I’ve sat down to write this post about five different times now, and I just haven’t been able to make myself do it. But as hard as it is to talk about, it’s time.

I’ve shared a lot about our lives with our dogs over the years. They were our babies before we had our actual baby, and they’ve always been an important part of our family. We always get told we are crazy for having three dogs (we can’t deny it – we are!) and as much chaos as they have added to our lives, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Which is why this is so hard.

About a month ago, we had some friends over – it was supposed to be just a small group of friends but it quickly morphed into more people than we ever anticipated, including lots of kids. Normally we keep our dogs in the backyard for the first few minutes after people arrive, then let them inside so they aren’t stuck in the yard all night. This night, however, there were several kids who had never been to our house and who were petrified of the dogs. There were also a lot more people than usual, and I knew it would just stress Ranger out to have him inside. The other two dogs got let in a couple of hours into the night, but Ranger is extremely socially anxious and didn’t want to come in so I kept him out there where I figured he was safer.

But then, some kids wanted to go outside to play in the yard. And I let them, because I figured Ranger would be more comfortable with a few kids in the backyard than the dozens of people in the house. But no adults were out there to watch them, and they were chasing him around the yard. Ranger is one of the most docile and sweet dogs I’ve ever known, so I knew he wouldn’t do anything to hurt them…but I didn’t consider that without any other option, when he got stressed out, he’d look for an escape. The kids came in a few minutes later and told us he had gotten out of the backyard.

We had no idea it was even possible. There was a hole in the fence that we’d patched, but apparently not well enough. Corey and I immediately ran out to try and find him and began searching the neighborhood. We called my sister to help and a few people from the party came outside to help as well.

We spent hours searching. We all spotted him at one point or another, but he wouldn’t come to any of us (not even my sister, who is quite literally his favorite person in the entire world). The only consolation we have is that he wasn’t scared at this point or acting nervous. He was clearly thrilled to be running around and free, and he was panting and wagging his tail like he was having the best day of his life. But we couldn’t catch him.

Eventually we had to give up for the night, but we continued to search the neighborhood every chance we got for the next week. We posted his picture all over the internet, we called every shelter in the area, we left food out, we left our clothing out where we last saw him, we took the other dogs to help search…we basically did every single thing we possibly could to find him.

But we never did.

On Friday it will be one month since Ranger ran away, and we still check Craigslist and the local shelter every day. I’ve been running in our neighborhood in the mornings, and I constantly keep an eye out for him. My heart is in my throat every time we leave our house as I scan the streets and neighboring fields to see if there’s any sign of him.

Hadley has taken it the hardest. She constantly looked for him for the first few days he was gone, and she still hasn’t figured out how to play and get her energy out without him here. Jackson still checks for him every time we go to get Hadley out of her kennel, and I honestly expect him to be sitting by our front door every single time I come home.

There’s no good way to end this post except to say that our hearts are broken and we miss him dearly. We have heard many stories of dogs coming home after longer than this, so we still have hope. But a piece of our family is missing, and things just aren’t the same.

Summer Bucket List: Personal Edition

When I shared our family bucket list, I mentioned that one thing I want to focus more on this summer is myself and really fostering my own personal interests and hobbies. It’s not something I’ve done enough of ever since I had Jackson, and it’s high time I fix it.

It’s really hard to find time in the normal chaos of my days to really do anything for myself, so now that we’ve got a nice big break for the summer I figure it’s the perfect time to make a change and start some routines that I can hopefully continue into the school year as well. So, here are the top five things I want to do for myself this summer:

1. Do house projects – at least three! I haven’t done a damn thing to this house in about a year and it’s killing me. I miss doing projects around the house and I miss being creative. We’re in a tight spot financially right now so I’ll get to be extra creative with what I do, but this is way overdue. I have a nice long list of cheap or even free projects that I want to tackle this summer, and I’m determined to get a few of them done!

2. Read a book. You guys, I haven’t read at all since having Jackson. I can’t even say why…my time has just been full of other things! I miss reading so much and really need to get back into the habit of always having a book on hand, and this summer is the time. Any book suggestions for me? So far all I know is I have to hop on The Girl on the Train bandwagon, but I’m so out of touch with what else is even out there! Jackson and I took a trip to the library this morning and I picked up Lena Dunham’s book, so I’m hoping that library visits will become a regular thing for us!

3. Exercise. Towards the end of the school year I started waking up extra early to get myself exercising again, and it was great. I hated waking up at 5:00 in the morning, but it was really worth it to feel good about myself and feel strong and healthy. I fell out of the habit a couple of weeks ago due to the absolute craziness of the end of the school year, but this week it’s on. I got up early this morning and ran in our neighborhood while listening to Serial – I’m excited to finally catch up with it and I have a long list of other podcasts to check out, so this should keep me busy for a while!

4. Clean house. There are so many places in our house that are so messy and so unorganized. I have been putting it all off for the summer, and now that it’s actually here I’m a little overwhelmed by all I need to get done! I’m taking it one room at a time, though, and I’m going to get it all done! I’m hoping that I can purge some extra stuff and maybe even make a little money selling stuff along the way. I already dove in with a big trip to a local kids consignment store last week and made $50, so  I think I’m off to a good start!

5. Make some freezer meals. This has been on my to-do list for a long time – we’ve struggled lately to stay on-budget with our groceries and I really want to take control of that a little more. I’m trying to be a little more organized with our shopping and actually track prices of items, but I also want to spend some time this summer prepping freezer meals to make things easier on us on those crazy weeks where we can’t keep up with everything we have to do. My goal is to prep at least 10-15 meals – ideally I’d like to have enough meals to do 1 per week for the whole first semester of next school year!

I’m really excited about actually writing down these goals and having a plan for getting myself back on track. I often complain about not “having time” for any of these things, but the truth is I just haven’t made them a priority for myself lately – and that stops now. I’m so excited to get started and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’m actually successful.

What are some things you want to do to take care of yourself?

Summer Bucket List: Family Edition

Oh summer. It’s here! I can’t even believe that this absolutely insane year is over and it’s time for some R&R at home with my family. I took a (totally unplanned) hiatus from all things creative the last few months (which obviously included this blog) and I am oh so ready to stretch my creativity muscles and get back to doing some stuff around the house.

So, now that it’s summer and I’m actually going to have time to do things I enjoy, I decided it was high time for another summer bucket list. I’m doing two separate lists this year…one for family stuff that involves Jackson, and a separate list that focuses just on me and things I want to do. I feel like most of the time now I spend so much time focusing on the family and doing things altogether that I don’t take care of my own interests and hobbies…and it’s time to fix that!

But before we get to that, there are some things that I want to do with our family this summer…and if I write ’em down they’re more likely to happen. So, here we go!

1. Water, water, water! Jackson is obsessed with spending time outside and playing in water, and he hasn’t had much of a chance at all since last summer. Now that he’s totally mobile and constantly on the move, I think that spending time at the pool and at splash pads will be even more fun for him. We’ve got several fun splash pads in the area and we love our local pool, and I’m ready to get out there and start enjoying them!

2. Go on a family trip. This one is already booked and officially happening, and I can’t wait! We wanted to go on a cruise with the rest of my family but that’s unfortunately not in the cards for us this year, so we planned a mini vacation that’s just a couple of hours away. We’ve already booked the hotel and made plans for a quick three-day getaway, and I’m excited for our first official family vacation. It’s nothing fancy, but it’ll be a blast to get out and do something special, and I’m thrilled we’re getting to do at least something.

3. Get Jackson down to one nap. A less fun goal, but an important one nonetheless. Jackson’s new class at daycare in the fall only takes one nap a day and he’s getting close to the age of needing to drop his morning nap, anyways. So, over the next few weeks we’re going to need to figure out how to transition him as smoothly as possible and hopefully not disrupt everything in our lives. Wish us luck!

4. Try new things. We have been seriously slacking on exploring new places in and around Austin, and there are so many amazing things to be done with kids in our area. We took Jackson to the children’s museum over spring break and he absolutely adored it, so I want to do a lot more stuff like that this summer. He’s really at an age where he can enjoy a lot bigger range of activities, so I want to capitalize on all of the fun we could have!

5. Soak up every second. As I’ve been reading through Hands Free Mama one thing that has really hit me hard is how much I want to be  better about really embracing every moment and taking a slower approach to my days. I don’t want to spend my time wishing away this phase of life or complaining about where we’re at, I want to spend the time enjoying every second and really truly being present in everything I do. This summer is a perfect time to focus in on that goal and hopefully it will carry over into my everyday life.

I am so excited for all of the possibility the next few months hold – everything is way more fun now that we have Jackson and it just keeps getting better as he gets older…so I know the summer will be no exception!

What are your plans for the summer months?

This entry was posted in Home.

Hands Free Mama: Month Two

I may be behind on recapping, but I’m totally caught up on reading Hands Free Mama and I have to tell you, this book is doing amazing things for me. I’m really enjoying it and it’s helping me be so much more conscious of how I spend my time and what I focus on.

Today we’ll talk about chapter two (which I read way back in February) – it’s all about making purposeful connections. She talks about opening up about your “hands free journey” with the people close to you, focusing on hands-free time when you’re with your spouse (not just with your kids) and looking for little moments of down time (like in the car) to connect rather than be distracted.

This chapter was big for me because I had to work on opening up about how I’m trying to reduce my time and being honest with Corey about where I’ve struggled and where I think I’ve failed in my hands-free attempts. I honestly didn’t really talk much to him about it until just recently, so it’s had a bit of a delayed effect on me, I guess you could say. The section on being focused/not on the phone in the car wasn’t something that really applies to me much yet (since Jackson and I can’t exactly have conversations while I’m driving) but it was a fantastic reminder to me that I need to be working on my habits now so that Jackson doesn’t ever have to know me as a distracted, always-on-my-phone mom and will only ever know me as someone who is focused on him and connecting with my family as much as possible!

After reading this chapter, here are the three big take-aways that I had, and what I still need to work on:

– I am constantly distracted in the car. I’m not good about just relaxing with my own thoughts and as soon as I get in the car I typically think about who I could call to chat with while I drive. I’ve been trying to spend more time just listening to music, singing, and chatting with Jackson (even if he’s not talking back). I got rewarded for this in a big way one day when my favorite song came on the radio, I turned it up and started singing along and glimpsed Jackson giggling and dancing in my rearview mirror – I want more moments like that!

– I want to be more open with Corey about what I’m working on and I want to ask him to hold me accountable. If he doesn’t know that I’m consciously trying to reduce the time I spend on my work email while I’m at home, he can’t remind me that I should put my phone away when I bring it out for the zillionth time. I need to make myself accountable for what I’m working on, and even though I’ve made a lot of progress towards not being distracted in the evenings, I’ve still got a long way to go!

– One big take-away for me was that as I reduce my technology time, it’s likely the other people around me will as well. The more time I spend focused on being with other people (and not being distracted) the more I notice how much time people actually spend with their nose in their phones! It’s a good cycle for me, because the more I notice that, the more resolve I have to not be like that anymore.

Is anyone else still reading along and working on being more hands-free? I can’t wait to chat about chapter three, because it was my favorite so far!

Our Easter Weekend

Ahhh, I love a long weekend! Corey and I both had off work on Friday, so we got some extra time to enjoy as a family – I’m grateful because Corey’s weekends are booked solid for the next month or so with all of the extracurriculars he does!

We spent Friday relaxing, running errands, and just hanging out. We went out to eat at one of our favorite local diners – Jackson had his first bit of hamburger and was obsessed. He got so excited and ate almost a quarter of Corey’s burger – and would have had more if we would’ve let him!

We also got Jackson’s hair cut – it was his second haircut ever and he had just as much fun as the first time…thank goodness he thinks haircuts are hilarious! We had her style it into a faux hawk and now I’m determined to figure out how to do it myself – there’s nothing in this world cuter than a toddler with a ‘hawk!

On Sunday we went out to my parents’ house for Easter lunch. It was the first time (maybe in my life?) that we’d had Easter anywhere other than my grandmother’s house, and it was strange. She passed away in November and little holidays like this are the ones that I remember being so special at her house – I’m hoping that over time we can create that same feeling of excitement and nostalgia for Jackson at my parents’ house.

We had a giant lunch and then hid eggs for the kids – well, more like laid eggs on the ground for Jackson to grab, and actually hid eggs for my nieces. He got super into it (he loves putting things into other things right now, so this activity was sure to be a hit!) and I think he could have kept going all afternoon!

Oh, and we also took our bluebonnet photos this weekend! We’ve been anxiously waiting for the field near our house to fill up so we could snap some photos, and I was so excited to cross this off of our to-do list…it’s hilarious because I never cared about bluebonnet photos before having Jackson but now they’re a must-have!

How was your Easter weekend? It was so fun this year to have Jackson actually participate in some of the traditions!