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ten reasons to love Used Dog...


reason one:
its been over 11 years since we found you, abandoned twice with little hope, at a last chance shelter. you looked at me with those 'puppy pound' eyes, (just as you have every day since) and melted my heart.

reason two:
you taught 4 young children how to love a doggie, you gave them memories to take into their adult lives of 'our first family dog', something so simple and yet such a gift

reason three:
you wear a floral neckerchief

reason four:
you keep secrets better than anyone else i know

reason five:
you taught a pesky dog how to be a little less pesky and in return, said pesky doggie taught you in your twilight years to be a 'little pesky'

reason six:
when you spy a squirrel at the bottom of the yard, you still believe there is one half of a 2 year old greyhound inside of your aging 13 year old body

reason seven:
you fall over, but always pick yourself up

reason eight:
despite the odds stacked way way against you, nearly 5 months on you are thinking about changing your name from Used Dog to Miracle Dog and quite rightly so

reason nine:
you are without a doubt, the most preciously peachy second hand forsaken soul i have ever found

reason ten:
for nearly 12 years you have been my constant canine companion, my best friend, and my good fortune


she and Used Miracle Dog are thanking you most kindly for all the 'fingers, toes, paws, claws, wings and hooves' crossing over the past few months ~ Tif 

a little ray of sunshine...

Mr Sun appears to be busy across the pond.
however last week he did pop by briefly

 but alas, with little warmth.

such was our overjoyment at his little appearance
(albeit a brass monkeys appearance)
me and my chickie peas launched ourselves into 
'spring mode'
i got busy with the kitschy fake flowers

whilst they got busy with pecking

and a 'little bit of laying'

later that day, Polly kindly came by to thank me
for their new spiffy springified coop.

i thought to myself,
how thoughtful and kind.

the next day Mr Sun was shining down elsewhere.
Bingo B who loves a bit of 'sunbathing' meowed
"hey, don't go, come back Mr Sun... i'm over here"

i pointed out to Bingo B,
(in the nicest possible way as she is rather old and batty
and i did not wish to upset)
her attempts were most admirable.
next time she might have better luck
if she waves in the right direction


The Visit of the Episcopal Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney.

This afternoon we welcomed to Papa Stronsay
the Right Rev. Dr. Robert Gillies,
of the the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Bishop Gillies was elected to his position
over the Episcopal diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney
in April 2007.
On his episcopal ring the bishop has engraved
the image of the Papa Stronsay Cross.

Dr. Gillies was accompanied by the Reverend David Bowen
our friend and neighbour on Stronsay.
David and his wife, Ruth are semi-retired;
their house looks across Papa Sound to Papa Stronsay.
The visit was for about an hour and a half and
during this time the bishop himself took responsibility
for the beautiful weather!

Passiontide's Feast

The early morning of the
Feast of the Annunciation
Monday 26 March.

The sheep we pass on the way to meditation.
~Passiontide Waiting~
And I lay down my life for my sheep.
(Jn 10:15)

Morning Meditation.
~ The Feast of the Annunciation in Passiontide. ~
Since yesterday the images are veiled,
an atmosphere of shrouded sorrow tinges the feast.

Passiontide purple mixes with the flowers of the feast.
Since Adam's fall, the world, purpled in mournng
awaited the coming of salvation.
The Blessed Virgin Mary,
the only Lily of our vale,
is by a singular privilege raised up by God
to receive into Her spotless womb on this feast,
the Word
through Whom all things were made,
the Saviour of the World - Salvator Mundi.

It was a splendid morning as our boat left Papa Stronsay
for Mass on our neighbouring island.
Nature reflected the season and the feast.

The sea was calm,
the sun on the horizon
announced itself, majestically present indeed,

Yet, like the images on the altar,
it was present in the sky all veiled, restrained,
brilliant through a cover of haze.

Bump Watch - And I Popped

I was 11w2d when I popped with the twins, so I guess 10w5d with a second pregnancy isn't too far off. Unfortunately I'm bigger with a singleton that I was with twins, but I'm pretty sure that's because the kiddos stretched me out so far. I'm naming the baby for now, temporarily.  Baby #3 = numero tres = Trey. Since Trey is a boy's name I'm calling the baby "he" as a pronoun. However, I would not be the least be surprised to find out that Trey is a girl.

Anyway, back to the baby. Trey is a good baby so far; he hates shrimp (even a picture of a shrimp) and mint, but loves everything else. He doesn't make me sick, not even a little, and I sleep through the night with ease. Even my potty breaks are few and far between.

I get to see him again in 12 days for our NT scan. I'd like for him to stay a little better hidden over these next two weeks until we know he is healthy and happy. But, like his brother and sister, I'm afraid he has a mind of his own already.

Here we are at 10w5d. Apparently coming out of hiding sooner than later.

My 2012 "I Will" List

The older I get, the more I realize that so much of my life is out of my hands. The best thing I can do each day is wake up with a smile and hope for the best. And pray that an ounce of the things I try to do in a day (or week or year) is noticed by my children and that they grow up to be decent human beings with goals of their own.

I mentioned before that my life lacks balance. I don't think it's healthy; for me, for Joe, for the kids. I feel so much more human when I work in just 30 short minutes to myself each day. I'm more patient and more forgiving. This above all else is my primary goal for this year. Now on to the good stuff.

Financial/House Goals

  • Put away $600 for each baby's 529 Plan

  • Sell our current house by September

  • Close on our new house by September

*note that two of these goals are completely out of my hands, but I'm just putting it into the universe. Do you hear me universe? Power of intention speaking to you!

Mommy Goals

  • Remember when the days feel long and suffocating, that this time of insanity is both precious and short. Remember that I will look back on this insanity one day fondly and, with rose-colored glasses, I will likely miss the crazy. 

  • Nurse the new baby for 9 months.

  • Find a daycare provider or in-home nanny to make sure the kids get specialized attention a few times a week. 

  • Continue to take the twins to mommy and me classes, even with the new baby in tow.

  • Build in time for each of my children to spend with me, ALONE (once a month, once a quarter, once a year...something that will work for all of us). 

Personal Goals

  • Prep meals the night before and during naps so that we can eat at home several times per week.

  • Make more time for myself.

  • Continue our weekly date nights, even after the new baby is born, no matter how hard it is to leave or how tired we are when the babysitter arrives.

  • Learn to say no more often, set boundaries in my life and let go of people that cannot accept the boundaries I've set. 

Fitness Goals

  • Run one 5K with all three kids this summer. 

  • Workout throughout this pregnancy.

  • Run 200 miles this year.

going cold turkey...

i appear to have a new addiction, as with most addictions it creeps upon you unawares. now as addictions go, i do believe it is on the lower scale, closer to 'harmless' and quite far from 'dangerous' but then again, is it...

i am blaming my newly acquired addiction on Ivor the ipad and a little pesky doggie who lives in a suitcase. 

it started with the occasional 'instant pic' and now has escalated into daily pics. and whilst i'm confessing, i will mention, the daily pic i post to the world wide web is only one of many i took that day and deleted. and that is where i know my addiction has got out of control...
 i have become secretive with my instant 'little olive' pics!

 i snap them, look at them, warm my heart with her sweetness in them, and then delete them for fear others would see my need to photograph my little doggie countless times in a suitcase throughout the day, as a sign of insanity. 

yes an addiction that you wish to hide or fret what others may think, is a worrisome one to have. so today i took my last 'happy snap' of a little pesky doggie with legs of little length and am going cold turkey. 

i have told myself for one whole week i must go without taking a pic and posting it out for others to have it pop up on their feeds, roll their eyes and go, "seriously, not another". i am not even allowing myself to take sneaky secretive ones either, no sirree! none of this, 'just let me take one and delete it, no one will ever know' business, for that is a rocky road for sure.

so cold turkey is it, i am not sure i am strong enough, i am not sure i can make it through and to be honest i am not sure why i have to really, but i do! because the little voice inside my head has told me so. has spoken loud and clear "Tif, get a grip you daft addicted bat" and therefore i must listen.

i am already shaking, it has only been 40 minutes since i took the final, 'no more for a week after this one' instant joy happy snap... the one you see just above this, the one where little olive is being pesky, waiting for folks to walk past in neon anoraks, (flaunting their keep fit ways at us) so she may woof at their flaunting ways alongside her buddy 'used dog'. i note how handy it must be for her that i placed the stool there last night, how convenient she has a little 'leg up' at the front. i note how sweet and perfect her little patches are and her velvety over-sized ears, i note... i note i need to go cold turkey


2011 Goals Recap

I'm not even going to make up some reason this post is happening in March, since this post was also done on the last day of February 2011. Apparently it takes me three months to get my shit together enough to set up some goals. And each year I seem to push the required time back another three weeks.

Some of our goals that we set actually set us back a bit this year (mostly financial ones) since our family tripled in size and our original plan on staying in our current home for another 3-5 years is no longer feasible. Looking back I'm not sure we could have seen any of this happening. (Yes, maybe you know you're going to have kids, but we didn't plan on having three in two years.) So in a lot of ways my need to plan goals for us took its toll on our family financially and made me feel pretty lousy since I had a hard time focusing on much besides the kids.

Financial Goals

We managed to put away a lot more than we anticipated for the kids 529's thanks to some generous gifts from family around the babies' baptism and birthday. We also started a 529 savings account for them that automatically takes money out of our checking accounts bimonthly. So it's a lot easier to put away cash for them when it's just a little bit at a time.

Our other plan was to pay down 20% of our mortgage and double our savings. Instead we decided to get me a larger vehicle which we paid for outright, finish the basement and add a shed to our property. So our savings stayed put. We paid down 12% of our mortgage when we realized we wanted to try for #3 last October. I wish we would have just kept that money in savings now that we need to come up with so much capital for the new house. But at least we'll get it back at closing.

House Goals

We did manage to finish the basement, furnish our master bedroom (although that's actually happening this week, so maybe it doesn't count) and hold a very successful garage sale. But we didn't move the perennial garden. And sadly, I lost a lot of beautiful plants because that damn willow tree is so invasive. I'm going to do my best to make it look nice this spring so that the house looks market ready. It breaks my heart to think of what I probably lost in that garden.

Career Goals

I never stopped feeling guilty for staying at home with my kids. And to add insult to injury, I also started getting a little stir crazy. So I went back to work part-time freelancing. At one point I was working on four contracts. What I found is that I don't have adequate enough help to work that hard. What I also found is that people are willing to work you to the point of exhaustion, shit all over you, muck with your pay and your life and then drop you like a hot potato.

And while all of this was happening, I was stressing my husband out and missing time with my kids. So while I still feel guilty that I don't contribute financially and while I still feel restless and miss having that part of my identity, I realize that I'm right where I need to be right now.

Mommy Goals

This is the only category I didn't suck in. I took pics and videos more than weekly, I nursed the twins past my goal, I recorded all of their milestones, I enrolled in swim class and mommy and me, and I went back for my frosties.

This is probably why I did nothing else last year for myself or for my husband. Uh yeah. My kids consumed me. I loved every second. But I definitely lacked balance in my life.

Personal Goals

We ate more steamed chicken and mixed vegetables from our local Chinese restaurant than I care to admit. I made more time for family and friends, but unfortunately they were the wrong family and the wrong friends (something I'll discuss in more detail at another time). And while I lost all 47 pounds of my baby weight, I will not be rocking a bikini again in my life.

Fitness Goals

I completed three weeks of the C25K, I didn't run a single race, I did not run with my friends or take spin classes and I only managed to run 59 miles out of my 250 mile goal.

Being active was one of those things that defined me before having the twins. In a lot of ways motherhood has changed what I focus on to my own detriment. In thinking about what I wanted out of 2012, I realized that the biggest thing I need to focus on is balance. Now, how that will work in a year that I am building a house, having a baby and moving, I have no idea. But I plan to try.


I can't believe I took these pictures...in March. I swear if our weather was like this every year I'd never leave New York.

Ite ad Joseph!

 I thought that you might like to see these photos from the traditional Redemptoristines in Sao Fidelis, Brazil. They are subjects of the Apostolic Administration St Jean Vianney in Campos. These photos were taken on the feast of St Joseph.  The Sisters prepared a beautiful bier in honour of St. Joseph.

 Sister begins construction of the bier.

 Arranging Flowers.

 The bier, almost complete is placed in the Church, and the finishing touches applied.

 "I took for my advocate and lord the glorious Saint Joseph and commended myself earnestly to him;...I do not remember even now that I have ever asked anything of him which he has failed to grant." - St. Teresa of Avila

 St. Joseph is carried in procession.

 An altar in honour of St. Joseph.

 Ite ad Joseph!

The Redemptoristine's grill can be seen on the left of the bier.

Tom the Builder

Tom the builder came by on Saturday to go over the first draft of our blueprints with us. We made a few changes to walls, finishes, the exterior and the three full baths. The house is amazing. I wanted to move into the drawings...yesterday.

We drove up to the property on Sunday to scope out some of our neighbor's exterior finishes and got to walk through a house that we've already seen several times, but now it's 3 weeks away from completion. The house is not my aesthetic in terms of finishes, but oh my gosh Tom the builder did such an amazing job on this house.

As an aside we had taken the kids for a run that morning and then stopped at Dunkin Donuts and the kids got their first ever munchkins. By the time we got up to the new property the kids were in PJ's and dirty hoodies with chocolate smashed into their eyebrows...at noon. They looked like little white trash babies. I may have never been more embarrassed.

We got talking with Tom the Builder and found out he's also BFF with one of my father in law's old coworkers and dear friends. Turns out he built that friend's (very adorable) home. Things all seem very kismet and we are so happy that we moved forward with this builder in this neighborhood.

Our plan revisions should be completed sometime today and we should be able to review them again tomorrow. I'm not really sure how much of this process to share, so I've decided to just share information when we have it. It seems that the process happens in ebbs and flows with a few weeks in between big milestones anyway. So hopefully this process won't become the sole focus of my existence. Here are the first round of the plans before they were marked up. Well, we had already marked up the elevation drawing. But the other two were first iterations.

Twin Mom Guilt

I don't feel it often, but once in a while the limitations of having twins is so noticeable that the guilt just sort of seeps in and finds its way into my heart.

We took the kids up to an indoor play place filled with padded toys to climb on and crawl around. Reese, already being a walker, was all over the place. It wasn't long before the toddler section lost her interest and we found our way into the larger bounce house. The larger house has tunnels and nets and cannons you can use to shoot foam balls. There are nooks to climb through and crannies to hide in and, of course, places to go up and down in the maze system (read: places for a 14 month old to fall through and get hurt).

Ryan was able to climb up into the maze system, but once we were up there he was limited by his inability to walk/run and reach things. He also tends to be my more introverted kid in public situations. Which is funny because he has no stranger danger, he just takes a while to warm up and get comfortable in new environments.

Reese, on the other hand, is my wild child. Put her in a new environment and leave her and OH MY FREAKING GOD she'll hold her breath and turn red and cry so loud windows shatter. But bring her somewhere and play with her, the kid is totally in her element. Running up to kids she doesn't know and smiling at them. Grabbing things, climbing things, exploring her new world. She's truly fearless (as long as her mommy is nearby).

The kids both loved this play place, but the intricacies of the maze, mixed with one introverted and relatively immobile child means that I cannot go there alone. Thankfully we went as a family, and Joe hung out with Ryan in the tunnels and I ran all over the place with Reese, sliding down slides and shooting cannons. And the more she giggled and babbled and pointed and ran, the worse I felt.

What would these two be like if I only had them to focus on at this age? What skills would they have mastered? How differently would their personalities have emerged?

I see glimpses of who my children really are when I do independent activities with them. The unique ways that they shine, things that are washed out at times by their duality. And I can't help but be hit by a wave of guilt.

My children are so lucky to have each other. And we are so lucky to have them. I cannot imagine one R without the other. But some days, when I see them alone I can't help but feel like there's just not enough of me for both of them to truly shine.


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