Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Tag Archive: family projects

It’s the story of a dog named Dobie

Once upon a time, a woman and a man got married. They bought a house and quickly decided that house needed a dog. So they got a dog and named him Barkley (after the dog from Sesame Street and at the woman’s insistence). After a year or so, the woman and the man realized Barkley needed a brother. And they began the process of finding the perfect companion for Barkley.

It wasn’t easy. Barkley, like his mom, is very particular about who he likes and doesn’t take to everyone quickly and approaches all new people with caution and nerves. But there was one puppy, a small, underweight, runny nosed, wheezing puppy, who stole his heart. They took to each other instantly and the woman and the man knew that was the one. And they took him home and named him Dobie. 

Throughout his first year, Dobie grew and grew. His runny nose and ear infections cleared up. He gained weight. He learned to walk on a leash, he learned not to pee in the house, and he graduated from school. He took his rightful place in the woman and man’s bed and when they brought home a human baby, he slept in front of her crib, too. 

It was the beginning of an amazing 11 1/2 years. Because during that time, Dobie gave more love than he ever asked for in return. When the woman had bouts of depression, he still made her smile every day. When the man was stressed from work, he knew how to calm him down. When the girl needed someone to play with or dress up, Dobie obliged. When Barkley needed a headrest or someone to snuggle with, he provided it. Dobie did it all with patience and enthusiasm and smiles.

Loving his people, making them happy, tolerating their idiosyncrasies and endless nicknames for him, didn’t mean he didn’t have his own preferences. He loved food, especially hamburgers and peanut butter and carrots and ice cubes, but he enjoyed every morsel he consumed from kibble to a Starbucks pup cup and everything in between. If it was something he wasn’t supposed to have, all the better! The woman never cooked a meal without him right at her feet, waiting for something to drop, and he really loved licking the dishes in the dishwasher. Nothing made him happier than playing in the snow or a car ride with the wind blowing right on his face or quick swim in his grandparents’ pool. A rousing game of fetch with his stuffed potato was a favorite nighttime activity and dammit if he didn’t let you know when he was ready to start and was done. And no day started without a good scratch behind his ears. 

But what made him special was all the weird things about him. His foot fetish, his need to eat garbage and the girl’s toys, his choice to nap on the floor in corners or against the front door instead of the couch, his utter hatred of the squeakers inside stuffed toys and the precision he used to extract them, his reprimanding of Barkley when Barkley got a little out of control, the way he slept at the woman’s feet, the way he ran in crazy circles around the house, and the way he shook the bed when he snored. 

And what’s impressed most upon the woman and the man and the girl is the way Dobie loved, unconditionally and unfailingly. The feel of his kisses on their face, the heat of his body on their cold feet, the softness of his fur under their hands, the willingness to do what was asked of him, his persistence, his intelligence, and his ability to make everyone he ever met love him instantly. 

Dobie’s life will be remembered for all the things he gave and the love he had. And love and give he did, even at the end. No words can ever accurately and completely describe what an amazing dog he was and how my life is better and blessed because he was in it. I am infinitely changed and irreparably damaged now that he’s gone. All that’s left to do now is live my life in a way that honors him because God knows that’s what he deserves. 

Barkley made me a dog person.

Dobie made me a dog mom. 

And holy shit, did I love being his mom. 

Rest in peace, my sweet boy. I hope you’re running around in the wind and the sun and eating all the things you want and your heart never bothers you again. We miss you here but we know you’re needed there. Say hello to our baby and give him all the kisses he needs.

Until we meet again. 



On pregnancy loss


That’s how many years it took to get pregnant again. 


That’s how many days I got be pregnant again before I miscarried. 


That’s how many months have passed since my miscarriage.


That’s how many books I’ve read to keep my mind occupied during the empty spaces when my mind wanders to what could have been. 


That’s how many failed infertility treatments I had over the summer. There would have been more except money ran out and emotions ran too high.


That’s how many tears I’ve shed thinking about my child I’ll never get to meet.


That’s how many people I’ve talked to who’ve been through something similar (including my friend Jeff). Not surprising, though, because roughly 1 in 4 women experience miscarriage. 


That’s how often I blame myself for what happen, even though in my head I know it’s not my fault. It typically difficult to pinpoint the cause for one and I know blaming myself doesn’t change or help anything but yet I do it.

The rest of my life.

That’s how long I’ll continue to mourn. I know over time, like any loss, it’ll get better but it’ll still be there.  


That’s how many children I have and will have. And I feel lucky and blessed that I got the one I did. For so many reasons.

I know my story isn’t unique. There are hundreds of thousands of women like me. And the fact that we’re still so afraid to talk about miscarriage frustrates me. Because it’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s something that happens. Instead of keeping it a dirty little secret, we need to be supporting each other, comforting each other, and being there to help one another through our grief. 

How to help is difficult. It’s hard to know what to say to someone. There are lots of things you shouldn’t say like “Everything happens for a reason” or “At least you know you can get pregnant!” or “You can always adopt”. Why these are wrong and completely unhelpful is a post unto itself. And if you say them to someone experiencing a miscarriage, know that we know you mean well. There’s no malicious intent. But those statements still hurt. What would be more helpful is “I’m so sorry” or “I’m here if you need to talk” or “Is there anything I can do?” or simply just bring us tissues and let us cry or talk about it, even if it might be uncomfortable to hear. 

That’s what we need.

What else do we need? 

We need people to stop asking “when are you having kids” or “why only the one” and my personal favorite, “you’re so lucky you only have one” (yes, I’ve had that said to me. Yes, I had to refrain from launching into a tirade). A) it’s none of your fucking business and B) if you need to make it your business, quit assuming it’s by choice. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. But you don’t need to concern yourself with anyone else’s reproductive issues or choices. Even if you’re related. 

We need to destigmatize miscarriage and bring into discussion so we can get those dealing with it the help and support they need. Just like with mental health, keeping it secret because of shame or discomfort doesn’t make it go away. And I’m grateful to celebrities like Gabrielle Union and Mark Zuckerberg for openly discussing their fertility and miscarriage issues. For whatever reason, in this country, it takes celebrities to discuss issues to make the rest of us feel like it’s okay to talk about. But with this, if that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes. 

We also need more stories like my friend Justine’s, who shares what it’s like to know you’ll never have a child and to learn to accept it. We’re saturated with stories of people who tried and tried and then, miraculously, they had a baby. And then another. And then another. We’re bombarded with the message that if you never give up hope, a baby is in your future. But that’s not always the case and women need to know that you can still live a full and happy life without children (Note: I’m only referencing the women who want to have kids and can’t. Those who choose to remain childfree have a different set of issues to contend with).

We need people to know it’s okay to grieve openly.  To talk about their losses. To know that “miscarriage” is not a dirty word.

If you’ve experienced a miscarriage, please know that you’re not alone. You don’t have to grieve in isolation. I’m here for you, even if we’ve never met.

And know that your baby, your pregnancy, no matter how brief, mattered. Just like mine did.


Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. If you can, please light a candle at 7PM in your time zone (I think that’s how it works. I’m struggling with understanding) to create a wave of light for all the babies gone too soon.


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Our family Christmas to-do list

I’ve discussed my favorite things about Christmas (recently, in fact. You can check that out here if you’d like). I’ll admit there are a few things I’m kind of Grinchy about, like Christmas music and the whole Santa thing is still weird to me (although I’m pretty good about it I have a confession: I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to know better because keeping up the charade is exhausting) and by this time of year, I’m 87% sick of Christmas movies but I do my best to fake it until December 25th because of the child. It’s still magical and awesome to her and I have found that a little bit of faking it goes a long way in retaining the Christmas spirit when really all I want to do is punch an elf in the face. 

For myself, I try to focus on things like the smell of Christmas scented candles, 24 hours of A Christmas Story (another confession: we never actually get through a full showing of the movie. Over the 24 hours, we watch the whole thing. Just not actually at once), working on projects and crafts with my daughter, and enjoying the fact that my husband actually has some time off from work. And then there’s the little part about opening presents because, let’s face it, that’s pretty awesome. 

In addition to all that, we have a whole family to-do. Here it is:

Christmas list



We try hard to get everything on our list done each year, and while I’d like to say that it evolves every year, it doesn’t. However, for next year, I’m going to attempt to add “mail holiday cards” to the list. I’m horrible about it, my husband is even worse than I am, and while we always intend to send cards, we never actually do. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

For those who are interested, you can find how we make elf donuts here and how we grow candy canes here* (it is this time of year, I send an extra big thank you to Pinterest because I would not know what I’d do without it).

Also, here’s a song that’s on our Christmas playlist. This is the kind of song I can get behind.


*note about the candy canes: in the link, she grows cookie pops from tic tacs. I use green and red jelly beans, and buy the mini candy canes for the “in-between” stage before they grow to full sized ones. It takes a few extra days but it’s fun for the kid. Also, I don’t use the poem. 

**There’s a typo in the to-do list image. The correct title is The Muppet Christmas Carol. My bad. #toolazytofixit

What’s on your Christmas to-do list?

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Linking up with Megan and friends for Music MondaysMusic_Monday_Button_02

Thanksgiving thoughts

Ordinarily I link up with Kristin and Joey for Stuff and Things on Thursday but since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I’m taking the day off from all things blogging and so I moved my weekly brain dump to today. But I’m focusing on Thanksgiving for this week’s topics.

I’ve done Thanksgiving posts before (you can read some Thanksgiving music stories here, my Black Friday rant here , and how we celebrate the holidays without shopping here) but I’ve never really delved into what I’m thankful for or why I love Thanksgiving as much as I do. So let’s do that now.thanksgiving

  • My favorite part of Thanksgiving is the food. I mean, how can you not love it? But more than eating it (which, let’s face it, is basically the best part), I love cooking it. In fact, cooking Thanksgiving dinner is the highlight of my year. No sarcasm. I am a pretty decent cook and this is the one time per year I really get to show it off. 
  • Family time. My family is spread out all over the place and Thanksgiving is one of the few times per year the majority of us are concentrated in one location. My sisters are two of my favorite people in the world and I love getting to spend time with them, watching the Macy’s parade, cooking, laughing, and being all sisterly (including one year when we fought because they got angry with me for not liking Hairspray. Legit angry. I think there was even yelling. I like the movie now so the fight is even funnier). Plus, watching my daughter with my nephew is always fun.
  • Fall. Spring still reigns as the greatest season of all but fall comes next. There’s something about the changing leaves, the new TV season, the staying indoors to read more books, the smells, the colors, the home decor, the getting dark early, the wearing of sweaters, the eating of casseroles and stews, the naps during football games, and the warmth of cozy fleece blankets that make it special. The fact that the greatest holiday of the year occurs during fall makes it that much better.
  • Taking time to focus on thankfulness and gratitude. I know we’re supposed to do this all year, and I do, but the atmosphere of Thanksgiving lends itself to be extra reflective. A quick rundown of my thankful list:
    • My family. This should be obvious but I know not everyone loves their families so I consider myself lucky that I love everyone in my family, including my in-laws. And most of the time, I’m confident they love me back.
    • My pets. They pee on the floor and bark relentlessly and eat everything that’s not nailed down (and a few things that are) and the cat still refuses to sit next to me on the couch but I don’t know what I’d do without them. 
    • This blog. It frustrates me at times but being able to write on my own terms and have a place to work on my dream means so much to me. Plus, the relationships I’ve formed are some of the best I’ve had in my adult life and it’s amazing how close you can be to people you’ve never actually met. 
    • Books. Books are basically everything. As long as I have a book, I’m okay. Barring food, water, clothes (for the sake of the general public) and the company of my family and pets, I really don’t need anything except books.
    • Music. Music is what feelings sound like and like books, I don’t know what I’d do without it. I love that there’s a song for every situation and emotion and often, when I don’t know how to deal with my feelings, I turn on music. It’s therapeutic and entertaining and it enhances my life every way.
    • Things that make my life easier: my whole house vacuum, EZ Pass, the fence around my backyard, the internet, my iPhone, my crockpot, Amazon, the online library catalog and reservation system, and really big purses.

I hope you all (or those of you who celebrate) have a wonderful Thanksgiving, no matter how big or small your celebration is. 

I’ll see you back here on Friday for another edition of Friday favorites. 

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Pioneer Project progress update #1

It's been awhile since I reported my pioneer project progress. So let's do that today.

Three or so months into the project and pretty much I can say this: I haven't done much. I do notice a difference in my determination and some internal traits but as far as accomplishing things, there's not much tangible proof, save for making butter, a mending basket, and using my crockpot (which is like my version of a pioneer stove).

Let's break it down.


This is my husband's area. He busts his ass weekly, maintaining the garden. He's constantly thinking about how to improve it and maximize the results by weeding and rotating the plants and getting rid of the ones that aren't growing so the good ones have more space (we even have some volunteers from the previous owners but that just makes me think of The Hunger Games so I call those our Katniss plants). He even used grass clippings for mulch, which is both frugal and environmentally friendly. So pioneer win on that one. The plants we started indoors are kicking ass and now it's just a matter of watering and pruning and waiting for things to grow. Then I can start working on some pioneer food things like canning.

This our insane cat hanging out in the garden. Because why not.


One word–nothing. I have done nothing to improve my sewing. I even set a goal this month to sew a pillowcase and thankfully the month isn't over yet so I can get working on this. If I can get some pillowcases, napkins, and curtains done by summer's end, we'll call that a victory. And as far as crocheting, I am trying so, so hard on this one. I practice, watch YouTube tutorials, and it's just not getting better. I think I might just need to accept the fact that maybe I am not meant to do it. But not yet. I'm not giving up yet.

Homemaking stuff

In the early days if this project, I set a weekly schedule a la Ma Ingalls. I haven't been perfect with it but I'm definitely keeping to a stricter schedule than I had prior to the project, and I am getting more done. There have even been a couple of times I washed, dried, folded, and put away laundry all in the same day. Baby steps, friends. Baby steps. I have been getting better about having a weekly food prep and baking day, running errands on one day, and staying home more. That last part isn't a problem because home > public.

I still have a few home decorating projects I need to start/work on/finish but some of those involve going to a craft store and those places intimidate the shit out of me. I also don't have a tablecloth which is really more a reflection of my laziness than an inability to do things because how hard is it to order from Amazon? I want a tablecloth for various reasons but the pioneer reason is I love that Ma used hers to differentiate between an all purpose table and the dinner table. That's a fun, practical idea.


This past weekend we went to a strawberry festival. That's pioneer like, right? We're also trying to do a better job of heating/cooling the house with windows, fans, blankets, layers, curtains, and other non-electric sources. (Except the ceiling fans. Wow, do those make a big difference.) Composting is still in full effect yet I have still not bought supplies to make candles, soap, or beer.

If I had to grade our efforts thus far, I'd give us somewhere between needs improvement and satisfactory. I suppose it's better than we haven't done shit but as far as proving to myself that I could survive life as a pioneer, I'm not making good progress at all. On the bright side, at least I know how to fix it.

I should probably do that.