Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

Family Ties March 19, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 8:30 pm
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There is wagging. And there is screeching. It’s the same for most visitors to my forever home these days. They are greeted as they always have been with my enthusiasm, followed almost immediately by a happily squealing dear baby Carter.

Today was no different as we got a visit from great grandma and great auntie. There was wagging and screeching. (Also, they brought yummy smelling food, so there may have been some jumping). They came to visit mom and Carter after not seeing us for a couple months. And it was nice.Family

Not just because I scored table scraps from more than one person (who will remain anonymous to ensure similar behavior in the future) or because it was simply a joy to see them. It was nice because time has no bearing with family. Sure, it’s been too long since we’d all been together. But you couldn’t have guessed it.

Love. From the ground up, it filled my forever home today as we primarily all watched Carter engage in various toddler antics. He sampled his first donut (which means I sampled it too, of course). He showed them his old room where the new baby is going to be in a couple months. He ripped his socks off and put them on his hands (much to the dismay of great grandma). And they laughed.

Best of all, the love didn’t only fill the air. It filled my heart. Both guests made a point to take some time to give me pets in all of my favorite places. This warmed my heart even more since a lot of visitors who are not around my home very often focus entirely on dear Carter. Though it doesn’t bother me, it certainly is nice to be the center of attention again, even if it is only for a few minutes every now and then.

My time today with the wagging and squealing and laughing brought to life the words of American actor Michael J. Fox, who suggested “family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”

 

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.

 

 

When Tomorrow Comes February 20, 2015

I thought maybe it would change after Carter was born. Or definitely after mom’s work schedule allowed her a little more time at home during the week. Or certainly when it was determined that Carter would have mostly in-home care. But this simple truth remains the same.

I love Fridays. It is (by far) my favorite day of the week. In The Right Direction

A lot has changed in my world since I last made this proclamation. I used to spend most of my weekdays napping alone in various places in the house. I would count down the minutes until mom came home from that place called work over her lunch break and we would walk the neighborhood. The countdown would then resume as she returned to work for the remainder of the afternoon. It was agony, though I never minded the naps.

People are always here now. Around the clock, someone is here, in my forever home. I’m rarely alone anymore, except for when Carter and family venture out into the world. And then, I don’t really mind the alone time since it doesn’t happen that often.

So much has changed in my world and yet this simple truth remains the same. Fridays are my most favorite day of the week. I sense it in my forever family, too, like we all are on the same page emotionally from the moment we wake in the morning. It’s going to be a good day. It’s going to be better than yesterday. Because it’s Friday.

I find this is especially true after a week like we had. Beginning to end, it was rough. More challenging than most.

But today we woke up and it was like we collectively decided it was going to be a better day if, for no other reason than that it is Friday. And why, might you ask, is Friday so special? I can’t speak for my people, but I speak for myself in my appreciation of this day as the start of the longest straight stretch of family time I get in a week.

It’s the start of the weekend, where the family is together (more often than not) and joy is personified in the simplest of ways. It lives in the moments where there is laughter and silliness. It breathes the life back into us in a way no other set of days can. It reinvigorates. It rejuvenates. It restores. Until Monday comes, and again we patiently wait.

 

All Toasty Inside February 14, 2015

It’s one of those things you almost had to see to believe. And I had no idea what was happening until it was too late.

My fur froze today. It honest-to-goodness turned into icicles. I had just finished drinking up the majority of the contents of my water bowl before going outside and I swear it only took a matter of a second or two. That frigid cold Wisconsin winter air hit my wet chin furs and bam! Chin fur icicles. I’ve experienced some epic cold days, but I can’t say I remember that ever happening before. Me and My Shadow

At a high temperature hovering around a whopping seven degrees, it was the coldest Valentine’s Day I can remember experiencing. And I’m not going to lie. It kind of put a damper on things. There was a variety of local festivals and other events to keep the whole family busy today, but my forever family wanted nothing to do with any of that.

Usually my people make an elaborate surf and turf dinner together in the kitchen or they go out to a fancy restaurant. This year they ordered a heart-shaped delivery pizza and called it good enough.

I know my mom well enough to know that she increasingly frustrated as the day went on that nothing was going according to tradition. Disappointment. From the ground up, it would definitely qualify as one of my least favorite people emotions.

But that seemed to change tonight as we made some new traditions. Though I gathered the pizza itself to be a bit underwhelming, the idea of it was something they had a lot of fun with. Carter had a nice long nap this afternoon, so he was a hyper little bundle of joy who earned himself an extra hour of playtime before bed with all the smiling and crazy giggling he was doing.

It might not sound like the picture-perfect romantic celebration to everyone. And that’s fine. But I know that this will qualify as one of those days we not only cherish now, but will all look back on fondly someday. Because it may have been cold enough to turn my fur into tiny little icicles outside, but the love in my home made it all toasty inside. To me that’s what love day should really be about.

 

My (New) Favorite Time of Day January 30, 2015

Toys and clothes and food and mobility. If there’s something I’ve learned from my time with my dear little person so far, it’s that things constantly change.

Storage bins of now-too-small onesies and outfits are accumulating in the basement of my forever home. Rattles and stuffed animals have been replaced with toy cars and blocks. Breastmilk is no longer the sole source of all things nutritious. And running is the norm these days (because apparently walking is for babies).

Just when my dear forever mom starts to figure things out, dear baby Carter changes it up on her.

But there are some things that remain the same regardless of the time of day they happen. Eat, wake, sleep is still a thing. A self-proclaimed nap nazi, my mom ensures there are at least two naps a day, usually in the morning and afternoon. And much of the bedtime routine has persevered.

I realized it tonight after dinner though. Four months ago, my favorite time of day was the time I spent alone with mom after dear Carter went to bed. While I do still value that time above most things, tonight I noticed the joy in my heart abounded more at a certain (pretty special) time other than that.Family in the snow

I’ll call it family time. It’s this tiny fraction of our day really. It never really happens for the same amount of time each day either. But even if it lasts for 15 minutes, it’s become my new favorite time of day. There’s pickle in the middle sometimes. Other times it’s just mom, dad and I sit back and relax while Carter engages in all kinds of goofiness. Tonight he almost figured out how to ride the toy car he got for his birthday a few weeks ago. It probably sounds like nothing, but this has been no small feat for him. Not to mention the laughs my people have gotten over watching his efforts.

That’s the thing. It doesn’t really matter what we’re doing. What matters is that, for those precious minutes, we are all together. And there is joy, from the ground up.

I know toys and clothes and food choices will probably all continue to change. I can’t imagine what it will be like when the changes integrate another little person into the mix. But I do hope that family time remains a part of the day, even if it is for only a few precious minutes. Because that is (by far) my new favorite time of day.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

Somewhere In The Clouds January 13, 2015

I guess some people might think it’s pretty disgusting. Repulsive even. But us canines have a guilty pleasure that I would argue life would not be the same without.

I’ll take a garbage can filled with all things grotesque as long as it smells good (and it usually does). I always choose the toys I have had the longest over a new one because of the familiar scent that even my forever family thinks is too stinky to handle. And when it comes to laundry, I just don’t understand why my people would want to wash away their fabulous natural scent. I think it’s a beautiful thing. A boy and his dog

So when it’s time for my forever mom to wash the bed sheets, I get downright disappointed. Except for today. Today what happened as those sheets and blankets became a pile of laundry on the floor of the bedroom was all right by me.

I stood back and watched as dear baby Carter jumped into the pile with more gusto than he does a lot of things. He almost flew into the gigantic pile like it was a fluffy cloud. He rolled around in it and hid from mom in it and giggled. So much giggling. Again and again he repeated the flying leap into the pile. Mom laughed. I wagged. And the next thing you know, we were right there too, playing around in a bundle of sheets and blankets on the floor.

Time pauses in these moments, I know this for sure. Because in that five minutes, we were not rolling around on the bedroom floor. We were somewhere in the clouds. There was not a care in the world and nothing else mattered.

I know sometimes adulthood has a way of eating away at this kind of behavior. It breaks my heart to think about the possibility that one day Carter will stop playing around in blankets and start keeping his feet on the ground. That he’ll outgrow these kinds of foolish games eventually. That the simple things will get overshadowed.

That simply cannot happen. And it will not as long as I’m around to do anything about it. Because I don’t care how old we get. From time to time we all need to spend a little time with our hearts in the clouds.

 

 

Like No One’s Watching January 9, 2015

It starts with a little sway. Some might even consider it more of a shimmy. It’s subtle. Almost too subtle for an unfamiliar eye to pick up. As the moments pass, the motion gets a little more noticeable, particularly in the region of the left arm, which starts to swing. It is definitely a sight to be seen.

Dear baby Carter is a dancing fool all of a sudden. As one of his primary caretakers, I can speak knowledgeably on the topic of his distinct appreciation for music from a very (very) early age. But now that he has figured out how to really express himself through dance, his one-year-old self just can’t help but feel the rhythm. If there is a song to be heard, he will listen. And there will be dancing.

As it happened tonight to Jason Mraz’ “Waiting on the World to Change,” the whole family got involved. Even me, as I heard my forever mom say those familiar words. “Wiley, up.” And up I went into her arms. So there we were again, dancing around like no one was watching just like mom and I used to do around the kitchen. Just like we did when mom was pregnant. Just like we did before Carter was walking.

Like no one's watching

It all got me to thinking about this passage of time with a little person around. It really does seem to fly by a lot more swiftly than it used to. At each step of the way, I know mom’s thinking it. When it was just her, dad and I, we were family and life was good. When all tiny little baby Carter wanted to do was snuggle into shoulder and sleep for hours at a time, that had to be the best time. Or maybe it was when he started smiling at her (and shortly thereafter, me). Or when he started talking. Or the first times he said mama and dada and doggie.

No. It has to be this time, when we are all dancing together for the first time.

That’s the catch. We keep waiting on the world to change and thinking there is no possible way the change can be any better than this moment. Yet every stage in life we’ve encountered together has been so special. It has been so uniquely different from the last stage, yet fills our hearts with the same warmth each and every time we let it.

This week it’s dancing. Next week, who knows? But I sure can’t wait to find out.

 

Giggles All The Way December 12, 2014

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this news update. That’s kind of how I felt tonight when it happened. All the usual suspects were together in the basement engaging in our usual nighttime shenanigans.

There was laughter and happiness and joy. And love. From the ground up, it’s come to be a pretty happy time of day in the Schmidt home. We were a couple minutes into the usual game of pickle in the middle – the one where I chase a toy as mom and dad throw it back and forth between themselves and dear baby Carter giggles the night away – when routine took a turn for novelty.Happy!!!!

Carter made himself the pickle. In the best and most adorable kind of way I could have imagined. My role turned from active to passive, as I stood by and watched it all unfold. Sure, he had the toy we had been playing with a few minutes earlier. But the game was not about that anymore.

He walked from mom to dad. And from dad to mom. And from mom to dad. Over and over. I would say he did that about a dozen times before he moved on to the next game as it is my understanding 11-month-olds do. In itself, I suppose it probably doesn’t sound like anything special.

But there was laughter and happiness and joy and love involved. A whole lot of love. Because it wasn’t jut about walking back and forth between our beloved forever parents. As he walked toward dad, he giggled and smiled his biggest kind of smile as dad opened his arms and did the same. When he turned around and mom giggled and smiled and opened her arms, he smiled and giggled as he made his return journey. And every time he made it to his destination, there was hugging involved.

It was quite the sight to see, even if it did interrupt my regularly scheduled programming for the evening. I might have missed out on the remainder of my game of pickle in the middle, but this was so much better. This was joy, from the ground up.