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Yes, I am technically comparing myself to the dog

Back when I first got Daphne, I suddenly realized that I had no idea what I was doing.  Like, yes, I did know how to have a dog, essentially: you feed it, you walk it, you teach it to behave the way you want it to.  This is sort of like saying I know how to have a baby: you feed it, you change it, you try to figure out why it’s crying and how to make it stop.  I still don’t have a baby, so I have no idea how accurate that is, but I suspect it’s an understatement.

In order to figure out how to have a dog and that I wasn’t Doing It All Wrong, I started to read a ton of dog books.  My all time favorite is Jon Katz’s book Katz on Dogs.  Okay, it’s a corny title, but I love me some Jon Katz.  He has written a ton of books about dogs; the first one I read was The New Work of Dogs. Basically, this guy gets that dogs are really important, but also that they are not people, they are dogs.

Why am I writing about this on my real blog instead of my dog blog (um, haha, remember when I said I would stop plugging my dog blog soon?  I guess it’s not soon yet.)?  Because there’s one thing he wrote about that I keep thinking about.  I can’t find the exact quote, but he basically says that crate training your dog gives it a job to do.  The dog knows that while she’s in her crate, her job is to sleep or to chew the chew toy in her crate.  If you leave her home alone outside of her crate, she has no idea what her “job” is, and that’s when she gets destructive.  Maybe her job is taking apart your dining room table, one sliver of wood at a time; maybe it’s trying to find what components make up the soles of your favorite shoes.  The idea is that dogs aren’t destructive just because they like ruining your stuff, but because they don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing; they need the rules and structure (and quiet time) that a crate provides.

You guys, I need a crate.  I really, really need a crate. I’ve enjoyed this time of unemployment, but I’m finding myself suddenly feeling a little bit lost, a little drifty.  I need structure, rules.  Someone, tell me what to do?

I had my great How to Be Unemployed Tips last week, and I maintain that they are good ones.  But I’m also discovering that they are not enough for me.  How can I have Time Off if I don’t have some hardcore Time On?  So here’s my public declaration: starting Monday, I will Do Better.  If no one else is giving me structure, I will make some myself.  Remember, world (and self), the time you spend being unemployed is finite, and you will miss it when it’s gone.

What are your tips for keeping your sanity?  Does anyone want to plan my days for me?  Yes?

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Tradition… tradition!

Tonight begins our first Crazy Intense Holiday Celebration Week While Married.  Writing that sentence was sort of overwhelming, and the festivities haven’t even started yet.

Holidays this year are a little funky.  In years past, we have trekked the 30 minutes to my parents’ house and gathered there with my parents and brother (all of whom lived there) and my sister and her boyfriend (who definitely did not live there).  This year, things are a little different, and we are hosting!  Whoa, hello there, Being a Grownup, I think I was entirely unprepared for your arrival.  But sure, pull up a seat and feel free to go through anything in the fridge.  Yes, help yourself.  I can handle you because I am now a Grownup and can make up the rules about what time of day I get to start drinking.

Being a Grownup

Kidding.

Since the arrival of the holidays amidst a fractured family can really emphasize what’s missing, my lovely wife and I decided that we need to embrace some new traditions.  One of them we realized we already have: Solstice.

Solstice is the shortest day of the year, and this year there is also an eclipse.  Exciting!  Last year – and now this year as well – we are staying at the Inn of Wedding Fame, and then tomorrow we will go for our annual walk in the woods.  We exchange a couple of small gifts, spend a lot of time reading in front of the fireplace at the inn, and enjoy a lot of good tea.  It’s nothing fancy, there’s not a lot involved, but it does feel sacred.

The second new tradition?  Ornaments.  Not just the Gayest Snow(wo)man Ornament, which maybe should be a tradition, but this year we begin exchanging ornaments.  Can’t show you anything yet, since it’s still a secret from Turtle, but this is one I’m excited about.

And the tradition we are still struggling to sort out: our birthdays.  Mine is the 27th, hers is the 28th, my dad’s is the 29th, and my brother’s is January 6th.  This does not leave much recovery time.  Quick! Find traditions for EVERY DAY for a WEEK, stat.

New Tradition: Being Covered in Dogs

What are your holiday traditions?  What do you wish they were?  If you’re married, have you made up new ones with your new baby family?

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Hope and Healing

I had big plans for this weekend, involving festivities and relaxing, and then getting back to blogging on Monday with a clear mind and a lot of thoughtful things to say.

One thing that’s funny about blogging is how much personal stuff I do share, how much I can say about the bumpy parts of my relationship with my wife and finding balances with my family, how much detail I am willing to go into about dealing with depression and therapy and medications and even sex.  Well, the funny thing is when and how I am able to share all that: after the fact is fine, after I can parse it out and look back on it and it’s already a story.

I know I wrote a post called “the short version” last week, but this version is that I am feeling a lot and I don’t know how to say any of it. I spent a lot of last weekend visiting my dad in the hospital.  Don’t worry, folks! He made his escape, we returned his dog, and all seems to be returning to normal (though he declined our offer – nay, our plea – for him to take Daphne home with him tonight).  But this weekend my grandfather went to the doctor and was in quadruple bypass surgery within 24 hours of that visit. Will you, internet people, please send my family healing thoughts?  I would really appreciate it.

Seeing my grandfather and wife interact this summer was one of the best things of the whole summer.

Anyway… here’s what else happened this weekend: on Sunday we picked out our Christmas tree and it is naked in the corner of our living room except for the one ornament that we found and couldn’t not buy.

Really. How could we leave that at the store? We couldn’t.  It needed us almost as much as we needed it.

Our other purchase was the stocking to complete our little family.  Piper has always had a stocking and Daphne got hers last year.  Look, folks, I know the pets don’t care, but I felt guilty not having one for Jake, so I bought this:

What’s that you say?  It looks a little like Jake but has too many eyes?

Ahem. Problem solved with a pair of scissors and some sheer brute force (yes, they sewed AND glued those eyes on!).  Also, my sewing skills require some work, but I think it’s pretty clear that the fish says “Jake” (and hopefully is not read as “Jaxe”, which I was worried about).

Are you starting any holiday decorating or festivities?  Weekend highlights?  Please share!

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The Thrill of the Chaos

Some people enjoy the Thrill of the Hunt or the Thrill of the Chase… it seems, my friends, that I enjoy the Thrill of Being Ridiculously Busy.

though I am capable of relaxing! see??

Since I’m leaving my job in less than two weeks, and I know it might take me a long time to find another job, I decided to start stocking up on money-making activities here and there.  I mentioned I was looking for something extra and a friend called me when her company needed some data entry done; I put up my petsitting cards at a local petstore (guys, I know it’s owned by PetCo, but I love UnLeashed – such a good petstore!) and now I’m walking and doing some positive-reinforcement training with a puppy in town on top of my regular clients; I stopped in at my favorite cookie-only bakery (okay, so there’s only one of those I know of, but it would be my favorite even if it wasn’t the only one) to buy cookies and on a whim asked if they were hiring – now I’m working there a few hours a week.

sky's the limit on insanity!

So I’m basically working four jobs through Christmas, and yes, I am a little bit stressed out, but also – I feel SO GOOD.  Every free moment is a moment I could do something with.  Quick! I have five minutes while the water boils for tea! Time to make that Christmas ornament I’ve been putting off! Okay, here’s another ten minutes before I have to leave: I’ll put tape on the windows and put the plastic up in a few days when I have fifteen minutes to spare.  I am getting an absolute thrill from being so damn busy.

At the end of the day, I am exhausted and usually either asleep or incredibly grumpy (sorry Wife!) by 9:30 at night, but I also feel so productive.  Maybe I don’t have a Thing, but maybe my Thing is trying to keep my head up without losing my shit.  In a good way.

It's all a delicate balance, sort of like a giant chess game. Like THIS giant chess game.

Are you someone who prefers to be busy than, you know, relaxed?  What do you do when you have too much time on your hands?  Does anyone besides somewhat crazy me ever actually feel like they have too much time on their hands?

Happy Tuesday, everyone!  Hopefully my posts don’t start sounding a little manic as these jobs pick up… please tell me if they do.  Or just sit in the corner being quietly entertained by me, and occasionally check in with my wife to make sure she’s doing alright.

*All photos from our Awesome  Honeymoon, which I may or may not someday get around to telling you about.  Er, about which I may or may not someday getting around to telling you. Yeah.

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Gratitude, Inside Out

Things for which I am grateful:

Fighting cats. Halfway through the fighting, they start cleaning each others’ faces. Cutest thing ever.

Bickering spouses. Halfway through the bickering, we realize how silly we are being, and apologies ensue, along with a thoughtful conversation with how to improve our lives, end world hunger, and stop global warming. We are pretty awesome.

bicker bicker bicker

all better! excellent!

How freaking cold it is outside the covers in the morning. It makes me really appreciate a quality down blanket as well as my apparently freakish ability to produce body heat.  Yeah, body, thanks for being awesomely warm!

It's cold out there and I am NOT coming out.

Nonworking internet the one night I finally decide to keep writing wedding recaps. Instead I finally had the time to go through and delete a lot of my photos, so maybe my computer will stop telling me there’s not enough memory to run my applications. Oops.

So.  I had big things planned for you today, but see my last gratitude and you’ll understand why you got this list fifteen minutes before I have to leave the house.  How much do I appreciate you guys? I’ll make sure to put up a post while it’s still dark out. THAT much.

What went “wrong” for you this weekend that really went right?

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It’s far too late to unlove each other

Happy Thanksgiving!

And hi to the 49 of you who checked my blog already today.  You make me feel extra special.

I’m in a bit of a food coma and have cuddled with about five million cats today, all but two and a half of which did not belong to me.  The half is for Truman, who (still) may or may not be staying with us; regardless, he lives with us now.  Truman Fact of the Day: his purr button definitely works.  This kitten purrs at the drop of a hat! Second fact: he is very sharp and pointy.

For you on this Thanksgiving, I have two things.  First: a poem that we considered but did not read at our wedding.  I have always found truth and inspiration in it.  Second: a picture of us, last Thanksgiving, on the first of what I hope becomes a regular tradition – a pre-Thanksgiving walk in the woods.

I hope you all had a day that was what you hoped it would be.

Misgivings
“Perhaps you’ll tire of me,” muses
my love, although she’s like a great city
to me, or a park that finds new
ways to wear each flounce of light
and investiture of weather.
Soil doesn’t tire of rain, I think,

but I know what she fears: plans warp,
planes explode, topsoil gets peeled away
by floods. And worse than what we can’t
control is what we could; those drab
scuttled marriages we shed so
gratefully may auger we’re on our owns

for good reason. “Hi, honey,” chirps Dread
when I come through the door; “you’re home.”
Experience is a great teacher
of the value of experience,
its claustrophobic prudence,
its gloomy name-the-disasters-

in-advance charisma. Listen,
my wary one, it’s far too late
to unlove each other. Instead let’s cook
something elaborate and not
invite anyone to share it but eat it
all up very very slowly.

-William Matthews

(If you are wondering why I appear to be pointing my finger in this picture, it is because my finger was gravely injured, and wrapped up in a serious bandaid contraption?  How did I injure it?  Well, I’m sure you recall my mention of Pear and Fingernail Pie.  Lesson of the day: use caution while peeling pears.)

P.S. I wasn’t going to talk about things I am grateful for, because the list is long and more important for me than it is for you. But! You guys! While I was writing this, grumpy One-Eyed Jake started WASHING TRUMAN’S FACE! I am thankful for cats who love each other and are adorable.

P.P.S. It was short-lived. Now they are fighting and Jake is hissing and growling a lot.  Moral of the story (and the poem, IMHO)? Enjoy it while you have it.

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Sponsored Post: Being a Family is Awesome

You all have probably noticed a flurry of Shutterfly cards being, ahem, advertised on some of your favorite blogs.  Yeah, they’re doing a pretty tempting thing where, if we talk about their awesome cards, they give us some for free.  Full disclosure: I am happy to write about things I like if I get something out of it.  Key phrase: things I like.

You may have heard that I got married a couple of months ago to a pretty great woman.  So far, marriage is awesome.  One thing that we agreed on pretty quickly – once we figured it out – was that we were going to have the same last name.  Funny thing is, it took me a month and a half to introduce myself with my new, full name.  Often someone will ask me the last name and I’ll give them the new one, no big deal; but only last week did I introduce myself by my entire new name.  I got all fluttery, and it hit me again: this is us.  This is our family.  We are The Bird-McTurtlesons.

And that brings me to the post of today: holiday cards.  Even before I found out about this sponsored post thing, I was really excited to send out holiday cards from The Bird-McTurtleson Family.  This is adulthood, people!

So here are some of the cards I am considering (click on any of them to take you to the Shutterfly site):

"Joy Love Story" - click on image to make your own!

 

"We Heart You" - click on image to make your own!

 

"Snowflake Reflections" - click on image to make your own!

 

"Framed with Love" - click on image to make your own!

Who comes up with these titles?  No idea.

I signed the card with all of our beasts’ names (including Truman… hmm… don’t read into this, we have made no official decisions yet), so then I felt like I had to include pictures of at least some of them.  Piper often looks annoyed in pictures, especially if she has to share the spotlight with us, so that is why she is not featured here.

If we didn’t have so many pictures, or if I were better at decision making, we could probably narrow it down a little better.  But we do, and I’m not, so here are lots of options.  I narrowed it down using some strict self-imposed rules: no folding cards (I don’t have a lot of prolific things to say on a holiday card beyond, “We spent the year planning our wedding, and now I’m bored so I blog a lot.”); no “Merry Christmas,” as I plan to send these to lots of Jews (“Happy Holidays” or “Warm wishes” is always preferable to me); and pictures must have some sort of line between them, otherwise my eyes are confused.

I really love a couple of the cards other people have posted about, too:  The Marshes have some really pretty cards in the works. Miss Cardigan posted some really cute one-photo options, too.

So here’s the deal: Bloggers get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly, check it out here. It was fun putting these all together, though in reality my wife has a huge say in this whole thing, so they may turn out looking totally different.  Which of these four do you prefer?  Which pictures are the best pictures?

Happy holidays way, way in advance!

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