grumpy old men

Our house has three of them.

Well, technically, they aren’t men.

They are two dogs and a cat.

Ben, our oldest lab, turns 14 this week.

Odyssey will be 10 on the same day.

Hobbes, our cat, will be 14 in March.

They are a lot of work right now.

Ben doesn’t know if he is coming or going…the poor guy. He wanders aimlessly through the house. Click. Click. Click. The sound of his overgrown nails on the floor is enough to drive you insane. He soils his bed routinely, hasn’t gone up to the second floor in almost two years, and barks outside because it is hard for him to get back up on the deck once he goes down onto the grass. His whole body is stiff. He can’t see well at all. And, I am pretty sure he can’t hear much of anything either. I wonder about his quality of life.

Odyssey has been having some major incontinence issues since late November. We treated him for a UTI. It got better, but then came back. We put him on a second round of antibiotics and had a more sensitive urinalysis done. They found no bacteria. No infection. So, we recently started him on an incontinence drug. A 10-14 day trial. We are 5 days in. It’s not working yet. We are washing his bedding daily as it is soaked every morning. And, he sneaks up onto the kids beds if their doors aren’t closed, so their bedding gets soaked, too. To make matters worse, the washer won’t finish a cycle and it takes forever to get through laundry (the good news is that we have a part on order to hopefully fix that). I am hoping and praying that suddenly this medicine starts to work in the next five days. If not, we are in for seeing a specialist for more imaging to find out what is going on with him. I don’t even want to think of the possibilities.

Hobbes. Our little patient, diabetic kitty. Right now he is just on a prescription diet and we don’t give him injections. It seems to be ok. The good news is that he is no longer peeing all over the house since we got our new floors in. He misses his litter box occasionally, but I now use “wee-wee pads” around his litter box and that soaks up the mess. Hobbes is always the last to get fed and I find him sleeping in my bathroom sink because he falls asleep waiting for somebody to turn on the water for him to drink. He gets grumpy with the dogs. In fact, as I was typing this he was guarding the stairs and would’t let Odyssey past. Just like a grumpy old man.

Lately, I have been impatient with all of them. It feels like every ounce of energy is spent cleaning up messes (theirs and the kids).

I don’t want to let Ben out…AGAIN…so he will, moments later, want to come right back in.

I don’t want to hear Hobbes meow for me to turn on the bathroom sink so he can drink from the faucet.

I don’t want to walk into my bedroom and smell urine on Odyssey’s soaked bed…and have to do another load of laundry.

What I NEED to do is…

take Odyssey for a run to clear my head, get some fresh air, and the exercise I so badly need so I can be patient.

snuggle Hobbes and just turn on the faucet so he is happy.

give Ben a “mommy massage” like I used to do when he would come back from a big hunting weekend with Ryan.

The time will come when there is not a dog to run with, a cat meowing for food or water, and a dog that is barking at the door to be let out or in.

There won’t be soiled beds to wash or a litter box to scoop.

When we moved to Oregon eight years ago we came out here with all of of belongings…including three dogs and two cats. We said goodbye to Murphy in 2009 and Oak in 2010.

Sadly, I see more goodbyes in our near future.

Right now, I’m going for that run with Odyssey.

home is…taking care of our four legged fuzzy faced friends.


Every few years, since my early 20’s, I decide to cut my hair short.

I think I was 22 the first time I cut it.

short hair 5

short hair 6

I kept it short for a bunch of years after that.

short hair 7{1999}

short hair 9{2000}

short hair 10{2000}

short hair 8{2003}

I think I started growing it long a year or two before we moved to Portland.

I grew it for a few years until the little guy was about 9 months old.

short hair 2

He kept pulling my hair, so I cut it short.

short hair 4{snuggling reece and oak during a thunderstorm}

short hair 3{gorge games 2008}

short hair 1{reece’s 1st birthday}

That lasted less than a year and I was ready to grow it long.

I’m five years into growing my hair long and other than some color, a few trims, and bangs a couple of years ago there hasn’t been much change.

I think I am ready for a change.

Ryan just laughs when I mention it to him because he knows that eventually I will want to grow it long again, but that’s the good thing about hair…it grows!

I’ve always loved Meg Ryan’s short hairstyles…

Meg Ryan Hairstyles Pictures

Meg Ryan Hairstyles Pictures

Meg Ryan Hairstyles Pictures

Meg Ryan Hairstyles Pictures

Meg Ryan Medium Shag Haircut

I’ve taken many of these photos into hairstylist when getting a new cut.

I also pinned this image twice within the last year or so…I really like this cut.

And, here are a few other hairstyles that are kind of what I am thinking of….

What do you think?

Should I do it?

Which cut do you like?

home is…thinking about changing it up.


impromptu idaho

I mentioned yesterday that we took a road trip to Idaho over the weekend.

Just about 12 years ago Ryan made contact with Mike Gould. Ryan was looking for a hunting dog and had read Mike’s book, The Labrador Shooting Dog. One night when we were having dinner at a friend’s house they pulled the book out, called information, and asked for Mike Gould’s number in Kamiah, Idaho.

Mike answered the phone and Ryan spent about an hour talking to him about a dog. Soon after that Ryan sent Mike a long letter about what he would like to see in a hunting dog. Ryan and Mike talked on the phone weekly, and by March of 2000 we were on our way to Utah on a quick road trip to pick up our Grand River lab, Ben.

Through the years we drove up to Idaho from Colorado multiple times a year. We spent hours driving the logging roads, talking about hunting, nature and dogs.

By 2004 we had 3 Grand River labs. At the beginning of May 2004, Oak (our female) had a litter of four puppies in our garage. We had 7 Grand River labs living in our small house near Cherry Creek in Denver.

One of the reasons we moved to Portland was to be closer to Idaho.

Something about our drives and visits to Idaho make it feel like home.

I’d have to say it is one of my happiest places on earth.

The little guy made his first trip to Idaho when he was less than 3 months old. We have spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with Mike and the friends we have made there.

Every fall Mike hosts a Grand River Seminar in Kamiah, Idaho. It had been 3 years since we had been to one. In fact, the last one we went to I was pregnant and we told everybody there before anybody else in our family knew…mainly because I wasn’t drinking beer around the campfire like I usually do. {I miscarried a month later, but that’s another story}

It was about time to make a visit to Kamiah.

Ryan had been trying to figure out how he could make it work. He was going to fly out there alone. He was going to drive out with Odyssey. He was going to fly out with Reece. Finally after we calculated how much time it would take to fly and drive (from Spokane or Lewiston) we figured we could drive out there in the same amount of time…and ALL of us could go.

So, on Friday night while I took the little guy to a birthday party Ryan packed up food and supplies for our road trip.

We left Portland for Kamiah Saturday morning at 5 am.

We arrived at the seminar (after checking into our cabin at the Lewis and Clark Resort) around 1:30 pm.

The little guy did NOT want to go to Idaho on Saturday morning.

On Sunday morning he did NOT want to leave.

The property that the seminar was held on was FULL of fruit trees…some wild, some planted on purpose at some point.

Apples, pears, plums (we picked 3 different kinds).

The kids and I drove back to the cabin around 9 pm…Ryan finally made it back after 1 am. I am glad he had the time to catch up with all the guys.

After eating breakfast by the campfire we visited with friends for a bit longer and then got back on the road.

The kids earned some new toys for being so good.

We could hear geese down on the river, so they guys started calling.

We left Kamiah for Portland Sunday morning at 11:30 am.

And, made it back home just in time for baths and a good night sleep.

It was well worth the 15 hours of driving for the time spent with friends…new and old.

And, here is my favorite series of photos from the trip.

Our good friend, Dr. Duck, made quick friends with baby girl by helping her with her shoe after it fell off.

home is…dropping everything to go on an adventure with our little family to see great friends.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the little guy played baseball during a lull in the afternoon. Man, he was hitting the ball HARD and far. All the guys at the seminar were really impressed with his left-handed hitting skills…I think we have an athlete on our hands! I wish I had taken pictures of it…I think I was making a run back to the cabin for a diaper, or down to the store for M&M’s!

pieces of me: summer 2003

I think it began in the summer of 2003.

Maybe it started before then.

I don’t know.

I can definitely point to 3 life altering events that happened beginning in the summer and continuing through the fall of 2003.

This is the first

Summer 2003:

I walked in on a burglary in progress in our home.

It was the middle of the afternoon. I think I had taken my sister to the car dealership to pick up her car, or drop it off. I was gone not more than 45 minutes. I took our dog Ben with me and then I was going to head home and do some painting in our house.

I was getting my paint supplies ready in the garage (we had an alley entry detached garage) and then walked towards the house. I noticed that our cat, Murphy had snuck out the back window that was cracked open. That was the first indication that something was wrong, but I didn’t notice it immediately.

I walked to the back door, unlocked it, and Ben ran in front of me. He was trained to not walk through doors before us, so this was the second indication that something was wrong.  Then he started growling. Ben barked a lot, but her never growled. This was the third indication that something was wrong.  I held him back and took a look into our kitchen…drawers were open and things were out of place.

I backed away from the house, went to the garage to get a rope to keep Ben with me, and called my husband. By this time I noticed that the screen was off the back window that the cat had escaped from and the window was open wide. Yes, I should have called 911 first, but I thought maybe something was wrong with Ryan and he had to break into the house.

He informed me that he was OK. I hung up the phone and called 911. I remember my voice being shaky and saying, “Yes, I think there is a burglary in progress at my home.”  I stayed in the backyard near the garage and waited for them to show up. It seemed like forever, but they were there in less than 3 minutes.

An officer came through the back gate, gun drawn, and approached me. They asked me a few questions and told me to stay put. Another officer had gone in through the front door, which was  now open. (It had not been open when I drove by the front of the house only a few minutes before)

The burglars took some large LL Bean totes that I had in the front guest bedroom and filled them with electronics and cash.  They had been in our bedroom (which was towards the back of the house) when I opened the back door.  The officers found one of our butcher knives either in our bedroom or living room (I can’t remember which now). They had used it to cut cable cords, but could have used it as a weapon had I gone into the house.

The burglars had left through the front door while I was in the backyard waiting for the police to come. A couple of months later they were caught. They had been burglarizing houses during the day by ringing the doorbell to see if anybody was home and entering through cracked windows, unlocked doors, etc. They were pawning or selling what they found and using the money for drugs.  It was a young man and woman.  The woman was 17 and pregnant.  They also had a young baby.

At the time, I just dealt with it. Did what I needed for the police and kept thinking how thankful I was that nobody got hurt. I felt sorry for the girl, her baby, and unborn child.

I asked Ryan to either get an alarm or another dog that could stay with me when he went hunting every weekend that fall. In November we had Oak flown out to Denver from our breeder and friend in Idaho. She was my constant companion from that Thanksgiving until last May.

What I didn’t deal with was the sense of violation I felt. I struggle with feeling safe…especially when I am alone. I never felt that way before this happened.

I started to feel fear.

home is…feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

five years

Five years ago today we moved to Portland.

We drove our extended cab pickup loaded with our five fuzzy faces (3 black labs and two cats) towing our malibu (loaded with fragiles) from Denver to Boise (actually, Mountain Home) through high winds in Wyoming and a blizzard in Eastern Idaho.  We stayed with some dear friends for the night and drove the rest of the way through snow in Eastern Oregon, and a driving rain and darkness through the Gorge.  Only to hit rush hour traffic on 217 on the way to our rental house on Bull Mountain.  We stayed with friends in the exact neighborhood where we have ended up…and met the moving van on the morning of January 3rd, 2006….probably the only DRY day in that record setting wettest January in Portland.  Welcome to Oregon!

A lot has happened in those five years.

I found a wonderful job (that I miss a lot).

We started seeing a marriage counselor (money well spent, people…and housecleaners).

We decided to start a family.

We started to explore our new home state and the surrounding region.

Our little guy joined our family.

Not more than a week later, after we had been planning to move to Boise with a Xerox transfer, Ryan left Xerox (after 10+ years) and started a new career in medical sales.

I joined a mom’s group through the hospital and have made some amazing momma friends (we still have our playgroup of 15 moms…and a lot of kids)!

I made the hardest decision I have made in my life (even though I knew it was the one I would make all along) to stop working and stay at home full-time with our little guy.

We bought a house (which I love, but it also needs a bit of TLC).

I started exercising on a regular basis for the first time in years with Stroller Strides (which deserves a post of it’s own once a week because I don’t know what I would do without the exercise and great group of mommas)!

We traveled to Colorado, Idaho, New York and Maui with the little guy.

I (we) suffered a miscarriage.

We got pregnant again!

We said goodbye to our beautiful cat, Miss Murphy the Boss Lady.

I got a new car.

Our precious baby girl joined our family (and quickly became the  new boss lady when she decided to come 3 weeks early and mess with all my planning).

We said goodbye to another one of our four legged fuzzy faces…Grand River Medicine Oak (who I will someday be able to write about…until then she is my little black angel).

We took our first trips as a family of four to Seattle, Bend, and Pacific City.

Ryan started another new job in a different specialty of medical sales.

And, we have celebrated 1st birthdays (2nd and 3rd for the little guy); had many visits from grandparents, sisters (and their husbands), friends (not enough of you, so come visit us); made new friends; and made it through the ups and downs of life in new city…and life in general.

home is…calling Portland home.

the boy who was raised by black labs

Our first “children” were animals.  In December 1999, a diluted calico cat named Murphy was adopted from the Dumb Friends League in Denver.  In March 2000, a black lab puppy named Ben came from our good friend and Grand River trainer/breeder Mike Gould.  In September 2000, an orange and white tabby named Hobbes was adopted from the Dumb Friends League.  In November 2003, an 8 year old black lab named Oak was adopted from Mike Gould.  In April 2004, a black lab puppy named Odyssey, again came from Mike Gould.

For almost 8 years we were the proud parents of our five-fuzzy-faces.  The dogs would go everywhere with us.  We drove across the country to Upstate New York with a stop in Chicago for a family wedding…all with Ben in tow!We went on many roadtrips through Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho with all 3 of them…learning what hotels were pet friendly along the way.  My husband would take the boy dogs hunting anywhere from 40-60 days each fall.  They would all go camping and hiking with us during the summer.   They drove with us from Colorado to Oregon when we moved.  Oak used to go to work with me almost everyday here in Oregon.  They lived the high life!

Then July 5, 2007 came.  The world as they knew it stopped.  Our baby boy arrived and they were relegated to the dog runs and scolded for getting too close to the baby.  Oh, I was afraid that we wouldn’t be able to give them the attention they were used to…and we weren’t…but our little guy is!

The little guy LOVES his doggies!  The first word-like sound he made was “woof”; his first word was “doggie”; his first 2-word phrase was “good girl”;  the second 2-word phrase was “bad dog”; and his first 3-word phrase was “no bark dog”.  When he wakes up in the morning he asks where Oak is.  He loves to share his toys and food with the dogs.  He crawls all over them, snuggles on their dog beds, and loves to play chase with them in the house.  He is part of their pack.

When we are outside in the back yard he loves to play in their dogs runs.  He opens and closes the door, pretends to fill up their water buckets, and likes it even better if they will play along with him…Odyssey usually obliges.  Oftentimes, I will find him hiding in the dog crate we keep in the house for “doggie timeouts”…sometimes he will be in there with one of the dogs.  I am sure that he thinks every kid has a house full of black labs  just like he does.

The dogs (and cats) may not get the attention they used to from us, but our little guy sure thinks the world of them.  Their days are lazy, and they get to stay in the house most of the time, now.  My husband runs the boys down at the river once or twice a week…when he can. Oak is pretty much blind, deaf, and very needy so I try to give her extra attention whenever possible.  I am not sure how much longer we will have her around…she has been a mom to around 30 puppies…and acts as a “doggie nanny” to our little guy.  They are all wonderful pets and “children”…including the boy who was raised by Black Labs.