When dog is life. #sorrynotsorry

When dog is life. #sorrynotsorry

I’ve shared my life with a few dogs and they have all been great. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a German Shepherd Dog gal but truthfully I love just about every pup I cross paths with (except this one Chow Chow that tried to kill me when I was little *snicker* and most Chihuahuas because they are truly evil little creatures, but I digress). However, as I have gotten older I’ve noticed a trend with human/dog relationships. To fully explain it, let’s jump back to the year 2000.

All my life, all I ever wanted was a German Shepherd Dog. I wanted one so bad that I went out and purchased every book, magazine, stuffed creature, you-name-it that had anything to do with this magnificent breed. I knew the history, I knew the temperament, the average size, weight, potential health complications – I knew them all. I watched K-9 until my VCR bled. I watched Rin Tin Tin K-9 Cop every day after school (yeah, that was a thing). But my mom was absolutely not a dog person, especially not a GSD person. So it was not meant to be.

So in 2000, I was living in Southern California and no longer under my mom’s roof, so I was able to finally get my German Shepherd Dog. I went down to the German Shepherd rescue in Burbank and found a beautiful one year old pup. I can’t remember the name they had given her. It was something cute and fufu – and I promptly changed it to Heidi. She was a Heidi. She was big. She was gorgeous. And she came with a whole host of known German Shepherd quirks. But that was okay. Someone had abandoned her and I was there to love her. And I did. I took her everywhere. I loved that dog so much. I was a young adult with no real ties to anything but my dog. She was my kid. For a while, she was my entire life.

Eventually life changed. I became a mom (and had the safest kid on the planet because no one was going to dare get near Heidi’s “pup”) and life started to shift. I had a small human to mother. It didn’t affect my bond with Heidi but it affected my potential bond with future dogs. I didn’t realize it at the time but I had entered a phase in my life where no other dog was going to have that relationship with me. Not for a while, at least.

Heidi lived a good, full life. She had hip displaysia and corneal dystrophy but with supplements and medication, she thrived. Until she was gone. It was a horrible, searing pain. I still cry about it now and then. Saying goodbye to her was one of the hardest things I had ever done.

Over the years I had a few dogs come in and out of my life but none of them were Heidi. I resigned myself to the fact that those years of my life had passed because I was a mom and nothing would ever be more important than my kids. (Still true, will always be true.) I couldn’t imagine having another relationship with a dog where that dog held that same rank.

But then came Fritzi and she completely upended my world. My kids are older now. They don’t require 24/7 tending to. They have lives (my first baby, Heidi’s baby is dual enrolled as a junior in high school and a freshman in college, so things have definitely changed), they have friends, they have school and activities and I found myself once again with the ability to wrap my world around a 4 legged baby.

It was a tough decision, though. I have two cats and three kids. And while it is easy to find a GSD who loves kids (it is rare when they don’t), it isn’t easy to find one that loves cats. So we had to start with a baby. I found a breeder who had some puppies on the way. On April 25th, I got the message that three pups were born to the litter and since I was 2nd in line, I officially had a puppy. I had my sights set on the little female with the pink collar and thankfully the person with the first pick didn’t select her.

Eight weeks later, Fritzi came home to be with the family.

It was a rough start at first but we knew what to expect. Having a new puppy is not unlike having a new baby. Puppies have to relieve themselves very often (generally they can hold it one hour per month of life) so there were middle of the night wake ups to go out, just-in-case puppy pad change outs, and that let’s not even discuss the teething and mouthing of the little landshark. Puppies have razor sharp teeth and they don’t mean to hurt you, but they still do.

When Fritzi was three months old, she went off to boot camp. School. Whatever you want to call it. She had four solid weeks of inboard training. That was hard. We couldn’t see her for four whole weeks. Our trainer sent pictures and videos so we could see her progress. But boy we missed her. And she grew while she was gone. I mean, she really grew. She looked like a baby when she left but was more like a gangling teen when she came home.

She is five months old now and my life is totally wrapped up in her. We go to school every weekend, where she continues her training and I get trained as well. (After all, it is usually handler error and not dog error when something goes wrong.) We have our regular trips to Starbucks for Puppaccinos and have figured out most of the dog-friendly establishments in town. (Did you know that if you go through the drive-through at Walgreens, they send a big dog treat out with your prescription? It is true.) I take her everywhere I can. She has become my constant companion. She has also become my younger kids’ best friend. My son loves to play and wrestle with her. My youngest daughter wants to cuddle with her and play fetch. It was just kismet.

So when you get tired of my Facebook posts and tweets about my sweet girl…just keep scrolling. Because I’m going to keep posting. And I totally did make her an Instagram page because…why not?

Happy Monday, folks!

Life is what happens when you’re not paying attention…

Life is what happens when you’re not paying attention…

So here we go. I haven’t posted an update on here for the better part of a year. It isn’t that I don’t have anything to say, I just haven’t had time to sit down and actually say it. But I’m going to try to take a few minutes and rehash the highlights of my last year. Here we go…

Halloween Horror Nights, Orlando 2017

Oh yes I did. Because, let’s face it…if you know me, you are probably shaking your head. Not only did I go to Halloween Horror Nights, but I traveled 746.8 miles to do it. It was totally different when I lived in So Cal and could just pop into Universal Studios Hollywood. But this time I traveled all that way to be terrified. Truthfully though, I was bribed with Butterbeer. I did it for the trip to Daigon Alley. All in all, it was really a great weekend. It was a quick, kid-free trip. We were going to take them to Orlando a few weeks later anyway.

Grand Disney (and Universal Studios) Vacation, Orlando & The Bahamas, 2017

For years I have wanted to take the kids on a Disney cruise but I wasn’t really sure if cruising would be their thing, so we split the difference. We spent half of the time in Orlando and the other half of the time on the cruise. That way, if they didn’t enjoy the cruise, the entire vacation would be a wash. We started out by flying into Orlando and staying at a fantastic resort in a 3-bedroom condo. That is DEFINITELY the way to go when traveling with three kids and one of them is a teenager.

We spent a day at Universal Studios, where we had some ups and downs. My youngest rode The Mummy and it almost killed the day because she wasn’t quite ready for a ride like that. But thanks to their awesome staff, our day was recovered. We ended the day with my son riding the Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster. That was a big deal. My boy has grown up so much.

Of course we went to Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. We cut our Hollywood Studios day short and went to Medieval Times. It was hot and rain off and on so it was a good call all around. We did the whole shebang and did the knighting all that good stuff.

We purposely timed our trip during Halloween season so we could do the Mickey’s Not So Scary party. We did that every year for years in California and it has been greatly missed since moving to North Carolina. It was so great doing that again. We all got dressed up and our dinner reservations came with VIP spots to watch the fireworks show.

After a few days in Orlando, we headed to Canaveral and boarded the Disney Dream. It was absolutely amazing. We sailed to Nassau and Castaway Cay. As it turns out, the kids are REALLY into cruising. Everyone had such a great time. My oldest made some awesome friends in the teen club and my littles made some magical memories in the kids club and pretty much all over that ship. It was a total win. We did the Halloween on the High Seas themed cruise so there was a lot of Halloween-themed parties and trick or treating on board.

(Ok, my attention was temporarily derailed as I was tying this. My 16 year old just came in to tell me that she wrecked her car. Deep breath. It’s just a car. It’s just a bumper. OMG. Refocus.)

George Straight, Las Vegas, 2017

I got my dad VIP tickets to the George Strait concert in Vegas. That was a really fun albeit quick trip. We flew into Vegas and spent a couple of nights at MGM Grand. Our VIP experience included access to a pop up museum. It was REALLY awesome seeing his CMAs in person…and all of the Dusty gear! There were also some very stunning guitars on display.

I came home from the family vacation with pneumonia (and at the time of posting this, I still have it…ugh) so there were a few touch and go moments. But even with the pneumonia, the entire trip was such a great time. Between the George Strait fans and all of the people there for the rodeo, Vegas was crawling with cowboys.

Sweet 16, Boston and London, 2018

My firstborn celebrated her sixteenth birthday earlier this year. Instead of throwing some crazy Sweet 16 party, we went on a girls’ trip to Boston and London. She’s wanted to go to London for years so I thought that would be a pretty cool and memorable birthday present. We spent a few days sightseeing in Boston. I hadn’t been there since I was 16 so it was great to go back. It is absolutely my favorite city in the US. There was a lot that I wanted to show her but we didn’t have time. We are definitely going back again.

After a few days in Boston, we flew over the pond to London. It was our first time so we did a lot of touristy things. We wanted to take the Chunnel to Paris and go to Disneyland but we never beat the jetlag so we put that on our to-do list for next time we are in Europe.

NYC, 2018

Life has taken me to some really interesting places but it doesn’t mean much if you can’t share the moments with someone. This summer I had the chance to go to a great conference in NYC. I work from my home office and sometimes I forget what it is like to connect with friends and colleagues. But this summer I was able to connect and learn so much. The best part was that I was able to share the experience with my best friend. She and I spend a lot of time together with the kids but we never get to really let loose. Some of the highlights of our trip included drinks at The View, a rooftop party and dancing at the famed Copacabana.

I hadn’t been to NYC since I was 16 and either I never realized what a pit it was or I had just forgotten. Times Square smells like a combination of urine, raw sewage, trash and weed. I think I’ll stick to my small town life where I can smell clean, fresh air and have a big house with a big yard. But it IS fun to get away and remind myself of these things from time to time.

 

And with that you have the highlights of my year. There have been ups and downs but overall it has been a great year. I’ve really grasped the fact that life is short and it is important to seize the moment.

Now if I could just shake that darn pneumonia…and maybe keep my blood level up…but I’m getting there.

Universal Studios Orlando: Thank you for making today special for a little girl!

Universal Studios Orlando: Thank you for making today special for a little girl!

I really have to take a moment to share our amazing experience with anyone who is willing to listen. Two incredible crew members at Universal Studios Orlando went above and beyond today and I will be forever grateful.

My family spent today at Universal Studios Orlando. After riding the more exciting rides (like Space Mountain) at Disney World yesterday, Lexxie decided to brave some of the bigger rides at Universal today. We started out with Transformers and she did okay. But when we made our way to The Mummy, there was instant regret. She toughed it out but it turned her day upside down. With a little coaxing and a lot of bribery (which included an interactive wand and some new stuffed friends from Daigon Alley), she rode Escape from Gringott’s. I quietly hoped that it was enough to have turned her day back around. But I was wrong.

We made our way to E.T. and she just flat out refused to ride. She was in tears – scared and probably frustrated that her fun day was filled with fear and unknown – so she and I sat out while everyone else went on.

It was around 12:30 and I knew the next Animal Actors show was scheduled for 1pm. Nobody loves animals more than Lexxie so I took her over to the stage. The line wasn’t forming yet so we parked ourselves at the start of the queue. I figured, if we are just going to be standing around waiting anyway, we might as well wait for the show.

This is where everything changes.

Georgianna (and I’m really sorry if I’ve spelled that wrong), one of the trainers at the show, came over to chat with us. We told her why we were there so early and she immediately started telling Lexxie about all of the fun rides and attractions that she would really enjoy, if she would give them a try. She suggested E.T. so I explained that it was that very ride that she drew the line. So Georgianna went on to tell Lexxie about how gentle the ride is.

Around that time, Tammy (a shift supervisor) came out to join us. Georgianna told her about Lexxie’s bad experience and Tammy joined in to tell her about E.T. But then she did something incredible – she offered to take Lexxie on the ride herself. After enough explaining, Lexxie agreed. As we headed that way, the rest of the family joined us. Tammy brought all of us onto the ride and rode with Lexxie right up front. It was a success!

Not only did she introduce Lexxie to a ride that she would enjoy (and a new movie to add to movie nights) but she made her feel really special. It may have been a small gesture on their part, but it meant the world to us.

After the ride, we headed back to the Animal Actors show. They gave Lexxie the best seat in the house – front and center. Just as I had expected, she LOVED the show. Her favorite part was Greta the German Shepherd (no surprise since we are a GSD family). Afterwards she was able to pet one of the dogs.

To top it all off, Tammy called ahead to the Minion ride and put us on the list to just walk on and ride (in the express queue). She told Lexxie that they had a stationary seating option and that’s what we did. It was perfect for her.

Universal Studios is huge and they could easily turn a blind eye to the 7 year old guest who just wanted to go back to our resort. But they didn’t. They did the opposite. Their small gesture made our little girl feel extra special and it ensured that we will continue to visit this park on vacation for many years to come.

Thank you Georgianna and Tammy. I can’t say that enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Have YOU been to Shelly Island yet?

Have YOU been to Shelly Island yet?

Intelligent, even moderately intelligent adults can easily explain the not-so-phenomena of newly formed islands. Science. *insert jazz hands here* Regardless of how or why the island appeared – or how long it will stick around – it is still a fun concept.

The ocean, the waves and the shore, and all of the magic of the seas have always captivated me. They draw me in. I refuse to live landlocked.

I like to visit the mountains. I like to frolic in the snow and breathe in the exceptionally fresh air in a New England autumn. But when it is all said and done, I make my way back home to the warm shores of North Carolina.

Now that the tourists are all packing up and returning to their lives, I’m resuming my happy days of burying my toes in the sand and breathing in the salty air as the tides come and go.

Long live those late summer crab boils, autumn hikes across Jockey’s Ridge and the ever unexpected snowfall on the sandy shores.

…and fire pits…definitely fire pits…

Can we stop finding things to complain about?

Can we stop finding things to complain about?

When is enough, enough? Every time I turn on the news or scroll through updates online, I find more and more complaints that seemed to be rooted in people simply looking for something to complain about. Today’s complaint (which actually made the news)? Social media may be creating or hiding anxiety. Creating or hiding. Really? Ultimately, the complaint was about people only posting photos of good times.

Well, no kidding? Who wants to post pics of not-so-good times? Seriously, think about it…how many times are you scrolling through your news feed thinking “let me see who is miserable today?” Or, maybe “hmm, look at this selfie that makes me look like something my camera threw up! I should definitely post this one instead of the good one…”

Get over it!

Even though your friends aren’t all posting about their bad days, you can still find comfort in knowing that they have them. We all do. That is life.

Ok, I’m done complaining about people complaining. *laugh*

My Happy Place

My Happy Place

This one started out a little different. Now that I am starting to feel better, my best friend asked me if I’d be up for a beach day on Sunday.

Heck. Yeah.

So then I thought about it. An entire beach weekend would be even better than a beach day. So after work on Friday, we loaded up the vehicle with beach towels, toys and some overnight gear and headed to Kill Devil Hills for the weekend.

On our first night here, we went looking for ghost crabs. I was ridiculously terrified of them when I was a child but my kids seem to enjoy watching them (as long as they don’t run across their feet).

As we were down at the water, the tide started to come in a little . It came in just enough to snatch flip flops! I chased them down into the water and only managed to come back with three of the four that were lost. I found both of Lexxie’s but only one of mine

“Not a big deal!” I told everyone after searching for a while. Lexxie and I got up the next morning and headed to WRV for a new pair. I buy a new pair at the start of every summer anyway. It is still early in the season so they haven’t got all of their inventory yet. That meant I had to settle for a pair of Billibong flip flops instead of my usual Roxy. No worries.

We returned with a bag full of new clothes (so hard to resist) and then headed down to play on the beach. This is where it gets good.

As I’m sitting on my towel watching the kids play in the surf, I glance over and see two of my closest friends from high school. One of them, I hadn’t seen in close to twenty years!! We chatted and caught up and eventually the conversation shifted to my lost flip flop. As luck would have it, they happened to come across a lone flip flop. Amazingly, I was reunited with my lost flip flop!

Usually the ocean will swallow things up and we never see them again. But not this time.

Tomorrow we will hit the beach again, this time with our best friends. We will celebrate our Mother’s Days just as we prefer – in the sand, salt and sun followed by all you can eat crab legs, clams, mussels, all the good stuff.