I drink my coffee from a left-handed stainless steel coffee mug. It’s the best; it keeps my coffee incredibly hot, for hours, through fifteen pick-up and drop-offs and various errands. I love it and cringe anytime I reach for it on a cold morning and realize I’ve forgotten to run the dishwasher the night before. There has only ever been one problem with my old mug; it’s left-handed and I'm not. I can’t tell you how many mornings I have grumbled about how silly I was to purchase a left-handed one so many years ago.

For some reason, after thirteen years, it finally dawned on me to ask Mike about it.

“I love this mug,” I said. “But I can’t stand that it’s left-handed!”

He of course laughed at me, grabbed the mug and readjusted it. He handed it over, to my right hand, where it fit perfectly. I was in shock.

How was it possible that I endured this minor inconvenience for thirteen years without ever realizing there was a better way? Seeing my mug in a new light poured parallels into the rest of my life something fierce. How many other things could be better? How many other solutions are right there before my eyes going totally unnoticed?

A quote I heard many years ago from – of all people – Dr. Phil, sticks with me. “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.” My coffee mug is nothing on the list of life’s grievances, but maybe it is high time I take my own advice. Other areas, like parenting, could certainly benefit from a fresh look, especially at this crazy time of year.

So, with my mug comfortably in hand, I’m setting out to change my world. Isn’t it amazing how one cup of coffee in the morning can make sense out of everything?