Meeting the Family

Lila Claire came home on Thursday!  We have been enjoying having her at home, as well as trying to learn the balance of having a newborn in the house and trying to manage daily life.  For the record, we don’t do much balancing, there is just a lot of feedings and diaper changes.  But that’s what these first weeks are all about, right?

Throughout my stay at the hospital and then Lila’s stay, I thought about introducing our little girl to the pets.  I hadn’t seen them in over two weeks by the time I gave birth and just the thought of seeing them brightened my day.  Add to that the joy of introducing our little one to them and it was overwhelming.

Cal was at puppy camp when Lila came home – having gone to “sleep away camp” on Saturday when we knew Lila’s arrival was imminent.  So B-Cat was able to meet the CCBOJ first and on her own.  We arrived home with a car seat filled with baby and put the seat on the floor while we unloaded the numerous bags that had also come home from the hospital.  At first B-Cat was much more interested in us and trying to convince us to give her more food (a constant desire of hers) but she soon realized that something was moving in the car seat.

This is probably the most attention she’s given the CCBOJ since then.  She is much more interested in the flowers that came home with her from the hospital.  If nothing else, B-Cat likes that we are home more so that someone may be convinced to give her crunchies at any point during the day.

When Cal came back from puppy camp, he was excited to see me.  Lila was asleep in her nursery, but I think he sensed the something was different.  He cuddled a bit, but seemed unsure, maybe he smelled something, maybe it was just that he hadn’t seen me in almost 3 weeks.  Shortly after arriving home, Lila began to fuss in her nursery and Cal was frightened.  He could not comprehend the noise or the new smells or what A and I were so excited about.  A few minutes into her feeding, Cal had had enough and began to bark and howl at A and Lila.  It was the same behavior he shows when he is outside after dark and sees a shadow or something he can’t identify and reacts in fear.  He just didn’t understand her or her sounds or why he couldn’t climb onto his dad’s lap.  We tried to stay positive and had Lila “give” Cal some apple treats – meaning I sat next to A and on the floor while he fed her and gave Cal pieces of treats for coming closer to the CCBOJ.  He was still definitely frightened but it seemed to help reinforce that she was a good thing, or at least one that brought cookies.  In fact, he settled down at A’s feet to finish the feeding.

He is still not 100% sure what Lila is or why she is here.  But he no longer barks at her (which makes the 2am feedings a lot more enjoyable) and he likes to jump up when she is on the changing table and sniff her.  Sometimes he licks the milk off her face when she is done with her feeding.  Generally he is only interested in her if A or I is with her, which is good.  We were concerned we would be chasing Cal or B-Cat away from her when she was in her crib or bassinet but that hasn’t been the case.  They are cautiously interested in her but really much more interested in hanging out with us.

We’ll try to keep updating everyone on the goings on here, as I mentioned above, we are trying to figure out that balance between baby stuff and all the other everyday things.  For now, know that we are home and we are a family and we are all very, very happy with that.

For those wondering

Apparently finding B-cat in the last post was not that easy.  Here’s the original (with the color boosted a bit because I just discovered picnik and I’m kinda in love with it).

And here is B-Cat (seriously, how cool is Picnik??)

Donate or the puppy dies

This is Rocky.  He is looking for a home and currently resides at the Seattle Humane Society.  Seattle Humane Society is a no-kill shelter – so Rocky is very lucky that he will not actually die if you do not donate to the Walk for the Animals, but lots of other dogs and cats and critters may.  Without your support, the Humane Society will not continue to operate at the level they currently do and they will not be able to expand to help even more lovable animals like Rocky.  And seriously, look at those eyes?  How can you not help out??

Honestly, it broke my heart looking at the photos of the cats and dogs who need homes on the Humane Society website.  Our pets are so lucky to not only have homes, but to be sooo spoiled as they are.  (Cal has his own pillow and blanket to sleep with at the foot of the bed.  Seriously, the dog lives the life.)  I wish I could open my home to them all, but since that is not in the cards right now, we’re doing our best to support the Humane Society’s efforts to find them all homes and walking 2.5 miles on Sunday (with Cal, of course) to raise money.  Please please please click through and help us out – Rocky is giving you big brown puppy eyes pleading that you help provide more kibble for him and his friends. 

(Thank you to our readers who have already donated!!  Your support means so much to us, but so much more to dogs and cats like Rocky, still looking for their forever home.)

Come and Knock On Our Door

When trying to decide what to do with my Monday night my options were walk up to the main drag of our neighborhood and get a pedicure, or take photos of the house and post them to the blog.  Because I love you, dear readers, I chose to let my toes go untended to and that posting photos was more important. 

A caveat before you see the photos – these are not staged real estate photos so there is stuff on the counters, unpacked boxes and a half made bed.  In short, they aren’t perfect but they are a pretty good portrait of what our new home looks like on a daily basis.  I also think at least one pet appears in almost every photo – kind of like Where’s Waldo. 

So welcome to our home, thanks for your support through the move and maybe tomorrow I’ll post photos of my pretty toes.

Exterior

Here is our home, complete with our car in the driveway.  As you can see, the sun is setting behind the house, meaning our house faces east and receives wonderful morning sun.


To the left is a closer view of the steps to our front yard and door.  On the right is our Japanese maple tree that provides shade to our front yard.  Many people have commented how lucky we are to have such a large and beautiful Japanese maple and we are excited to see it turn purple/brown this fall.

If you come up the stairs and walk to the left of the house, towards the back of the house, you reach our side yard, which is to the left.  Through that back gate is the backyard, complete with a “playground” as the young guests at our housewarming called the swing set in the backyard.  The backyard is also good for playing fetch with a beagle.  If you walk past the swingset, you get to the other side of the house and a path that leads to the driveway, as well as the side door to the kitchen and the downstairs door to the office.

Back at the front of the house, this is the front yard – looking towards the street.  Walk up those stairs on the left and you get to our front deck.  To the left is the deck looking towards the house, the right is looking out towards the street.  The grill is in the one corner not captured in either photo. That long black thing is Cal’s leash, not a snake.  No snakes here.  All of this brings you here:  our front door.

Interior

 
This is the view as you walk into the front door and enter the main living area.  B-Cat is even there to welcome you!

To the left of the front door is the window nook or conversation area.  Or as the pets would prefer us to call it, Cal and B-Cat’s corner.  They love to sit side by side, each in their own chair and wait for us to come home.  You can see Cal waiting for his dad to get off the bus and come home in this picture.  He is waiting very patiently. 

Just beyond the “nook” is the fireplace.  This picture has terrible perspective but you can tell it is a fireplace.  It is in the center of the room on the left side, and no, we are not using it as our design focal point.  It just didn’t make sense for the type of room we wanted.  The previous owners had filled the fireplace with rocks and have tea lights in it.  FYI – beagles like to eat rocks.  So we will be changing that out soon and probably using it as a traditional fireplace this winter.

Directly opposite the fireplace are these bookshelves and wine bar.  I love this piece in our living room and we spent a lot of time picking out the right books to display out here.  I will have to do a whole post just on the bookcase one day because I think we did a nice job representing “us” on it.  If you could zoom in here, you would see the tequila and triple sec left over from our margaritas this weekend.  I point it out only because A bought “Montezuma” triple sec and it really amuses me.  No one complained though, and the ‘ritas were a hit.

If you were to turn to the left after entering the front door, you would enter the dining room, pictured here.  I couldn’t get the wall color to come through very well, it is a light green.  I thought I really hated the color, but it has grown on me.  I think it looks good with our honey colored dining room set.  The bookshelf to the left holds cookbooks.  Just before that bookshelf is a door which leads to . . . .

The kitchen.  Ta da.  This is a shot from the doorway from the dining room.  To the immediate right is the door to the outside.  Past the refrigerator on the left is a door that leads to the living room.  Both the dining room and the living room doors have pocket doors, so you can close off the kitchen if necessary.  I love the backsplash colors, which is also behind the sink.  I also love the island workspace that looks out to the window.  And I love love love my hanging pot rack above the workspace.

Through the living room (past the glass half wall if you look back at the first living room photo) is a hallway.  Immediately to your right is the bathroom. It is the guest bathroom and it is inhabited by monkeys.  More photos of this room (and the rest of the house) will be in the picasa album.

Continuing down the hall, also on the right is a closet, then two rooms at the end of the hall.  One is a guest room (with the queen bed) and the other is “in progress” and will one day be a child’s room (the one with yellow walls).  (Do not pay attention to the boxes.  They are not really there.  Oh, and clearly I don’t iron my sheets. But if you visit, I promise I will.)

Back down the hall there is a pantry and then there is a staircase.  Down the stairs and to the right is the master suite. Which is “lived in” at the moment.  I wasn’t sure if I would like having the master suite downstairs, but I suppose it really is no different then having it upstairs, just a different direction to walk.  It is actually a nice retreat, to be below it all.  The walls are Tiffany blue and it has the softest brown carpet (on which orange cat hair shows up surprisingly well).  That door to the right is our walk in closet.  There is another closet opposite the foot of the bed.

When the previous owners redid the downstairs to create this master suite, they had to be sure it had a separate exit to be considered a bedroom.  (If you watch HGTV you know about this rule.)  So there is a large “escape” window in our room that we can climb out of in case of fire.  They created a “zen garden” outside and it is very cute.

To the right of the walk in closet is the master bathroom and one of my favorite rooms in the house.  When making our list of wants when looking at houses, this bathroom was on it but I thought I would never be able to find a house that had it and fit our other more important needs.  We were very lucky.  The bathroom is the reverse color scheme of the bedroom, brown walls and blue accents.

Through the bathroom is the laundry room – or B-Cat’s private sanctuary. 

If you returned to the stairwell from the upper level and took a left instead of a right, you would reach a hallway.  There is a utility/storage room in the first door on the right, and the laundry room is at the end of the hall (with the kitty door).  The second door to the right is the office/fourth bedroom.

The office is also a work in progress.  The pale wood to the right are all closet doors, leading to a ton of storage space.  To the left is the desk (you can see the desk chair) and a futon in the background.

In this picture to the right, I am facing towards the hallway, so you can see the desk area better – as well as the tv hidden away in the tv cove.

So that’s our home.  Thanks for taking the tour.  One day I hope to be fully moved in and settled.  But for now everything that I need on a daily basis is unpacked and in usable condition and I even threw a party with it looking like this – and you know what, no one seemed to care.  Speaking of not caring, here is a beagle who has clearly reached his teenage years – he is rolling his eyes as his mother asks him to do something.  Or more likely stop doing something like pull blankets out of the closet.  Ah, youth. 

Rescue Me

By now you are pretty familiar with our “kids” – Cal and B-cat.  They are two of the most important things in our lives and I know that we spoil them and probably have allowed them to become accustomed to a lifestyle well above that which they require.  But making them happy makes us happy.  And just look at them!  How can you deny these faces anything?

Both of our babies are rescue pets.  B-Cat came from the mean streets of St. Louis and I adopted her from the St. Louis Humane Society.  I was never sure what her story was, she was very young when I took her home.  When I walked into the “kitten room” at the Humane Society she was sitting in the litter box crying and for some reason I just knew she was the right choice.  She had a torn ear and a broken tooth, as well as worms (lovely I know).  But a little TLC and she has turned into the diva she is today.  She still has her torn ear to remind everyone around her that she came from the mean streets and has street smarts.

Cal came from West Virginia and an excellent rescue organization – Beagle Rescue, Education and Welfare, or BREW.  While with B-Cat I just walked into the Humane Society, pointed to a loud orange kitten and said I want that one, Cal’s organization (like many rescue groups) required an application, references and home visit.  When we passed the application process we were told to go check out a puppy who had just been brought to BREW.  His mom had been found on the side of the road in the hunting towns of WV and was pregnant.  She was taken to a local vet, where she birthed a litter of puppies soon put up for adoption – and one of them was our little baby Cal. A famously gave me a pep talk before we met Cal’s foster mom to pick out one of three puppies to take home – “Let’s not take the overactive one.  Remember just because they look cute they will be harder to take care of.”  Cal’s foster mom pulled up, opened the trunk and announced one of the puppies had peed in the crate on the ride and that puppy was now scratching at the crate door, crying to get out.  The other two puppies were in a puppy pile, sleeping.  “THAT ONE!  I WANT THAT ONE.”  A demurred, “Let’s meet the other two.”  “No, I want that one.”  The overactive puppy leapt out of the crate and they handed us his leash and we walked around.  He refused to pee but was too adorable with his tricolors and ticking.  And that was Cal.  A still reminds me of the warning not to take the overactive beagle, but I think my techniques of choosing the loudest kitten in the kitten room and most active puppy in the crate worked out pretty well for us.

I have been pushing for another cat or dog for a while and I know one day we will get another dog.  While we talk about several different breed options (my new favorite is a poodle, which Cal has taken a liking to at the dog parks) we know one thing for sure – we will only adopt a rescue pup.  It is something that A and I believe strongly in and we only wish we had room, money or time to be able to adopt more rescue animals.  There are sooo many animals who need homes and love.  It breaks my heart to look at our kids and think that they could be languishing in some shelter – and don’t get me started on those Pedigree commercials.

So A won’t let me adopt a new puppy, but we still want to help rescue animals as much as we can so on September 26 we will be walking in the Seattle Humane Society Walk for Animals with Team Two Washingtons.  Cal will be walking with us, proudly wearing his SHS bandanna, and representing the rescue beagles worldwide.  Our goal is to raise $200 to help the homeless animals of the Seattle area and all the great services the Humane Society provides.  We’d love if you could support us and donate what you can to the cause.  Click here to go to our donation page – you can even donate in the name of your favorite puppy or kitty.  

Cal, B-cat and all of their rescued puppy and kitty friends say thank you – they think every puppy and kitty deserves a home a nice as theirs. 

Do Your Pets Do Weird Things?

Cal and B-Cat are two of the awesomest pets around.  Even when I have to sleep pencil style (on my side, perfectly straight) so that they may both arrange themselves in bed as they wish, I can’t but think how special they both are. 

Traveling with Pets

Our moving plans and journey to the West Coast were made more complicated by the fact we were traveling with two pets.  Neither pet is big on travel, car or otherwise, and we weren’t sure how they would do being in the car together for several days (or rather, how A and I would fair with both of them in the car).  After much planning and scheduling and research, we decided we would drive out with Cal and then fly out later with B-Cat. In the hope our experiences can help others, I thought I’d share more information on traveling with pets.

1. Driving vs. flying:  Cal does not like the car and had not enjoyed the trips to New England for the holiday, so we were concerned how he would handle the 3000 mile trip.  However, if we flew he would have been in the luggage hold (most airlines have a 20lb in cabin limit and at the very least, he would have to be in a carrier than fit underneath the seat and he would be too big for that.)  I did some research, talked to friends who had flown their dog when moving and decided that I could not stomach flying Cal.  If he was nervous being in the car with us, I couldn’t imagine him being by himself for up to 10 hours in a luggage hold.  Also, news stories like this horrified me.  So we decided to drive with Cal.  As for B-Cat, she had done long car trips and flights before (she is very well traveled).  In the end we determined that instead of trying to do both “kids” in the car for 5 days and because B-Cat could be in the cabin with us, we would fly with her to Seattle.

2.  Do research.  Whether traveling by air or car, it is important to do research before taking off with your pet.  We used the Bring Fido website to find hotels that would allow Cal to stay with us.  This website was invaluable and we loved every place we stayed.  Important factors for us were 1) clean, safe hotel, 2) low pet fee, 3) availability of “green space” to walk Cal, 4) in an area that provided some entertainment/food for us.  Bring Fido had reviews from travelers on their site and helped us to identify hotels that truly were pet friendly and had good walking areas available.

3.  Talk to your vet.  We had done some private training with Cal to try to get him over his fear of the car.  He had definitely improved on short trips, but he wasn’t one of those dogs who would leap into the car at the jingle of car keys.  We decided to talk to our vet who recommended Dramamine and Rescue Remedy, as well as the recommended dosages for both.  The Dramamine did not knock Cal out completely but it definitely took some of the edge off and helped him sleep most of the ride everyday.  I think it also prevented car sickness – previously on car trips to New England or longer trips around town he would get sick in the car.  On this trip he did not get sick at all.  We tried the Rescue Remedy but honestly did not see any improvement from it.  It is all natural and I may try to use it on local trips for which we aren’t using Dramamine.

4.  Know the restrictions.  Despite being pet friendly hotels, there were still restrictions as to where Cal could be and what we could do.  No hotel allowed us to leave him alone in the hotel room.  This required some tag team effort on our part to load the car, get dinner, etc, ensuring someone was always with Cal, but it worked out.  For B-Cat it was important to know the restrictions for the flight such as dimensions of the carry on carrier, cost of the pet ticket, if there is a limit on the number of pets allowed on a flight, etc.  I made our reservation for B-Cat as soon as we bought our airline tickets because our airline only allowed 2 pets per flight and we didn’t want to find out she couldn’t come on board with us.

5.  Be flexible.  Even with all our planning and research, we had to be flexible.  Some days Cal would be more fidgety than others, so we’d stop for a longer lunch to let him walk around.  If he seemed hungry, I’d give him a little food in the car.  Other days we only fed him in the morning and evening to try to avoid motion sickness.  After driving all day we would have loved to have a glass of wine or watch the game at a bar to relax each night.  Since we couldn’t leave Cal alone, one of us would buy some beer at a gas station and we’d enjoy it with take out food in the hotel room.  Sure I was tired of eating in hotels by the end of the trip, but we made it work the best we could.

Overall, we were so lucky how uneventful our travels were.  Sure, there was projectile cat vomit, an emergency vet trip in Miles City, MT and I won’t say it wasn’t stressful.  But we all made it, everyone is settled into their new, even if temporary, home and we can say we did a complicated cross country move with a cat and a dog.  That has to  earn us a Girl Scout merit badge of some kind, or at least a nap.

Meet B-Cat

Cal has gotten much more screen time than the B-Cat, mostly because Cal traveled cross country with us while B-Cat watched things in DC.  This past weekend she made the journey herself, choosing to travel by air instead of by car.  So, meet B-Cat.

If you know one thing about B-Cat, it should be that she is a trooper.  Ok, you should know two, maybe three things – she’s a trooper, she’s orange and she’s a prima donna.  I think they are all related.  Being orange – or red as some call her – is rare for female cats.  Only 10-20% of orange cats are orange because an orange male cat needs only one “orange” gene to produce an orange coat.  Female orange cats need the “orange” to be on both chromosomes.  If female cats have one “o” gene, then they will have a calico coat.  Anyway, a vet told us this when B-Cat was very young (see adorable photo insert in which she has a shaved belly) that she was unique and I think that went to her head.  Hence, her prima donna tendencies.

B-Cat was an only child with a single mom for a while.  As I mentioned before, I adopted her when I first moved to St. Louis to go to law school.  I was lonely and she came home to keep me company.  From 2001 until 2008, it was really just us.  Sure A became part of our lives in 2005, but we were doing the long distance thing and he would just visit us until after his deployment ended in 2008.  B-Cat learned that she could sleep where she wanted, eat what she wanted, sit on my lap when she wanted.  It was a pretty perfect kitty life.  Combine this only child upbringing with her uniqueness, and prima donna tendencies develop.  She has very strong opinions about things and is not afraid to share them.  She walks around the place vocalizing her opinion on, well, everything.  The A, Cal, what Kathie Lee is wearing on the Today Show’s fourth hour, why Law & Order canceled their flagship series but started L&O Los Angeles.  Really, lots of opinions and she is not afraid to share them.  With everyone, including the entire population of BWI when she was protesting her travel arrangements in her new pink cat carrier and her own cat ticket.

But in the end, she is a trooper.  She may have screamed from the time we left our condo in DC until the flight took off from BWI.  She may have vomited twice and perhaps even pooped in her carrier.  She may have screamed from the moment we began our descent until we arrived at the apartment in Seattle.  But now she’s here and she walks around saying things like, huh, this is not half bad.  “Wow, I definitely underestimated this.  I really like the windows.  Mother, please open this blind immediately so I may look out upon the world.”  There may have moments of our cross country travels with her when I thought that she was either going to die, or I would kill her or someone else on the plane would kill her, but now, she’s cool.  In fact, as I type this, she is trying to eat my breakfast sandwich, as if to say, I forgive you for that horrendous, torturous travel you made me endure.

So that’s B-Cat.  Orange, delightful and opinionated.  The rest of us are settling into our new surroundings as well.  I found the Target (two floors, with a cart escalator!) and the Trader Joe’s.  A has started work and is doing wonderfully.  We may have found a house.  Cal has learned to pee and poo in urban environments.  We have flood and earthquake insurance now.  Yeah, we’re doing ok.