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Let's walk and talk

Before we had Harvey we were an only-child family. The only child was Rascal, our sweet good dog who commands so much love and attention in our family that he may as well have emerged panting from my very womb.

In the days before Harvey I very much enjoyed my morning walk with Rascal. I still do, but these days it takes a bit longer to prepare the whole expedition team for our morning constitutional. In case you're venturing a zero-degree adventure with your pup and 6-month-old, here are the steps:

First the baby gets changed and clothed in something fleecy with feet. Then I lay his snowsuit on the chair and put him on top of it, but not in the snowsuit because the time in which his thumbs are unavailable must be compressed as much as possible to approach zero. Then I put on my boots (if I've slept in long-johns and put pants over them) or my snow-pants and then my boots (if I'm only wearing one layer). This ends phase 1: preliminary preparations, and begins phase 2: we're really doing this, quit barking at me, we're getting there. I fasten the ergo baby carrier around my waste and then zip the baby into his snow suit. He doesn't like the part where he's zipped up, and may cry until he's lifted high in the air and cooed at and strapped into the ergo carrier. Then we all breath a sigh of relief that that's over, and enter phase 3: outer-outer-wear. I put my down coat over both of us and I use a scarf as a belt to keep it tight around his arms. I find his hat and my hat (hopefully I found them before we started, since visibility is impaired somewhat by the baby front-pack) and I tie on his hat, then mine, then slip my gloves in my pocket, reassure that dog that we're REALLY going this time, and put on his collar and leash.

Sometimes I forget to put a fleece layer under my coat and then when we get outside I notice the wind whipping against my chest and neck. On these days I feel pretty stupid and we cut the walk short. Sometimes I forget a second layer on my legs and the effect is similar. In the fall there were days when I walked out of the house without my hat or gloves, but I learned that lesson quick.

I am constantly amazed by the dog and his ability to walk through a sixty-degree differential like it's no big thing. He looks at me as I'm tearing apart the living room to assemble our expedition gear and he's like, "Humans.... I just don't get it."

After several months of cold weather walking, I'm just starting to get to the point where this morning routing feels doable and not like some tortuous dance of the dead. It seems that most of the exhaustion and ill-humor I've experienced as a new mothers is really just due to the incredible amount of mental energy it takes to problem solve regular life. Like, I used to know how to get dressed to walk out the door... how do I do it while holding an infant? This takes more mental engineering than you think. Do it wrong and you risk provoking a screaming baby, or getting frostbite on your ears, or the dog peeing on the furniture. These considerations are not negligible. It's not just lack of sleep that makes new moms so tired.

But not at least I can say that I've got the morning walk down. This skill is firmly in my toolkit. Expert Dog Walker. Can I put it on my resume?


OMG! That is too much work. I would rather stay inside. I am so glad to live in a warmer climate. If I forget my coat, no big deal. And lately I haven't even bothered with the kids coats, they don't care anyway and it's just more yelling for me to do.

It has certainly been a cold winter here--colder than we're used to. We love it, though! At least, most of us do...

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