Ranger

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?

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!

4 Years

Corey and I are back at school this week and are trying to get settled back in for the spring semester – our Christmas break was fabulous but it always throws us for a loop when it’s actually time to get back to work! It’s a bit crazy around here lately, but I just had to pop in for a quick post about today because…

It has officially been four years since this amazing man and I got married.

Four years!

We’ve been together for nine years now, and I can’t believe that next year we’ll have been together for an entire decade. He makes me so incredibly happy and sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky to find someone that is so perfect for me.

I love our little family and how much our life has changed over the last year. I’m so excited to be celebrating four years with this man, and have a hard time believing that in just a few weeks we’ll be celebrating our son’s first birthday. How did that happen?

We’re celebrating this weekend with a date to one of our favorite restaurants, gifts (we don’t usually do them, so this is a big deal!) and a movie at home. It’ll be our first “real” date in a while, so I’m pretty thrilled!

Happy anniversary, love!

Life Lately

Can we go back in time a little bit?

Like, back to October and November?

I know Halloween and Thanksgiving are long gone and (trust me) I’m fully into the spirit of Christmas at this point in the year, but with my blogging hiatus I didn’t get to chat about all of the fun things we did at the start of fall, and there were a LOT of fun things that happened, so I want to go back a little and share. So, let’s make like the Doctor a do a bit of time traveling, shall we?

OCTOBER

October was a busy month for us! We kicked off the month with our annual family reunion (my side of the family) in Fayetteville, TX. Never heard of it? That may be because it has a population of, like, 258 (not an exaggeration). It’s an adorable little town and we absolutely adore going every year – Jackson had a blast this year!

The very next weekend we went to Waco for a board game conference. Yup, we’re officially that nerdy. It was a ton of fun, and while we were there we went to the Waco Zoo – Jack was totally into it, and we can’t wait to take him back! Two weekends in a row of traveling taught us that Jackson is surprisingly adaptable and generally awesome at traveling.

We also hit up a local pumpkin patch for some photos and took Jackson to the Fall Festival at our church – the petting zoo was the highlight of his Halloween!

NOVEMBER

November was a bit less crazy for us. It was a pretty rough month for us, but we managed to find some bright spots. Like Christmas shopping and putting up (one of) our tree(s) embarrassingly early.

We house-hopped for Thanksgiving this year – dinner at my sister’s house and dessert at ours, and it was fabulous. We had entirely too much food, spent a ton of time with our family, and just generally enjoyed ourselves. And Jackson was a huge fan of Thanksgiving dinner.

Oh, and we made enough dessert to feed roughly ten million people.

Once Thanksgiving was over we decorated for real – more photos of that to come soon!

Whew. That was a lot. Now, catch me up. Did you do anything fun at the start of fall? I’ve got to say, this season has never been as much fun as it is now that we have a baby!