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.

 

 

Sweet Emotion March 11, 2015

Filed under: Man's Best Friend — Wiley Schmidt @ 9:25 pm
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It can literally happen in the blink of an eye. It certainly did today, countless times. In one moment, a joyous and bubbly giggle fills the air of my forever home. In the next, one of the world’s happiest sounds is replaced by a soul-crushing scream of anguish.

I do find it happening a bit more frequently lately, with all the teething going on around here. I think that’s what led to the roller coaster of emotions I witnessed today, with the tears and the giggles somehow creating a symphony of emotional reality. Teething is not our friend

As dear baby Carter approached bed time, a time when he should have been pretty tired after not napping at all today, he exuded energy. And as I watched him run through the house with his bare legs hanging out (because his pants had already gotten changed twice, and it was warm enough for such silliness again today), squealing with joy, I couldn’t help it. Somehow that moment seemed to erase all the other not so happy ones scattered randomly throughout the day from my mind.

I realized, as the squeals evolved into more of a squeal/laugh combination, that is the magic of this emotional dichotomy. We all experience it in our daily life, but time has a way of training us to keep it inside. Time has yet to do that to Carter, who literally wears his heart on his (usually blueberry-stained) sleeve. So he laughs and cries and questions and thinks and laughs and cries some more (all in the span of 30 seconds) in a very public way.

Google SearchingThough it pains me to experience sometimes, I’m thankful to frequently bear witness to the emotional roller coaster ride of toddlerhood. Because it can literally happen in the blink of an eye. Laughter can become tears that quickly.

But, even better, tears can become laughter that quickly. And that’s life. Things have a way of happening that can sometimes take us by surprise. They can rock the emotional boat enough to completely change the tide. Taking control of the boat and immediately turning it back the right way? That’s a life worth living.

 

The Winter Doldrums Cure March 6, 2015

I know it happens in the winter months around here. It’s one of those things I have gotten used to, living where I do in the fine state of Wisconsin. And, as much as I might prefer to whine and moan about it, I know it’s for my own good.

From late October through some mysterious time in spring, I simply don’t spend much time outside. My time in my backyard paradise gets limited primarily to practical things, and my dear forever mom and I don’t walk the neighborhood much. If at all. Car rides are also limited. And the dog park? Forget about it. It’s a wasteland anyway, because a lot of other pet parents feel the same way about having their dogs out in negative-degree temperatures. Running Joy

So when mom said the magic words this morning, my heart about jumped out of my chest. (Especially because I also heard her say it was seven degrees outside a few minutes prior). Car ride. From the ground up, it is one of my favorite things to hear. Off we went, mom, dear baby Carter and I, on a car ride to the groomer.

It’s a place I like more than I think I should. I don’t necessarily like the grooming part, but the socialization is unparalleled. Today did not disappoint either, as I saw my pal Jack. He’s one of the dogs who hangs out there on a daily basis, so I’ve come to know him pretty well during my times there.

It turns out I didn’t know something pretty important about him. He too has been a big puppy brother to two little people who were not very far apart in age. And he survived. Well, more than that. He loved it. Sure, there was the tail and fur pulling phase. And the newborn screams that pierce straight through to one’s brain. But the playtime. He said that’s the best.

It was an interesting perspective to hear, especially since I’ve admittedly had my concerns about having another little person to look after. I already knew it would be okay, but it was refreshing to hear about it from someone who’s been there. Especially since he said one of the best things about having two little people around is that it makes these long, cooped up winters around here not feel as long.

Because let’s face it. It’s pretty terrible being trapped inside for so many months of the year. We usually don’t know how long it will be until it’s finally over. But the little people with all of their crazy ways have a way of keeping things busy in a way that truly warms my heart. That doesn’t mean I’m not sure as anxious for spring as everyone else around here. It just means I know I have something pretty special to tide me over until it arrives.

 

 

 

Every Second Counts March 2, 2015

It’s a pretty morbid thought in my opinion. Yet it’s something that dear baby Carter seems to get behind, so I guess I can give it the benefit of the doubt.

Every time he hears this song, his reaction is the same. Whether he is in his high chair or running down the hallway or trying (and failing) to climb the stairs, he stops cold and starts bouncing around like a ninny. Sunshine, in a Smile

It’s called “Live Like We’re Dying,” and in it Kris Allen suggests making the most of every moment since we never know when it might be our last. And my dear innocent 14-month-old Carter loves all three minutes and forty-three seconds of it.

“So if your life flashed before you, what would you wish you would’ve done?” the song asks. “Yeah, we gotta start looking at the hands of the time we’ve been given. If this is all we got and we gotta start thinking if every second counts on a clock that’s ticking, gotta live like we’re dying.”

I will admit to liking the message, but the context bothers me every time. No one is dying. We’re too busy living.
At least that’s how I felt until it happened tonight. Right there, amid the relaxing routine of Carter’s bedtime, I heard the most beautiful thing. Laughter. From the ground up, all three of my beloved forever people were laughing hysterically. And it made my heart smile.
From what I could tell, mom was making a blowing noise on Carters belly, causing him to laugh longer and with more vigor than I have ever heard from him in his short life. The result was laughter from mom and dad. It went on like that for five precious minutes before Carter remembered he was tired and it was time to go to sleep.
But the length of time didn’t matter. Because in those minutes the laughter brought with it an understanding that it doesn’t matter that no one is dying. It’s that every second counts. The way I see it now, that’s the real point of the song.
That must be why Carter stops cold every time he hears it. It’s not because someone is dying. It’s because we’re too busy living.

 

 

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.

 

 

Smiling Eyes January 24, 2015

I didn’t mean it. I couldn’t help it. I don’t know why it happened. And I’m sorry now.

I did a terrible thing last night. I know I can’t take it back, but I certainly wish I could. It was bath time, which I’ve recently shared has become something of an event around the halls of my forever home. It involves the nakie baby run down the hallway to the bathroom where bath time ensues before bedtime. It’s a whole lot of silliness that breeds joy, from the ground up. Morning love

Until last night. I don’t know what came over me really. One second, we were playing chase and the next minute he had little pink lines running down either side of his body. From me.

It’s important to note that I would never intentionally hurt him. Ever since the day he came home from the hospital all those months ago, I vowed to protect and love him as my own. That’s why I’ve survived the tail yanking, fur pulling and occasional eye gouging that has ensued with him since he figured out he loves me too.

So when I jumped on top of him as he journeyed down the hallway to the bathroom last night, I don’t know what got into me. But that didn’t matter. That doesn’t matter. Because those little pink lines running from his tummy to his calves on either side of his little man body were my fault.

My paws didn’t break skin. And he didn’t cry. But that doesn’t change the fact that I hurt my little person. We all went about the routine as usual, but I thought about it a lot afterward.

It’s terrible that it happened. I wish I could take it back. But sometimes you just can’t. Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes we say and do things that hurt those we love. Intentions aside, the pain is real.

Fortunately for me so is forgiveness. After the initial disappointment from both of my beloved forever parents wore off, it was like nothing ever happened. And when Carter saw me for the first time when he woke up this morning, his face lit up just like it always does. “Doggie,” he said, with smiling eyes. And all was right in the world.