24 October 2016

Isaac's Birthday

Our little Isaac boy turned 9 yesterday!

18 October 2016


Last night we went to have portraits taken of the boys. I remember all those years of difficult portrait sessions with babies and toddlers. And then in recent years there always seem to be a few boys who are being so goofy and making silly faces, closing their eyes on purpose, or something. This time they were so good, it was quick and painless. And they got some really good shots of the boys. These are the proofs from the sitting. 

12 October 2016

Courtland's Poster

Courtland has been working so hard on this poster for school the last few days!

01 October 2016

Family Photos

It's been a while since we got photos of our whole family together. Since we were all there for my grandmother's funeral, we snapped some photos before Michelle had to catch her plane. 

Grandma Bev

My Grandma Bev, my mom's mom, passed away last week.  We have been in Missouri for the last few days for the funeral and some family time.  It's been emotional, but also nice to catch up with extended family, and to search through the old photos in Grandma's closet at my uncle & aunt's house to see what treasures (photos) we could find.  

Here are copies of my grandma's obituary, and of the eulogy that was read at her funeral:

None of us had ever seen a little baby photo of my grandma before, so this portrait of her at her first birthday was a real find:

Beverly with her brother, Bob

Beverly Monk & Carl Spohr

Beverly Frances Monk Spohr with my mom, Amy Lynn Spohr

Four Generations: Lillie Margaret Conners Dick, Amy Lynn Spohr, Beverly Frances Monk Spohr, & Frances Olive Dick Monk

Grandpa Carl & Grandma Bev

27 September 2016

Introducing Berkley

A few months ago the boys asked if they could earn money to get a second dog, and I thought that would be a good learning experience for them (plus, we had already talked about getting a second dog once our backyard landscaping was complete, that seemed like pretty good timing). I discussed with the boys the cost of adoption fees, a dog license, a collar and tags, shots, and vet appointments.  And we decided that if the boys wanted to earn somewhere around $300, then hopefully the back yard would be done around that same time, and mom & dad could also help cover part of the cost of a new dog. 

$300 is a lot for little kids to earn, but it's especially a lot knowing how our boys earn money -- for every dollar they earn, they first set aside 10% for tithing for church, and then they set aside 50% to save in an account for their missions when they turn 18. So they're left with 40% of any money that they earn to spend as they would like. And we don't do allowance at our house, or pay our kids for doing their chores. They can ask about extra jobs around the house to earn money, or see if their grandparents or neighbors have jobs for them.  So all of the boys helped out with extra jobs at home to earn some money. And Kolby started a new job as a mother's helper/mentor for a new family in our neighborhood who have a 4 year old son with Downs Syndrome -- Kolby does his "job" twice a week after school, he really loves doing it, it is beneficial for the little boy and his mom, and Kolby likes being able to earn a little money each week. Elijah asked my parents if they had any jobs he could do, and they happened to be hosting a wedding in their back yard the following week -- my mom wanted to do some pretty intensive yard work in preparation for the wedding, and Elijah went over after school every day that week, and then went on a Friday when the kids didn't have school, and they worked hard together for a lot of hours. I think she paid him $5 an hour, and he earned a little over $100.  I told the boys that Mom & Dad would also contribute to the dog fund, so if I happened to have change or cash on me, I would occasionally put that into the "dog jar" too.  The boys were so proud of themselves -- they had earned just over $260 for the dog jar over a few months, and were well on their way to being ready for a new dog once our back yard gets finished in a few months. 

I have been casually following dogs for adoption on Craigslist for the last year or so, and forming an idea of what attributes I would really like to find in my "ideal" dog:
•a big dog 
•dark color (so it's fur doesn't show up a lot on our wood floors)
•young, but not a brand new puppy
•good with kids
•good with Harley
•good with other dogs/people at the dog park

And as I searched for dogs that seemed to fit some of my criteria, I started being drawn to a certain type of dog: a merle Great Dane (merle is a color pattern where the dog is grey with lots of black or darker grey spots). And since Michael took some time before he started to warm up to the idea of an extra large dog, I decided we should look for a female (since they generally don't grow to be quite as large as males). 

So I've just been keeping my eye on Craigslist, even though I knew we were waiting to do any serious searching until after our landscaping gets done sometime in the next few months.  And on Wednesday last week I showed Michael an ad for this family who was relocating to Hawaii for a job, and needed to find a home for their 6 month old female merle Great Dane named Penny. They said she was good with kids & dogs, house trained, and up to date on her puppy shots. And she came with an XXL crate which will be big enough for her when she's full grown, which is nice. 

I told Michael that in the last year of following Craigslist, I hadn't seen another dog that seemed to fit our criteria so well -- it's hard to find a well behaved family pet that is old enough to be house trained, but still young enough to be a playful puppy with Harley and be easy to get used to a new home.  So even though it would be less convenient to have a new dog while we still have landscapers in the yard for the next couple months, we decided it would be worth going to meet her to see how she got along with Harley. 

I went and met them at a dog beach, and she and Harley got along just fine.

And her owner was really nice.  She told me that they had hung a bell next to their door, and Penny  was trained to ring the bell whenever she needed to go outside. And they have two little kids that she was good with. She said that with the laws in Hawaii they would have to put her in quarantine for 3 to 4 months if they tried to take her with them, so they were really sad to have to find her a new home, but they didn't think that would be good for her, especially for a growing puppy.  It seemed like a great match to me, and I was ready to go forward with it. She was such a beautiful dog, and I thought we wouldn't see another opportunity to find a dog that seemed like such a good fit for our family anytime soon. Michael was more hesitant, though. He was thinking about dealing with a new dog while we still had landscapers in and out of the yard. {And he was remembering when we tried to adopt a dog from a rescue group a couple years ago, and the rescue told us that dog was good with kids, and he eventually bit Camden in the face (fortunately not causing any serious damage), but we had to return him to the rescue} -- so Michael was hesitant for me to bring home a new dog without it ever having met him or the kids before. But after a day of considering it, he said he trusted my judgement and was ok with getting her. So we brought her home, and it has been great ever since.

And her owner gave me her pedigree certificate (not that it really matters to us, obviously, since Harley is clearly a mix), but she said that we may be able to look up pictures online of Penny's parents and grandparents, which I think we will do sometime, just because that will be fun for the boys to see them and see what different colors they were. And it listed her birth date, 28 February 2016, so we saw that she was turning 7 months old just a few days after we brought her home.

She & Harley play together better than any other two dogs we've seen. They are active, and don't get bored of playing together quickly, but they don't get too rough or too noisy while playing.  She learned how to use the dog door right away (which doesn't sound like much, but back when I used to do dog sitting, it was surprising to me that the majority of the dogs that I watched never did figure out how to use the dog door, or some of them were afraid of using it).  She loves water -- her previous owner said that they like to surf, and she will swim out and try to get on the surfers' boards. Our other dogs would get in the water to fetch a ball, or Harley will run through the waves, or he will swim out to us with a lot of coaxing if we're swimming at the ocean, but doesn't swim for fun. So we're looking forward to taking her to the beach. The other day Michael was watering some of the new trees in the back yard, and he sprayed the hose in her direction, and instead of running away she jumped high up in the air to try to catch a mouthful of water, and kept doing that over and over again.  And I got her some chew toys, and she was adorable running after them and sliding across the wood floors.

In the past I've always picked a name pretty quickly for any new dog we got, but this time it took us a couple days to decide on a new name for her.  The top contenders were Macie, Piper, Berkley, Gracie, and Avery. Michael and I each narrowed down the list until we decided on Avery, and we told the boys that, but it just didn't seem like the right fit. So we thought it over for another day or so, and ended up deciding on Berkley.

The funny thing is, Michael and I both love Harley to death, but when we first brought Harley home from the shelter Michael wasn't sure about having a second dog, and he took about 6 months to warm up to the idea. And now he wouldn't trade Harley for anything. And then last week he was so hesitant about getting a second dog so suddenly, and now he is already doting on her. He calls her "honey."  It's pretty sweet.

16 September 2016

Growing Boy

Well, it's official. Kolby's not quite 13 years old yet, but he officially wears bigger shoes than I do now (and I don't have dainty little feet). He's getting to be a big boy.