T I L L Y

Just like my own kids, I have done a lousy job of recording our newest family member’s life.

Meet Tilly.
Officially: Matilda Corona Sutherland


(April 2)

Yes, one of the new Quarantine puppies of the world.

We picked her up on April 2 and WOW!, what a whirlwind of a month we’ve had.

Whew…puppy parenting is no joke. The first two weeks I was very uncertain that I had what it takes. It was intense! Luckily, Tilly (a black Goldendoodle) is a total people pleaser (a wonderful trait of that breed.) She doesn’t like messing up any more than we like her mess ups. I’m knocking on wood and crossing all my fingers when I say that she’s pretty much potty-trained. She’s not sleeping all the way through the night, but she’ll get there. She takes many naps throughout the day (can hardly keep her head up sometimes) and I forgot how wonderful those times are. Just like my kids, though, I get worried when she’s slept too long and sneak in to make sure she’s still breathing!

As we were preparing for her and waiting for her to be old enough to come live with us, I bought a stuffed panda bear that I thought would be cool to take her picture next to each consecutive month.

(April 6)

Maybe next month! -ha!

I feel like the experts would tell me there are a million things we’re supposed to be doing, but when you’re real time with a new baby or puppy, it’s a very different world than baby books and YouTube training tutorials.

We’re all finding our way and doing lots of bonding and playing and napping!

Tilly has the sweetest personality. Very loving and pretty laid back. She just wants to be nearby, wherever we are.

She is 100% spoiled. Scott made her some pumpkin-flavored dog biscuits and she loved them! She also loves broccoli and carrots (and steak and bacon!) But just a little of the people food.

I think one of the deterrents to posting about her is that in the time it took me to put this together, it’s all out of date and she’s grown and changed even more! But I promise…future posts won’t be this long or picture-laden. (wink, wink.)

She’s almost 3 months old. She was born on February 2. She seems to change and grow daily!

We really wanted her to be a car-loving dog so we’ve taken quite a few little trips to get her accustomed to daytrips and she enjoys it very much. She’ll like it even better when she’s a little taller and can see out her side windows.

It seems like so much longer than just one month that we’ve had her, but I can’t imagine life without her now. She’s been a welcome addition in a time of so much uncertainty and worry. We’re excited to be finished with all her shots so she can go on walks around the block. That’s our big goal this month: learning to walk on a leash.

(… and learning to leave plants right where they are!)

Tilly’s relationship with her stuffed dog is a little more than I want to share on a family-friendly blog (get a room!) but look how much she has grown in comparison to it from April 2…

…to April 28!

Her parents are a golden retriever and a full-size poodle so she has a lot more growth ahead!!

Thanks for reading this far! She’s been properly introduced and blog-recorded now. I promise all Tilly posts from now on will be much shorter.

Hunkering down together,
Scott, Greta, Haddie (still the queen cat) and Tilly


(April 18)

THE MOMENT OF LIFT by Melinda Gates

It was nice to hang out with Melinda Gates for a few afternoons recently. That’s what it felt like. As if sitting across the table from her, asking her questions about her life – which is my favorite kind of memoir.

I listened to this book on audio. I have found that memoirs and autobiographies are a genre I really enjoy listening to vs reading from a physical book. When they are narrated by the author, I truly feel like I know them on a deeper level than mere news coverage or entertainment news. The Moment of Lift was no exception.

It takes a unique spouse to be married to someone as universally known and as powerful as Bill Gates. Melinda talks about this openly and how they have had to navigate their relationship throughout their marriage. Known for their extravagant philanthropy for global poverty, it was comforting to read about the universal challenges all relationships face.

Their work with the marginalized in society is creating major shift changes in cultures and in particular, opportunities for women worldwide. Melinda talks candidly in this book about her birth control campaign for third-world women and how it aligns with her personal faith but not quite aligns with her relationship with the Catholic church (while not condemning the Catholic church.) In a group interview she had with a mother in Africa who had gotten an IUD a few years ago, she asked if there were any words of advice this women would give to the younger mothers in attendance. The mother replied, “When I had two children, we could all eat. With more children, we could not. When you can’t take care of your children, you’re just training them to steal.” In many poor nations, women were continually telling Melinda that if they had the opportunity to plan their pregnancies, then they could take better care of the children they had, could work harder for the family’s income and would make happier wives for their husbands.

Over and over again I found myself wanting to bookmark her words and insight…

Overcoming the need to create outsiders is our greatest challenge as human beings. It is the key to overcoming deep inequality. We stigmatize and send to the margins people who trigger in us the feelings we want to avoid. If we’re on the inside and see someone on the outside we often say to ourselves, “I’m not in that situation because I’m different.” But that’s just pride talking, we could easily be that person. It scares us because it suggests that maybe success and failure aren’t entirely fair.

I went into this book with a great respect for Bill and Melinda Gates. Reading the last page of the book found me with an even greater admiration. They are deeply cognizant of differing world cultures and traditions while also promoting basic human decency for men, women and children. I am profoundly grateful for the work they do.

To whom much is given, much is expected. – Luke 12:48

These Are Puzzling Times…

I am not a jigsaw puzzle doer. Oh sure – I’ve paused at the table a few moments to work out a piece or two when someone else was doing one nearby, but I know my patience level and I know it doesn’t have the endurance for a tedious project like puzzle hobbying.

But quarantine takes us to a whole new level, no?

I’ve had this puzzle in our game closet for over a year and thought it was time to take a crack at it.

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After only 8,273 hours, I had the edge pieces in place. (Was I insane for doing this??) Turns out the answer was yes. It wasn’t until much later that I noticed the ‘Challenge Series’ notation on the front of the box. CHALLENGE?? I haven’t done a jigsaw puzzle in years. Was this really where I should start?

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I ordered a different puzzle and was much more pleased with the design. Before I started, I looked up some puzzle tips to see if I could work a little smarter.

Here are some things I’ve learned as a novice puzzle gamer

You need a colander, ziploc bags and foam board.

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Before dumping all the pieces out onto the table, first pour them into a colander over the sink. This will get rid of all the puzzle dust and it won’t get all over your workspace.

Speaking of workspace – if you don’t have a dedicated table for the puzzle, work it on a large piece of foam board. The foam board is very lightweight and easy to move out of the way when you’re not working on the puzzle.

We all pull out the edge pieces first, right? And that’s cool cause they’re the easiest to work. But then try to group all of the same colors together. Even if the reds don’t all go in the same place, you’ll have a stockpile of them when you need them. For the puzzle I was working on, the colors were very segregated so I put the individual color piles into separate ziploc bags.

After I’ve worked on a section for a while and started to feel ‘stuck’, I then grouped my puzzle pieces into ‘like sizes’. I put all the horizontal pieces together and all the wide pieces together. It’s not always easy to tell which is which but a lot of the time it is. Again, it just gives you a stockpile of similar sizes when it’s obvious the next piece HAS to be an up and down piece.

Many people suggested turning your puzzle occasionally to give you a different perspective, but that seemed to work against me so I didn’t use this tip very much.

It still took me quite a few days to complete since I was working on it in between other projects. Poor Scott asked me if he could help when I was nearing the end. I said “Sure!”, and handed him the ziploc of black pieces – the hardest section!

As with most things in life, the color is relatively easy. It’s the shadows that take the most time and care…

Once we finished we were faced with the universal puzzle-making decision: Do I break it all up and put it back in the box to do again at another time? (which we probably never would) or do I try to preserve it?

I liked the colors and the topic of books so I decided to hang it in my home library/office.

If you decide to break up your puzzle and save it for another time, I read a couple of tips I thought were helpful.

  • Break off all the edging pieces first and put them in a separate bag. It will save you time the next time you do the puzzle. If you want to separate and bag all the separate color pieces you can also do that – but don’t make your puzzle-making toooooo easy for the next time! Where’s the fun in that?!
  • If you own a number of puzzles, make sure you bag all the puzzle pieces in each of their boxes to avoid a catastrophe of toppling them all over and pieces getting mixed up together.

But I had decided to preserve our finished puzzle.

There are many puzzle products that can help you save your puzzle, but since we are in Quarantime, I wanted to use things I already had at home.

I placed a large piece of wood over the puzzle so I could flip it over to the backside. I then Mod Podged the back of the puzzle. Many people suggested Mod Podging both the front and the back to make it sturdier, but I wanted to try to maintain that authentic puzzle look on front so I just did the back and then laid newspaper over the glue as a ‘webbing’ of sorts to hold it all together. (Extra bonus points if you can glue Tom Brady’s head to the back of a puzzle!)

I let that all dry overnight. If there was any newspaper showing, I trimmed the edges.

So far so good! I was liking the way it was all turning out. I then asked Scott if he could make a frame for me. I just wanted a simple black frame.

He backed the whole puzzle with a piece of thin plywood. He made the frame and put a groove in the wood so the puzzle would slide right in. I wanted it to be in the front of the frame and not against the wall.

I’m not sure this is the final spot for it, but I like the way it works with my books and bookshelf!

This puzzle will forever and always remind me of the sequestered days of Corona 2020. In the midst of the scary and unknowable, it was nice to work on something kinetic together to occupy our minds for a few hours.

While he was making me a frame, Scott also made a book rest for me. No bookmarks or dog-ears needed – simply lay down your book where you left off and pick it up when you’re ready for it again. Cute, huh??

I’m not chopping at the bit to start a new jigsaw soon, but I’m glad I learned a few ‘pro tips’ for the next time I tackle one.