Hat Head

The snow is falling outside; majestic in it's quiet as it blankets the ground with its icy embrace. Occasionally the wind picks up and I watch a snow devil dance across the driveway.

There is no sunshine, only a sea of bland whiteness. You can barely distinguish where land ends and the horizon begins. White, white, everywhere you look.

It's my favourite time of year. For many reasons but mostly because it's the one time of year I don't have to worry about my hair.

Hi, my name is Tanis Miller and I am addicted to the toque. It's my Canadian crack, my hoser apparel. It is cozy and colour and I don't really care if my head is too big or if I get strange looks.

My head is warm.

I'm old enough to know that the only important fashion statement a rural Canadian needs to make is not to have frostbite.

My kids don't get it. They'd rather lose digits than bundle up. It's a fight to get them to zip up their jackets, even as the Arctic wind slices through their skin. Their youth breeds a toughness and stupidity that has long since worn off from me. I'm weak. I need warmth.

I need a toque. Luckily for me, I have more than I can count. Literally.

There is my lucky toque, saved for high school game day:

My tournament toque.

There is the grocery store toque, mostly worn when I realize one of my children chugged the remains of the milk and put the empty jug back into the refrigerator:

My 'I need milk and bread' toque.

There is the silly toque, worn especially for when I know I'll need to wander the halls of their high school and say hello to all their friends:

The 'I'm wearing this to the High School To Embarrass my Kids' toque

There is the Great White North toque, for when I need to channel a little Bob and Doug into my life:

The 'Bob and Doug' toque

The toque for the days a little fierceness is required to face the day:

The 'What-You-Looking At' toque

Then there is the silly:

The 'My mother Supports My Addiction' toqueAnd the refined:

The 'My hair stylist Gets Me' toque

And the one you keep stealing from your daughter, just to watch her twitch:

The 'I Stole it From My Daughter' toque

I've got a toque for every occasion. And when none of the other toques will do, there is always the traditional toque. The Canadian classic. Because everyone should shake a pompon in life's freak parade, especially when it's below zero outside:

The 'Canadian Classic' toque

I'll admit it; I love putting on a good toque. But even more than that, I love pulling it off.

There is nothing quite like a little hat hair to make a girl smile and remind her not to take life so seriously.

Hat hair

The toque is the bikini of the North and I'll rock it proudly.

So if you live in a cold climate, have no fear. We're all ego-less as we shiver together. Go forth and shake that pompon. You'll be surprised how good it feels. Especially if your kids are watching.


I sat down this morning, like I have every morning since the new year began, with ideas swirling around in my head, blog posts begging to be written.

But then my new dog, Abbott, started nibbling on my toes, and then on my robe, and then he needed to be fed, and oh is he sniffing? Oh crap, come here Abbott, let's go outside, let's go potty, let's go play, let's do anything as long as it doesn't sound like urine puddling on my floor.

Puppies don't just chew slippers and socks. They chew up time. Puppyhood is officially kicking my arse.

I don't remember puppies being this time intensive or exhausting before. Of course, I have never raised a giant breed from puppydom before and comparing Abbott the English Mastiff to Nixon the Boston terrier is like comparing apples to parsnips. Useless.

It became clear on day two of puppy ownership that everything I thought I knew about raising dogs was absolutely wrong. I was speaking a language Abbott didn't understand. I'm not kidding when I say adopting Knox was an easier transition than bringing this dog into my home.

That's right. Adopting a non-verbal, quadriplegic, blind, deaf, developmentally delayed kid was easier than bringing an 8 week old Mastiff into the family.

I can see my husband rolling his eyes at me in my imagination, but what would he know? He left for work not more than two hours after walking our dog into the house.

It turns out Abbott is less a dog and more a chicken. I fully expect him to start clucking at any moment. It took me a week, A WEEK, to get this damn dog into the kitchen. Apparently the ghosts of both my dog and my kid dance around the kitchen table and Abbott is all "I SEE DEAD PEOPLE" and then can't hoof it back into his crate fast enough. He practically leaves skid marks on my linoleum in his haste to flee the area.

So now my days are now entirely filled up with coaxing this dog to do things he clearly doesn't want to do and introducing him to people he doesn't want to meet, all in the name of socializing the soon to be 250 pound monster he will grow to be.

My monster dog

Such a fierce monster. 

Just yesterday, some contractors came to work on the Zeppelin Hangar and I noticed one had a beard and the other was a dark haired lanky fella. All I could think was "Fresh meat! They look nothing like us! Abbott needs to meet them!" and suddenly I was the crazy lady wearing a bathrobe while clutching a fist full of ham, running out to demand they "Pet my puppy."

I'm fairly certain the bearded dude thought I was speaking some sort of weird sex talk until he noticed the puppy hiding between my legs.

That's right, Boo. You think you are paying service men to come finish your garage but really, you are just paying random strangers to play with your wife's pet. I can only assure you, it was money well spent.

Yet, as much as I adore Abbott, more than once I have sat down exhausted and defeated. This dog has reminded me of things about myself I'd rather not remember.

Things like how I get bored easily. Repetition drives me insane. I have no patience. I actually fell asleep on the dog bed yesterday as I was working with Abbott.

How I can't stand bologna and yet I reek of it from all the time I spent doling it out to my damn dog.

There's a voice in the back of my head, whispering doubts and fears, as I go along. "He's too much dog for you. You made a mistake. Nixon was easier." More than once, I've nodded in defeat and wondered if I could do this.

And then Abbott comes over and sits in front of me like I've been training him to do, and tries to lick my face, his breath a mixture of sweet puppiness and sour bologna. His fur is so soft and as I pet him, I'm reminded that life is always hard and messy but so far it has always been worth the proverbial puppy kisses.

I believe that, really. And it's a good thing too, seeing as how house breaking is still a work in progress.

Puppyhood. One great metaphor for life. And one giant advertisement for paper towel.

Life with Abbott

Puppy breath. Better than crack.

Introducing My New Puppy...

I haven't been here for weeks because I've been busy wrestling my demons. The grief monster swallowed me whole and I've been fighting depression demons as well.

I needed some time to think dark thoughts, cry painful tears and to just absorb the still I found myself surrounded with after my dog's sudden death on my son's birthday, only days before the anniversary of my other's son's unexpected death on yet another's son's birthday.

I was taking care of my mental health while trying to be present for my children and something had to give. My blog was the first thing to go. In return, my sanity stayed.

With the new year, I've got goals, and hopes and big plans for this space. I've words I need to spill, truths I want to tell, and laughs I want to share.

But all of that can wait for another day. Today I have something else I want to share with you.

A new family member I would like you to meet.

8 weeks old

Over 20 lbs of love

Hello loves!

He's twenty odd pounds of eight-week-old puppy adorable English Mastiff goodness.

He's going to grow up to be an awful lot of dog, if his parents are any indication.

I wasn't sure a new dog was the right avenue to take, what with my love of Nixon being so fierce and true, but it's funny how the heart works. New love just sort of seeps into the cracks of your heart and swells it with joy.

Jumby and Shale taught me that.

So I have a new dog beside me and we're both sniffing each other out (puppy breath! I die!) and learning whom the other is as we go along. Love will find it's way as will piddles and poop and all things puppy related.

In the meantime, say hello to my newest family member.

His name is Abbott.

(Click the link if you want to know why. I'm sure Nixon would approve of my choice.)

Happy New Year everyone. I hope it treats you well.