Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Farewell, My Sweet Pup

Dear Jackopea,

It is hard for me to imagine what life will be like without you.  For six years, you have been an integral part of my life.  You have become a part of me, and now that part is missing.  I am devastated, to say the least.

We picked you up from Family Dogs New Life Shelter on June 10, 2006.  I had been wanting a dog for ages but Ricky didn't.  When he saw your picture he told me he'd be happy to get a dog, as long as it was THAT dog - meaning you.  I'll be honest, you weren't my first pick.  I was hoping for an older, mellower dog, and mellow was not at all a word I'd use to describe you in those early years!  But I wanted a dog more than anything, so home we went.

It took a while for us to all adjust to each other.  I was frustrated with you in the beginning.  You followed me everywhere and got into everything.  I thought about taking you back to the shelter.  I even talked to Ricky about taking you back.  I talked to the shelter about what a difficult time I was having and Lisa gave me some ideas.  And then...I read your file.

You were found on the street as a puppy in October of 2005.  You estimated birthday was May of the same year.  The family that found you took you home and named you Spaz.  Then, in December of 2005 they took you to Multnomah County Animal Services and Shelter.  They said they couldn't handle you anymore.  You were too barky and you knocked over the kids.  We found out later from Lisa that they kept you outside all the time and put you in your kennel for punishment.

Sometime between December and February you were transferred to Family Dogs.  A new family adopted you.  They kept you for 4 months, then brought you back.  The woman showed up at the shelter and said "here, you take him" and left, leaving you standing in the lobby.  Is it any wonder you had an aversion to the place and would run past it as fast as possible on our bike rides?!  That second family changed your name from Spaz to Jacko, and the name stuck.

By the time we came along, you were one year old.  We were your third family in 8 months.  After reading your story, I knew there was no way I was going to take you back to the shelter.  Somehow, someway, we'd work it out.  In fact I looked into your eyes and told you that I wouldn't give you up.  Six years later, I still mean it - I won't give you up, my sweet, sweet pup.

We had a lot of great times together.  You loved bike rides - so much so that we couldn't even say the words around you until we were ready to go!  I'll never forget when we realized you knew what the phrase "bike ride" meant.  I'll also never forget when I realized just how much you could understand.  I told you I was tired and that we weren't going for a bike ride today.  "Not today," I said, and you proceeded to mope around the house like you'd lost your best friend.  "Tomorrow," I said, and sure as shootin', the next day you danced around the bike until I finally took you.  That was also the day I learned that the theory that dogs don't remember things was wrong, at least in your case.

Sometimes we'd take you for a run downtown.  We'd go to the fountain at Salmon Street and you'd play.  You loved that fountain, but only one of it's settings.  When the other settings were going, you couldn't care less about playing, but as soon as the "hose" setting of the fountain came on, you were giddy with excitement.    Of course, it was a long way for a pup to run to get to that fountain, and the first time we took you we thought we broke you!  You hardly moved for the next two days!

Ricky and I took you lots of places.  We took you to the Starlight Parade and to the Milwaukie Daze parade.  We went to lots of different dog parks - you even got to play in a really cool dog park in Bend once.  One time we went to Lew's Dari-Freeze with Mom and Dad, and you got your very own soft serve ice cream cone.

You knew a lot of words, and a lot of tricks.  You came to us knowing sit, lay down, and shake.  Ricky taught you to speak - and then you never shut up again!  Boy, did we regret that one.  We also taught you left and right, wave, jump, sing, go around, off, and I'm sure there were others.  Of course, our favorite trick to show off was "bang!"  We'd point our finger at you like a gun and say "BANG!" and then you'd fall over and play dead.  Everyone loved that trick and you loved to show it off.  Of course, you could only pretend to be dead for a few seconds before your tail would start thumping.  You sure loved that attention!

When we first bought this house, we brought you here a lot while we worked on it.  Each day we'd come to the house, do some work, play in the backyard and then go home.  The first night we stayed here for good, you started whining in the evening.  We couldn't figure out what was wrong.  Finally we realized - you thought it was time to go home.  It took a few days for you to realize we WERE home.

In March 2011 we brought Cody home.  He's a crazy, spastic dog who must be slightly ADD.  Ok, more than slightly.  You loved him and loved to play with him, but sometimes you got frustrated with him.  Cody, for his part, followed you everywhere (hey, payback, right?!).  When you wanted time away from Cody, you'd trick him.  If you went to the door as if you wanted to go out, Cody would too.  As soon as Ricky or I opened the door, Cody would head outside while you bolted back to the bedroom.  You always were too smart for your own good.

There were so many great times, and this has already gotten too long.  Mostly I want you to know that I loved you so, so much.  You were my first baby, and you'll always be my favorite (don't tell Cody).  I miss you more than I can tell you.  Coming home tonight was hard.  Not hearing your tail thumping against the wall of your kennel sent me into a tail spin.  I don't know how I'm going to do life without you, my companion.  The unconditional love, the complete trust and total adoration you showed me has been ingrained on my heart forever.  You were well loved, pup, and now you are sorely missed..

Bedtime won't be the same without you, Jacko-pea.  No one to snuggle, no one to sneak in between Ricky and me, no one to growl at me when I wake him up by changing positions in bed.  My heart is aching, but I am glad you were able to live a full and happy life.  You got to go for your last bike ride with Ricky just a couple of weeks ago, and for that I am so thankful.  You looked so happy flying down the road, and I have to believe you knew how much we loved you.

Goodbye, my faithful friend.  You were so much more than a dog, and you will be missed for always.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


A couple of weeks ago, Ricky and I realized we needed to get out of town for a couple of days.  We were a  point where we couldn't relax at home anymore - there's too much to do and anytime we sat down to rest we were thinking "Oh boy, I should be doing _____________."  So we decided to head out of town.

We both love the beach and find it to be one of the most peaceful, relaxing places on earth.  We also enjoy camping.  An added bonus of camping is that it's not nearly as expensive as hotels at the beach during the summer.  So, we packed up our stuff and headed to Cape Lookout State Park in Tillamook, Oregon.

It was a wonderful, relaxing time.  Sleeping outside with the sound of the ocean from just over the berm was delightful.  Cooking over the fire always tastes better than cooking on a stove.  And of course, there was the general fact that we had no place we had to go, no schedule to keep, nothing we had to do besides sit around the fire and relax.

Unfortunately, our vacation was short lived.  We only got to be away for two nights.  However, it was exactly what we needed to refresh and re-energize.  We're back home now, much more able to cope with the things that daily life throws at us.  We're also planning another beach escape for later in the summer!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Workin' 'Round the Ol' Homestead

We've been doing a lot of work around this place!

Yesterday I pressure washed our picnic table in preparation of painting it and making it nice and new looking.  I don't know how old it is - it was a hand me down from a family friend - but it was showing some age so I decided to give it a makeover.  I'll post photos once I'm done.

We also built a new fence yesterday.  The neighbors got new dogs and Jacko had been going crazy trying to get to them.  He figured out that if he pushed hard enough on the fence slats, he could pop them off the rails and get his fat butt into the neighbor's yard!  We had to remedy that as quickly as possible, so we built a fence on our side that is both stronger and with rails facing out, so he can't push his want into the neighbor's yard anymore.

Today was another productive day.  Ricky pressure washed and resealed our beautiful stamped concrete.  With all of the rain, mud, and wrestling that goes on, the seal was wearing quickly and we wanted to preserve the beautiful look of our concrete.  Now it looks as good as the day it was first sealed, nearly a year ago!

Our patio the day it was finished, September 2011

As if that weren't enough, we took the dogs to the dog park.  Once the patio is sealed, no one can walk on it for 24 hours, which means the pups can't go in the backyard except on a leash and out the side door.  We took them to the park so they could run around and have fun as a break between a morning and evening of cooped-up-ness.  Fearful of what a bike ride would do to Jacko's heart, I drove him while Ricky took Cody on the bike.  Apparently we should have been more concerned for Cody!  He was pretty shaky and worn out when they got there, so when it was time to go home we switched.  Cody rode in the truck with me and Jacko got to go for a (slow) bike ride home.  As you can imagine, he was in hog heaven.  Bike rides are few and far between for him now, so this was an extra special treat.

Add to that the 1 million loads of laundry I've done and it's been a pretty good weekend for us!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Ch-ch-ch-chia pet pudding!

I stumbled on a recipe for coconut mango "tapioca" the other day and had to try it.  Instead of tapioca, this recipe uses chia seeds.  Yes, the same chia seeds that you use to grow a chia pet.  Turns out these seeds have a high nutritional value.  They're full of omega-3 fatty acids and loaded with fiber.  Awesome!

The pudding, which can be found here on Skinnytaste, is pretty tasty.  It makes quite a bit - maybe 1.5-2 cups worth? - and serves 2, so you get a good amount in a portion.  I prefer warm puddings, so when I tried it right out of the fridge I didn't like it.  I tried warming it in the microwave but it got too runny that way.  Instead, I let it sit out and come to room temp.  That was perfect.  Sweet, creamy, delicious.

Next time I am going to put more coconut in it.  My mom also had the idea of layering it with various fruits for a fruit parfait.  I'm thinking pineapple, mango...what other tropical type fruits could I use?  Anyway, for a 3 points plus treat it was quite delicious!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Most Important Meal of the Day

I have long been a fan of breakfast.  I'm not sure when or why it started, but breakfast is easily my favorite food group, if you can call it a food group.  From Lucky Charms and Trix (thank you, grandparents) to pancakes, waffles and eggs benedict, I have an affinity for breakfast foods and could easily eat them every meal.

I am not, however, a morning person.  I'm more of a brunch girl, if we're being honest.  I love a nice big "breakfast" of pancakes, eggs, fruit - the works - somewhere around 10 am.  Work, on the other hand, starts at 7, which presents a real problem for this night owl.

Recently I realized that I needed to come up with better breakfast solutions.  I was eating far too much sodium between the instant oatmeals and store-bought breakfast burritos.  Not to mention, that gets expensive!  I decided I needed to find ways to have breakfast that I make without having to get up any earlier.

Enter my new obsession, the pre-made breakfast.

I did a lot of googling, pinteresting, and more googling and found several breakfast recipes that freeze and reheat well.  I also found recipes that are meant to be enjoyed cold.  I've been making this and stocking our freezer with them.  They're homemade, meaning I know every ingredient that goes into them, and healthy.   Some of my favorites are

Refrigerator Oatmeal from The Yummy Life
Cream Cheese Pancakes from I Breathe...I'm Hungry
3-2-1 Custard from The Greenbacks Gal

Finding these recipes has really made a difference for me.  I love that I can have hot pancakes in the morning without having to stand over the griddle.  Truly, 1 minute in the microwave and they're just as good as when I pulled them out!  The refrigerator oatmeals are grand, especially when it's already 80 degrees in the morning.    I also love that I have variety at my fingertips.  I am definitely not one who can eat the same breakfast every day.  I love breakfast and I love variety, and I love that these make ahead recipes allow me to have both without too much stress in the mornings.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Six months? How did that happen?

Somehow I managed to let 6 months go by without a post.  I thought about posting, but never seemed to have the time, energy, desire, motivation, inclination...whatever you want to call it.

Jacko and Cody are still with us.  Cody has only had 1 seizure since that first one, so he doesn't have to be on medication - yay!  Jacko is definitely slowing down.  His breathing is getting more and more labored and he can't play for long, but he doesn't seem unhappy or in pain.  Mostly what he wants to do is cuddle and chew on bones.  He's also discovered how to take the lid off the treat jar (told you he's smart).  He managed to empty the jar one and a half times before I discovered his new knowledge and moved the treats to where he can't get to them.

We recently went through a strike at my job.  I have never been through one before and I hope to never do it again.  It is easily one of the worst experiences of my life.  On the flip side, we discovered just how tight our staff is and how different we are from some of the other schools.  Our staff gets along very well, and the strike just highlighted how much we care about each other and our students.

My Advanced Theatre class produced two successful plays this year.  We opened with The Phantom Tollbooth in February and ended the year with The Jungle Book in May.  Unfortunately, The Jungle Book got overshadowed by all the strike goings on in the district and attendance was less than satisfying.  It's sad, too, because several people said it was our best show yet.

Ricky is still working nights, and I have just 3 student days left at school, plus two staff workdays after that.  Then I have about a month off before the Chinese kids get here!  After that, my cousin is coming to visit to celebrate his high school graduation.  This is the baby of the family, the last of us to graduate high school.

In the meantime, I'm trying to get back into shape again, still, whatever.  My current obsession is make ahead breakfasts. I've been trying lots of recipes and will post them soon, with reviews.

So, that's about it.  Six months in a nutshell.  I'll try to be better about posting, but no guarantees.  It might help if I had some specific things to write about.  Any suggestions?