Saturday, September 10, 2016

Crazy love

Five or so years ago, I learned about this opportunity that exists out there called "animal fostering".  I'd heard of foster homes for children, of course, but I had no idea there were people who took in animals who needed temporary homes.  Being a crazy animal lover, I was immediately drawn to the idea.  I don't remember Stu being vehemently against it but....he may have been.  He likes our pets just fine but he'd also like living in a pet-free house just as well.  If you've known me for very long or very well at all, you know that once I get an idea in my head, it doesn't shake loose easily.  I doubt it was very many days before we had our first foster dog in our house.


A lot of people think it's crazy to take animals into your house when you don't know their history. I will admit, it's a risk.  I am exceedingly careful introducing new animals to my children and to my own animals.  And it's still probably crazy.  But our house is full of crazy love.  And we've found it works really well for us.  I have a crazy love for animals and my husband has a crazy love for me.  In a span of about 4 years, we fostered approximately 40 dogs, puppies, and kittens.


Then, in God's perfect timing, I suddenly and immediately felt overwhelmed with the dog rescue world and with fostering and decided to take a break.  Shortly thereafter, I learned the Lord had nudged me in this direction because instead of tenderly caring for helpless animals for a while, I tenderly cared for my dying mother for about 4 months while she she succumbed to cancer.  My mom died on August 20, 2015 and I learned a valuable lesson about God's timing.  We may not understand why a door closes at the time but looking back after time has passed gives a whole new perspective.  I'm so grateful for how things played out now but at time I was hurt and sad.

Fast forward about 13 months.  It's been 13 months since my best friend went to Heaven.  I know I'll see her again but I don't know how long I'll have to wait until then.  When we stopped fostering animals in the Spring of 2015, we had one dog.  We still share our home with Zoe but since then, we adopted a puppy from the Animal Humane Society and named her Petunia, took in a retired breeding female named Sierra, and took in my mom's cat, Savvy.  

We decided our little zoo was full and it made sense, even after my mom was gone, to not go back to fostering.  In addition, I was absolutely wracked by grief and had no room in my heart to care for anyone or anything but what was essential. As time passed, the grief has eased somewhat and though I still miss my mom more than I thought I ever would, I've started opening back up to being able to do some things that I just didn't have the capacity for in the last year.  I didn't know that I was open to considering fostering again until I offered to kitten-sit for a friend while she was out of town for a week.

My friend adopted Bella and Sam shortly before leaving on a planned family camping trip.  Bella had been having seizures and my friend was not comfortable leaving the kittens at home with the neighbor periodically checking on them.  Thankfully, Bella never had a seizure while staying with us and blessedly, she's never had a seizure again.  Caring for these two little souls who were in need and  providing peace of mind for my friend reminded me of the joy of fostering animals.  Not only do I get satisfaction from helping the animals in need, I absolutely love the difference I make for people and families who get to adopt a new furry family member.  I actually didn't voice my rekindled interest in fostering out loud.  Not to Stu and not really even to myself.  Yet, Stu and I share a crazy love and he knew before I did.  A few weeks after we sent Bella and Sam home, he looked at me seemingly out of the blue and said, "I know how much you love to foster animals.  I know our house is full.  But if fostering makes you happy, you should start doing it again."  I slept on it for a few nights, prayed about it, and the more I thought about it, the more I knew I wanted to try it again.

I researched rescue organizations, trying to decide which one would be the best to foster for.  Ultimately, I chose the Animal Humane Society for a couple reasons.  The first reason is that the animals that need foster care through this organization are the most in need - they are sick, recovering from surgery, too young and/or tiny to be adopted yet, or are pregnant.  These are my favorite animals to help.  I've had experience over the years nursing animals back to health after major surgeries and even whelping a litter of puppies.  I taught myself how to do this and now this organization could use the skills I have!  It felt like a perfect fit.  The other reason I think AHS is the right fit for us is that these animals need care for very specific, often short-ish time periods.  When fostering for a non-shelter rescue organization, you are committing to house and care for an animal for an open-ended period of time: until they get adopted.  This could be a couple weeks or could be a couple months or even years.  Our family is busy and just keeps getting busier as the kids get older.  In order to effectively incorporate fostering into our lives, it is best for us to know how long an animal will be with us so we can plan around that.  After impatiently moving through the somewhat slow but very thorough process of becoming a foster for AHS, I picked up our first AHS foster dog, Terrence, yesterday.



I received an e-mail earlier this week, letting all potential AHS fosters know that a 16 pound terrier mix named Terrence needed foster care for two weeks.  He was being treated for heart worm infestation and was noted to be easygoing and affectionate by AHS staff.  He needed to be given an antibiotic every day for the next week or so and would need to be returned to AHS near the end of September to receive his final heart worm treatment injection and then go up for adoption.  That was all I knew.  After sleeping on it for a couple days, I decided we were the right family for Terrence.  I sent a message letting the foster coordinator know I'd be picking him up.  When I got there, I learned Terrence also has kennel cough and all of his man parts since he's been too sick to undergo his neuter surgery.  Crazy as it is to bring a small, un-neutered male into a house where three spayed females live (male dogs don't care whether a female is spayed, they're still interested), home he came with me.  And he's been a perfect house guest in every way.  No potty accidents in the house, quiet in his kennel, no humping of the female residents, friendly and affectionate towards everyone, and no desire to kill the cat.  He coughs a little and needs to be kept very restful at all times because too much activity could dislodge chunks of heart worm and result in death.  But his presence fills all our hearts.  My crazy love for animals and Stu's crazy love for me equals a loving, caring, temporary home for Terrence while he recuperates and readies himself for his new forever family.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Safe Families for Children in Minnesota

I am so excited to share information about a movement I just learned of tonight!  It's called "Safe Families for Children" of Minnesota.  This movement is spreading across the country and the globe.  My new(ish) church, Eagle Brook, is partnering with Safe Families and God is tugging at my heart to somehow be a part of this.  Since I just started praying about this a couple days ago when I learned about the partnership, I don't know what exactly it looks like yet but this blog post is a first step.


I truly believe that God has called me to care for those who need caring for.  He's created a desire in me to be hospitable and to love on babies and children and other (sometimes furry) beings who need to be cared for.  If you know me personally, you know we've opened our home many times for helpless animals in need :) 

Stu and I both love kids and pray daily for God to help us be a great dad and mom. And, by the grace of God, I believe we are pretty darn good parents!  I'd love to jump right in and be a host family for kids in need but I'm not sure how realistic that is yet....but we're praying about it.  In the interim, I want to at least spread the word about Safe Families because until last week, when Eagle Brook promo'ed their new partnership, I'd never heard of them.  Their mission and philosophy just makes good sense. They step in and provide a safe, temporary, Christian home for kids in need while the kids' parent(s) get things squared away in their life.  This aid is offered before and hopefully to prevent the need for foster care for these kids.  In order for this to work, all kinds of help is needed!  Donations of things like car seats and diapers can help, time and talent to organize and facilitate are needed, space to house donated items would help; the sky is the limit!  

Our country is in absolute tumult right now.  What better way to bring our communities together than to go back to our Christian roots of caring for the "widows and children"?  Through Safe Families, we can answer the call for help and give parents a break to get their lives in order, and a shoulder to lean on to get to a better place!

I urge you to click on the link above and read more about Safe Families.  Search your heart and see if there is a way you can help.  I don't know much about this yet but went to the informational meeting tonight so if you want to reach out to me, I can get in touch with Eagle Brook/Safe Families and we can learn more together!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Losing your mom in your 30s: 10 things a motherless daughter will learn



1. You are stronger and more amazingly resilient than you ever could have imagined. And no matter how crappy or wonderful of a mom you had, she helped make you that way. You are her incredible legacy. 

2. You can no longer tolerate watching movies in the drama genre (at least for a while). Someone is either dying or losing something vitally important. No matter what it is, it reminds you of losing your mom and you become seriously depressed for hours to days. 

3. Losing someone suddenly vs. to an illness or disease where you have a chance to say goodbye - neither is "better". Both are tortuous in their own terrible ways. 

4. Just when you move past any mother-daughter angst you've been holding onto or dealing with, your mom is gone. This is horrifying. 

5. Life is no damn fair. Just in case you hadn't learned that yet. 

6. Just as difficult as losing your own mom, is losing your kids' (or future kids') grammie. Every cute, fun, memorable, amazing thing your kids do makes your heart ache that your mom is missing it. 

7. The only woman who had known you your entire life, knew all your strengths and flaws, and ALWAYS championed you no matter what, is gone. 

8. You will sometimes feel a guilty sense of relief that your mom is no longer there to disapprove of certain choices you make. 

9. For a while, you feel unmoored, adrift, and so very alone since no one expects you to check in with them daily any longer. 

10. If it applies, you will be so grateful your mom was a wonderful Christian example for you and that she encouraged you to be faithful. Because you know this means you will be together again eventually and eternally (and sometimes this just doesn't feel like enough comfort). 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

On an important soapbox

By now, everyone has seen horrific images of puppy mill mamas and papas in their nasty, little cages with their fur all matted and their mouths and feet horribly infected.

But did you know there are also breeders out there who don't run full blown disgusting mills but instead are referred to as "backyard breeders"?  These breeders just have a few, maybe even one or two, females and either one or a few males or they pay stud fees to breed their female(s).  These breeders are not held to any standards because their "operation" is not big enough to meet the criteria for any kind of review (not that there are any real rigorous reviews for larger operations).  These breeders may very well be responsible and concerned about their dogs and the breed in general OR they may be uninformed and only producing puppies for monetary gain.  Frankly, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.  This fall, I learned of a 4 year old female British Labrador Retriever, Sierra, who had been used for breeding twice in her life and could no longer have puppies (during the delivery of her last litter in the Spring of 2015, she had difficulty delivering the pups, had to undergo an emergency C-section, and was spayed during the procedure).  Because the breeder wanted to keep producing puppies and professed to want to further the breed, they were bringing in some new local females and a new male puppy from Europe.  As such, they put Sierra in an outdoor kennel and stopped feeding her the expensive dog food they fed their breeding females and fed her food "from the co-op" instead.  They said that up until then, Sierra had lived in the house as a family dog.  They admitted Sierra had a limp and that their vet told them she'd torn one of her rear ACLs long ago but it didn't bother her.  They wanted Sierra to find a new home since they'd have a full house with their new breeding females.  Most of me was disgusted that this poor dog was literally put out to pasture when she was no longer able to produce puppies but the "benefit of the doubt" part of me thought it sounded pretty good that these breeders kept their mamas indoors and treated them as part of the family, had bred Sierra only a few times, and does the proper screening for this breed.  I was given Sierra's AKC papers, paperwork saying she'd been screened for common physical issues British Labs may be born with, and a vet record that said she was given a Rabies vaccination in September of 2014.  The papers said she needed a Rabies vaccine in September of 2015.  We adopted Sierra shortly after the due date (can't remember the exact date).  The breeder assured me that the vet had given Sierra a 2 year Rabies shot and the paperwork just didn't reflect that date.  Because we are planning on taking Sierra to classes to work towards becoming a therapy dog, I called the vet up north to ask for paperwork indicating her Rabies vaccination was current.  They informed me she really did need a vaccination this past September and they could not provide me with paperwork stating her Rabies vaccination was good until September of 2016.

I made a vet appointment immediately and took Sierra to see my vet at Dr. Pomeroy's office today.  Her physical evaluation showed that Sierra had torn both of her ACLs in her rear knees long ago.  She also has chronic ear infections.  She showed no signs of the ear infections because the vet surmised they've been that way for so long, she's learned to tolerate them.  Sierra is likely in discomfort daily.  I got antibiotics for Sierra's ears and she will start taking Glucosamine and Fish Oil immediately.  Because her ACLs were torn so long ago, there is nothing surgical that can be done at this point.


Many of you know that I am a big proponent of dog rescue.  I volunteered for and/or ran my own rescue for several years.  But I'd like to believe there are still good breeders out there.  Sierra did not come from one.  Please, please, if you would like to add a dog to your family, FIRST consider adopting from a reputable rescue or humane society.  If your heart is set on a purebred dog and you just can't find one in rescue (there truly are lots of purebred dogs in rescue but they are popular so hard to come by), do some serious, intense research on the breeder your puppy is coming from.

Sierra had no good medical records showing that she'd been kept up to date on vaccinations, heart worm and tick preventatives.

She'd shown signs of limping and the breeder chose not to get her help for a very painful injury.

She had terribly infected ears that were clearly never treated.

Since there were only a few females who lived indoors at this breeder and prospective puppy buyers were welcome to visit, I'm betting the house looked nice and clean and Sierra is clearly beautiful and appears healthy.

If you are going to buy from a breeder, you need to ask to be shown their medical records for their females, males, and all their puppies.  Puppies need to have been vaccinated and dewormed and need to stay with their moms until they are at least 8 weeks old (NO exceptions, the excuse that the puppies are weaned is not valid; the pups need to be socialized with their mom and siblings even if they are done nursing).  Ideally, the puppies are whelped (born) indoors where they become accustomed to living in a household and experiencing household hustle-bustle and noise.  Research what the common medical issues for your favorite breed are and ask the breeder to show you the screening they do on their breeding males and females to make sure those issues are not passed on to the puppies.  You should be welcome to visit and see where the dogs are living.  If there are outbuildings, I'd ask to see inside those too.  If anything seems dirty, sloppy, or amiss please, please don't give that breeder your precious money.  If they aren't making money breeding puppies in a haphazard way, they will stop.  And don't feel like you're "saving" the puppies from a terrible environment.  Every time a breeder brings in money from selling puppies, it perpetuates the problem.

On a happier note, the veterinarian who examined Sierra today proclaimed she is a wonderful, sweet, beautiful dog and she thinks she will make an excellent Therapy Dog!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

We can all just get along!


Many people these days seem to think that disagreeing with someone is synonymous with despising them.  Christians, especially, are often seen as "despisers".  As a Christian and a loving, friendly woman, I take great umbrage with that assumption.  It also bugs me that our society has decided it's no longer acceptable to make judgements.  That making judgements means you've decided the judged is a despicable person.  I beg to differ.  I am far from perfect.  I'm an admitted sinner who feels so blessed to have a Savior who died on the cross so I could be forgiven.  I am doing my best to be a good human in every way and I firmly believe I need God's help in doing so.  I happen to believe the same applies to all humans.  I believe you all need God in your lives and that if you accepted Jesus as your Savior, your life would change for the better.  Does that mean I think you're a horrible person without Jesus?  Nope.  Society would say I am "judging" non-Christians and in a sense, I am.  I am passing judgment on your non-belief.  I am judging it as the wrong way to do life.  But does that mean I despise the non-believer?!  Nope.  I've had many friends my whole life who are non-Christians.  Do I constantly ask them to repent and accept Jesus as their Savior?  Nope.  Do I pray every night that all humans would listen to the inner calling that we all have to draw closer to God?  You betcha.  Does this make me a despicable person?  I don't think so.  And I think if you ask the people who love me and spend time with me, they'd agree that I'm a very kind, generous, and accepting person.  If I, who am very imperfect, am able to be a Christian, "judge" others, and love them and be their friend all at the same time, so can we all.  I'm willing to bet this is how many, if not most, Christians operate.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

School agers are so.much.fun

When I was in college, I worked for the YMCA at their school age after school program and I mostly enjoyed my job.  I loved my coworkers and was excited to go to work each day (well, the before-school hours meant I had to be at work at about 6:00 am so that was not super fun) but sometimes the kids just wore me out with their constant requests to play Mancala and make believe.  So I wasn't sure how it would be with school aged kids of my own.  I am finding that I LOVE this age.  My kiddos are still pretty young - 11, 9, and 7 but they are already starting to show glimpses of the young adults they will become.  They are full of silliness and jokes and sass and opinions and stubbornness and plans for the future and emotions and....hormones.  

Recently, Stu and I went on a date and Ryann asked us if after dinner at Olive Garden, we'd "make out" in the back of the car.  Then she laughed like a loon.  Stu suggested we could just make out in the front of the car, there'd be no need to move to the back.  Ha!

We've been fielding questions about how old Stu and I were when we had our first boyfriend/girlfriend so we talked about the subject a little at the dinner table tonight.  We informed the kids that Stu and I will decide on a certain age the kids will need to reach before they are able to call their opposite sex friends "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" and spend time with them outside of school.  And that when that time came, we'd have a discussion with them about what is responsible and respectful in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.  And that if we find out they've begun a boy/girlfriend relationship prior to reaching the agreed-upon age and before discussing it with Stu and I, there would be consequences.  Max asked, "Hypothetically speaking, if we are spending time with someone at school, is that an issue?"  It really seemed like a hypothetical question so I don't think he's spending time with anyone at school but he's more tight lipped than I was at his age, so I'm not 100% sure....I don't see any "real" boyfriend/girlfriend action happening for another few years but I hope laying the groundwork now will be helpful.

I'm hoping that the fun we have together as a family and my constant broaching of uncomfortable subjects to try to make those subjects the norm will result in teenagers who still enjoy Stu and I as parents and who feel comfortable talking to us about the tough stuff.  I hope that the teenage years continue to be as fun as the school age years have so far been.

Here's a glimpse of the craziness that is almost constantly happening around here (this is my idea of a wild and fun Saturday night!):


Friday, January 15, 2016

Interview with a 2nd grader, a 4th grader, and a 5th grader

*Note as you read this that I copied down their answers verbatim.  Cuz it's funnier and more authentic that way.



What is your favorite color?

Adam: Pink
Ryann: White
Max: Light blue

Who is your favorite teacher so far?

Adam: Gail
Ryann: Sam
Max: David

If you could decorate your bedroom however you wanted, what would the theme be?

Adam: Star Wars
Ryann: It would be like painted mostly fake trees.  Like that is painted on the wall.  What the heck, Mom?  I’m not going to say anything…aaaaahhhh!  Oooohhhhaaaahhhhlalalamommy!
Max: Entirely white paint with a ton of wall stickers

What is your favorite TV show?

Adam: Lego Star Wars, the Chronicles
Ryann:  Hmmmm, let me think about this….sometimes I really hate you, Mom.  (laughing) I don’t know.
Max: I don’t have one.  I don’t watch TV that much.

Who is your favorite friend to spend time with right now?

Adam: Joey (a boy in Adam’s Sunday School class)
Ryann: Evelyn S.
Max: Ricky W-P.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Adam:  Nowhere, I want to stay here with my sweet mom. Actually, I kind of like it in here.
Ryann: Going to see Audrey in Georgia
Max: Right here.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Adam: A policeman, a fireman, or a health man aaaaa…..(an EMT?, I suggested), yeah or a dentist.
Ryann: I don’t have time to worry about that.
Max: A zookeeper

What do you think is the biggest problem in our world right now?

Adam: If segregation is still going on then, yes, that.
Ryann: School (I asked, Can you be more specific?) Me, in school.
Max: Global warming




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