Saturday, March 31, 2012


Synonyms include:
damaging, deleterious, destructive, detrimental, foxy, frolicsome, harmful, hazardous, ill-behaved, impish, injurious, insidious, irksome, misbehaving, naughty, nocuous, playful, rascal, rascally, risky, sly, sportive, teasing, tricky

(after deleting some of the overly negative words, that are not quite right for this post)

Mischievous is the best word to describe Tasha at the moment. As the list of synonyms clearly shows, it is not entirely that she is damaging, but that she is also playful and frolicsome.

The biggest comparison that we find is that she is like a puppy in a four year old husky body. She still needs to learn many of the basic rules of the house, and some of it is just Husky stubbornness from what we have learned about the breed.

When we leave her outside, she has lots of fun with Roxie, but this fun includes:
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(hard to tell, but that is a hole being dug)

getting into the garden,
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(not once, but multiple times, with multiple kinds of fencing, so that today Blake is on his way to Lowe's to get stronger, less flexible fencing for our rascally dog)

and playing with Roxie to the extent that a portion of her eye started to open.
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(which required an extra visit to the eye doctor, and antibiotics to clear up the infection that came with it, thankfully we didn't have to have her get stitches again).

So, after all of that mischief (with the last one being the worst), we decided we had to crate her for her own good, because that eye has to heal completely before she can go back to playing with Roxie and breaking into the garden again.

Thursday, she was crated, no problem. She didn't love it, but our impish dog only chewed a little bit of the couch that she could get to.

Friday, she was crated again in the morning, and her crate was moved slightly from the couch to prevent that sly dog from chewing it again.

Blake came home at lunch, like he has done since we got her... and guess who greeted him at the door! We still, honestly, can't figure out how she could escape from this:

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Every latch but one was still latched too... so somehow, with a cone on her head, she managed to squeeze out through the space created by just her undoing just one of the four latches on this crate. Our foxy dog had decided that she had had enough of this crating thing, and it was time to get out. In her amazing escape, she also moved this crate about 10 feet from where it was before into our kitchen.

Thankfully, after her escape, her damage to the house was very slight, but it did mean that he had to make modifications to her crate before he could go back to work in the afternoon. So, when I came home after work to let her out, I had to undo two metal wires that had been twisted together, and then cut off two zip ties just to open the door. She was still contained though, so I guess they were effective!

All this to say that although we love her, and are happy to have her as part of the family, and have great hopes for the time when she and Roxie can just play and get into trouble that keeps them out of the garden (fingers crossed with the new fence), she is a lot of work right now keeping up with her latest escapades. Also, it means that for the most part, unless we are both at home, all errands have to be run with just Blake or I going, because she can't just play with Roxie because of her eye needing to heal, and we don't think crating her is a good plan either, even if she can't escape, because trying to escape could also cause damage.

Meanwhile, as I type, she just sleeps, which helps her eye heal... so we will be taking turns running errands and watching her to make sure she doesn't play too much.

Honestly, I think she is God's way of preparing us for the time right when our child comes home. If the vast amount of adoption materials are correct, he or she will be quite mischievous themselves, testing us to make sure that we love them no matter what and won't give them back no matter what trouble they get into. Tantrums, power struggles and them reverting back to infant behaviors (like Tasha with her puppy like behavior) are all common in the first months they are with their new family. I wouldn't be surprised if I feel very similar to now when that time comes, where while I love them, they are a lot of work and testing of patience.

But here is my hope: this time with Tasha will pass, and she will learn rules, and proper behavior, and just be a great playmate to Roxie, and our home will be at peace again, and then when our child comes, and turns our world upside down yet again, I will use the peace that eventually came with Tasha as my light at the end of the tunnel with our hard time with our child.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Worthy Cause

I know I don't have a ton of followers, but I do have some, and I would like to give you the opportunity to join us in giving to a worthy cause if it moves your heart like it moves mine.

As you know, we are waiting to be connected with a child to adopt, but what I am not sure if I have mentioned before is that there are occasional lists that come out with children that are currently waiting for families in Ghana. Every time we have been sent one of these we sit down, and we talk and pray and think if any of these kids is supposed to be ours. So far, every time, we have not felt like it was our child. Most of the time it is age, that we don't think we can start our first child older than 4.

Sometimes though, it is physical limitations, and we don't think we are capable of raising a child with that many physical problems. Those are the hardest ones for me, every time we have had to say no to one of those, and hope and pray that someone else out there feels the call, and takes on the challenge to give a precious little one a home.

A while back, there was a little girl, a baby, less than one year old. She needed a home and a family. However, she has microcephaly, cerebral palsy, and at the time we thought she was blind and deaf (we now know she can hear and see some). Considering our stairs, our dog, and many other factors, we did say no, but she was the one on the list that we considered the most seriously so far.

Sadly, many many other families also said no... but there was one family that felt that they could handle her challenges, and that she should be part of their family. However, adoption is expensive, and they need to raise money to get her home (because they just finished another adoption).

Here are some quotes from our coordinator's blog about this girl as she waits for her family to be able to afford to get her home:

This family needs $10,000 to pay for Efua's adoption fees. This is a child who cannot afford to wait. Every month she stays in Ghana is a month she loses in early intervention therapies. Let's be real. It's a month she could potentially die from lack of medical care.

Now, can WE (you, and I, and anybody you send this to) spare a few bucks to help them reach $10,000 to save this child's life?

Save a life.

Yes. Literally. This child's life hangs in the balance. Efua will die in Ghana. Without the Green family I don't know that she would ever find another adoptive family. She will NOT live long in Ghana. She needs to get out of there ASAP. And money is standing in the way.

If you are willing to assist the Greens with even $10, you can CLICK HERE to make a tax deductible donation to Efua's FIG account through Project Hopeful. Over 1000 people saw this child's face and said "not me." Let us not say it again. Now she has a family. Now our part in this is much easier. I don't know about you, but I'm heading over to the link above to say, "Count me in."

Her most recent update was:

We are at the end of the month--the goal that the Green family had set for getting the first chunk in so that Efua could go to court in Ghana. Between the donations that you have given, and what the Green family has been able to save/fundraise themselves, they sent in the first $3750 last week! $2100 of that came directly from YOU!!! That is 210 people who said, "Count me in for $10 for Efua Green!"

I know that all of us have people and e-mails and stuff all the time asking us to give, and there are tons of great causes out there. I hope that I don't have too many times that I talk about adoption related causes that I become annoying, but this one touches my heart especially because it could have been our child. Especially if this precious girl had less disabilities, she very much could have been our child.

Please consider donating. I can vouch for the family and the adoption as being totally legitimate, this is no strange scam. Also, please consider passing on this blog, this information, to anyone and everyone that you think might consider helping this girl, just a little. If many people donate just a little, this girl can go home.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Running goals, part one, complete!


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On Saturday I ran my 10k!

I had a great time, and my time was better than I had done on any practice, and I beat my virtual partner (which I had set at a 10 minute pace) by 5 minutes! My first two miles were run at an 8:30 pace, but then I slowed down a bit after that as I got tired and encountered a whole bunch of hills. There is something great about running with other people that I think really helped me do better than normal. I ran almost the whole time, just stopping to walk a minute here and there. I was thankful to a runner heading down the hill (from the 21k?) that encouraged me that I only had a quarter mile to get to the top of the hill and I was able to push past the tiredness to run the rest of the way to the top.

Overall, I felt great, and was really impressed with how well my training worked to prepare me for the run. I didn't get passed often, which meant a lot to me, that once I found my spot in the pack I was able to generally maintain it.

It was a small race, only a couple hundred people, but it was great as my first race, and the views were great (it was at Irvine regional park). I think that next year I will run it again, just because it was a great course.

Side note- for the amount of time training takes, I have already decided that once I meet my marathon goal, I won't go for another (especially since I hope to have a kid by then), but I might continue running various 10ks to keep myself in shape. Just based on this one experience, I can very much see that happening.

Completing this goal earns me 6 weeks "off" before I start training for the Disneyland half marathon. I put off in quotes because I still intend to run a few mornings a week to keep in shape and then do something exercise related on Saturdays, whether that is a hike or a bike ride or something else.

Also on the running topic, because my long runs so monopolize the day, I decided to go for an earlier marathon than the May 2013 one that I originally planned for. My current thought is the Huntington Beach Surf City 2013 marathon in early February. It will still give me time to train, but it means no time off between the half and training for the full. As a matter of fact, my plan is to fit the half marathon into my marathon training as a 13 mile "training" run.

Besides, I like the thought of running along the beach. Part of the Orange County marathon would be by the beach anyways, but the Surf City is almost all by the beach, and has the added benefit of surf music as you run.

After seeing how well training prepared me for that run, I am hopeful and excited about meeting my other two goals.

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On a quick non-running note, Tasha was skilled enough to manage to scratch her healing eye spot even with a cone on, so Blake had to add an extension. She happened to yawn as I took the picture, so it isn't a great picture of her, but note his cone extension. :-D

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Brave Pup

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Tasha made it through surgery, she is now our pirate dog. Last night was really rough on everyone. She was in a lot of pain from surgery, and just kept a continuous whimper going for quite a while. But around 6 or so, we were able to give her pain medication, and then the rest of the night went pretty well, even if she has no idea what to do with this strange cone on her head.

Roxie somehow knows she needs to be extra cautious around Tasha, and one of the most touching moments of last night was when Roxie decided to lay down near Tasha with their paws touching. It could, of course, just be a coincidence, but every time that Roxie readjusted, she would also make sure that her paw was touching Tasha's paw.


She had a patch over her eye that was supposed to stay on till tonight, but it kept falling off. Blake and I made a valiant effort to get it back on, even using medical tape from our first aid kit, but all to no avail, and by the end of the night, we gave up, especially as it was really bothering Tasha every time we tried to get it to stay on.

I had prepared myself for seeing her by looking at other pictures of dogs that lost their eye, and I was really appreciative that other people were willing to post those pictures for people like me to see. So, my last picture in this post will be of Tasha, just one day after surgery, in hopes that if someone else needs to have their dog's eye removed, it will help them. If you would rather not see it, stop reading now. :-D

We are so proud of our brave pup.

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Monday, March 19, 2012


"Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet. When the term alpha dog is used, it refers to the dominant dog, in a pack setting, that is first and most important. The alpha dog is the dog to which other members of the pack are submissive (called the beta dogs)."

In the four years that Roxie has been in our lives, we thought she was a submissive dog. When she meets other dogs, she does lower herself, expose her belly etc. She also has followed Blake's commands (and sometimes mine) very well for years. With the addition of Tasha, we are more aware of dominance struggles in our house, and so have been researching dominance, what it is, how dogs show it, and how we can assert ourselves as Alphas in our house.

A little research showed something we didn't expect... we have allowed Roxie to be dominant in the house for years!

Here is a list I pulled up of dominant dog behaviors with the italic ones being those that Roxie regularly shows or does:





Pushing a toy into you or pawing in order to get you to play with them.

Nudging to be pet.

Sitting in high places looking down on everything.

Guarding a human from others approaching. People like to call it 'protecting' but it's actually 'claiming'. Dog owns you.

Barking or whining at humans which many owners consider "talking" (without a command to do so).

High pitched screams in protest of something dog does not wish to do.

Jumping or putting their paws on humans (without a command to do so).

Persistence about being on a particular piece of furniture when you ask them to stay off (dog owns it).

Persistence about going in and out doorways before humans.

Persistence about walking in front of humans while on a lead.(this one is huge!)

Persistence about getting through the doorway first.

Refusing to walk on a lead. (excluding untrained puppies, dogs with injuries or illnesses)

Nipping at people's heels when they are leaving. (dog did not give permission to leave).

Not listening to known commands.

Dislikes people touching their food.

Standing proud on a human lap.

Persistence about being on top, be it a lap or stepping on your foot.

Persistence about where they sleep, i.e. on your pillow.

Annoyance if disturbed while sleeping.

Likes to sleep on top of their humans.

Licking (giving kisses) in a determined and focused manner.

Caring themselves with a proud gait, head held high.

Not liking to be left alone and getting overly excited upon the humans return. (See Separation Anxiety in Dogs)

So... we have to do as much as we can to stop all of those behaviors, because if we want peace between our dogs, it has to be with us in charge. They will have a pecking order between them (Tasha will likely be on top) but first, we have to be extremely aware of every thing that either of them do to try to get dominance over us, which is not okay. When I go up or down the stairs, I have to make sure that I am first. When we enter the house, we have to enter first. We have to teach them to heel on walks, where they walk to the side and a little behind us.

All this came about from a few different shows of dominance between the dogs in the last couple days. Enough that we didn't feel comfortable leaving them alone together all day today. Instead, I took the day off to become a dog spy.

Their first trial time was the 10 minute gap between Blake leaving for work and me setting up my classroom and getting home again. Both safe, both happy. Check.

Their second trial time where I made them think I was leaving, then snuck upstairs, and watched them from an upstairs window for maybe 20 minutes or so. Both safe, both happy. Check.

Their third trial time today was when Blake left after coming home for lunch. When he drove away (making the dogs think I left with him) I snuck upstairs into the bedroom. While giving our poor, short end of the stick cats some much needed attention, and reading, I continued to spy on our two dogs outside for a little more than an hour. Mostly they just slept. Both still safe, and happy. Check.

I have also seen them play happily together in the house, and today they gave each other kisses (See video below)... really really good.

At some point today, I will be heading to Target, and giving them yet another trial. If I get home from that and they are both still safe and happy with each other, I think we will be good with leaving them alone together together tomorrow.

p.s. notice how, even in the video, Tasha asserts her dominance by standing over Roxie, allowing Roxie to kiss her, Roxie being the one to lay down first. But all that is okay as long as Tasha knows we are above her too. Roxie will be happier once she has peace with her new position in the "pack."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tasha update

Tasha was great last night in her crate, even with the cats walking around, though she did try to go towards them if they got close enough. Her and Roxie are getting along better today, and we have seen them play together a few times, as long as Roxie respects her boundaries.

This post is mostly to share some more cute pictures!

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Saturday, March 17, 2012


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It has been a crazy few days here!

On Thursday, Blake heard about a ton of problems that his aunt, uncle and cousins are going through right now. Part of these problems mean that they will be moving in with his grandmother, and can't keep all their dogs because she would be over the limit for dogs. Blake was asked if we would adopt their a sweet 4 year old husky, and he in turn asked me, and we felt like it would be the right choice for us and our family.

We had been thinking about getting a second dog for a long time, wanting to get another dog for Roxie to play with, but we had decided that we weren't going to do that until after the adoption because we would have to update our home study. However, as it has taken a while to get the call, we are almost at the point were we have to do our yearly update with them anyways, so it isn't a big deal.

As soon as we met her today, we felt an immediate connection that this was our dog, meant to be part of our family. She was licking us, and wagging her tail, and just so precious I don't even have words to convey the emotions that we felt as we met her for the first time.

All this is in spite of her right eye. It got injured (recently, we think) and when we first heard about her (Thursday), we were told that it would get better. As of yesterday, we heard it was getting worse, and were asked if we still wanted her if she needed major work or couldn't see out of that eye ever again. We had already had her enter our hearts, and no matter what it took, we felt she was our dog, and just like we would for Roxie, we will take care of all her vet needs.

Anyways, so today, we met his grandmother halfway, and got Tasha in the car, and brought her to Blake's mom's house (she drove us to the halfway point) and she got along great with their dog, a miniature schnauzer. This is probably due to the fact that for the last year she has lived with two other little dogs. After seeing them play and get along so well, we had great hope for her getting along with our friendly dog.

On our way home, we called our vet so that she could get that eye checked out, as well as everything else. The vet had an opening, but it was so close to the time we were leaving his mom's house, that we didn't have time to head home first.

So to the vet we went. It has been quite an experience filling out information about a dog that we have so little information about and have only owned for a few hours, and thus can't even say if she is acting "normally." The vet started checking her, and said that she looks healthy, and is a good weight, but that the eye looks really bad, and needs to be checked by an eye specialist as soon as possible. Our vet was completely not kidding about that either, as they called a local specialist for us to see if they could take Tasha in immediately after we left the vet. They were able to take her in, but if we were still there after 4:00, the visit would cost an extra $500 (it was about 3:00 at the time). Funny thing is that during the examination, the power shut out at our vet's and in the surrounding area because of today's storm, but she was still able to check what she needed.

So... to the eye specialist we went. More paperwork with questions that I didn't know how to answer, and I ended up leaving a lot blank. After a thorough examination, we got the sad news. Tasha's right eye is no longer responding... at all. She can't see anything out of it and it doesn't seem like she has been able to for a while. It is however causing her pain, and thus, it needs to come out, and the sooner the better. Her surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, and the biggest concern now is that if her lack of vision in that eye was not caused by an injury, but by an existing problem, it could possibly spread to her other eye, and she could potentially become completely blind. Hopefully it is just one, and she will lead a normal life after recovering after surgery.

On our way home, we stopped by Petco to pick up a few things that we needed for her, like a leash, and a collar among other things.

We finally made it home with our new dog, and were very hopeful for her reaction to Roxie. Unfortunately, whether it is because of her injury (which Roxie kept trying to lick), the fact that Roxie is her size, or because here is a crazy dog that just keeps running, Tasha is not a big fan of Roxie at the moment (she was much better with my in-law's dog). She keeps doing little warning growls at Roxie if she tries to get too close, she did not run and play with her, and the biggest growl was when Roxie tried to come near to me while I was petting Tasha. I told her no, and made her back off a little bit, purposely pet Roxie, and then pet Tasha again. We are trying really hard to follow what we have read about how to establish dominance in the house.

After everyone's dinner (except that Tasha didn't eat), we took the two dogs for a walk together, and that time seemed to be good for them. Totally peaceful, and a lot of close interactions to smell together.

When we got back, I felt like there was less growling... but this is probably also because Tasha was obviously worn out, and spent a lot of time sleeping near me, and actually Roxie is sleeping fairly close to Tasha too.

She comes with a lot of challenges (besides the eye stuff), like the fact that Siberian Huskies need a lot of grooming, a lot of walks, and she appears to not respond to anything we say besides her name (which she does recognize). But in spite of every challenge she brings, we feel like she is already part of our family, and are extremely happy that she is here. I bet it is a lot like how we will feel when our child comes home to us from Ghana- comes with a lot of challenges, but meant to be in our home, and we are still happy that they are with us.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New Passion

So... I have been such a slacker on posting lately, not because I couldn't think of anything to write about, but because I have been so knee deep in my new interest that I haven't felt like I have had an abundance of time. (Also, this week is Open House in school, so I have been spending major time prepping for that).

Anyways, both Blake and I have gotten very interested and excited about hockey, primarily the Anaheim Ducks team.

It all started with a great opportunity that my grade level at my school got this year to learn how to play hockey . This is a program sponsored by the Ducks. They do all of the training, and provide all the gear for the kids to use, and it is just really a great chance for the kids to learn a new sport that they might never have had a chance to try without the Ducks intervention.

After their first skating lessons, they also gave our school enough free tickets for every child in my grade level to go with a parent to a Ducks game at the Honda Center, as well as enough for the teachers to go with a guest too. At first, Blake really didn't feel like going, but I eventually convinced him to try for a night. So, on January 22nd, we went to the Ducks game against Colorado Avalanche. It was amazing! It helped that it was an exciting game, where it got tied, but then the Ducks pulled out the win, but it wasn't just that, it was the game itself.

I had no idea that hockey was such an interesting sport to watch! Of course, at this first game, I had no clue about anything except for the simple basic idea of the game- score goals. Even as we watched, we started looking online to find out more information about plays and rules that we weren't sure about.

By the time the game ended, we knew that we wanted to go to another one before the season ended. We bought tickets for just one more game... but until the time of that game arrived, we found ourselves reading about the players, about their chance at the playoffs, where the other teams were in reference to our team, etc. It wasn't just Blake interested, it was me too, and when the Ducks were playing, we were checking regularly to see what the score was, including during dinners out.

I started regretting that we were only going to one game, and mentioned it to Blake on numerous occasions... so for Valentine's Day, he bought us tickets to two more games! At this point, we have gone to two of the three games that we bought tickets for above, but somehow, the more we watch hockey, the more we want to watch hockey. So, after our Friday game last week, we started watching hockey games on TV, because it was no longer enough to just find out the scores. Not only that, we aren't content with just Ducks games anymore, but now we are watching the games that affect the Ducks chance at playoffs too... or just hockey games just to watch another game. Also, even though we still had one game left... we decided to get ticket to go to another one. :-D

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The primary draw of hockey as compared to other sports is the constant action. At least for me, you can't take your eyes off a hockey game for a second, because it could be a game changing moment. Also, it is so easy to believe that there is a chance to win until the bitter end because it only takes seconds to score, and if your team can at least tie, they can win it in over time. Friday's game had a beautiful moment like this, where a Ducks' player got the goal that got them the win instead of overtime in the last minute of the game. So exciting!

I think we appreciate the challenge of the game too, and the fact that unlike some other sports, the end scores are typically very low, with higher than six points being rare.

Also, I might be crazy, but I think there is a certain grace and beauty to the game, and especially to the best moves. The skating, the puck handling, and that amazing moment that in spite of how many opposing team members try to block it, the puck still goes in, all come together in a way that I truly think is aesthetically appealing.

In any case, it has been fun to have a new passion, a new thing to be excited about and spend time doing with Blake. My big regret right now is that we came into this so late in the season, and the last games are in April, and then it is the playoffs and we will have to wait until October again to start following games again.

Go Ducks!