Posts tagged Dogs
dogs & babies
It has been said that a dog is man's best friend, and "a dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down." In our house, this is incredibly true. Since welcoming Henry into our lives, we have not been the best puppy parents. Henry's needs have constantly come before our own and before our pups. He has laid a fog over our eyes in which we see only his little self and his little needs. And despite this negligence, Buster and Bella have been unflappable in their love for their less then mindful pack leaders. They continue to be love and loyalty personified.

In the middle of night when Henry chirps and squawks, the dogs cock their heads to the sound, confirm that the little man is being addressed by one of the humans, and return to slumber as best as they can. Just like the humans, they have not had one restful night since July. Yet, they remain ever present. They come to bed each night and brace for the restlessness. They warm the bed on chilly nights and occasionally lick an exposed leg or hand to remind us that they are there and there they shall remain. In the wee hours of the night, when I am awake with my little owl, I know I am not alone since their half-watchful eyes and their always ready to secure selves remain close by.

When I am frustrated that they are crowding the bed while I try to nurse Henry, a short "move, move, move" and Bella lumbers over to the end of the bed in order to make space for this unapologetic newcomer and her sometimes distraught and disheveled adult human . During the day when we aren't always able to take them for walks, they head out back and make do with the yard. They romp about and play with each and return to the house and maintain their quiet, watchful place. When Henry is on the floor flaunting an interesting toy, they don't rush ahead for it, they lay beside him, sometimes steal of lick of his little hand or of his toy.  But, they know these are not their toys and instead wait for this little human to grow up into the boy who will chase them about the house. As a result of their condition, the dogs play a long waiting game. They wait for David and I to pet, cuddle, and play with them, they wait outside a lot longer these days while we wrangle the little man inside, they wait and wait for Henry to grow up.  They are truly beautiful, wonderful, amazing pups. They have proven that despite their world being turned upside down by this pint size new ruler of the home, that they are calm, loving, patient little beasts.

sausage, cauliflower, and kale "pot pie"

I left home this morning at 6:30AM and will sadly not return until 9:30PM. This extra long day of work loomed before me and has created an intense amount of stress for me: How would Henry do without me for all of this time? Will he have enough to eat at home? Will he have an effective sleep routine? Will my parents, who are home today, be all right? Will they have enough to eat? Will they need a break from caring for the baby? Will they be able to take care of the dogs? Will the dogs be all right?  Will the dogs go bananas without us for all those hours? These are just a tiny fraction of the questions, hesitations, and concerns I have about today's incredibly long day away from home. Every year we prepare and stay at school for Back to School Night. Every other year, this has been one of my favorite evenings. I stay after school and have dinner with friends and then get to meet the parents of my students in a casual setting as they mill about the building.  Tonight though is different. Now with Henry home I am a bundle of nerves and feeling very fragile about this long stay away. When I take a moment to really think about him home without me all day I feel like crying and  when I come home the little man will be asleep.  It hurts my heart to know I will have missed his whole day. But, alas it is the nature of the beast that is today.

Since I couldn't physically be there with the little man and my parents today, I decided I could at least cook them a nutritious, belly-warming meal. Through dinner, I would be able to "be there for them." And, in this case what is more comforting than a warm plate of pot pie? I hope that in lieu of my presence this meal will keep them "sustained" and will give me a small bit of peace of mind heading into my long night on campus. And really, it is just one night, right?

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed and meat broken into 3/4-inch pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/3 cup garbanzo flour (a nice protein)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch kale, torn into bite-size pieces (about 10 cups)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 sheets puff pastry
Heat the oven to 400. In a large pot, cook the sausage with the tablespoon of olive oil. Remove sausage and place in glass casserole dish. Add the onions, cauliflower, rosemary to the pot and saute for 5-7 minutes. Add the flour and mix in, add the broth  and vinegar and cook simmering/boiling for 5-7 minutes until it thickens. Toss in the kale and let it wilt. Add this mixture to the casserole dish and mix everything together. Top the mixture with the puff pastry. I just rolled it out into one sheet and layered it on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is light and fluffy looking and the mixture is bubbling. Enjoy!

 

39 weeks 5 days and a few delusions

2 days, or 48 hours, or 2,880 minutes, or 172,800 seconds until I arrive at the baby's official due date. The 39 weeks leading to this moment went by in a blink, but these last few hours feel like slow, grinding years.

Everything on the to-do list is complete (seriously, I have no list for the first time in my life!). And, yes, these last quiet hours before the arrival should be relished and cherished as this kind of solitude will probably not be revisited for another let's say 5 or 10 years! Yet, I feel nothing but restless energy. So many of the mommies I have spoken with  describe a similar emotion when it was their time. They shared that now that the finish line is completely in sight the waiting becomes unbearable. When I try to describe this to the non-pregnant around me, they tell me to relax and to rest my aching body.  The thing is my body doesn't ache.  I am very lucky that despite my large belly full of baby, I do not have any aches or pains to complain of and could theoretically continue on in this fashion for quite a bit longer. The only "ache" I have is in my emotional center. I am ready to meet this little guy, I am ready to face labor head on, and I am ready to endure the birth process. And this waiting, this daily waiting around, goes against every fiber of my busybody being!

So what happens to one's mind under these conditions? Delusions start.

Delusion number 1: I am not pregnant. Despite the protruding stomach, I have begun to rationalize that there is not a baby in there after all.

Delusion number 2: If delusion number 1 is not true and I am indeed pregnant, then at this point my body has begun to reabsorb the baby.

Delusion number 3: I don't look pregnant in the mirror.

Delusion number 4: If I wake up in the morning and have not already started labor than that day is "lost" and won't turn into a labor day.

Delusion number 5: I will be waiting forever.

Obviously, I know that these thoughts are nothing but frivolous notions that fill the lagging time until the baby's ultimate arrival but with each passing day they become a little more vivid and I have to check in and remind myself, "Melissa, you know this is just your boredom talking." To counter the boredom, I have tried to at least venture outside once a day.  David doesn't want us to go too far in case my water breaks but, "See delusion 4," I  sometimes say to him.  We have gone on walks in the park, the mall, and the arboretum. We have spent some time shopping around Whole Foods and lounging in our backyard. These have all eased my spirit a bit but inevitably the restlessness returns. I know I am on "his time" and I know the closer we get to the due date the better for the wee man but I also know that this is hard for me and I am trying my best to stay relaxed while I wait incessantly for the inevitable.

nursery tour

With only a few weeks to go until the little man makes his arrival, we finally have our nursery completed. It is one of my favorite spaces in our home, which is probably a good thing since I imagine we will be spending a lot of time there comforting, playing, feeding, and cuddling the little baby. In the beginning, the little man will sleep in our room in a bassinet next to  our bed. It will just be easier to have him close during that time when his sleep and eating habits will be more unpredictable and on demand. But, even though he won't be sleeping in his darling little crib, I am sure we will be in his room to change him, to play on the elephant mat together, and to rock him. All of his little things are sweet and precious and I find myself going into the room to sit down and just exist in that quiet space (which will very shortly not be a quiet space any more!). Everything in there smells like baby and feels so warm and welcoming. It is amazing to think that we get not to only meet him soon but love him and parent him! It is truly surreal.  Bella and Buster have started to spend some time in the room too. We want them to be familiar with all of the stuff before the baby arrives. Of course, we monitor them while they explore his toys, the chair, and try desperately to chew on his elephant stuffed animals. It will be hard for them to restrain themselves from just thrashing the stuffies to bits but David has been working on it and there seems to be progress.  They can now go into the room and just hang out without frantically going after the toys = progress! I am sure things will change once the little man arrives and piques their curiosity but I am excited to watch them sniff, love, and protect him. It will be fun watching the little man grow up with the pups and romp around the house and yard. So even if the beginning months are challenging balancing all of the family needs, it will be well worth it I am sure. When we started to put the room together we had one wood dresser. It had been our first home purchase when we moved in together in Boston. It is funny how when you buy a large item for one purpose you cannot image how it will be used in the future. We moved David's clothes out of this particular dresser and moved it into the baby's room. Since this piece was an oak color we decided that instead of painting it, we would stick to furniture of a similar hue and add color through linens, paints, and details. The major colors in the room are: blue, grey, and yellow. We wanted the room to be soothing on the eyes but not cold and I think we were able to meet that with our choices.

Here are some of the nursery room details

The changing table is part of the Kendall Collection from pottery barn. We picked it because we felt it was almost a match to the dresser we already had in our home. We were not huge fans of the knobs that came with the dresser though. So we headed to Anthropologie and found these little owls to replace them. The prints on the wall above the changing table are from Aldari Art on etsy.We wanted to add a little bit of color but didn't want the room to become to overstimulated. Her animal prints are just so cute. They are one of my favorite details! His little hamper with the raccoon bandit is from the Container Store (one of the best stores! I could get lost in there for hours). And, on top of the dresser that we already had, we placed a  basket we received from our baby shower filled with burp cloths and bibs and a little dumbo and his mother stuffy. My mom and dad gave us the dumbo toy. When I was little my nanny would pretend to be Dumbo's mother and her arm would be the trunk. My brother and I would sit on her arm and she would swing us back and forth singing the mother's song. This toy is a beautiful reminder of my nanny and how lucky I was to have her in my life when I was growing up and until just last year. Though she will not meet our little one, I know she is still with us.

The yellow bookcase was a recent purchase. We started to receive all these great board books from family and friends and did not have anywhere to put them. We didn't want to add another piece of heavy furniture to the room and then found this quirky bookcase "manger" from Land of Nod.

When the little man's crib arrived, David and I would go into the room and ask, "And who will be sleeping here?" Seriously, how is it that we have a whole room set up for someone we don't know yet? I still cannot believe we will be having a baby!  But, the crib is definitely proof that BIG changes are coming to our family. And if you couldn't tell already, the baby's room has an elephant theme. From sheets, to mobile, to stuffies, to quilt, he will be surrounded by his elephants while he is ushered to dream world (where he hopefully stays during full nights of sleep, fingers crossed!)

Ah, and then we get to my absolute favorite piece in the nursery!! I just LOVE this glider from Target. We were on the fence for awhile about whether or not we needed a glider.  Obviously it would be great to have to rock him to sleep, but there was no guarantee that he would (a) like it or (b) use it for very long. Despite these doubts we pulled the trigger and invested in these two pieces if for no other reason than to have a place to put your feet up after a long day! And with the chair we added an ottoman pouf from Aletafae on etsy. It just arrived today and it is AMAZING!

So now we wait, and wait, and wait. This is by far the hardest part.  The pregnancy has been easy but this waiting for the last few weeks and waiting until he is ready to join us is so difficult. I know that the longer he stays put and stays closer to his due date the better, but I just want to meet him and kiss him SO badly. I already love this little person who I haven't met yet! At least now, while we experience this wait we can relax a little in his room!

yard work: phase II
Today we can happily announce that phase II of the backyard remodeling project is complete!  Unlike last year's phase I, this year's project was smooth and completed within the time frame that the contractor originally noted. Last year, we built the great wall. What was supposed to be a three week project turned into a three month nightmare of fighting with the contractor, begging him to come to work, and praying that the whole ordeal would end with the wall being completed. The contractor was slippery to say the least. Of course, this left David and I exhausted, feeling abused, and incredibly nervous about embarking on any future projects in which a contractor would be called in.

Thankfully our friends recommended a fence distributor who very quickly and easily provided a reasonable quote, set up time to install the fence, and then installed the fence.  It is the small things like doing one's job which now greatly impresses us!! Who knew a house project could be so simple. Whew! With the baby just a few weeks away, it feels so good to have this yard project complete.  Now Buster and Bella can enjoy the yard fully. I was SO scared opening the back door to the house this afternoon to just "let them out." A part of me wanted to still have them on the leash despite the fence. But, David assured me that the whole point of the fence was to give the pups the freedom to run and play in the yard uninhibited. They raced out of the door (I was surprised they didn't hesitate at all, clearly they would just run away from us in general!), and immediately started barking and chasing each other. It was so great seeing them instantly excited about their new yard experience. I can just see us all now sitting out back for a cookout and just relaxing together as a family. This will definitely change how we all experience the summer and I am just so excited to be outside more with the pups! We even bought two new zero gravity chairs to "christen" the new space.

Phase III of the "never ending" yard remodel will be to plant arborvitae trees along the back of our property to increase some of our privacy and to plant hydrangea bushes in front of these trees to add some color and depth to our backyard garden. Ah!  After this successful phase, I am REALLY looking forward to phase III next Spring.

 

four years.

I woke up this morning and happily welcomed two things about today: Spring Break begins at 2:15PM and four years ago, David asked me to marry him. Spring Break is clearly exciting especially as we have a BIG family vacation planned in 7 days {pictures and updates sure to follow} but this morning I am blissfully reminiscent of what happened four years ago. We had just landed in Rome and settled into our hotel. After a quick shower from the flight, we headed out to explore the area around us. Our hotel was located one block away from the Colosseum. The day was clear, bright, and warmish for March and we slowly walked up to the massive ancient ruin. David seemed quiet but I just thought that was due to jet lag. I started to share my nerdy love of history and that's when David grabbed my hand and rushed straight pass the Colosseum! He said he wanted to go into the gardens that dotted the hill overlooking the ruin.  A little taken aback that he would just "skip" the Colosseum for gardens, I followed along, besides it was his first time in Rome after all. We headed up to Appian Hill and then it happened, the proposal, the "Yes!," the tears, the joy, the hugs and kisses, and the "wow this is real!" It was wonderful and has been wonderful since.

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But this morning wasn't just about remembering that moment with deep joy and fondness, but David and I also spent time this morning reflecting on all that has happened in these past four years. It is amazing to see our lives in that moment and how they have grown and changed to today. We are just so grateful for each other and for the many blessings we have shared and continue to share on this journey together. He is my sweetest friend and I am just so happy to have such an amazing individual to share my life with.

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David & Melissa Zippin October 2010

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paella & pregnant winters

The Winter is a beautiful season in New England. Snow covers the trees, streets, and yards of every home, while people huddle with loved ones and friends to stay warm. The sun shines brightly most days with clear blue skies, but the temperatures remind you that winter prefers for you to stay indoors or to layer yourself.  I like to pretend sometimes that I live in the North Pole when the banks of snow are higher than my thighs. How rugged are we? I say as I take Buster and Bella out back to carve a path. This winter has been particularly snowy.  Snuggling indoors with David, we cook solely belly-warming meals like paella. Yet, this winter has turned me a bit against it. Part of me has started to ache for warmer temperatures and springtime rains. Perhaps being pregnant contributes to this a bit. Snowy streets are treacherous for me now. I worry a lot about falling down and what that could mean for the little one. Thankfully (knock on wood) I have avoided this seasonal hazard so far. This morning though, I was in a panic as I tried to climb the hill to my school and found myself sliding backward more than moving forward. While I definitely don't want to "wish" winter away, I am getting ready for the Spring thaw to come our way. Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 8.45.08 AM

 

what i read, what i thought

I have seen this book on the shelves for quite some time. Yet, I never reached for it. Not even to read through its little synopsis on the back. I have this thing against reading a book whenever everyone else is reading it and raving about it. There is no real justification for this behavior, it is just a part of my reading practice. But I am so glad I finally made my way to it. It was the best way to end my summer of non-school related reading. And, it truly warmed my heart. Screen Shot 2013-08-21 at 1.29.36 PM

As a puppy mom, I admit to believing that my dogs, Buster and Bella, are special and unique. I admit that I have at times felt like they were humans reincarnated. That their eyes reflected a wise soul within and that they not only understood everything I was saying to them but that they also had the capacity to respond. Obviously not vocally, although sometimes they do bark, but through their gestures, touch, and cuddles. If I was not married to David, I would absolutely be a dog lady and I would take pride in it. Buster and Bella are members of my family not just family pets.  For this reason, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein truly resonated.

From the very first paragraph I was completely hooked. I devoured the novel and its story of Enzo and his family. It beautifully wove the life cycle of the dog, Enzo, into the fabric of the family.  Told from Enzo's perspective, it created hilarious moments as Enzo explained what a dog does each day when owners leave, how dogs see their place in the family, and how this particular dog soaked up each life experience as a part of his education for the future when he would one day be reborn a human (as he saw on a TV documentary about ancient dogs in Mongolia). Dogs are observant, clever, and loyal. These beautiful qualities were reflected in Enzo. He was often present when no other human was for his owners. He watched Denny, his owner, go through life from a bachelor, to a married man, to a family man, to a man seeking solace and redemption after a series of heartbreaking events. But, Enzo is always there providing touching commentary, reflection, presence, and tons of comic relief.

One of my favorite moments from the novel is when Enzo is going to stay over night at a friend's house as Denny will be away.  Denny tells Mike, the friend, to bring Enzo to the house to collect his things, in particular to get Enzo's toy stuffed dog by asking Enzo, "Where is your dog?"  You see Enzo loves this stuffed dog, it is his best friend and he hides it during the day so that the little girl in the house, Zoe, doesn't acclimate it into her own stuffed animal collection. It is a reflection that you could only hear from Enzo. From the human's perspective, Enzo hiding the dog is a quirk but to Enzo it is a strategic tactic! Enzo's narrative throughout the novel demonstrates love, fear, danger, redemption, courage, and, for me, he explained exactly what Buster and Bella must be thinking each and every day!

The end of the novel is inevitable. I read the last pages out loud while lying in bed with David. Our puppies slept quietly on the sheets between us as Enzo's story concluded. Despite the tears I shed, I truly enjoyed the novel. It made me laugh and cry and it was a fantastic ride which in the end is exactly what racing in the rain is all about...

“He died that day because his body had served its purpose. His soul had done what it came to do, learned what it came to learn, and then was free to leave.”