Sunday, January 9, 2011

The New Year

Another year has come and gone. With a new year comes new adventures. We start our upstairs project on our home this month. I couldn't be more excited. We also start the birthday celebrations once more. With most of us having early year birthdays, the James family spent the evening at Shogun for a great time. Miles and Henry absolutely loved it. Layla, not so much. Once she was on her daddy's lap though, she was able to feel a little more comfortable.

With the new year, we also received a new Crash. Stray Rescue sent us a dog trainer to help us figure out if Crash could ever learn to love cats. We were told that he does has a strong prey instinct and what we thought was social issues was actually the drive to kill. After a little work, the trainer was able to get Crash calm in a room with the cats. We then had our homework. We have worked with him every day since her visit. We had a breakthrough yesterday. On a whim, we decided to bring Rocky out of the room and have them in the same room together. There was a starring contest between Rocky and Crash. Rocky won! Crash within minutes laid down and fell asleep. A great step in the direction of becoming our dog. Still a lot of work to do with the cats, but we can see progress for now. Crash is a very sweet loving animal who does well around other dogs, people, and kids. He just has kitty issues. So the work continues, but this time with much more hope.

I have begun my busy season at work, which means longer hours. Although I enjoy the tax season, I do look forward to spring when I can spend more time at home again. Ryan is busy with work as well. It seems our weekends just fly by with little time to enjoy just being home together. But we know our hard work now will result in more time together at home later. We both have big plans this year for our careers, so we are excited to see what will happen and which roads will open up for us.

We look forward to this new year and can't wait to see what else is in store for us.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our House

Last fall we made the decision to purchase a home. I already own a house in STL, but with Ryan's job in Southern IL it made sense for us to purchase there. After much consideration of areas, we settled on Edwardsville for our home hunt.

I don't know how many houses we ended up looking at, but I know the search went on for several months. At times I would go by myself to look at homes because there were so many we were contemplating. In October of 2009, I looked at a home that I had been avoiding due to the awful pictures of the kitchen, but finally became so intrigued, I had to check it out. The moment I walked in to this home, I felt like I had come home. As much about this house that I disliked, there were 100 other reason I loved it. So, I decided to bring Ryan to see it.

As I anticipated, he walked in, saw the drop ceiling and office overhead lighting in the kitchen and hated the house. But, as he walked thru some of the other rooms, he could see how amazing this house was. So, the search continued. For months!!! We looked at several homes more than once, including the home I loved.

One day, our agent, who was fantastic, took us to a house in a neighborhood we liked that had a view of the lake. We walked around the home thinking of all the things we would change. It was a possibility. We went home that night and made a list of homes we were considering. And for comparison purposes only, I included the home I loved. I even stated that I knew it wasn't on the "buy list" but because it had the charm we were looking for, we should use that to compare.

The next morning Ryan called me and told me he was ready to put an offer on a house. I asked which one. To my surprise, it was the home I loved! All in all, we had looked at the home 4 times, and he said after the last house we saw, it just clicked for him exactly what we wanted.

Despite the work that still needs to be done, we are in love with our home. We have lived here for 11 months and have enjoyed every moment. We have entertained in our home, made some small changes, and have started some of the bigger projects.

January should be a busy one with the largest project taking a major step forward. We look forward to the following year as we make this house our home and complete our projects.

Twas the Day After Christmas

Our Christmas Day has come and gone so quickly. This year we hosted the James Family Christmas in our house, marking the 99th Christmas this home has seen. We enjoyed every moment, even the stressful ones, of having my family here for the holidays and look forward to next year.

Our holiday season started with our decision to foster Crash from Stray Rescue of St. Louis. Our hope is to eventually adopt him, but he has to understand first that the cats are a part of this family.

We got our first real Christmas tree together. Like the Grinch's heart in the end, this tree was about 4 sizes too big for our home, but it really helped make our Griswald Christmas quite the success.

We were so blessed to spend quality time with both of our families this holiday season. Our James family meal was a huge success as Ryan attempted beef tenderloin and rocked it. Ryan received his PS3 this year and I received my coveted boots. Ryan also purchased a small sewing machine for me to start trying on little projects for the home.

My goal is to be able to start a little side business and hopefully eventually be able to generate enough income to where I could work from home mainly. We have so many ideas for small business' that we have put on hold due to our busy lifestyle, but we're hoping that with the completion of our upstairs our lives will come together a little more.

As we packed up the Christmas decorations today and took our gigantic tree outside, we realized how blessed we are to have our families and friends to celebrate the holidays with. We have loved these past 11 months of entertaining in our home and with such a successful Christmas, we look forward to another fantastic year of having friends and family in to our home.

We have so many items on our agenda for this upcoming year. We are so thankful for the love and support of our families and all the help from our friends. Here's to another fantastic holiday season and a fresh start to the New Year.

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 17, 2010

Crash Course 101

Ryan and I have spent the past couple of years researching dog breeds and dog training waiting for the right moment to adopt our own dog together. With busy work schedule and 2 large cats we wanted to make sure we could handle the physical, emotional, and financial responsibilities that come along with being great parents to a dog.

After a visit to Stray Rescue a dog found us. Crash came to stay with us on a Rent-a-Pet basis and we are now fostering him with the hopes to eventually adopt him if he can learn to love our cats.

Crash has now been in our home for 3 weeks. He has had outstanding progress in every area, except for our cats.

Some of the commands he knows:
Mine - when we want him to know he is not allowed to play, eat, or take anything that is not his
Bed - we just put a blanket on the floor of Ryan's home office and whenever we want him to relax we will tell him bed and he goes and lays down
Crate - when its time for a nap, bed, or to eat, we tell him crate and he goes downstairs and sits in his crate until we tell him release
Release - he waits so patiently for his food until we tell him release

With our first snow, we learned how much Crash LOVES the snow. He is a true puppy in the snow. How can you not think he is a-dorable!!!

The Holiday Season

The holiday favorite time of the year. So many wonderful things have happened this holiday season. I did some of the best bargain shopping ever, we found our Griswald Christmas tree, and we are fostering a wonderful sweet dog that we hope we can adopt.

Earlier this year I started helping out at Stray Rescue just walking the dogs a few times. I decided to take Ryan there the week before Thanksgiving, because the experience is so rewarding. There were so many wonderful dogs we had the pleasure of walking. We were fortunate enough to walk Carlos, although he was not a fan of Ryan. He just felt a little nervous with him, but I was so happy to get to spend a little time with Carlos. We were just about done with our visit when we headed down to the last crate and saw this dog in it by himself. He looked so sweet and happy to see us. Ryan at first didn't want to walk him, because he felt bad there wasn't a dog for us both to walk. I told him that was all the more reason to walk him.

So, Ryan went in the crate and put his leash on and we headed out. He was so excited and sweet. A few minutes in to his walk, I decided I would put my leash on him as well so that way we could walk him together. Suddenly, this dog, this stray, became this perfect little leash walker. And Ryan at that point started to fall in love with this 60 lb puppy. As we took him back to his crate I could tell Ryan was becoming attached to this dog.

I knew there was a chance, after a few years of research, learning about proper training techniques, and long discussions that this dog could soon come to live with us. As we stood there and spent a little time with him in his crate we were able to learn about his past and how Stray Rescue worked. His name is Crash. When Stray Rescue was out trying to rescue another dog, they happen to see this big beauty get hit by a car. Fortunately, they were able to get to him and save him. And that is how he got his name.

After a few days of talking about it, we decided to take Crash on a Rent-a-Pet for a weekend. And that following Saturday he was brought to our house. After only a few hours we realized how great of a dog Crash really was. He is so easy to teach and was looking for his pack leader. By the end of the day we had taught him new commands. But, he did have one drawback...he didn't seem to understand the cats were a part of the pack already and he has to share his possible new home with them. So we made the decision to foster him while we continue to work with him in hopes that he will soon learn to loves our cats and we can be one big happy family. We went in to this with the understanding that although we would love to keep Crash, either way we were helping him to find a forever home.