My heart dog.

My first baby is a dog. His name is Hatteras. And he is awesome. To humanize him, he is 55 years old, and a British gay man. He enjoys the finer things in life, wears a monocle and an ascot. He carries around his own silverware because he would never be caught using plastic cutlery like some sort of peasant, he has STANDARDS.

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In 2005, I moved to Little Rock, Arkansas. I was alone. I was on my own. My first adult adventure was in Little Rock, Ar.Kan.Saw. I was 24 and this was not the glamorous LA lifestyle I was supposed to be leading. Nor was it the NYC lifestyle. Heck, I’d even settle for a Dallas lifestyle, but it was middle America, sweltering humidity, mosquitos everywhere, Lameville, USA. It didn’t even have a Verizon store!

Well, for all that Lameville had going for it, I will give it this: the local SPCA knew how to market adoptable pets. The SPCA had an off site location in one of the decrepit malls. I happened to walk in one Saturday morning, I stopped in to take a peek, what’s the harm? And I saw this litter. There were three of them, all looked exactly the same, brown and white markings and bright blue eyes. One had been nominated for pet of the week by the local TV station (because duh, he was beautiful). One was running in figure eights in her crate. And the other, at the time named “Kidman”, was just lounging (a trait he has yet to give up). I took him out of the crate, played with him, or more or less, poked and prodded him, he looked bored, and I thought..this dog is awesome for someone who works eight hours a day. $50 later and a promise to get him fixed, and I was a dog owner. Next stop Petsmart.

If I had an easy baby, I had an even easier dog. He was potty trained in three days. He was crate trained in one. He was able to sleep outside of his crate by 2 weeks. I didn’t have to leave him in his crate past six months. We did everything together. He hung out in a Uhaul as we drove back to VA, he went to the beach, he went on hikes, he played (when he felt like it), he never snuggled unless he was feeling bad (which bothers me but whatever). He is overall a really, really good dog. I’m sure he had down sides (like the time he chewed up the shoes I had JUST BOUGHT). Or his over protective nature which has landed him in doggy quarantine, but overall? He’s such an easy dog.

He’s moved from Little Rock to Norfolk to Alexandria to four houses in Richmond. He’s had 3 dog roommates, and likes his last roommate the best/least. He’s happiest hanging out on his couch and admiring the world. Or stalking. Or maybe he’s super depressed and he stares out the window in hopes that he can escape one day.

Regardless, he is pretty awesome.

Which brings me to this post.

Hatteras and the baby make my heart explode. I don’t know what I did to get so lucky with him, but thank you to the higher powers. When she was just born, he would give everyone who attempted to hold her the once over. He would go into her room and peek at her in the crib to make sure she was okay. One time, she was screaming, and I couldn’t do anything to calm her down. In frustration, I put her on the bed, and he nuzzled up next to her to make her stop. And now that she’s mobile?

He lets her pull on his ears, his tail, his paw, his leg, his butt, she climbs over him, uses him to stand up, puts her face in his fur …and he, takes it. He lets us know when he’s had enough by getting up and moving. If he’s eating and she crawls near his food, he steps aside for her. We try to never let her go near them when they are eating, but sometimes she’s too fast.

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Anyway, I don’t know what this post was about. Maybe me just gushing about my dog. Maybe me realizing a house isn’t a house without a pet. Or maybe, it’s just everytime I see Hatteras playing with Anna, my cup runneth over and I just want want to smush his face for being such a good dog. When she comes near, he gets this calm look over his face, and an expression that reads “whatever you want kid, if it makes you happy, I’m happy.”

Tumbleweeds of dog fur, butt scratches, and unnecessary barking aside, Hatteras is my heart dog. There is so much love I have for that 45lb four legged boy, that sometimes I don’t know how to contain it. So I still make him snuggle me. I still bury my face in his neck. I tell him I love him 800 times a day. He’s a good dog. A great dog. A clone worthy dog.

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We use to go swimming, he would get mad when I swam to far out, and he would do this.

He’s probably sitting at home, looking out of his monocle, sipping some espresso, debating which Bronte sister was the better writer, and cursing me for keeping him in his summer collar.

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PS. If you were wondering, he is a corgi mixed with an Aussie. (More like awesome, amirite?)

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Christmas Cards

I was going to wait to put these up until after our Christmas cards were delivered, but, I feel like they need to go up now.

The long and short of it, where we live, we won’t ever get the nice, wintery, snowy,  family Christmas pictures. It’s just not going to snow this early, and to get out there with a photographer in that moment. Nope. Not going to happen. We also don’t have a house with a beautiful sitting room to sit in front of to take pictures. I’m also not going to schlep our clan all the way to the Jefferson, with photographer in tow, to get our pictures taken there. And besides, that’s so basic.

So what in the world is a girl to do, to get into the Christmasy spirit, without traveling? Answer: Find your local Christmas tree stand, farm, or whatever. Have a good photographer, and good outfits picked out. And let her do the magic.

We live right next to the Jaycees Christmas tree stand. When I say right next to, I mean, we put the kid in the wagon and walked a block and we were there. They always have beautiful trees, it’s usually not busy, and there’s ample room for us to be out of the way.

Anyway, here are some pictures from our latest photo shoot. Tara Gibson is a godsend. I don’t know what I will do when she can longer take Anna’s pictures!

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Anna’s favorite trick is “So big!”
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View More: http://taragibsonphotography.pass.us/taylor-family-12714 Get ready for 18 years of this face, Dad.

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Anyway, we are super happy with how they turned out.

Mommy Wars and Truthful Tuesdays

Of course, I knew and was prepared for the Mommy Wars. I was locked, loaded, and prepared.

And then I become a participant in the war. Not a fighter, not the one defending her reason for formula, babywearing, disposable diapers, store bought instead of home made. No, I was the one judging others. Telling them what they should be doing. (Although in my defense I always thought I was being helpful, until I realized I wasn’t. I was being judgy)

A very innocent group text led me to this post. My best friend is having a difficult time right now, her baby is very fussy, and is up all night. She needed some advice. Maybe she’s teething? Maybe it’s a growth spurt? It could be a multitude of things. Other friends chimed in with similar comments. It was a very encouraging, helpful, conversation. Except for one, teeny, tiny, minuscule, microscopic point.

I said “my other mom friends would say give her the boob.” Because they would! Heck, at this point so would I! Whatever it takes to survive, amiright?

And one of my friends said, “I disagree, she’s old enough to sleep through the night you should start sleep training her”.

…..

It was meant well. It really was. In fact it was preceded by I agree with all of Melissa’s advice except that. It was almost a passing comment not to take note of. And I noticed it because I have DEFINITELY said it to my friends with babies the same age. Back when my baby was the best sleeper on the planet, back when I said things like “If I can have a good baby, anyone can have a good baby” (insert hair toss, and eye roll). Let’s face it, if you aren’t doing it EXACTLY like I am, your baby is going to grow up with issues.

Then Friday happened. Anna woke up at 2:30 screaming. And DID.NOT.STOP. until 7:30 am. Unless she had a boob in her mouth. Babywise sleep training (which we are HUGE fans of), would have said just listen to her cry, let her cry it out. But, sometimes, your baby does not need to cry it out. Sometimes, your kid is in pain (teeth), sick (fever), or scared (sleeping in a different room) sidenote: everything in parentheses is what was going on in our house Friday night.

Hence, these are all exceptions to the rule.

it dawned on me. Yes, it worked for me, and yes, it worked for many other people. But you know why it worked for me?

  • Because Anna was my only kid, so it was easy to put all our attention on her.
  • Because we have a queen size bed in her room, so on nights when she was fussy and I was trying to drop the night time feeding, I could sleep in there.
  • Because I have an EASY kid.
  • Because I had the ability to put all my attention on her.

A friend told me last week that 90% of people lie about their kids sleep habits. I am one of those 90%. I BRAGGED, I mean, BRAGGED, about my kids ability to sleep through the night since April.

But consistently, I failed to mention that at least 2-3 times a week she would wake up screaming, I would nurse her, I would bedshare, and we would go about our life. And I would try to be sympathetic towards my other friends, and I would say have you done this Babywise trick? or this 12 hours of sleep by 12 weeks trick? Or anything else I had read, completely ignoring the fact that I was not following my own rules.

So here I am first and foremost proclaiming, mom’s and soon to be mom’s: Do what you have to do to survive. Do not pay attention to what books say. Do not pay attention to what people say your kid should be doing. Do what you have to do to survive. The most important thing for your baby is a happy, rested, and unstressed mom.

Secondly, I admit, I attachment parent. Not excessively, but mildly. If she’s really fussy, I nurse her. If she wakes up in the middle of the night and needs to go back to sleep, I nurse her. If it’s 3:00 am and she wakes up, I crawl into bed and sleep with her. If it’s Saturday and she needs to take a nap and won’t sleep, I’ll bedshare so we both get a nap.

No one is perfect. If we have bad habits, we have bad habits. At the end of the day though, we are both healthy. We are both rested. And we are both very, very, very, happy.

So mom’s, myself included, before we jump to giving advice. Let’s look at everything that could be the issue. For my friends baby, maybe it isn’t just that she can’t sleep through the night. Maybe her tooth hurts, and maybe she just wants mommy to hold her. Maybe she wakes up scared in her room. There are ways to figure it all out. And I am totally open to giving advice, but I want to make sure I’ve uncovered all the possibilities before I jump to say something like “your baby is old enough that it should be doing x, y, and z”.


The best piece of advice I’ve been given during this whole mom business has been “survival.” You have to do what you have to do to survive. If that means nursing your child to sleep, you do it. If that means bed sharing, so everyone in the family can get some rest, you do it. It is your baby. You do what is best for your family. Not what some book says, Not what some friend of a friend says. But what works for your family.