Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dear Jack: One Year, Nine Months

Dear Jack,

You are the cutest little thing when it comes to stuffed animals. You love to cuddle them and carry them around along with your blanket. When I put you to bed for a nap or bedtime, you cuddle up with your stuffed animals, wave, and say, "Bye!" Sometimes when I ask if you are ready to go night night, you walk in your room and start throwing stuffed animal into the crib. I love it. You also like taking books to bed and these two wooden ducks that your Nana let you snatch from her living room. In the morning when I get you, you have thrown your stuffed animals and blanket on the floor, but you don't let me leave without gathering your "friends" to bring in the den.

Most mornings, you and I get to cuddle some before everyone else wakes up. We sit on the couch, you drink strawberry milk, and we watch TV. You cuddle so sweetly. I've heard other moms complain that their boys are not affectionate. You are always so kind, especially in the mornings.

This month, we have had two different types of weather. First, we had some more snow, which you didn't really enjoy, but we tried to take photos to remember it. Then we have also had some warmer weather, our preference. We've enjoyed time at the beach and in the backyard. You so sweetly take my hand and walk with me.

You've learned some new phrases lately too. Before when something wasn't going your way, you'd yell, "Ow! Ow! Ow!" It was so funny because you clearly were NOT being hurt. Well, now you have figured out "no". So, instead it's always, "No! No! No!" You especially like to try to discipline the dogs by yelling at them.

Speaking of yelling and dogs, we brought home a lab puppy named Marlowe. A big reason why we got her was you. You love dogs, and you REALLY love big dogs. I have never had a large dog before, but we thought it would be fun to add a lab to the family. You just love our Marlowe. When we picked her out, you were more intrigued by the adult dogs than the puppies. After you got used to the puppies climbing all over you, you started offering my sweater for them to chew on. Thanks, Jack. Marlowe has been a sweet girl so far, and I can't wait to watch you grow up with her.

You love dogs so much that you frequently pretend to be one. When you see someone, instead of saying hello, you chew on your shirt and growl. If that person affirms that you are a puppy, you sometimes start licking me. You have always put everything in your mouth, but now you do it to be funny like a puppy. You put things in your mouth and give them to me. It's kinda over the top, Jack, but you're having fun. We've been watching a lot of 101 Dalmatians lately, which might have contributed to your behavior, I guess.

I think we have made it out of winter, Jack. I think we are headed into spring. We will be spending more time outside, and you will be getting more dirty, which means more baths (your favorite). We're getting closer and closer to your second birthday. Time has gone so fast. I love you as our little toddler. You're so fun, silly, kind, and affectionate. I can't imagine our family without you. You've brought so much light to our lives.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Meeting Marlowe-dog

Today our family went on a special adventure, one that we have been looking forward to for a long time: we picked out our new lab puppy. A girl. Marlowe.

Although we hadn't really talked to people about it much, adding a lab to our family has been a decision long in the works. Well over two years ago, Chris and I talked about adding a larger dog to our "pack". We currently have two dachshunds, and we thought it'd be fun to experience a larger breed. And while the doxies are nice and all, they don't make good running partners. Chris used to run with Abed-nego, but (as a small dog) he kind of loses it after three miles. At one point, he hurt his knee from running too, so we try to keep him from aggravating it with runs. We talked about border collies, labs, German shepherds, mixes... Nearly everything. However, we were also trying for baby number two (and Dexter was only a year old), so we knew we'd need to wait.

And we waited.

Then last spring, we began to revisit the idea. Jack grew to be a year old and took a very big interest in bigger dogs. Of course, he loves our dogs too, but he gets so excited to see larger ones for some reason--probably just because they're different. I researched rescues. I looked into shelters. But the rescues didn't really want to adopt out dogs to homes with children younger than seven, and their puppies went so fast. And at the shelters, we'd have to bring our dogs into the shelter for a visit. Now, I love our dachshunds, but they are so rude to new dogs. I knew there'd be no way that they would take going to the shelter in stride, especially when meeting a new dog.

So, we waited more. I kept looking for the right rescue dog, but it wasn't quite going our way. Around November, we decided to look at breeders. When I was growing up, my grandparents had this amazing lab-rottweiler mix named Max. He was the sweetest, gentle giant. He looked like a large lab with smaller ears and red fur. So when I met Chris's aunt and uncle's English lab (Jackson), I immediately felt like I was watching my boys play with Max. Eliot just loved Jackson. At that point, I think it really solidified that we wanted a lab. My aunt and uncle have a chocolate lab that the boys were so excited to follow around too. At that point, we decided to go ahead and look for a lab breeder.

I found an excellent breeder in Moyock (called Bentwood Labs) that breeds family and hunting dogs. Their puppies go fast, so I knew we'd need to get a deposit in quick and plan ahead if we wanted one in the future. So, in November, we put our name down for a pup in the spring. Even though we were planning ahead, we were already "second-pick female". That is, someone else was already in line before us.

In January, the puppies were born. The "first-pick female" person switched to a different litter, so we now had first pick! And since the puppies will be five weeks old in a couple of days, we drove out to the farm to pick out "Marlowe".

Marlowe is a name that both Chris and I like. It is, of course, literary while also feminine enough, and I wouldn't feel too weird shouting it out the back door. We wanted to let Eliot name the dog, but we knew if we just left it up to him, the dog would be named either Dinosaur or Godzilla. So, we came up with a few name suggestions, and we all agreed on Marlowe.

I was unsure if we'd do OK by taking Eliot to pick out the puppy. We will need to wait two more weeks until we bring the puppy home, and I worried that Eliot would not grasp this concept of time and throw a fit. Somehow, though, he agreed and understood. Maybe it's because we've watched so much 101 Dalmatians lately that he gets that puppies need to stay with their mother for a while before... being kidnapped and made into fur coats. Anyway, Eliot was so stoked and kept changing which one he wanted. Jack seemed quite overwhelmed, and I understand because he had four puppies chewing on his clothes at once. Jack was more interested in trying to play with the mother and checking out the other adult dogs, which I think is great since puppies don't stay puppies forever. See, he is really into bigger dogs. After a little while, Jack started offering my sweater to the dogs to chew on and decided he was OK with the puppies climbing all over him.

Anyway, Chris and I had been hoping to get a darker-coated yellow lab (more like a red lab similar to my grandparents' lab mix, Max), and we managed to get Eliot to agree on the darkest-coated female. Later, he kept switching back and forth between them all, but we kept him on track and we left agreeing on the one pup. The man removed the number "five" from her collar and replaced it with her new name, a simple process that felt heavy in significance.

I am so excited to bring her home and immerse her into our family. She'll have two doxie brothers who will sniff her relentlessly, determine a pecking order, and then play with her endlessly. And one day they will be confused as to why she keeps on growing larger and larger and larger. I like to think that she will back up their bark. The pool will be open soon, and Marlowe and Bendy can swim together--or rip up our liner.

I do know that we have challenges ahead. Potty training isn't fun, and Eliot will have to learn to put his toys up. However, I'd like to point out that when I potty trained Bendy, we lived on the fourth floor of an apartment. Now I have a backdoor in my bedroom. Talk about convenient middle-of-the-night potty breaks! And it won't be FREEZING since it will be spring. So, I am optimistic in that respect. We have an obedience training program all picked out, and it happens to be just down the road from us.

While three dogs might seem like a lot, and I do have two little boys too, I think having Marlowe around will actually help calm things down in a way. The boys love their dogs, and they are eager to cuddle Bendy and Dexter. However, since our dogs are little, they sometimes get nervous from the hugs and kisses. As Marlowe grows larger, I think she might help take "some of the heat" off of the little dogs.

So, in two weeks, my Instagram and Facebook might get even more cute.