Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

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.

 

This Favorite Phase of Mine February 4, 2015

I’m honestly trying not to get too excited about it. If there is something I have come to learn about little people I didn’t know before, it’s that everything seems to happen in phases.

For me, it started with the oblivious phase. I may as well not have existed at all in those first couple of months. Coincidentally, this was also the time I fell into somewhat of a sad place and found myself spending a little too much time under the bed in my forever parents’ bedroom.

Then came the smiling phase, where the simple sight of me entering the room (or his unsteady-headed line of sight for that matter) would cause the most sincere sense of what can only be described as pure glee all over his face. And so I started spending a little less time in hiding.

After that, it only has gotten more interesting. I wasn’t such a big fan of the fur pulling and tail yanking phase, which (thankfully) does seem to be behind us now.

Then there was the first time he started feeding me goodies from his high chair. This phase hasn’t ended yet, and I hope it never does.

But recently he’s taken to this new thing he only used to do with his stuffed animals. And it’s a far cry from the agony I experienced that one time he was poking around in my eye, let me tell you. This is nice, in a way that fills my heart with love for this continuously changing little person even if I can’t keep up with the changes.A Boy and His Dog

It’s called a hug. From the ground up, it’s one of the most real and honest things I’ve come to know about people behavior. And I love them. I get them from my forever parents all the time whether I need them or not, and now it’s started with Carter.

He’s no hug expert. Not yet anyway. He’s much better at it with people than with me, who he tends to clumsily smother with all his weight in his attempts. But I know enough about the emotion behind the behavior itself that I don’t ask questions. Like the food phase, I hope it never ends.

Because if there’s something I’ve come to understand about those little people, it’s that everything seems to happen in phases. And just when you figure it out, it seems to pass you right by. So I’ve decided to pretend I haven’t noticed it at all. Maybe that way this phase, this favorite phase of mine, will be here to stay.

 

Don’t Say Anything At All January 25, 2015

You are as young as you feel. It’s a thought I’ve frequently embraced with my whole heart, often appreciating the idea of keeping all things silly a part of life for as long as possible. It keeps you young, in my opinion, to be able to laugh with others, or even at yourself sometimes.

But this is crossing the line. There’s being in touch with your inner child and there’s this. Being a child for no good reason at all isn’t funny. It isn’t necessary. And it certainly doesn’t keep you young. It’s despicable really, but that doesn’t change that it happens. Being a grown up

It happened yesterday to a family friend of ours. He’s a dad above all else, and he was so incredibly proud of his baby girl (who he fondly still calls Ladybug even though she’s eight people years old these days) taking the stage in a play the last couple of weekends. Last night was the last show, and he couldn’t wait to cheer his little Ladybug on.

His ex-wife offered to buy tickets for everyone going, which (much to his surprise) included her new boyfriend and her dad and his new girlfriend. Our friend was the odd man out. Literally. His ex-wife didn’t even buy him a ticket with the rest of the group. Instead, he sat by himself in a sea of strangers. And he wasn’t invited to the big dinner celebration following the show either.

But the disappointment that filled his heart didn’t keep him from doing what he does best when he finally saw his Ladybug after the show and after the dinner he wasn’t invited to. In spite of the childish behavior that set the stage for the evening, he was a dad to his little girl. He told her he was proud of her and read her bedtime stories before putting her to bed all-too-soon after she arrived at his house.

Unlike his ex-wife, he put his feelings aside to make the most of it for his little girl. Regardless of the circumstances, I think that’s what I’m coming to understand parenthood is all about. And it’s a beautiful thing, being a grown up. Being a parent.

So I guess there are some exceptions to the rule about being as young as you feel. Some really are as young as they feel because they choose to embrace the silliness of their inner child. Others are just children stuck inside the bodies of adults. I don’t know what caused the childish behavior yesterday. But I do know that being the bigger person doesn’t make you any less young at heart. And, for what it’s worth, I’m proud of my friend for doing the right thing. For being the bigger person. For being a dad.

 

 

We Are Young January 12, 2015

The first time happens at about the same time every day a few seconds after I hear the familiar phrase. “Good morning sunshine,” my dear forever mom says to dear baby Carter before she picks him up out of his crib. And so begins another day.

Today was no different. “Good morning, sunshine,” I heard mom say as she picked a very smiley Carter out of his crib. A few minutes later it happened again as she picked him up after changing his clothes and when she put him in his high chair for breakfast and when breakfast was over and she took him out of his high chair. Thirty-three. That is how many times I counted my dear forever mom pick up a all 25 pounds of Carter today before I lost count.Big as the sky, old sport

She never complains about it, and I would estimate that well over half of the time it was for no other reason than to sneak in a quick kiss on the cheek or to give a hug.

But as the day wore on, I noticed it was getting harder on her to pick him up. So I wasn’t surprised when she told dad tonight that she feels tired. When she used the word “old,” however? My heart skipped a beat. And not in a good way.

She wasn’t connecting the way she is feeling to the amount of unconscious physical activity she engaged in throughout the day. By anyone’s standards, it wouldn’t be easy picking up and putting down and carrying around a one-year-old as much as she does in an average day. I am a very strong believer in the power of the mind over things like age, in that we are as young as we feel.

So when it happened a few minutes later, my heart was overwhelmed with relief. Carter started giggling for no apparent reason other than that maybe he was really (really) enjoying his peas. The giggle was something unlike anything any of us had ever heard from him. And the best part was how contagious it became. Mom and dad were giggling. My tail was wagging. It was a very happy and dare I say child-like moment for my forever family. In moments like these, we are young.

And so ends another day. Sure, it was exhausting in its own way for everyone involved. But it was also invigorating and refreshing and I can’t wait to start it all over again tomorrow.

 

Tiny Little Fingerprints January 7, 2015

It doesn’t happen often, but I think I spotted it today. The moment was fleeting, but it was there.

Every now and then, I think mom misses her old life. The one where she went to that place called work every day and talked with friends and customers and came home and made dinner and her and dad spent time together reminiscing and watching an occasional movie or playing a game. The one involving fancy business clothes and the lunch meetings at fancy restaurants. The one when there was more money coming in every month.

Cabin fever was the culprit when it happened today. I’m sure of that. With temperatures as frigidly cold as they have been, she has been working from home a little more than usual because negative degree temperatures are nothing dear baby Carter should have to face. Ground Up Thinking

And I’ve found something about days like this. The life of a mom. From the ground up, it’s not very glamorous.

Take today, for example. At one point this morning, mom had sleeves covered in some sort of baby food sludge. Carter had just managed to spill over the neatly folded basket of laundry onto the not-quite-dry kitchen floor into a heap of pants, shirts and pajamas. This happened about five minutes after he broke a measuring cup into hundreds of pieces all over the floor, which was already littered with the contents of several cabinets.

Mom scooped him into her arms to see if she could find something to occupy him long enough to allow her to reorganize the laundry. And that’s when it happened.

He grabbed her glasses off her face in a way only he can do and threw them on the floor. I saw it in that moment; one which I’m certain most moms have from time to time. I can’t even think of the best words to describe the feelings that I saw in the eyes of my dear forever mom. It doesn’t happen often, but it happened today.

And it didn’t last long. A few minutes went by before a sense of peace and order was restored, albeit brief. (It didn’t take long for Carter to create some other mess that would evoke fear and terror into the mind of any maid or housekeeper.)

Meanwhile, mom sat down to resume her work, and I noticed her take her glasses back off for a second. I watched as she examined her lenses, noting the tiny little fingerprints that were still very much plastered all over the place. I watched her smile the smile I’ve only seen since Carter was born. And I watched as she put the glasses back on without cleaning them.

She may have those moments from time to time. When she longs for the suits and lunches and all things business she left behind. When she wishes for the manicures and pedicures and massages that are for the most part a thing of the past. When she wants to be just her again.

But she’s a mom now. And that means she has tiny little fingerprints on her heart that can’t ever be washed away.

 

As The Sun Rises September 17, 2014

Sometimes it’s incredibly subtle. Other times it hits me in the face. Literally. I speak, of course, of dear baby Carter and all the things that change with him on a daily basis. I frequently hear mom repeat the same response when people ask her how he’s doing. There is something new every day, she says. Treasure Seeker

Recently much of the change has been physical. He’s moving. A lot. He’s crawling all over the place and getting into all kinds of things he shouldn’t. Mom says she doesn’t think it will be long before he’s walking. And he is strong. You wouldn’t guess it from looking at his 20-pound frame, but take it from me – there is a whole lot of gusto in those tiny little guns of his.

But something happened tonight that struck me. It might have been a fluke. Like one of those things you can convince yourself of even if it might not actually have been the case. But I have a pretty keen sense of hearing and tonight I think Carter said the two most important first words he could ever say. Both have been making regular appearances in his daily babble fest of syllables right along with baabaabaa. Today there was something different though, like he was saying things on purpose.

“Mamamama,” he said when mom left the room to warm up his bedtime bottle. And, less then 15 minutes later, “dada” came out of his mouth as dad gave him his nightly bath.

As I said, it is possible this is all wishful thinking and just happened by coincidence. Because sometimes it is incredibly subtle. I’m pretty sure mom wouldn’t have even thought anything of it had dad not pointed it out. And then at bath time, well, it seems as though everything pieced together just as it should in that moment.

I know I’ve had my qualms about having a strong, mobile, babbler of a little person in my forever home. But he’s managed to do something pretty spectacular to my way of thinking. Change is not a favorite thing of mine, but he has changed how I perceive the unknown. As he grows, he changes each day. And as he changes, I realize he has changed me. I still love routine, but there is something about knowing tomorrow will bring something new again brings even more joy to each new day. As the sun rises, there will be change. And that’s a fabulous thing.

 

Sky Full of Stars July 23, 2014

When we’re little, we can’t wait for it. It’s like something we have our own internal countdown for, just waiting until that special day arrives. Then it does and we wish it hadn’t. Birthdays. From the ground up, I’ve come to wonder about them, mostly because I’ve always thought I would know when that day came. That day, when I knew beyond a doubt that I was completely and utterly grown up. That day, when I felt on my game. That day, when I felt wise.

Well I don’t know about you, but I haven’t yet recognized such a day. At the tender age of six people years old (which is equivalent to about 42 doggie years old), I say with complete honesty that I can’t say I’ve ever actually felt like a grown up. Not in the traditional sense of the term anyway. But today, as I paused to watch my forever family for a bit, I realized maybe it isn’t about that.Think with the Heart

I sat by, as I always do, while mom and dad had dinner together. More recently, dear baby Carter has joined them for dinner as he eats various concoctions of what my people call “solids,” which (at least in my opinion) greatly resemble soups of various homemade flavors. His options thus far include mango, sweet potato, broccoli, avocado and (as of tonight) banana. And it’s all very exciting both for him, as well as my beloved forever mom and dad.

Today as I watched what is my reality unfold I realized I am, in fact, living my dream. I can’t say I knew what it would look like when I was a puppy. I know I was like anyone else, looking forward to being a grown up more than anything else. I couldn’t wait for the outside world to see me differently. To see me as a grown up.

Today I realized none of that really matters as much as remembering your inner child. Sure, it’s fun to think about what it might be like one day when you’re all grown up. That one day when you have everything figured out. That one day when you feel wise. But I realized today being grown up has absolutely nothing to do with that one day. It has everything to do with the days that follow. It has everything to do with how you move forward, how you make a difference. How you live.

So today I recommit my life to one of wisdom. I recommit myself to seeing a sky full of stars whenever it’s in front of me. I recommit myself to live. From the ground up, that’s about as simple as it gets.

 

 

Eye of the Beholder June 29, 2014

Apparently it’s not just me. It happens to other doggies all the time regardless of breed or upbringing. It’s common regardless of whether it is a rescue dog or a pup from a breeder. Good dogs fail (and subsequently) drop out of obedience school all the time. While I figured this had to be the case, I would be lying if I said the news of this did not allow me to breathe a measurable sigh of relief. All In the Eyes

Because I might not have a pretty piece of paper that says I graduated from puppy school. To this day, I struggle with basic commands like heel and down (I can’t help it that I get excited). But I would argue what I have is better than any of these things. I have the deepest and sincerest love in my heart. For my beloved forever people. For their families. For life. Joy. From the ground up, I have it in these things.

I was reminded of this today when I shared a special (albeit routine) glance with my beloved forever mom. We have an unspoken language of love, her and I, and it happened again today. Dear baby Carter has been doing this thing where he gets up on all fours like he’s going to crawl and then just sort of bounces there for several minutes at a time. If anything, he moves backward instead of forward. Nonetheless, it’s become somewhat of a sideshow around here lately and when it happened tonight, mom and dad dropped everything to live in the moment.

Meanwhile, I stood by watching this all unfold. I didn’t feel badly and certainly didn’t need any reassurance that I was part of the group. But I got it anyway. I stayed out of harm’s way several feet from the action but this I could not miss. She looked at me and smiled and I saw right through her eyes into her heart in that moment. She loves me as she always did.

It’s funny, I didn’t need obedience school to read my mom’s thoughts. Nor did she need the classes to communicate to me. It reminds me of the words of dog trainer Fred Jungclaus, who said “I used to look at my dog and think if you were a little smarter you could tell me what you’re thinking and he’d look at me like he was saying if you were a little smarter, I wouldn’t have to.” I don’t want to brag, but I think mom and I have it under control. I don’t need a pretty piece of paper to know this in my heart as truth.

 

Just A Day June 26, 2014

 

It began and ended with Carter. Today was one of those days you lock away and hold onto for when the sun doesn’t come out. Because today, the sun shined brightly on the Schmidt family, both figuratively and literally.

It was a beautiful day in Wisconsin – not too hot, not too cold – which is a welcome change from a frequent run of dreary or foggy or rainy days we’ve had. I’ve noticed this kind of weather has a way of changing people, usually for the better. It inspires people to get out. To exercise. To live.

The same could be said of the Schmidt household today. It started with this, Carter doing what he does best lately, otherwise known as taking over anything and everything involving technology. From television remotes, to phones to computers, he is already taking over the world one gadget at a time. Master of the computer

Then this happened. We sat together, calmly and collected. This doesn’t happen often as I have become a bit fearful of his strong grasp and shrill sounds. But today it happened and it warmed my heart.

ChillingA good deal of time passed while mom was away at that place called work. But when she returned and Carter was napping, I got a glimpse into a past life I had. One where it was just mom and I (and dad, of course) and we had all the time in the world to do things like snuggle in her hammock. Otherwise known as a happy place of hers, it had become a favorite place of mine before she opted not to tempt fate climbing in and out of it while pregnant. Well, today I remembered those days, as we snuggled together while she read a book and sipped iced tea.

Hammock time               Hammock time

The only excuse I have for what happened next was the fly that was in my territory inside my forever home. No fly (or any In Hidingother small creature of its kind) should be allowed to roam within the walls of my territory as long as I have something to say (er, I mean woof) about it. But ever since I conquered a fly by eating it last year, I can’t seem to approach them the same way. So I will admit it. I hid.

I’m not sure why I chose Carter’s changing table as the best of all possible hiding places in the house, but that’s neither here nor there. Because it started and ended with Carter. Beginning to end, he is becoming more and more of a meaningful character in my life. And I love him for it because today was not that much unlike other days around here. Today was filled with joy and happiness. Today was filled with life.

 

In Good Company June 16, 2014

It sounds incredibly exciting. But also a little terrifying. Today my people packed up dear baby Carter early this morning and did not return until late this evening. All to spend time with four girlfriends mom hasn’t seen in almost three years. And their families. That meant that in addition to the adults in the group, there were six babies three and under. That is a whole lot of babies, all on their own version of the eat, wake, sleep schedule. Six babies crying, laughing, giggling, and putting things in their mouths. Six babies crawling, running, sitting and standing. Life. From the ground up, that is what filled that three-bedroom condo at a resort in a town called Wisconsin Dells. Getting sleepy...

But also there were the four girls who started it all. Since their time together causing all sorts of mischief in college, they’ve gotten married and spread out all over the Midwestern United States. And now they are all moms. I wish I could have seen it. (Then I remember all the potential hair pulling involved with that particular age group of little people and I can’t help but feel pretty grateful I stayed home and got a few visits from aunt Morgan and her pup Joey). So instead I relived it through the stories mom and dad recalled as they relived the days events when they got home. There were two things I picked up from this conversation.

Each of these friends have their own unique way of things that makes them fabulous mothers. It just goes to show how wrong those books can be because (at least from what I can tell) there is no rule book on how to be a good parent. Sure, there is a whole section at libraries and book stores on all things babies, parenting, and child rearing. But I hold the belief that these little people have a way of writing their own rule books. And their mommas have a way of translating them. It’s a truly awe inspiringly beautiful thing.

The best part is how four girls who have become such uniquely different characters as women still make time for each other. They may only get together once a year, but they talk via email and on the phone whenever they can. They are busy (re: the aforementioned six children) ladies with a lot of different things in the air. But they make time for each other. It’s a priority.

“Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing,” suggested American writer Octavia Butler. That is what today was for my mom and her friends. It was exciting and a little bit terrifying. But that’s friendship. That’s life. From the ground up, today was a celebration of these most simple of truths.

Six little stinkers