When Can I Jump In? The Post-University Employment Struggle and Being Bad at Double Dutch

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Me, confident and hopeful on my graduation day.

One year ago, I had finished my 93-page undergrad thesis, passed all my exams, and was excitedly waiting to cross the stage to accept that rolled up blank piece of paper that symbolized my Bachelor of Arts degree in the next month. I was also applying to jobs and enjoying some fun life moments like attending my bridal showers and making DIY decorations for my upcoming wedding.

 

I started my job search in February 2016, I had hoped that just maybe I would be that exception in today’s society – maybe I would get a job in the industry out of university!

No, I was not an exception.

I didn’t go to university right out of high school and I was graduating at age 26. While some of my peers were afraid of what was coming next, I was chomping at the bit to jump into a career in the communications field. The thing is that there was never a good opportunity for me to jump, it was Double Dutch skipping all over again (I’m really quite terrible at that game). Entry level jobs didn’t seem to exist and online job applications meant that I was just a faceless number to potential employers.

Time passed and I had gotten a handful of interviews, but they were far and few between. I always felt confident about how the meetings went and knew that I could handle the jobs, yet someone with more experience would always win out in the end. When thinking about that all too common interview question, “what is your greatest weakness,” it was clear to me – my greatest weakness was that I hadn’t been given a chance yet. How was I supposed to get the necessary experience to land a job without landing a job?

Scrolling through Indeed listings, most openings required 2-5 years of experience in the communications industry. I often came across the specific requirement of paid experience which meant that unpaid internships weren’t being valued either. I was doing everything right according to people that I spoke with and articles that I read when looking for advice.

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A screen shot of an advice article I had been reading approximately seven months ago that I posted on Instagram.

Then one day, a few weeks ago, a university peer posted a promising message about how she had managed to get a job closer to her house and wanted to pass along suitable resumes to her employer as they were looking to fill her position as soon as possible. I quickly messaged her letting her know of my interest and then began designing a fun custom resume that I spent a couple of hours on. I mirrored design elements of the company’s website, even screen-capturing the site to ensure colour matching (thank you eyedrop tool) and including brand related imagery. I felt really good about my resume and my peer sent it to her connections.

Not too long after the resume submission, I got a call from the PR Manager and she expressed how excited she was to bring me in for an interview – she loved my resume! Like so many interviews before this one, I went in with my head held high and the confidence in myself, knowing that I could rock this job. Arriving very early, I spoke with the office manager and one of her coworkers about our love of dogs and felt like I would fit in at the office. The interview itself was nothing like my previous ones, the Founder and PR Manager were interested in getting to know my personality and we barely discussed the position.

I left feeling really great, I had a positive connection r2d2with both interviewers and I gave it my all to show my eccentricity. I mean that I really gave it my all and I’m not just saying that. In the interview, I did chimpanzee noises, I showed them the difference between that and my gorilla impersonation, did my

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Remember, Elaine’s dance is all about the kicks and the thumbs.

R2D2 sound (the one that he makes when he goes flying), I did the Elaine dance (from Seinfeld), and I talked way too much about pop culture. I made them laugh quite a lot and the Founder of the company implied that I would be getting a second interview.

 

That weekend, I received an email from the PR Manager with an assignment to complete. Chris is currently away for work, and luckily, I didn’t have much planned so I dedicated approximately eight hours of my weekend to hitting the assignment out of the park. I had fun designing visual content for hypothetical social media posts, answered questions about target marketing toward millennials and centennials, as well as thought critically about which trendsetting online presences could gel well with the company. I managed to send the assignment back within 24 hours and I was feeling fantastic. I hoped that everyone else would slack off and be way off base (it’s a competitive job market which brings out an ugly side).

The PR Manager loved my work. We scheduled a lunch meeting for the following week as a second interview and she asked if the company could use my May the Fourth visual content on their social channels. I was ecstatic, but I still didn’t get my hopes up. Fast forward to the second interview, I found out more about the job, met with the designer who I would often work with, and hoped they didn’t think that I talked too much. An hour and a half went by, we parted ways and It felt promising.

 

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Please watch Kristen Bell’s happy tear reaction when she found out that she was going to meet a sloth.

The next day, this past Tuesday, I got an email with the job offer. I cried almost immediately. They were happy tears of relief that I didn’t know I needed until that moment. This past year has been so incredibly hard, sure, I’ve been applying to jobs in pyjamas on my couch, but the emotional rollercoaster was exhausting. I texted and called my close inner circle to tell them the news, finally I had something good to share about this painful process and I wanted to shout it from the proverbial rooftops. I had to wait all day to share the news with my husband (his mornings are my nights as he is working in Kuala Lumpur), but when I did, it finally felt real. That night, I had the best sleep I’ve had in a long time.

 

 

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My second interview outfit with some red and black Smoke’s inspired plaid!

I start my new job this coming Monday and I cannot be more excited. I am officially the full-time Marketing Coordinator of Smoke’s Poutinerie Inc. and I am confident that it’s the right place for me. Lucky job application number 108!

 

The moral of the story is, that it is so hard to get a job these days even when you graduate with the top grades in your class and know that you can do the job. Our parents didn’t go through what we’re going through in order to start careers so we look to each other for advice, sympathy, and validation. I am here to validate what you’re going through. Your time of post-graduation unemployment may be one of the hardest times of your life, especially when OSAP comes calling after six months and you start paying the monthly interest to maintain your mountainous debt at it’s current peak.

What I learned during this year:

  1.  Looking for and applying to jobs is itself a full-time job
  2. Custom resumes can catch an employer’s eye, but sometimes you do the work with no result because life is unfair
  3. You will deal with jealousy, it’s hard to watch your peers get jobs when you’re struggling, but try to remind yourself of all the good stuff going on in your life too (writing this blog often helped me do that)
  4. We all need the job so try not to hate whoever gets it
  5. Sometimes you need to cry, our current job market is difficult and stressful – your tears are warranted
  6. Depending on your loved ones does not make you a failure, it means you’re lucky to be loved, accept the help
  7. When you start to lose your confidence, keep applying and fake some self-assurance
  8. Keep track of online application deadlines so that you don’t miss out on an opportunity
  9. Take a break when you need to, it can be super overwhelming and you deserve a day off
  10. Most employers will not accept tangible copies of your resume and cover letter at all anymore, my attempts never helped me get any further
  11. There are always other perfect jobs for you out there even if you don’t get this one
  12. Don’t burn bridges because you never know who might pass your resume along to the right person
  13. Pet a lot of dogs – best piece of advice I can give you, they help destress me a lot

My story was a long one, but a fruitful one, and I hope that my honesty validates your own personal experiences. Getting the job feels amazing, but it in no way negates how terrible my year of unemployment was. Be angry, be sad, feel all of the emotions that come with constant rejection and minimal finances, chumbabut use those emotions to fuel your efforts in applying to jobs. As Chumbawamba once said, “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you are never gonna keep me down,” make that song be about you (Did your family also order their CD from Columbia House, but only really listened to that song?).

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Thank You for Being a Friend: A Very Late Goodbye to the Golden Girl That Was My Grandmother

NOTE:

Firstly, I was lucky enough to be on The Marilyn Denis Show with one of my best friends a few weeks ago. The two of us are featured for being thrifty university graduates who get spoiled with makeovers! The episode airs tomorrow (Friday April 21st) and I cannot post any behind the scenes pictures until after it airs, but next week’s blog will explain how we got the makeover opportunity (a contest may have been involved), what the process was really like, and of course lots of pictures. Looking forward to sharing it all with you next Thursday on here!

 

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The front and back of the bookmark given out at my grandmother’s Celebration of life.

Until then I thought that I would write a virtual letter to my grandmother. My husband and I are attending a friend’s celebration of life this coming Saturday and I’ve been thinking about the celebration we had for my grandmother approximately a year and a half ago. I was much too emotional to sing or even speak at the event we had and I thought that I’d put those thoughts and feelings down in a blog post. As an atheist, I’m reminded of my grandmother in my thoughts. I don’t believe that she’s with me or watching me, but that her memory lives on in stories and photos which is why this blog post has a lot of meaning to me. If I had been able to bravely speak at my grandmother’s celebration of life (like my mom and my grandmother’s sisters had), this is what I would have said:

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A photo taken of my mother (the child) and my grandmother in the late 1960s.

My grandmother, Heather Campbell, was a beautiful, funny, and fun-loving woman who was born October 16 1945 and died September 7th 2015. Although she passed away just one month shy of her 70th birthday, she had lived a full life. Growing up, I had thought that my grandma was different than those that I heard about and saw on television. She was single, young, and didn’t really cook us meals, she was more like my mom’s best friend who we would share laughs with. We would crack jokes at each others expense and sarcasm was a staple element of our conversations. I only truly appreciated the unique relationship that I had with her when I had gotten older, this is when we often treated each other as equals – she had become my friend as well as my mothers.

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Grandma and my mom just before she was diagnosed with cancer.

I became closer to my grandma after she was diagnosed with colon cancer. At first, I wasn’t entirely sure what to think or what to do until someone had told me that I didn’t want to regret not spending enough time with her. I started visiting her by myself, which I had almost never done before. We always saw my grandma with my mom, but I was going to university and my school was near her apartment so I started touching base with her throughout the week. I would stop by after my morning class and we would watch The Price is Right, play along with the program, and make fun of the contestants. She often made me a sandwich and we would gab like girlfriends until I took the bus home or my mom picked me up.

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Photo of my grandma with my mom and her younger brother in approximately 1970.

When she had gone into the hospital for a long period of time (approximately 120 days), I’d started reading Pride and Prejudice to her, a favourite of mine. She had never read the book and enjoyed being read to, it was a nice change of pace from the few entertainment options that were provided by the hospital. I’d read for a few hours at a time and start to lose my voice, occasionally I’d stop to ask her if she was sleeping, but she rarely was, she would tell me to continue on and I would. I had gotten half way through the book when she had recovered enough to go home. She had fought with her body over a period of four months, a body that had gone through chemo and radiation only to develop a hole in her stomach that required multiple surgeries and months of hospitalization. She had been in there for so long that I didn’t think that she’d be leaving alive, but she did – incredibly she did.

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Some photos from Push for Your Tush 2015.

From there she took day trips with her friends, sisters, and my mom, but mostly she rested and looked forward to my sister’s wedding. A handful of us raised money and walked in the Push for your Tush colon cancer charity event in honour of her and she had such a big smile that day. She then celebrated at my sister’s bridal shower and she smiled her beautiful smile once more. By the time that my sister was getting married, my grandma was quite weak, but excited. Heather, my sister and my grandmother’s namesake, and (my

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A collection of happy photos from my sister’s wedding.

now brother-in-law) David had an intimate wedding of just 45 guests in their backyard and then a reception at a local pub. I really love the photos of my grandmother that day, she was so proud and happy to be able to see one of her grandchildren get married – another check off her list of ‘big-life-moments.’

My Grandma lived only two weeks after my sister’s wedding, she passed with pneumonia in the hospital surrounded by family. She is the first person that I have ever witnessed pass away and it was a difficult process. After the grueling six or seven hours of watching her body finally give up, we all cried and some people talked about that place called heaven. I knew that for me, she was gone, and that this would be the last time I would ever see her. Through tears, I kissed her on the forehead and felt like I would see her tomorrow, because goodbyes rarely feel real at the times that they’re said.

At the end of her life, Heather Campbell was a sister, a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother, and more importantly a friend. Her best friends were her family members and there’s something really beautiful about that. I was lucky enough to grow closer to her in the two years that she hadIMG_6076.jpg colon cancer and even though she was in pain, I think that a lot of moments that took place in those two years could have been some of the best in her life. She was loved by many and she knew that. I loved her and she knew that too.

If I could stop by her apartment this afternoon to watch The Price is Right, I would update her on what’s happened in my life. I would tell her that Chris proposed a month after she passed away, that I won the opportunity to pick a wedding dress, that I missed her sitting on the couch as I chose my bridal gown, and that I graduated top of my university class. I would explain to her that I missed her at my

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Grandma and mom in approximately 1967.

bridal showers and that I couldn’t help, but feel jealous that she could attend my sister’s wedding, but not mine. I would tell her that I married the most wonderful man who lets me make fun of Jeopardy contestants and shares our sense of humour. I would tell her that I got to meet Marilyn Denis (who she, my sister and I love) and accidentally made a dark joke that she would have thought was funny, but Marilyn didn’t really get. I would tell her not to feel bad about not being able to be my mom’s best friend anymore, because I’ve taken on that role now and that we talk about her often. I would tell her everything that she’s missed and thank her for everything that she was because she was pretty awesome.

PS. My Grandma was a total Blanche and I’m closer to a Sophia… or maybe it’s the other way around, some days I don’t know.

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Couch Cushion for One Please: The Chore of Cooking Alone

When you marry a pilot, you need to realize that you will be on your own at times and that at those times you will still need to eat.

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Eating alone leads me to eat in fron of the TV and this cheeky monkey likes to remind me that I am not actually dining alone!

Eating alone is one thing (and am I really eating alone?), but cooking alone is another – to me at least.

My husband Chris is definitely the chef in the house, he loves to cook and admittedly he makes cooking fun. We both really enjoy the time spent together, I like to peel and chop so I almost always do prep while he cooks at the stove. With great music, a glass of wine, a dog wagging her tail, and the company of my spouse, cooking dinner is made into a cherished time for us each day. However, while he’s away it definitely feels like a chore.

I was recently speaking to a friend’s mother who lives by herself and she agreed with me. She and I easily fall into a certain mentality, the mindset of taking care of one’s self seeming less important. It was so nice to talk to someone who relates to this odd concept that often makes me feel less like an adult. When doing a bit of research, I came across a short article by Dana Velden labelling this attitude as the “Why Bother” Syndrome. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in these feelings of dining disinterest. 

I recognize the signs of indifference and try to combat them by forcing myself to cook healthy meals. The meals that I cook are reasonably boring, but they are my ‘go-tos.’ Almost every night I eat baked chicken breast, couscous or rice, and raw vegetables (carrots and cucumbers). I also eat smaller portions than when my husband is home so that I can make the meal extend into two meals – leftovers are heaven sent when you’re cooking for one.

I know that this sounds extremely unglamorous, but it’s the truth. To avoid falling into patterns of eating chips or cookies for dinner I make routine meals that sustain me, take little effort, and are cost efficient.

CaptureOccasionally I treat myself or merely want to change it up, and when I do, I look to Pinterest. You can check out my food board here, we have started pinning more gluten free recipes since my husband was diagnosed with Celiac approximately one year ago – this is also why I sometimes indulge in pizza while he’s away!

What are some ways that you motivate yourself to cook interesting meals by yourselves?

Have any links to recipes that are quick, easy, and delicious? Let me know!

Netflix and Nostalgia: My Magic School Bus Reboot Expectations

 

In 2014, Netflix revealed some of their early plans for an updated animated series based on the hit scientific show The Magic School Bus that ran from 1994-1997. This show has a special spot in my heart as it taught me so much at

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Fact: Ms. Frizzle wore the best themed clothes.

such an early age! For example, there were many times throughout high school and even university when I would get a Frizzle-flashback (I’d like to believe I just made that up) and I would know that the cartoon had taught me this information years earlier.

Netflix Canada has had the original series available in their library for a while now and I absolutely still watch it. Obviously, I enjoy it mainly for nostalgic reasons, but I remember the episodes and characters so clearly that it feels like I’m rehashing personal stories with old friends. The nostalgic element is what makes this reboot a risky move to me; I believe that they will likely disappoint their grownup fans in order to properly hold the attention of and educate today’s youth (a valid reason).

My mixed feelings surrounding the Magic School Bus revival lie mainly in my fear that the animation will be too modern for my taste and that the writing will be less punny. I honestly loved every Carlos pun and I think

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The other kids had poor taste in jokes.

that the innocence of dad-humour played a large part in the overall likability of the show. The Magic School Bus captivated young audiences with visual learning in a way that wasn’t common in elementary schools of the 90’s. Kids today may not fully understand that teachers had to book one of maybe three tube-televisions that would be wheeled down the hall for an allotted hour or so, and that this was a big deal because you rarely got to watch videos in class. The Magic School Bus took textbook knowledge and relayed it in an entertaining fashion!

Although I have my reservations, I am trying to have faith in the reboot and I will definitely give it a watch.

Netflix has kept a lot of secrets since the reboot’s 2014 announcement, but here’s what we do know so far:

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Season 1 episode 3 “Inside Ralphie” was always one of my favourites.
  1. It will be computer generated animation (this makes me nervous [I’m not always a fan]).
  2. Stu Stone, the voice actor who played Ralphie (one of two characters who we got to know from the inside-out), is on board as one of the producers of the reboot!
  3. Multiple other cast members have signed on to help in some way (I’m hoping that they pull a Degrassi-The Next Generation and have the original cast play parents)
  4. Top secret celebrities will lend their voices throughout the new series.
  5. It will likely be titled “The Magic School Bus 360˚”
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Early concept art of The Magic School Bus 360˚.

The early concept art indicates that the Ms. Frizzle character seems to be a similar age as she was in the 90s. If the original Ms. Frizzle were to have aged with us, I would love for

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Lily Tomlin (right) co-stars with Jane Fonda (left) on the Netflix original Grace and Frankie.

her to still be voiced by actress Lily Tomlin and I also hope she married a woman (I just feel like she could have)!

It has been twenty years since The Magic School Bus ended, this has allowed for extensive technology advancements and many new discoveries about our planet. These changes in scientific development are enough reason to justify why the reboot’s relevance. There is a large amount of educational content to teach the modern generation that so many youth television shows are simply not covering.

Topics that I would love to see covered in the new Magic School Bus:

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Me, when I took a tour at my sister’s work’s visitor centre. Very proud of my sister who works as a Nuclear Operator.
  • An emphasis on women in STEM careers
  • Wearable technology
  • A new space episode talking about changes within our galaxy (*cough* Pluto)
  • Global Warming
  • Corrections on new discoveries with dinosaurs (our apparently fine-feathered-friends)
  • Life before cell phones
  • Robotics
  • Crime Forensics (to an extent)
  • Wireless everything
  • Hovercrafts
  • Drones

There are so many choices in topical scientific studies that I’m really excited to see what the creators decide to showcase. Hopefully it will be just as successful as the original series and we will have a positive program that is trusted by parents who learned from an familiar fiery Frizzle.

I think that we (as older viewers) need to either

  1. watch it and love it if they do it justice nostalgically (Fuller House did this well, but the original was already geared toward both kids and adults) or
  2. let go of our nostalgic reigns to let a new generation benefit off of an educational program aimed to please and educate kids, not adults.

the-friz-and-the-liz-share-a-wink-magic-school-bus-1954677-500-375-e1321546050246The show is currently in production and I’m hoping to see it released soon!

Are there some quality scientific television shows already out there for youth today? Let me know some of them! I’m thinking of shows similar to Bill Nye, The Science Guy or the Magic School Bus for us 90’s kids.

 

Summit’s Safe Place: One Month Adopted Home Update

Yesterday, Monday December 5th, marked my one month anniversary with our newly adopted dog Summit (See her Instagram account @Summit.the.sweetheart).

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Summit and I on our 2nd day together.

In a previous blog post, I explained the process of grieving my late dog Daq and finding Summit online. To summarize, Summit is a 2-year-old St. Berdoodle (Saint Bernard/Poodle) who was rescued when she was pregnant with 11 puppies. Her rescuers in the US sent her to foster parents who ran a Portuguese Water Dog breeding business and were familiar with handling the impending puppy situation properly. After finding homes for the puppies, the breeder then set out to find a home for mommy-Summit. When I saw her photo online, I had a weird feeling that told me she was right for us and I expressed this in an email.

Like all rescues, Summit has a colourful past that contributes to present issues, but she is the biggest sweetheart. It is believed that she was abused because of her fear of meeting new people. She loves playing with other dogs and has zero anxiety about her furry friends (even when they are strangers).

Summit has come such a long way in a very short time.

photo-2016-12-05-9-54-27-amWhen I first brought Summit home, I was excited, but it was hard because she didn’t trust me enough to let me hug her and cuddle her the way that you want to when you get a new fur-baby. The sweet girl had never gone up and down stairs before so she was limited to staying on the main floor. I decided that I would sleep on the couch that night so that she wouldn’t be alone – I think this really helped our initial bonding.

She seemed to be picking things up really quickly! On the second or third day, she was learning what her dog bed was and even showed interest in wanting to go upstairs with me. One day when I was about to jump in the shower, I saw her little head poke up from the landing! She had come that far, but then immediately forgot how she had gotten up there and couldn’t figure out the rest of the steps (she had this thing where she didn’t understand that she needed to move her back legs). I paused what I was doing and helped show her how to climb up the stairs on four legs (I had been doing this for days like a little animal). I was an extremely proud mama when she made it all the way up and discovered more of the house.

Summit had not only never used stairs at the age of 2, but she had also never seen a TV, nor did she know basic commands like sit, lay down, stay, etc. She was housebroken, but

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Summit watching an animal documentary.

with moving to a new environment she did leave me a couple stinky presents in the house early on. By the end of the first week she had conquered the stairs, was cool with the weird moving pictures in the living room, and had even officially mastered the art of sitting on command!

Week two included visits from more family and friends (lots of practice at meeting new people), but Summit especially loves playing with her friend/my mom’s dog Agent Deeks. These two are so infatuated, they love playing, cuddling, nuzzling, grooming, humping (we continually break them up) – they just can’t get enough of each other. After a week and a half of bonding time, it was hard to let go of my control, but I let her off leash on a woods-walk with mom and Deeks.

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Summit and Agent Deeks.

With her friend at her side it was more likely that she’d stick with him, she did such a good job and had so much fun! By the end of that week she had learned the lay down command and was growing even closer to me.

Week three was fun because Summit and I went on a road trip to see my sister who lives four hours away. My sister has a Bernese Mountain Dog named Dude (brother to Deeks), a German Sheperd named Sidney Prescott, and two cats named Rafi and Taco. Summit was fast friends with her cousins, especially Sidney who seemed to be ecstatic to have a girlfriend since she was always surrounded by males. The dogs had a ton of fun and I can’t wait to see them reunite for the holiday season.

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Summit and her cousins Dude and Sidney.

This last week has been nice, Summit seems completely at home now.

  • photo-2016-11-21-3-00-10-pmShe loves:
  • Looking through the front window
  • Standing on the backyard deck to guard her kingdom
  • Napping on her bed all day
  • Going for walks to Poke-stops
  • Playing with her dollies
  • My made-up songs and dances in the kitchen
  • Cuddling with me in bed
  • Playing with other doggos

This month of so many firsts has been hard work that has already proven to be well worth it and I can’t wait to share more of these experiences with her fur-daddy. Chris has been away for five weeks and is coming home in a couple days – he will finally get to meet the fur-baby that he has grown to love through the constant receival of unfiltered photos and videos each day. I can’t imagine how excited he must be.

We are so lucky that we found a new dog to share our love with and to spoil this Christmas. She still has a lot to learn and so do we as new puppy-parents. She is two, but has so many firsts that dogs her age would normally have already experienced that we are going through puppy stages and also getting used to such a playful girl compared to our gorgeous old 12-year-old labradoodle (we still think about her every day).

Dogs, like people, aren’t perfect and it is often the imperfections that we grow to love most. Do you have a rescue dog and have some helpful anecdotes to share? Let me know and give them a kiss for me!

More Pictures from this past month: