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Seven Things That Surprised Me About Raising a Puppy

Our puppy Balthasar turned 7 months this week. In honor of that I’m sharing 7 things that I didn’t anticipate about raising a puppy.

1) Your Heart Will Feel Ripped Out Every Time You Leave


I mean, this is his face when you get home. Why would you ever leave him?

We are lucky that both of our jobs allow us to work from home a lot. We’ve been able to sync up our schedules mostly so that at least one of us is home during the workweek. Of course, we do have to leave the pup alone from time to time (in fact, we even have to make up reasons to leave so that he can get used to being home alone). But it hurts our hearts every time we have to be away.

2) Walks Aren’t About You

When you take your dog for a walk, it’s not a time for you to relax or decompress. It’s a constant training opportunity and you have to be on alert—rewarding good behavior and modifying when he’s being impolite. If you want to take a stroll and be lost in your thoughts, you should leave the pup at home (but, also, see lesson 1).

3) You Will Always Wear Crappy Clothes


So excited about cows. Doesn’t notice your jeans.

The first several months (year?) of your life with the puppy you’ll want to always be in clothes you don’t mind getting ripped or dirtied. Just keep the nice outfits in your closet.  The pup will ruin you clothes. So don’t set yourself up for disappointment.

4) Your First Routine Will Become THE Routine

Dogs thrive on routines. So that routine that you start up when you first get the pup will most likely become the routine. Make sure you can stick with it! Can’t do mid-morning walks usually? Then don’t do those when you first get your pup and you’ve taken time off from work. Jump right into the routine you want to have and try to stick with it as often as possible (even on weekends).

5) You Will Spend Inordinate Amounts of Time Talking About Poo

My friend Molly warned me of this, but I didn’t quite realize how much poop talk there could possibly be. Has he pooed yet? Was the poo soft? When was the last time he pooed?  Did you see x in his poo? (being that thing he shouldn’t have eaten / isn’t edible).

6) You Will Think You’ve Broken Your Dog

Put your vet’s number on speed dial. You’ll be calling them a lot. (And paying them a lot). (Hello, stool samples!). (See? Poo again). Your puppy’s behavior will be completely new the first couple of weeks and just when you get used to it all of a sudden he’ll start doing something super odd—like walking around in the evening with his mouth open. When Balthasar did this we thought we had broken the dog. We hadn’t. We called the vet, he said don’t worry. Just know that sometimes there are reasons to worry. So pay attention and note those behavior changes. And don’t be afraid to call the vet.

7) You Will Feel Amazing When the Puppy Falls Asleep

Our puppy, since day one with him, has made this cute little licking noise right before he falls asleep. We call it the “nap noise.” Whenever we hear him make that noise it’s such a good feeling. Finally! You’ll think. He’s going to sleep! Yes, puppies sleep a lot, but when they are awake it’s a lot of work and you have to pay close attention so you will look forward to those long sweet naps. Good night, sweetheart!

Want to follow more of Balthasar’s adventures? He’s on instagram: @BouvierBalth


I can (and will) sleep anywhere. Even on the beach! With sand on my nose!


Picture + 100 Words: Container Garden Inspiration

One of Cordoba's famous patiosIf you find yourself with a garden space that is horizontally challenged, take a tip from the Spaniards and go vertical. In countless courtyards throughout Cordoba, gardeners are not deterred by limited space. Instead they put plants in containers that climb up the walls toward the sunlight. No need to get fancy with the pots, simple terra cotta will do. Add in some blossoming flowers in coordinating colors, mix up the textures of the foliage, and just keep rising higher and higher. One more thing: consider drought-resistant plants because watering all of these regularly would be bothersome.

Picture + 100 Words: Nature’s Simplicity

Trees growing in a straight line? This is not coincidental. This is what happens when trees grow out and on top of dead, fallen trees. A concept called the nurse log. As you hike through the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park everything feels very alive – the greenery all around is teeming with life that supports more life. And if that weren’t enough to inspire, the local library placed signs with poetry along the trail (including the poem below).

Nature is what we know –
Yet have no art to say –
So impotent our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.
-Emily Dickinson

A Stack of Seven Links

Lists are the best. As I was reading Emily’s 6 on the 6th list over at Curious Iguana’s blog, I was reminded how much I love reading lists of things other people are enjoying on the Internets. So I am going to share a few of mine.

1) As a woman with a master’s degree and the wife of a professor I have read lots of academic writing (most of it lately in the form of free copy editing services for my husband’s papers). I have always said that the lack of plain language wasn’t because these academicians are so much smarter than us, it’s because it’s harder to write clearly. And now The Atlantic is backing me up in this piece about unnecessarily complex academic writing.

2) I was driving listening to BBC earlier this summer and heard Tope Folarin read an essay about his obsession with creation stories. It was so compelling that I scrambled to record an audio note to myself with my smartphone (because that seems so much safer than typing, but it was still pretty dangerous tbh). Thankfully my app caught most of my note and I was able to decipher it plus do some googling and find the audio clip (now only available via the BBC free media player app). Not only was I introduced to Folarin’s writing, but I also learned about the Caine Prize. It was a win win.

3) Oh, hey, have you been participating in the Social Justice Book Club? We’re on our third book (it’s one book every other month) and maybe you’d like to join us? Kerry is the hostess of the club and has more info about the August bookThe New Jim Crow.

IMG_20160809_2141004) When I saw the illustrations on the covers of Flannery O’Connor’s books in Curious Iguana earlier this year I was mesmerized. I bought O’Connor’s Everything That Rises Must Converge because a) I had never read her and b) the cover was so darn beautiful. I decided to find out more about the illustrator, June Glasson, and came across this lovely interview she did (the best part is you get to see lots of examples of Glasson’s work).

5) I don’t know why it took me so long to read Flannery O’Connor, but one thing that pushed me over the edge was Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer. She’s used O’Connor as an example several times. I’ve been slowly taking Prose’s book in and already find that my reading has more depth.

6) The Man Booker prize announced the 2016 longlist and while I recognize many of the authors, I haven’t actually read any of the books on the list. What about you? What do you think is going to make it to the shortlist?

7) I LOVED Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer-winning Goldfinch. I’ve often wondered when (and if!) it would be made into film. If you didn’t already hear, the director of Brooklyn, John Crowley will be adapting Goldfinch into a movie. This is promising news to me, because I thought Brooklyn was such a sweet and well done movie.

Old & New: Four Pieces of Active Gear I Can’t Run Without

I’ve been running for 10+ years, and over the years I’ve gone through lots of active gear and clothing and shoes. When I think about my favorites, there are two pieces of gear that have been with me for years and two new ones that I am really loving. Check them out.

Two Things That Changed My (Running) Life


How did I ever run without my spibelt? I’ve had this thing for years and it’s probably the single best piece of active gear I’ve ever bought. Basically it’s a svelte fanny pack that is just big enough for your smart phone and a key and maybe a few other things. I don’t even notice that I’m wearing it, and I always have my essentials on hand.

Body Glide

Oh, body glide, how I love thee. Running would be much more uncomfortable without this little stick of happiness. Swipe it on anywhere you’re prone to get chafing and be amazed.

Two New Pieces of Active Gear I’m Loving

IMG_20160728_170558220-01Bottle band

I am not a fan of running in super hot heat (who is?) and in past summers I would use the treadmill at the gym. I’m no longer a gym member (plus I never really loved the treadmill) so I’ve been running outside in the heat this summer. I tried carrying my water bottle with me and it was awkward holding on to it the whole run. I checked out some options and happily came across the Bottle Band. For just a few bucks, the band will latch on to any sized water bottle and provides you with an insta-handle. I love running with it now. It’s comfortable and I can change the way I grip it throughout the run.

Bellabeat’s Leaf


Photos courtesy of Bellabeat

I always liked the idea of the Fitbit, in terms of the data I could get from it, but was never crazy about the idea of the plastic band. Enter Bellbeat’s Leaf. It’s made for women and made to look beautiful and can be worn four different ways (as a necklace, bracelet, clipped on your shirt, or on your pants). I got the Leaf earlier this summer and enjoy trying to get to 10,000 steps a day (harder than I imagined!). The app that goes with it is easy to use and it’s been fun keeping track of my health data. I wear it when I run and with all my outfits every day. So far so good!

What are your favorite new and old pieces of gear that you recommend? Tell me in the comments.

How Others Deal With the Heat

If you haven’t heard, it’s going to be hot the next few days and into next week. H-O-T hot. Like 99 degrees hot here in Frederick. But it’s not just Maryland, a heat wave is in the forecast for much of central and eastern U.S.

I grew up in Louisiana, so I’m no stranger to heat (and humidity!). But how do others handle the heat? Here are a few clever ways I’ve come across.


We were in Dubai in January and it was hot. It was about 30 degrees away from summer weather, but it was 85 and I was wearing lots of modest clothes. So how do you escape the heat in Dubai? You go to the mall.

The wonderfully air-conditioned mall.

Let's go to the mall

We joked that Dubai was one huge mall because there were so many of them, but it makes sense. Isn’t there nothing better when it’s ridiculously hot out than stepping into a 65 degree climate-controlled space?


The other week we were complaining about the heat in Maryland. We were dealing with low 90s here and I decided to check the weather in Southern Spain. It was 110 degrees. Spain was one place where we were fascinated by how they’ve handled hot weather.

You have table misters that keep you cool while dining alfresco or just walking by.DSC_5225

Sun shades that stretch across streets do you don’t have to walk in the sun.DSC_5224

And kissing lanes that are designed to be so narrow for more shade.

This is also the culture that has perfected the art of the siesta – a midday nap that coincides with the hottest part of the day.


I was thinking of all of the places we’ve traveled when it was hot, and the only thing that I could think that Greece really got right about the heat was having the sea RIGHT there. You just jump in and immediately cool off. Genius. 😉


Phoenix, Arizona

When we were in Phoenix this past January it was warm (for January!) and sunny. At one street corner I happened to look up as we waited to use the cross walk and saw the ingenious shade structures on all four corners of the street. It was this convenient little tree-shaped plastic fan that spread out over us and provided shade from the relentless Arizona sun.

I don’t know if it necessarily makes me feel better to know others are dealing with hight temperatures, but I do hope that some of these heat-beating solutions will be implemented more widely here in the U.S.

What other smart ways have you found to beat the heat?

TV Shows to Watch on Netflix

Netflix is raising prices on its loyal customers. If you’re trying to decide (like us!) if it’s worth the extra couple of bucks, here are a few shows you can binge watch right now to get your money’s worth.

13 Shows to Watch

You’ll Want to Travel & Eat

Chef’s Table – This Netflix-produced show is much more than just fancy food. It’s a love affair with the stories behind some of the world’s greatest chefs and their restaurants. You will want to travel all around the world to dine with these talented and passionate people.

An Idiot Abroad – If you enjoy British humor you’ll love this show where an “idiot” literally travels abroad. Hilarity ensues. Very straight forward title.

Long Way Round (and Long Way Down) – Ewan McGregor gets on a motorcycle and drives it around the world. And in season 2 drives it down the world.

History Lessons You’ll Enjoy

Narcos – This Netflix show is a crash course in the drug wars of the 80s in Colombia. A little gruesome and edgy, but it’s a fun watch.

The Paradise – I’ve written about this show before, and it’s definitely worth a watch if you’re at all interested in how much the world changed at the cusp of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Maybe You’ve Never Heard Of…

Lie to Me – This was a solid show about a man who knows human behavior so well he can always spot liars. After a while the show format feels a bit repetitive, but it’s fun, interesting and unique.

If You Liked…

If you like any of these below, chances are you’ll like the others.

Gilmore Girls: Of course this is on my list (hello. and hello.), but it’s even more important to watch now (either again or for the first time) because the revival episodes will be on Netflix before we know it.

Friday Night Lights – The one thing these next three shows have in common is Jason Katims. Whether directing, writing, developing or producing, Jason’s hands were in all of these. If you’re at all into football, high school, drama, or Texas you may find yourself getting sucked in to this show.

Parenthood – If you loved the family drama and teenage tales in FNL, you’ll most likely enjoy Parenthood too. If you LOVE Lauren Graham you simply cannot miss this show.

About a Boy – Again, Jason Katims. But in this case it’s a much different show than the previous two as it’s a comedy. Starring Minnie Driver who plays the single (hippie) mother of a cute as-a-button boy who befriends his adult male neighbor. It’s sappy and fun.

Netflix-Produced Shows Worth Watching

House of Cards – Obviously.

Master of None – This show is good on so many levels. Funny, dorky, smart. If you’re an immigrant (or are close to any), you’ll appreciate the immigrants’ children episode. Major kudos goes to the diversity of the cast here. So refreshing.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – here’s the thing. Kimmy Schmidt is so. over. the. top. that I don’t know why I keep watching it. But I do. And I laugh out loud so much. This show is definitely not for everyone.

What shows did I miss? Tell me in the comments! Always looking for new shows.

Take a Gap Year, Learn a New Language: Lessons from Man Booker & Malia

When Malia Obama announced that she was taking a “gap year” between high school and her first year in college, many adults (me included) wondered whether we were too old to take a gap year of our own.

How lovely would it be to take a year off and just reassess?

mbi2016-logo-rgb-pinkAfter the announcement of the Man Booker International prize winner yesterday, I’d like to not only take a gap year but perhaps spend it learning a foreign language.

That’s what prize-winner Deborah Smith did. At the age of 21 she decided she would learn to speak Korean. Smith grew up in the United Kingdom and had never learned a foreign language before then. She then started a career as a translator.

9.han_kang-the_vegetarian_4Seven years later she won the prize for 2016’s best translated novel. Smith translated Han Kang’s novel The Vegetarian from Korean to English, and the two women took home the prize.

The Man Booker International Prize was re-imagined for 2016 and is now awarded to a book translated to English and is split between the author and translator. Smith and Kang were the first winners of the new prize.

How many times have you told yourself you’re too old to learn something new? That you’re past the point where you can change direction?

Sure, Smith is 28. Malia is 17.

They are most definitely not old, but we could certainly learn from them.

For most adults taking a year off (sans pay) is unrealistic, but how many vacation hours did you use this year? How many did you let expire? When was the last time you challenged yourself to try something new or to learn a new skill?

Sure, you may never win a Man Booker prize, but then again, maybe you will.

**Updated 5/17/16 at 4:30 p.m. ET: This post was updated. Previously it said Smith lived in South Korea, but on Twitter she says she has not lived there.


Photo courtesy of The Man Booker Prizes.

Just Mercy: Let’s Throw Fewer Stones

We were working on a web-based journalism project in grad school when my professor said the topic for the semester would be exonerations.

It seemed quite a narrow topic to me back then, but as we started divvying up the work and the assignments for stories I quickly realized the scope of covering miscarriages of justice was much larger than just a semester.

That semester I remember getting angry and sad about the injustice that was being doled out by our criminal justice system.

I revisited those feelings this past month reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. It was the first book in Kerry’s new Social Justice Book Club. In fact, I basically spent the whole first several chapters in a quiet rage as Stevenson outlined story after story of injustice.

9780812984965I could go over the atrocities in this post, but I’ll just recommend that you read the book and experience for yourself some of the shocking examples of how our justice system can (and does) fail our fellow Americans.

Instead, I wanted to call out some of the more aspirational parts of Just Mercy. Stevenson’s thesis of the book is that “we are more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” If you’ve stolen, you’re not just a thief. If you’ve lied, you’re not just a liar.

However, Stevenson takes it a step farther by saying that unless we recognize our own faults and brokenness (recognize our own need for mercy) we won’t be able to desire mercy for others. He uses the example of Jesus saying “he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

When you experience mercy yourself, you start to learn, hear, and see what others cannot. Your start to recognize the humanity in all of us.

Stevenson’s book is full of examples and stories of people he has helped during his career as a lawyer working mainly with inmates on death row. He puts a human face on concepts such as children getting life sentences without parole, prisons becoming ersatz institutions for people with severe mental illness, and the wrongfully convicted on death row. He makes it easy for you to see their humanity and to desire mercy.

The book is a tough read, but it inspired me.

At the very least, I’ll be throwing fewer stones.

How to Have a Memorable Night in Venice

One night in Venice, fairly far from our hotel, we were eating dinner at a restaurant and heard a flood siren. The sirens in Venice don’t wail. They melodically hum. It’s quite creepy sounding.

Flooded sidewalk

For some reason we thought nothing of the siren and continued eating. When we looked up and saw that the whole restaurant had cleared out and noticed the staff looking at us impatiently we began to realize that we should take heed of that siren.

So we left the restaurant headed to the hotel roughly going to same way we came, only to be stopped by water lapping at our feet. There was a canal flooding the walkway and the way to the bridge we needed to cross.

Not a problem we thought, because in Venice there’s really no “main route” and there are multiple ways to get anywhere. We would just cross the canal on another bridge farther down.

Rising water

We headed that way only to be stopped by flooding again. Not quite panicking yet, we started walking faster almost jogging, to what we hoped would be another footbridge over the canal. I noticed that we had several groups of people following us at this point (perhaps because we walked so determinedly – but really it was blind leading the blind at this point). We found a bridge that was not flooded yet and crossed it and made our way quickly back toward St. Mark’s.

This adventure repeated itself several times until we got to a spot where there was no un-flooded option so we just had to wade in and through it. My husband and father in law took off their shoes and socks. My mother in law and I just went for it. It was fine at first. Only coming halfway up my shoes. And then it got deeper and deeper and my shoes and socks were submerged and waterlogged.

Shoes off? Bogdan and Vlad did.

Finally we reached a raised platform constructed just for situations such as these that eventually led us to San Marco. High above the flood now, we watched the Venice police wading in the water below us, wet up to the knees.

Up to the knees

We really should have paid attention to that siren.

But what an adventure we had instead.