Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

What You Wish For February 12, 2015

It happens with the laundry and the cooking and the cleaning and (as crazy as it sounds) sometimes even the diaper changing.

Sometimes I wish I could help out more around my forever home. It would definitely qualify as something I feel the slightest bit guilty about. And it happens pretty regularly around here, especially since dear baby Carter was born.

I know I help with things like my remarkable charm and the unique ways I find to bring my kind of joy into every day. But I often wish I could do more. Sunshine

Most recently it happened last night. After all that talk about the silver lining of exhaustion yesterday, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when the inevitable happened. For no good reason at all, no one slept well around here last night.

The usually sound-sleeping Carter woke four times throughout the night. My theory is twice he just wanted reassurance that mom and dad were there. The other two times he was hungry.

My dear forever mom didn’t sleep well either. I suppose being 22 weeks pregnant might have something to do with that.

And then there’s dad. He doesn’t sleep well when mom doesn’t sleep well. And the crying woke them both up every time. But when it happened at 2:03 a.m., precisely 8 minutes after mom finally fell asleep, it wasn’t even a question.

Dad took care of it. He went and got a bottle ready and grabbed a very upset Carter out of his crib to feed him before mom could get out of bed. I think I may have been as thankful as mom to see it happen, because it was one of those times I wished more than anything I could help.

 

Teamwork. From the ground up, it’s not always easy. I know dad was as tired as the rest of the family in that moment. But that’s how it goes sometimes. And as much as it might bother me that I can’t help around here in more practical ways, I know in my heart I do my part in the ways I can.

I’ll never be able to do the laundry or dishes or help calm a crying baby in the night. But I love my forever family unconditionally and for me at least that will always be enough.

 

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.

 

 

Give Me A Reason October 19, 2014

I’ll admit it. I hate Mondays. I heard today there is a reason no one ever says it’s lazy like Monday morning. I know it was a play on Lionel Richie’s “Lazy Like Sunday Morning,” which I think was clever and incredibly accurate since Monday is (by far) my favorite day of the week. Thank you Artist In the Sky

It’s no secret that I love all things weekend. But I think Mr. Richie was on to something in his mention of lazy Sunday mornings. Need a reason? From the ground up, I’ll give you 3.

1. Sleep. In general, it is not the same as it used to be before dear baby Carter came into the picture. That is why I mention it in reference to the weekends, when it does happen a little more than usual. Every bit of it is precious, made even more valuable to me because it’s always more fun for me to sleep with my people than without them. That, and as Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci suggested “a well-spent day brings happy sleep.” There is nothing like happy sleep.

2. Snuggle time. Related to, yet separate from the sleep referenced above, the majority of Sundays incorporate some amount of snuggle time with my beloved forever people. It’s always hard-earned, since Sunday is also a time to get odds and ends done around the house. I think all that effort makes it even more rewarding for them to sit down and relax, which makes the snuggles all-the-more special to me. It reminds me of American poet Shel Silverstein’s words “I will not play tug o’ war. I’d rather play hug o’ war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.” For me, it’s more than snuggles. It’s like a hug for my heart.

3. Family fun. In the fall, it’s Packer football, pie baking, and playing in the leaves. The kind of fun we have together as a family indeed varies by the season, but I’m happily surprised to find the arrival of dear baby Carter has done nothing but add to the fun. Laughter and silliness abound in the most random of situations on a lazy Sunday when all really is well with my world. These are the things that are capable of healing the soul in a way no medicine can.

I know it’s not like your resident doggie optimist to come right out and say I don’t like something. If anything, that should tell you just how much it’s true. Because there is nothing lazy about Monday mornings. There is less sleep, snuggles and fun on Mondays. It’s that simple.

The best thing about Mondays is that Sunday is one day closer than it was the day before.

 

Up With The Birds July 14, 2014

It happens at the exact same time every day. 4:11 a.m. Whether there is a downpour of rain or the sun is shining, they are always there. Even when the snow flies, a few stick around. Birds. From the ground up, they are always there. At times I side with my mom and find them incredibly annoying. Like when they wake dear baby Carter up earlier than usual. Or my forever mom and dad for that matter. But, like most things, it’s which side of the coin you want to land on.Joy

Because at times, I side with my mom (she can’t make up her mind either) and find them incredibly calming. Peaceful even. I think that’s one of the reasons she has a newfound interest in bird watching in my backyard paradise. In addition to a bird bath or two, there are more feeders out than usual. And, unlike summers past, she has been diligent about keeping them filled to the brim with delicious concoctions of seed, including sunflower seeds that I occasionally snag from the ground by my favorite feeder in the far corner.

Today she was working from home over her lunch hour when it happened. It wasn’t anything that out of the ordinary. Yet there she sat on her favorite patio chair, typing away on that laptop of hers, shaded slightly by her happy orange umbrella (as she calls it) soaking up the sun with a mug of hot tea in hand. Carter was napping inside and I was curled in the shade up at her feet. It wasn’t much. A stranger would have missed it. But not me. She spotted the cardinal duo (male and female) that visits every day around the same time and sighed a big ole happy sigh that made my heart smile.

Sure, we as a family collectively curse those birds outside the windows when dear baby Carter wakes up before his normal time. Or when the chirping alone wakes my parents. But today I was reminded of what beauty is signified in the routine these dear birds have. It happens at the same time every day. 4.11 a.m. The weather doesn’t matter. The storms that rolled through yesterday are a thing of the past. Today is a new day. A fresh start. And that brings the sincerest sense of peace to my heart.

 

On Top of the World June 28, 2014

It’s not that much unlike when mom says “Wiley, up.” I know what to expect when that happens, just as I do when she says “it’s dance party time” to dear baby Carter. It happens at about the same time every day, and I can’t help but pause to pay respect to the progress we’ve made with this thing called routine around here.

A few months ago, it was pretty laborious. Eat, sleep, poop, repeat. I speak, of course, of the perpetual motion of the first few months of a little person’s life. We adjusted, we planned accordingly, and we have moved on. Don’t get me wrong, routine still (and probably always will) play a key role around here. But it’s different now. Now, it involves so much more.

Like dance parties. It doesn’t happen every day because of mom and that thing called work, but it happens often enough for it to be routine. And it happened again today. “It’s dance party time,” mom said. And he may only be just shy of six months old, but I know in my heart that Carter knew exactly what would come next.Partners in crime

Into his jumperoo he went and the dance party began. Which basically consists of mom dancing around Carter’s room like a ninny while Carter jumps happily in his jumperoo. Jump, jump, jump. From the ground up, this has become the equivalent of joy, joy, joy around here.

The best part (at least in my opinion) is that for some completely unknown and random reason, there is one song that seems to always happen during this special time. “I’m on top of the world,” sings Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Evans. Mom dances, Carter jumps. And my heart sings.

Joy. From the ground up, I noticed something while this happened today. There is that special “Joy” sign in Carter’s room that defines joy. As that is what I strive to do with each and every day, I ponder it pretty frequently.

So today when that song came on the radio and mom danced and Carter jumped (and smiled all-the-while), I lived one of the definitions of joy. Joy: “a source or cause of delight.” And I realized it’s not that unlike when mom says “Wiley, up.”

I know what to expect when that happens, just as I do when she says “it’s dance party time” to dear baby Carter. Not only does this mean there is silly dancing and jumping in the near future. But also joy in its purest form.

 

 

On Choosing Joy June 19, 2014

I don’t get out much. I mean no disrespect to my people in saying so either. It’s a simple truth that of the 365 days in a year, about half of those days are actually walkable by a dog who lives in Wisconsin. Especially when we have an epically cold winter like we did this year, followed by a freakishly chilly (almost non-existent spring) and now this. Tornadoes have taken over cities around here lately as thunderstorms make their presence known.

Happiness IsJust the other day I was napping peacefully when alarms sounded to let my people and I know danger was potentially headed our way. Thankfully we were safe, save for a few tree branches in my backyard paradise that didn’t make the cut. But I was more upset about the interruption of my dream. As is the norm during nap time, I was in a very happy place. Except this time it surprised me to find that place was someplace other than my forever home.

It was everywhere else. There I was, on my own again, exploring the world. Except in this dream I knew I had a home to return to when it was all over. I knew because I (of course) had Mrs. Prickles with me to remind me of my forever people. But, more importantly than that, I had my joy. From the ground up, it is always with me reminding me of all things past, present and future for which I can be thankful.

I was reminded of this as the most simple of things came into question the other day. The rain fell down and the thunder and lightning were so strong they woke mom, dad and I all up in the night. Carter somehow slept through all of that (don’t ask me how). But as the rain fell and the winds shook the walls of my forever home I was reminded of what is really important in my life. It’s not my toys. Its not my plush doggie bed. It’s not even the photos of my dear forever family that scatter throughout the house.

It doesn’t matter that I don’t get out much. Our weather around here is harsh and unpredictable. But that’s okay, because it’s the joy I choose every single day that brings me strength. I think this is what is missing from so many lives, more than the possessions people seek. Joy. From the ground up, it’s yours for the taking.

 

You Just Wait March 12, 2014

Apparently it’s one of those things parents say to each other. Like the never ending piece of advice stuck on repeat in the CD player. And while I’m usually all for taking in and putting to practice any piece of advice or wisdom, this has (of late) been one of my least favorite tracks. You just wait.

When my forever mom was up all night because baby Carter was beat boxing on her ribs, people told her. You just wait. After he was born and he was sleeping in teeny tiny increments of time, people told her. You just wait. Even now, when he’s starting to interact with the world in both smiles and experimental cries, people tell her. You just wait. Cuddles

And I will tell you. Each and every time someone says this, I watch as she visibly tenses up and I know better than anyone else what she’s thinking. YOU just wait. Because here’s the thing about unsolicited advice and wisdom. It’s great when it means something positive. And it’s even all right when it means something negative, as long as it’s delivered in the right way. But even when you’re a boy dog who will never in a million years understand the mystery of birth, I can hear it.

There is something grating about hearing someone imply things will get worse before they will get better. It doesn’t matter if its family life, work life, personal life, or whatever sort of life path you’re on – it just plain sucks to hear even the slightest implication of things being worse on the horizon.

That is, until you live it. I know it grated on my mom’s nerves when people told her to “just wait” for what sleep would be like after the baby was born. I know it the same as I know things will only be getting more complicated from here as Carter figures out his emotions. Happy and sad. Love and hate. Chaos and peace. You just wait.

It’s a track that has been stuck on repeat far too long around here. And yet I know its one we need to hear. Not necessarily as its intended from its various unsolicited advisors. Because tone has no place in true wisdom. Instead I would rather cherish the good things that come to those who “just wait.” I cherish the first full night’s sleep my people have had in a while. And these first smiles that are happening on purpose. And that look of recognition when mom and dad talk and he seems calmed by their voices.

As one who has just waited, I can definitely confirm a certain and undeniable truth. It’s always worth the wait.

 

My Newborn Baby Survival Kit March 1, 2014

I told you so. I don’t often say such things, but in this case I need to take credit where credit is due. I said it six months ago and I will say it again. Too much is too much when it comes to the ridiculously copious amounts of baby things people can buy these days.

In my opinion it’s an awful tirade on the hormonal instability of first-time expectant mothers who are by nature on a quest to nest. Sure, the purchase of baby things had a direct inverse relationship to the amount of doggie things coming through the door of my forever home. But that didn’t bother me like this does.The "stuff" and me Bumbo chair

Ultimately, it’s just stuff. That’s what dad said tonight as we got Carter ready for bedtime. If we’d only known what we really needed, he said. That is exactly true. But as life would have it, you often don’t know these things until you’re living through them. And while experience has demonstrated the importance of baby accoutrement like the Boppy pillow, sleep sacks, and sleepers that zip (rather than snap), I have developed my own list of necessities for surviving those crucial first weeks as a new parent.

1. Sleep. Get it when you can. It doesn’t matter if its five minutes or five hours. Every little bit counts. (Almost) everything else stems from this.

2. Patience. It’s happened to mom. It’s happened to dad. Sometimes there just isn’t enough patience to go around. But any time you can catch yourself and remember to be patient is better than a time you didn’t.

3. Love. I’m not talking puppy love. I’m talking the unconditional love us canines have so graciously mastered. It’s not always easy to speak and act in love when you’re overtired and hungry and can’t remember the last time you showered, but it is a worthwhile investment that pays priceless dividends.

4. Family. Whether they are blood relatives or family friends, it really does take a village. Also, it helps if this village brings food whenever possible. That’s the last thing on the mind of an overtired set of parents even though it’s entirely vital.

5. Joy. It’s the only defense against the stress.

Things you won’t find on this list? An extra dozen pacifiers. Or three different kinds of receiving blankets. Or even that silly Bumbo chair. And that’s just during pregnancy. Needs can blur with wants in any scenario life hands us. But regardless of where you are in your walk of life, the lesson remains the same. Needs and wants can get a little fuzzy sometimes, but the best things are those money can’t buy.

 

The New Normal January 31, 2014

This I did not expect. Or at least not to the extent to which it’s happened. Change. From the ground up, change has been the name of the game in the Schmidt household for the last month. One month ago today, my little person entered the world. Happy One Month!

This Boppy Thing is for me right?I thought I was ready. From the gadgets scattered all over the house (most of which I didn’t understand) to the stacks of baby books I helped mom page through, we were set. But I was wrong. What I wasn’t expecting was admittedly the most obvious of things. Change. To my days. To my nights. My life as I knew it has not been the same.

We canines are creatures of habit. We love our routines. Prior to baby Carter’s arrival, I had come quite accustomed to the everyday routine around here. That has all been thrown to the wayside for the last four weeks or so, and I can’t say I liked it at first.

But today I occurred to me. Dad asked if I wanted to go on a car ride, my first with my little person and my forever people. It was a short ride involving the thing my people call errands, but it meant the whole wide world to me that I was invited along to enjoy the occasion.

That’s when my heart and mind came together in the realization that it’s going to be okay. This is our new normal. We’ve settled into new habits and new routines. There are remnants of the time before that have melded seamlessly with all that has changed. Sleep is still tough to come by (for all of us), but most other things have hit a stride. And my people are happy (albeit overtired) so that means I am happy.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” American self-help writer suggests.

I’ve never been that big a fan of change. I wasn’t expecting it, wasn’t prepared for it, and now that it is happening, I can’t say I liked it at first. But one month ago today, my life changed forever. We may not be getting much sleep. And literally everything about our routine has been uprooted and updated. But this new normal looks pretty good from where I’m sitting. Change. From the ground up, it’s not so bad after all.

 

The Silly Sleep Smile January 28, 2014

My heart stopped today. It was only for a second (or three), but it definitely happened. It seems an appropriate response to what I witnessed. Baby Carter stopped breathing. So my heart skipped a few beats.

The WatchdogThere we were – mom, Carter and I – settling in for our late afternoon nap (a custom to which I’ve come to very much enjoy) when it happened. Whoever coined the phrase sleeping like a baby clearly has never watched a baby sleep. There’s flailing and jumping and funny breathing patterns and grunting and the occasional random cries. But there are also smiles. Watching all of this unfold has become a favorite part of my days. I am watching over my little person and all is well in my world.The Sleep Smile

So today when he stopped breathing, my world turned on its axis. I wanted to do something – anything – to make him start breathing again. Fortunately I didn’t have to. It happened on its own a few moments later. And apparently it’s normal, at least from what I heard mom and dad discussing later. But it seriously and completely freaked me out.

That’s when I realized there’s something about newborn sleep that is kind of like life. It’s fun. There are moments that overwhelm you with joy and prompt a smile straight from the heart. It’s scary. There are moments that take your breath away – for good or for bad reasons. It’s not always easy. There are things along the way that make us sigh and grunt and flail (at least emotionally if not physically).

And dreams are real. Today was not the firs time I’ve longed to hop inside that little baby mind of his to see whatever he was dreaming about. Moreover, I wish I could have protected him from whatever made him scared in his dream and share with him whatever made him happy. But, just like life, there are some things that are uniquely our own. Dreams are one such thing.

My heart stopped today. It wasn’t for long, but it was long enough for me to realize in that small moment something pretty big. “Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s question,” suggested American psychic Edgar Cayce. If that’s the case, my questions don’t really matter. Because if that silly sleep smile is any indication, my little person’s got it all figured out.