a dozen

Twelve years ago today we moved to Portland.

We drove our extended cab pickup loaded with our five fuzzy faces (3 black labs and two cats) towing our malibu (loaded with fragiles) from Denver to Boise (actually, Mountain Home) through high winds in Wyoming and a blizzard in Eastern Idaho.  We stayed with some dear friends for the night and drove the rest of the way through snow in Eastern Oregon, and a driving rain and darkness through the Gorge.  Only to hit rush hour traffic on 217 on the way to our rental house on Bull Mountain.  We stayed with friends in the exact neighborhood where we have ended up…and met the moving van on the morning of January 3rd, 2006….probably the only DRY day in that record setting wettest January in Portland.  Welcome to Oregon!

I am not sure how long we actually planned on living here.

At one point we almost moved, but ended up staying.

For now, I cannot imagine living anywhere else.

Colorado is where I was born, raised, and met my husband, but Portland is home.

It’s where we started our own family.

It’s where we have been through the best and the worst of our marriage.

It’s where we have made friends that feel like family.

It’s where we have planted our roots.

Cheers to a dozen years in the Rose City, Bridgeport, Stumptown, and all that keeps Portland weird.

our pack…8 years later

The following post was published on my blog 8 years ago…when Reece was almost 2 and I was about 5 months pregnant with Lorelai.  Much has changed…Murphy, Oak, Ben and Hobbes are no longer with us; Lorelai and Rainbow have joined our pack. However, the kids love for their dogs has stayed the same. 

When I wrote the original post, Odyssey was 5 years old and the puppy of the family. The words I wrote about Oak, “Oak is pretty much blind, deaf, and very needy so I try to give her extra attention whenever possible. I am not sure how much longer we will have her around..” now ring true for our sweet 13 year old Odyssey.

Our first “children” were animals.  In December 1999, a diluted calico cat named Murphy was adopted from the Dumb Friends League in Denver.  In March 2000, a black lab puppy named Ben came from our good friend and Grand River trainer/breeder Mike Gould.  In September 2000, an orange and white tabby named Hobbes was adopted from the Dumb Friends League.  In November 2003, an 8 year old black lab named Oak was adopted from Mike Gould.  In April 2004, a black lab puppy named Odyssey, again came from Mike Gould.

For almost 8 years we were the proud parents of our five-fuzzy-faces.  The dogs would go everywhere with us.  We drove across the country to Upstate New York with a stop in Chicago for a family wedding…all with Ben in tow! We went on many roadtrips through Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho with all 3 of them…learning what hotels were pet friendly along the way.  My husband would take the boy dogs hunting anywhere from 40-60 days each fall.  They would all go camping and hiking with us during the summer.  They drove with us from Colorado to Oregon when we moved.  Oak used to go to work with me almost everyday here in Oregon.  They lived the high life!

Then July 5, 2007 came.  The world as they knew it stopped.  Our baby boy arrived and they were relegated to the dog runs and scolded for getting too close to the baby.  Oh, I was afraid that we wouldn’t be able to give them the attention they were used to…and we weren’t…but our little guy is!

The little guy LOVES his doggies!  The first word-like sound he made was “woof”; his first word was “doggie”; his first 2-word phrase was “good girl”;  the second 2-word phrase was “bad dog”; and his first 3-word phrase was “no bark dog”.  When he wakes up in the morning he asks where Oak is.  He loves to share his toys and food with the dogs.  He crawls all over them, snuggles on their dog beds, and loves to play chase with them in the house.  He is part of their pack.

When we are outside in the back yard he loves to play in their dogs runs.  He opens and closes the door, pretends to fill up their water buckets, and likes it even better if they will play along with him…Odyssey usually obliges.  Oftentimes, I will find him hiding in the dog crate we keep in the house for “doggie timeouts”…sometimes he will be in there with one of the dogs.  I am sure that he thinks every kid has a house full of black labs  just like he does.

The dogs (and cats) may not get the attention they used to from us, but our little guy sure thinks the world of them.  Their days are lazy, and they get to stay in the house most of the time, now.  My husband runs the boys down at the river once or twice a week…when he can. Oak is pretty much blind, deaf, and very needy so I try to give her extra attention whenever possible.  I am not sure how much longer we will have her around…she has been a mom to around 30 puppies…and acts as a “doggie nanny” to our little guy.  They are all wonderful pets and “children”…including the boy who was raised by Black Labs.

a day at the oregon coast

last sunday we got up early to head to the coast with ryan’s sister and her family.

we made a breakfast stop at camp 18 and explored some of the additions they have made to the grounds to showcase the history of logging in the pacific northwest.

i could have walked around for hours taking photos of the old rusty stuff.

this train car was particularly fascinating to me…
coast 1

wooden doors…rusty metal…chippy paint…

coast 2

the exterior was beautiful turquoise bead board…

coast 3

isn’t that rust spot just perfect?!

coast 4

i can just imagine the stories that the old walls could tell…

coast 5

there was a swallow nest on one of the walls, and the mom and dad were eagerly waiting to return to their babies, but were keeping an eye on the stranger peeking in at their home…

coast 6

not sure what this was used for…transporting animals was my guess…

coast 7

the ferns and moss seemed to find it a good place to call home…

coast 8

we decided to take a drive to ecola state park instead of just driving to cannon beach.

our kids had never been there, so it was a first for them, too!

coast 9

goonies never say die…

{random fact about me: did you know that goonies is the movie that put a move to oregon in my mind? when i saw the movie in 4th grade i remember thinking, “i want to live there someday.” here i am, many years later living my dream.}

coast 10

beautiful haystack rock at cannon beach just after low tide…

coast 11

there was a spring of water coming off these rocks…the moss was like a carpet…

coast 12

we ended up setting up a spot at indian beach and exploring for a while…

coast 13

it was a perfect day for the coast.

i really liked visiting indian beach again. it’s small, not crowded and has tide pools to explore and surfers to watch. the last time i was there was with oakie.

i hope to make a handful of day trips to the coast with my kids this summer. if you live in portland and want to meet us there, leave a comment and i will put a list of e-mails together to let you know when we plan to do another day trip!

home is…at the oregon coast

rain and sunshine

It takes both rain and sunshine…

reece rain and lorelai

to make a rainbow.

Meet Grand River Hoji Rainbow, our new black lab puppy! We call her Rain, Rainy, or Sweet Girl…as Lorelai likes to call her.

This was her very first adventure with us…cutting down our Christmas tree!

She came from the litter of tiny puppies that the kids got to hold in October when we visited Idaho.

You’ll be seeing lots more of her.

home is…plenty of rain and sunshine to make rainbows.


{31 days} interrupted

{31 days} header

~secondhand and thrifted~

I interrupt this program for a little bit about our weekend road trip. We went to Idaho to see long time friends. We are dog people…namely, Grand River Labrador people.


Each year, we meet up in a small town in North-Central Idaho to talk and learn about dogs. It’s been a couple of years since we had been. This year, we took Ben and Oak’s ashes up there to scatter in one of the rivers. It was a beautiful tribute to the dogs that have been a part of our lives since before we were married…really, Grand River has been the only constant in our life for 15 years.


The kids explored…


…and played with puppies.



{I bring a thrifted quilt in the car wherever we go…it comes in handy at parks, on vacation, for baseball/football games, the beach, etc. You might also spy one of my thrifted thermos’…for hot chocolate, of course!}


Eight week old puppies.


Almost two week old puppies…their eyes weren’t even open yet.



I don’t think I have ever seen her smile so big.




They learned about dogs.



They met lots of new people.


It was a much needed retreat for heart and soul. I like to call it the “church of dog”.


I did make a stop at a local secondhand store…


When I get a chance, I like to stop at thrift stores in the places we visit and bring home something to add to my collections.




Hoping to spray paint this fixture and hang it near the craft table where we need more light!




This was the LAST thing I picked up after about 10 rounds around a tiny little store packed with stuff. It is a chip and dip set with a nut bowl…all three for $10. It is GORGEOUS!


And, of course, another thermos to add to my collection!

home is…{31 days} secondhand and thrifted with a good dose of puppies.

Join me while I link up with The Nester every day in October for #write31days.
Click here to find a list of all 31 posts as they are published.

grand river hoji ben {january 25, 2000 – july 7, 2014}

We bought our first house with him in mind.

He was born less than one week after we were engaged.

We drove 6 hours, one way, to pick him up…I had to drive the last hour so Ryan would not speed.

His biological mom’s name was Jo-Jo.

His biological dad’s name was Fast Eddy.

He was a grumpy old man as a puppy.

We got married when he was 10 months old.

We used to run across creeks and hide behind trees to make him learn to swim.

More times than not, when he would throw a fit about getting into the car (usually in the middle of nowhere Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas or Nebraska) we had to get in the car without him and drive down the dirt road, with him in hot pursuit, just to get him to decide to get into the car with us.

He taught us about tough love.

He introduced us to people and places we never would have met or seen without him.

He took us on adventures I will never forget.

We ran through high mountain parks in snow-thunderstorms together.

We “got turned around” (you are only lost if you are never found) after dark on logging roads in Idaho together.

We woke up with a snow covered wall tent at 10,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains more than once together.

He traveled from coast to coast with us.

He stayed at Hotel Monaco in Chicago (even took a bath in the tub) and Super 8’s all over the country.

He swam in rivers and lakes from New York to Colorado to Oregon.

He chased birds where most will never get a chance, or be good enough, to chase birds.

He stopped me from walking in on a burglary in progress in our home.

He taught me patience.

He taught me unconditional love.

He taught me to be a mom before I was a mom.


flat tops 9:2005

hunting in the colorado flat tops {9/2005}

bella beach 7:2011

bella beach {7/2011}

walk around the block 2:2012

walk around the block {2/2012}

thought we would lose him then 3:2012

almost lost him {3/2012}

st louis ponds 4:2006

the three amigos – Oak, Ben & Odyssey {4/2006}

snuggles 3:2012

snuggles {3/2012}

sleepy face 3:2012

sleepy face…he was so sick in march 2012 {3/2012}

sharing his bed 12:2013

such a gentle boy – sharing with baby teal {12/2013}

reece's first hunt 11:2010

reece’s first hunt {11/2010}

mt hood 8:2010

mt. hood {8/2010}

mike gould and ben 10:2005

grand river seminar with mike gould {10/2005}

lab at play


just hanging 10:2011

just hanging on the deck {10/2011}

instagram dog 8:2011

dog of instagram {8/2011}

idaho 10:2006

loved to dig a hole to rest in – idaho {10.2006}

grandchild is a dog

pillow we bought for ryan’s parents

grand river seminar 10:2011

grand river seminar – idaho {10/2011}

getting a bath 2:2014

getting a bath {2/2014}

family dog 8:2011

family dog {8/2011}

family dog 3:2011

dog pile {3/2011}

chukar 1:2009

chukar hunting {1/2009}


He couldn’t hear.

He couldn’t see.

He was in pain.

For the last week he barked each time he had to go out to go potty because he needed help standing up to go outside.

Last night, after he barked for help I slept on the floor with him.

His last night with us.

This morning, I carried him outside so he could go potty.

He was stubborn. Always.

He didn’t want to have to be carried outside to go potty, but his body was failing him.

It was time to let go.

Fourteen and a half years.

Our family won’t be the same without him.

grand river hoji ben

Rest in Peace, Grand River Hoji Ben.

home is…knowing all dogs go to heaven.

grumpy old men

Our house has three of them.

Well, technically, they aren’t men.

They are two dogs and a cat.

Ben, our oldest lab, turns 14 this week.

Odyssey will be 10 on the same day.

Hobbes, our cat, will be 14 in March.

They are a lot of work right now.

Ben doesn’t know if he is coming or going…the poor guy. He wanders aimlessly through the house. Click. Click. Click. The sound of his overgrown nails on the floor is enough to drive you insane. He soils his bed routinely, hasn’t gone up to the second floor in almost two years, and barks outside because it is hard for him to get back up on the deck once he goes down onto the grass. His whole body is stiff. He can’t see well at all. And, I am pretty sure he can’t hear much of anything either. I wonder about his quality of life.

Odyssey has been having some major incontinence issues since late November. We treated him for a UTI. It got better, but then came back. We put him on a second round of antibiotics and had a more sensitive urinalysis done. They found no bacteria. No infection. So, we recently started him on an incontinence drug. A 10-14 day trial. We are 5 days in. It’s not working yet. We are washing his bedding daily as it is soaked every morning. And, he sneaks up onto the kids beds if their doors aren’t closed, so their bedding gets soaked, too. To make matters worse, the washer won’t finish a cycle and it takes forever to get through laundry (the good news is that we have a part on order to hopefully fix that). I am hoping and praying that suddenly this medicine starts to work in the next five days. If not, we are in for seeing a specialist for more imaging to find out what is going on with him. I don’t even want to think of the possibilities.

Hobbes. Our little patient, diabetic kitty. Right now he is just on a prescription diet and we don’t give him injections. It seems to be ok. The good news is that he is no longer peeing all over the house since we got our new floors in. He misses his litter box occasionally, but I now use “wee-wee pads” around his litter box and that soaks up the mess. Hobbes is always the last to get fed and I find him sleeping in my bathroom sink because he falls asleep waiting for somebody to turn on the water for him to drink. He gets grumpy with the dogs. In fact, as I was typing this he was guarding the stairs and would’t let Odyssey past. Just like a grumpy old man.

Lately, I have been impatient with all of them. It feels like every ounce of energy is spent cleaning up messes (theirs and the kids).

I don’t want to let Ben out…AGAIN…so he will, moments later, want to come right back in.

I don’t want to hear Hobbes meow for me to turn on the bathroom sink so he can drink from the faucet.

I don’t want to walk into my bedroom and smell urine on Odyssey’s soaked bed…and have to do another load of laundry.

What I NEED to do is…

take Odyssey for a run to clear my head, get some fresh air, and the exercise I so badly need so I can be patient.

snuggle Hobbes and just turn on the faucet so he is happy.

give Ben a “mommy massage” like I used to do when he would come back from a big hunting weekend with Ryan.

The time will come when there is not a dog to run with, a cat meowing for food or water, and a dog that is barking at the door to be let out or in.

There won’t be soiled beds to wash or a litter box to scoop.

When we moved to Oregon eight years ago we came out here with all of of belongings…including three dogs and two cats. We said goodbye to Murphy in 2009 and Oak in 2010.

Sadly, I see more goodbyes in our near future.

Right now, I’m going for that run with Odyssey.

home is…taking care of our four legged fuzzy faced friends.


Every few years, since my early 20’s, I decide to cut my hair short.

I think I was 22 the first time I cut it.

short hair 5

short hair 6

I kept it short for a bunch of years after that.

short hair 7{1999}

short hair 9{2000}

short hair 10{2000}

short hair 8{2003}

I think I started growing it long a year or two before we moved to Portland.

I grew it for a few years until the little guy was about 9 months old.

short hair 2

He kept pulling my hair, so I cut it short.

short hair 4{snuggling reece and oak during a thunderstorm}

short hair 3{gorge games 2008}

short hair 1{reece’s 1st birthday}

That lasted less than a year and I was ready to grow it long.

I’m five years into growing my hair long and other than some color, a few trims, and bangs a couple of years ago there hasn’t been much change.

I think I am ready for a change.

Ryan just laughs when I mention it to him because he knows that eventually I will want to grow it long again, but that’s the good thing about hair…it grows!

I’ve always loved Meg Ryan’s short hairstyles…

Meg Ryan Hairstyles Pictures

Meg Ryan Hairstyles Pictures

Meg Ryan Hairstyles Pictures

Meg Ryan Hairstyles Pictures

Meg Ryan Medium Shag Haircut

I’ve taken many of these photos into hairstylist when getting a new cut.

I also pinned this image twice within the last year or so…I really like this cut.

And, here are a few other hairstyles that are kind of what I am thinking of….

What do you think?

Should I do it?

Which cut do you like?

home is…thinking about changing it up.


impromptu idaho

I mentioned yesterday that we took a road trip to Idaho over the weekend.

Just about 12 years ago Ryan made contact with Mike Gould. Ryan was looking for a hunting dog and had read Mike’s book, The Labrador Shooting Dog. One night when we were having dinner at a friend’s house they pulled the book out, called information, and asked for Mike Gould’s number in Kamiah, Idaho.

Mike answered the phone and Ryan spent about an hour talking to him about a dog. Soon after that Ryan sent Mike a long letter about what he would like to see in a hunting dog. Ryan and Mike talked on the phone weekly, and by March of 2000 we were on our way to Utah on a quick road trip to pick up our Grand River lab, Ben.

Through the years we drove up to Idaho from Colorado multiple times a year. We spent hours driving the logging roads, talking about hunting, nature and dogs.

By 2004 we had 3 Grand River labs. At the beginning of May 2004, Oak (our female) had a litter of four puppies in our garage. We had 7 Grand River labs living in our small house near Cherry Creek in Denver.

One of the reasons we moved to Portland was to be closer to Idaho.

Something about our drives and visits to Idaho make it feel like home.

I’d have to say it is one of my happiest places on earth.

The little guy made his first trip to Idaho when he was less than 3 months old. We have spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with Mike and the friends we have made there.

Every fall Mike hosts a Grand River Seminar in Kamiah, Idaho. It had been 3 years since we had been to one. In fact, the last one we went to I was pregnant and we told everybody there before anybody else in our family knew…mainly because I wasn’t drinking beer around the campfire like I usually do. {I miscarried a month later, but that’s another story}

It was about time to make a visit to Kamiah.

Ryan had been trying to figure out how he could make it work. He was going to fly out there alone. He was going to drive out with Odyssey. He was going to fly out with Reece. Finally after we calculated how much time it would take to fly and drive (from Spokane or Lewiston) we figured we could drive out there in the same amount of time…and ALL of us could go.

So, on Friday night while I took the little guy to a birthday party Ryan packed up food and supplies for our road trip.

We left Portland for Kamiah Saturday morning at 5 am.

We arrived at the seminar (after checking into our cabin at the Lewis and Clark Resort) around 1:30 pm.

The little guy did NOT want to go to Idaho on Saturday morning.

On Sunday morning he did NOT want to leave.

The property that the seminar was held on was FULL of fruit trees…some wild, some planted on purpose at some point.

Apples, pears, plums (we picked 3 different kinds).

The kids and I drove back to the cabin around 9 pm…Ryan finally made it back after 1 am. I am glad he had the time to catch up with all the guys.

After eating breakfast by the campfire we visited with friends for a bit longer and then got back on the road.

The kids earned some new toys for being so good.

We could hear geese down on the river, so they guys started calling.

We left Kamiah for Portland Sunday morning at 11:30 am.

And, made it back home just in time for baths and a good night sleep.

It was well worth the 15 hours of driving for the time spent with friends…new and old.

And, here is my favorite series of photos from the trip.

Our good friend, Dr. Duck, made quick friends with baby girl by helping her with her shoe after it fell off.

home is…dropping everything to go on an adventure with our little family to see great friends.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the little guy played baseball during a lull in the afternoon. Man, he was hitting the ball HARD and far. All the guys at the seminar were really impressed with his left-handed hitting skills…I think we have an athlete on our hands! I wish I had taken pictures of it…I think I was making a run back to the cabin for a diaper, or down to the store for M&M’s!