I thought I would be an expert at this by now.

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I had it in my mind that if I did something for 800 hours I’d be an expert at it. Turns out I was wrong. It’s 10,000 hours.

I guess it makes perfect sense that I am a tired, bored, frustrated dog walker because I’ve only been doing it for about 800 hours. EIGHT HUNDRED HOURS!! I’ve probably done more because I’m not doing the math. I roughly figure that I take two 45-minute walks a day and we got the dogs last April. That adds up to something near 800, give or take. See how I did Core Curriculum math there? Estimating!

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I LOVE my dogs. But man are they a pain to walk sometimes. They pull me down the street. They see a squirrel and lose their minds and pull me through mud puddles. Cody is strong so you can imagine how that goes. I’ve actually cried real tears on dog walks before because things just went to hell.

They are not always bad. They are getting better and better at minding me and listening to me when I call them but they still have their moments where they try my patience regularly and I feel like I am the worst dog-owner ever.

Yes, we’ve taken them to training and Payam is pretty good at making them mind him but I’m not an alpha by nature and I think the dogs know it. They think Mom is great for a really good time and they like to show me a really good time no matter what brush, bramble or mud puddle it might take me through. Of course, I have been known to take them to the nature park and let them off leash to chase a bunny or a squirrel so it’s really my own fault that they don’t walk beside me calmly. I know this. And they are puppies. So really everything is progressing the way it’s supposed to.

Dog walking can be a chore. It is a chore!  It’s not just a walk in the park on a sunny day. It’s a walk through and around the park on hot days and cold days and rainy days and days when you have so much work to do you can’t believe you are spending 30 minutes untangling yourself from leashes when you really need to get back to your desk already and make that deadline!

Dogs are like having babies all over again.

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When I started my whole dog-walking experience by walking Payam’s dog, Ty, (who passed last year) I thought, This will be great exercise! I’ll do it everyday. How great! It was great for about a month. Then it got really really boring. You can only watch a dog sniff so many sign posts and pee on so many trees before your mind starts to wander and you pull out your phone.

Then when we got the puppies we practically dragged them down the street because they didn’t know how to take walks yet and it was SO FUN! They were so cute!!! That lasted about three months. The novelty wore off.

Now, nearly a year later, it is the bane of my existence. Now I pull out my phone whenever I can and just when I’m sending an important text or titling a really good instagram shot, Cody pulls me sideways and I drop my phone and then Whiskey runs around me, tying me up with his leash and licks me in the face and everyone else out walking their dogs stare at me like, “What are you doing using your phone and not paying attention to your dogs!!”

So I put my phone away and compose blog post after blog post in my head that never get written. I spend a lot of time thinking and not doing anything because of those blasted dogs.

Obviously, I started to resent the dog walks. Especially because I always end up greeting other dog-walkers and it’s always this crazy confusion of my dogs jumping all over their dogs and me using all my strength to hold them back. I feel bad because everyone just wants to say hi and I’m terrible at controlling my dogs. It just felt like a daily exercise in failure.

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I’m learning. Failure after failure and eventually I learn. I am only 800 hours in after all, just a mere baby dog-walking expert.

So what have I learned?  I’ve learned that I can look for the good in these walks. There is so much good. I’ve learned to watch the skies and take my walks when the sun starts to set because it’s about a thousand times more fun to walk and enjoy nature during the golden hours.

I’ve started taking the nature trail near our house that isn’t as busy with other dog-walkers. Of course this trail holds other challenges like that one time the fire engine sirens set off all the coyotes in the park howling and scared the crap out of me. There were literally ten coyotes surrounding us on all sides and I had no idea they were there before the sirens went off because they were hidden in the brush. It was so terrifying I had to split and hide out in a nearby apartment complex and call and ask Payam to come get us. I took several months off from walking in the nature trail after that happened but I’m back to it because the beauty pulls me. Also, Cody is so big these days. I’m pretty sure a full pack of coyotes wouldn’t mess with us. But believe me, I do not let them off leash if we are deep in the nature trail or it is anywhere near twilight.

I’ve also started using headphones. Not when I’m in the nature park of course, because obviously I need to be fully aware of my surroundings but when we are on our lake walks where all the other dog walkers are. It’s amazing how much more patient I am with the pulling and the sniffing and the taking forever to take a crap when I’m listening to classical or piano music. I am truly amazed at how much music can alter my mood. Headphones also kinda keep the other dog walkers from engaging me, which is great. Headphones rule.

There are also the rituals the dogs and I have created. They always sit with me on the benches near the lake. They jump up on the bench before I even get a chance as if to remind me, “Here is where you have to sit and take a moment, Mom.” They let me pet them while I sit and stare at the lake. I am actually very grateful that I have the luxury to take dog walks. They force me to slow down. They force me to sit and think about what I’m thankful for instead of getting mad that I’m not heading home already.

We live in a moderate climate (outside of this crazy rainy year) and I have two pretty places to walk to, that’s a lot! I do wish I could take them to the countryside and let them run to their heart’s content. I do wish the dog park would dry up and stop being a mud festival. But for what it’s worth, I have a lot. And maybe if I remember my headphones or remember to walk when it’s a pretty time of day, I’ll get through the rest of my nine-thousand hours and finally be a calm, peaceful dog-walking expert!

Busy Season: business trips, Christmas prep and a winner (chicken dinner!)

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Last week was crazy busy for me. My Mettaprints partner Teri and I took on a huge spray-painting of silver snowflakes job for a big event in Santa Clara. Every year we vow not to do these kinds of jobs because they are so much work  and every year we somehow get amnesia and decide that we should take on another job like this because we are crafty and fun! And that is all very true but crafty and fun with spray paint for four days straight can get very old and tiring. Let’s just say it’s a good thing Teri and I are great friends and we always have a fun time together. Even when we are in the trenches.

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On the bright side, who can complain about working in these conditions? I mean trees everywhere like that? Have you ever seen a prettier place to work? I guess an ocean view would be nice but the canyon is just drop dead gorgeous. I love it there. I wish it wasn’t a 30 minute drive for me or I would set up office in Teri’s downstairs permanently.

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We worked for four days straight and then early Monday morning, at the crack of four am, we loaded up a rental van with all our pretty snowflakes and embarked on an epic Mettaprints trip. We worked too hard on those snowflakes to trust shipping them and after all, Santa Clara is just a four hour drive away. We figured, no sweat! Let’s make a business trip out of it!mettaprints-to-santa-clara-1

Except we both had so much going on this week that we decided to do all the driving in ONE DAY so that we could get back home quickly. We are lunatics but we also have a great work ethic.

I woke up at 2am on Monday morning, so worried I was going to be late and didn’t go back to sleep until 2 am the next day. I guess doctors can stay up for 48 hours straight but I am no doctor. I was wrecked. It was super fun while we were driving. Teri and I talked a blue streak both ways but the next day on no sleep I was a basket case! It’s funny how a lack of sleep can seriously alter your brain chemistry. I actually felt like I had really bad PMS and broke down crying four times over the stupidest things!  We probably should have stopped somewhere and spent the night but it is what it is and the snowflakes made it to their destination!

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There we are at the Levi stadium! I don’t know much about the client or the event these snowflakes were for (that’s Teri’s job) but it was pretty cool to drive around to the back of the stadium to their super security-guarded loading zone and have a bomb sniffing dog go through our van.  Then we loaded everything onto golf carts and kissed our hard work goodbye with worried visions of our snowflakes sliding off the golf carts and onto the ground, crushing their delicate snowflake corners. The guys working there humored us with promises to be careful while they inwardly rolled their eyes. But I think everything turned out okay.

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Then back home we went to our regularly scheduled programming: Christmas! Actually these photos were taken before we left but I wanted to get that story out of the way first since it was big news around here.

I had so much fun decorating the house with the kids this year. It’s our second year together as a family and things are starting to feel normal instead of new. I love that we have traditions now. We have a fake tree (that I resent because it doesn’t smell pretty like a real tree but I love because I hate paying $$$ for a real tree and I hate that a real tree has to die etc.) and we have special ornaments that we love. I was busy putting up my milk carton village so I didn’t do much with the tree but Payam put it up and fluffed it and all that and the girls decorated in between phone sessions. decorating-for-xmas-2016-2

You know, because phones are like life support these days. I can’t criticize though. They love their phones just as much as Payam and I love ours. It’s just the new normal. We are constantly checking ours too. They don’t have phone service yet but they manage to have just as many things to check as we do with just wifi.

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It’s our first Christmas with the dogs! Good times! As you can see we haven’t really figured out how to keep Cody from eating all the ornaments yet or Whiskey from darting under the tree to hunt the cat that he thinks is there but is not.  The dogs are crazy but we are starting to turn a corner on training and they actually do listen when we tell them no now. We let them roam the house more and more so they aren’t quite as crazy bananas running all over stealing things to chew on as much as they used to. Of course we still have our trouble spots (i.e.: laundry, cloth napkins, hand towels, Bug’s stuffed animals…) but they are getting better.decorating-for-xmas-2016-4

And really, is there nothing so cozy and Christmassy as a Dog sleeping next to your tree? I think it completes us. We did buy another dog fence to put around the tree so we can actually have a fire in the fireplace instead of cardboard from mettaprints blocking it. I plan to break out the camera many more times and get some pictures of the dogs, the tree, the kids AND a fire in the fireplace. I’m really happy with Christmas this year. It’s going to be a good one I think.

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And last but not least, I have winners of the mom’s magical headache cure bottles! Payam picked them. You can yell at him if you didn’t win.

The winners are:

  1. Ines!
  2. Heather!
  3. Jennifer Krause!
  4. Susie! and…
  5. Tamara Lang!

Get me your addresses via email (secretagentjo@gmail.com) and I will ship these out. I’m not promising any timeliness with my shipping but the little bottles are sitting on my desk taking up space and bugging me so I think I will be not forgetting about them. I also want to note that I made this concoction on the weak side just to be safe so if it doesn’t work magically for you, do not give up on essential oils. You might just need a stronger solution.

Bug took her’s to school on frog dissection day because she has a phobia of people puking.  She played nurse all day running around letting her classmates sniff her peppermint oil and it worked for them so I’m thinking you will find many uses for your winnings!  :)

That’s all! Happy Christmassing! I am a wrapping fiend these days, you?