Jan 28, 2013

One Month!

Her future's so bright she needs shades!
Okay, I REALLY wouldn't normally put things like this on  her, but my daughter "shared" them with her as we were  all getting ready to go out one day and Charlee didn't even mind at all, so I had to take a picture!
Our Charlee has been with us one month and feels like she's been here for years... in a REALLY good way!
We thought she was amazing from the moment she arrived and that she settled in so well.  But as we've gotten to know her, its apparent that she still had/has a lot of coming out of her shell to do.  She has shown herself more wonderful with each unfolding day.  I mention often that we take things slow with her.  We try to introduce her to only one or two new things a week and space them out over the week.  Its amazing what time and love can do.  In addition to all the things I wrote about in the last post here are some new developments!

Here she is sporting her new pink bandanna   I have to say, I think the color looks fabulous on her.  And with a name like Charlee, and the way she lifts her legs to pee... I think she needs a little pink to help keep the record straight :) 
She lets us clip her toe nails and brush her teeth without hesitation.

We have introduced her to two doggie friends.  And one thing has been confirmed... she LOVES other dogs.  She LOVES to play with them.  She's stinkin' adorable!  She does the play bow, wags her tail, sort of hops and pounces with her front feet to say, "c'mon, come play!" and she loves to run and run and run with the other pooches.  And she certainly does like to "herd" the other dog which I'm guessing is her Aussie blood :)

She took her first trip to the dog park.  We met a doggie friend there that she was already acquainted with and she did beautifully!  She met a 3rd dog there and did fabulous with him too.

I neglected to mention that we are not crating her.  Her foster home told us that she tried crating her and Charlee got very agitated and damaged the crate, but that she did fine when left home and given reign of the house.  I'm guessing she was never crate trained and then her trauma surrounding being in the kennel did not help.  So we tested the whole free reign idea in small increments   And even though she's not at home alone much anyway... when she does have to be, she stays loose in the house and has never scratched, chewed, or gotten into anything.  She doesn't show any signs of separation anxiety.

This is what you get when you say, "Charlee, wanna go for a walk!?"
Her photos are starting to really reflect more of her true personality...  the gentle, patient, kind, sweet, fun, spunky gal we've come to know and love.
And last but not least... this is a biggie.  Yesterday and today she rolled onto her side and lifted her legs, inviting me to scratch her belly.  I think this shows that she's really starting to trust us, because she would gladly accept all sorts of love and petting and brushing and hugging and kissing up until now, but she would never let her guard down enough to roll over and let us scratch her belly.  I wasn't sure if she just didn't like it, or if she was still nervous about that.  But she's showed that she does indeed love belly rubs!  

Jan 25, 2013

The Life of 6 Month Old

Hi, my name is Josiah.  I just turned 6 months old.  I found my toes.

 I'm really happy about that.

 I'm sitting in a bean bag chair with a blanket over it letting mom do a photo shoot.

I'm really happy about that.

Mom gave me this nifty tag blanket.  

I'm really happy about that.

Now I'm tired of it.

In other news.  I weigh 17lbs 8oz.  and am 26 inches tall.  Yup.  I like to eat.  Mom and dad started giving yummy stuff on a spoon.  I'm getting the hang of eating that stuff and like it second best...milk is still #1 in my book.

I'm super stinkin' happy all the time.  I'm pretty great about letting other people hold me.  But I decided I won't let other people feed me.  Nope.  No bottle for me.  I'll fuss and fuss and hold out 'till mom gets home.  Dad doesn't seem to think that's the best idea.

I have TWO teeth!  One came in on Christmas Eve!  They're sharp.  I must try them out on EVERYTHING!  Everything goes in my mouth...nothing is safe from these chompers!

I LOVE to grab toys.  I bend and twist and can reach just about anything with my York monkey arms.  I like my exersaucer and LOVE my jumparoo that Ms. Stef. lent me!  (I've got mom trained to a T.  If I move my legs up and down, up and down in that thing mom will sit in front of me all day long smiling and saying, "bouncy, bouncy, bouncy boo!" and clapping too!  She really is entertaining.)  I don't like being on my belly so I'll roll to my back lickety split.  I JUST learned how to roll from my back to belly but will only do it if I'm HIGHLY motivated to get a favorite toy.  Mom always puts it just out of my reach... how rude!

 I also really like the sound of my own voice.  (Daddy says I take after Mommy, but I'm not sure what that means.)  Sometimes I groan like an old man.  Sometimes I screech with delight.  Sometimes talk in this super cute huskey voice like, "rarr rarrr rarr rarrrr!"  And I giggle and belly laugh a lot!

Wow, I sure am awesome and happy for a little guy who's decided I don't want to sleep for more than 2-4 hours at a time.  I guess I just LOVE my mom and dad SO much that I can't stand to go a whole night without seeing their face.  Somehow, their face doesn't seem as happy to see me at 2am.  Haven't figured that one out yet :)

Seriously, could he GET any cuter!?

Jan 13, 2013

More than just a skiing lesson.

"Mama,"she said matter of faclty, "this time I want you to ski behind me and not say anything to me. Not a thing. Just let me do what I want to do."
That statement pretty well sums up Ella's personality for you. But after having a conversation about staying in control and not running into any trees, people, rope tows or poles, I decided to trust that she understood and that she could do it.  I had been going in front of her up to that point.  I stepped aside and zipped my lips. To my utter amazement and joy she got her skis turned downhill, made her snowplow and proceeded to ski the entire hill, all by herself without falling once!

It took everything in me not to be the "ski school teacher" and remind her to make a "bigger pizza" when she was coming to a steeper pitch, or "reach her hands out in front" when I saw her little bum starting to sit afraid she might fall, or remind her to turn her body and "look where you want to go" when I was sure she was about to run into something.  But you know what?  I didn't need to.  She had it.  She did it....  ALL. BY. HERSELF.

It was such a good lesson for this mama.  Such a clear and tangible picture of teacher her what I know, guiding her and helping her to the point where she is not only ready, but wanting to do it alone, and then stepping out of the way (literally) and letting her fly.  And is there uncertainty?  Yes.  Is there some fear? Of course.  But there's also joy.  SO. MUCH. JOY.  in watching the independence, the accomplishement, the success, self-confidence, the little girl beaming with pride at the bottom.
I teared up a bit as I skiied down behind her.  Good tears.  Joy filled tears.  And God whispered to me.  "This is just a glimpse.  Just a glimpse of all the times in her life that you will have taught her and guided her enough that she will be ready to do it on her own.  Each time it will be hard.  Each time it will be scary.  But remember this joy that is filling you to overflowing right now.  Because each time there will also be this opportunity for JOY if you can trust enough to step aside and let her fly." 

Thank-you Lord, for preparing this moment long ago, for all those years I taught ski lessons in high-school, for sweet Ella.. brave, fearless, eager to learn.  For this little girl who learned to ski all by herself in just four ours of practice over two Saturdays.  Thank-you that she loves it.  Thank-you that it's something we can now share together.  Thank-you for these priceless memories.  And thank-you for this tangible life lesson.

P.S. this is from the first time out.  I have no actual photos or video of this past Saturday where she started skiing by herself because it was just her and I and I was busy taking her up the rope tow and teachin' her how to ski y'all! 

Charlee Update!

It just keeps getting better people!

She's now sporting a hot pink bandana thanks to one 4 year old that thinks everything should come in the color pink!  But I have to say, it's quite becoming on our sweet Charlee.  Sorry, I don't have a picture of that yet.
More bedtime story snuggles!
Did I mention that she's completely housebroken.  And even with all the stress she's been through she's not even come close to having one single accident in the house.

She likes to go for rides and we call her our sidekick as she gets to go along with us whenever possible. 

She's starting to respond when we call her.  She doesn't dig her heels in on the leash so much anymore.  She's a velcro dog... just sticks right to our sides.  When we're doing spazz time or playing with the ball outside, she lets you know when she's done by trotting right over, sitting down by the door and waiting patiently.  She knows it's her home!

She's so stinkin' well mannered!  Not a table or counter surfer at all.  One day I left a bit of my sausage and cheese snack on a plate in the living room while I went upstairs to get Josiah from his nap.  I just wanted to see what she would do.  I'd not have been upset a bit if she'd helped herself... but no.  Hadn't even budged from her cozy little spot when I came back down.
Another shot of what she does most of the day :)
We have gotten to hear her voice!  When she gets super excited to go out or to play, or if a stranger startles her, she'll let out the smallest little woof.  Not high pitched but just a quick, gruff little thing.  She does have a slight bit of the Golden "whine"... you know, how they're just so excited, they can't contain themselves and they sing their little high-pitched song to you.  We hear that ever so slightly every once in a while when she's super excited to go out and we're taking too long to get our coat and hat on!

We're taking every new step and new thing nice and slow.  But yesterday she let me trim the hair on her feet and on her ears.  No fear, no nothing.  Just laid there and trusted me.

I think her previous owner was a man.  And when she first arrived, she definitely favored Jason, perking her ears and tail up and wagging her tail around him from the get go.  But now that she's home with me all day, she's definitely becoming a momma's girl ;)  Though it's so sweet... she still gets all excited when I say, "Daddy's home!  Go see daddy!"

Here's a cute video of Charlee following Ella around.  Ella thought she was coming because she was clapping.  I'm pretty sure she was coming because she knew she was going to get some sweet petting :)

Jan 5, 2013

Meet Charlee!

One week ago we added a new family member to our home.  
Say Hello to Charlee!
Sporting her snazzy new leash and collar, expertly picked by four year old hands!
She's a petite little girl from the South.  A Golden Retriever, Australian Shepherd mix weighing in at around 40 lbs and doesn't even come up to my knee.  She has super soft golden hair and eyes that melt your heart.  She's six years young and just about the quietest, most gentle soul I've ever met.  The first word everyone uses to describe her is "sweet".  And that she is!
It's actually pretty hard to get a picture of her.  She's still a little camera shy.
She was an orphan.  Her previous owner became terminally ill and the breeder who took back the person's purebred Aussie agreed to take Charlee as well, only to dump her on a vet's doorstep.  Thankfully that vet found a temporary place for her in a boarding kennel and The Pixel Fund set out to find her a forever home.  We had been cautiously looking, only just starting to contemplate it 6 months after Hunter's passing, telling ourselves we'd wait a while.  We saw her on Petfinder and bookmarked her but then life carried on.  A bit later a friend posted her picture on facebook.  Turns out Charlee was being kicked out of the boarding facility because paying Holiday customers were on their way and there was just no room at the Inn.  She was going to go to a kill shelter.  And being 6 years old and VERY afraid in the kennel...she really didn't stand a chance.

So we decided to take a chance.  She was in Florida.  We are in Maine.  There wasn't any data on how she was with children but her sweet personality seemed like it'd lend itself to being fine with kids.  We knew a missing piece to our family was a dog to love.  And we knew we couldn't leave her to die.  We made the commitment and then ANXIOUSLY awaited her arrival which was nearly a month away!!!

We prepared our four year old.  Telling her Charlee would be scared at first and would take a while to get used to us and trust us.  We talked about how to behave around her and how important it was to be gentle.  We went out at bought her a new matching leash and collar with purple heart tag stating her name and new family, a dog bed, plush toys, food and treats.
Ella ADORES her!  Charlee wasn't so sure what to think of the small human at first.  But just a few days in, she decided she loved the small human just as much as the big ones!
Finally, the day arrived.  She was coming home!  In the middle of a snow storm!  The freedom ride was due to arrive at 12:30pm...no 1pm...no 3pm... nope 6pm... nope 7:30pm... and finally, after a snowy drive with the whole family, some good memories made killing time at Cabela's, a little subway for dinner, and lots of DVD's in the car...  the freedom ride rolled (...err had to be pushed by all the men) up the drive at around 10pm.  It was a crazy adventure this family will never forget.  A perfect and eventful way to mark this new chapter in our life.  And Charlee was well worth the wait and well worth the insanity of travelling in that snow storm!   
This is right when she first got home.  She's getting ready to go out with Daddy and explore her new yard... even if it was midnight... and her yard was covered in a foot of cold white stuff!

Now I want to tell you ALL about her!

Jason and I have always had dogs all growing up.  But we've always had them since puppyhood.  This adopting an adult is a whole new experience and I have to say...we LOVE it!  It is so neat spend time learning about our new love, discovering her personality and traits and quirks.

When she arrived, her tail stayed tucked between her legs.  She was timid, but curious.  She went through every room of the house checking it out.  And although you could tell she was unsure with all she'd been through...she followed us like she was our shadow from day one.  We expected her to take WEEKS to adjust and for us to really get to see who she is...but it's happened SO much faster.  She feels like she's been a part of the family forever and I think she knows she's REALLY HOME!

We have never heard her voice.  She does not bark at all.  She is calm and gentle.  She spends most of her time right here.  She has a memory foam dog bed upstairs and a plush orthopedic one downstairs but she has decided this is her spot...a thin little rug in front of the living room door.

Except for night time.  Then THIS is her spot.  The first few nights she slept happily on her memory foam dog bed... then she discovered the Queen bed in the guest room and decided THAT was her bed.  So I HAD to purchase her a plush coverlet that matched her golden fur :)  Yup, you could say she's spoiled.

When she wants attention she does the Golden thing.  She comes over to you and gently puts her paw on you or nudges her nose under your arm.  She does not get on the furniture (except for beds) even if you invite her.  So she likes it when you sit on the floor, then she snuggles right into you.  Or she just sits beside your chair and lets you rub her chest forever.  When she's hungry she goes to her food bowl, takes a few steps back and cocks her head.  At dinner time she came to beg and we simply said, "ah, ah.  Go lay down."  And she's not begged since.  She lays under our feet or off to the side.  At Ella's bed time she follows us upstairs and snuggles herself right in for story time.  She's also so good with the baby.  She just gives him a little sniff from time to time, and perks her ears and cocks her head when he makes his giggles.   

Although in the rescue world, she's considered a senior at the ripe old age of 6, she's got so much life in her!  She knows the word "walk".  When you say it, or when you put your socks on, or when you put your shoes on, or when you put your jacket on her ears perk right up and she trots on over.  When it's confirmed that she's going out she jumps her front legs down to the floor and sticks her butt up in the air, tail just a waggin', then she sits like the little lady that she is and patiently waits for her leash to be put on.  
Did I mention Ella ADORES her!? :) ... we all do!
 She walks very well on the leash.  Not pulling much at all.  Ella has even walked her a bit in the yard.  She does have her personality quirks.  If she's out for a walk and you turn to head home but she's not done, she literally plants herself and won't move.  It's really funny.  She has no interest in coming.  At all.  She might know her name...but if she does, she doesn't let on... because she does not respond to it :)  She won't eat treats.  Just doesn't take them.  We're not so certain how great her first home was because whenever you have something in your hand that resembles a stick (like when I have the broom... or Ella came downstairs she other day waving her fairy wand around) Charlee tucks her tail, drops her head and finds a place to hide.  Poor sweet thing!  She still shies a bit at unexpected noises.  So we just give her tons of love and take it nice and slow and gentle.  You can tell each day she's believing more and more that this is a safe place!

4 or 5 days in we started seeing her more playful side as she opened up.  Today, one week in, she JUST showed interest in toys.  She got all excited and chased after the plush toys we had gotten her.  Then I busted out the tennis balls.  She's quite good at catching them.  When she's interested she doesn't miss a one.  She also LOVES chasing them outside.  She bounds after them, chases them down and pounces and paws at them.  She doesn't so much have the "retriever" part of the Golden.  She just leaves the ball wherever and expects you to come get it and throw it again...which of course we do!  

She really feels her oats outside, doing what we've always called "spazz time" where she hunkers real low to the ground and whizzes back and forth, round and round.  We live on a dead end dirt road so we go for lots of walks and jogs which she loves.  And she pees like a boy... marking her territory along all the snowbanks.  The snow does not phase this southern girl one bit!

I am serious.  We could not have asked for a better dog.  We committed to her sight unseen and it was the best choice we've ever made!  I am a convert.  I will never buy again.  I will ALWAYS rescue!

By the way...the organization we adopted her through is The Pixel Fund.
They are a small non-profit run by amazing people who are SO very passionate about saving animals!
Rescuing animals is not inexpensive work....nursing dogs back to health, getting them vetted, transporting them etc. etc.  Please check them out.  PLEASE don't breed or buy while shelter dogs die!  Rescue one if you can.  And GIVE if you can't rescue.   No amount is too small! 

Jan 1, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Christmas this year was a week long for us!
To accomodate everyone's schedule, so that we all could be together, we celebrated with Jason's family on the 22-23. His siblings spent the night and we had a a really fun time! It was so, so nice to wake up and all gather around the breakfast table...and then they all came to church with us...and stayed and visited long after as well!
We celebrated with my family on the 28-29. Jen and Greg came with me to get Ella up on skis for the first time this year and again it was good to just all be under one roof.

In between our two family celebrations, we went to Christmas Eve Service and brought my mom. Then we did a lovely, laid back Christmas Morning just us.

Both sides of the family came to us so there was no crazy packing and traveling with two littles. The gift opening was spread out so it wasn't so overwhelming and all consuming.  I must say, it was lovely doing it this way. It was more relazing... for the most part... and allowed us to take time to focus on Jesus...the greatest gift of all.

Here are some sweet pictures I was able to snap just before heading out to Christmas Eve Service. P.S. this also serves as Josiah's 5 month old picture.  He's rounding out at a solid 17lbs and fitting nicely into his 12month outfits that people got him.  Christmas Eve service he cut is first tooth!  Bottom right.  Now the bottom left is in too!

Time to play catch-up... Happy Birthday Ella!

Christmas and New Years was wonderful!  And now it's time to catch you all up on what's been going on this season.  December is a VERY busy month for us!

Ella and Jason both have Dec. birthdays. This year was the first year that we threw a themed party for Ella with friends. She requested it, and we were happy to oblige.  Ever since we showed her "The Land Before Time" this summer, she's been slightly obsessed with dinosaurs...so the theme was a no brainer.

I'd also like to state, that you can throw one kickin' little kid birthday with all the theme and all the fun and NOT break the bank!

The only thing that's troublesome is the winter birthday.  Were it summer, I'd invite more friends.  But where as the house must contain all the littles, we narrowed it down a bit.  We ended up with 6 girls plus Ella.  I must say it was just the perfect amount.

While she was sleeping, we filled her room with balloons and all these blow up dinosaurs I scored at the dollar store. (dinos were later utilized for party decorations and then each child got to take one home as a party favor!)  It had the potential to either be terrifying and scar her for life, or be a big hit.  I'm happy to report it was the latter.

The dining room...printed banner hung with clothespins, ballons, plastic table cloth and dollar store dino wrapping paper down the middle.

Gift bags (2 for $1) that Ella and I stenciled dinosaurs on.  They contained stickers, glow in the dark dino, a few plastic dinos (recovered from our "dinosaur hunt") and a punch ball balloon just for giggles!

Made this cake...its SUPRISINGLY easy!  Just google "dinosaur cake tutorial". Bought some matching paper plates, cups and cuttlery.

Just another view of the banner.
Pin the tail on the T-Rex...created by me out of one piece of poster board.  Rockin' dino hats (that none of the kids really liked or wore :) purchased from none other than....you guessed it...the dollar store.

A close of up the T-Rex.  Hey...it doesn't have to be fancy for kids to have fun.  They LOVED it!

See?  LOVED it!  In fact, Ella had me put it up in her room so she could continue playing it by herself!
We did a craft, creating a dinosaur out of paper plates, crayons and paper fasteners.  Simple, cheap, fun and a hit for ages spanning from 2 to 6.
Ella does NOT love being the center of attention.  She said she would only let everyone sing happy birthday to her if she could sit on her daddy's lap.
Food makes everything fun!
And, of course, presents.  You may as well not fight it.  Present opening always becomes a group event! :)