Four-legged Family Members

addi and me minnie ears

I didn’t grow up with pets. We were a military family who moved a lot, so having pets wasn’t too conducive to our lifestyle.

Years later, when I started a family of my own, we eventually had three dogs—two that someone brought home (without giving me a heads up beforehand) and one that we got as a puppy. The first two unfortunately both died of natural causes after several years. Talk about traumatic experiences!

Not having grown up with pets I was nervous with our first two dogs—one a golden retriever and the other a black lab. They were fully-grown when they came to our house, so even though they were both really well behaved, I was still a bit skittish if they barked. If they had something in their mouth that they shouldn’t I was the last person willing to try to take it away.

But with our third dog, I’m completely different and I know exactly why.

Addi came to us as a puppy.

Addi puppy

I researched the right breeder, speaking with other owners who’d used the same person. We visited the breeder to meet the mom and dad dogs, and eventually we picked Addi out of the litter. In preparation for her arrival I read countless books about owning and training a puppy. I bought Cesar Milan DVDs, then watched and re-watched them.

The day we brought Addi home, when she whimpered in her kennel at bedtime, I took my pillow downstairs, opened the kennel door, put my pillow halfway inside and slept on the floor with Addi resting on my pillow near my head. I did this for a couple of days, then closed the kennel door and slept in front of it so she could still see me. Little by little I moved further and further away until I was back in my bed and she was sleeping comfortably in her kennel on her own.

It’s a similar technique I used when my oldest was two and feeling afraid of sleeping alone in her new bed. It worked then, and it worked 16 years later when I brought Addi home.

Now Addi’s about 20 times the size she was when she joined our family. She’s gone from a 10 pound puppy to a 70 pound dog.

addi with toy

Despite her size, I still think of her as one of my “babies”—if she’s got something dangerous in her mouth, you can bet I’m sticking my fingers inside to get it out. If she needs some attention, I’m on the floor with her and she’s “sitting” on my lap.

When my youngest daughter went off to college last year and I sat in my room teary, Addi came in to comfort me. It’s like she knew I needed a “hug.”

So, while maybe I’m not an “animal lover” yet because it just wasn’t part of my lifestyle for so many years, I can honestly say I now understand how and why people treat their pets like they’re family members. Addi is that to me. She was one of my babies. I’ve “raised” her.

I jokingly say she’s the child that doesn’t talk back to me and who is always eager for my hugs and attention. No moody adolescent years with this one! ☺

How about you guys? Does your family have a pet—a four-legged family member? We always share stories about our kids, how about stories about the pets that help make up our family? ☺

addi at beach

When Our Kids are Sick

sick child

Being a mom is tough. I think many of our blog posts have established that point fairly well. ☺

Being a mom with a sick child can be a little tougher than normal. Even when that kid is a big kid, home from college for a few weeks in the summer.

Case in point, I’ve got a college-aged baby who’s about to have her tonsils removed tomorrow. Yes, it’s a relatively routine outpatient surgery, but it still makes me nervous. I still worry about what could go wrong—all while I’m slapping a peppy smile on my face and spouting every positive mantra I can think of so I don’t make my kid nervous, too.

I’m googling “tonsillectomy” and “post-tonsillectomy recovery tips” in the hopes that I’ll be prepared for whatever comes. Doing my best to make her recovery as painless and comfortable as possible. Although, the doc has already warned us that “this is the most painful procedure you’ll ever have.” Naturally, I wanted to ask how it compared to childbirth, but why scare my child even more? ☺

So, today my question for all you readers out there is: have you or your child had a tonsillectomy? If so, any suggestions on recovery? Any tips for a mom who’s a worrywart?

Finding Some Balance in Life

life balance

Somedays I feel like I’m doing pretty well. I’ve got my priorities straight, things under control, kids all headed in the right direction… It’s all good.

And then there are other days- like today- when I can hear Life laughing at me and what it thinks as my feeble attempts to make any progress.

I’ve got a job that keeps me running during the day, sometimes into the evening, and a volunteer list that fills up quite a bit of my dance card fairly often. But my girls are out of the house, leaving me with just a pooch that’s needy for attention. So, why is it that I still can’t seem to get a good work, writing, volunteering, exercising, sleeping, fun-time schedule figured out?

I homeschooled my girls for multiple years and kept a pretty rigid schedule during the day. We had to in order to meet the goals I’d set out for them as students. While I was in my both of my master’s programs I had a detailed schedule for reading, homework, research and writing. And I’m proud to say I was a great student. :-)

So again, why is it that with others or when others are involved I’m better at trying to ensure everything is good to go. But when it comes to just plain me– exercise to feel better, write more often because I love it and plan to sell someday, sleep more because my body needs it– I keep falling off the wagon?

I’m wondering if it’s my need to help others or focus on others rather than focus on myself. Sometimes that’s a good thing– others before self. Sometimes, it’s a bad thing– help others to the detriment of self.

It’s about balance. That’s what I talk to my girls about. So, I’m thinking it’s time for me to practice what I preach.

Recognize that if I want to sell a book or feel healthier about my body, then I need to do something about it. Make it a priority just like I make thinking about others a priority.

So, I ask you, is there something you’ve been wanting to do or thinking about doing that you keep putting aside? Is now a good time to work on that or try that? Maybe, maybe not. Only you can decide.

But I’d love to hear how you’re coping with finding balance in your daily life. It can be a struggle. Hearing how others handle it, make it work, or maybe flounder sometimes, too, helps me realize that I’m not alone in this. And maybe something that helps one of you might be a great tip for me or our readers to try.

Thanks for sharing!!

Servant Leadership

servant leadership

As a person, a professional, and a mom I try my best to live as a servant leader—doing for others, keeping others’ needs in the forefront. I have to admit, I feel a sense of satisfaction when I’m able to help someone, whether it’s something small like opening a door for a person whose hands are full or spending hours in one-on-one time helping a student improve a scholarship essay that could potentially help them pay for college (a big life changer).

I try to model “doing for others” with my girls, especially so as they were growing up. Now that they’re older and off on their own, my prayer is that they remember my example and continue to see that in me. I tell ya, it’s a beautiful thing when I see or hear about something they’ve done to make another person’s day or week or whatever, a little more positive.

And I really enjoy hearing about others who strive to bring good and do good in our world and communities.
Over the weekend, while watching the Sunday morning news, I learned about one such person: Ariel Nessel, founder and board member of the Pollination Project.

http://thepollinationproject.org/grants-awarded-all/

Since its inception in January 2013, the Pollination Project has given “$1,000 seed grants to individual change makers, every day of the year, emphasizing projects that expand compassion in the world.” According to their mission statement, they believe in the “power of ordinary people to do extraordinary things.”

Wow, what a motivational statement!

Now, I’m not a vegan, so I have to say that I’m not 100% on board with all the organization’s ideas, but I love how they value “compassion consciousness.” Thinking about how your decisions and your choices affect others and the world around you. How many times have I reminded myself of that or mentioned a similar idea to my girls?
We could all benefit—heck, the world, our countries, our cities, our neighborhoods can benefit—if we all tried to sharpen our compassion consciousness a little more. At least on some level, in some manner.

As a mom, I strive to be an example of this for my girls.

In my day job, I strive to do the same.

As a writer, my hope is that a reader’s day will be happier or a stress in her life forgotten for a little while because she’s chosen to spend some time with my characters.

Servant leadership: to me it’s an important value.

I’d love to hear some other values you live by and try to instill in your kids. And if there are any other non-profits you participate with in some manner. There are so many great ones out there, let’s spread their good word today—and every day! 

Delayed Gratification

delayed gratification 3

Delayed gratification, aka deferred gratification. Somehow neither term sounds very fun to me. And probably to a lot of other folks in this instant access, info and connections at your fingertips world we live in, the word doesn’t sound too positive either.

Have you heard of it before? If not, let me fill you in briefly. Delayed/deferred gratification is having the ability to resist an immediate reward because you know you’ll get one (maybe even an bigger one) later down the road.

Here’s the wiki definition, which I found quite enlightening—and led to a bit of self-evaluation on my part.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_gratification

Whether you’ve heard the exact term before or not, it’s a concept that you’re probably familiar with. As parents, we might be interested in the studies that prove the higher success rates of kids and adults who have mastered the skill of delayed gratification. Check out this article I found interesting: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/201207/the-power-delaying-gratification

I like that the author mentions a term I’ve used when talking about raising kids and in reference to myself: impulse control.

Sure, we’ve probably all talked with our kids about it in a general way. As in, “No, sweetie, you can’t have dessert now. You need to finish your dinner first.” Or, “I’m sure you want that toy today, but maybe you should put it on your Santa list, instead.”

But when I read the study referenced below, I took a mental step back. Had one of those “Ah-ha” moments that validated the meaning behind the saying: patience is a virtue. Something I’ve said to my girls probably far more often than they’d like.

As an individual, the self-evaluation I did after reading the wiki definition, and again after reading the study information, made me realize that even as an adult, I still struggle with delayed gratification from time to time. It’s not easy. Whether it’s the dessert I don’t need, not because it’ll ruin my dinner but because my jeans are already a little tight. Or, when I find that dress or pair of shoes I’ve just got to have, even though I’m trying to save for a writer’s conference or a family vacation.

What I loved about the article on the study is that it offers tips on how to improve your delayed gratification skills. Much like I try to do as a mom, or when I critique a fellow writer’s work, rather than simply point out how something is wrong or problematic, this article shared ideas for how I as an individual can work on improving in this area. Tips that, as a parent and as a college administrator, I can share with those around me, especially those I mentor.

The tip or trick the article offers? Distraction.

Again, it’s something I did with my kids when they were younger. When they wanted something they couldn’t, I pulled toy or snack from the diaper bag to switch their attention. But somehow, I got distracted by life and this simple trick often seemed to get lost in the shuffle. That’s when I tend to show my lack of delayed gratification skills.
:-)

So, I’ve discovered another area of my life where I can improve. Another area I can provide some insight to my kids and students.

When I want to snack on something I really shouldn’t, I’ll be practicing ways to distract myself—maybe go for a walk, or pop in an exercise video. All in the name of improving my delayed gratification skills. And at the same time, continuing with one of my new year resolutions: get healthier; lose fat, gain muscle. I’ll delay eating that cookie, trying to remind myself that a much bigger reward is feeling good about myself and being healthier all around—and fitting into that little black dress again.

It’ll be a way for me to model what I’m espousing to others. Sure, I won’t always be a perfect example of delayed gratification mastery. I know myself too well to say that. But, I’ll be working at it. And just like I tell my kids, your best effort is all anyone can ask for. :-)

Do you have an area or an issue that requires better delayed gratification skills on your part? If so, what’s a good distraction for you to use?

I’m all for sharing distraction ideas. Let’s see what you’ve got! :-)

2018 RWA® RITA® double finalist
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Represented by Rebecca Strauss DeFiore & Company

rebecca@defliterary.com

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