14 March 2015


It's done!  (Well, mostly done, anyway). We moved into our house almost 2 years ago, and it took us a little longer to unpack in this house than in previous places we've lived, mostly because we knew we were settling down in this house for good (as opposed to our previous house and apartments where we always knew we'd only be there a few years before we'd pack up and move to the next place), and so I wanted to go through every box and get rid of anything we didn't really need, and get it all totally organized. 

Most of our house has been unpacked and pretty organized for a while now, but our bedroom has been the place where we've left the last few boxes and where we stacked all the stuff that we didn't have a good place to put yet. It was a lot of papers that I needed to sort through. And also a lot of items that we don't use all the time, but we didn't want to get rid of because we might need them in the future (like art, sewing, scrapbook, painting, craft supplies, pinewood derby kits and materials, CDs, paper, plastic page protectors, etc). A lot of it is the kind of stuff that comes in handy when you have a project or a school assignment to do. So I wanted it to be organized and easy to get to (not stashed in boxes in the closet where we'd never be able to find what we needed). 

But I was also tired of our bedroom being the place where we we stored our extra stuff. I wanted it to be pretty and relaxing in our bedroom, but I also wanted to somehow organize and store all that stuff in an easily accessible way. Since we don't have a separate craft room, I had to figure out how to make it all fit together in our room. 

I found 3 shelves I liked at Target (and I was lucky that they ended up fitting exactly, even though I bought them without measuring the wall where I planned to put them). Then I went to Target and Home Goods and found a lot of cute organizational containers, and a few cute accents. I got lots mote containers than I needed, because I wasn't sure how many of the different size of containers I would need. Then I saved my receipts and returned the extra ones, and the ones I didn't like the look of as much once I brought them home. 

So I had to find a good way to organize all this (and more) and make it all fit on the shelves:

I've been working on it a little but here and there for the last couple months, and today I finished with the shelves!  And I love how they turned out!  Everything has it's place, and we can find things and get them out easily, but it doesn't look like a big old shelf of storage bins. I think it turned out very pretty. 

(And I found these really pretty sheets that I love, and the colors on the bed look good with the shelves too). 

So, it's done, almost. We do have a couple more things to finish before the bedroom is spotless (hanging up some pictures, setting up a little shelf in the closet, and removing an old table that's been in there). But this is a big step, and it feels so much better to have that done!

12 March 2015

Miss Macie

So, having a puppy is more work than having an adult dog, but I think things are going really well with Macie so far. We've kind of gotten into a routine with her, and she's doing quite well with the house training. 

She LOVES Harley, and will play with him at any chance she gets. And Harley plays nicely with her too.  Hopefully they'll continue to be good playmates as she gets older too. Macie seems to be just the right combination of playful and submissive, and I can't wait until she gets her last set of puppy shots in about 3 weeks and we are cleared to take her to the dog park. She is growing well, and was 18 lbs at her vet checkup on Monday. She is a true puppy, and loves to chew, but fortunately that has mostly been limited to chew toys and little sticks out in the yard so far. She learned how to use the dog doors pretty much right away after we brought her home (you'd be amazed at how many adult dogs that we have watched for neighbors have never been able to figure out the dog door, or seem afraid to use it). 

She loves to chill in her little dog crate that our neighbor let us borrow. And she was getting us up once each night to go out, and then she would go back into her crate and fall back to sleep for the rest of the night. But 3 nights ago I happened to take her for a good, brisk walk at night after the boys went to bed (instead of taking her on a walk earlier in the day), and when we got home at 8pm she walked right into her crate on her own and slept through the night. So we were glad to discover that secret, and we have continued the nightly walks and she has since slept through the night every night. And although she's still getting used to the leash, she is improving on her leash walking. I think maybe this whole puppy thing isn't all that bad (it takes some extra work, but nothing too intense so far). And she sure is a sweet little thing. I'm really curious to see exactly how big she'll turn out to be and what she'll look like when she's full grown. 

06 March 2015

It's A Girl!

What do you get when you mix . . . 

a Labrador . . . 

with . . . 

a Blue Heeler?

You get Macie, our new puppy!

She's 3 months old, we got her from a local shelter, and they are guessing she is a lab - blue heeler mix. I know, we said we'd never get a puppy. But we happened across her, and fell in love. So now we'll be extra busy for the next few months.  But so far, so good on her house training -- she hasn't had a single accident yet. She's also good with Harley -- playful, but submissive enough. So it may be extra work while she's a puppy, but we'll get to raise her with our kids.

It'll be interesting to see what Macie will end up looking like when she grows up. She is black with brown-brindle on her face, ears, legs, and belly, with a little white spot on her chest. Her sister was at the shelter with her (and happened to be adopted by someone else at the same time we were there), and she was all black with some white on the chest, and her ears didn't stand up, but they also weren't quite as floppy as Macie's ears. 

It looks like Heelers come in a variety of colors:

And when I searched for lab-heeler mixes, I found that they come in quite a variety too:

So we'll see. But for now, she's just 100% cute. 

03 March 2015

Elijah's Ice Cube story

I was going through Elijah's school work, and came across this cute little Ice Cube story he made.  So I thought I'd share it.  (I think it's so fun that the teachers go to all the work of uploading the kids' school work and keeping everything updated so we can follow their progress and see their projects from home too -- what a great opportunity we have for our boys to be at this new school!)


26 February 2015

"I Am" by Courtland

I found this paper of Courtland's from school today. It looks like i need to work with him on using lowercase letters, but I was impressed that he could write a whole page with simple sentences, and do it well enough that I could understand all the words.  Our little boy is getting big. 

I Am
by Courtland

I am from a mom that likes to play with me. I am from a dad that likes to play games with me. I am from a family that likes to go up to the mountains. I am from pepperoni pizza and video games. And most if all I am from a loving family. 

22 February 2015

Goodbye Oakley

We are saying goodbye to Oakley today.  It has been two weeks since we adopted him.  We realize it takes some time for a dog to adjust to a new home and family.  So when Oakley started barking at our kids not long after we adopted him, we thought it might take him some time to get used to lots of active kids in the home.  I got the idea a few days later to give the boys dog treats to put in their pockets, and each time they came into the room and Oakley did not bark at them, they gave him a treat.  Oakley seems like a very quick learner, because the barking decreased a lot within only a few hours.  But after a few days he was doing it more than ever, even when the boys were being calm and quiet.  Other than that, he seemed like a sweet dog.  He cuddled up to me, and wagged his tail happily whenever he saw Michael.  And when the boys would come up to him, he seemed good with them.  So we thought we would give it some time, and hopefully the barking would decrease as he got settled in.  

But on Friday we were cleaning up the family room, and Oakley barked at the kids as they walked past him like he usually does, and Camden gently pet him on the back as he walked by, and Oakley jumped up and bit Camden in the face.  Fortunately, it didn't break the skin, and Camden was hurt a little, but he was fine once he calmed down and stopped crying.  (And I do realize that a dog that size could easily have injured a child if it had wanted to, so I don’t believe that Oakley was trying to attack or seriously hurt Camden).  I don’t know if he was playing too roughly,  or maybe he was trying to give him a warning to stay away, or maybe he was just trying to show that he was the dominant one. –I saw the whole thing happen, and I couldn't tell that there was anything unusual in the dog’s behavior that showed that he was acting differently than normal, or that something like that was about to happen.  And Camden did not startle him, or touch him roughly or inappropriately.  Actually, out of all our boys, Camden is probably the best with being calm, but firm around dogs, and walking and training them with my help.  Fortunately, Camden was not scared after that happened.  That kind of thing could make a child nervous around dogs in the future, so I’m glad it didn’t have that effect.  

So, Michael and I discussed it, and we decided that Oakley needed to go back to the rescue group where we got him.  We encountered basically the only reason we could think of for not keeping a dog: if we were concerned for the safety of our kids or other people in our home (or for our other dog).  And we feel that if he were to stay in our home, we would always be nervous about how he would act with the kids, and we could never really trust that they would be safe around him again.  Fortunately Camden was ok, but we couldn't risk it happening again in the future, and possibly being more serious the next time.  Oakley really is a sweet dog, and yesterday after we made that decision, he was being especially sweet with Michael and me.  He's such a love bug -- just snuggling right up to me.  (I do wonder if him barking at the kids was just his nervousness around them, or if maybe he felt like he was being protective of me?)  

Anyway, I think he would still make a really good pet for someone, he just shouldn't be in a home with lots of active young children.  I do hope that the rescue group will still be able to find him a good home.  They are coming this afternoon to pick him up.

As we start over on the process of finding a new dog to adopt, I will be even more careful in choosing a good dog for our family. I thought we had found a great fit when the rescue group told us Oakley was great with kids and other dogs. But I'm realizing now that I need to ask more detailed questions -- like not only if the dog is good with kids, but if the dog has lived with children in the house before and how old they were, etc.  And not asking if the dog is good with other dogs, but specifically asking how much the dog has been exposed to other dogs or all different sizes and temperaments, and how they interacted together. And now, instead of just searching for a dog that is playful with our other dog and seems ok around the kids when they meet, I will specifically be looking for signs that the dog is submissive to people (including the kids), and that it gets along with lots of other dogs (like in a dog park setting). Oh well, I guess you learn as you go along. And I guess we just happened to be really lucky with our previous two shelter dogs -- with Harley I just found him and brought him home, without even meeting our kids, Michael, or our other dog first. He definitely had some things he needed some training work on, but overall he has been well behaved and friendly. And his behavior has improved so much in the year we have had him. Well, we'll keep searching for the right second dog, but we may not be so quick to rush into things the next time. At least we'll be a lot more particular about the questions we ask and carefully having the kids interact with any new dog and observing the way the dog behaves around them. I'm sure we'll find the right one for us eventually. 

09 February 2015


Oakley is settling right in here. He has learned how to use the dog doors, and is eating better today than the first day or two after we got him. And he does really well in the crate. We happen to be dog sitting a chocolate lab this week, and Oakley & the lab have spent lots of time playing together.  And today he tried out a bike ride for the first time, and did well with it (I loop the leash around the post of the seat on my bike, and the dog runs alongside. Oakley did great, and didn't even pull on the leash like Harley sometimes does. Except when we passed a dog park with little dogs, then he pulled to go toward them, but did gone again when we got past the dog park). I got some new collars and leashes today, and am going to attempt to walk all three dogs down to the dog park tonight (Michael and I have taken them on walks before, I just haven't tried them all myself yet). But that should work out ok, and the dog park should be a lot of fun. 

08 February 2015

Introducing Oakley

This afternoon we adopted a dog. He's a 2 year old Boxer mix that we named Oakley. We got him from a rescue group who picked him up from the Ramona Shelter on January 10th (my birthday).  He had been at the shelter for a couple months before the rescue got him, and had been found as a stray before he was that the shelter. 

He's just what I've been searching for: a big, strong, dark colored dog with very short fur and floppy ears. And he has a cute tail too. He's a pretty color, black with brown around the edges, and just one small white spot on his chest. He's got a big round face, and the cutest little wrinkles on his forehead. He's a few inches shorter than Harley, but he has the same lean muscular build that Harley has. 

He plays rambunctiously with Harley (something we wanted), is already learning to come when we call him by his new name, seems to like our family a lot, is good in a crate, and seems to be totally house trained so far (knock on wood) and has been going in the dog run where we want the dogs to go and not out in the grass in the yard. 

He really loves to come up to us so we can pet him. He seems like a very sweet dog!  We're working to teach him not to get up on the couch -- he just wanted to snuggle on the couch with us last night after the kids were in bed. And he's gentle: he seemed a little hesitant to eat his new food we game him last night, so I put a handful of the dog food in my hand, and he gently ate several handfuls right out of my hand.  

He does bark a little when he and Harley start rough housing together out in the yard, so hopefully we can work on that over time just so it doesn't bother the neighbors. But other than that he doesn't seem noisy. Except for one situation so far: yesterday the dogs where out in the yard with us while we were doing some yard work, and Oakley must have never been around a trampoline before, because the boys went out and started bouncing and he was running around underneith the trampoline and barking as they bounced. We corrected him each time he barked at the bouncing, and hopefully he'll get used to that soon enough. It was pretty funny, though. :)

And it also seems that he's not used to a two story house. The rescue woman mentioned that he was being fostered in a single story home. So at first he was very nervous to walk up the stairs, but he did it with me coaxing him up.  After that he has seemed just fine going up and down on his own. But he also perks up his ears and makes a quiet little barking noise when he hears one of the kids running around upstairs, like he's trying to figure out where that noise is coming from. He'll get used to that. 

And late last night I took him on a walk around the neighborhood without Harley so I could see how he would do alone without any distractions.  The woman from the rescue group told us his foster said he pulled some on the leash, but the harness she had been using didn't work too well.  I used the new "martingale" collar (a nylon collar with one small section of chain that can become snug if a dog pulls) that we recently got for Harley that helps with pulling. I had to give him a few gentle corrections throughout the walk, but overall we had a very nice loose leash walk. It was great. 

And last night we meant to put him in the dog crate in our bedroom to sleep. But I accidentally fell asleep on the couch and never made it upstairs last night, and Oakley slept all night, curled up tight in a ball on the dog bed in the family room, without getting up once. 

Anyway, we're pretty pleased that we found him. He seems like a good fit for our family, and he already has a lot of good traits. It'll be fun to see what we learn about him over the next few days and weeks.