In October, we (S.K.A.N.K.) decided we needed to get together. Unfortunately, the ONLY weekend that worked for everyone was the weekend right before Christmas, but at least we found a weekend! And we made it work.
My awesome mother-in-law and father-in-law were nice enough to let us borrow their Chautauqua lake house for the weekend.
We headed out late Friday night . . . . . when we got there, we ate some buffalo chicken dip and drank some drinkies while we had a pillow fight in our pajamas . . . . while playing guesstures.
Even though we went to bed past 2am, on Saturday we got up early to explore Chautauqua.
First we headed to the Chautauqua Institute. Apparently, in the summer, you have to pay a gate fee of $35 just to get in. In the winter, it's free, so we drove around to look at all the expensive houses we will never be able to afford.
Then we headed to Mazza Chautauqua Cellars. It was very fun and only $2 to try 6 different types of wines. The "wine guy" was probably the best "wine guy" we've ever had. He was very fun and very knowledgeable about the wine/winery/harvesting/etc.
KT's mom told us about this book store that was going out of business, so we decided to check it out. Every book was $2 or less.
Next stop was Southern Tier Brewing Company. HIGHLY recommend this brewery. The atmosphere was awesome, and the tour was great! We had a fun tour guide and the "president of the beer club" was in our tour (aka - 20 questions). For one who doesn't normally like beer, I participated in the tasting anyways ($8 for tour, fun souvenir glass, and 5 or 6 different beer tastings - we got to fill our glasses half full each time), and I'm so glad I did. Found out I was not a fan of Pale Ale (holy Pine tree), but did enjoy the Choklat Stout and the Raspberry Wheat Beer. Yummo!
(This is where the guy told us we weren't allowed to take pictures . . . and then said just kidding . . . )
We were all having "a lot of fun" by the end of the tour and decided to stick around for a bit while we umm . . . . sobered up (aka - drank more beer). But really . . . . the driver (thanks KC!) sobered up while everyone else drank more.
(Where's the wagon?!)
Then we eventually headed back to the lake house for Mexican night!
Yummy guacamole and enchiladas made by Mase.
Sex and the City the Movie (we had to drink every time Carrie changed outfits or anytime anything "sexual" came on . . . . we had to adjust this a bit because those happened too often).
I just know I really love these girls. We go back to grade school (some of us even earlier than that), and I know we will be best friends forever. Every time we get together, it's right where we left off, and we learn more and more about each other and get closer and closer. I feel truly blessed to have each and every one of them in my life and can't wait for our friendships to grow even stronger.
This time of year is bittersweet. Bitter because work is crazy. Too crazy. Mental asylum crazy. End of year close, forecasting next year, account recs, rep letters, auditing, new computer . . just to name a few. Sweet because I do love the holidays. So fun. And my mood instantly lifts when listening to Christmas songs and snuggling with my family by the glowing fire with the Christmas tree all lit up.
I am kinda happy with the Christmas shopping progress this year. I am about 90% done (including the wrapping), and that also makes me one happy camper (I won't lie that also about 90% of that was done online - it's something I like to call smart shopping).
Also, one of the best things about the holiday is that I get to see all my friends and family!
Next weekend we are having a girls weekend and the weekend after that is Christmas already (holy cow)! I thrive and live on my family and friends. They are my #1 priority in life, and I love it. I love them. Which is a good thing since we are going to have 10 different Christmas gatherings.
For now I leave you with some pics of our pup, Bria snuggling with our kitty Nina, and Bria with her new friend Daisy (KC's pup):
She might have been there before with her previous owners, but we are going to say it was her first time.
She had a lot of fun and cracked me up (ignore the snorting laughter). She was trying to get out of the water and was jumping almost straight up to get out:
Bowen, my nephew, was dedicated at church two weeks ago.
I think he was upset here because Bryce came back down to sit with us. . . . At first they (Sommer, Bry, Bowen) all went up alone, but Bryce then cried and wanted to be with them. So grammy took Bryce up. But then she cried and wanted back down. So grammy came and got her. I thought it was funny. Not sure what the rest of the congregation thought.
Pastor Bill introducing Bowen to everyone.
Waving to Bryce.
Praying for little Bowen.
EEeek! He's so cute.
And so is our niece, Bryce!
Hate this is blurry, but still think it's so adorable!
We sure do love you soooooooooo much Bowen, but God loves you even more!!
A Dog's Purpose . . .
Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhoundnamed Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa , and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.
I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for theold dog in their home.
As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.
The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker 's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.
The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ''I know why.''
Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.
He said,''People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?'' The Six-year-old continued,
''Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.''
Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried,
dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
ENJOY EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY!
(You really don't need to read this, it's more for my memory sake). As you know, we adopted Bria from the Humane Society on Thursday, October 21, 2010. We had gone in the Saturday before and saw her in her little kennel and just instantly fell in love. However, she wasn't available at the time because she still needed to be spayed. We weren't even allowed to take her in a room to see how we all got along. But we asked the front desk about when she'd be available and they originally told us we could get her on Friday at noon as long as her Thursday spay surgery went well (first come, first serve). I also asked if they would move the surgery to a different day and they said no. So I called on Tuesday to make sure our application went through ok and to see if she was still scheduled for for surgery on Thursday. They told me our application was good and that her surgery was now on Wednesday and she would be available Thursday at 11. Ok. Gosh. Good thing I called. We knew we'd have to be there right when they opened or even before to make sure we got her because it is first come, first serve, and we did know that there were other people interested in her. (Nervewreck City!)
So Thursday, we both left work early and I told Shane to make sure he went and stood in line at the door as soon as he got there. He called me while he was standing in line (my meeting at work went late) and said there were a few people in cars waiting, but no one in line. So as I pulled up, I saw this other couple give me the "nervous, anxious, you better not be here for Bria" look. So I got nervous too. I immediately got out of my car (after I parked and turned it off, of course), and went and stood in line with Shane (this was about 10 minutes until they opened). Then the other couple got out and came and stood in line except (AHHH!) the guy came and stood behind us, but his wife stood on the other side at the other entrance door!! Oh my gosh. What if they opened her door first?! We wouldn't get our pup! :-( So getting more anxious and nervous . . . then finally at 11am, the lady comes to our side and unlocks the door. Whew. Safe.
We walk in and immediately the guy behind us says to the humane society lady, "we are here for Bria". (My heart stopped beating)
So we went in a room and got to make sure we still loved her, and yep! She was definitely a lot more hyper than we remembered, but we still fell in love all over again! "We'll take her!" (We were nervous to go back outside in case that other couple was still there, but whew. . they were gone. I do feel bad for them though. I would've been a wreck if roles were reversed.)
So we filled out the paper work and handed over the dough ($100 - which really isn't bad considering they gave her shots, dewormed her, and spayed her)! And then they gave us our Bria (we thought about changing the name, but liked Bria)!
We took off the rest of the day to spend with her and introduce her to our kitties (aka - make sure she didn't kill them).
I also was lucky enough to work from home on Friday to make sure that Bria could adjust (and I could take her for a long walk at lunch time).
Then we had the whole weekend. We made sure to get her used to her crate (threw in lots of toys, treats, blankets, fed her in there, and gave a lot of "good girl" praising!). We didn't leave her alone until Sunday when we tried to go to church but it took me 40 minutes just to leave her. . . I was so scared and sad and kept peeking in through the window to see if she was being good. So needless to say, we missed church, but had to get some groceries real quick. She did well and we can now leave her at home while we are at work and she is good the whole time (knock on wood)! I do think crating is a good thing for a dog, but I also feel bad leaving them so confined for so long, so she gets full access to our room off the kitchen (gated off) with her open crate, toys, blankets, and water. That way she has room to play and stretch too. She has outsmarted the gate a couple times and has actually done very well with complete access to our entire house, but I feel like our kitties need some time by themselves (because Bria ALWAYS wants to play with them. . . did I tell you she's super hyper?!). Wow, I'm writing a book. Sorry. I told you that you didn't have to read this.
Anyways, we really felt like she was too good to be true. She did/does need some obedience training but is already doing so well! She sits, "downs", shakes, waits, stays, and "gives mommy and daddy kisses". She also pulled us really bad when first walking, but after 2 or 3 walks she caught on and is doing awesome now. Walks right next to us.
I just don't understand why her past owners gave her up. We went to the vet and she got a clean bill of health. The only thing I can think of is they didn't know how to train her or they just didn't have the time to train her. Because really . . she is awesome. And we already love her so much!
Ok enough babbling, here are some more pictures!
This is her "you have my ball, just throw it!" face.
Her, "I'm free to run around in Great Grandma's yard" face/pose.
Her, "daddy you're saying you threw it, but I can't find it" look.
Her "cute, I'm so glad my new mommy & daddy found me" look.
One nice day this month, Shane and I went to the Winter Green Gorge (Cemetery) to take some pictures of my cousins and their kids! At first, the youngest, Tyler, was a little shy, but we decided to get right into taking some pictures so it would loosen him up.
Didn't take too long.
This was their favorite part of the photo shoot. Throwing up leaves.
Tommy, Austin, Ava, Tyler, & Gerri
Love these ones . . .
The lighting was so good and they are so cute loving on their parents!
I was surprised how many different spots there were to take pictures (without getting tombstones in the pictures)!
Tom & Gerri
This was actually kinda nerve wrecking for me because it was my first "official photo shoot". I thought it would be harder to pose them and what not, but they worked so well with me! (I am not by any means a professional photographer nor do I consider myself a good photographer, but I do love taking pictures, especially for family, so I had a blast!)
I love the boys faces in this one.
This is about when all the geese started plopping down into the pond. It was pretty cool to see. We got a little distracted.
They are the cutest family!
It's just so crazy to see my big cousins and my little 2nd cousins (their kids) all grow up. Time sure does fly by.
We got her last Thursday from humane society and so far so good. She needs a lot of obedience training but besides that we can't complain. (she's already potty trained).
The kitties have been adjusting well and when we left Bria's leash on, they were chasing her around the house.
I love our little zoo, but man these pets shed!
Anybody have any good finds to keep the shedding at bay or at least some good products to get rid of hair (besides vacuum)?
Looking forward to a nice weekend day so we can take her to the peninsula (she couldn't go this past weekend because she's still healing from being spayed). I have a feeling she loves the water (I turned on the hose to wash off her paws and she full on stuck her head in the spray of the water).
Excited to learn more about her but for now .... some more obedience training.
Sit. Stay. Down. Shake. Wait. Come. Those are the ones we are working on for now...