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. 

06 February 2015

Maybe . . .

****(Update:  It didn't work out with this one. We went and met her this morning, and she had a very sweet personality, but just didn't seem like the right fit for us.  She looked different in person than she did in the photos -- she was even smaller than I expected, had longer fur, and lots of wrinkles -- I'm guessing she may be a Shar Pei mix.  Sweet dog, just not the one for us).

I found this cute Boxer mix at a local rescue group, and am hoping she might be a good match for our family. Doesn't she look sweet?  We'll see if it works out. Hope so!

21 January 2015


I just wanted to share some more photos from the rest of our Hawaii trip. We've thoroughly enjoyed this vacation. It has been a good mix of activities and relaxation, and we've enjoyed good conversation with some old friends and some new ones at the conference. 

Early one morning while Michael was attending his conference classes, I explored Lahaina and happened upon this huge banyan tree. This single tree has about 18 trunks and covers a 1 acre park. And it was early enough that there were barely any other people around, so I got to enjoy it as the morning sun shone through the branches. 

Finding sea urchin shells in the tide pools south of the beach near the condo. 

We followed the instructions in Michael's guidebook and hiked all over on barely-visible trails and through thick waist-high grass before finally finding this two-tiered tide pool. It was very pretty, but the best thing about it was that we were the only people in sight for almost the whole time we were there. 

And we got to go check out a cool blow hole a little ways north of where we stayed. 

Then the next day we followed the guidebook again and took a hike over lava rock to a secluded beach down south. We did snorkeling there. It was fun, but the 5 mile hike over very loose rocks seemed to go on forever, and we both felt that that beach wasn't worth that hike, since there are so many other great beaches here that aren't as difficult to get to. 

On our way back north we stopped at my parents' favorite beach from back when they lived on Maui when they first got married. It's called Makenna Beach, or Big Beach. It has been our favorite beach so far too. The sand was soft, the colors of the sand and the water were beautiful, the water was very clear, and the waves were big and pretty, but not too big to play in. 

(Look at my cute husband!)

And, of course, what trip to Hawaii would be complete without catching geckos?

Then we had the best fish dinner at Mama's Fish House, right on the beach. 

After that we went to the next beach up the street and saw some sea turtles. 

This has been a wonderful vacation!

16 January 2015


Well, it only took us 12 years of marriage, but we finally saved up and came on a vacation with just the two of us. Michael had a work conference, so I came along too. It worked out perfectly because we were able to rent Michael's grandma's condo on Maui not far from the conference location. The condo is beautiful and is right on the water. 

Yesterday we explored the little tide pools just outside the back door. Michael tried out a little snorkeling and really enjoyed seeing all the fish until he got caught on some coral and scraped up his hand and tore some holes in his swim shirt. But he'll be just fine. Then we found a little restaurant nearby with good local food, which just happened to be right next door to a large amphitheater where they were doing a luau performance, so we got to listen to the cool Hawaiian music all through our dinner. 

We must still be on San Diego time because this morning we both woke up before daylight, so we are breakfast on the balcony while the sun came up. A little while later we saw some whales from the balcony. Then we headed off on the road to Hana. We enjoyed several little waterfalls along the way. 

Our favorites were some where you hiked through a bamboo forest to get to them, and one tall thin waterfall with a very clear turquoise pool where we both jumped in. I liked that one because no one else was at that waterfall most of the time we were there. We also hit the black sand beach for a short time before we arrived at the little Hana airport. 

We decided to splurge on one activity while we were here: motorized hang gliding. You ride with a pilot, and he gives you a mini flying lesson while you go.  We flew out over the mountain and the pilot pointed out different kinds of trees and ancient volcano craters, and we saw a very tall waterfall. And we flew out over the water. My favorite part is when we saw a young humpback whale and circled around it a few times. Cool!  And even though I'm not the kind of person who would enjoy bungee jumping or sky diving, this was different -- it felt very safe and I wasn't nervous about it.  Then we rushed back for the registration for Michael's conference and the dinner. 

I'd say it was a full, fun day. And I'm really looking forward to the rest of our week!  And so grateful to my parents for watching our boys for us (and happy that they said the boys have behaved well for them so far). I'd say this has been a wonderful vacation so far. 


***Update:  Unfortunately the owner decided on another family for this dog before we got back from out of town and had a chance to meet him. I'm pretty disappointed, but I'm sure we'll find another dog that will be good for our family. 

I'm so excited. We have been looking for another dog, and I found this beautiful boy online yesterday. His owner hates to give him up, but with her new job she just works too much to have enough time for a dog now.  He is great with kids and other dogs, he's active, and he loves to snuggle. Sounds like our kind of dog. I've talked to his owner, and next week I'm going to go see him, introduce Harley, and decide if he's the one for us. I hope it's a good fit. Isn't he beautiful?