Monday, November 29, 2010

...and He Shall Reign Forever and Ever!

I don't know what it is about these videos that bring me to tears, but I have a feeling that I might not be the only one out there who gets a little choked up when they hear "Messiah."

Happy Monday, Happy Advent.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Loss.

Our dog, Stout, whose story is below, died last night. We went to bat for him, giving him a chance to thrive on three legs, and through no fault of our own, our decision was made on faulty information. Last night, only a couple of hours after hearing that he was doing wonderfully, were told he was being kept alive by a ventilator. I was able to be with him in his last moment and bury him on family property today.

The last two days have been difficult. We made the decision that I would travel 2 hours from our northern home to where Stout was, and to leave Mark behind while he finished the work week. Our expectation was that I would be caring for our dog post-op until Mark was able to join us. We weren't anticipating that it would be me who was left so say our final goodbyes and to bury our dog. For this reason I feel drained in many ways, trying to care for the boys while dealing with my own shock of watching my dog die, and being pregnant and trying to take care of myself properly when so much of attention was focused on dealing with the situation.

We are sad and confused over the events that took place on Monday. Our dog suffered for too long before we knew the extent of his injuries, and that is what crushes us more than anything else. Unfortunately a mistake was made in our dog's care. Because of this, the bill for his surgery and all 36 hours of emergency care has been written off. It doesn't bring our dog back, but it's of some consolation that we have don't have our dead dog's medical bills to deal with right before Christmas, not to mention the void of our missing dog.

We will be glad to put this situation behind us. It was far harder than it needed to be. We have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and so we will focus on that. We have been very blessed by family and friends, and will be happy to be surrounded by them in the coming days.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Edit: And I want to appreciate thanks. Because, while I was with Mark, I had many, many family members who saw what we were going through and helped in small and big ways that made a huge difference. Parents, brothers, sisters, in-laws, and more helped with the kids, helped make decisions and sort out our choices, helped say goodbye, pick up Stout and bury him. I couldn't have gone through any of this without them. Thank you :-) .

Monday, November 22, 2010


On Monday morning between peanut butter toast and my second cup of coffee I got a call from my sister in law saying that our dog had been hit by a car. They had been graciously taking care of him during our move and transition.

In the course of a few hours we came to find out that our beloved large breed had a broken femur and pelvis. Unfortunately, the vet would not be able to set the leg. The best she could do was amputate. The only other option would be to send him to the University of Minnesota for surgery to repair the break, followed by months of rehabilitative care. The starting price for the second option, $3,000.

Mark and I were on the phone all morning. I was a wreck and often had to get off the phone because I was too upset to talk. The children didn't understand, and at one point Luke handed me a Crucifix and said that Jesus would give Stout a new leg. It was awful.

All day we weighed our options, and very heavily. At one point I gave up the reigns and left it in Mark hands, unable emotionally to make a wise choice. As we called Stout's breeder, sent his X-rays for a second opinion, and sought the advice of others, we very much wanted to do the right thing and to keep our emotions in check with reality.

After all, Stout is a dog. A great dog, but a dog nonetheless. For a very long time this afternoon we contemplated putting him down. Earlier in the day it wasn't a thought I could bring myself to, but as reality sunk in, the option was on the table.

As time went on and we spoke more with the vet and breeder, we were both left with one heavy thought: we could put him down, but in this instance there wasn't a good enough reason to. We tried as quickly as we could to educate ourselves on leg amputation, and were reassured repeatedly that our dog would fare just fine, adapt, and live a life just as full and as happy as he had with four legs. Amputating the leg will cost money, but it will be a sum that we can actually work with as opposed to the staggering cost to reset the leg, or to buy another Newfoundland.

I cried harder yesterday than I have in a long time. Until now I never understood how people become so attached to their animals. Stout has really been my first dog, and this is the first time I've ever gone through the heartbreak of making such a difficult decision for an animal that means so much to our family.

Trying to look on the bright side of the situation, I'm thanking God for three things.

1.) For Mark's sister and brother and law who have been taking care of Stout while we were adjusting here. Asking someone to care for a dog his size is a BIG favor, and we were so thankful. For the past month Stout has been living the life, surrounded by lakes and trees, children, and two other dogs. Our plan was to bring Stout home after Thanksgiving, only a few days aways, as, ironically, we wanted him to be safe from the highway here before bringing him to stay.

2.) I'm thankful that Stout's injury was on his back leg, not the front. If his front leg had been broken, the probability of an active life would have greatly diminished. A dog carries 70% of their weight on their front legs. For a dog of Stout's size, with his massive head, a front leg injury would have meant that we wouldn't be taking him home with us. Also, for such a bad break, he had no internal bleeding, and the breaks were "beautiful," meaning that nothing was crushed or shattered. Again, this would have drastically changed the outcome.

3.) Stout had followed children out to the bus stop this morning when he was hit. With conditions as icy as they were, I am so thankful that it wasn't a child who was hit by a car yesterday morning.

I'll be leaving our great white north shortly to drive "back home" to prepare to bring our dog home. As difficult as the last 24 hours have been for us as a family, I am at peace with our decision and am looking forward to having our dog back with us soon.

Faith Like a Child

On Saturday night Mark and I went out without the kids. It was wonderful in a thousand ways, particularly because we appreciated it so much, having not been out in a every long time.

With time to kill after dinner before our movie started, we went looking for a winter coat for Luke, who at 4.5 years was still wearing his 3T coat. Our intention was to find the one we wanted at the right store, and to then wait until Black Friday to buy. After finding a great coat with matching snowpants at a great price, we changed our plans and came home with the new coat.

The best thing about buying things for Luke is that he makes it so much fun. You see, he thinks that everything is wonderful, and he appreciates a new coat the same way his parents appreciated eating out alone.

His enthusiasm for new things is refreshing. After Paul was born, we bought him some striking animal posters for his bedroom. For days on end he laid in bed gazing at the posters. He insisted on going to bed with the lights on so that he could look at them, and everyone that came to the door was invited to his room to see the posters. This summer I made him a pillowcase that was his constant companion for weeks. He was crushed when his pillowcase wasn't allowed to follow him to church or when it needed an inevitable washing.

Needless to say, he loved his new coat. It is red, his color of choice, and he stayed up late waiting for us so he could try it on. For the remainder of the weekend he wore his snowpants and winter coat indoors, sometimes with only underpants underneath since his clothes were getting sweaty baking in the outerwear. At bedtime, reluctantly wearing jammies, his coat and snowpants accompanied his bed like a companion blanket.

On Sunday afternoon, overtired with excitement over the new coat, we had to put a stop to wearing his new ensemble indoors. Luke's snowpants slipped on the top step of a large flight of stairs and he toppled down the whole flight. He wasn't hurt, most likely because of the immense padding of the fleece-lined coat, but the slippery material indoors had to go.

Kids are fun. Christmas will be fun. They just love everything. Today, as we start this short week beginning with a blizzard, I hope to have my eyes open a little wider, and excitement take over my practicality just a little bit more. I hope to love my life as much as he loves his.

Happy Monday.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


"Bedtime is to be strictly observed!"

If anyone is the Captain Von Trapp in the family, it's me. I'm pretty fussy about bedtimes. And why wouldn't I be? My kids don't sleep in, so if they stay up late (which mean that we stay up late) they'll be up at their regular time the next morning. That usually means that I'm left for the rest of the day with two overtired and grumpy kids.

Yes, bedtimes in our house are to be strictly observed!

That is, until now.

At nearly four and half, I can't expect Luke to take a nap, but sometimes the sweetheart does, and those days, like yesterday, and wonderful blessings to an always tired pregnant momma. But, a four year old napping until four in the afternoon just isn't going to go to bed at 8pm. Doesn't happen. I know this, and yet at one in the afternoon I'm so desperate to lay in my bed that I put him down anyway.

So, last night at 10pm, when I was more than ready to sleep, Luke was still bouncing off the walls. Fortunately, I married a night owl who had work to do, and Luke accompanied him to the office with stacks of books, paper and crayons.

I came to find out this morning that the late night father-son adventure lasted until nearly 2:00 in the morning!

Now, the normally rigid Hesitant Homemaker would likely throw a fit and cry and such a travesty to our routine, but no, our little guy is changing. He sleeps when he's tired, which now mean that today he might not pop out of bed until 9 or later.

Is this okay with me? Absolutely. This morning Mark was gone by 6:45am--before either boy was awake, and not seeing Daddy in the morning has been a big adjustment for the kids, especially Luke, who asks where he is every morning. As long as the boy gets the sleep he needs, spending time with Daddy in the wee morning hours is just fine.

After all, I certainly won't be staying up that late!

With coffee in hand, dressed and ready for the day, with one boy sleeping, and one boy contently tucked in my covers watching Curious George, I think today will be alright.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


If we took advice from a four year old, here's how our country would run,

"Mommy, let's tell the president and the governor to give all of our taxes back, and then we would have more money to buy the things that we need."

No kidding!

I'm not a highly political person, and economics certainly don't get me going, but after Luke watched Robin Hood (Disney version) about fifty times, he had a lot of questions about taxes, to which we positively explained to him how taxes enabled us have our nice roads and nice parks, not to mention our fabulous libraries.

I will say, however, that I like the kid's logic.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Casual Persuasions.

I swear I'm not a prude, but something has been eating at me lately, and since our move to great wild north, it seems to be intensifying. It has to do with church, and dressing up for church.

Have I lost you? Sorry. I don't mean to offend anyone, and certainly not to judge, it's just something I notice and that is, at times, incredibly distracting.

For instance, tonight at Mass a lector (a reader) was standing reading Scripture at the altar wearing a hooded sweatshirt with black sweatpants, tapered leg and all. I don't mean to judge this person for his particular circumstances, but in general, I find this sort of attire appropriate for sleeping and playing sports; certainly not Mass.

It seems though, that the ultra-casual has become the norm. I absolutely do not believe that a persons attire has anything to do with their relationship with God, or their holiness, but I do think that as a culture we have lost a formality in dressing appropriately for certain events that are set apart from the rest of the week.

Are you getting me?

Mass is set apart. It's different than a run to the grocery store, coffee with friends, or a Saturday doing yard work. If we dress up to go out with our spouse, shouldn't we try to make an effort to dress up for our Creator and Savior?

We should give people the benefit of the doubt, and ultimately the most important thing is that people are at Mass at all. I'm just questioning the week-to-week norm of wearing jeans and T-shirts to Mass, and wondering if we've missed the part of our faith where formality wasn't important simply for formality's sake, but because Mass was set apart from everything else in the week; that it was important and honored respect in dress.

Perhaps old-fashioned in my thinking, but I do think that this important, and do believe that what we display on the outside has a direct impact on our reverence.

Isn't Mass supposed to be a big deal?

Friday, November 12, 2010

(A More Real) Love Story

A painfully realistic parody. I think it might resonate with those who have lil's. I need a night out...

The One.

During my mommy years I've always been in a bit of a predicament. I hopelessly love people, and while I'm not shy, I'm definitely not outgoing. Being at home with kids all week just doesn't work for me unless there is an outlet to have time to share with women. Fortunately, in nearly every location we've lived there has always been resources for young children and their moms, whether that be at church or through community outreach. These programs are lifesavers and really bring sanity to my days when I feel so isolated raising young children.

The predicament I'm referring to is the fact that, unlike going to a new school where a person is forced into a new and uncomfortable situation, the plight of a mother is that she must do this voluntarily, and it's never easy to voluntarily walk into a group of people where you don't know a soul and wonder how you'll be accepted.

In every group that I've walked into, there is someone who always sticks out. This lady recognizes things, and is highly aware of what is going on in the room. This lady very apparently cares about the feelings of others. Thankfully, every time I've entered a new situation, this lady is there, and makes a point to reach out, introduce, and make those feeble newcomers feel welcome. The women who make a point to do this are angels, and I'm so appreciative. I've hardly taken a step into a new situation without someone making sure they were going to walk it with me.

I would ask the readers of my blog today to think of how we as women can impact the lives of other women by simply being welcoming. I think many women are naturals at it, and if you are blessed with this gift, I would ask you to share it with those who need it. In every group there is The One. You could be her :-) . And, even though these women don't read my blog, a big shout out to Jennifer A., Aimee A., and Heidi L., for being The One for me.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Scrolling through this blog, it' apparent that we not only had a busy summer, but that I've had little time to keep up with my occasional (blogging) project. Since my last post, there have been quite a few (extra) large changes that have changed our lifestyle from "stay-at-home" to "survive-at-home."

Here's the scoop. Mr. Hesitant Homemaker got a new job in a new city too far from our home to commute. This was coming. We were open to it, and the new job sent us two hours from our home to a place where there are more license plate for Indian Reservations and Ontario, Canada than for Minnesota.

This means that in the course of three weeks we quit our jobs, found renters for our house, packed everything we owned, moved out of our house and cleaned the dickens out of it for the renters. Then we had to find an adequate place to rent up north, find temporary homes for our animals, and try to maneuver through a community sight unseen.

Have I mentioned that I'm pregnant, too?

Phew! The packing and moving out of the house was by far the most exhausting. Our every-growing Newfie was reeking havoc on every aspect of trying to keep the smell of our house to a minimum, and the toddler in our midst was having a great time throwing as many packed boxes as he could down the stairs. On any given day I was overwhelmed and tired. Uh huh, I'm pregnant and packing--not a good move (no pun intended).

Now that we are at our destination (a cute new house in the woods!); I'm really enjoying it here. I went three weeks without a phone or internet, and while the first few days were difficult, I realized that I actually wasn't missing out on much tucked away in country. I will even go as far as to admit that I am actually a better mother without the distraction.

Being pregnant with two kids with no neighbors in an area where I'm unlikely to run into anyone familiar and more unlikely to make friends without extra effort has been lonely at times, and I'm sure that as the snow falls and the temperature drops that I will feel more isolated still. I will try to take it all in stride and grow ever-closer to my husband and children. And while there have been days when I've been struck down with a pregnancy-migraine, or my body cannot be willed to move after a vigorous day of unpacking, I will try to enjoy this chapter as much as I enjoyed our last one on the cul-de-sac.

I'm looking forward to a switch from blogging about pesky neighbors to a boy who is climbing pine trees for the first time and discovering animal tracks in the dirt road. My little one is the craziest toddler in the land, and now I can let him run free without the worry of lunch time commuters zooming down our street. For me, I just want to be happy and content with what has been given to me, and for life to slow down enough so that I have the opportunity to mentally and spiritually prepare for the changes yet to come when we add another member to the family.

Prayers for a happy fall,