A Coffee Chat

Analog(1)

Who says coffee and cookies do not a balanced breakfast make?

The big news around here (for me, at least) is that I’ve hit the 37-week mark of this pregnancy, which means the baby is technically considered full-term, even though his due date is still about 3 weeks away. So if he decides to come early, most likely all would be fine with him.

Meanwhile, I’m starting to feel really ready for his arrival. Mother Nature is so smart about these things. Where I used to be terrified of it; now, I’m like “Bring it!” I’m actually even almost curious to discover how I’ll do through it, like it’s the next big adventure. While I’m not in a rush for him to come (he still needs a little more time developing!), I am definitely ready to not be pregnant anymore. I’m ready to have my body back, even if it will sag and droop in places it didn’t use to do. I’m ready to be able to sleep on my stomach and not feel little fingers and toes squirm in protest. Although the baby and I will still be joined at the hip (or boob), I’m looking forward to being able to at least set the weight down from time to time–or pass it off to his father (heh heh).

I’m ready for a stiff cocktail.

Even if I still can’t have many of those either, what with breastfeeding and all.Analog(2)We had a visit with the doctor on Friday and all is right on track: baby hasn’t dropped yet (which is an approximate sign of impending labor), but he is head down (which is a very good thing) and he’s an estimated 3 kgs (6.6 lbs). The swollen feet I complained of last week were all considered within normal range for this point in the pregnancy, and actually the swelling seems to have gone down a bit over the past couple of days, which is a relief. I had read that weight gain can come to a stop, or even drop a little bit in the last month of pregnancy…I was skeptical, but it seems to be true, as I’ve even lost a couple of pounds this week. While the baby is still getting bigger, apparently the weight loss is due to reduced amniotic fluid as the baby fills out the belly. (It’s definitely not from the baked goods I’ve been consuming…though, wouldn’t that be nice.)

So that’s cool.

The other bit that makes me happy is that we had a chance to have friends over for a visit this weekend, and they brought their beautiful new 2-month old daughter. We were really curious to see how Dot would act around the baby as she hasn’t spent any time with babies before. Kids, yes (ever since she was a wee pup, I made a point to bring her to SOLD with me every chance I got specifically so she would learn to be good around kids), but the youngest child of her acquaintance has been about 3 years old. We were afraid she might bark or be nervous, but she did absolutely nothing of the sort. Her demeanor spoke of nothing but pure curiosity…all she wanted to do was sniff little Kate’s feet. She was very gentle around her (and of course we kept very close and watchful in case she wasn’t). She gave the baby space, was respectful as Kate slept in the bouncer on the floor while we ate lunch, and really seemed both fascinated by the baby and to understand the need to be delicate around her. We were very pleased, and are hopeful that this will bode well for when our little bean comes home.

_TMK0948-2On a quieter note, Toby and I have been feeling a tiny bit homesick for California these days. I don’t know if it’s because of the baby coming, or in spite of it…if it’s due to the time of year, or due to the likelihood that we would have traveled somewhere by now if I weren’t pregnant…but we’re thinking of home and our friends there. California is spectacular at this time of year too, the lazy hazy dog days of summer shift as the airs turns crisp towards fall and everything smells and tastes of pumpkin spice.

I miss wearing jackets. I miss socks.

And a couple of our best friends are expecting their first babe too–due on the same day as ours! They’re the kind of friends who, when we lived around the corner from each other, we would pop by for impromptu visits, or invite over for pie just because. As our pregnancies come to an end now, I feel a sadness that we’re not together, that we must share this time from so far away.

Well, all this talk of California is also making me crave Mexican food! I think that’s what I’m going to do for lunch today!

What’s going on with you? Are you feeling the hankering for autumn too? Happy Wednesday everyone!

 

Scenes From My Weekend

I was all set to do a regular Scenes From My Weekend post…until I realized I’ve done an abysmally poor job of taking photos this weekend.

All I have for you are: puppy cuddles.photo(11)They’re sweet, puppy cuddles, to be sure.

But that’s all I got.

photo(12)What did you capture this weekend? Join us at Communal Global and link up below!



Random Friday Musings

I was planning to write a Books to Savor post sharing a good read I’d come across recently, and I may still get to that later today, but in the meantime, I’m in the mood to share some random things going on in my brain bucket today.

Here they are, in no particular order…

dot_hoodie1

- Our little Dot is a pretty dang obedient dog and a sweetheart…except in one area. She is nearly uncontrollable when it comes to barking at the neighbors, gardeners, and any other being that commits the grave sin of existing anywhere near our house without express permission. Because our house is rented, we can’t fence her in properly so she’s free to wander, which was fine when we didn’t have neighbors. But after the flooding in Bangkok prompted people to start moving up to Chiang Mai, we suddenly have neighbors. Neighbors who like to have visitors. So you can imagine how many times a day we have to yell at her and chase after her. Dot doesn’t respond well to negative reinforcement. It only makes her more stubborn and recalcitrant (or worse, she gives us this look like we’ve totally failed her), which makes it really difficult to teach her NOT to bark because it’s kind of ridiculous to only be able to praise a dog when it doesn’t bark.

It’s hard to get completely mad at her because it comes from a protective instinct and she’s only doing what she thinks is her job. But since I got pregnant, her protective instinct has been elevated from day job to High Calling, which is both sweet and utterly obnoxious. So after trying every other thing we could think of or find through copious online research, we’ve decided to try a shock collar on her. It makes me feel incredibly guilty and worried, especially given her usual response to negative reinforcement and I really didn’t want to break her relationship of trust with us. But…after just a few days with it, I have to say…

IT WORKS.

Toby has worked carefully with her in using it and keeps it on the lowest possible setting, so that it’s more a sensation than an actual jolt. But the part I really appreciate about it is that you can press a button, via remote control, to emit a little warning beep before resorting to the shock. He only had to use the shock on her twice before she learned to stop barking, come right back to us and sit down, at which point we envelop her in praise and treats. Now that little warning beep is pretty much all she needs to get her to stop barking and come home. And she doesn’t seem to be exhibiting any signs of feeling upset or hurt by us or the collar (maybe because it’s done by remote control, so the connection isn’t clear to her?). So as long as the warning beep is all it takes to get her to obey when we tell her to stop barking and come home, I think I can slowly get behind using this thing, though I still hope there might be a day we won’t have to use it at all.

dot_hoodie2

- Sometimes, I get really tired of how debate is handled with political stuff. Almost every day in my Facebook feed, there is something about how people are shooting people up in America and we need to do something about keeping slaughter machines out of the hands of crazy folk and why do we only care about people dying when it’s a bomb and not a gun AND/OR something about how we need to cling to our guns and freedoms, and clearly not having an AK-47 = tyranny, and because one person managed to use a gun successfully it’s a good idea for everyone to have easy access to them. The media, which exists to sell itself (and these days, doesn’t even pretend to care more about sharing real policy information than entertainment), THRIVES on this kind of conflict, pushing wedges where really there aren’t any. The truth is, on most policy issues, most people are pretty moderate (which, turns out is kind of a reasonable place to be, hey?). But the way we talk about these issues is like two echo chambers existing side by side, rather than actually communicating. Which is really sad because it makes it impossible to advance the conversation. I’m tired of hearing the same old drumbeats on either side. I’m tired of people painting each other as crazy and stupid when they clearly haven’t listened to what the other really wants. And here’s a hint: you’re not listening to people if you’re spending the entire time trying to figure out how to prove that they’re wrong and you’re smarter.

Here’s two things I wish people would think about more. 1) If you think the answer to a policy problem (especially a controversial one) is really fucking simple, then you’re probably not looking at it carefully enough. 2) You’re not contributing to an effective solution if you can’t hear or address the concerns of those who disagree with you. Be opinionated all you want. Having strong opinions is good. Being engaged in the world around you is good. But it’s still not actually helpful to assume your opinion is the only one worth having and to only want to hear other people tell you that you’re right.

The really worrisome part is that perpetuating these divisions make people really, REALLY angry, and I fear that not only does it not contribute to good policy, but that it makes people really hate each other, dehumanize each other, and makes it seem okay to be more violent with each other, so that it is no longer possible to reach each other with words. People begin see no other recourse than weaponry.

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- Something else I’ve been thinking about lately is that it can be a challenge learning how to adjust to a parent who is aging. I think part of growing up is dealing with the disillusionment that comes when you realize your beloved parent isn’t quite the superhero you thought they were when you were 5, but alongside that comes the beautiful part of getting to know them as they are, which can make you love them more deeply and more expansively, and can add wonderful new dimensions to the relationship.

Sometimes, though, it is a challenge when you’re confronted with a parent whose age has turned them into someone they didn’t use to be, especially if some qualities you admired have been replaced by something you don’t. I recently realized that, when you factor in time with a relationship, part of loving someone means letting go of them as they once were and finding love and acceptance for who they are now. Sometimes, the change is so drastic you have to find new ways to connect with them, demonstrate love, and support and encourage them. It’s like you almost have to build a new relationship. It’s not easy. But realizing that brought me a long way closer to making it okay.

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- Today I’m baking 5-minute artisan bread. The dough has been resting in the fridge for two days, and I’m anxious to see how it turns out. I’ve made it a few times before, but for some unknown reason (changes in humidity/weather? different flour used?), it comes out differently every single time. So it’s like a surprise every time. We’ll see how well it works today!

So that should probably have made up three posts instead of one. Thanks for indulging me! Tell me, what’s been on your mind lately?

How My Pregnancy Changed My Dog

Dot

Little Miss Dot

Before I became pregnant, Dot had a routine of going out for at least an hour first thing in the morning to wander the neighborhood. We live in a safe, enclosed neighborhood, with plenty of houses but very few neighbors, so we felt it was all right to let her wander, get some fresh air and exercise, and come and go as she liked. She would come back and sleep near me as I worked, but her routine mostly involved alternating between hanging out with me or Toby and running outside every few hours or so. At least a few times a day, she would go into high drama mode upon spying a fellow dog outside. High-pitched shrieking and whining and general freaking-out would commence until we could get up and let her out to go sniff her compatriot’s hind end and come back inside.

Almost as soon I as found out I was pregnant, Dot’s routine changed. She no longer goes on long morning hikes. Instead, she sleeps patiently on her little bed until we get up—whether it be at 7 a.m. or 10 a.m.—at which point, we’ll let her out to go pee, but then she comes right back in, and from then on, she’s attached at my heel. If I go to work on the couch, she’ll sleep right beside me there, or lay perched to watch the outdoors for any possible miscreants. Upstairs, downstairs, there she is right behind me. When I go to the kitchen for a snack, she follows me. When I go to the kitchen to make lunch, she whines to go outside, but instead of wandering afield, she mans her guard post just outside the kitchen door until I’m done cooking, at which point she will follow me to the dining room to stand guard while I eat. When I take a shower, she stands watch outside the bathroom door, sometimes even whining until I stick my wet fingers past the curtain for her to lick and be assured that I am indeed behind the curtain and have not actually melted down the drain.

And then, at night, instead of sleeping in her little bed, she has taken to coming to my side of the bed and sleeping on the floor beside me until I fall asleep. When it’s clear I’m safe and sleeping, she moves back to her proper bed.

To say she has become protective of her pregnant mama would be an understatement.

Yesterday, I packed up the car to go to work at SOLD. Normally, this dog hates anything to do with the car because while the car often means a trip to the lake, it also potentially means a trip to the vet or to the kennel. We usually have to coax and cajole her for several minutes before she begrudgingly gets in the car with a look that clearly says to us, “FINE, but only because I love you, you know that right?” Sometimes she gets so recalcitrant we give up and force her in. Seeing as how just last week she had her annual vaccinations at the vet’s office, one would think this experience would be foremost in her little doggie mind and getting back in the car would be the last thing she’d want to do. Yet, just as I was about to step into the car myself, she popped in and made herself comfy on the front seat–only to be promptly ejected. We had to put her in the house and shut the door so I could drive away. She went into high drama mode and wouldn’t stop whining until Toby finally let her out to prove to her that I was indeed already gone. (Poor little Dottles!)

Dogs are amazing, aren’t they? We figure she must have been able to smell or somehow sense a change in my hormones or pheremones or whatever because the change was almost immediate. I don’t really know if she understands pregnancy or not. Either way, I love that her innate instinct in response was a protective one. I think it bodes well for how she’ll be when the baby comes along. Normally, she’s a little skittish around kids and we’ve had to work hard to socialize her to be at ease around a lot of kids. It’s not easy for her, and if they startle her or come at her looking like they might strike her, she will still occasionally snap so we watch her carefully. We’ll watch her carefully with our little one as well (OF COURSE), but I think as long as she recognizes the baby as a member of the family (which, actually, so far, she’s been amazingly good at figuring out who’s family when visitors come to call), she will be all love and cuddles. I’m curious to see how it plays out.

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Scenes From My Weekend


Only a few shots this weekend
because I didn’t do much, unless you count writing & movie watching
- and “not doing much” was just fine by me -
But we still had time to send Dot on escapades
suited up as Bee Scout Extraordinaire
because, clearly, we’re not above humiliating our pup
for our own amusement.
(I think she secretly likes it.)

::

Also linking up with Communal Global

Bathe in the Cuteness: A Photo Essay


Ignore the greasy hair and unmade up face. Dog shower first, then mama shower.

"Some ting eez happening...."

Oh god. Here it comes.

Please, not the shampoo!

Oh. The wetness.

Oh. The misery.

Es-cap-eh!

"Pbbt!" is what I say to you people.

Get me outta here!

Why don't you people love me?!

Done? Is it really done? SIGH.

* Photos by Toby Keller

oh dear

One of the very first toys I bought our poochlet, Dot, was a little stuffed bear.

She just thought it was the bees’ knees.

And she took it with her everywhere she went.

But this morning, I discovered the fate of said bear…

DUN DUN DUUUNNN.

Poor, poor bear.

a post about nothing in particular

Hi all. I’m a bit tapped creatively, but I wanted to touch base and say hi. The past few days have been blissfully quiet, with just me and the puplet home together while my hubby and a friend visiting from the U.S. are rock climbing down south. Well, I say it’s been quiet, but it hasn’t really been easy. House training a young pup does take energy. We had figured we should keep her bed in the kitchen, thinking it would teach her to be independent from the beginning. That did not go well. Not well at all. I was up every 45 minutes to an hour, either taking her potty or listening to her whining & barking.  Two days of no sleep left me a very disagreeable person and I was quite sure I’d soon do myself or the dog a harm. Following the advice of Amy Liz (Thanks Amy!) and others, on the third night I let her sleep on a bed of towels next to my bed. INSTANTLY BETTER. Not only did she settle down happily and sleep, she was able to let me know herself when she needed to potty (instead of having to set an alarm for myself to go check on her), and it seemed to calm her down more during the day too. Win! I still have to get up about 2-3 times each night to take her to go potty, but we’re able to get back to sleep quickly and I’m not nearly so exhausted as I was those first few days.

During the day, like a young mother, I try to get my personal business done while she’s sleeping. One of the items on my to-do list involved learning to ride the scooter by myself. I’d been fine in the neighborhood, but had been terrified of taking it out on major roads. You know, where there are things like CARS and TRUCKS and TRAFFIC. But finally I took the Scoopstar out for a spin and went down the road to the coffee shop and got myself a cup of coffee and insta-confidence boost. I feel way more comfortable riding now, though I’d still like to have T follow along on his bike a couple of times through the city until I learn to navigate properly in Thai traffic. Mostly because I’d like him to be there in case I do something stupid and end up on the curb or in a ditch. Or lost in Burma.

Anyway. So when the puplet is not sleeping, I spend time trying to socialize her, play with her and train her. Nothing too much, just establishing myself as her pack leader and starting the learning process. She’s already pretty good at coming when called, so mostly I’m just working on getting her not to bite or nip. She’s teething so it’s a bit of a process directing her away from my jeans or ankles and towards her chew toys. Then today, I started teaching her to sit. I think she picked it up a little, but it’ll still take more practice.

BUT! I swear this blog is not going to turn into a blog about my dog. Okay, not mostly, anyway. So I’ll share one other tidbit of what’s been going on at Chez Keller.

I’m excited as we’ve found some artwork for our very bare white walls. And if you were here for the nesting madness circa 2008, you’ll know how I detest white walls. But these are paintings by a local artist, and not only were they a sight above the typical standard found at the night market, the artist was young and an all-around cool guy. And we’re all about supporting young artists. He was selling these two separately, but I thought they looked great as a diptych.

Whaddaya think?

Only thing is, it turns out our walls are made of concrete. So we’ll have to get creative about hanging them. And so it goes.

I’m missing my hubby like mad but he’ll be back tomorrow! In the meantime…

Happy Sunday everyone!

We Has a Dot

If you look on my About Me page, there’s a line in there about how I used to have a dog, but he passed away some years ago, and my heart is still recovering.

Well, I think that’s about to change. We’d been wanting a dog for a long while now, but between a shoebox apartment and a life that had no certain path other than change, we knew having a dog was not a good idea. So I shoved the desire for a fur baby down to a tiny corner of my heart, hidden from view 99.8% of the time.

But then we found puppies and it resurfaced with a vengeance. I knew we couldn’t take on three stray dogs, but my heart went out to them all the same. But I told myself I could still just give them food and watch them grow from a distance.

Then, in a cruel twist of heart ache-ness, the mama dog freaked out and moved the pups and we couldn’t find them. For two days I was heartbroken. It’s no joke when I say I moped. I was grieving.

Then a couple of nights ago, we heard them. They were whimpering and crying LOUDLY and not far away. A little searching the following morning brought us to another abandoned, overgrown horror movie style house, full of dead leaf patches you just know house snakes (I know because a saw a baby one slither by). We found the puppies cowered in a corner on a broken deck (in which one of the pups probably fell and got trapped, which explains the crying). They were frightened and starving, but they (Dot especially) remembered our scent. We brought food and water, but in the intervening days, it was clear their situation had worsened. The mama clearly couldn’t bring much in the way of food. Little Wakko was especially in a bad way. He couldn’t eat more than a couple of bites before falling over from exhaustion. Yakko had grown a little meaner and looked like she was beginning to develop mange.

I sat playing with Dot, who of the three still had energy and seemed to trust us, and I figured the time had come to make a decision. If we left them any longer the dogs would really get sick. But taking on a stray? Were we ready for that? We hadn’t yet decided to get a dog, much less a stray. There was no way we could take on three that’s for sure, especially if two might have health or temper problems. Splitting up the siblings was a tough decision, but there was Dot, eating, playing, trusting…and in need.

We talked it over…and then took the leap. I carried her to our home, expecting her to whimper and writhe, but she sat calmly in my arms, clearly enjoying being carried. She gets scared every now and again, but she comes to us for comfort. She shows no signs of missing her mama or siblings. Meanwhile she seems to be thriving in the warmth and security of our home.

My family is a little traumatized that we brought home a stray, but we took her to the vet. He checked her over and said everything looks normal and gave her a Parvo/distemper/deworming vaccine cocktail. He estimates she’s about 15 days old, so we’ll go back in two weeks for more vaccines.

We’ve put her through a lot of scary stuff the past couple of days: a bath, motorcycle rides to & from the vet, vaccine shots, a trip to the grocery store for more food and chew toys, and housetraining so she’ll sleep alone. Through almost all of it, she’s been the chillest dog ever. She’s not a fan of sleeping alone, but I think she’s getting better about it.

The really awesome bit about taking in a stray? Besides the fact that they look at you like their glory and salvation all rolled into one? She comes potty-trained. Having only ever done her potty business outside, that’s all she’s used to. So when she suddenly wigs out and acts distressed, we take her out to the garden, she does her business (T had to demonstrate the first time, but she caught on quickly) and then back in the house she goes and she’s fine. We just need to work on getting her on a proper feeding and nighttime potty schedule and we’re set.

Meanwhile, she’s a sweetheart, addicted to love and quick on the uptake. And we love her back.

If you have any suggestions on how to raise a puppy – and especially about teaching a puppy to be all right on it’s own and overcome abandonment anxiety – I’m all ears!

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