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Quite a Year

18 Mar

One year ago, Casey came home to live with us. Here is the story of his adoption.

On St. Patrick’s Day in 2012, Don and I were headed over to visit with our friends and their brand new baby. Things were not running on schedule (as is so often the case with tiny newborns) and they sent us a text asking for an additional 30 minutes. However, we had already left the house because we needed to stop by Target on the way. I had been stalking dogs through Petfinder for a long time, so we decided to pop over to PetSmart to see if any of the dogs on our short list were at the adoption event.

We were a bit early and none of the adult dogs had arrived yet. The puppies were there, though, being carried by volunteers or hanging out in the puppy play pen. One little terrier caught my eye immediately.

Getting a puppy was not in our plans. Don tried his best to point out other dogs to me once they arrived, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about the little guy. Don was pretty crazy about him, too.

We spoke to the volunteer who was fostering him. She told us he was nearly fully house trained already and a really awesome dog. I let him lick my arm and buried my face in his fur so we could test my allergies, then we left and headed to our friends’ house.

Several hours later I had a only a small reaction so it seemed like we might have found our dog.


The next day we drove about 15 miles to a different PetSmart. Casey was scheduled to be there. We didn’t see him right away and panicked. Had he been adopted? We waited for his foster mom. Had coffee. Paced nervously. Finally, they arrived. We aced our interview and then Casey was ours. He weighed 8 lbs and was full of love.  Don held him all the way home.

Our family had grown to three. Little did we know that by the end of the year we would be four.

Passing the Time

23 Oct

Photo courtesy of smellslikeupdog
courtesy of smellslikeupdog

Our video profile was posted on September 10 and it was, one one hand, a big relief. We went around and around with our agency over the video contract and then we ran into all sorts of problems actually getting it filmed.

What kinds of problems, you ask? Well, for example, I had an Avastin injection on July 2 that resulted in a big, red burst blood vessel in the white of my eye that was hardly the kind of thing I wanted immortalized on video. Then our puppy, Casey, got into the foam packing for the video camera and destroyed it. Oh puppy.

Anyway, once the video was posted, I  was relieved. For about three days.

That’s how long it took me to realize there was nothing left for us to do. We filed all our paperwork. We passed our home study. We filled out the Adoption Planning Questionnaire. We created our family profile. We filmed our video profile. All the tasks were done and all that was left was the wait. We’d been waiting for three months already by the time the video was posted, but our profile wasn’t technically complete until that video was online. Until then, I was still mentally checking things off a list.

And now I’ve come to the end of the list. Nothing from this point forward is in my control. We’re just waiting for time to pass.

It’s terrifying. As a project-oriented person, the end of a to do list leaves me feeling at odds.

I waited a month, hopping that feeling would pass. No such luck. A series of events in late September left me feeling even less in control of the world.

Our called our adoption specialist who offered this advice on passing the time: Decorate the nursery. Travel (with trip insurance). Go out to dinner and to the movies. Finish up any lingering house projects.

Oh – and start thinking about new photos we might want to put on our profile in three months or so.

Ah-ha! A project …

Stock the Bar: A co-ed wedding shower

6 Jul

The agency-provided documents on preparing for a successful match instructed us to stay busy during the period of time we’re waiting.

Well, that hasn’t been an issue so far.

Right after we activated our crazy summer schedule kicked in. We had our annual Flag Day party one weekend and the very next weekend we hosted a co-ed bridal shower.

Our friends Kate and Ed are getting married in October and Don and I are both in the wedding party. Maid of Honor, Clare, and I planned a very cool Stock the Bar party for the happy couple who are both craft cocktail connoisseurs.

First, there was the Rickey bar.

Oh, Rickey. You're so fine.


What’s a Rickey? Well, I’m so glad you asked.

You're so fine you blow my mind.


We also featured other classic cocktails like Dark ‘N Stormys, Pimm’s Cups, Moscow Mules and fabulously dangerous gin punch.

As you can see on the Rickey bar sign above, there was a definite art deco vibe going on at this party. The black and white accents were hard to miss.

The bar was stocked at this Stock the Bar party.


Scattered around the party were these easy centerpieces – just an assortment of white flowers in liquor bottles.

Seven centerpieces made from pretty alcohol bottles


I love the way they turned out.

Adorning our mantle. Hey, isn't that a Nice Mirror back there?


Casey had a great time at the party, too.

Casey loves a good puppy den and will make one just about anywhere.


I’ve mentioned before that while I can rock party food and decor, planning party games is not my thing. Well, my losing streak might be over.

Kate and Ed love Cards Against Humanity, a party game billed as Apples to Apples for Horrible People.

**Warning: Before you click on the Cards Against Humanity link you should be aware that some of the responses are truly horrible.**

The guys who created Cards Against Humanity are so nice (not at all horrible) that they make the entire game available for free online (or you can buy a nice professional version of the game).

About a week before the shower, I had a great idea for the shower game. Cards Against Humanity: The Kate & Ed edition.

First, I printed out all the possible answers from the CAH website. I wrote the number “1″ on every card for the first sheet of answers, number “2″ on the second and so forth, and then cut each card out. In the end I had 23 answer packs each with 20 possible answers.

Then I created new questions pertinent to the situation. Questions included:

  • Until she married him, Kate had no idea Ed had a thing for ______________________.
  • Ed was sure to dress carefully for the wedding to avoid _______________________.
  • When  Kate pictured her wedding night, she couldn’t help but wonder about ____________________.
  • The thing that surprised Ed most about his honeymoon was _______________________.
  • Years later, when people spoke of Kate and Ed’s wedding, they always mentioned the ____________________.

I hung the 12 questions around the house with an envelope below each sign. As guests arrived they were given an answer pack and told to remember only their number. Then they just had to roam around the house choosing their best answer for each question and placing them in the envelopes below the questions.

I can’t remember all the winning combos, but here are a couple of possibilities:

  • Until she married him, Kate had no idea that Ed had a thing for soup that is too hot.
  • Ed was sure to dress carefull for the wedding to avoid peeing a little bit.
  • When Kate pictured her wedding night, she couldn’t help but wonder about the miracle of childbirth.
  • The thing that suprised Ed most about his honeymoon was all you can eat shrimp for $4.99.
  • Years later, when people spoke of Kate and Ed’s wedding, they always mentioned the Care Bear stare.

Later when Kate and Ed opened gifts, we read the questions and answers in between gifts. Kate and Ed picked the answer they liked best and announced the number written on the back. The owner of the most winning numbers got a bottle of gin.

I have never laughed so hard during a shower game. It’s a great option for people who aren’t likely to be into traditional shower games. If the CAH answers are a little too edgy for your crowd, just use the answers from Apples to Apples. It will be every bit as funny:

  • When Kate pictured her wedding night, she couldn’t help but wonder about Regis Philben.
  • Years later, when people spoke of Kate and Ed’s wedding, they always mentioned the charging rhinos.

Incidentally, both versions of the game work equally well for a baby shower:

  • Mama’s name did not expect to find ____________________ on the maternity ward.
    (CAH answer: A monkey smoking a cigar, A2A answer: Richard Simmons)
  • Some say the baby looks like mom. Some vote for dad. Most think the baby looks like ___________.
    (CAH answer: Brittany Spears at 55, A2A answer: Elvis Presley)

The last thing you need to know about Kate and Ed’s Stock the Bar party is that I made these whiskey caramels as the party favor gifts. They. Are. Amazing.

Seriously. You should go make some right now.

Have you thrown any showers lately? What games did you play?

In Which Casey Gets a New Nest

28 Apr

When we brought home our little Casey we were pleased to learn he had been crate trained. Since we both work full time away from home and since puppies have small bladders, we knew a crate would be necessary to help with Casey’s house training and to keep him safe. We have a dog walker who comes in twice a day, but it’s really much better for everyone if Casey stays in a crate during the day in between walks when he’s all alone.

The only thing I didn’t love about the crate-trained puppy was the actual crate. Those things are not cute. They serve a purpose, but that purpose is not beauty.

Casey's original crate. Functional, but not so pretty.

Because we had been planning for Casey for a long time, I had already pinned a few things I liked for our “one day dog”. Among them was a an awesome dog tag reading, “If you can read this, I will lick you.” But most of them were cozy little bed ideas.

Like this one:


And this:


Also this:


As it turned out, despite all that planning and research, we found a dog much sooner than expected and we had not purchased a crate. We were pleased to learn, however, that Casey was already crate trained, even though he was just 10-weeks old.

We hopped on Craig’s List and found a good deal on a wire crate in the first couple of days Casey was home and he seemed to like it well enough. But, as you can see above, wire crates are just not very pretty.

So we kept looking on Craig’s List and, a few days ago, a listing appeared for a large wooden crate, suitable for use as furniture.

Our next Craig's List score was this wooden crate used for just a few weeks by its previous occupant. It was half the price of getting one like this brand new.

The crate had barely been used, but the dog who had it first was much larger than Casey. A golden doodle it would seem. This is sort-of a problem because when crate training a dog you only want the crate to be long enough for the dog to lay fully extended, tall enough for him to stand and wide enough for him to fully turn around. This crate is big enough for Casey to have a party for all his puppy friends.

Even though the large size is not ideal, we jumped on it anyway because this baby was half the price of getting one brand new.  Plus, Casey likes his crate and he’s never given us any indication that he might soil it. So we figured as long as we put in a bed big enough to cover the whole bottom we won’t have a problem.

We brought it home on Thursday night and on Saturday I went out in search of a bigger bed for Casey’s new nest. That was a lot harder than I expected. Sure, there are lots of big dog beds out there, but Casey likes to sleep with his head propped up on something. His small dog bed has sides that he uses, but most of the bigger dog beds are like big, cozy pillows. Finally I found one that looks like it has an arm rest on one end – perfect for a puppy head prop.

He seems to like his new nest and I’m much happier with the way it looks.

Casey in his new nest. See the head the rest in the back? We might move it to the front at some point, but for now it's too tall for him to climb over.

The old wire crate went up into our bedroom where we had been using what I called Casey’s sleeping bag – a soft-sided number that we found hard to zip up and contain him. Every morning he would get that bag moving across the floor and sometimes we’d find he had managed to move it about a foot before we let him out.

I have plans for getting the wire crate out of our bedroom at some point, but it’s really ambitious.

For example:

Source: via Susan on Pinterest

Or this:

Source: via Susan on Pinterest

Another nice one:

Source: via Angela on Pinterest

And this one, which is possibly my favorite:

Source: via Jennifer on Pinterest

Our bedroom is on the second floor of a Cape Cod style house so we do actually have some space in the eaves that would accommodate such a house for Casey. In fact, during the remodel we talked to the contractor about making that space usable. Unfortunately, like so many other things with that project, he failed to follow up and the walls were closed in. Handy Don will be able to open them up in the future though. We’re just not eager to start remodeling again so soon.