Well, I’ve been avoiding this place for a while, and it’s time to get back to updating. We’ve had a few life changes, to say the least, so this post will likely be the longest this blog will ever see.
Part of the reason I’ve been gone has been the business of being a new mom, which has been wonderful. For those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram or Facebook, we welcomed the new little love of my life, Ren, at the end of May.
My days since then have been filled with learning about him and learning about myself as his mom. We quickly discovered the wonders and challenges of parenting. Our first night home together we learned just how many times he was going to wake up and the tricks of changing little boy diapers, as we panicked and then laughed like idiots when he sprayed our bedspread at 3am. We also saw how perfectly babies behave while their grandparents are here to help, and how instantly they scream and fuss when they’re gone, making you seem like a terrible liar. We’ve watched the magical moments as he sees new things for the first time. Our little Lorax loves the trees, and his dad has taken to going on tree walks around our yard whenever he cries, which instantly soothes him. We laugh when strolling him around our neighborhood because the moment we go underneath tree limbs his eyes widen in awe, and once we pass he goes back to clear boredom. He’s almost 3 months old now (where has it gone??), and full of smiles and coos and attentiveness. Our voices are familiar, and the feeling when he has a smile just for us is the bee’s knees. He also has a very serious expression he wears when he’s focusing on something new that seems strange for a baby, and is one I can’t get enough of.
Just this past week I went back to work, which was hard, hard, hard, even though I really enjoy my job and my coworkers. Now I’m learning to soak up every cuddle and moment when I’m home. We’re lucky in that Brad’s schedule allows one of us to be home with him more than many people can. I’m ridiculously emotional still, and even though he hasn’t had to go to daycare too much yet, and even though they’re incredibly sweet there and give him lots of attention, I’ve cried after dropping him off every single time so far. We’ll get there. So. To sum things up: being a mom is making me emotional, but happy and in love, and it’s suiting me just fine. Ren is more than I could have ever known he’d be.
It’s still very fresh and sneaking up on me several times each day, when I turn to say something to her or feel her absence in the things I do. I can’t say how many times I swear I see her out of the corner of my eye, and it’s a pile of laundry or a shadow. We were so thrilled to have her as a Nana for Ren, and it breaks my heart to think of him missing out on her sweet, silly ways. I know she would have been a little bear, hovering over him and worrying about his every move, and then enjoying playing with him when he was big enough.
The thing about Scout is that she was truly a perfect dog. Not perfect in the sense that she never did anything wrong (though she was darn close), but perfect in that she was exactly what Brad and I needed in our lives. She started off as an engagement puppy, so she really was there from the minute we officially became a family. We rarely did anything without her. She picked out our first Christmas tree, crawling underneath it to eat the snow. She went on all of our vacations, hiking, camping, and fishing until she curled up muddy and exhausted on a sleeping bag to snore and run in her puppy dreams. She helped us explore our new surroundings each time we moved, encouraging us to find new parks and hiking trails, and enabling me to feel safe whenever Brad was at work because I had a 100 lb companion. She was a rockstar with the neighbor kids wherever we moved, standing patiently to be petted by little people exactly her height and listening to them remark on her soft fur and Shaggy Dog resemblance. She started off sleeping in our bed each night, covering my feet until she decided she was too hot, and then moving to the tile in the bathroom. In the winter she’d spoon with whoever was available – either us or our visiting family members – and make room for herself by squeezing between the sleeper and the wall and pushing with her legs until she was stretched out comfortably. For all of her great size – and she was the tallest Old English Sheepdog and heaviest female that we’ve ever known – she was an absolute baby in many ways. She loved stuffed animal babies, and brought them to you to play with the minute you sat on the couch. She had a special love for puppet animals, and transformed into a wild woman whenever Brad put one on his hand, jumping to crazy heights. Fireworks, popcorn on the stove, and packing bubbles were reason for an exit to the bathroom or basement. A few years ago when we brought Lucy Cat into our fold, she quickly acquiesced to the little paws that swatted her nose if she got too close. She never did give up trying to herd the cat, but if ever Lucy found her too irritating, she’d let her know and Scout would move along. Scout was spoiled with people food, and rarely would we order anything out without consideration for the furrball at home. We learned quickly that the Wisconsin Dairy Queen had a “dog special,” which involved a sundae with a milkbone on top instead of chocolate. On road trips back and forth from Illinois, she’d get a cheeseburger, which she’d inhale in seconds flat, leaving the two pickles on the backseat. Scout’s favorite thing in this world was a trip to the beach. For a sheepdog especially, she loved the water, plowing in immediately and gulping like a pelican. When we lived in Wisconsin, Lake Michigan was her playground. After that, we made sure to find camping trips with water and space to run.
Last fall we went on what would be our final camping trip together – a trip that really shows just how quickly her sickness came on. In September, this beautiful dog who couldn’t walk more than a few blocks this spring hiked for 11 miles in the South Dakota hills, plowing ahead on trails, swimming in streams, and wrapping up the days with the deep sleep that only comes with real contentment. This is how we will remember her. A little muddy, tongue lolling and fur flying, as she happily explored the world.
I’m going to miss this girl, this Stubborn Dog, until the end of my days. Brad and I are the luckiest to have shared our lives with her.
So. That’s where I’ve been. Off being a lot happy, a lot sad, and just generally focused on those that I love. As we head into Fall, I’m learning how to find balance in my new life, and how to fit in the creative times that I need. I’m working on things that are soft and simple right now, focusing on watercolors that I can bring out of the studio and work on near my little man as he sleeps. My work time is less frequent, but more focused and intentional, so I hope that will show in the things I create.
Thank you for the support you continue to give and I hope to share more frequently here going forward. Please follow me in other ways to see more regular mini-captures of the things I’m working on. Instagram and Facebook are easy for those quick little hellos.