Monday, October 20, 2008

Ode to Arco Barko

My family loves dogs. Except for a handful of years, we've always had a dog as part of our family. My parent's had two Saint Bernards when they were first married - Bridget and Joshua - big galoots that slept on the bed with them, ate the ready-for-after-church-guests-angelfood-cake, and had a few litters of very cute little puppies. When I was young, we got Tasha, a deep red golden retriever with a small mohawk down the middle of her snoot, and then after Tasha died we got another golden retriever and named her Leesha. Actually, I named her Leesha and I have no idea why.

Dogs have always been an intimate part of our lives - they were the constant companion, the patient hound that let us dress them up and cart them around the yard in a wagon, the sympathetic ear, the mischevious puppy, the squirrel-chaser. When I was home sick from school and camped out on the couch, Tasha would spend her entire day laying on the floor right next to me. When I was sad over a boy in high school, I would bury my head in Leesha's neck and cry while I hugged her.

Now that we kids have grown up, we still continue to be dog people (my sister is allergic to dogs so she doesn't have any in her own home, but I think deep down she still likes dogs). Aaron and I have Zoe, our wonderful and dear lumbering Newfoundland, and since his wedding day thirteen years ago, my brother and his wife have been in the company of dogs - Cleo, a slightly neurotic yet endearing golden retriever and Arco, the most handsome black lab that I've ever seen.

Cleo and Arco were "wild" puppies, with Arco leading the charge. Arco was fast, energetic, and a mighty leaper and Cleo was his side kick. Together they ate underwear, dug up carpeting, dismantled all of the insulation in their unfinished basement and there were many many stories that began with a six-foot fence and ended with my brother running down the street after his dogs. But my brother wouldn't have traded these dogs for the world. Arco and Cleo, especially Arco, accompanied my brother on many of his outdoor adventures - hiking, camping, snowboarding, swimming - and the dogs, wiped out after a day in the mountains with Ellick, loved it, loved my brother.

A few months before my niece and nephew were born, Cleo, devoted to retrieving her tennis ball even in her final days, died of cancer. Arco, a little older now, a little more gentleman than puppy, would be the one to greet the new babies, to introduce them to the wonderful life of loving a dog. In the times we've visited their house over the last few years, Arco is always around - close enough, but sometimes comfortably out of reach (though not always). He's been incredibly patient and gracious with his new family members, but I suspect he spends most of his day simply waiting, watching the door, hoping for my brother to return home from work. Hoping that Ellick will greet him with a goofy chorus of "Arco Barko! Arco Barko!" Hoping for a trip to the mountains, a romp through the snow, a swim in a lake. Hoping to sleep peacefully nearby while Ellick works on his computer or watches TV or holds one of the babies. Waiting patiently, with immense loyalty.

Arco died last week. Ellick and Nicole, realizing that the end was near, hoping that they wouldn't have to make a decision to put him to sleep, sat with him, their dear companion, while he labored through his last few hours. Late in the evening, while Ellick was preparing to spend the night next to him, Arco passed away.

If I remember correctly, Arco was born on my brother's birthday and would have been 13 this December. He lived a wonderful life.

We are dog people, my family. And we will miss Arco dearly.

To Arco Barko.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Actually, KT...

She does get that from me...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Whose nose is that anyway?

So. While we definitely think Haven looks like our child, Aaron and I can't quite tell who exactly she looks like. What do you think?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Ten years ago this past weekend, I became friends with my best friend Joy. We were sitting on a beach together in southern Oregon - I was freshly grieving the death of a friend of mine from youth group, she was grieving the recent death of her father. She sat on the beach, sculpting some a face out of a mound of sand on the beach, I sat just taking in the enormity, the power of my first visit to the ocean. When I was finally left alone, Joy looked up from her sculpture and said she was sorry about the death of my friend. I don't remember what happened after that, but that is where our friendship started.

My friendship with Joy is one where I'm not exactly sure how or why we became friends. I think if we'd been left to our own devices in our regular college lives, we never would have met or really become friends - we traveled in different circles. But we spent a semester together in Oregon and we connected on that beach that one day and I can't imagine these past ten years without Joy.

We'll be spending Thanksgiving with Joy and Ryan this year, a nice tradition that's developed in the past few years. I spend the fall looking forward to our trip to Prescott, ready for a good dose of fresh air, a rosy-cheeked hike, good food, good friends, and maybe a nap, too.

Joy, I am most grateful for your friendship. Thank you!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Maybe fall is on its way. Maybe.

It was two in the morning and it felt like ten years ago, me sitting in a little cabin, reading a book next to a wood-burning stove, nodding off occasionally as the chair was so cozy, the blanket so warm, the hat on my head so perfect. The air outside was cold and the wind was stirring occasionally, enough for me to notice its song. It was Oregon, it was fall, and my life was on the verge of changing, radically, quietly.

Friday night at two in the morning, it felt like ten years ago in that cabin. The air was cool (finally!), the wind was stirring, and oddly enough, there was a scent of wood-burning stove in the air (someone in the neighborhood has a wood-burning something in their house - we smell its wonderful essence when the weather cools), and me in a cozy chair, nodding off occasionally, my life having changed, again, radically, quietly. Haven in my lap, her body pressed to my stomach, her breath and mine together.

For some reason, I feel so impatient for fall to arrive this year, what little glimpse of fall we have here in Los Angeles. And this weekend has been a taste of fall. We will be in the upper 80's again by midweek, but at least I had a night, one night that reminded me of a beautiful time and place.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


This week, I've been:
  • Pooped on three times
  • Peed on two times
  • Spit up on too many times to count

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Out of My League

There are some days in this whole new motherhood thing where I feel totally and completely out of my league, where I have no idea what in the world I'm doing, where I wonder who in the universe let us get away with having a child.

Sunday was one of those days. Aaron was working so I was flying solo with Haven and she was not having a good day. There was a lot of screaming, a lot of crying (from both of us), not a lot of sleeping (well, there was sleeping until I attempted to lay her down in her crib), and not a lot of eating (for me - she at plenty). I was tired, hungry and completely and utterly confounded. The screaming was so out of character for her and I felt at such a loss - I felt like everything I tried was failing. She eventually did stop crying (and honestly, it wasn't THAT much crying) and she did sleep. And eventually Aaron did come home, which was a godsend.

But I still feel out of my league. I feel like somewhere in the past week - since she reached her due date? - there's been a shift in what we are doing with her, or more specifically what I have a nagging feeling we should be doing with her. When Haven first came home from the hospital, it felt pretty easy - we saw what they did in the NICU and we pretty much just followed that routine, which looked something like this: eat, then sleep, repeat 8-10 times a day. She had very few, very short awake periods the first few weeks that she was home - which makes sense, since she was technically still supposed to be in the womb. But now it feels different - she's awake more, she's fussy more, she cries/screams more (not a lot, but more) - and I hear things or read things about schedules and routines, activities and development and I'm all What?

This is where I will admit: I have no idea what I'm doing. Or maybe it's more like this: I have no idea what I SHOULD be doing with a newborn. I assume I will figure this stuff out and I assume that a lot of it is about doing what works for me, for us, for our family and I assume that a lot of it is about paying attention to our lives, which I'm pretty good at - but I also carry a lot of doubt in my abilities. If Haven was a puppy, I would feel much more confident. Or so I think - there were definitely days when Zoe was a puppy that I had no idea what I was doing, no idea how to read her signals or how to fulfill her needs.

I don't like the not knowing. It feels very vulnerable. And babies are such new territory for me and it doesn't seem to take much - a suggestion, a passing comment - for me to doubt or wonder or second guess.

So this is where I'm at this week. It's not totally sucky, but it's not entirely comfortable either. We actually had a pretty good day today - and now I'm headed to bed for a few hours of sleep.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Today is Haven's original due date - we now have a full-term baby! Haven is doing very well - she weighs over 6.5 lbs and continues to gain grow steadily each day. She's started to look at us more and is awake a bit more these days, too. She's also cuter than cute and continues to grow in her cuteness as she fills out a bit.

And this week she also graduated from preemie to newborn size diapers! Woohoo! She's also filling out her newborn onesies a little better than before too! All sorts of exciting things in the Schuh household.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I took a nap this evening after dinner and woke up in the dark. How long had I slept? How late was it? Did I miss a feeding for Haven??

No, it wasn't that late. It was only 7:30, but I guess it gets dark already at 7:30...I feel like summer just dissipated away. I feel like I totally missed what's been happening outside in the world these past few weeks, have missed the passing of a season (granted, passing of a season in LA is pretty subtle - but still!).