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A Dog Named Libby

Today was a dark day.

It was one of the worst we’ve had in many years, and for a long time there were a lot of them. But we knew this day was coming and despite the anticipation, we still weren’t prepared for how hard it would hit us and how much it would hurt.

Once a family of six, we are now a family of five, saying good-bye to our sixteen year-old fur baby, Libby.

We knew it was time. We purposely didn’t travel for our summer vacation because we didn’t want to be away when it happened. Coincidentally (or not) it did happen during our vacation. A dog smarter than most, we’ve come to the conclusion that she knew when she wanted to go. She waited until after her human brothers were done with their baseball seasons and she was surrounded by the ones who loved her the most, to make her departure. She did it gracefully and considerately like she did everything else.

She came into our lives at just the right time and left the same way. She was the perfect dog, a wonderful companion with a beautiful soul. She gave us comfort and hope and joy, and I’m afraid I’ll never find that in another dog again.

I’m sure you can tell I’m a dog person and always have been.

From my own Princess who lived to about sixteen and died in my arms, to my grandparent’s dachshunds, and then my own two dogs, I’ve always loved their soft brown eyes, wagging tails, and happy tongues. Nearly every member of my family has a dog, and I’m that girl that wants to be best friends with every dog I meet.

Their loyalty and happiness, goofiness and unbridled joy, is not only endearing but inspiring and I can’t imagine a world where they don’t exist. Between you and I, I prefer them to most people. They don’t complain, judge, or criticize. They don’t care if you’re successful, pretty, or smart. If you’re sad they try and make you happy and if you’re happy, they try and make you even happier.

Their only purpose in life is to make yours better. I don’t know that there’s another creature on earth who is that unselfish and loves you so unconditionally, even after only knowing you for two seconds.

That’s why the loss of our girl was so difficult. She was the perfect dog. Everyone said so and everyone who met her loved her instantly. She was gentle and loving. As a puppy she was adorable. As an older dog, she was a sweet lady with soft fur, perky ears, and an agreeable personality.

My husband was the one who adopted her. He found her during an APL event and chose her because she was the runt, but she fought back against a sibling who was trying to bully her. He chose her for her spirit and she was forever bonded to him because of it.

He was her person and if he was nearby she was over the moon. This loyalty lasted throughout her entire life, even up to the end. They loved each other and because of him, we got to love her.

When we got her she was shorter than a wine glass. She was supposed to be a Pomeranian mix and no bigger than ten pounds. Imagine our surprise when she grew to thirty-five pounds and we discovered that she was a Shepard-mix instead.

We had so many nicknames for her. Libby Jean (named after my mother-in-law), Libbers Bajibbers, Jib-jibs, Satchel Page (I think that’s a baseball player), Libs Bajibs, Libbers, Libs, Wibby Wibby, pretty girl, and Libby-Lou. She loved her pink stuffed piggy and a stuffed animal of Paddington Bear, who ended up a shell of himself without eyes, stuffing, or clothes. He became a naked and empty carcass covered in dog slobber and smothered with love.

Her favorite thing in all the world was tennis balls. She loved to chew on them and chase them and she was fast. Really fast. She jumped, ran, leapt, and raced after them with everything inside of her, tongue flapping, legs flying, bursting with happiness anytime she found someone who would play with her. She carried that ball in her mouth until she would find a sucker to throw it to her and she always did.

Notice the tennis ball at Libby’s feet.

She’d take her soggy, spit-filled ball and set it on your lap, or roll it toward you, until you acquiesced and played with her. She was relentless and full of joy, and she knew that eventually you’d give in because you wanted to. She begged you with her beautiful brown eyes to play and it was impossible to deny her.

She ran like that for many years until her legs started to give out and we had to stop her from running so much in order to save her legs. She would’ve ran like that until the day she died if we would’ve let her.

Her second favorite thing was her family. She loved company because she loved her people. She was especially fond of her grandparents and aunts and uncles. She loved being the center of attention and basked in everyone’s love and attention. She was easy to love and everyone did.

She also loved to sleep on my husband’s pillow during the day. She’d put her butt right on it and when he would lay his head down at night, he’d have a face full of dog hair and know that his pillow was full of dog-butt. I didn’t envy him for that.

A Shepard-mix, she was strong and intelligent, and highly intuitive. Her mind was nimble but her body could no longer make it which was perhaps one of the saddest parts of all of this. She still wanted to play and run but her body told her that she was too old, and she didn’t like that one bit.

She was funny and feisty and bossy. Toward the end, she often refused food, so every day was a challenge to get her to eat. Some days she would only eat out my hand, other days she would only eat chicken and rice, burger meat, roast beef or soft dog food. She knew what she wanted and didn’t want and kept life interesting.

She was the one who made us a family. We had her three years before our children were born and she was always our baby. Spoiled, loved, and adored we were so happy to have her for as long as we did. We know how lucky we were that she had such a full life, but it still doesn’t feel like it was long enough.

Not nearly enough.

I could’ve had another sixteen years with her. I could’ve had her for the rest of my life. It doesn’t make sense that they’re gone so soon when we love them so much but I know that I have to let her go.

I know that part of life is loving and letting go. I also know that I am sad because I didn’t get to love her as long as I wanted to. I don’t know that I would ever be ready to let her go but I’ll have to. I have to show my children that this is a part of life and that you can’t be afraid to love, because you have to say good-bye. I have to show them that it’s worth it, and important, and worth doing again and again.

There will never be another girl like Libby. She was perfect. But I know that there will be another pup for us to love when we’re ready. We still have one pup we adore and while my husband swears that there will be no more dogs because it hurts so much, I know he’ll change his mind … eventually.

His heart is too big not to fall in love and want to rescue another one. There will be one who loves and needs him as much as Libby did, who will capture his heart at just the right time. In the meantime, we’ll mourn and remember our perfect girl.

Our hearts are broken but they’ve been broken before. Only love and time will heal us and we’ll be thankful that we got to spend so much time with such a beautiful soul.

And we’ll be thankful.

So very thankful.

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30 Day Writing Challenge-My Commute

My longest commute to work has been an hour and a half while my shortest has been fifteen. Right now, I’m somewhere in between, depending on the day. 

My commute to work typically consists of loud music and lots of mental preparedness as I run through my upcoming day. If I need a good pump-up session, I’ll play songs I can sing to so that I’m nice and awake. Yes, I’m the crazy chick rocking out at 7:00 in the morning to anything from Eminem to Ed Sheeran, my taste in music dependent on my mood. It’s rare that I drive to work in silence, though not unheard of.  

My commute home is typically quiet unless I’m wrapping up my day with phone calls. I like the peace and quiet of my drive home and often need it to unwind and clear my mind, in preparation for a crazy household with three crazy males. Since my sons have learned how to FaceTime me, I find that those drives are typically less quiet as they’ll call me and travel me on the way home, often. Now my rides home tend to be more interactive opposed to the solitude that I’m used to but I don’t mind one bit. 

I know how lucky I am to have people who love me and can’t wait to see me. 

30 Day Writing Challenge-Someone Who Fascinates Me…

Today’s challenge is to write about someone who facscinates me and why… which I’ve been wracking my brain about for days.

I wasn’t sure if I should choose a public figure or someone closer to me, and for days I’ve tried to figure it out. Ultimately, I’ve decided to write about my children because they fascinate me so much more than anyone I can ever imagine. For starters, I can’t believe that I actually made them. I actually had the capability to make little tiny people! It boggles my mind even now!

When they were small, I could stare at them for hours. There were days I did nothing but watch them sleep or watch their tiny chests while they breathed.  I truly felt like the most amazing person of all time because, did I mention this before, but I made them! Never mind that women have been having babies for centuries .😆 I can still remember how soft their skin was and how their tiny bodies fit right in my arms, reminding me that I was put on this earth just so that I could be their mom. I still remember their tiny cries, and how my youngest son’s cry was husky, just like his voice is now. 

As they’ve grown, I’ve often found myself thoroughly captivated by them through every stage. Every gurgle, noise, coo, and giggle, I’ve been completely mesmerized by all of it. Whether it was age two , five, or seven, remembering the softness of their hair every time I’ve kissed the top of their head or their tiny hands clutching tightly to my own, I’ve photographed every bit of it in my mind. Listening to their minds develop and grow, and seeing their emerging personalities has been an utter joy. Even their stubbornness, their tantrums, and the moments when they’ve been the most difficult have been interesting. I’ve watched them both work through diversity; the bully in first grade, the broken nose, the racial slur, the lost toy, the loss of a grandparent, the brotherly squabble, and through it all I’ve been able to catch a glimpse of the men they will one day be. Watching my youngest hold the door open for an elderly couple at a restaurant without being prompted and listening to my oldest remind his brother to say his good-night prayers, are moments that give me much hope for a bright and beautiful future for both of them. 

They’ve become two very strong-willed individuals who are discovering the world and themselves, and it’s a tremendous thing to watch and be a part of. They are feisty, grateful, and amaze me every day with a new revelation or observation. I never anticipated such joy from watching two people grow.

When I look at them, I often feel like a scientist who has discovered a miracle and I want to shout it to the world. I’m fortunate to have a husband who gets it and understands why I sometimes cry when a moment with one of them catches my heart in just the right way. He understands how perfectly beautiful and unbelievable they are, because he sees it too.

I never imagined being fascinated by two people who haven’t yet reached the potential of who they will be. I can only imagine how fascinated by them I’ll be when they’re adults and I get to see what they will become. If I never know anything else in this world, I know that I was put here in this place, at this time, just so that I could be with them.

 Nothing will ever be more amazing to me that that. 

30 Day Writing Challenge-A Place I would live…

I live in Ohio.

The weather is weird, it’s often gray, but it’s where the people I love are.

If I could live anywhere, in a place I’ve never visited, I would live here…

Or more specifically, here: 
An ocean, an infinity pool, and blue sky…
If I had my family, my laptop, books, and sunscreen, I would be one happy girl. 😃

It doesn’t take much, right?

30 Day Writing Challenge-Ten Things

Today’s challenge is to share TEN interesting things about myself. I’ll give it a go, but I can’t promise how interesting they’ll be. 😳😳

  1. I’m short but I always think that I’m bigger than what I am. I’m always surprised when I realize how short  I really am, compared to others.
  2. What you see is what you get. I’m honest, open, and truthful, sometimes to a fault. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have a filter but it does mean that you always know where you stand with me.
  3. I wanted to be a teacher when I was younger. I love watching people grasp new ideas and concepts, as well as doing so myself. I love to learn and think that constantly challenging your mind is so important. A big part of my job now is teaching others and its extremely rewarding. I don’t think that you’re ever too old to learn something new! 
  4. I’ve worked for the same company for almost seventeen years. I love my job and the people I get to work with. It’s challenging and interesting and every day there is something new. The people I work with are talented, fun, and passionate and I’m very thankful for them and the opportunities I’ve been given.
  5. Music and writing are my therapy. Listening to music and writing keeps me sane and my preference of each depend on how I’m feeling at the moment.
  6. I swear … a lot. I’m a lover of words, even the profane ones. But I do have an excellent filter so it’s okay to leave your little ones near me! 
  7. I LOOOOOVE babies and dogs and they usually love me. Babies turn me into a puddle of mush and sunshine and even though I don’t want anymore of my own, if there was a job holding babies I’d be first in line to apply. 👶🏼☀️
  8. I’m a glass-half-full kind of girl but I’m also a realistic. I expect, anticipate, and hope for the best but I also know when it isn’t going to happen, and then adjust accordingly. People who are negative because they make me stabby because life is too short to always dwell on the bad.
  9. I’ve lost a lot of people in my life at a young age. Two friends gone far too young in car accidents, my grandparents, a life-long friend and family member, and  then my father.  Those losses have bruised me and taught me not to sweat the small stuff. They’ve taught me to enjoy what I have and be happy with the life I’ve been given. Life is too short to expect that it will be anything less than spectacular. 
  10. My worst trait is that I’m impatient but my children have taught me how to be much more patient over the years. They’ve made me a better person in every way and especially in this one.

Despite everything on this list, I’m not Mary Sunshine. I write to keep the demons at bay and I work very hard to not let life consume me. I can be angry, difficult, petulant, and petty. I can be ugly, inside and out, but I know that’s just part of being human. There are times when I just myself go because I know that I’m far from perfect and will try harder the next day. I don’t know how interesting this, was but if you made it to the end, then you know a little more about me! 😊😊😊

30 Day Writing Challenge-First Kiss and First Love

Even though it’s only day three of the challenge, this day had me a little miffed on how I would write about it.

Writing about my  first kiss, is easy. I was thirteen, he had blonde hair and blue eyes, and it was unremarkable, unemotional, and nothing special. I only remembered it because it was the first one of my young life.

Writing about my first love is more complicated, but nobody said this writing challenge would be easy. I mentioned in my post yesterday about my first memory and how my journey began alone and unknown. In hindsight, it seems that those early beginnings galvanized me and while I fell into infatuation in my younger years, romantic love didn’t come easily or openly to me.

But this is about first loves and I’ve had many.

I can remember falling in love with books at a young age. I remember reading the simple ones, then moving on to comic books and then the more difficult reads as I grew older. I read every Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Nancy Drew, and VC Andrews book that I could get my hands on. I read anything and everything that captured my young heart and mind. Reading was bliss and nothing in the world made me happier than a good book. My mom used to say that the house could fall down around me while I was reading, and that I would never know. She wasn’t wrong. I read in the car, on vacation, on the bus, and in bed when I was supposed to be asleep. I had a book in my hand everywhere I went and the library was my refuge. 

God was also one of my first loves, teaching me selflessness and dedication. For many years in my early life, I clung to my spirituality, committed to it like one is to committed to their first romantic relationship. I was so in love that I even went to a Christian College, and contemplated a life of service, but certain events in my life steered  me in a completely different direction. 

Only as an adult did I discover my first opportunity for romantic love. But as it happens in life,  I didn’t realize it until it was too late.  By the time I did, too much had shifted and settled, and I realized that  it came down to most things in life; timing. Our timing was always off so we were left with only memories.

Years later, I met my husband, my first great love. Through hell and back, ups and downs, I’ve learned what it means to love, honor, and cherish, until death do us part. The vows weren’t “only when it’s perfect,” and while there have been plenty of opportunities for both of us to give it all up, in spite of it all we love each other. We love and fiercely protect the family we’ve made and the bonds we’ve created, for ourselves and our children. We’ve laughed and cried, walked away from and ran toward one another. But so far, we haven’t given up, on ourselves or on each other, which is what we promised in the beginning.

Lastly, my boys have been the first people I’ve loved in this life, without condition. They’ve taught me what it’s like to love from a perfect heart and I’ve become a better, stronger, and kinder person because of their love. I see myself through their eyes, even when it’s not good, and I know now what true love is. It’s accepting every apology, righting every wrong, and loving someone until you feel that your heart will explode out of your chest. It’s doing what you don’t want to because you know it’s the right thing to do, for them. It’s doing everything in your power to protect their hearts and preserve their minds from anger, hatred, and imperfection so that they can stay little boys for just a little while longer.

Loving my children had been a willing exercise in humility and sacrifice, that makes me want to do my best every day.

As I thought about this post, I knew that I would need to be thoughtful about it because love of any kind is personal and emotional. I’m fortunate that I’ve loved a great deal and had so much love in my life. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. 

Being a Mom

Being a mom is one of the best decisions I’ve ever been fortunate enough to make. 

My husband and I toyed with the idea of being DINKs (Double Income, No Kids). We dreamt about it, wrapped our brains around the idea and fantasized about all of the money we’d have, until suddenly we’d worn it out and realized we were two people who were born to be parents. He’s Mr. Responsibility and  I’ve always been maternal (read-bossy yet affectionate) so the concept of parenthood  was an easy one to commit to fully. We understand how fortunate we were to have parenthood come to us when it did because while we weren’t too much older as new parents, we weren’t in our twenties either. In fact when my youngest was born, I had moved into a higher risk category because of my age and every medical professional reminded me of that, much to my dismay. 

Flash forward a decade later and I’m incredibly thankful for my two funny, loud, interesting kiddos. But let’s be honest. Sometimes being a parent is very hard and we lose ourselves in the idea of being the “perfect parent.” We are utterly  disappointed and defeated when we fall short and question whether we should’ve ever been allowed to have children in the first place. I remember just how much I cried when I wasn’t able to breastfeed, despite numerous experts and  failed efforts. I was sure that I was failing at the first task of motherhood and I was devastated. When my best friend who had breastfed both of her children with ease for the first year of their lives, told me that I was okay, I finally stopped beating myself up and allowed myself to enjoy my baby. Despite everything I had read, there were no bonding issues, no health issues, and both will likely be far more intelligent than I am.  

There have been countless other failures since then, like baby food in a jar (not homemade), forgetting pajama day (I took them back up), store-bought bakery (I’m a hot mess with flour and eggs), and the list goes on. I don’t buy organic anything, i fail at anything crafy, and I work too much many crazy hours to participate in the PTA. 

In spite of my many mommy fails, my children remain my most important thing.

But even though I’m a mom, I’m also a wife, a full-time professional, and a writer which means that  I still struggle with myself,  even about the important things. I recently had to cancel a book event that I’d committed to last year, when my son’s baseball tournament schedule came out. Their one tournament fell on the weekend of the event and  there was a small voice that whispered “Sorry kiddo, I won’t see you pitch/play on the Saturday of your tournamen.” But within a second, the the mom in me squashed that little voice and reminded me that these years pass so quickly. I always know that my children comes first. 

I always try and remember that when your little, everything in the world is big and while missing one day of games may not be huge for me, it could be monumental for him. While I’ve missed a few games due to work or my other son being sick or having a game, I’ve never missed anything as big-time as a tournament. What if he hit a home run or pitched an amazing game? Life’s moments are just too fleeting anf the memory of a child can be long and unforgiving, which I know from experience. 

Being mom means I also don’t get to write whenever I want or do what I want the moment I want to do it. It means that cuddle time precedes any and all else, and that spending time with my children and teaching them to be unselfish begins with me not being selfish. It means that I still get to be an adult but that I need to remember what it’s like to live in a world where your parents are your most important people. I need to remember that being there when they need me or want me for as much of their childhood as I can, is half the battle. Already  their childhood is slipping away and I’m looking at two boys who, in a few short years,  will be young man who won’t need or want me around as much as they do now. 

That’s why, for now, I’m good with just being mom. It’s not all of  me, and they both know this. But it’s the most important part of what I get to do right now.

I’m not perfect and I suck at a lot of mom-related things, I give them too much sugar and not enough vegetables, I work a lot and we eat too much carry-out food. I can be too distracted and cranky when I’m trying to finish a chapter, but for the small things, I always try to be there. If they can see how important all of the small things have been to me, when they’re bigger, and their lives and problems are bigger, I hope theyll see that I’ll be there for those moments too.