Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Coming Home March 30, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 8:47 pm
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The first three years in my forever home, it was unchanging. My favorite time of day was at night when both of my forever people were home from that place called work and we all were together. It was that simple.

Since dear baby Carter arrived, it has changed multiple times. First it was my alone time with my dear forever mom after Carter was in bed. Then it was family time before baby bedtime. Now my heart has changed it up on me again, which I’m honestly a lot less surprised about this time around. Singing in the Rainbows

In a million years I didn’t think anyone could ever be as excited to see my people come through the door of my forever home as I am. For almost five years, I have made it among my most important life’s missions to make sure my mom and dad feel my enthusiasm about their return home whether they were gone a minute or all day.

But I was wrong. Someone other than me can show the same (if not more) level of excitement about that key turning in the door. There’s running and squealing with glee as dear Carter and I make our way to greet our parents with all the love and joy and happiness we stored up in our hearts while they were away. It’s one of a few ways we’ve already become the dynamic duo I always knew we would be.

It happened today after mom was gone a grand total of about an hour and a half. She went to that place called the doctor to have the new little person checked out. When she returned, you would think she’d been gone for weeks the way Carter carried on. He and I did what we always do in running to the door together, but he took over from there.

He was squealing with glee the entire time he ran from the living room to the kitchen, and practically jumped into her arms. While I will admit I miss the days I would be the one doing the jumping, what happened next warmed my heart in a way that made me forget all of that.

The second he was in her arms, he leaned in for a hug and a kiss on the forehead. Joy. From the ground up, it lived in that moment when I realized my favorite time of day has changed yet again.

I do still love my alone time with mom after Carter is in bed. And the family time we enjoy together before bedtime. But those moments, those precious moments, when my dear forever parents come home and my partner in crime and I are able to bring joy to life? My new favorite time of day lives in those moments.

 

The Best Kind of Medicine March 14, 2015

I find it happens in the most curious of ways. Or sometimes for no good reason at all. Laughter. From the ground up, it’s true what the imperviously mysterious “they” say about it being a contagion. At least that’s what I have witnessed around my forever home.

Lately, a formerly thoughtful giggler known as dear baby Carter has evolved into a much more boisterous and free-spirited fountain of laughs. I know just what I can do to get him going. For the most part, so do mom and dad. Even he seems to know that if he runs a certain path through our home or has a conversation with a sock he carefully fixed onto his hand, it will bring joy to his heart.Good News, All!

Yet it seems each new day something new brings out the gleeful sound. Today it was mom’s foot. She got him in his tummy with her toes by mistake, and that set of a long and fulfilling session of laughs that even I got involved with.

It made me realize how important it is to be open minded about joy. As he giggled with delight in a game of chase, I found myself wondering what the world would be like if everyone could find something new to giggle about each day. I personally laugh (and smile) with my tail, so I’m not sure what good that does for me.

But later this afternoon, I overheard mom talking with dad about the physical and mental health benefits to laughter, like how a minute or two of laughter can relieve tension and stress in the body for up to 45 minutes. It boosts the immune system, releases what mom called a “happy hormone,” and protects the heart. Sounds like a win-win to me.

So today I find myself feeling so grateful for my silly little person and all the laughter he brings into my forever home. Even if it does happen in the most curious of ways, or sometimes for no good reason at all. Laughter. From the ground up, it’s the best kind of medicine around.

 

 

A Special Kind of Silver Lining March 7, 2015

Eight straight hours. That is how long dear baby Carter was awake today. It might not sound like much to the average person, but around here (to our beloved 14-month-old) it was an eternity. Because while there was some playtime and laughter, there was mostly crying and tears. Lots of tears.

It was the first time since he was little that my forever dad was around for a full day of it. More often than not, people ask “is he always like this?” when they encounter Carter’s smiley charming self. Today, it was his complete emotional breakdown that had dad asking mom “is he always like this?” Challenge

The answer is obviously no. Sure, he has his good days and bad days. We all do. But today was definitely want of the really bad no good terribly awful days that unfortunately do happen every once in a while.

I watched as my dear people went through all the usual emotional phases. Helplessness prevailed throughout, especially for dad, who is far less used to coping with an hour (or two) of crying at a time than mom and I. From my best guess, it was a battle between Carter and teething pain, and poor Carter was losing by a landslide.

Then it happened. After eight straight hours of primarily emotional turmoil (for all of us, not just Carter), he fell asleep. I watched as his swollen eyes closed just above what had developed throughout the day into a painfully crimson nose. He was on dad’s shoulder when it happened.

It was the first time since he was little that dad held him like that. I’d say seven or eight months have gone by since it last happened. But that is where he wanted to be, and none of us questioned it. So there we were, the four of us, in the soft glow of the afternoon sunlight, silent and watching as Carter finally gave in to the necessity of sleep.

Somehow everything that had happened in the last eight hours seemed inconsequential.

It took time. And lots of tears. And it’s nothing I would wish to happen to anyone again any time soon. But in its own unique way, it forced us all to be still. And be together. That is its own kind of special silver lining in my book.

 

 

 

With My Love March 5, 2015

It’s supposed to be easier the second time around. I’m supposed to worry less and be less concerned with each and every little thing that happens. And to some extent, I do.

But throughout my dear forever mom’s pregnancy with baby number two, I can’t help it. I care, so I worry. It’s as simple as that. Those who know me say I’ve been especially needy lately, but I’m not sure that’s an accurate portrayal of what is happening in my heart right now. My heart hurts with excitement and anxiety and joy and fear for my forever people, who will bring home a new little person in a few short months.

So I snuggle. Hi Baby

It’s not that unusual for me to assume position on mom’s lap the second dear baby Carter isn’t occupying the space. I still cram myself into the smallest crevice of space next to her on couches and chairs. And today, something happened that made my heart skip a beat.

I felt the baby. I had my head on mom’s tummy as we sat together in the afternoon sun while Carter napped. I was dreaming about something or another when it happened. I felt a kick. And another. And another. It startled me out of my sleep, that’s for sure.

I couldn’t help but feel a bit sentimental about when that happened with Carter all those months ago. It’s crazy to think about now that he’s a frolicking 14-month-old. And even crazier to think about what that tiny kicking little person will look like 14 months from now.

That’s when I realized I am doing it again. I care, so I worry. That’s why it’s not any easier the second time around. I worry now just as much as I did with dear baby Carter. Because she’s my person. My forever mom is just that – and she will always be my world.

I’m cherishing my time with her, and protecting her in the only way I know how. With my love. So what if they call me needy? These are special times around here, and I’m not going to miss a single minute of it.

 

That Crazy Toddler Tornado February 11, 2015

I wouldn’t have believed it if you’d told me about it six months ago. While my sweet baby Carter was just starting to crawl around, he moved at a relatively unalarming pace. Now he runs basically everywhere, never mind whatever obstacles might be in his way. He climbs over legs and toys and runs into things like wall corners (and me) from time to time, but there is no stopping him.

It’s something with which we’ve all come to be very familiar around my forever home. It’s also why I can now say with some amount of experiential knowledge that baby proofing is an evolving process that doesn’t stop with outlet covers. Things need to change around the home to accommodate someone approximately two-feet tall who constantly runs and grabs and climbs anything in his path simply for the sake of exploring and understanding the world around him.

So it was interesting to me to watch today, as my dear grandma was here spending time with Carter and I. Carter was in an especially excitable mood today, which means there was plenty of activity that more than effectively qualified him as a toddler tornado. From the second he woke up from his morning nap to that second his head settled into his favorite spot of his crib for his afternoon nap, he was moving. Quickly.

Sleeping on the job

And my grandma was moving with him. She chased him (which is one of his very favorite games right now) and let him crawl all over her and chased him some more. And when it was time for his nap, she said something I’ve heard my forever mom say so very often. If only she could nap too.

Because let’s face it. The kid is exhausting. I get tired just watching him, let alone chasing him around like I see some of my favorite people do day in and day out. But no matter how real the exhaustion may feel, I see something else in these people I can’t help but share.

I wouldn’t have guessed it six months ago, when Carter was just figuring out how to maneuver himself around. And that’s not a bad thing. The surprise has been in seeing that right along with the fatigue and sore muscles in my people comes something pretty special. Joy. From the ground up, it has a way of following that crazy toddler tornado around almost like the rainbow that follows a big storm. And believe me – it’s worth the wait.

 

Beneath the Surface January 28, 2015

It was a quiet sound. Almost like a cat purring. Except it was just loud enough I could tell something wasn’t quite right. And it was coming from dear baby Carter’s room.

It wasn’t exactly a cry. I guess you could call it a moan. It was a sad sound, and it was happening for a while last night. A few hours after it quieted down, there was crying. Then more sleep. Then a bit more crying. And then it was morning. Sleep.

Between the moaning and the tears, it was kind of a rough night around here for everyone involved last night. No one slept well, including me. But today made up for it right quick. It should be noted we were all obviously (more than a bit) tired as we tackled the day. Yet there was something about the day that felt different. Something special was happening, though I didn’t know what until later.

I definitely felt left behind as mom and dad and Carter piled into the car this afternoon. I could tell wherever they were going was a source of much excitement and anticipation. I was right.

When the returned just over an hour later, they had news. Big news. They had all gotten to see my new little person during something called an ultrasound. They had gotten to count ten fingers and ten toes and see the baby’s little nose. They had gotten to find out whether Carter will be getting a brother or sister.

And mom had gotten to breath a sigh of relief about something she had been quietly worrying about. As you may recall, dear Carter was somewhat of an acrobat before he was even born. Always kicking and bouncing and rolling around. Even I could see (and near the end even feel) the action all unfolding beneath the surface.

So far with the new little person, there’s been none of that. Mom has felt very little movement compared to what she had already felt at this point with Carter and it was worrying her more than she let on. It turns out there is indeed a scientific reason for this (something or another about the placenta being in a certain place), and that mom may just feel less this time around than she did with Carter. That wouldn’t be a bad thing as far as I’m concerned, given the grief all that activity gave her in the long run. Beyond that, though, it was a relief for her to know things seem to be progressing well and there is (at least from what they could tell) nothing to be worried about.

I’m not sure what caused dear Carter’s sleep issues last night (though I suspect that nasty thing called teething). Nor am I sure what tonight will bring. But I do know we should rest easy in knowing things are going as best as they can for the time being. And that’s a mighty peaceful thought.

 

 

The Nakie Baby Run January 21, 2015

It could be the belly that is somehow tiny and bulbous simultaneously. Or the bony knees that seem to bounce higher in the air than usual. Maybe it’s the sight of both sets of baby cheeks out there in the open.

Whatever the reason, there is a new thing in my forever home that is guaranteed to be an emotional game changer. And it’s been happening more and more frequently as dear baby Carter’s mobility evolves. The nakie baby run. From the ground up, few things evoke a response like the nakie baby run.Recylce This

It happened today when mom attempted a sleuth-like diaper change in an out-of-the-ordinary location in the house. I’m not sure what she was thinking since the child quite literally never stops moving. (The sitting down or crawling days are long gone now. These days, it’s more of a constant jog throughout the house.) She was also changing his water-soaked clothes, and I would swear he had his escape route planned from the minute that onesie got unsnapped. The second the diaper was off, he combat rolled out of the way and off he went. Belly. Knees. Cheeks. Laughter. So much laughter, from everyone involved.Carter

I (obviously) got involved, immediately assuming my play stance with him. We did a little jig, he and I, both in our birthday suits. More laughter.

Finally, as mom composed herself enough to wipe the (laughter-related) tears from her eyes, she was able to wrangle him in for long enough to diaper and dress him some clean clothes.

And, just like that, the moment passed. But as I thought about it, and all the joy that such silliness can bring, I realized maybe it’s all of it. The belly and the knees and the cheeks. It’s all a part of what seems to bring out the inner child (or in my case, puppy) in all of us. I don’t care what anybody says about being grown up or mature. Sometimes that inner child needs to get out of those clothes and dance around nakie with one arm waving free. Figuratively speaking, of course.

 

A(nother) Big Reveal January 19, 2015

Excitement. Worry. Joy. Fear. These are an odd combination of emotions to feel all at once, but not necessarily at the receipt of any kind of big news. Not necessarily at the receipt of this kind of big news.

I’ve known it for a while, but opted to respect whatever timing element I did the last time around. That’s saying a lot as a doggie who wears his heart on his proverbial sleeve. I am usually pretty terrible at keeping secrets because I make it a goal of mine to be as emotionally present in the moment as possible. To me, that means sharing joy and all things blissful with anyone and everyone that will take it.

So the last few months have been pretty rough, keeping this news to myself. Especially given the impact it is having on my forever people.

I’m going to be a big brother! Again!

I honestly think I knew before mom did, just like I did with dear baby Carter. (Dogs have a sixth sense about these things). There was an almost immediate change in her heart rate, her smells, and her general persona. Joy. In a word, that’s what this secret contains.Big announcement!

This is big news. This is life-changing news. But this time, the news brought with it a little larger sense of fear and worry than last time. The idea of having two little people under two running around our forever home has its downsides. Those sleepless nights will return all too soon. Life will become a balancing act for all of us as the schedule is uprooted yet again. Money is already tight as it is – what will happen with another toddler in the house? And the diapers. So many diapers.

But then there’s the joy. So much joy. Family. Love. I’ve never seen my parents closer than they are since they brought home dear Carter, and I have no doubt another child will continue to foster their emotional growth. So what if it’s a little scary? These things have a way of working out. Besides, I’m just so excited to become a big brother again, and even more so for my little person to feel the love in this forever home of mine. Mom is home to me, and I know she will be home to the new little person. June 16, here we come!

 

 

The Best Kind of Way December 28, 2014

A year ago today I had absolutely no idea what I had in store. I was going about my business keeping mom’s spot on the bed warm as she wrapped a couple of last-minute Christmas gifts for an after-Christmas holiday party. Everything about the scene was as I’ve seen it dozens of times: her traditional Christmas movies played in the background as she sampled from a tray of goodies she only lets herself eat once a year while she wraps presents.

But this time something was different. At nine months pregnant, it was an issue for her to walk comfortably, let alone wrap an attractive present. I was getting frustrated even watching it happening, but she stayed calm. She took her time and ended up wrapping those two presents just as beautifully as the first round she’d completed days ago. So what if it took her an hour? Dad was out running errands. All said and done, it was a pretty typical day.

Hi Carter

Hi Carter

What happened a few days later when they brought home dear baby Carter for the first time was life changing. I knew it would be, but I don’t think anything could really have prepared me to the extent to which everything I knew in life would change. From the daily (and for those first few months nightly) routine I’d come to appreciate to the constant effort that is baby-proofing to the presence of this new little person, my forever home would never be the same.

I remember being a bit resentful after the initial excitement wore off. As much as my instincts told me to protect this tiny screaming bundle of “joy,” I couldn’t help but notice how much time and attention dear baby Carter was taking away from me. So I kept my distance and slowly re-integrated myself into a comfortable rhythm in this new life.

I thought I might regret that decision, but now I realize it was the smartest thing I could have done. It allowed me to do one of the things I do best – observe. I listened as Carter’s cries morphed into various forms of happy babbling and have since started to resemble words and sentences. I watched as rolling turned into crawling. I stood by as walking turned into running.

And I’ve learned so much. Life has changed a ton since that quiet moment with my mom all of those months ago. Through all of it, I’ve learned about perseverance and how to survive the ultimate form of sleep deprivation. I’ve learned the value of relationships as I’ve seen almost all of those in my circle come closer together. I’ve learned what it means to adapt and be flexible and understand that sometimes there are days that things just don’t get done.

That is why I can say with confidence this year has indeed been life-changing in the best kind of way.

 

Close Your Eyes December 21, 2014

It wasn’t the first time he said it and it won’t be the last. My dear forever dad made the comment today when he thought I wasn’t listening. It was one I’ve become all too familiar with hearing, especially around him. The Green Bay Packers were on television and I had assumed an incredibly comfortable position in one of my most favorite places in my forever home. To the average observer (and my dad, I guess), I was asleep on that cozy chair cushion.

“You sleep all the time, Wiles,” dad said, more for those in the room than for me. Or so he thought. Not only did I hear him loud and clear (as I always do), but it got me to thinking about the s0-called sleeping that I do. While I will admit there is the occasional bout of pure unadulterated snoozing, a lot of the time my mind is racing. Sleeeeeeep

I close my eyes and I see so much. I dream. I think about the future. I cherish the present. It seems like so long ago that I closed my eyes and saw my replacement doggie playing with mom and dad and little boy and girl there. Though it was jarring at first, I found peace with the concept of passing my legacy as the dog of the house to my successor. It’s a big job and I want to know that someday when the torch is handed off, it’s to someone I trust.

That image came to mind today as mom and dad shared what they thought was a private conversation. (See, I hear way more than they think I do). Mom was thinking out loud (as she does a lot) about when her and dad have another little person someday. She was saying it’s something she’s looking forward to, but finds herself stressing about more than she would have thought. “What if he or she is nothing like Carter?” she questioned. “What if we only had good luck with one, and the second one is all kinds of trouble?”

My ears perked up in anticipation of dad’s response. It’s a big question, to which he had the perfect answer.

“It’s not luck,” he said. “It’s how you’re raising him, Ty.” Wow. I don’t think he could have paid mom a higher compliment than he did with a mere handful of words. Here she was, babbling on and on about it and he says a grand total of eight words and brings the babbling brook to a happy and peaceful standstill. I honestly don’t think he could have said anything more perfect in that moment.

I would know, because it happens all the time. I hear all kinds of things when my people don’t think I’m listening. A lot of good things happen behind closed eyes. To me, as well as to those around me. I don’t mind if dad teases me about sleeping too much as a result. It’s worth it to witness moments like this.