Monday, May 11, 2015

Field Trip to Old Salem

Jack’s 3rd grade class, as did Ella’s 3rd grade class, headed to Old Salem on a field trip this spring.  Old Salem is a living history museum in the historic district of Winston-Salem that shows life in colonies for a Moravian community in the late 18th century.  This is one of my favorite field trips—I just can’t go to Discovery Place one more time—so I was happy to chaperone.  Instead of being in charge of 4 kids like on Ella’s field trip, I was in charge of 6 kids on this day so another mom chaperone and I decided to combine forces (which made for more kids together but also helped with more eyes on kids).  We had half the class.  I was definitely glad I’d been to Old Salem before so I could watch the kids instead of trying to figure out where to go.  It was an exhausting day but so fun to spend it with Jack and his friends. 

{starting the bucket brigade.}

{learning about starting fires with flint.}

{a lesson in making soap from lard and lye.}

{our motley crew.}

{and the whole class.}

Saturday, May 9, 2015


Jonathan and I always used to notice how quiet and empty the house felt whenever Gator was at the groomer’s or vet’s office all day (and we knew “quiet” was a strange word to use because Gator was a nearly mute dog, but that’s how it felt).  So you can imagine how quiet and empty the house has felt over the past year.  We miss our boy Gator every day.  Losing him really took its toll on us, still does, and the idea of setting ourselves up for that kind of loss again isn’t something we thought we could readily do.  But, after a year of disappointment of not being greeted at the door, taking walks at Beatty Park on my own, and just not having a furry little companion to dote on and who dotes on us, we decided maybe we’d look into getting another pup.  We were set on sticking with a terrier (yet not one that looked too much like Gator), but decided we really wanted to adopt our new pup from a rescue and we were willing to wait.  I knew the process would take a lot of time and effort—trolling all of the rescue sites for miniature schnauzers and other small terriers, sending lots of emails to inquire about dogs, filling out lots of applications, having house visits, etc.—but what I wasn’t prepared for was the emotional toll the process can take.  It’s not hard to fall in love with a cute puppy picture and when you know you’d give them a good home you figure it’s the perfect fit.  I am glad that there are so many other homes ready to take in rescue dogs, but, man, it is tough to find out you weren’t one of the first inquiries about a dog you were sure was meant to be with you.  I can’t tell you how many times we got that email response that Duke or Sammie or Benny had already found his “forever home”.  We were so happy for each and every one but heartbroken at the same time. 

Finally, I figured out how to set an alert on one of the rescue search sites so that we would be one of the first to know when a miniature schnauzer mix was posted by a rescue.  That was how we found an adorable young boy terrier named Ollie.  He had light blonde fur and was quite a bit taller than Gator, but they had this adorable video of him happily walking and then sitting when told to do so.  He looked like a sweet boy, eager to please.  I zipped off an inquiry email complete with application to Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas (and, of course, each rescue has its own set of lengthy forms—this might’ve been like the 5th or 6th set I had completed…it’s all quite a process) and crossed my fingers that we’d get a positive response.  And, sure enough we got a call from Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas (SRC) and they wanted to schedule a house visit.  At this point, we just felt so confident that Ollie would be coming home to us—we have the perfect set-up at home with a big fenced yard, older kids, and lots of love to give—so we knew the home visit wouldn’t cause any issues.  We watched that adorable video of him over and over again and just knew Ollie would fit right in at our house.  The house visit was really just a formality to me because for sure we’d be picking up Ollie shortly after.  He was in our hearts.  So, when the woman from SRC showed up for the house visit and said, before she even walked in the door, that Ollie had been adopted we were just totally crushed.  She had a hand full of flyers of other dogs available through SRC, but I couldn’t even look at them at that point, it felt like a bait and switch.  I’m sure she sensed our dismay and kindly explained that families that had already been vetted, or completed the application and home visit process, are the ones with first priority to their rescue dogs.  So, once we checked off the home visit we would then have our pick of any pup through SRC.  We kept all of her flyers but I didn’t really pay them much mind because I had been sold on Ollie and, frankly, all of the photos were awful (one reason Ollie’s video was so compelling—you could really see what he looked and acted like).  I just thought we’d wait and see.  Well, then SRC called us to let us know that they thought “Sweetie” would be the perfect fit for us.  She was a young, playful miniature schnauzer mix who was given the name Sweetie because she’s such a cuddler.  We had seen her on the SRC website, seen her flyer, but she looked kind of scruffy and the picture was of such poor quality it was hard to get a feel for her (there’s honestly research out there that black dogs are adopted less frequently than other dogs and I’m certain it’s because it’s really hard to photograph black dogs well…I speak from experience…and don’t even try on an iPhone).  But, we figured it was worth checking into a little further like they suggested (and to not seem  like we weren’t really committed to this process) and now we were really feeling the loss of not having a pup around as we thought we would by now.  And—a little aside here—while we were in the midst of trying to get Ollie the blonde I’d actually had a dream that we would get a sweet black dog.  So, Jonathan called the foster mom of “Sweetie” and started an ongoing conversation with her over the phone and email about “Sweetie’s” personality and behavior.  Sweetie sounded young and full of energy, but also very, well, sweet.  It was also a relief to hear that the foster mom had not in fact been calling her “Sweetie” so it wasn’t an official name (because that was surely what a blue-haired grandma would call her dog).  She was house-trained, crate-trained, about 1-2 years old, friendly with dogs and kids, playful and happy.  Sweetie was over 3 hours away so there was no meeting her before adoption, but she sounded like what we were looking for and we were just what she needed.  So we took the leap of faith.  We said yes to “Sweetie”.

Ella and I made the 3 1/2 hour drive to meet the foster mom at a rest stop in northeastern North Carolina to pick up “Sweetie”, sight unseen.  My first thought when I saw her was that she was such a scruffy little thing—she seriously looked like Sirius Black in his Padfoot dog form.  I don’t think she’d been groomed in years.  She was certainly happy to see us—we think a tail was wagging somewhere under all the fluff of hair—and friendly to everyone around.  But, she was wild.  I swear she did a side flip…Ella saw it, too.  So, scruffy, crazy, and with such developed leg muscles, the likes of which I’ve never seen on a schnauzer…whatever she’s mixed with is strong.  We think maybe boxer.  The foster mom casually mentioned that Sweetie had leaped over the back of a chair earlier that day.  To say I was concerned might put it mildly.  It was a long drive home with a pacing little wild woman in the back seat.  But, she was happy. 

We were initially only looking at boy dogs, so when we decided on “Sweetie” we were unprepared with a girl name.  We were thinking Ali (to go with Gator, “Ali” “Gator”…) but when I met her she just didn’t seem like an Ali to me.  Ella and I racked our brains for girl names on the car ride home with her and suddenly I had an epiphany.  “Olive!”  To me it was THE name—and Ella agreed, too—so I just couldn’t bear to tell Jonathan and Jack the name until we got home in case they vetoed it.  Once home, it didn’t take long for Jonathan and Jack to agree that she was definitely an Olive…our little, black Olive (we had just been to Spain, so maybe olives were on the brain).  Once we got her cleaned up and groomed, oh was she cute.  She’s mostly black but has beautiful brindle and white detail in her fur, a little white goatee (we almost named her Rogue from X-Men for that detail), a white chest, and the tips of her feet are white.  Her fur is more coarse than was Gator’s but she’s so soft after she’s groomed.  Olive is such a friendly girl, happy to see everyone.  We don’t know much about Olive’s past except that she was abandoned in West Virginia, but she’s definitely not skittish in any way.  In the first few weeks she would roll over onto her back when you tried to pick her up, but it didn’t take long to build trust between us.  And with that trust she was more easily trained to stay, sit, and come (the treats help, too).  She love loves loves toys and bones, her Nerf dog football is a particular obsession of hers.  She plays hard but she also sleeps soundly for a long night.  Much like Jonathan, she’s down for the count by 9pm.  Don’t even bother taking her out after that point, she just gives you a puzzled look.  She’s always happy to see us, eager to please, and literally always underfoot.  And when she wants to be close to you she either stands on your chest facing you, eager to lay some puppy kisses on you, or she backs her rear end up and sits on your chest.  It always feels like she’s staking her claim on us.  We’re happy to be hers.      

Bottom line, we got so lucky again.  This sweet girl is full of love and we have plenty to give to her.  It’s a match made in heaven.  She’s a lot of fun and a little lovebug.  And I do find myself calling her “Sweetie” quite a bit.            

{aaah, look how sweet she is.}

{…and cra.zy.  check out those muscles.}

{but so sweet.}

{…but a whole lot of crazy, too.}

{brown-eyed girl.}

{we were still building trust at this point.  a few weeks later and she would happily and calmly join the kids for a picture.}

{this collar is one of two that she chewed off.  a few leashes took the hit, too.  i walked her to our park one day to meet a friend for a workout.  olive just happily sat there leashed to a bench while we worked out and i guess i didn’t notice she was chewing on something.  when i went to get her to walk home i noticed that she had chewed her new leash into two pieces.  she’d stayed though once free—it was really jus about the chewing.  i had to tie it together to walk her home.  silly girl.}

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Instagrammin’ in April

We had a fun and exciting April—we even got a new addition to the family!

spring break! | beautiful florida sunset. | harry potter at universal studios! | thanks, nonni and papa! | so happy to be spending spring break with these lovely ladies. | these two fear nothing. #drdoomsfearfall | oy, x-men tea cups. | butterbeer! | have you seen these wizards?? | hogwarts | love all of the harry potter details—the three broomsticks, every flavor beans, and the quibbler. | more pool time. | look who i ran into in tampa. | the suzanne outtakes.  #coppertailbrewery | usta team tennis player. | jack and his fun friends. | always exciting to see my photos used. | meet our new pup—olive! | olive’s outtakes…it wasn’t easy to get her to stay still. | hanging with this cutie in old salem on a field trip. | field trip chaperone. | coming to the end of the soccer season. | love having a walking buddy again. | happy birthday to me—fun time at a The Lunch Project luncheon with friends and then dao took me to little spoon eatery.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Spring Break – Universal Studios

Hogsmeade Village from the Harry Potter movies at Universal Studios did not disappoint.  The rides were fun but the best part was finding all of the clever details from the movies everywhere looked in Hogsmeade and Hogwarts…oh, and the butterbeer.  Yum.  We had quite the crew with the 10 of us there (6 kids, 2 parents, and 2 grandparents) and Universal was crowded for Spring Break, so there was a bit of craziness, but it was an incredibly fun (and exhausting) day.  Thanks, Nonni and Papa!

{Hogsmeade and Hogsmeade Station—you can take the train here to the other Universal park, Islands of Adventure, where Diagon Alley is.  Next time!}

{Zonkos and The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. Hogwarts and the Sorting Hat inside.}

{We decided we wanted to eat at The Three Broomsticks later in the day, so we headed out to explore the rest of the park—Jurassic Park area, Dr. Suess area, and Marvel were the highlights.}

{Ivy was so good and cooperative—finally she got to ride something, a carousel.}

{Butterbeer!  Frozen was the best.}

{A toad  beat band.}

{We waited out some rain in a science hands-on museum and Ivy had the chance to run free.}

{It was a full day!}