Category Archives: Family

We’ve Added to Our Family

You know how you don’t even notice entire sections of the grocery store, or you ignore entire topics of conversation or entire swaths of cultural celebrations? How you can practically not even know where the meat section is if you’re a vegetarian, how you tune out talk about diapers if you don’t have young children, how you don’t even see that Christmas tree-selling lot on the corner because you don’t celebrate Christmas?

Since before we met, neither my husband nor I considered ourselves dog people. We couldn’t be bothered with mess, fuss, dander, smell, or any curtailing of our free-wheeling ways. Once we had kids, we re-confirmed that there was no way we would want to invite more chaos into our lives (where is a fuddy-duddy emoticon when you need one?)

And now we have discovered the pet section at Target.

Somewhat related to my last post, last weekend we welcomed Dexter to our family. Allow me to introduce him.


Sorry for the blur. He’s not a puppy (the shelter says he’s over 2 years old) but he’s quite active and would rather lick me than let me take his picture.

In spite of the firm parental stance, Tessa and Reed have been lobbying for a dog for years. The answer, even more solid than during our pre-kid days, has never wavered: NO.

  • Two in our household us are allergic to dog hair and wish to avoid irritated eyes, itchy noses and skin rashes.
  • I’m done cleaning up pee and poop that comes out of people I live with.
  • We have nice carpets from our time in the Middle East and don’t want to see them shredded or soiled.
  • We like to be able to pick up and go. Not that we often do head to Bora Bora or Pago Pago, but if we had reason, we’d want to be Free-to Free-to.

But. Roger and I found ourselves softening as the kids got to be about the same ages that each of us were when we became dog people. I was smack dab in between Tessa’s age and Reed’s age when my parents unexpectedly turned to goo one night and allowed my sisters and me to bring home a puppy from a litter born to the dog that belonged to our host that night, a work colleague of my dad’s.

Scuffy (her father’s name was Scamper and her mother’s name was Muffy) changed my life for the better when I was 11. In my Scottie-Poo had a confidante who gave me unconditional love and understanding as I navigated relationships with parents, peers and boys. She saw me off to college and into young adulthood before she went to doggy heaven at age 14, one of the most traumatic times I can remember.

At first, our plan was to surprise the kids with a Christmas dog (bonus — all our holiday shopping would be done in one fell swoop!). I began investigating what was available at local shelters, cross-researching about hypoallergenic probabilities.

Then we decided that for the kids to be invested in having a dog, they should be involved at the research stage. So we told them one night at dinner, were proclaimed the Best! Parents! Ever! and began searching together online. I printed shelter applications for the kids to fill out, and they answered questions about how they would discipline a dog, chose a nearby veterinarian, and began to grasp the gravity of being utterly responsible for another being.

The next morning we headed to Shelter #1, which had a couple of possible pets on its website. In rapid succession, we met Buddy (Airedale+Lab) and Bella (Boxer+Terrier — Pitbull?). I was ready to take Buddy home even though his ever-wagging tail cut a wide swath. Bella was a sweetie, keen to have her belly rubbed — the kids were only to happy to — but her breeds weren’t on the hypoallergenic list.

Then Tessa broke out in a rash. Tessa was not the one on our radar for allergies. Because we didn’t know which dog’s dander had been the culprit and we headed to lunch empty armed. There was much disappointment.

While the hives subsided, we decided to visit Shelter #2. Wiser now, we asked only for a hypoallergenic dog. “Sorry,” we were told. “We currently don’t have any.”

“Wait,” said another lady behind the counter. “What about Franklin? He just came in two days ago and he’s not in the books yet.”

So Franklin, a Poodle+Bichon Frise, was trotted out. True love at first sight & sniff among all three youngers. Roger and I, on the other hand, were not immediately won over, despite the dog’s gentle ways, kind spirit and calm-ish nature. Roger had envisioned a bigger dog, one to run with and catch frisbees. I had in mind Buddy.

But we saw that the dog met our key requirements. He wouldn’t shed, no one was wheezing or swelling (not even me!), he wasn’t nervous or aggressive with all the goings-on in the busy shelter, and most of all, the kids were supremely happy. They were certain Franklin was their dog.

We supplied references and filled out more paperwork and listened to all that we’d need to know to make for a successful transition. We had to initial a spot that said, “YOU ARE NOT BUYING A DOG. YOU ARE PAYING FOR SERVICES” — which made me pause, coming from Adoption World.

We passed muster and the shelter let us leave with Franklin, who, on the way home, became Dexter. The Broncos were playing that afternoon and as we listened to the game on the radio we tried on “Peyton” and “Welker.” When my mom texted the name “Decker” (Eric) to me, we morphed it into Dexter.

(I’m a fan of the show Dexter because who doesn’t like rooting for a serial killer?)

Our first week has been fairly successful, though let it be known that a sub-zero freeze is a bad time weather-wise to work in a new dog. I haven’t cleaned up any poop (the kids have taken care of all the inside and outside messes) and we are mostly able to keep our sleeping routines. I did wonder at first if we should have named him Chewbacca — the first few days he chewed on anything BUT the chew toys we bought him. But that seems to have worked itself out already.

Things are off to a good start with our new addition.

So ends the tale of how we became a family of five. Now I’m off to take the kids to our first doggy training class.

They think it’s for Dexter.


Perfect Moment Monday: The Next Generation

Maybe you’ve heard me talk about my sisters once or twice. We kinda like each other. What’s more, we even like our parents.

And because we five like being in each others’ company, about once a year we finagle the chance to drag along our husbands and children for The Sake of Family Togetherness.

Which we did over Labor Day weekend in the Rocky Mountains. Like 6 years ago — when Tami’s husband Gino was recovering from full paralysis — again we had guitars, puzzles, hikes, and trips to the liquor store.

And this time, the addition of my niece, now 20 months old. Eleana is Tami’s daughter.

Ross, Sheri’s son, has just about doubled in height since that 2007 gathering. He can practically rest his chin on my head now (I am not short). He is the brother of Jake and Ben; all three are my beloved nephews (as is Dominic, Tami’s son).

Below was a tender moment I got to witness between one sister’s near-grown son and my other sister’s toddler daughter. Imagine the smell of the pines, the momentary crisp air after months of hot-hot-hot, the anticipation of the steaks that the men had on the nearby grill. All that was part of this perfect moment observing these two sweet souls exploring nature.

Scene at Colorado mountain pond

Sweet simple perfection.


A happy moment will seed ten thousand more.Notes from the Universe.

Which explains why it’s in my interest (and yours) to notice perfect moments.


Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.

On the last Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join.

To participate in Perfect Moment Monday:

  • Follow
  • Write up your own Perfect Moment and post it on your blog (or other site).
  • Use LinkyTools below to enter your name (or blog name), the URL of your Perfect Moment post, and a thumbnail image if desired.
  • Visit the Perfect Moments of others and let the writers know you were there with some comment currency.

With your Perfect Moment post , you may place this button on your blog (in the post, on the sidebar, or both).What Perfect Moment have you recently been aware of?

No One Laughs at God

That September morning, a boy awoke excited. He was about to become a teenager. He was the eldest of his generation in the family, and he was thrilled to be the one to break this ground. Just two more days and his life would change.

He had no idea. None of us did.

It was during first period at his middle school that he was pulled out of class, along with his twin brothers in the grade below. It was probably at the same time that I got the call from my parents — his grandparents (he is my sister’s son).

His father had been found dead.

There was a letter.

This September morning — today — that same boy is again awakening, this time with an odd mixture of excitement and loss. He is about to become a man. In two days he’ll be eligible to vote, he’ll be invited to register for the draft, he’ll have all the freedom and responsibilities that go with being 18.

And he marks five years finding his way without his dad. With his own resilience and the support of family and friends, this young man can finally say:

I feel content
I feel at peace
You’re so close to me
Even though you’re out of reach

Jake, my nephew, (center, with his brothers) has been grieving and healing in fits and spurts for five years now. Whereas my therapy is blogging; his is rapping. Today, he releases his latest creation, No One Laughs, with haunting backdrop by Regina Spektor. I am honored to share it with you. (Safe for Work version.)

Have a tissue box ready for the ending.

Consider this my love note to Jake, Ben and Ross today. I love you boys with my whole heart, and my love extends to everyone who has contributed to making you you.

Happy birthday, Jake.