When There Is No Finish Line

Hubby has been working out on a regular basis for a few months now . This decision pleased the cheap, ahem, I mean frugal side of me because it meant he’d finally be using the gym membership we’d been paying for on a monthly basis. I’d also be getting a more healthy, energetic and buff husband and who wouldn’t want that? 😉

Hubby’s efforts the first two months were jaw-dropping. He’d go to the gym before the sun woke up and go again before he came home from work. Two workouts in a day? Who does that kind of thing?! Apparently, according to hubby, a lot of people who go to the gym do. They must either really want to get their money’s worth or the happy hormones you get from exercising are a real thing. 😉 There’s likely a third reason though as to why people stick to a workout routine. Hubby explained it to me with a slogan he saw on a shirt at the gym. It read, There is no finish line. 

 

The thought is that in order to stay healthy, energetic and buff, you need to exercise, eat right, and sleep well on a consistent basis. That means every. single. day. Because once you stop, the laws of physics (specifically, the one related to gravity) take over and your body start drooping and sagging and not functioning as well as it could.

When I heard this slogan, I couldn’t help but cringe. Working out every single day? If only I had enough energy to do that. Well, the irony of it all is that when you start working out, you gain more energy which helps you continue the vicious, I mean, wonderful cycle. So once you get going, it’s easier to keep going. Exercising will still require effort, time and commitment, but as you continue to do it regularly, it will become a part of your routine. Which is a good thing because there is no finish line when it comes to staying healthy.

This slogan got me thinking about how so much of our lives requires daily maintenance. Our minds, hearts and souls need regular nourishment and “exercise” as well. I’ve been experiencing this need as I stay home with the munchkins during their summer vacation. Boy, whoever came up with that slogan must’ve understood what having kids is like because believe me, there is no finish line when it comes to parenting. This job requires you to get up, clothe, feed, and clean up after your kids every day. And that’s just the physical, “easy” part of being a parent. It’s the emotional and mental stuff—being patient, kind, forgiving and gracious—that really kicks you in the butt. Sigh. 😉 I’ve been reminding myself to work on listening well and keeping my expectations realistic. And making sure I get some me-time and good sleep so I can be on my best behavior for them.

We have one week of summer vacay under our belts now and ten more to go—whew! Fortunately, I find that the longer I’ve been a parent, the more I know how to keep going on a daily basis. Not that it gets easier, but it does get a lot more predictable and a little more manageable. And there are plenty of rewards—shared experiences, funny moments and silly stuff—to keep you going … and going … and going … 🙂

What things do you want to keep working at on a daily basis?

Raising Our Kids for Other People’s Benefit

One of the munchkins came home recently and told me their teacher joked that we (hubby and I) were having a hard time with them and offered to adopt them. My first reaction was, Ha, he doesn’t know what he’s asking for!; my second thought, After all the hard work we’ve done?! No way, buddy! 😉

This joke got me thinking though about our job as parents. We have kids for ourselves, to fulfill a desire within us that imagines how nice it would be to have our own mini-me’s. However, when we raise our kids, it’s not only for our benefit. We raise our kids for other people, too.

What do I mean? All the teaching, guiding, correcting, and nurturing we do with our kids eventually benefits the people our kids come into contact with. This includes their friends and teachers and their future employers, potential spouses, even society as a whole. Whoa. That’s a sobering thought. But isn’t this the goal of parenting? To love, influence, and bless our children so they can in turn love, influence, and bless others.

Parenting is a huge responsibility and also one of the most thankless jobs out there. Even though we don’t always directly reap the rewards of our labor, there are moments when we get a virtual pat on the back for the job we’ve done. Like when a teacher tells you what an inspiration your child is to him. And he offers to adopt said child. I think that’s a good sign you’ve done something right as a parent. 😛 And now that I’ve thought through this offer some more, I’ve changed my mind. I’m warming up to the idea … especially with summer break around the corner. 😉

Speaking of the break, I’ll be returning to a summer schedule for posting to this blog (aka. whenever my kids allow me to!). I’ll leave you now with this fun video from the musical episode of The Flash (my favorite superhero!), featuring the song “Put A Little Love In Your Heart”, which is a good reminder for me as I think about all the time I’ll be spending at home with the munchkins. 😉

In what ways are your children a blessing to others?

Embracing the “Lasts” of Childhood

I was driving the munchkins to school yesterday when we got stuck in a mile-long traffic jam, thanks to a broken-down train. The road we were on happened to be near a park we used to go to regularly when they were younger. C looked out her window at the empty swings, slide and spinning-thingy and remarked, “It looks so small.”

I laughed and replied, “That’s because you’re bigger now.”

This truth is something I’ve been chewing on lately as a mama. My kids are bigger now, so big that one of them is getting too tall to be my chin rest. They’re heavier now so that when I try to carry them—with one arm under their head and the other under their knees—I can only manage to stay upright for ten seconds. They’re also outgrowing a lot of the activities they enjoyed before: going to the park or playground, holding my hand when we cross the street or having me read them a book (or three!) at bedtime.

As parents, we always look forward to the firsts of childhood: a child’s first word, first step, first time pooping in the potty, first day of school, first performance … the list goes on and on. But what happens when some of these “firsts” start becoming their “lasts”?

I used to complain about reading to them before bed. I was tired, blurry-eyed and, quite honestly, looking forward to my alone time after the family fell asleep. The last thing I wanted to do was crack open a book and narrate it in my most dramatic voice. Just between you and me, I may or may not have only borrowed reeeaaalllly short books from the library to shorten the reading time. 😉

There came a day when the munchkins were in bed, waiting for me to take a shower, so I could read to them afterwards. Except that on this night by the time I was ready to read, they were already asleep! And the same thing happened the day after and the day after that. By the third night, other than realizing I could’ve taken longer showers (haha!), I started to wonder if my job as a bedtime book reader was coming to an end. Maybe the munchkins didn’t want me to read to them anymore?!?! :O Noooo!

That’s when I decided reading to them at bedtime wasn’t such a bad thing. It’s something that takes time and effort, but it’s also a great privilege and—sniff, sniff!—a temporary one.

As much as we long for our kids to grow up, it’s hard when it actually happens. It’s hard to accept that your baby doesn’t need you the same way he did before, but trust me, it’s a good thing. Before you know it, your little one won’t need you to brush their teeth for them. They won’t need you to wipe their bottoms or their noses. There will come a morning when she will shake her hand free from yours when you reach the school gate. An evening when he won’t ask you for another bedtime story. And maybe even a day when your child will be the one showing you neat shortcuts on your phone that you had no idea existed. And it’ll be okay. Because their growth and their independence is our reward. It’s a sign of a job well done. 🙂

So, let’s celebrate the “firsts” of our children, embrace their “lasts”, but most of all, enjoy all the in-betweens.

Here’s a beautiful rendition of “How Far I’ll Go” sung by Voctave, from the movie Moana. Just think, one day we won’t be bombarded by Disney songs (unless of course you choose to be)!

What childhood “lasts” have you learned to embrace?

When Failure Means Progress

For all of us in the U.S. (except for the lovely states of Hawaii and Arizona), there’s this wonderful day in March where we lose an hour of sleep every single year. And every single year, I—along with every parent in the country—dread this day. Well, actually most of us also dread the day we gain an hour each year because that means earlier wake-up times for the kiddos. (And all of us wonder if whoever started Daylight Saving Time had kids because no parent in their right mind would have thought this was a good idea! LOL) Anyhow, this year I wasn’t the only one dreading the time change; C was too.

Who else agrees?! LOL

For the first time in her life, she understood the logical consequences of DST. Specifically, that by losing an hour of sleep, she had to wake up an hour earlier … and if she couldn’t wake up at the right time, then she wouldn’t have enough time to do all the things she did in the morning before school and—BAM!—the world would end. (Where she gets this “all or nothing” way of thinking, I don’t know, cough cough!) The bottom line was: She had to wake up on time—or else! (To show how punctual she likes to be, let me tell you that she actually arrived on her due date, which supposedly only 5% of babies do.)

I tried to calm her fears by telling her that it wasn’t the first time she’d gone through DST. She’s had 7 years of experience losing an hour of sleep and everything turned out all right. And because DST starts at 2AM on Sunday, we have a day to practice getting up earlier. And most of all, everyone is tired and cranky after DST happens, so it’d be understandable if she was late to school on Monday.

Did my logical reasons convince her not to panic? Of course … not! 😛 So, like a lot of the time in life, I just had to let her face the problem and help her through it.

The morning after DST, she promptly announced, “I failed! I woke up late!” to which I replied, “It’s okay! You’re adjusting! It’ll get better. It takes a few days.”

This back-and-forth exchange happened every day this week, even today. But thankfully, the defeated tone in her voice has lessened little by little, day by day. As her mama, I hope and pray she’s learning that the world will not in fact end because things don’t go exactly the way she wants them to. That failure means progress, because you can always try again (and improve!). And that change and growth take time to produce. Most of all, I hope she takes this small lesson and applies it to the other hurdles she will face in life … especially next year when we’ll need to lose an hour of sleep again. 😉

I don’t think there’s any song out there about kids dealing with DST, but here’s one that’s literally for the children, New Kids On the Block’s “This One’s for the Children”.

How do you help yourself or your kiddos deal with change?

How a Blogger Respects Her Kid’s Wish for Privacy

One of my munchkins (who shall remain anonymous) told me recently, “I don’t want you to write about me or even say that you have a son.”

Aiya.

My response? “Okay. (Sigh) I won’t anymore from now on.”

Image courtesy of http://www.symbols-n-emoticons.com/2012/09/zipping-mouth-shut.html

So in case you wonder why I won’t be mentioning my firstborn child from now on in my blogs or anywhere on social media, you’ll know why. 🙂

I always knew the day would come when I’d have to respect my kids’ privacy online. I get it, especially since the child I’m talking about is an introvert like me. Even if he weren’t, I’d still understand why he doesn’t want his mom talking about him to the entire world. ‘Cause let’s face it, having a blog means everything you post is accessible to anyone and everyone on the planet. I respect his need to keep some things (actually, most things) about himself for himself.

This is specifically the reason why I don’t post pictures of my kids’ faces on this blog, but I do realize now that the stories I write about them—however cute and funny and sweet they may be—are as personal and identifiable as their photos are. And even though these stories often times impact me as their mom, they belong to them. These are their stories to tell.

So, what does this mean for this mama who loves to blog about her munchkins? Well, I’ll still be sharing about my experiences and lessons learned as a mom, just more in general terms. And more importantly, when I do want to write about my munchkins, I’ll ask for permission first.

How do you feel about sharing photos and stories about your kids on social media? 

Here’s a really creative rendition of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata by Kurt Hugo Schneider and Amazon Echo that the kids may (or may not) have enjoyed watching. 😉

When Your Kids Surpass You

There’s been a word tossed around the house a lot this week between the hubby and E. It’s only two syllables long, but when announced in a challenging tone, it’s powerful enough to get your adrenaline pumping. What’s the word?

Rematch!

Yup, every evening at dinnertime, either hubby or E will say, “Rematch!” And after dinner the two of them will get out the chess set and go to battle. 🙂

In the past, especially when E first started learning how to play chess, it came as no surprise that hubby would win most (if not all) of the games. These days, however, the playing field has been leveled. There are more cries of, “No way!”, “What?!”, and “I can’t believe it!” from poor hubby. Because it’s finally happened. Our 10 year old son can beat him at chess now. Here’s the photographic evidence. (To be fair, I missed the game where hubby beat him.) 😉

Amid hubby’s groans of shock and disappointment, I couldn’t help but smile. I gently commented, “But don’t we want our kids to be better than us?”

His answer? “Yes, but not this soon!”

LOL. 🙂

I get his point. I already got his point a year ago when E beat me at chess. I was okay accepting defeat, however, because chess isn’t my strong suit. But if E or C were to start correcting my grammar, that would be another story. 😉

But the funny thing about being a parent is that our job is to make sure our kids succeed. And succeeding often times means surpassing.

I, for one, hope my kids surpass me. I hope they have more confidence than me, will speak up for themselves and others more than me, and have a greater positive influence on the world around them. I don’t mind if they’re smarter, kinder, more generous and loving than both hubby and me. In fact, I want them to be the most awesome people they can be, even if that means we’re (slightly) less awesome than they are. 😉

Because then we’ll know we’ve done our job as parents well.

Here’s a song, “Believe” by Shawn Mendes, that talks about believing in people. May our belief in our kids help them to believe in themselves.

In what ways have you surpassed your parents? In what ways do you hope your kids will surpass you?

The Benefits of Crying

When the munchkins were younger, there was a lot of crying in our house. Actually, there was a lot of crying outside the house and in the car, too. Let’s just say that if we had collected all those tears they shed (as well as the ones I shed during their tantrums and meltdowns!), we could’ve helped out our drought-stricken state of California. 😉 Thankfully, we’ve had a lot of rain in the past weeks to fill up those reservoirs and the kids are able to process their emotions a little more calmly these days.

I personally have a hard time staying calm when E or C gets upset, but hubby has the patience of a saint. Not only will he look at their red, open-mouthed faces with adoration, he’ll also tell them, “It’s okay, just cry!”

Just cry?! (Does that include me, too? LOL!)

But if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years as a parent, it’s that one, kids cry a lot, and two, crying can be helpful.

Having been raised by my strict, no-funny-business grandma, however, I learned not to cry. I learned it was safer to stuff my emotions inside rather than show them. Which is why I struggle so much when the kids need to cry. And I use the word need because sometimes we just need to cry.

If you Google “benefits of crying”, you’ll find countless articles (here’s one) touting the physical and emotional benefits of tears. Crying releases toxins, helps you deal with stress, and makes you more mindful of your emotions and experiences. Moreover, shedding tears in front of people you feel safe with helps build your connection with them. So it’s a good thing to cry by yourself and with others! Crazy idea, huh?

But boy, does it feel good to turn on the waterworks once in a while, especially if you tend to be more of an uptight and anxious person (if you are, welcome! you’re in good company here). 😉 The thing with crying though is that if you don’t allow yourself to do it regularly, you can get out of practice. And no amount of sheer willpower can force the tears to fall (unless maybe you’re an actor). What do you do then? Watch a sad movie or TV show or read a sad story or listen to a sad song. I stumbled upon this solution recently when I started watching NBC’s This Is Us. If you haven’t heard of this show, you need to check it out. I guarantee you will shed a few (or more) tears each and every episode. Just make sure you don’t watch it right before you have to pick up the kiddos from school—I learned this lesson the hard way! 😉 This show is now my regular “therapy session” where I tell myself, “It’s okay, just cry!”

Because it is so okay to cry. Crying is good for our body, mind and soul. So give it a go sometime soon. And take comfort in the fact that your tears do not go unnoticed. As it says in Psalm 56:8,

You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.

This song gets me every time. Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Heaven is the Face” is a song about the passing of his daughter, but it also speaks of our hope in God to one day be with Him in a place where we’ll no longer have a need to cry.

What were you taught about crying? What do you believe about it now?

When You Can’t Take Things Too Personally as a Parent

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. We artistic types can be a little sensitive. Here’s a visual of what that looks like (and a throwback to one of my favorite shows from my twenties, haha). 😉

Meme courtesy of https://memegenerator.net/Dawson-Crying

This is the first meme I ever made! (Meme courtesy of https://memegenerator.net/Dawson-Crying)

I think there’s a logical explanation for this. Creative people—whether they be artists, writers, actors, singers or dancers—feel a lot and what they feel comes out in their various forms of art. That’s why when we hear a catchy song, watch a moving performance, or read a beautiful piece of writing, it touches something within us and makes us feel, too. And to make someone feel something you feel takes a bit of talent and hard work, of course, but most of all it requires a sensitive soul.

That’s why artists can be a little too sensitive sometimes for their own good. Take for example the author who got hung up over the fact that during her last free book promotion, she discovered not one, but TWO people had returned her book, even though it had been free. FREE, I tell you! Who returns something they got for free?! Either someone who accidentally downloaded it twice (totally wishful thinking here) or someone who disliked the story THAT much. (Insert Dawson’s crying face here! :P)

Well, I’ve had a few days to have my #authorpityparty and commiserate with other authors who had the same thing happen to them. (I’m sooo glad it’s not just me!) And the one thing I’ve learned? You just can’t take things too personally sometimes, even if you’re an artist.

But this applies even more when you’re a parent.

Have you heard of the saying, “Your child is not giving you a hard time, he’s having a hard time“? Take a minute and let that soak in because they’re some wise words every parent needs to remember all the time. If I could rewind back to when my first munchkin was born, I’d print that statement out in big, bold letters and post it in every room of the house. And the car. And maybe even on my kids’ shirts, so that every time they did something that made me want to pull my hair out and cry, I would’ve remembered to not take it so personally. Because honestly, so much about parenting has to do with them and not us.

When they have a meltdown in the middle of the store, it’s not because they want to make you look and feel like a bad parent, it’s more likely because they’re tired or hungry or bored. When they huff and puff and storm off to their room and slam the door, it’s not because they want to undermine your authority (okay, maybe a little?), it’s because they’re frustrated and angry and overwhelmed by their emotions. In short, they’re having a hard time, not trying to give you a hard time.

During my kids’ hard times, I often have to remind myself to step outside of the situation and see things from their perspective. I find that I parent better when I don’t take their behavior personally. When I try to figure out what they’re having a hard time with, I respond with less anger and yelling and more patience and understanding. It’s no longer a case of me versus them, it’s me with them. And when you’re on the same side as your child, it’s easier to listen and love them.

Of course this doesn’t mean you can’t have your #parentpityparty afterwards. Parents have feelings, too, and we need to take care of ourselves, especially when we’ve been investing our energy into little people. So what can you do with all the emotions you have? Hmm. Maybe try something artsy? Just be forewarned … us artistic types can be a little sensitive. 😉

I’m loving this group I discovered on YouTube recently, the Gardiner Sisters. Take a listen to their lovely cover of Dan + Shay’s song, “Lately”.

How do you not take things too personally in your personal or professional lives?

The Things You Do For Your Kids

Several years ago, our family (along with my lil sis) ventured down to Southern California to visit my relatives. Since they live about an hour away from Anaheim, we decided to stop by Disneyland. When I say “stop by”, that was about as much as we could do with a clingy toddler and a waddling pregnant woman (moi!) in tow. E had also brought along his beloved Winnie the Pooh plush toy that he loved with all the heartfelt affection of a two year old (translation: it never left his side).

Isn't he cute? He's even carrying a backpack.

Isn’t he cute? He’s even carrying a backpack.

We hit up a couple of the calm rides (ie. It’s a Small World) and then got in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean. Hubby had reservations about how our highly sensitive munchkin would react to the one-eyed buccaneers, but I was determined (aka. stubborn) to go on my favorite ride, which I hadn’t been on since high school. When we finally made it to the front of the line, we hopped aboard our little boat and set off for the great unknown.

Great unknown was right.

Thirty seconds into the ride, I started regretting my stubbornness. Poor E was huddled next to hubby, his little body cringing at all the strange sights and scary sounds around him. Those fun plunges down the waterfalls that I’d been looking forward to didn’t seem so fun anymore, especially when 7 months pregnant (hm, maybe that’s why C is so feisty?)! We were all more than relieved when the ride ended, and we quickly got off, with not even a backward glance.

It wasn’t until we were a good thirty feet away did E realize we’d forgotten something back in the Caribbean. Yup, we’d left Pooh with the pirates!

Poor E was distraught, his big brown eyes filling up with tears. Hubby ran back to the ride as we waddled after him, but before we made it, he met us with a sad, weary look on his face. We spent the rest of the evening at the Lost and Found, hoping someone would find E’s toy and turn it in. Suffice it to say, Disneyland was not the happiest place on earth for us that day.

After E went to sleep that night, hubby and I racked our brains for some way to console our dear son. If we could have, we’d have rushed out to buy him another Pooh Bear (maybe 2!). But as life would have it, his Pooh Bear had been a gift from a friend who lives in Europe and didn’t exist on our continent. So, I did what any desperate parent would do, I turned to eBay.

Thank you, eBay!

Amazingly, we found the ONLY listing with the EXACT SAME Pooh Bear being sold by someone in the UK. The catch? They would only ship to UK buyers. So, I did what any stubborn parent would do at one o’clock in the morning, I sent the seller a message of our epic, tragic tale. I even offered to pay extra for them to ship it to the US. They replied with a gracious message agreeing to the transaction and voila—we were the proud owners of E’s Pooh Bear (again).

A week later when we were back at home, a package arrived in the mail from the UK. I promptly brought it to E and opened it with him. When he took Pooh Bear out of the brown paper bag, he eyed it carefully, then eyed me, waiting for a reasonable explanation as to how we managed to find his toy.

“Mickey Mouse found him and mailed him to us!” I declared with what I hoped was enough conviction and enthusiasm.

E seemed to buy my story, but to be honest, he didn’t treat that Pooh Bear the same way he treated the first one. 🙁

Just last week I was cleaning out C’s room and stumbled upon Pooh Bear (the second) whom she had inherited from E and couldn’t bear (pun intended, heehee) to give it away. I turned to E and asked him, “Remember this? You used to love him.”

In his no-nonsense way, he replied, “Didn’t you say someone found it, but you bought it?”

Yes, dear son, that is the simple explanation of the story. But it leaves out all the emotions we as your parents experienced that night. Guilt for dragging you on a ride you weren’t ready for. Angst at the sight of your sweet, sad face when you realized your prized possession was gone. Determination to make things right again in your world. And finally, joy when we found the elusive pirate’s booty (obtained in our case by legal means) and presented it to you.

Even if neither you nor C treasure Pooh Bear anymore, I think I’ll hold onto it. It helps remind me of all the crazy, roll-your-eyes things that parents do for their kids. Why? Because we love them.

Hm. Maybe it is a simple explanation after all. 🙂

I couldn’t find a song to go with this post, but I did find a funny, very stereotypical video by Wong Fu Productions about the things Asian parents say to show they love their kids. 😉

What are some crazy or cool things you’ve done to show your love to your kids (or your parents did for you)?

Dear Son (A letter about puppy love)

Dear Firstborn Munchkin,

When I dropped you off at school today, I got a glimpse of some budding puppy love. I recognized that delighted, somewhat mischievous smile on your face, the one you have when you purposefully do something to bug your little sister—except this time, it wasn’t C that you annoyed, but a cute girl in your class.

Right away, I realized what was going on and my heart cringed in my chest. I knew this day would come, but I didn’t expect it to be so soon. But now that it’s here, let’s have a little chat … about love.

Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS/freedigitalphotos.net

If you’re sensitive like me, you probably feel a lot of emotions and will end up being a hopeless romantic. You’ll notice things about the opposite sex and will discover a little quirk about someone—a certain laugh or look—that will catch your eye. You’ll experience butterflies in your stomach whenever you hear her voice, and if she looks your way, it will be like one of those Matrix moments when time slows down … waaaay down.

If you’re a ladies man like your Baba was, you won’t have trouble catching a girl’s eye. You’ll know how to strike up a conversation by asking good questions and making just the right amount of eye contact so you come across as interested, but not creepy. You’ll do all the gentlemanly things, like opening doors or giving her your jacket when she’s cold, that will have her falling faster for you than the bullets that drop to the ground when those Matrix slo-mo moments are over.

Okay, enough with the stalling (and movie references). 😉 I guess what I’m trying to say is that love is a tricky thing. All the emotions you’re feeling are normal and a part of life. But don’t give your heart away just yet. The feelings you have now are sweet and special, but they will likely change. Someone new may catch your eye next year or the year after that. Like I always tell you and C, hold your horses! Be patient. You’ve got a long ways to go.

It will probably take another decade or two to find the girl of your dreams. In the meantime, keep growing and improving yourself. Make friends and develop those friendships. Guard your heart from liking the wrong girls, the ones who don’t appreciate you for exactly who you are. Pick yourself up when you do fall for the wrong ones, and learn from your mistakes. Save up your dreams and hopes for the woman who’ll be worth waiting for.

And come talk to me and Baba anytime. As hard as it is to believe, we were young once, too. We’ve got a lot of life experiences to share from (most of which we will not tell you about in specifics). 😉 We do remember what it feels like to fall in love, but more importantly, we know what it’s like to work hard to stay in love. We’ll do our best to help you navigate through the crazy, but wonderful, journey, too.

Love,

Your Mama

P.S. Baba says your tactic is one he would’ve used when he was your age, but he didn’t care about the opposite sex that early. Hm. Seems like you got a bit of both of our genes. 😉

Take a listen to JR Aquino’s song, “By Chance (You & I)”, a super cute and catchy song about falling in love. 🙂

Do you remember your first experience with puppy love?