Happy Holidays

It’s 2017, so the holidays are officially over. I’ve said this many times before, but I absolutely love Christmas and this was a really good holiday.

Now that I’m no longer working in college athletics, I don’t get the full week off between Christmas and New Year’s so Marty and I crammed visits with both families over the course of just four days. It was busy but so, so good to see everyone.

Time for a picture overload:

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As usual, Marty and I spent New Year’s Eve doing nothing which is MORE than fine with me. I’ve never been a big New Year’s Eve person and I can’t even stay awake until 10 p.m., let alone midnight. We had a good weekend, though, with a brewery tour/tasting, some shopping and just much-needed time relaxing at my apartment.

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No New Year’s resolutions for me this year but I did see this insightful list of questions to ask yourself about LAST year. Looking at the past year can shape how you approach the new year, whether you set resolutions or not.

  1. What was the single best thing that happened to you this year? My new job. It’s not the most glamorous event but when all is said and done, it’s the best thing that happened.
  2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened? Changing jobs and moving.
  3. Pick three words to describe this past year. Challenging, exciting, stressful
  4. Who were your most valuable relationships with? Parents, as always. Marty. Marty and I have to really work at our relationship now since we no longer live and work together. It’s changed our relationship dynamic, that’s for sure.
  5. In what ways did you grow emotionally? I found myself living alone for the first time in five years and it was one of the parts of taking the new job that worried me most. But I’ve learned over the past six or seven weeks that I can be happy on my own.
  6. In what ways did you grow physically? Stronger and healthier. Fatter, too, if I have to be honest. But five pounds more than my “ideal” weight is still better than 30 pounds underweight (which is where I was really not all that long ago) so I’m working on accepting where I am right now.
  7. What was the most enjoyable part of your work? I changed jobs because I no longer liked my previous career; it was draining – physically and emotionally. Mostly emotionally. So the best part about my new job is that it’s all new. I’m learning every day and I like that aspect.
  8. What was the best way you used your time this past year? I disconnected more after work. Before I’d check my work email from the minute I left work until bedtime; this past year I tried (and was largely successful) to stop that habit. If an emergency came up, people knew how to reach me. It allowed me to actually relax when I was home. I read more than I have in  years, I took more walks and generally just enjoyed my down time more than previous years.
  9. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year? Change still isn’t easy for me but inevitably it’s good for me. I’d been stuck for six years (and was going through the motions in just about every part of my life) and even though I was unhappy, change scared the crap out of me. Taking this job was a leap for me but I knew in my gut it was the right leap to take.

Be Kind to Yourself

It’s just 10 days until Christmas and we’re in the midst of my favorite time of the year. My decorations went up the day after Thanksgiving and Lucy is sporting her holiday collar:
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A few weeks ago I took her to the Selinsgrove Pet Parade which WAS. AWESOME. It was probably the longest walk of her life (seriously) and she had a blast.

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This was Ollie.

I also may or may not have given her part of her Christmas gift a bit on the early side…

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I bought Lucy her very own fleece blanket. To be honest, I was getting sick of her slobbering all over my soft, fleecy blankets so I bought one just for her. She loves it. Clearly.

I don’t get as much time off during the holidays as I did at my previous job (I wouldn’t change a thing, though – having real weekends all to myself still hasn’t gotten old) but Marty and I will make the trip to see both families over the course of four or five days and I can’t wait to get home.

Things aren’t all rosy, though. As I expected, there are ups and downs. It’s been almost five weeks at the new job and there are way more good days than bad days. Which is a refreshing change. But obviously there are bumps in the road. Certain days I miss my “old” life (not my job) more than others. Certain days it’s harder living alone than others. Certain days it’s harder not having a close group of friends here than others. Certain days it’s harder dealing with a stubborn Lucy in inhumanely cold weather than others.

Lately a few simple words that someone said to me (ok, emailed to me. Same thing in today’s world) have been going through my mind on a daily basis. She’ll know who she is because she’s one of my consistent readers 🙂

“Be kind to yourself.”

So simple, but it’s harder to do than you’d think, at least for me. As a pretty negative person, it’s so easy for me to be hard on myself, not be patient with myself and not let little things snowball. So I’ve been silently repeating that phrase to me on those not-so-good days.

I think it’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received.Thank you, and you know who you are.

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Settling In

I’ve been in Lancaster for almost two weeks now which have flown by, thanks in part to work and the move. Besides the physical move, I forgot how much other stuff has to get taken care of! Change of address, new mail key, bills put into my name, items for the apartment I still needed (took me over a week to finally get bath mats). I have a few things left to take care but bit by bit my to-do items are getting crossed off.

I love my new apartment; it’s super tiny (680+ square feet, I think) but it’s perfect (minus the overflowing toilet issue…). The rooms are small and getting furniture in was a bit of a jig saw puzzle but after two weeks things are pretty much in place.

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Lucy was settled in the minute I put her food bowl down.

I found a new CrossFit gym after some trial and error. Did NOT like the first one I went to; in fact, the first time I cried since being out here was after going to that first CrossFit gym. It made me desperately miss my old gym and the people there. Outside of co-workers at Susquehanna, they were my only friends in Selinsgrove. But the second gym I tried was much better and made me miss my old gym a little bit less. It’s less than four miles from my apartment and with evenings and weekends free, I should still be able to get there a minimum of four days a week, five if I really try (5:30 a.m. classes are available three days a week but man, that is early). Still trying to fit in running – early morning running around here isn’t totally feasible right now. I have to be at work at 8 a.m. so it is too dark to run before work because I live near some really busy roads and right now I can’t get into my community building during off hours to run on the treadmill (I need to get on fixing that issue). Nor does treadmill running sound appealing anyway.

Anyway, onto the holidays! Marty and I spent Thanksgiving in Lancaster, just the two of us (and Lucy). I had to work Wednesday and technically my office was open Friday and I did not want to use a personal day so early into the job. To travel both to my family’s (or Marty’s) in one day just did not seem practical so he came down to Lancaster Thursday morning and will spend most of the weekend here. We did manage to make Thanksgiving dinner without any disasters. Next year’s goal? Homemade stuffing rather than the boxed stuff! Feel free to send any (easy) good recipes my way!

 

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Plus, now that I have weekends free, I can get home more often and we’ll be making it back to New Jersey for Christmas. For Thanksgiving, though, it was really nice to just stay put and relax.

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Lucy and I discovered a park just a short drive away.

And I have lots to be thankful for since last Thanksgiving. The bittersweet ending to a job I’d held for six-plus years in a career field that has been my life for 10-plus years. A new job in a new career field. Three successful fosters (Isaac, Novalee, Blossom). A (mostly) healthy Lucy. A new life in a new “city” (while Lancaster is referred to as a city around here, I still can’t refer to it that way with any sincerity). The opportunity to see friends and family more. There’s plenty more – as much as I love to complain, I have many, many things for which to be thankful.

Now onto my absolute favorite time of the year – Christmas! I may or may not have pulled out my Christmas tree at 6 a.m. this morning 🙂

A Whirlwind

On Friday, Nov. 11, my parents and I moved almost all of my stuff into my new apartment in Lancaster. That night, I drove back to Selinsgrove so I could work my final athletic event (football senior day – you know, nothing terribly complicated 😛 ) on Saturday. Then on Sunday, I  made the trip back to Lancaster in preparation for my first day of work at my new job on Monday.

Clearly I crammed quite a bit into a few short days. My parents were invaluable in getting me settled and last Sunday, I brought Lucy into her new home. It actually made me choke up a bit; she’s only ever known one home and I was ripping her away from that home (and Marty). A tad dramatic, I know, but I’m good at drama.

I really had no choice and made the right move; this job was an opportunity I could not pass up, even if it meant uprooting my life .

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The view outside our new living room.

One week into the job and overwhelmed would be an understatement. New job in a new career field. New apartment. New routine. Living on my own for the first time in five years. Still balancing some work obligations at my previous job. As someone who hates change, it’s been a bit rough. But I did this exact same thing (minus the whole career change) six years ago and I survived. So I can do it again. And having actual weekends to myself is going to be like heaven.

Having Lucy with me has also helped tremendously. I feel a bit guilty – she’s alone longer during the day but the trade-off is that I am around all weekend, something that wasn’t the case before.

Unlike our old apartment, this one is one floor which means Lucy can actually go into the bedroom. The first night here, she decided she wanted to sleep in my bed. She’s never even had the opportunity before and I figured we were both lonely, so I let her stay.

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“I’m ready for bed, Mom!”

Until 2 a.m., that is, after five hours of her snoring and doing laps on the bed. I’d had enough and planted her on the couch where she’s stayed ever since. But she does like coming to wake me up in the mornings.

And yesterday, Lucy decided she would force me to discover where the closest ER vet was as she stepped on something outside and got bit or stung. She wouldn’t put her paw down on the ground and wouldn’t let me look at it. I thought maybe she got something stuck in her paw but obviously she wasn’t going to let me look closely enough to figure out what the heck was going on, so off to the vet we went.

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Pooped after spending a few hours at the ER vet.

She loves the vet so of course she acted totally normal once we got there but her paw was red and a bit puffy so she got a steroid shot. I probably overreacted but that’s another thing I’m really good at.

This weekend, I made only two missteps in assembling my new TV stand and book case and successfully set up my new router, cable and internet. Combined with an overflowing toilet, I’d say it’s been smooth sailing (that’s sarcasm).

But week one is in the books and we all survived. Here’s to week two and beyond.

Life is About to Change

In less than two weeks, big changes are on the horizon.

Saturday, November 12 will be my last day at my current job. I have accepted a new job in a completely new industry 90 minutes away from where I currently live. Which means leaving a job I’ve held for six-plus years in an industry in which I’ve worked for 10-plus years. It means packing up my current life and finding a new place to live.

It’s exciting and frightening. I’m leaving the college athletics field for something entirely different. Quite frankly it’s a change I needed to make years ago but just never found the right opportunity that made it worth leaving. Now I have. Or I think and hope I have.

I hate change in general and cramming this many changes into a two-week span is leaving me pretty fried mentally, physically and emotionally. There are a lot of personal things I won’t get into in this space but those who know me know there are a lot of long-term issues to sort out once I get settled.

But yes, Lucy is coming with me and yes, even that is causing me stress.

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She’s not overly concerned. Yet.

I know things will work out; this is a genuinely great opportunity and I am excited. But I’m more excited to get settled and figure out what my new normal will look like.

That Was Rough

On Sunday, Blossom was adopted. Cue the waterworks.

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She was adopted by a guy who is somewhere in my age range. He lives in a New York suburb outside of the city and is newly single. He lives in a single story home and does a lot of work from home. I told myself  the only scenario that would be better than our home was an owner who was home more than we are – and we found that. After less than a week on the available page, I was already in touch with Blossom’s new dad and everything was official yesterday.

Blossom is our sixth (!) foster and I don’t have favorites. Seriously. But she was the one I was closest to keeping for a variety of reasons. She is old, she had a horrible life and was bounced around a LOT the last year and yet had made tremendous strides to overcome her past in the two months we had her. And I loved her. I loved everything about her (ok, except her barking!). She and Lucy got along well and Blossom was happy with us. But an even more perfect home came around and I had to let her go.

It’s quiet and lonely at home now. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Lucy and she is more than enough for us – we don’t NEED two dogs around – but it’s funny how quickly you get adjusted to a new normal. Our normal with Blossom was a lot louder but a lot more fun, too.

I already got an update after Blossom got home Sunday afternoon and things are going well. She met some extended family – of both the human and dog varieties! – and the meet and greets went spectacularly well .

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Thanks to Marty for allowing me to bring her home. Thanks, Marty, for leaving it up to me whether we adopted her. Thanks to SNORT for allowing me to foster her and for working in finding Blossom the best home. Thanks to my parents for letting me use their house as the exchange site! As always, this was a team effort!

A Bit About Blossom

We’ve had Blossom for two months today and in some regards a lot has changed and in other regards not much has changed.

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She’s beautiful.

First, she still gets along wonderfully with Lucy. Blossom does not like or have interest in toys so that means she’s got at least one thing going for her, at least in Lucy’s eyes. No interest in toys means no fighting over toys.

While Blossom can be on the….annoying side (more on that later), I think for the most part Lucy likes having a companion. Every single day I come home for lunch, the dogs are curled up together on the couch. They are literally touching every single day. It’s so sweet. So I think the company is good for both of them.

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Blossom is still about as healthy as can be for an old girl. She recovered wonderfully from her spay and dental and besides some achy and stiff back legs, she’s one active little dog. Blossom MUST follow one or both of us if we even so much as get off the couch so obviously her mobility is not limited in the least.

So what’s changed? She has blossomed (pun intended) in the two months we’ve had her. We went from not being able to pick her up, touch her face, touch her paws to being able to (almost always) pick her up, kiss her face, rub her belly. It’s been remarkable, really. It’s the sweetest thing – each morning I go back upstairs after letting Lucy out to bring Blossom downstairs. Lately every morning she opens one eye, looks at me, then rolls onto her back for belly rubs. Then she waits like the spoiled dog she is for me to pick up and literally place her on the floor so she can go downstairs.

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Blossom most definitely knows the word “treat” and “runs” back inside after doing her business to get her treat. That girl moves when food is involved.

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“Running”

Her one major flaw? Her barking. It’s pretty constant and it’s slowly driving Marty mad. It doesn’t bother me nearly as much unless I’m trying to sleep. If she were our dog I might try to do some behavior training but with her abusive background I really didn’t even know how to start…so I didn’t. But if that’s her biggest flaw, I’ll take it. And her cute face MORE than makes up for it.

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YOU try to get mad at that face.

In short, I love her. I love her big eyes, I love how much she’s improved since she’s gotten here, I love her demanding little personality. I love having a shadow follow my every movement. I cannot wait to see how much more she grows.

The Old Lady Gets Surgery

It’s been a while between posts but that’s because things have been very routine, which is good! Blossom has settled right in. She gets along well with Lucy (although we call her the “fun police” because she barks at Lucy when Lucy tries to play), has our routine down pat and has been generally wonderful. No accidents and she sleeps through the night – in our bed, of course 🙂

This past Thursday, though, the time came to get her spayed. SNORT (and I ) went back and forth about whether it was worth it to spay a 14-year-old pug. We ultimately decided that spaying her could only help her odds of being adopted. Plus, we could get a dental done at the same time; since she wouldn’t let the vet examine her mouth during her initial exam, we really didn’t know what we were facing.

I was nervous because of her age but she did fine – better than fine.

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“How do YOU know I’m doing fine?”

I picked her up Friday afternoon and she was very happy to see me – as I was to see her. She was not sorry, however, to say good-bye to the vet. To quote the vet tech, “she doesn’t like us very much.” I’m assuming she was not a happy camper and had several “fits” when they tried to pick her up, put her collar on, etc. Oh well. Everyone survived.

She did lose 10 teeth – teeth that were either broken off and/or decaying. But other than that, the surgeries were routine and she’s doing great. Eating well, moving around well and not at all happy with the cone of shame.

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All cone, zero dog.

All in all, very glad to have this behind us. Surgery and recovery have, so far, been better than expected and now she has a healthy mouth and her spay is all taken care of. Next step – available for adoption?

PS – Lucy says hi.

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Blossom Update

So we’ve had a few highs and a few lows since bringing Blossom home.

Let’s start with the highs:

She’s adorable. So freaking cute. She has an adorable gray muzzle, the biggest cow eyes and the best head tilt in the world.

She has settled into our routine relatively easily. She’s quick to join us (and Lucy) on the couch, knows she gets a treat after doing her business outside, knows our walking route and quickly got into the routine of sleeping in our bed 🙂

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She and Lucy are still getting along very well. Again, I wouldn’t say they interact all that much – Blossom certainly doesn’t play with toys like Lucy does – but they are totally comfortable being in the same room and spend the days sleeping on the couch together.

Blossom’s relatively healthy (more on that in the “lows” section, though). She is perfectly house trained, eats with no issues and gets around wonderfully.

Now, the lows:
Despite appearing to be healthy, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Her levels came back low enough that treatment isn’t necessarily required but we’re still gathering the facts. Ultimately, she might have to undergo treatment for it, which would suck.

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Her “Elvis lip”

She has a few big quirks which I mentioned in my previous post. I cannot touch her feet and when trying to put on her (adorable) new harness we had a not-so-minor freakout that left her “off” for the rest of the night. She was antsy and nervous. Poor thing. I can’t expect years of abuse to be erased in a few days, if ever, but it makes me sad she was scared when I simply tried to put a harness on her.

She is a barker. Fortunately, a 17-pound peanut of a dog doesn’t bark very loudly but it’s still in stark contrast to Lucy.

She’s a velcro dog. This isn’t really a low but I wouldn’t call it a high, either. It’s hard to call it a high when I can’t pee by myself. But she’s so darn cute it’s hard to get angry.

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I cannot get angry at this face.

Anyway, it’s obvious I love her and she is fitting in very well after less than a week. We’re still learning her quirks and I’m very quickly remembering what it’s like having a pug around but so far it has been really good for all of us!

Introducing Blossom

After five long months, we are fostering again!

Meet Blossom:
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That’s right, a pug! A 14-year-old pug, to be exact. I picked her up a few days ago and knock on wood, things have been really good.

Her background is a bit fuzzy. I can only assume she was with one family for nearly all of her 14 years but I honestly don’t know. I do know, however, that the children (and I really don’t know the ages – I’m guessing older kids) in her primary home horribly abused her. I won’t go into the specifics but it was bad enough that she is now terrified of children. She was surrendered to another home roughly a year ago but that home had children and it was quickly discovered that was not a good fit. She was then turned over to a shelter and that’s when SNORT was contacted.

Because she needed a kid-free home and because I was actively looking to foster again, we decided to take her on. She was with a temporary foster home for maybe a week and they were wonderful with her. Blossom learned to better trust people and was already much less skittish by the time I brought her home.

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For an old girl, she moves!

The other reason I agreed to foster her was because she was reportedly good with other dogs and I can say that, as of now, that is true.

She is a true velcro dog and does NOT like to be separated from us. We had her gated in the kitchen for most of the first night and while it was ok, she was pretty vocal about her displeasure. The times she did get near Lucy were fine – she largely ignored her, which is fine by me!

Just a few mornings later, this was the scene on our couch:

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It looks sweeter than it actually was – I think Blossom plopped herself down there and Lucy was too lazy to move but it’s still sweet. The two don’t interact much at all but I’ll take peacefully co-existing 🙂

So, what makes Blossom tick? Besides being a velcro dog, she is definitely on the nervous side. She has definite “no’s” in her book. I can pet her but I cannot grab her face which makes it difficult (ok, impossible) to give her the eye drops she came with. She is iffy about being picked up. Sometimes it’s ok, sometimes it’s not. She’s largely ok with it if I’m lifting her onto the couch to be with us but if I pick her up simply to move her, that is not ok. We did learn that she is perfectly capable of getting onto and off of the couch all by herself, though. And touching her paws is most definite a “no.”

She has arthritis and a bit of a goopy eye which she is on the aforementioned drops for but again, I haven’t gotten the eye dropper even remotely close to her eye, let alone actually get the drops in 🙂

Blossom is pretty spunky for a 14-year-old. Despite temperatures approaching 90 and humidity at approximately 200%, she’s taken some brief walks around our apartment complex and even though her joints are stiff, they don’t appear to be causing her a ton of pain.

Today she got a visit to the vet. Not an easy visit by any stretch but she was a trooper. First and foremost, she’s healthy. No heart problems, lymph nodes are good, etc. She got some senior bloodwork done but pending anything off in those results, she’s as healthy as she can be at this age. We opted not to get her spayed at this time – it honestly won’t benefit her health that much and surgery at her age should only be of the mandatory kind, not the optional kind.

What broke my heart, though, was Blossom’s fear. She was literally shaking like a leaf the whole time. Our vet was wonderful with her and went so, so slowly. She finally let him pet her after about 10-15 minutes but obviously he wasn’t able to do a super thorough superficial exam; luckily what he was able to see was pretty healthy/normal.

For now she’ll be loved and spoiled with us. Every day she gets a bit more comfortable and trusting; last night she slept curled up at my feet and didn’t make a peep all night. I am so thankful she and Lucy largely get along – it makes things so much less stressful.

Blossom is a super sweet girl who’s had a super rough life and while I wish it hadn’t taken her 14 years to find a good home, I’ll make up for lost time.

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My favorite thing – spoiling my dogs.