Thursday, March 28, 2013


One of my favorite parts about planning this birthday party has been the invitation piece.  Originally I thought to order invites with a cute shot of Milton from Snapfish or Shutterfly.  Simple, right?  It just was not the most unique of ideas.  Then I got into cahoots with Jeff's wonderful cousin, Lily, who recently moved into the area and is incredibly talented with her Stampin' Up! business.  I told her the basics of my vision for an invite, and she quickly mocked up and sent over a sample.  It was to die for - adorable and sophisticated all rolled into one!  I immediately employed her services, and it was up to Jeff and me to capture the perfect shot to include on the card.

Since I am a little wild about my photo wall of Milt, I ordered a special birthday hat from Amazon for him to wear for the occasion, so we could eventually hang a picture of him.  Our goldendoodle tends to photograph well because he has had the two of us aiming a camera in his face since birth, and with the enticement of treats, he pulls through just fine.

Sitting pretty

Getting a little adjustment from his Momma

Goofy for the camera

Our ultimate choice despite Milt looking a little on the serious side

Once we had the picture, we were good to go.  Lily, with stamps in tow, came over Monday morning, and we cranked 22 invites out!  I'm a little bit backwards at arts and crafts, but Lily more than made up for it.

Working away - she brought tulips too!

Taaa daaa!  Here is the finished product.


and inside!

Lily does the most beautiful work!  She even made Milt a birthday banner; I helped with that one too, but I am more the brute strength, and Lily adds the finesse!

This banner is perfect because I will hang it on all three of our birthdays!

If you admire Lily's handiwork and want to see more, check out:

She specializes in cards of all sorts: birthday, Christmas, Valentine's Day, bridal shower, baby shower, wedding invitations.  I can tell you from first-hand experience too that her prices are much more than fair!  If you live in the Dallas area, she plans to start Stamp Party Nights a few times a month where you pay a set fee, snacks included, and make an assortment of items: thank you cards, Mother's Day cards, etc.  Let me know if you would like to join; it would be fun to get a little group together.  I am a firm believer that stationery makes the perfect gift!

I will keep all of you you posted on the Milton birthday plans (11 days and counting!); I have been running around like crazy to get everything done ahead of time rather than be hectic on the day of the party.  Whoever knew I would find myself at the age of 27 throwing a dog birthday bash?!  Surprise, surprise - I am actually quite content with my life...!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Crazy Cat Lady!

In books, movies, and on TV, you always hear about the "Crazy Cat Lady" who is old, lives alone, and is surrounded by lots and lots of pet cats.  Growing up, our Great-Aunt Ceil was super sweet but fell into this category as she had stray cats, some missing a leg, others an eye, constantly wandering afoot.  The entire house reeked of cat so much that your nose wrinkled, eyes watered, and skin itched as soon as you walked in the door.  She was the type who allowed her cats to jump on the table and eat straight from her plate; my sister shared a story of one of Aunt Ceil's cats partaking in a lobster dinner with them as normal as could be.  Regardless, my aunt had a big heart, and I see myself tumbling down that winding fox hole of animal love that consumed her long ago!

What am I alluding to?  I am in full-blown party planning mode for our boy, Milton's, first birthday party!  I couldn't be more excited, and I seriously believe people think I dove into the deep end of the pool and cracked my head on the bottom, and you know what, I don't care one bit.  I am excited to celebrate his big day, and I am dragging Jeff along with me!

A harsh reminder of what I have become

April 7th, Milt's birthday, will be the day of the big event!  We are inviting 30 humans + 15 dogs to take part in what I like to call, "Doodle Palooza."  It should be quite the day.  I have many dog-themed decorations, foods, and events planned.  With the recent arrival of the dog pinata, I think it is just about time to get this party started!

Sniffing out the newcomer

Action shot - grabbing and going

Reprimanded by Momma to wait to play with the pinata until the big day!

Things are in a frenzy over here.  Let the countdown begin until April 7th, Doodle Palooza...!  It's going to be epic.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Puppy Photo of the Week

Someboooody is on spring break, so she is able to post mid-day - lucky me!  Milton likes having his Momma Dog home too.  Well, some dogs have a total aversion to the bathtub, but our doodle embraces it!  He likes to cool off and enjoy a nice big gulp from the faucet.  Sometimes he even naps in there.

Taking a quick snooze

This photo was actually taken on the day of the hit-and-run.  Milton creeped into the bathroom while I was painting the ceiling, and I think he was looking for a safe, cozy nook to be close to his Momma.  He certainly found the perfect spot!

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope it is off to a great start!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Happy Belated St. Patrick's Day!

First and foremost, to all of you who have read about Anny and/or donated to Anny, thank you SO much!  It really warms our hearts that everyone has been so generous and kind.  The PayPal account that we created will remain open, so please know that you can still give if you like.  For those of you who missed reading about the Milt this week, I missed writing about him!  I have been saving this little gem of a post since Sunday...!

Well, this past weekend was huge in Dallas!  These city folk really, really like the holiday of St. Patrick's Day.  It is not necessarily that we have a strong Irish contingent, but rather it is just a good excuse to throw a party.  Our house is right in the heart of the annual St. Patty's Day Parade.  By 10:00A.M. Saturday morning, green party goers were tramping down our street, and police officers were already patrolling.  One of our neighbors, a house of post-college boys, invited us to their party, or rather warned us of their party of 200 confirmed guests and 700 invited on Facebook... oh my!  Our Neighborhood Watch takes this event very seriously because thousands of people flood our vicinity, and an awful lot of revelry occurs.  Driving, in particular, is a big problem, so prior to the parade, our watch leader, along with other members, posted hundreds of "No Parking" signs to assure that all of us could get out and about.

Getting in the spirit of things!

Despite all the potential to have fun, Jeff and I didn't go to watch the parade this year.  I went last year, and I don't think it will be an annual jaunt for me!  So, during the day, Jeff was in and out at a local bachelor party, sometimes joined by Milt, while I watched the house.  Late afternoon, after much partying had ensued, I heard Milton making a racket in the foyer.  I assumed that he was just barking at the passerbys, but he barked quite ferociously for at least a solid minute.  When I went to evaluate the situation, I saw three tall, lanky blondes scantily clad in green standing in our driveway, next to the cars, by the house.  As for me, I was wearing green Nike shorts on the bottom and only a sports bra on top because I was feeling under the weather, and it was a hot day.  This is how our conversation went:

Through the window -

Me in a calm, even tempered voice, despite my annoyance:  "What are you doing in my yard?"
Gaggle of girls feigning coos:  "Oh, you have such a nice house!  What a cute dog!  What's his name?"
Me in a still calm voice, yet with a hint of outrage:  "What are you doing in my yard?"

The outrage emerged, and I walked outside, in my gym shorts and sports bra, in front of at least 100 people at our neighbors' huge front yard party.

Gaggle of girls in sheer alarm:  "Ahhh!  Oh, my God!!!  Mike, you'd better hurry!"

I walked further back along our driveway, and what did I see, but this guy, Mike, pissing on Jeff's gate.  He christened it.

Me, enraged but never good with verbalizing myself adequately:  "Could you please not do that?!"
Mike, while finishing up, zipping his fly, and running:  "I promise it will never happen again!"

Oh, the joys of living in the heart of Dallas.  Well, there went my St. Patty's Day!  It was a bit exciting, and anything that lends fodder to a good story, I tend to enjoy.  That evening I joined friends for a delicious shepherd's pie, cooked by my good friend, Emily, to celebrate.

The next day, on the actual holiday, I just had to get to cooking myself on a good old corned beef and cabbage for Jeff, the Milt, and me.  Well, actually Milt ate a special St. Pat's cookie! 

Milt can be rather polite

Stealing a little lick

Look!  Milt found a shamrock amongst the grass!

Of course, we just had to have a couple of friends over to help us toast the day!

The boys - Our candelabra tends to remind me of Transylvania!

I homemade some  Irish soda bread.  It is actually a fairly healthy recipe with the secret ingredient of buttermilk!  Message me if you want the details.

This was the infamous cabbage.  It actually was   on sale for only $.19/pound.

 Last but not least, the fattiest meat of them all - corned beef!  This is definitely a once a year treat.

And for dessert...

Is that Guiness Rhyne is drinking from that glass...?

Nope!  McDonald's Shamrock Shakes are another once a year sweet treat for us!  Although, if they were available year round, I think I might indulge more often.

Well, I hope all of you had a lovely St. Patrick's Day!  Next on the docket is Easter, and it is coming up fast...!  I know Milton is excited.  Get those Cadbury eggs while you can.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Photo of the Week

Wait a second!  Did I forget to write "Puppy" Photo of the Week?!  No, I am not mistaken.  Milton is getting bumped today for a higher cause.  Today's photo is of a very good friend of mine, Anny.  Anny and I grew up together in upstate New York, and we have always been very close.  She and I met way back in kindergarten when we rode the same school bus, and our big brothers introduced us.  Throughout the many years we have known each other, 23 years now, we have always had an awful lot of fun together - swimming in Owasco Lake, eating ice cream from Tom Thumb's, and playing with our dogs, Lady and Brutus.

Pretty lady

Anny and I share a lot of commonalities, except for one.  She has cystic fibrosis (CF).  Since meeting Anny, I have always known that she struggled with this illness.  In case you are unaware, cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that targets the lungs.  It is a gene mutation that leaves the body unable to break down thick, sticky mucous that clogs not only the lungs, inhibiting breathing, but it also affects the pancreas, hindering digestive processes.  About 30,000 children and adults in the United States are living with this disease.  There is no cure for CF, and most people born with this illness only live into their 30s or 40s, although new strides are always being made to conquer this disease (  Due to constant phlegm buildup, that Anny's body cannot regulate, Anny has been some form of "sick" all throughout her life with frequent lung infections.  To help her, she has always been on a steady stream of pills and needed frequent exercise along with physical therapy, like pounding on her back and chest to loosen the mucous.  Despite very routine visits to the doctor and more than the occasional hospital stay, Anny has managed to maintain a fairly normal lifestyle. 

Until only recently, Anny has done her very best to keep this illness at bay; however, within the past year, her health has taken a serious turn for the worst.  She has gone from using oxygen only at nighttime, to ease her breathing, to needing a steady flow 24/7.  Anny also now has a feeding tube, which she utilizes to gain extra nutrients.  Anny's constant reliance on these two aides made her realize that life could not be sustained as is.  So in the fall, she began to go through the many, many steps to be placed on the organ donors' list for a double-lung transplant at the young age of 28.

Hospital stay

The last time I saw Anny was this summer on a trip home.  To my eyes, she appeared much thinner, weaker, and her voice muffled due to the constant mucous buildup.  After that, she had a long series of one - two week voluntary hospital stays because she felt completely incapable of breathing.  On her most recent stay, a few weeks ago, she was airlifted from Syracuse, New York, to Cleveland, Ohio, where she is now staying in a special cystic fibrosis unit where they can properly care for her.  Anny has thankfully been approved for the transplant list, and now she is sitting and waiting.  She is at the top 5% of the list, but it could take a few months for her to receive the transplant.  Anny basically needs to wait for an organ donor to pass away, so she can live on.  She has had a few matches so far, but it really is best if the donor is similar in age, male or female, and of course the same blood type.

Anny wearing her "Lucky" St. Patty's Day shirt

While Anny waits, her mom and dad are doing the same.  They have taken leaves of absences from both their jobs and are staying in an Ohio hotel to be with their daughter, which has been a costly endeavor.  As you can imagine, Anny's medical bills are extremely expensive, and, unfortunately, many of her expenses are not covered by insurance, like the hospital airlift from New York to Ohio.  Likewise, after Anny receives her new lungs, she will need to remain there, on out-patient care, for another two months while doctors make certain that her body does not reject the new organs.  There is no housing, like a Ronald McDonald House, available for her.  Any sort of donation would be greatly appreciated by both Anny and her family to help ease the burden of this remarkable journey for survival.  If you are willing to give anywhere from $1 upwards, please use the PayPal link below. 

You will need to create an account, if you do not already have one, and select "Send Money."  You can type in the email address:  Paypal will then ask for your credit card information, and you will be all set!

If you prefer to send money directly, please make a check out to Anny Ockenfels, and you can mail it to her brother's address:

Patrick Ockenfels
65 Kearney Ave.
Auburn, New York 13021

I am writing this post, spurred on by two other good friends of Anny's, Danielle and Ashley, and we just want to see our dear friend triumph over this ordeal.  Usually I post about Milton, my doodle, a survivor of a recent hit-and-run car incident.  I thought today's post would better serve Anny so that she can be a survivor too.  I thank you in advance for any generosity you can share.  Jeff and I might have just bought a new house, a real money pit, if you ask me, but I am spiriting over a little contribution because Anny means an awful lot to me (even more than buying more wood for that darn fence!).

This past summer - me, Danielle, Anny, Ashley

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Gatekeepers

After Milt's little incident on Sunday, it became apparent that finishing the gate was incredibly imperative.  Pop and Jeff got on it, and by very late Monday evening, our new gate was resurrected.

Ta daaahhh!

Another view

It still needs a latch added and a little more ironwork, but it is in working form!

The Milt Dog investigating from behind

Now thankfully the Milt can be nicely sequestered inside without fear of escape.  Our boy will be safe and sound, thank goodness!

Happy guy

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Our Miracle

Something scary happened on Sunday.  It was really scary.  That morning was just like any other; I was preparing to walk the Milt, and Jeff's parents, Momeaux and Pop, were in town again to help on our fence.  This was the big push to finish the front gate where our cars drive in and out.  That was the the one that we really wanted fixed because right now we just have a chain link fence that does not close well, so it is not terribly safe for Milton.

Before we left on the walk, all four of us were standing at that gate holding up the wooden skeleton of the new gate to take further measurements.  Milt was doing his thing, sniffing around, and Jeff asked me at least twice to go put him in the house.  Of course, I did not pay Jeff any heed because I love Milton to be occupied and in the thick of things.  It makes everything more fun. 

Well, Milt decided to hop right on through that open gate, and he made a break for it, straight down the driveway.  I ran after him, and I called his name which turned the dash into a game.  Milt was running fast with both of his back legs kicked up.  All of a sudden, I saw a bright red car zooming in on the left, and I saw my beautiful boy to the right in the middle of the street.  Then Milton ran straight into the car with one hard hit.

I was totally and completely terrified.  Milt ran immediately back to me with his entire left side limping and whimpering loudly.  That red car just briefly slowed and then continued on.  Milton was in shock and scared; the more I cried, the more frightened he became.  We got him back up to the house, and we checked him out.  Despite the limp, he did not flinch or cry out when we touched any other part of his body.  We also checked his cognitive abilities, and he responded when his name was called, and he easily caught treats in his mouth.  The Milt had one cut on his snout where the fur had been torn away that was bleeding a little, but there was no blood gushing from his mouth, thank goodness.

To put it lightly, I felt incredibly awful.  It was a mixture of feelings - guilt that I was so lax in not putting him in the house, horror that with a split second change Milt would have been dead, anger that I could have either gimped up Milt's ability to walk or damaged his brain for life with my stupidity.  The list goes on and on.  I spent much of Sunday either openly crying or silently tearing up.  Ever since my dad passed away, I have a heightened sense of mortality, and I really hate to ever let Jeff or Milt out of my sight.  Jeff and his parents were fantastic.  They kept a much more level-head than I did.  Jeff, especially, was very sweet to me even though I did not listen to him earlier.

Milt rested the entire day; that hit took a lot out of him.  All of us kept a watchful eye over him, and by late afternoon, he was acting more like his old self.  The limp began to recede, and we knew he was feeling good when he ran for the freezer when he heard ice cubes rattling.  Likewise, he had to come and get in Momma's face when he heard her cooing over Uncle Dusty, Momeaux's bichon frise. 

Resting in the flowerbed

Our poor sweet boy

We called the vet hot line Monday morning, and they basically said that if he was acting normally without vomiting, diarrhea, or lack of appetite, then he should be just fine.  Needless to say, I am eternally grateful that the Milt survived.  His death would have wrecked us.  I honestly don't know what we would do without our boy.  Jeff and I know that God was teaching us a very powerful lesson.  He wanted us to realize that we cannot be so cavalier with our care of Milt.

A few things are now going to change around here.  Milton will always be sequestered in the backyard with no hopes of escape.  No more neighbors walking the Milt home because we are too lazy in minding the gate.  When I take him in and out of the car, I am always going to snap his leash on instead of letting him walk freely to the front door; it is just too dangerous.  About a month ago, Milt's tags broke off, and we never bothered to put them back on his collar.  Now they are all on in case we ever do lose him while out walking, on a road trip, etc.  Last, Milt is a backseat doggie, with his seat belt securely fastened, from here on out.  We bought that seat belt for our trip up to New York, and then we buried it away in the trunk.  I admit I have been incredibly irresponsible with letting him ride up front and even stick his head out the window with this traffic.  No more.  It is safety first because bad things happen in this world.

The Milt's our Wonder Dog, and someday, 10 years from now, I know we will look back on this and recall the time that Milt hit the car and not the other way around.  For now, we are just going to squeeze that boy tight and kiss him hard every single opportunity we get.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Puppy Photo of the Week

On Saturday night, in the middle of the night, I awoke to Milton's nose in my face, and Jeff sitting on the floor next to him.  Milton had whined to go potty and, of course, he went to Jeff's side of the bed to ask to go out.  It takes me a little too long to wake up and get up!  Now they had both returned, and Milton was just a little muddy.

Dirty dog

We suspect that when Milt finished his business, he thought he might just dig for a spell... why not?  Late night digging might not sound like too much fun, but to our Milt, it is really quite enjoyable.  It's just not so fun being Momma and Daddy double teaming on cleaning.  I guess fresh dirt under the moon is just too irresistible!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Girl's Best Friend

This past weekend, I had plans to visit the First Monday Trade Days in the nearby town of Canton.  This is a magnificent flea market spanning across many, many acres of farmland.  People set up booth upon booth of their antiquey wares, and sometimes junk, for the public's perusal.  I was introduced to this event by two of my good friends, a pair of sisters, and I now tend to go once or twice a year to see what treasures can be found!  I always manage to come home with a wonder or two!

Over a month ago, I invited five people (you know who you are!), including my husband, to take a Saturday morning jaunt to Canton!  When the day finally arrived, everyone bailed out, including my husband!  So, what was a girl to do?  I piled Milton into the car and off we went together! He is Momma's best boy, you know...

This is just a glimpse.  You really need an aerial view to fully capture it all. 

Taking Milton, of course, was an absolute blast!  lt did have its challenges though, as well.  First off, Milton is not particularly good on a leash.  With all the fallen fair food lying all over the ground, Milton almost pulled my arm out of socket more than once.  The entire day I had to keep him on a strong arm!  Likewise, the temperature peaked at about 80 degrees, and I was terribly overdressed with both a sweatshirt and a fleece, while the Milt dog was decked out in his finest fur coat.  This made for a lot of sweating and panting.  As we piled on the treasures, it also created a truly painful walking experience as I tried to balance multiple large items, amongst a sea of people, with the Milt yanking me every which way!  I did manage to capture a few pictures of the Milt resting, but I really wish I could have had both hands free to take a better shot of the vast reach of stalls and their wares.

Lying in the cool grass

The best or worst part of walking the Milt is the gauntlet of comments that people make as you walk by.  A few are whispered quite loudly, while some are directed squarely at you.
      "Now, that's a real dog!"
      "Look at the horse! Hahahah!"
      "Oh, it's a puppy like the other puppy we saw, but this one has a LOT of hair."
      "Is that a golden Noodle?" 
       "Daaaavid, Daaaavid.  Quick, quick you got to see this, David!"
       "Now, give me just one second.  Let me show you a picture of my dog.  It will only take one minute to
        pull it up on my cell phone.  Now, hmm, where is it?"

My absolute favorite comment, which happened multiple times, went something like this:
      Curious onlooker:  "Is that a labradoodle?
      Me:  "No, he's a goldendoodle."
      Curious onlooker:  "Oh, how old is your labradoodle?"
      Me:  "He's a golden--- oh, never mind."

I mean, really.  I was walking a 60 lb. dog; I did not have a 1,000 lb. circus elephant on display!

Waiting while Momma makes a decision

Milt and I did walk away with some pretty impressive finds, and I am pretty positive that Milt dog's cuteness saved us a couple of dollars on prices.

Candelabra, priced at $35, got it for $25 - That's brass, marble, and glass!

Window pane 8X10 picture frame, priced at $24, got it for $20

Ironwork for the top of our fence gate, priced at $25, got it for $22.  Yes, our lone TV is still in the box!

Now, just remember, when your very best friends, and your husband, leave you high and dry, you always have your dog, and he appreciates a good adventure!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What Happens to a Toy Chewed Up?

Currently my seventh grade writing students are immersed in a poetry unit, which has been a lot of fun!  In class, we recently read Langston Hughes's "What Happens to a Dream Deferred?"  Here are the lines to it if you do not recall:

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

My students had some really good insight into the deeper meaning between each set of similes.  They puzzled to figure out why each was a perfect example of a dream dying.  So, the other day when I saw these two legs ominously lying beside our trash and recycling cans, a similar thought sprang to mind of, "What happens to a toy chewed up?

Reminiscent of Dorothy's house falling on the Wicked Witch of the East in The Wizard of Oz

Pure carnage

I specifically remember many good times with this once special and then wholly intact toy.

A once clean Crazy Legs Monkey palling around with Sock Monkey
Testing out the travel crate with Crazy Legs close by

Crazy monkey on Milt's back!

 I suppose it was really only a matter of time until Milton separated those crazy legs from Crazy Legs Monkey.  So, what really happens to a toy chewed up?  It hangs around until Milton starts swallowing bits and pieces of it.  Then it hits the trashcan for a proper burial at the dump.  Sad, I know.  If only Milt would learn to be more responsible with his toys!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Puppy Photo of the Week

Friday afternoon I was standing at my kitchen sink thinking, Ahh, what am I going to possibly blog about this week?  Then I turned around and saw this.

The Milt dog nestled up to my rain boots, lately garden boots, made this blogger's day!  When living in New York City, it was imperative that I have a good set of boots due to all the blocks you walk and the inevitable mists, showers, and downpours.  This was actually my third set of rain boots in as many years because they would keep getting irritating holes in them.  Believe me, when you have to walk two avenues over and five blocks down to reach a subway stop, you will not tolerate any sort of leakage in your footwear.  Now, whenever there is an indication of rain, I just wear these boots all day long.  Despite now driving everywhere, I still like to reminisce about the good old days. 

Spring has almost sprung everyone!  Happy March.