Sunday, December 30, 2007

Simba, the prairie dog

We've had Simba for a little over a week now and he's a total cutie-pie! He doesn't have quite as many quirks as Austin did, although he does have a few. Simba is a yellow (very American) lab about 2 yrs old. His previous owners were having a child (unsure if it was their first or second) and felt they couldn't give him the time he needed. *sigh* I wish people treated their dogs less like disposable creatures and more like members of their family; however that could just be unfair since I have no idea what their situation was like...besides I digress, time to get off my soap-box.

Anyways Simba is an incredibly sweet dog that thinks he's a wookie and a prairie dog. He loves playing with Pete, they have some pretty good wrestling matches and you should see them zoom around the yard playing chase. Without Pete in the house, I think Simba would be more annoying to people about playing but he gets his energy out with the dogs and just comes to us for affection. He has the softest fur, a lot like Herbie and Harper had, so he's pretty fun to pet. If you stop petting him or just aren't giving him enough attention, he'll put his paw on your hand. If you still continue to ignore him, he'll stand up on his haunches with both front paws on your hand/arm and just stare at you. This would be his prairie dog impression. Simba has great balance since he'll do this until you give him the attention he so richly deserves. Course if he can't reach you to prairie dog, then he'll make soft wookie noises at you instead. It's humorous how much he sounds like Chewie sometimes; Mike and I just stare at Simba and start laughing.

Given the chance, Simba would hop on the couch and bed but Pete makes it pretty clear those are his territories now so Simba only gets on the empty couch sporadically and only on the bed in the morning when we call him up for his morning scritches. He moves to a different foster home on saturday but he's quite enjoyable while he's been here. I've even heard Mike state that if we weren't seriously thinking of adopting Pete, he'd be tempted by Simba. I have a feeling that Simba will be an easy one to adopt out in 2008.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Look Ma, one of each color!

We've had Austin for almost two weeks now and we're going to be moving him tomorrow to get Simba. I meant to blog about him earlier but since I never got around to taking any pictures, I kept putting it off. Mike finally took a couple of snapshots of him last night so I have no further excuses.

Austin is a 1.5-yr old yellow lab, surprisingly calm for a puppy. He is extremely cute but his face doesn't seem quite labbish. His face is rather wide, the eyes are a little further apart then most labs, and his ears are too small and they don't lie flat like the typical lab. We're not sure if he's mixed with something or if he was just a badly bred lab. Either way he is still quite cute.

He's a relatively easy foster except that he's a bit skittish about noises and new people. He'll bark like mad when he meets new people and takes about 5 minutes before he'll approach them. He'll also bark at various noises in the house (heat turning on, door closing, noises from the other room). Thank goodness he's finally settled down a bit and doesn't bark quite as much as he used to. Austin does love to steal toys/bones/balls from other dogs. It doesn't matter how many identical toys are on the floor, he wants the one in the other dog's mouth. Max seems to actually enjoy that game and will play keep-away by swinging his head away from Austin. Strangely enough Austin is the first dog that Max has actively played/wrestled with in a long time. They had some nice bang-up sessions around the family room, right up until Max lunges onto the couch (usually with one of us already on it).

So things were moving right along, then we got a call on Monday from Pete's family. They were giving Pete back to LRR because he started suffering from separation anxiety (eating the crate, the carpet, anxiety, etc). Since none of the foster homes ever noticed the problem, we're assuming it's because Pete needs another dog around if no one is at home. Pete's family knew they could not get a second dog, nor did they want to medicate him. Lastly, separation anxiety is so tough to work on, they knew if it continued further Pete might have permanent issues. So as difficult as the decision was, they gave Pete back because they knew it was the best thing for Pete. We felt so awful for the couple, they loved this little guy so much. So Pete is now back here with us.

Since we liked Pete so much the last time he was here, we're giving some serious thoughts to adoption. We have two weeks to make a decision before anyone else can see Pete. We plan to take him to the dog park and see how he does. He's adjusted to our household (and our couches and our bed) pretty quickly. We've noticed he does have some touches of dominance with other dogs (not with Max....yet). This will be new for us since the last three dogs we've had were all quite submissive.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Petey goes bye-bye

We had Pete's adoption today, so he now has new parents. This was the first time we've met them since they visited Pete at his previous foster home. They definitely seem like good dog people who will be really good for Pete. I think they'll provide Pete with the proper boundaries but will also love taking him for walks. Their previous dog had a lot of issues with other dogs so they always had to be on high-alert when walking and couldn't take their dogs to any dog social area. With Pete, they are really excited about taking him around the community and visiting other dogs/people. The cool thing is they live pretty close to my sister and like visiting her community area so I'll have to tell Jen to keep an eye out for Pete when she's out.

I've definitely bonded with Pete while he's been here, and he with me. He has a lot of great characteristics plus he's just a fun-loving puppy that has the perfect amount of energy. I'm gonna miss him, but I think Max is quite happy to be the only child again. Since we've had Pete, I've noticed Max withdrawing a bit even though the two of them got along so well. I think Max immediately takes the omega position when other dogs are in the house so he doesn't get on the bed or couch without some coaxing. Unfortunately I don't know how that will work when we find a second dog to adopt. We don't want Max to think he's being ousted but only one dog in the house just isn't enough. Hopefully the problem will work itself out when we find out perfect second dog.

Birthday stash!

The stitching girls (ahem...women) got together on thursday to celebrate my birthday (belated). With everyone really busy with holidays and life, it's always tough to celebrate everyone's birthday at the right time, so we get together when we can.

This year I got some great stuff from everyone which makes starteritis a big issue (ok, a bigger issue than usual). In the stitching area, I got a 2-yr subscription to an online stitching magazine which is cool! First, it's all online so when a new issue is released, I get an email, then I just go download the issue and only print out the patterns I like. The internet is cool! I also got two great patterns: Autumn Fairy Spirit and Stained Glass Tabletopper. I also got the specialty fibers for two Liz Turner Diehl patterns I have (from Sue who ALREADY gave me 25 skeins of yarn for my afghan!). Jenni gave me a whole handful of stuff: the Peacock Feathers shawl I've been drooling over, then she also included 2 hanks of Peacock green laceweight yarn AND a pair of circular knitting needles I could use! It's funny that the two best gifts I gotten this year are both for knitting stuff.

The timing is great since I just finished my Angel Lace Shawl so as soon as I finish my second afghan square I'll be starting the Peacock shawl. What a great haul this year!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Black Friday shopping

We're hooked on xbox 360, it's a horrible horrible addiction with so many great games out, but it's a lot of fun. Since the 360 has been out for over a year, there are a lot of great titles out there, plus really good ones coming out all the time (unlike the PS3). We've already got several good games we're playing (and some we haven't even started) but there was a sale at Target we just couldn't resist.

A good friend of mine is quite a gamer and knows the type of games I enjoy. He highly recommend Orange Box as something I'd like. Orange Box contains 5 games: Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Chap 1, Half-Life 2: Chap 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2. Half-Life games are shooters, but with quite an immersive story-line, unlike Halo. Portal is an extremely interesting puzzle game. I decided it would be a great (belated) birthday gift but I was waiting for a sale from Best Buy before getting it. Mike is a big racing fan, and is currently playing Project Gotham Racing 3 (PGR3). PGR4 has been released for a month or so, but he wanted to wait on buying it since he wasn't finished with PGR3, plus it would be a birthday or christmas present for him.

Imagine our surprise when I open the Target circular and find out that both Orange Box and PGR4 are on sale for $48 (regularly $60) after Thanksgiving. We decided to brave the crowds since we wanted these games. We headed to the Target in Reston at 9am, surprisingly there were absolutely no crowds at all. The Target was no busier than a typical saturday or sunday morning. We were in and out of there in about 5 minutes with the games in our grubby sweaty little hands.

I've already opened Orange Box and started Half-Life 2. It is quite fun, but I really need to hone my shooting skills...I suck! Portal is very very cool, I find myself thinking of solutions at the oddest times of the day on puzzles I'm stuck on. Mike is going to wait to start PGR4, but that's because he has more willpower than I do.

Third time's the charm - too late

We've got our third chocolate foster in a row now. We've had Maddy, Brownie (only for one week so I never blogged about her), and now Pete. Pete is an extremely cute 1.5 yr old chocolate male. He has one of the cutest faces we've ever seen, and he's very very good for a puppy (mentally labs stay puppies till about 4 yrs of age). He's pretty small, around 60 lbs, he loves to hang around people, and he can entertain himself quite well. He'll take a stuffed toy, throw it around, chase after it, and just run around. Pete is fantastic, even gets along with Max and they play tug-o-war with towels (or my shirt...whatever is more convenient). Unfortunately Pete was seen by a couple right before we got him and they've decided to adopt him. Unfortunate because Mike and I really like this dog and would have seriously thought about adopting him ourselves.

He fits in perfectly in this household - loves the couches, people, and just hanging around. He is a little more active than Max, but not so active that it drives us nuts. Pete is fantastic around kids, adults, and other dogs. We took him to the dog park this morning but he seemed more interested in smelling and marking the perimeter than actually playing with other dogs. He did do a little interacting, but much less than we expected.

We only have him for one more week until the adoption, but I plan on enjoying him the entire time.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving yums

This has been a really great year for giving thanks for us. Not only is Mike in remission from Crohn's, but his last PET scan was all clear for Hodkins. We've spent lots of time together, went on a fantastic Mediterranean cruise and discovered the joys of xbox 360 (I'm still not sure if that's a good thing or bad).

This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving with both sides of the family. Unlike Jen and Din, who had Thanksgiving twice only a few hours apart (that has GOT to be filling), once with us, and once with Din's family; we had both sides of the family at our house to celebrate. So it was my parents, Jen, Din, my cousin, and Mike's mom, sister, her kids for a total of 11 of us.

Jen came over early on thursday to help cook...actually she did most of the side dishes, I took care of the turkey. I think that worked out great since she's got our Mom's gene for cooking (YUM) and I spent a lot less time running around ragged. I brined the turkey using Alton Brown's brining method, and we had stuffing, mashed potatoes, spinach casserole, green bean casserole, mac&cheese, bread, corn, and a couple of korean dishes that my mom and aunt brought over. I'm surprised our table didn't start groaning with all the weight. The turkey came out perfect this year, very juicy, tender, and flavorful, and the sides were all fantastic. Definitely great eats, and having a lot of the family here was actually quite enjoyable. The kids played some xbox, the parents chatted, we caught up with various family news. Given the chance, I would definitely do that again next year. I thought it would be a bit crazy, but it turned out wonderful.

Knit craze

I seem to have exchanged my stitching mojo into knitting mojo in the last couple of months. I've put away all my cross-stitch stuff and pulled out my knitting. Course I think Sue's birthday present to me had a lot to do with this sudden urge for knitting. She's seen me drool over the Great American Aran Afghan for over a year so she finally told me to pick out some yarn and bought me all the yarn I needed to complete this afghan for my birthday! So by the time 25 skeins of yarn came in, I was giddy with anticipation. I finished my first square (there are 24 total knit squares) after restarting the sucker more than a few times (gauge was wrong, knit too tight, read pattern incorrectly, etc). The advantage of re-doing the square a few times is by the fourth retry, I'm already familiar with the pattern so I'm whizzing through it pretty fast.

After I finished my first square, I thought I'd try making some socks with some sock yarn Cindy got for me a couple of years ago. It only took me about 2 weeks to finish a pair (with lots of breaks in between). I'm extremely proud of how well they turned out! Since they fit perfectly on Jen, I gave them to her since she loves all sorts of goofy socks. Now I've been told I have to make her more of them.

Now I'm trying to finish up a shawl, only about 13 more rows to go, but I really should be good, put down all my knitting and get started on my christmas ornament exchange. If I'm not careful, I may not get it done in time.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Halloween Christmas

In an earlier post, I mentioned the Halloween exchange I've participated in and the project I sent forward. Well, I got mine in the mail a few days ago and it was a doozy! Vicky sent me an amazing Halloween bell-pull! Unfortunately the picture doesn't quite do it justice, it is quite sparkly and gorgeous. I can't wait to hang it up for next year.

Vicky also sent me a whole lot of loot. I got a really cool Blue Ribbon Designs Halloween Sampler, some yummy Lindt chocolate, some hand-dyed fabric, and a LOT of gorgeous floss. Now I have to figure out how to use all this stuff but for now I think I'll just fondle it and dream.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Roughing it

Ok, we didn't *really* rough it much. Since we've both starting job hunting and (hopefully) will start working by mid-dec or early jan, we decided to take a short vacation away from the house. With the pretty leaves starting to sprout, we booked a cabin in Luray for a couple of days and took Max with us. The cabin had a fireplace, great view, and all the regular amenitites we could want. We spent a few hours at Shenandoah, drove Skyline Drive and hiked one of the trails (only 2 miles long). Max really enjoyed the hike, he was all over the place sniffing everything he could, and of course marking everything he could.

We spent a lot of time together at the cabin without interference from the internet, tv, xbox or the phone. We got to play some scrabble (yay, I won!), work on a puzzle together, read, talk, and sit in front of the fire. It's not like we were stressed and needed to get away, but it was nice to go someplace else and actually spend time together. The view was quite nice, the leaves were still colorful, and the weather was in the low-60s. Overall a relaxing fantastic couple of days.

Strangely, we think Max is more of a homebody than us. He seemed a bit off while we were at the cabin, we think he just likes being at home where he's used to his routine and all his comfort areas (dog beds, couches, bed).

Halloween exchange

This post is way overdo. I originally put it off because I had to wait for my recipient to receive the package, but after she got it, I just never got around to posting about it.

Back in late August, a group of us decided to do a halloween/finishing exchange. The idea was to stitching a halloween theme piece and actually finish it into something neat (ie ornament, biscornu, fob, needlecase, etc). I found a cute Lizzie Kate design so I stitched it and finished it into a box ornament. Finishing a project is always a bit scary since you don't want to mess up your stitching by doing a crappy job. In this case, Sue and I did our finishing together to give each other some encouragement. I'm quite pleased with how the whole thing turned out and mailed the finished box with a lot of neat goodies (stitching chart, chart pack, chocolates, and yarn) to my recipient.

Whew, next is my Christmas ornament exchange! I don't think I'm going to do as many exchanges this year. As soon as a project because an obligation I always lose interest!

Halloween for Max

Max has always been a bit of a chow-hound and will take advantage of situations where we've left food available. In the past, he's learned how to self-feed from the dog container and if we leave the pantry door open he'll eat whatever he can reach. We've learned to keep things off the counter, shut the pantry door, empty the open trash cans of candy/snack wrappers, etc. One of the places he's never gotten to is the middle of our kitchen table so we've placed items there to keep out of Max's reach. Right after Halloween, we had a large bucket full of candy left and we kept it on the kitchen table so we can randomly grab a snack when we wanted. Max had left it alone so we never worried about it (can you see where this is going...?). Last friday, I went out for some chores and came back a couple of hours later. I walked into the family room and noticed an empty skittles wrapper. Realizing that skittles wrapper used to be full of skittles and in the middle of the kitchen table, I walked back into the kitchen and realized Max had got between two chairs, put his front half on the table and slid the bucket of candy close enough wherein he began to graze like a horse out of the bucket. He must have had a fair share of candy because he left about 15 pieces in the bucket (and left the bucket on the kitchen table); however he had eaten about 50 pieces of halloween candy -- wrappers and all!

I was a bit worried about how all that sugar, chocolate, and wrappers would react inside of Max so I decided to keep an eye on him for the afternoon. If he took a turn for the worse, I would take him into the vet. He spent most of the time sleeping and wasn't in any discomfort. I knew he was perfectly fine when I was making my lunch and he came begging for food like nothing had happened. It took about 3 days but he finally started passing all the wrapper out which made picking up his poop REALLY interesting. Needless to say, we've stopped putting food on the kitchen table.

Friday, October 26, 2007

My pretty girl

Sheba crossed the Rainbow Bridge friday, 10/26/07 at 11am. She was 13.5 years old. I think Mike and I are reeling in shock since this was rather sudden. Sheba's been feeling poorly on and off since tuesday night. On tuesday evening she suddenly stopped walking, she could only take a few steps before collapsing and refusing to get up. On wednesday we called the vet but that evening she started feeling a lot better and by thursday she seemed to be almost back to normal. She was alert, walked around outside, and even fetched the ball a couple of times. Unfortunately by thursday evening she was suffering again, her stomach was a bit bloated, she didn't eat dinner, and seemed a bit out of it. We made a vet appt for fri afternoon, but took her to the emergency vet on friday morning because she had gotten significantly worse.

Sheba had a cancerous mass in her spleen that had ruptured and was leaking into her abdomen. The vet guessed that it started around tuesday but the body tried to clot the leak which is why she was feeling better on wednesday. After doing an ultrasound, they found a mass of tumors (hemangiosarcoma) on her spleen, major part of her liver, and on her abdomen covering. Even if they removed her spleen and patched her up, another mass would burst within a few weeks putting her back in the same situation. We had no choice but to let her go.

We were able to spend time with her until we were ready. She seemed more alert and curious about her surroundings. She even gave me a couple of kisses while we were all together and then it was over. I have no regrets, not even about waiting until friday morning because it gave me that much more time to spend with her.

I miss her terribly. I see her ghost everywhere I look. I see her lying on the ac vent cooling off, on the couch with her front legs hanging off and eyes watching for a hint of food, and laying on the dog bed with her head hanging off the end. It's strange not to hear her tail wag in the morning when we come downstairs or have her follow me into the bathroom.

I've had Sheba for almost 12 years, longer than I've even known Mike. Right out of college I wanted a dog and my sister's friend had a lab she could no longer take care of. When I first got Sheba she was the perfect little robot. She didn't beg, she heeled without a leash, didn't got into rooms without permission, extremely submissive--the perfect dog for some. It took me over 2 years to turn her into the mercenary spoiled diva she became. Everyone loved Sheba and she knew it. She had a wonderful face, great personality, and she was gentle with everyone. She shared her home with her brothers, Quinn then Max, and all the fosters that came into her house. Sheba was responsible for several small kids getting over their fear of dogs and learning to love dogs.

While all our dogs are special and wonderful, she will always have a special place in my heart.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wine party

Last weekend we had our second wine tasting party, this time with white wines. We didn't have quite as many attendees as our red wine party which was good for two reasons. First, it wasn't quite so crowded and people all had chairs this time (last time there were a lot of standers and floor-sitters). Second, I could pour more wine in each glass instead of just a smidgeon. Rules were the same as the last party, everyone brings a wine under $20 and the group winner gets a small prize. We decided on Lord of the Rings theme this time so Mike made a cool scoring sheet with various LotR references.

When we had sent evites out for the party, we noticed a bit of a trend on the responses back. Several people were undecided because they had to work out childcare issues so we decided that wouldn't do at all. We ended up hiring a neighborhood teen to watch the kids in the basement which turned out to be quite a success. Not only were more people able to attend, but the kids (six total) ended up having a blast in the basement (ping pong, twister, snacks, movie, other kids). I think we'll definitely use that idea in future parties.

We had a total of 11 different wines, the winner was Leonard Kreusch Piesporter Michelsberg wine. Apparently Ben (the bringer of the wine) took his wine tasting seriously this time and tried 6 different wines before deciding on bringing this one.

The party was a lot of fun for us, we got to see friends we haven't seen for a while (not working makes it harder to see people regularly). Now we just have to decide what our next party will be about....perhaps mixed drinks?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Miss Maddy

Maddy is our current chocolate foster. She's about 5 yrs old and has a fair bit of gray on her already. Even her eyebrows are gray which sometimes gives her an "angry" appearance. She definitely does not act old though.

Maddy is one of those all-around fitting dogs. Most of the rescue dogs have certain preferences (w/o other dogs, prefers dog, low-energy, likes children, etc) when we place them. Maddy seems to adjust to pretty much everything. Overall she's extremely mellow in our house because we tend to be low-energy. She's happy either finding a dog bed or laying right next to your seat for the occasional petting. She is very sweet and just loves people, she's also a HUGE licker and always goes straight for the face.

I think I'd like Maddy a lot more if she wasn't so pushy about attention for herself. I can give her tons of attention but as soon as I go to pet Sheba, Maddy is all over us and she's pretty intent on getting all the attention for herself. She'll wedge herself between Sheba and I, then wiggle her whole body to knock Sheba out of the way. If Sheba is laying on the ground while I'm petting her, Maddy will walk all over Sheba to get closer to me. Mike and I have taken to either keeping her at arm's length when we're petting Sheba or double-teaming her. One of us will keep Maddy occupied while the other one will pet Sheba. I guess I feel pretty protective about Sheba so anything that causes her more discomfort makes me upset.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Favorite thing in the world (currently)

Hard to believe earlier this year we were in the upper-80s, lower-90s since we're in the 60s now and it's gotten quite chilly especially getting into bed at night. As I was huddled under the sheets trying to get warm, I realized Sue was right, I needed a heated mattress pad. I figured I'd order one from L.L.Bean but lo and behold, Costco was selling them! It works great with dual-controls and pre-heat setting and they've come a long way from the electric blankets of my youth.

Having pre-warmed bedsheets is definitely a wonderful luxury and one I intend to keep using this entire winter.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Bye Herbie, Hello Maddy

We moved Herbie to a new foster home today and got Maddy (Madison) in exchange. Herbie has really grown on us in the past two weeks we had him. He's such a mellow, shy dog that he doesn't quite have a lot of personality (goofiness, affection, counter-surfing) that other foster labs have had; however some of his playfulness does start to come out after settling into the house.

I'm quite curious about his history because while he craves attention, he's not terribly affectionate. Unlike any other lab I've ever met, Herbie NEVER licks or gives kisses! He'll get close to us and sniff but the tongue never comes out. He never licked our dishes after dinner, even after watching our dogs. He sits as close to us as possible to get pet (and can get QUITE pushy about it), but he never just lays on us, or tries to climb into your lap, or any other lab-type behaviors.

Herbie is also the most submissive foster dog we've ever had. He's submissive even to Max! The most ridiculous is watching both of them submit to each other. They walk face to face, and both will turn their heads away and avoid eye contact. When Max play-bowed and pounced towards Herbie, Herbie ran to the far side of the room and hid --silly dog.

As long as he finds a home that wants to give him lots of attention and spoil him, I think his confidence will build (after all, Sheba had no personality until I spoiled her rotten). I do hope that is soon, he is a really sweet dog.

I'll post about Maddy in a week or so.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Knitting needle case

For years my knitting needles have been stored in a pillowcase jumbled together. I never really thought about it much other than when I had to find matching needles and realized what a hassle it was. Then one day a few months ago, Cindy pulled out this really cool knitting needle case. It had individual pockets to store her needles and rolled up to make it easy to carry around. I thought it was very cool but not enough to buy one for myself.

A couple weeks ago I found myself rummaging for needles again and realized I had to do something so I went online (I love the interweb) to see what I could buy for needle storage. I didn't find anything I liked until I found this site. This was perfect! Not only did it store various needle sizes but it also stored dpn (double pointed needles) and circulars. Course the only problem is that I had to make it myself.

After reading the tutorial at least a dozen times over a few days, I felt confident enough that I understood what needed to be done. Picked up some fabric from Joann's, borrowed Sue's sewing machine and got to work. It took literally all afternoon and evening to complete the case but I think I did a really good job. The only difference from the tutorial is the binding on the outside of the case, I felt it gave more stability and looked nicer. Hardest part was cutting the fabric and making sure everything was the correct size. Its definitely not perfect, but the binding covers a lot of the little mistakes. I'm extremely pleased because I created everything from fabric, including the bindings and ties and it only cost me about $10. More pictures of the completed needle case are here.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Herbie the love bug

We've had Herbie for about a week now. He's a great yellow lab, about 3 yrs old. He looks very similar to Harper, our previous foster so I would continually call Herbie Harper accidentally. Course I don't think Herbie knows his name yet so I'll just continue to confuse him while he's here with us.

Herbie has been very well-named by the rescue. All he wants to do is sit next to you and get lots of petting. He's got the arm-nudge down perfectly. If your hand is resting on your lap, he'll get his head under your arm and nudge it onto his head or neck for petting. He'll keep scooching closer until he is RIGHT next to you to make it easier for the petting. Herbie can get a bit annoying about the petting. Since our game chair is right at dog height (ie on the floor) he'll keep pushing at us while we game which gets very distracting.

No one knows his history. He wandered into the DC shelter with lots of scrapes, bumps, and bruises. The vet looked at him and said they were consistent with being hit by a car and scraped by the road. You'll notice lots of shaved areas on his body, those were his boo-boos that needed mending. He's doing great now.

Herbie is a hit-and-run eater. He'll grab a few bites of food, then wander around the kitchen, check out what we're doing, then grab a few more bites and repeat. It takes him 10-15 min to finish his food. As long as we're in the kitchen during this time our dogs don't eat his food; however there are times I forget and leave. That's when Max makes his move and eats the leftovers. Course that isn't the case for human food. Herbie seems to understand that human food tastes MUCH better than dog food. He's taken a potato chip right out of Mike's hand as it's come out of the bag on the coffee table. When there is food around, Herbie is intense at begging. Otherwise Herbie is a fantastic foster. He does really well at the bus stop with lots of parents and kids around. He'll go right up to the nearest person, plunk his butt down and wait for the petting to begin. Not much of a retriever but he does have random puppy-crazies when he's in the backyard. We only have him for one more week until he has to move to a new home.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Mailart received

Wow, got my mailart a few days ago. This is related to the Mailart Round 2 post from earlier in September. Brandy did a fantastic envelope with motifs from I Still Do (Ink Circles) and she did everything in my favorite color....BLUE! She must have put a lot of time into the envelope because not only are there designs on the front and back, but she also took the time to measure the flap and put a design there too! I love the idea of the button/ribbon closure on the back, it looks rather elegant and pretty simple to do. If I ever do another mailart, I may have to use that idea.

Brandy put some great stuff into the envelope too. I got three skeins of very soft overdyed (variegated) blue silk flosses (Dinky Dyes, Gloriana, and Gumnut) and a neato Sweetheart Tree chart called Friendship. Can't wait to try the design and some of the floss!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ahhh, finally organized

My stitching stash (as well as knitting and crochet stash) has slowly been growing over the last few years as I find more cool stuff (or *ahem* have friends enable me to buy cool things). I've been using a spare closet in the foyer for couple years for all my storage but its been very ad hoc with various storage drawers and wire shelves in there. I've been thinking about putting in an elfa system for about a year to help with organization but I would always decide against it since the current system worked well enough.

This year I finally got sick of all the wasted space and cramming everything together the best I could. Container Store was having their bi-annual elfa sale so I finally just took the plunge and bought some shelves. I didn't realize but they cut everything to the right size before you leave the store with all the parts. Mike and I took two days to rip out the closet rod and shelf that was in the closet, putty the holes, sand everything down, and paint it all. We certainly could have put more effort into making it professional but we figured the shelves would cover most of it. After the closet was primed, it only took me about 1 hr to put in the hardware and set up all the shelves, very simple to use. Then of course the fun part of organizing all my stitching stuff.

Unfortunately I didn't think in advance or I would have taken a before picture; however I do have an after photo. I'm quite pleased with all the space I have now and its all so much easier to get to.

Course this means I have more space for more stash now!!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

New York friends & family

As Mike's blog mentions, we made a whirlwind trip up to NY last weekend. We left on thursday morning and didn't stop moving until Sunday evening, it was full but very fun.

Our friends Marc and Shannon are located in Manhattan right in the middle of everything! While it's tough to give up the space that suburbia provides, I definitely see the advantage of living right in the city. They must have at least 40 restaurants (most of them non-chain!) in a quarter-mile radius to them. The Zabar's right near them has fantastic looking pastries. You can walk to everything, which is nice since parking in NY is EXPENSIVE. It took us a little while to find a garage that allowed 24 hours of parking. I could easily visualize living in NYC for a year (without the dogs) but I think any longer than that and all the noise would be tough. It was great to see them, since it was only for one day we spent it at their place just chatting and catching up. In my opinion a great way to spend a day.

Kris and Jen's home is located in a small town called Red Hook, quite a difference from NYC. They have 7 acres of land and lots of privacy. Their fourth child is on the way and I have to say that Jen is definitely made for motherhood! She looks so content and unruffled with three active kids running around and very pregnant with the fourth. Their kids are fantastic, absolutely trusting and outgoing. Within 5 minutes of meeting me, Zoe was walking hand-in-hand while telling me about her day at school. Ellie is full of personality and so much fun to be with. Aaron is still a bit shy around strangers but has a wonderfully sweet grin once he warms up. I can see why they would want a fourth child.

Then off to Long Island to see Mike's brother and sister-in-law. Like us, they love animals but its more focused towards cats. They've neutered/spayed the neighborhood strays and feed them. They also have a number of indoor cats, most are pretty shy so we only saw a couple of them. Thanks to Benadryl I was able to pet Scout and Moe (the two friendliest cats) while they sat right next to or on me.

On Sunday we had a nice brunch with Mike's family before heading back home. Lots of driving that weekend so by the time we came home we were exhausted. It's really nice to visit people we haven't seen for a while but we both gained a few pounds a piece from all the food we were given!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

LRR Reunion picnic

Last saturday was LRR's 14th annual reunion picnic. Every year, LRR reserves a large pavilion and provides food, games, and free rabies & bordatella shots. All volunteers and previous adopters are invited to come on by and brag about their dogs. Usually we'll have close to 80-90 dogs and over 100 people at the picnic. This year we kept it short (only three hours) because next year will be LRR's 15th year and we want to hold a large picnic with lots of activities, catering, games, etc.

On our way to the picnic, we moved Harper to another foster home. Actually this is a home she's been in before but she still had a lot of trouble re-integrating with the dog there. Harper is such a cutie-pie, I did really enjoy her company. I have to be honest and say if I didn't have Sheba, I'd be very tempted to adopt Harper. Unfortunately there can only be one Queen in our household and that is Sheba. I really do hope Harper finds a fantastic home.

This year we only had two games for the dogs: food eating contest, and egg carry. Each lab gets approximately 10 different foods; to win the labbie needs to eat every single item. The first few items are usually pretty easy (cheese, doritos, egg) and they get progressively harder (orange, cauliflower, snap pea, raw potato). We didn't enter the contest simply because Sheba is too picky (I know, can you believe it?!?) and Max is so methodical about his food he actually tastes it before it goes down his gullet so we knew he wouldn't get through it either.

For the egg carry, two lines are formed (similar to Red Rover game). One line has their dog and a raw egg, the other line is the receiving end. The egg is placed into the dog's mouth and sent to the other line (approx 50 ft away). The dog needs to carry the egg, without cracking it, and drop it (without the person prying it out of the dog's mouth). I am proud to say that Max co-won that contest! Max has such a gentle mouth that he's perfect for this game and he's won it in the past. He got a great little rubber squeaky toy as a prize.

The rest of the day involved eating grill food (or in my case feeding my food to the dogs) and swapping dog stories with everyone else. We got to see a few of our old foster dogs there, Maggie, Winston, Libby. Its always nice to see how much the adopters love and spoil their dogs, totally makes fostering a joy seeing what great homes these dogs have.

I'm looking forward to the huge picnic next year and hope to see lots of our old fosters there.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Longest vet visit EVER

Like any doctor's office, we've often had to wait a long time to see our vet; sometimes as long as an hour before we're ushered into the room. In the past, we've had the brilliant idea of calling ahead to see how far behind they are but we've been told "Come on in, we're only about 10 minutes behind".....right.

Since we needed to take Sheba in to check on her increased wheezing/coughing and her weakening back legs, we decided to try for the earliest time available for our vet. She doesn't have office hours in the morning so we got a 4:20pm appt, first available in the early evening. Wonderously we only waited for about 10 minutes before we were brought in, and only another 5 minutes before our vet came in. Unfortunately in the middle of the exam, an emergency patient came in and she had to run out to take care of the cat. We found out the cat had problems breathing when he was brought in. The hospital did all they could but unfortunately the cat had to be put down.

I can certainly understand the need for being bumped for an emergency and I hope that would be the case if I ever had to bring one of ours in for an emergency. Unfortunately this happened to be one of those rare days I didn't bring my bag with me full of electronics (Nintendo DS, iPod) to keep me occupied so I had to just stare off into space while we waited.

We finally got back in to see the vet and continued our exam. We mentioned that in the past 6 mos, Sheba has mentally regressed in age. She's more playful, more affectionate and constantly ARFs at us. The vet said it is common in older dogs and compares it to senior senility in humans. It makes sense so we've decided that Sheba has doggie dementia but as long as she's happy, we're ok with it. Otherwise Sheba is just getting older and having all the normal issues of age. With luck though, she'll be with us for at least a couple more years before crossing the Rainbow Bridge.

By the time we finished the exam and paid for the bill (one of our smallest ever), it was 7:30pm, 3 hours after we first arrived! Definitely not something I'd care to repeat again.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Mailart round 2

One of the stitching forums I belong to has been doing a mailart exchange amongst members. This is my second time I've participated and it's a pretty neat idea. Mailart is exactly what it sounds like, you stitch the actual envelope that is being sent in the mail. Then a few goodies are placed into the envelope and shipped off to the person you were given.

The first time I did the exchange I was so paranoid the entire thing was going to get lost in the mail so I sewed the stamp on the envelope AND got delivery confirmation. This time around I was a lot more relaxed about it so I just had the post office put the stamp on it (they were nice enough to also put an extra piece of tape on top) and forgo the delivery confirmation. I think most people at the post office are so impressed by the mailart they tend to take better care of it.

Since my recipient got my mailart (whew), I thought I'd post a few pictures. The items surrounding the envelope are the goodies I stuffed in the envelope for her. The envelopes are fun to make and pretty quick projects but I think I'm going to probably skip round 3. I still have a halloween exchange and a christmas ornament exchange coming up.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Take me out to the ballgame

Jen had four season tickets to go see the DC Nationals vs SF Giants last night so she asked us along. I haven't been to a baseball game in years, last night was an excellent night to go back. Not only was the weather gorgeous, but season seats are definitely the way to go. Up to the bottom of the 2nd inning, you can get free food at the private area (alcohol extra). When we got there we stuffed our faces full of hot dogs, popcorn, crab cakes, beef flank, salad, nachos, and cookies. Then we headed to our seats a couple of rows RIGHT BEHIND HOME BASE! Those seats also get free food/drink through the game (minus beer and cotton candy). Servers just walk through the aisles with drinks, hot dogs, soft pretzels, popcorn, snacks, ice cream and hand them out when you ask for one. I haven't eaten this much junk food at once in a long time.

Baseball is probably one of the more slow sports (disclaimer: my opinion only!) but it's much more interesting to watch it live while munching on junk and chatting with friends. We also got to see Barry Bonds, one of the most hated players in the league. Everytime he stepped up he was booed loudly but ironically also the most photographed player of the night. Everyone was hoping to catch him swinging another home run (no luck last night).

We must have been good luck since the Nats broke their 6-game losing streak last night, 4-1 against the Giants. That night was a lucky night for a lot of fans since a large number of baseballs made it into the stands.

I guess a great thing about Jen working for Clark Construction is that she gets these sports tickets fairly often (baseball, hockey, basketball, (rarely) football) and they are great seats. Now that she knows we had a good time, she'll be tossing more tickets our way in the future.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Too many consoles, so little time

Video games are insidious, evil, and totally addictive. We got the xbox 360 a couple of weeks ago (bought from a friend for cheap) so we now have all three game consoles in this house (we are such kids!). The good thing is my friend also has tons of xbox games so he loaned a few to us to start out with. In the few weeks we've been playing I've learned a few things about the various consoles.

The Wii is a great family console with some very fun games but nothing too serious. Zelda is a nice launch title and they did finally release Metroid Prime 3: Corruption on tuesday but most Wii games are cutsy and fun and the graphics are average.

The PS3 has really nice graphics and we like it as a blue-ray high definition dvd & network player. Unfortunately since it's only been out for a short while there aren't a lot of good games yet. I have really enjoyed Ninja Gaiden Sigma for the PS3 and Super Stardust (a downloadable arcade game) but no other games have really caught my attention.

The Xbox has been out a year longer than the other consoles so there are a lot more games out for it. Plus the Xbox does a fantastic job of online play with a web interface. Most of the games have online play ability and all games have achievement points you unlock as you progress through the games. This score is part of your gamer tag (name). This is a fantastic way to sticky a player to the xbox since you want to increase your gamer score so you continue to play games on the xbox.

The PS3 and Wii are supposed to have online play ability but doesn't even compare to the current capabilities of the xbox.

I like the Wii controls--more simplified, less buttons, easier to use. I'm also a huge fan of Metroid Prime and I'm hoping they create a Pikmin 3 in the near future. I'm very disappointed with the online abilities of the Wii and wish there were more games out there that I liked.

I would consider the PS3 and Xbox similar-type consoles--more RPG, sports, action, horror games--but the xbox is far advanced in games and online play than the PS3.

If I only had a choice of one console, I think I would have to choose the xbox over the other two (with Wii as a close second). That's saying a lot as I've always been a huge nintendo console/handheld fan.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Annual stitching weekend

This was our 4th (my 3rd) annual stitching weekend retreat. In the past, every summer we'd reserve a cabin at Coolfont WV for a long weekend (fri-sat) getaway of just snacking and stitching. Coolfont was a great place because there is nothing but nature surrounding us, very little cell signal, and massage services. Unfortunately Coolfont was bought by new owners last year who decided to shut it down and completely renovate it (which is good because it was getting pretty awful) so we needed a new location. Luckily my parents have this great little house in Harper's Ferry WV right by the Shenandoah River and its only an hour away from home (less for those out further west). We all packed up our stuff and headed there on friday.

The weather was just gorgeous. First two days were warm enough to head out to the water, wade in, and enjoy the warm sun. The rest of the time we stuffed our faces and stitched whatever we felt like. I think the sleep-deprivation from Harper made it really hard for me to concentrate. I had to frog out my stitching on three different occasions! After I accidentally dumped out my floss box (Sue was nice enough to put it back together for me), I called it quits and knitted a dishcloth instead. Course being a bit batty, I chose one of the more difficult dishcloths to knit (lots of various cables) so I had to restart it after a miscount somewhere. As frustrating as the stitching was, I had a fabulous time hanging out with the girls (7 of us total) and a pretty little Noah baby.

Can't wait to do it again next year!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Howling house alarm

I don't know how parents can be sleep-deprived for months without losing their sanity. Three days so far and I'm feeling pretty nasty. Harper is still rather high-strung about noises and she's now including a bit of howling within her bark, very beagle-like. When she hears something unfamiliar, she'll start barking/howling loudly; not just one or two barks but several in a row. She's been sleeping in our room at night on the floor, but the past three nights some noise wakes her up and she starts barking like mad. Mike and I are light sleepers so waking up to full volume barking wreaks havoc with our systems. We were hoping that she'd calm down to the various noises in the house after a few days but that doesn't appear to be happening yet. The next step may be to crate her in the family room at night and close our door. Course I don't think that will stop her barking but at least it won't be directly in our face.

Harper initiated play with Max last night! I was so proud when Max actually played with Harper for a short period before escaping into the crate. They've played a little tug-o-war with toys so far and a little bit of light wrestling. Harper is getting along quite well with our babies, although she is still really smitten with Sheba! Poor Sheba hasn't been this pawed in years.

Picture of Harper playing ball outside (she tore up a pad playing so we had to wrap it up). Couple more good shots of Harper here

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Harper foster

We got a new foster in the house on Saturday. Harper is a 2.5 year old yellow girl. She looks very american/field but she has the softest fur which makes her extremely pettable. She's terrific with people, she loves affection and she behaves well, very much a sweetie-pie. Harper is a retrieving maniac! Not only will she play for as long as you throw for her (or until she passes out for a few minutes), but she has a nose that will sniff out ANY tennis ball ANYWHERE. She found old shredded balls all over the yard, even one under a pine tree. When we're indoors, we take away the tennis balls, so she brings us stuffed toys to retrieve.

While she's a really sweet dog with people, she has some issues with other dogs. Introductions with new dogs is always tough, lots of snarling, growling, snapping but after some time she settles right down and is fine. After the first intro, she's been fine with ours with the exception of a couple small incidents. At one point while retrieving, Max decided to get the ball thrown for Harper cause he was close to it. They both went to retrieve the ball, Max got there first and began to pick up the ball. Harper did NOT like that and bit poor Max on the chin. Max is fine, at this point he's gotten bullied, bitten, and intimidated by so many foster dogs that we expected this to happen. He just has another war wound to brag about. They've been fine together since then as long as Max doesn't get too close to Harper's face when she has a ball in her mouth.

Funny about Harper is that she plays EXACTLY like Sheba used to. Harper will dance on her front feet, playbow, then paw at Sheba's chest and back. Sheba is old and cranky at this point so she'll just bark at Harper. Too bad Harper doesn't want to play with Max, I think they could get some good wrestling/chasing sessions in.

Still haven't taken any pictures of Harper but I'll post them once we do.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Arfing maniac

For the past month or so, Sheba has become more frisky and energetic. The odd thing is that she doesn't want to play more (as evidenced when we try to play ball or go for long walks) but she wants more attention! She's decided that arfing is the best way to get attention that she so richly deserves. Unfortunately the frequency of the arfing has increased to the point of annoyance. It was very cute in the beginning but now when she starts, she won't stop! Sheba tried this while I was in the middle of a frustrating bout of Ninja Gaiden Sigma a few days ago. In my annoyance, I tossed her and Max outside and shut the door on them. In exasperation, I actually banished my baby outside for a good 5 minutes.

Mike and I decided this behavior has got to stop so we broke out the spray bottles of water. Last night when she arfed at me, I gave her a good squirt in the face. She looked so surprised and hurt but she did stop. When I tried to approach her to praise her, she shied away afraid I would spray her again. Boy, did I feel awful. We had to spray her one more time that night but it seems to have worked (so far). She's back to chuffing and one arf but none of that consistent, mind-piercing arfing. I'm hoping not to use the spray bottle again, so I hope she's learned.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Gaming fatigue?

Is it possible to play video games long enough to temporarily fry your brain? Spent a large amount of time today playing Ninja Gaiden Sigma on our new PS3. After reading through an FAQ, I realized I missed a large number of various jewels and misused my funds in the store (buying the wrong things) so I figured I'd start the game over again. I was able to do much better this time around but it still took me a few hours to back to Chapter 3, then I got a little further but had to stop before the third boss because i just couldn't work my brain any further. I tried Super Stardust but I couldn't get my mind wrapped around it either so I had to call it a night. I would definitely say I'm addicted to Ninja Gaiden Sigma (although I do die a LOT) and Super Stardust.

Unfortunately my stitching has been suffering because of my console playtime. I have got to finish my mailart and send it out the first week of September, but I haven't even started it. Thank goodness I already planned it out, I just need to stitch it at this point. THEN I have an autumn/halloween exchange which I haven't started either. So many things to do, so little time.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Joy of Ebay

Whew, busy couple of days for us. We actually bought a PS3 to replace our dvd/network drive. The network drive player is awesome in that we can download movies/tv shows and watch them on the tv, but the dvd player was AWFUL. We finally pulled it out and put in one of our old dvd players, but that one seems a bit on the fritz too. Mike decided to get the PS3 because its one of the cheaper better high-def players AND it now has network functionality too. We used our Visa reward points to get some GC for Best Buy and splurged. Course we've also gotten hooked on some great download and PS3 games: Lemmings, Super Stardust, Oblivion (Mike), and Ninja Gaiden (Kathie).

We did take a few hours out of today to sell our old loot on Ebay though. Actually Mike had put the link player on ebay last week and it finally expired today. We got a nice chunk of change for it, so I decided to put our Gamecube and some games on ebay today. With a "Buy it Now" option, it went in literally 5 minutes so I did the same with our PS3 and games and that sold in about 15 minutes!! Ebay is great!!!

Now to play more PS3 until we drop.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Love Me Not

*sigh* It's all Sue's fault! She's soooo good at getting me all enthused about new designs. She's been working on Tomboy and it looks so cool. I've also seen some great works in progress of Love Me Not that I couldn't help it. After all, it only has 22 colors total AND since I was going to do this 2 over 2, it wouldn't be as frustrating as other HAED charts in the past. So I took the plunge and started it on thursday. So far it's a lot of black since I'm doing her hair and hopefully will get to her face for some interesting contrast.

Course I haven't spent much time on it since I've been zipping back through all the Harry Potter books. Took me 4 days to make it through, I forgot out well-written they were! Course now I'm stuck since I don't have the 7th book!!! I bought it through Amazon, but got the free super-slow shipping (which has never been slow before). In this case, it wasn't so much that it's slow shipping but rather amazon didn't even send the book out till today which means I don't get it for a at least 3-4 days. Luckily Sue is a fast reader and she'll be finished her copy tomorrow so I'll just grab hers and read it to get my fix.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Everyone's doing it!

I guess all the blogging Mike does has made me a bit jealous and curious about the whole blogging thing. I did have a blog earlier about all our foster dogs, but that fell into disuse a couple of years ago.

Instead of just writing about foster dogs in this one, I think it'll be a rather eclectic mix of all the various things that interest me: dogs, stitching, reading, vegetating....

Can you believe it's only been 3.5 months since I've stopped working?? The first couple of months went by really fast since we were SO busy with cleaning out our gardens (remind me NOT to do that again next year), planning our vacation, and going on our vacation. We've been back for 4 weeks now and it's been a lot tougher to stay interested in things. Without something to keep my mind busy, it's a lot easier to turn into mush. Worst of all, I can't work out since I injured my medial plica while on vacation. Doc gave me some anti-inflammatory pills to get the inflammation down but I have to rest for a while, then build back up to exercising. Ugh, so sitting around and eating does not make for a skinny Kathie!!

Course with the new Harry Potter book, I have to go back and read through all my old books before reading the seventh. J.K. Rowling had planned it all out before ever publishing the books, so like Babylon 5, the previous books have lots of little clues and hints that work together to make a fantastic story. Which means that for the last 2.5 days I've just been sitting around with my head in the books trying to absorb as much as possible while looking for some wild clues on how it's supposed to turn out!