A thing about my sabbatical and sleep

I am back to work, after three months of paid sabbatical. I should probably write more about it at some point, but until then here’s something I noticed early on.

I have a thing where I wake up overnight and ruminate, often about work. I worry about something from the day before or the next day. My brain keeps me up thinking instead of sleeping like it is supposed to.

So what do you think happened when I went on sabbatical and literally didn’t have to worry about work for three months? Did I sleep through the night? Or did I wake up and worry about work?


I still woke up sometimes, but without work to worry about I was just… up. For a long time I have blamed the waking-up-thing on work, since that’s what I would think about. But it turns out that the work worry came after the waking up part.

That was really interesting, because it turns out the effect was the cause, and the cause was the effect. I was worrying about work because I was up, not up because I was worrying about work.

I have found that, for me, the best way to handle waking up is to make sure I get enough exercise. Sadly, doing 30 minutes of cardio 2 or 3 times a week seems to be the key to sleeping through the night. My brain lets me know when I’ve been slacking off by waking me up, even if there’s absolutely no work to worry about. Just a pandemic, kids, house, pets…


We had to say goodbye to Scooter on Friday. He was 13. It was a rough week.

We euthanized Yoshi in our home on Monday. That day Scooter started limping. It wasn’t anything new. He was part Shar-Pei and would get Shar-Pei fever from time to time. It would clear up in 24-36 hours and he would go back to normal.

Tuesday night we were concerned. Wednesday we took him to the vet, then the emergency vet. We tried heroics but, like most heroics, was more about trying our hardest than getting the outcome we wanted.

It seemed like it was neurological, like something broke when he saw Yoshi die. The dogs had been together almost every day for 12 years, so maybe Scooter couldn’t bear to be without his brother.

The dogs weren’t brothers, although people would ask. Scooter looked exactly like Yoshi in his adoption photo, and completely different in person. They were both Shar-Pei mixes but where Yoshi had bright ears, fluffy fur, and a Shar-Pei’s curly tail, Scooter had Shar-Pei’s covered ears, short coat, and a Pit’s long straight tail. Where Yoshi was aloof, Scooter was bursting with love; even by dog’s standards.

Scooter got his name from the rescue, and we couldn’t think of anything we liked better when he came home. Luckily he didn’t have a habit of scooting, and I only made the connection a few months after we got him. The rescue insisted on seeing pictures of the tall privacy fence in our backyard at the time. We found out why when he leapt the 3 foot gate to greet us in the front yard.

He was vocal, and we learned that he wasn’t growling but making playful noises. And he loved to play. He would chase and wrestle and zoom even in his senior years. Anything to get attention from the people he loved.

Losing one dog is a gut punch. Losing two in the same week has shocked our sense of home. It’s so much quieter in the house, despite having two kids under 10. We can enter the house without running a gauntlet of wagging tails. The robot vacuum is finally making progress in its war on fur. There’s no one to let out before bed, and I don’t need to lock the back door because it was never unlocked.

Scooter, you have left a hole in our family and we will always miss you.


Our best guess is that Yoshi was part Shar-Pei and part Lab. He got his stubborness and curly tail from his Shar-Pei side and his shedding from his Lab side. He loved to curl up with his humans. It was an honor to wake up with him balled up in the crook of your legs or his head resting on your shin.

Yoshi came to our home on July 23, 2008. He was about 1 year old. At the time we had Buddy, an older full Shar-Pei. Having learned the health problems that come with a pure Shar-Pei we decided to adopt a mixed breed.

We were told that Yoshi was left chained up outside before being surrendered to the humane society where we got him. When we got him to our second story apartment, he froze when he saw the stairs. We had to carry a scared, unfamiliar, 55 lb dog up the stairs for the first few days we had him. He got the hang of it eventually.

We had a couch that backed up to a sliding glass door. Yoshi would perch himself on the back of the couch like a cat, or even stand on it to get a better view of what was going on outside. We joked that he must be part mountain goat.

He was always a bit leery of everything. He always had a wrinkled brow so he always looked worried, but if you watched his ears you could tell if he was excited or concerned. We kept his crate for him long after we stopped shutting the door. He always needed a safe place to be. After the crate he would always find corners and closets where he could relax while still keeping an eye on things.

Yoshi would love to roll in the sun, any time of year. If the sun was shining Yoshi would love to wiggle his back in the grass, fallen leaves, or snow.

When he would shed we made a game of gently pulling small tufts of fur that were sticking out, and marvelling at how much they bloomed into giant puffs. It’s dumb, but I think that’s part of being a family.

When he went deaf, we didn’t even notice at first. He was stubborn so not listening was par for the course. Once he stopped barking at the doorbell we knew his hearing was actually going, and I selfishly wished it had happened when we had napping babies.

Goodbye Yoshi.

Backyard Camping

I went “camping” in the backyard with our 3 year old. She loved the campfire of course. She was so thrilled to sleep in a tent that she insisted on going to bed early.

Two hours later she was inside in her bed.

I’d still say it’s a success. If she didn’t have the escape hatch of a nearby house I think she could have made it the whole night. Time will tell.