Tuesday, October 8, 2013

We may not have it all together....

Most go through life with maybe a brother or a sister, maybe a couple, some few, some none.  However, I am blessed beyond measure.  It truly wasn't until I had a conversation with my SIL that I realized how really, really blessed I am and how from outside looking in, our family is really awesome. 

Yes, I was raised with two brothers.  However, I really have 6 sisters and 7 brothers, most would just refer to the extras as cousins.  My dad comes from a large Catholic farm family.  He was the baby of 7, who in turn blessed my grandparents with 14 grandchildren.  Of course the age spectrum is wide, as one would expect, but I was truly blessed to call some of these my best friends.

Cousins 2013 (Missing Russ & Shane)
My branch of the tree was different in that we didn't grow up near Grandma & Grandpa's.  We moved to Lincoln when I was 5, while the rest of my cousins stayed near "home".  However, that didn't change much for us "city" kids.  I think three out of four weekends a month, we spent back home visiting the grandparents and our friends, aka cousins.  Every summer, for two weeks my oldest brother and I spent time up north with them.  My godparents, I always believed, earned a saint award as they were crazy enough to host us 'younger' cousins all in one weekend.  Seven of us were had those weekends and while I am pretty sure us girls were the saint of the bunch, the boys sure tested the rules.  I cannot count the injuries, the times we played with fire and all the bad things that were had...but, I will never forget those times, the memories.

This seems like a bad idea...
There was family vacations together...who could forget Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun?  There has been plenty of weddings since those early days.  We have been attendants, candle lighters, hall decorators, and just there for each other.  They truly are some of the best friends a person can have and the best part is that they REALLY get how crazy this family is, with all our faults.

But the best part is that the cycle has not broke once the weddings have been had and new branches have been started.  The cousins still see each other, the children are friends with each other and the cycle continues.   Maybe one day Aunt Jenn can have some of those little minions visit Texas.  I'm sure they would have fun stories with that trip.

Some days it is these exact people that make living in Texas so hard.  In reality, it is being so far from family that is the only negative of living in Texas.  Of course, some days it is a blessing in disguise.  However, today is one of those hard days as we say goodbye to Aunt Mary.  Her life was cut way too short and was called home on Thursday.  After talks with my parents, since I was just with everyone and saw her just a few short weeks ago, they didn't feel I needed to come back.  It has not been an easy decision as I am sure there are plenty of laughs going around right now as everyone remembers the stories to be had and I am missing out.  However, I know I am there in spirit and have said my extra rosary's for Mary. 

What is the saying...We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.  I am truly blessed.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Broken Promises

I think my Facebook post said it best on Saturday:  "I've been through some pretty bad things in life but this has to be one of the worst. My (heart) hurts."

On Saturday, I had to put down one of my foster dogs, Bentley.  It was not a decision that I made but one I had to follow through on as a foster.  It is a decision that breaks my heart and I still want to cry when I think of those big brown eyes staring and me and giving me kisses in his final moments.

You can see all the mats and hot spots
Over the Labor Day weekend I was asked to pick up a dog from Corpus Christi that was being turned in by their owners.  They had a heartbreaking story that resulted in them loosing their home and having to give up their pets.  It was a sad situation as they were using an electrical cord as a make-shift leash.  The dog was in sad shape, with an ear infection, in desperate need of grooming and had hot spots, from what I could see. 

The oldest daughter was 14 and just sobbed and didn't want to give up the dog.  I think we spent more time waiting for her to give him up than it took to fill out all the paperwork.  As soon as I thought we could get him in the crate, she would just hug him tighter and pleading with her mom to not let go of the dog, to let her keep it.  I promised her then and there that we would find a great home for this dog and he would have his happily ever after.  That is what this rescue does, we find great homes.

How I failed. 

Sitting patiently having the mats cut off.
I had Bentley the first week after picking him up.  That Monday, I did a hack job on him trying to cut off the mats.  He was such a trooper and while he didn't want me near his ear (for good reason) he never got snippy with me.  The next day he was ushered to the vets to be checked and get treated for his raging ear infection.  Outside of the ear infection, he was in good healthy.  Thursday was a trip to the groomers to clean up my clipping.  The poor guy was so scared by that point that I had to call for him when I picked him up, he did not want to come out of the crates in the back at Petco. 

I sent as much information to the rescue team as I could about him and they continued to work to find him a foster home.  One was found and I met the new foster family that Friday.  Unfortunately by Saturday evening, he had bit one child twice and attempted to bite another adult.  So, Sunday he was back in my home.

No, he was not one of the dogs that made the trip back to Nebraska with me.  I knew he was still too unsettled and given the number of children that would be around, I did not want to take the chance or stress him more, so he was kenneled at the vets office. 

The happy dog
90% of the time, he was such a great dog.  He was eager to please, enjoyed his walks and wanted to snuggle.  The other 10%, you just did not know what he was going to do.  I doubt that he was ever trained.  I had to work with him on treats, the first week I thought I was going to loose a finger, but by the end, he was getting more careful with each piece.  He created a fear that he would bite you if he didn't want to do what he was instructed to do.  If I grabbed him by the collar, his first reaction was almost always turning to try and bite.  He bit me once when I was trying to pick up Guinness food bowl out of her crate, that he had claimed at that moment.

Because of this, he was not considered adoptable by the rescue president.  I understand and know it was best for him.  I would not want a child or someone else to be seriously hurt if they were bit by him.  But, it was so painfully hard to do.  It was almost as if he knew and was pleading with me.

Friday night he was extra cuddly and spent most of the evening on the couch with me.  When I told him it was time for bed, he went to his crate, no issues.  Saturday morning he just followed me around and would lay in whatever room I happened to be. 

My last picture of him.  Waiting for the vet.
Saturday, I took at dog that was so excited to go for a car ride and was nothing but tail wags and put him to forever sleep.  I stayed with him through the end with some last kisses from him and those big brown eyes forever staring at me.  As with all fosters, I opened my home and heart to him. 

I hope that he forgives me for the failed promise of happily ever after with a new family.  I hope if the family ever learns of what came of him, they too will forgive me.

Maybe my heart is not cut out to be a foster mom.

RIP sweet buddy.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cooler than the flip side

Uncle Kracker sings it best in his song "Smile".  ATM just makes me smile.

Honestly I really was not sure when he came along if I was ready to date.  NoDIY really soured the grapes of dating.  I had turned back on an online profile that I had but had not done anything with it and really was on the fence about if I wanted to even be on there.  But, then he messaged me and he seemed too perfect and I thought, maybe?  At worst, I would lose two hours of my life, to never get back?  It could not hurt, could it?

Well, as they would say, the rest has been history...so far.  He has been the well kept secret to a certain degree.  I mean we have dated for four months now and he is just now making the blog...that is a pretty good secret.

For our first meeting/date, we went to a wine bar and had a couple of glasses of wine and just talked.  I should point out that I was way under dressed compared to the suit he was sporting, as he had come straight from work.  I will say that it was my first experience having someone pull a chair out for me, in a good way.  After the wine, we walked across the street to a Louisiana cafe for some Cajun.  We shared some appetizers and just talked the night away.  It felt like we were there for hours but do not think it was more than two hours.

He is one of four boys and grew up in Philadelphia.  Both of his parents and a brother have passed and for different reasons does not have much contact with his other two brothers.  It truly is probably the one thing that is completely different in our lives.  He played five years of minor league baseball.  Part of his contract allowed him a free education so he made the most of it!  After the minor league baseball came a stint on the pro golf circuit.  No idea how one manages that since the swings are completely different but who am I to judge.  He is now in the real world with the rest  us and working the ranks up in the banking world, hence the name ATM.  He is a church man and attends services weekly at St. David's Episcopal Church.  I have never been but hear it is not a far cry from the Catholic world.

Since he started with Texas Star Bank a few months ago, the time that we do get to spend together is not as much as I would like but at the same time, so absolutely enjoy the realm of just dating and taking things as they come.  No matter how much time we have together, or what we do, we always have a good time and end up laughing.  Dates have ranged from brunch on Sunday's after we both go to Church to running errands that we have to going to this little dive bar to have drinks and watch the old & the young dance.

I truly have went 360 with ATM from where I was.  I have a true gentleman that opens doors, pulls out chairs, carries the shopping bags (I really want to test how far he'll go on this one) and orders for me.  He works hard and is passionate about his career.  He has a faith and practices it.  He has his own place and a dog.  He does not feel it is necessary to drink all the time and alcohol does not consume the relationship.  (This makes Momma Bear happy). 
Although there is one qwirk I hope someone can explain...I still do not understand the concept of why I have to walk to the inside of him on sidewalks, etc.  I guess it's so he gets hit first?  But he is pretty insistent on it, so I just go with the flow and learn to give up some of that independence. 

He definitely has been the positive I have needed in my life and the rock that has helped me with the tough times we have gone through with my little brother.  He has been stead fast and has not made a run for the hills when NoDIY went crazy, instead asked if I needed anything.  It's easy to say I am truly blessed for him entering my life and he makes me happy.

"Don't know how I lived without you
'Cuz every time that I get around you
I see the best of me inside your eyes
You make me smile
You make me dance like a fool
Forget how to breathe
Shine like the gold
Buzz like a bee
Just the though of you can drive me wild

Oh, you make me smile"

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day

They always say it is out with the old to make room for the new.

Well, I don't think there could be a more fitting day to blog about the old so I can start sharing things about life with the new.

Oh , NODIY.  Where does one begin. Honestly, until September of last year, things were good.  We had our ups and downs but overall, things were good.  Of course, I had some pretty thick blinders on but what did I know.

Our trip back to Nebraska in September was not what I had ever hoped for or imagined.  At that point in life, I imagined a future with him.  But, you take two alpha males, stir in a lot of booze and how quickly can things get so ugly so fast.  Things were said, people became offended and punches were thrown.  It was the beginning of a long end.

NODIY headed back to St. Louis to finish up his job in the wee hours of that following Monday morning.  It was a job that continued to drag on and on and on.  Of course, through the course of things, I some how was the one that was to blame.  I don't know how or why but that was his thinking.  I was suffering from Bells Palsy and he wanted to do nothing to do with me.  He wouldn't take my calls, rarely answered texts, it was a mess.  I was trapped in limbo of not knowing if we were going to have a future or if we were.

Eventually he made his way back home mid-December.  Ironically he came home without a dime in his pocket from a job that he lived at his sister's house to do.  He also didn't send a dime my way during that time either.  But when you live together, you at least have to try, or so I thought.  That was what relationships that were meant to last do, if the going gets tough, you work at it.

By the end of January, things had not improved at all.  His mom, niece and great niece came for a visit to help him with his business taxes.  Ironically he was too busy with work, aka sitting on the back porch smoking cigarettes and talking on the phone, to help with anything.  I, on the other hand, was working 8+ days and coming home to cooking dinner, watching the baby and entertaining.  The last night of the visit we were laying in bed and he just blew up at me about how dirty the house was and how embarrassing it was that his mom had to clean and how rude I was to them.  I went to the couch and he came out and started yelling at me in full ear shot of his family.  I was done.

The next day was the Super Bowl and he thankfully he left.  I knew things were done and he just needed to move out.  I was treated to him coming home at 3:30 in the morning and him feeling the need to wake me up in his drunk state.  It started with we need to fix things to quickly turning to how terrible I was, my family was, blah, blah, blah when he didn't get the answers he wanted.  I was finally able to get him out of the room and lock the door but it didn't slow him down.  Threatening me, threatening the family, the list went on.  I just wanted sleep and I also knew that calling the police would have made matters that much worse.  Eventually I fell back asleep around 6 am.

The following day was made making calls.  Sadly he was a squatter ($500 in 6 months for bills) and he had rights.  I had to give him 30 days notice to vacate before I could evict.  Pretty sad in my mind but not much I could do.  So, that evening, I kindly served him his eviction notice.  He had 30 days to get out.

It was the longest 30 days of my life.  I was treated to at least a couple more nights like the Super Bowl night as clearly he forgot I was the one that worked a real job.  I knew things were done and how different we really were.  He was LAZY to a new level.  He could have made great money at what he did if he started a day before 9 or 10 in the morning and actual did work.  My family will tell you the horror stories of how he left me mow the lawn in my walking boot while he relaxed...he was tired from working so hard.  Clearly by the end of the 30 days, I was done and wanted him out and wanted to move on.

Of course, he was not going to make it easy.  With a day left in his 30 days, he was showing no signs of moving out.  So, I did what I had to do and went crazy on him.  I started the texting early in the morning and by noon, he was packing his crap to move out.  It's amazing how much 'stuff' he had that was of no value.  So much stuff he needed a U-haul.  By 7 pm, 4 pick up truck loads and a U-Haul later, he had his stuff out.  I cried and mourned the good parts of the relationship that we had. 

I wish that was where things ended but they didn't.  He continued to show crazy colors.  He still had a few things that needed to be picked up.  He showed up at 10:30 at night, full knowing I was in bed threatening me with mail fraud because I had a stack of his mail.  I just wanted done, so I opened the garage door and started hucking into the driveway the shit that remained.  After it was out, I told him to leave and never contact me again.  Then he had the nerve to ask if he could come inside to see the dogs.  Go to Hell were my words.  Two weeks after coming back to get the last of his stuff, he started texting me and telling me what a terrible person I was, how fat I was, how he had some hot new girlfriend and they were in love and going to get married and have kids, blah, blah blah.  I kept asking him to stop, he wouldn't and well now I have a new cell number and know I will never hear from him again. 

The funny part of the whole story is my Hispanic neighbor asked me where he went.  I told him we were done and he was gone for good.  If he ever saw him near the house, call the police.  He then proceeds to tell me how he told his wife that one month of him moving in, he knew we wouldn't last.  He said "They no last".  She told him that was nice.  He said, "Look at her garage...before he move in...meticulous...he move in, stuff, crap everywhere.  You can't walk through it.  They no last."

The Thursday after he moved out, March 14th, a new chapter began with ATM.

Here is to Independence Day, to a day where we celebrate Freedom, I celebrate Freedom with NoDIY and the new found Freedom I have with ATM.

Monday, July 1, 2013


“The mentality and behavior of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction and unless they have structured help, they have no hope.”

― Russell Brand

I write today's entry with a heavy heart. However, I write today's entry so you know the whole story. The rumors and the judgments make it so much more difficult. At this time all we ask is for prayers that the help is taken and comfort to the rest of us.

On Friday, June 28 the family made a decision that forever changed our lives and the life of our little brother. It was by no means an easy decision and one that was done with a forever heavy heart.

As most know, or have assumed, Junior was a drug addict. He has been one since his high school years. To what level, I don't think any of us really know or probably will never get a truthful answer to. We know there was the obvious marijuana, but we also know there was at least cocaine and prescription pain pills of oxycontin. Of course, with the drugs came the poor choices and bad decisions that also resulted in the 3 DUI convictions.

It's so hard to write this. I still remember that sweet innocent little brother that use to come visit me in college. He was such a chatter box and some days I wish he would just be quiet on those drives to Hastings. Everyone loved having him around, I was proud to have him visit.

To some level, I realize today that I mourn the loss of my baby brother. That loving kid has been gone for quiet some time. He really didn't talk to anyone much because I think he was just too high to do so. It breaks my heart because the last visit home in April, he said some pretty hateful things to me. Of course, I realize that it was the drugs talking but also hope that is not the last time I ever hear from him. He might be so angry at us that it just might.

Sadly, the drugs really took hold of him this year. He was no longer any semblance of a brother or son that we knew. As most know, he was not at sausage making this year. What you do not know is that he spent that weekend ransacking my parents and brother's homes looking for any kind of pain pill. My visit at Easter was hard in that it was the first that light was being shed on the level of addiction he now was at. He was stealing things from the house and pawning them for drugs. He was stealing checks and using credit cards without permission. He no longer cared who he was hurting, he just wanted a fix.

Of course, we confronted him. I will not say it was an all out intervention. The fence was split on what to do. On one hand, you wanted him to be the brother & son you loved, you wanted to trust that he would get help. On the other, you feared that he would just keep stealing and hurting those that he loved the most, just for a fix.

On Friday, June 28, we learned that the drugs were still winning. One of his friends called us concerned because he was so "hopped up on pills, he kept falling asleep trying to light a cigarette." We then realized the stealing had continued. The amount of money that was stolen this year through checks and credit cards makes me sick to my stomach. I just do not get how you can do that to your own family. Let's just say that what was taken in two months, most would say you were half way home to a good salary for the year. He was in way deep. He had found a "friend" that would run the credit card numbers for purchase and a lot extra and give him the cash. It was easily $200 a day. How did one not know? It was way too easy for him.  He lived at home and could intercepts the bills.

Through the course of everything, we learned that there was a warrant for his arrest for him not completing the probation for his 3rd DUI. On that Friday, we all agreed that the best place for him to be was in jail. A place where he can get clean and hopefully get treatment for his addiction.

So on Friday evening, the Lancaster Sheriffs office was contacted to notify them of his location for the warrant. The Sheriffs office was very considerate of my parents and wanted to try and make sure that the arrest did not happen at their home. Unfortunately due to another call, they missed him coming home. So, around 5 am, the deputy handling the case was contacted and shortly thereafter, 4 deputies arrived at my parents home to take the shell of a brother and son away.

It is and has been the hardest decision a family would ever have to make. A decision you hope that you never would have to see in your life time for either yourself or anyone close to you. There is never a moment in life that it is easy to have your son or brother arrested. We pray that the decision that was made was one that will save his life and that maybe one day we will have that son and brother back.

Obviously at the time I write this, we do not know how long he will be there but we hope that it is for a good while and that he can get his life back on track. I share this today to spare my family some of the questions of what happened and why he will not be at my parents anniversary. You can never understand the level of hurt and pain this has caused all of us.

My brother faces a lifelong fight. A fight that I believe I speak for all of us in that we will embrace him and help him if he can stay clear of the drugs, stealing and lies.

We just ask that you pray for my brother that he embraces his addiction and is willing to accept the treatment for it. We ask you to pray that he will be able to walk a sober life the rest of his days. We ask that you pray that he can forgive us and some day love us for the decision we made. We ask that you pray for our family, we all hurt and all grieve in our own ways for that brother and son that has been missing for so long. We finally ask that you respect our privacy as we try and make sense of all of this and we mourn the loss of a brother and son we may never get back. 

For now, though, he is in a place that he cannot get his next fix and maybe one day thank us for making the decision that saved his life.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cinco de Mayo

Today (okay more like the past hour), I have been in a purge, garage sale, love it mode.  My philosophy is that if I don't love it and it doesn't bring me happiness, I should not keep it.  From there it goes to the trash or the garage sale pile.  I'm pretty sure I have enough crap that will become another man's treasure.

This adventure brought me to a notebook.  What a blast from the past.  I'm pretty sure that if I had this blog and wrote this on here that day....it makes me wonder where life would have ended up and if things would have changed sooner?  No one knows but I thought I would share a glimpse into the past that I hid for so long from everyone.  Of course, now that the fog has really lifted...what in the HELL was I thinking then?!?!

May 5, 2007 - Cinco de Mayo (One month & a day into moving to Texas)

I thought I needed to start writing things down again.  Ex isn't home tonight and it is really my first night alone since moving here.  It has been a rough transition in Austin from a couple of fronts.  First is the job factor - I never could of imagined it being this hard trying to find a job.  Ex has been so great & supportive about it but it just bothers me.  I know I just need to be patient and the right job will come at the right time.  Of course, then again, patience was never my strong point.  The other problem has been (the) Ex & his drinking.  He wants to prove he can just be okay with beer but it has been a struggle.  I know he continues to hide alcohol from me.  It breaks my heart.  I know what I was getting into but things were so great last fall when he was not drinking.  Thursday night I saw the rage and hatred in his eyes that scared me to death last fall.  I cannot tell him to stop drinking, he has to want to do it on his own.  God, it just hurts me so much he is so mean & hateful  when he drinks & it feels like he exploits my every weakness & fear when he is that way.  I worry about what our future will be like - what happens with the stress of getting married - commitment or permanent hasn't really been there or what if something ever happened health wise with a child.  He doesn't handle stress well, admits it but continues to deal with it through alcohol.  I love him with all my heart & couldn't of ever imagined meet the good (Ex) let alone ever know he picked me.  I do want a future with him, I can't imagine one where he isn't in it but there is always that fear with the alcohol & his desire to still hide it.  It just creates a doubt when I find the empty bottles - sometimes I fear that it just isn't the alcohol he isn't be honest about.  If that is so easy to hide from me what else is there?  The one thing I know I cannot continue to do is deal with it with food.  The stress binge eating or eating just because I am bored isn't an excuse anymore.  I have the power to make choices & do something about it.  I have chose to be a victim in my life for too long and now need to be the owner of my life & future!

Plan of Action for Sunday:
Church, time for family, groceries, clean floors, weights, & walk Guinness

Tomorrow is a new day.  Every morning that I wake up next to (the) Ex is another day blessed in my life.


All I can say is thank God the fog lifted and I realized that my life was so much better AND Blessed without the Ex in my life.    And now that sheet can go to the trash pile.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

THAT Neighbor

That's right, I became THAT neighbor.  The one that calls the police, calls the HOA, calls anyone to get rid of the nuisance dog. Yes, the one that has four dogs in her house, yes that one.

The house to the west of me is a rental house.  In the five years I have been in my house, I have blessed in that I have only had two neighbors.  Both of which were very friendly.  Both of which owned a dog.  The first renters dog barked but it wasn't outside much.  The current renters, it is a whole different story. 

First off, I cannot tell you how many fence pickets I have replaced in 5 years.  Finn loves to run up and down the fence and wants to play.  Well the dog on the other side always got angry and then it became a case of barking and chewing trying to get through the fence.  Finn knows he is not suppose to bark when he is outside so he gets ushered back inside promptly.  Unfortunately that was not the case with my neighbors.

If you have been to my house, you KNOW the issue.  For the past two years, I have been unable to enjoy my backyard.  See, the neighbors dog is let outside about 6:30 every morning and then allowed back in around 10 pm.  Guess what happens if you walked onto the porch or into my yard...yup...she barked, and barked and barked.  Sometimes I swore she was going to come through the fence and bite me when I was pulling weeds along the fence line.  Plus she is a digger, so she would dig holes along the fence line.  Of course, being the responsible owners they were not, they would put something to block the hole but would never fill in the dirt now missing on my side. 

Talk to the neighbors you say.  We did and have.  NoDIY had numerous conversation with them because he was always on the porch.  I have even gone so far as asking them to let the dog in because I couldn't stand listening to it bark anymore and I was INSIDE.  It was on deaf ears.

The male in the house didn't want the dog.  He said it was his wife and step daughters dog.  If it was up to him, the dog would have been gone.  The other two just didn't care.  The only exercise that I ever saw the dog get was the walks it took from breaking out.  Of course the dog had not been spayed so you can imagine what happened, PUPPIES.  It gave a break from the barking because they allowed her inside to care for the dogs.  However, once the puppies were gone, back outside and back to barking it went.

I couldn't take it anymore.  I called the sheriff's office one day.  Really it was for the dogs own good.  This house doesn't have a covered porch or area.  So, here is this poor dog outside all day in the Texas heat with no shelter and I couldn't see the food or water bowl.  It was 85+ that day and humid as hell so I turned them in for animal neglect and also being a nuisance.  Well, they could address the neglect but couldn't the nuisance.  So, I called the HOA and filed a complaint there.  This was all about 3 weeks ago.

All I can say is, I should have done it sooner.  The dog is gone.  I'm sure she was a sweet dog and I hope that she has found a good home with owners that will take care of her.  Poor Finn, well he is sad that his girlfriend is gone.  About once a day, he goes to the fence line and barks for her, hoping she will appear.  Of course, it scares me to see what he will be like when Murphy & Vito leave.  I'm going to have a very, very sad dog. 

Yet, I am excited to have grass grow in the areas that the dogs have run and run chasing the neighbors dogs on that fence line.

PS. It is just the two renters dogs.  I have dogs along another fence line and occasionally they bark at them but not very often!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Furry Friends & S'Wheat Rescues

Never in a million years would I have thought I would be the dog lover.  We had dogs when I was little but then when we moved to the city, Papa Smurf said we couldn't have dogs, it wasn't fair to keep them pinned up.  So, we didn't have dogs.  I will have to say it is funny now that Momma Bear & Poppa Smurf now have two dogs, of course they live in the "country" now.  I remember when they got Bailey and she was an outside dog and has gradually wormed her way into becoming an indoor dog. 

Fast forward 27 years later and enter Guinness, my first Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.  Yes we saw the breed in the puppy store and just fell in love.  The Ex and I had to have one.  Plus as a hypo-allergenic breed, they don't shed which would be perfect for my allergies.  Oh, now naive we were and what little we knew about the breed.  So, instead of the puppy store, we bought Guinney from a breeder, what I have since learned wasn't the most reputable breeder in the world, but far better than one that supplies the puppy stores!

As Guinney grew, so did the issues.  Hundreds and hundreds of dollars were spent on allergy testing, steroid shots, ear infections, IV's because she was so dehydrated, allergy shots because she was allergic to everything, so the Vet said.  One day I googled Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and that is when I found S'Wheat Rescues and loads of information.  In a short period of time...allergy shots became a thing of the past.

S'Wheat Rescues is located in Kansas City, MO but rescues Wheaten Terriers and other "Wheatables" across the US.  You can learn more about them by clicking here.  I started out in just the email groups trying to learn all I could about the breed and quickly learned I was not alone on the ear infections and allergies.  What I soon learned is that Guinney was allergic to the food that I was feeding her.  Well, with changes, there are no more shots and few and far between ear infections and other complications.

Fast forward to last year in which the rescue needed more volunteer "staff".  I was pretty much home bound by the boot and needed things to do to fill my free time so I volunteered.  I am now a "Transport Coordinator" for them.  For every adoption, we ensure that the current owner never meets the previous owner.  Enter transport coordinator.  Our job is to find a volunteer that can assist with picking up the dog in one location and dropping off the dog in another location in the same town.  We also do transports for mill dogs in which we make every effort to do a car relay of getting the dog from its current location to within 300 miles of its new home.  I have just done one of those and it was a Kansas City, MO to New York leg.  There is a lot of logistics that go into it besides just finding volunteers.  You have to find routes that work, find volunteers on those routes, calculate driving times, meeting locations, finding volunteers willing to host a dog overnight, ensuring everyone has a driving contract with the rescue and then making sure everyone has vehicle/phone information and confirmed meeting times.  Don't forget those changes in time zone. 

I truly love what I do and being able to give back.  I work with a great group of people.  We have a whole host of volunteers to make the rescue work.  We have the founder, the in-take coordinator, adoption coordinators, foster coordinators, transport coordinators, microchip coordinators, web designers, the vet consult and may other roles that individuals serve.  On a daily basis there is 21 of us that work behind the scenes to help save dogs that have come from some of the worst places you have ever seen.  All of us have some type of other full time job and the rescue is just a side gig. 

I can assure you the next time you see the cute puppy in the window...call me and ask me about where that dog came from.  I'm sure our fearless leader would love to tell you the horror stories of the lives of the mom's and dad's that created that dog.  We have acquired countless dogs from Puppy Mill auctions and secretly freed them from their life of hell.  The dogs rescued from there spend the rest of their life learning how to be a dog and just trust a human.

And that is the story of how I then became a foster mom.  There was a "wheatable" that was in bad shape in San Antonio shelter.  It was a kill shelter and he had 24 hours left on his life.  Our intake coordinator contacted me to see if I could help.  Of course, I said yes.  Clearly I had no clue what I was getting into or what was even involved.  We knew the dog had mange and was determined to be noncontagious.  In the process of getting the dog ready for me to pick up, the shelter discovered he was chipped and tried to contact the owners.  Sadly the owners didn't come and it was a Sunday trip for me to San Antonio.

I traveled with Guinney's crate thinking it fit nicely in the car not knowing what I was picking up, they said he was about 40 lbs.  Well how wrong I was?  See the picture at the right.  He was clearly a big boy and smelled terrible.  I assure you, he was not friendly to the new car smell!  I drove back to Austin with the windows down because it was so bad.

Once I got back to Austin, the next step was finding a name for this big guy.  It had to be something perfect and I came up with Vito which means "life giving".  I can only hope the family that adopts him agrees and keeps it.

Well in short order, the next step was a visit to my Vet's office.  I love Hometown Animal Care and cannot say enough good things about them.  I mean, they did save Finn's life after all!  Well, they agreed to provide a discount to the rescue to treat Vito.  I have to say the picture to the left is not for the weak stomached but it gives you an idea of what poor, poor shape this dog was in.  He had such horrible skin and yeast infections.  They pulled out plugs of hair and crud from his ear that was leading to his ear infections.  This boy was so sick, they gave him pain pills to help manage all the pain associated with the infections, itching and mange.  NoDIY was at least helpful in giving him baths while he was around.  He had to be bathed two to three times a week with special shampoo to help with the mange.  My house smelled terrible for weeks, terrible to the point it was embarrassing.

But today, Vito's fur is growing back in and you would never know that he had issues, that he was facing a death sentence or that his skin was that bad.  Today he is a dog with his own personality.  He doesn't get crated during the day.  The free one I picked up from a free-cycler he has a tendency to break out of.  So, rather than risk an injury, I let him roam.  Of course, with him being so young and liking to chew, it also means that I keep things picked up and the closet doors & pantry doors are closed when I leave home.  Let's just say that he likes decorating the rooms with pasta noodles and chewing on shoes. 

To the right is a recent picture of him.  How long will I have him, probably longer than most fosters.  He is not a pure bread wheaten and he weighs in at 85 lbs so most are passing.  All I can say is those that pass, miss out on a wonderful dog.

Click here to read more about Vito.

Since fostering Vito, I have fostered two more dogs.  Clancy (to the right) has since moved to his foster to adopt home.  He is home check status which means a volunteer goes to the new home for Clancy and gives their gut opinion of those looking to adopt and the place he will be living in.

Click here to read about Clancy.

Murphy (to the left) was another rescue that was considered "unadoptable" and more than likely would have been put down and has been with me not quite two weeks.

Murphy is a very scared, timid puppy but I have not seen any of the aggression issues that the shelter said he suffered from.  I don't think he will be with me long and will be off to a new, loving family.

Click here to read Murphy's story.

So from being a non-dog person, I have graduated to walking four dogs every day.  A quick 15 min walk in the morning to stretch the legs and then another 2.5 mile walk at night to burn off some energy.  I'd almost 100% say I wouldn't have it any other way but feeding 4 (really 5 since one eats for two) dogs can get expensive.  But I couldn't think of volunteering for a greater group or work with a better group of volunteers.

You can see all of the dogs available for adoption at:  http://www.wheatenterrierrescue.org/AdoptionPage.html

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The thing that affords me the fun the things

In other words, work. 

I think that in some ways, it is easy to get jaded.  You forget why you took the new job.  You forget why you thought this was the best job ever when you took it.  You get jaded.  You think you need to be paid more than you do.  Let's not kid ourselves, we all believe we deserve to get paid more for what we do.  I have yet to meet that person that says, nope I get paid exactly what I deserve. 

But, today is a remind of why I love my job. 

First and foremost...summer is creeping in and we are averaging 90 degree days.  But the beauty of the new job...yes that's right, I have shorts on today.  I assure you all of my previous jobs, that would never, NEVER, ever happen.  But today it does, tomorrow it could and next winter if I wanted it to, it would.  Jeans are even okay.  Sadly, I am finding my dresses only get used on Sunday's now for Church.  I could dress up for work but whenever one is so casual, then you feel over dressed.  So, not really a bad thing.

But most importantly is my special visitor today.  Yes, that is right, Mr. Finnegan is hanging with momma at work.  He had a groomers appointment today at 9:30.  So, he came to work with momma before hand and then is here to hang until it is time to go home.  The best part, no one cares. They want to come in and give him love.  He wants to give them love. 

Really, if it wasn't for his whining, they wouldn't know he was here.  He gets pissed if they walk by without saying hi and starts whining.  It's cute but annoying.

Guinness has also had the privilege of having a work day too.

So, I have those things going for me at work.  I have the great pay and the benefits that no one gets in today's economy...aka the company covers me and my family 100%.  I have the casual attire, I get to bring my dog to work on occasion, a short commute to work and I have zero of the stress that any of the other jobs afforded.  Yes, I had the boss get cranky on me once for something that was out of my control but unlike my old boss...he apologized and was far, far less scary and cranky.  If that was him at his worst, I'll take it.  Plus, a few of us have Red Solo Cup Friday's.  It isn't every Friday but it happens and it is the Friday's of the most stressful weeks!

And so today I am reminded of all the reasons I love this job and not the pain in the ass sales guys that annoy me with their other stuff. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Hmmm, didn't I just blog about the best laid plans?  Wasn't that just yesterday?  Weird.  It feels like it was just yesterday but today is May 21st. 

How should I say it, life went to hell in a hand basket it a matter of minutes of that last post.  There was so many changes, so many moments of personal hell, tears, doubt, self failure and then happy times, a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Clearly I have a lot of catching up to do.  I almost want to say that since the start of May, a lot of things were just a reboot to my mission and goals in January.

Stay tuned as I update on what has transpired the past few months, who ATM is and how life is in a much better place.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The best laid plans, can faulter

Yes, I had great visions of doing well with writing and as they say...mother nature won the battle.  I have been battling the flu or some other virus since before the New Year.  I really thought after this past weekend, I was on the downhill slide.  Then, Monday happened.  Clearly I didn't sound well, didn't look well on top of my knowing I really felt like ass.  By noon, Runner convinced me to go home.  After a 4 hour nap, I found some food and back to bed I went.  I think that I am really blessed with two fabulous fur babies.  Yes, most of you see them as the two that go 100 MPH and never slow down.  However, even Mr. Finn snuggled up to momma almost every day staying close to momma to make sure that I was going to be okay.  Outside of a few trips to do business and have some food & water...he was laying in bed.

Now, being the stubborn German that I am...I truly felt I was going to get over all this crap on my own.  Even Momma Bear said go to the doctor and I said no.  But that was Tuesday.  Wednesday I was sure I could go to work.  I did...for all of 20 minutes, hit a wall and back home I went.  I was patient and waited till the doctor's office opened up at 8:30 and made my call.  She figured I was over the tail end of the flu and ended up with a sinus infection out of it all.  Lucky me.  But, it is Friday and I don't feel 100% but feel 100% better than I did two days ago...so work it was.  Plus I get two more rest days after today too!

So, my exciting news is that I am officially done with PT and have been signed off by the doctor for Bootsie.  I am a long way to go before I can try and start jogging again, which saddens me.  BUT, it gives me something to work for.  I have to be able to walk 3 miles with an average of 15 min pace.  Easier said than done but then again, I take the dogs and if you take away the "breaks" I might have a shot at it.  Whatever the case - I am just excited to break a sweat again...especially with the Biggest Loser back on. 

So, who knows maybe I'll be able to complete one of my 2012 resolutions in 2013...my goal for 2012 was 3 races...I managed two before injury.  Maybe this year I can get 3 three in.  Here's to trying and my 2013 goal of being a healthier me.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Money, Money, MON-EY!

One of the big things for me this year is making my budget work.  Yes, I live off a budget and then I get lazy and things fall by the wayside and then it becomes juggling money from this account to that account to cover eating out too much or whatever.  Who's been there?

So, for step one of the new year...I redid my budget.  Thank you Mint.com for making my life easy.  If you have never heard of mint.com or don't know where to start with managing your money...Mint.com is where you go.  As I learned with Dave Ramsey's school, you should plan where you spend your money at the beginning of the money versus figuring out where it went at the end of the month.

Does the initial set up take some time?  Absolutely!  But think about it, anything worth doing takes a commitment.  If I wanted to play softball in college, I just couldn't step out on the field on game day...I had to practice.  If I want to do a race, I can't show up on race day...I had to do runs before hand. 

But now that I have got through the initial commitment, guess what?  Yep, it takes a minute a day every morning.  I can log in, make sure that my money coming out of each account is going out of the correct budget category and guess what...it even remembers it for next time!  Every morning, in ONE MINUTE, I know exactly where I am at and guess what...there is an app for it!  :)

Step two was this great idea I heard on the radio this morning.  So props really go to the JB and Sandy Morning Show.  It is the dollar a week savings play.  For each week of the year, you save that week.  So, week 1, you save one dollar.  Check.  Week 2, you save $2 and you continue through the weeks.  I have included the picture they added.  Don't get me wrong, the end of the year will be tough and maybe I'll mix in some of those later weeks into the earlier part of the year.  However, at the end of the year I have saved $1,378!!!  That doesn't factor in interest either. 

Now I challenge you for 2013...make it the year that you spend your money at the beginning of the month versus wondering where it went at the end of the month.  Plus put away the week of the year into savings each week. 

2013 resolution of making my finances right!

Another one bites the dust...

At NFP that is.

It started with my departure in October.  I know I didn't blog about it...ooopsie.  But, given the previous blogs, it should come as no surprise that I was not happy at my job.  I think the finally breaking point was when one of the guys on our team transferred to another department and my manager honestly suggested I take his position which he described as "entry level".  Really, you think so highly of me.

But that is water under the bridge, I am on to greener pastures.  And so to is Grace.  I think it is safe to say that Grace was just as unhappy as I was, maybe even more so.  Yesterday was her last day and so the girls got together to toast the occasion.   And toast we did.  Five bottles of Champagne did the trick.

I love my girls Grace, Gwen & Harriet.  We are all so different in so many regards and so similar in others.  I always had the ability to talk to them at work.  I saw them everyday.  However, it wasn't until I left that realized how important these girls were.  It was after I left that there was more than just work and as I told them last night, I think they become deeper relationships after leaving because you don't have that age old talk of how crappy work is to fall back on.  I've moved on and have grown from it.  Grace is now moving on.  Our friendship is not defined by our job but who each of us are.  Love you ladies!

And yes that is one of the 2013 resolutions, spending more time with those that are the important people in my life!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year...

New Resolutions...right?

So who knows, maybe I should blog more? I mean I clearly have some silent stalkes out there....I'm sure I can find something to entertain you with. I have a lot of resolutions this year and I think blogging just might help me.

That said, just know my resolutions are about making my life better and keeping the happiness.  I mean the picture below says why anything else would just be silly.

So what makes this even better is that my truly awesome parents bought me a tablet for Christmas and as they say...there is an app for that. Who knew that I could blog from my tablet. Although I'm pretty sure that typing on a normal keyboard will be easier some days!

So, two days in to the new year and we have one blog post and one workout recorded. I would say that was a WINNING moment!

Stay tuned, 2013 will be the best yet!!!

On a side note...editing is going to be easier at a real computer!