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It’s a Blog Party did a blog spotlight of A Jennuine Life:

Blog Party Spotlight!~A Jennuine Life

Daylight Savings Time, ugh!!! I hate changing our clocks, it is the final sign that winter is coming. It almost always follows the leaves changing colors and the first frost. And yes we have had these occur already here in Northwest Indiana. It also means less time to spend outside in the daylight accomplishing honey-do chores, however it gives me more time to spend finding new blogs to enjoy.

While doing just that I was looking at some of the articles shared last week and settled in with a hot mug of coffee and started to explore some new blogs.

I was really struck by the simple pleasure that I found while surfing around todays’ Blog Party Spotlight.

Click on picture to visit

Jenn over here at A Jennuine Life (nice play on words) shares some cooking, decorating, sewing and repurposing ideas. She also shares with her readers her life with her family which includes alot of her daughter Arden, very cute. When you have a chance grab yourself your own drink (coffee, tea …) and spend some time with Jenn and her family.

I subscribe to It’s a Blog Party on Google Reader, and I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw my blog title pop up!  To say I’m humbled and excited is an absolute understatement!  I’ve been doing this for a few months now, and it’s so motivating being part of this great community!

Garbage Picking, Dumpster Diving, D-Mart, Skip-raiding, Trashing, Curbside Salvage…

Whatever you call it, I just did it!  Thanks to your brave confessions I just mustered the courage to pull my car into some stranger’s driveway, inspect a find and then load it into my car.  I feel a little bit of a shopper’s high, but without the guilty post-purchase letdown!  I can’t wait to show my hubby what I found for FREE!  I cannot believe someone would throw away something in such good shape, and solid wood construction.  It doesn’t even need much repair. 

If I can ever get the #$^%^* chairs I got from ReStore done (don’t get me started on trunkated nap times and hubby with “pirorities”) I’m going to give my little curbside gem a new life.

Arden thoroughly enjoyed her first foray into the world of trick-or-treating.  Aside from a mini-meltdown while donning her costume, she got right into the groove of things.  We only went to a couple of neighbors and nearby friends houses, but she quickly figured out how to hold out her little pumpkin bag and then check to see what went inside.  When we got home, she trick-or-treated to Daddy and then dumped out her bag of goodies on the floor.

Checking out her lit Jack O' Lantern

 

I got a lucky shot of Arden sitting on the steps to our side door.  Nothing fancy, I was trying to get some cute pictures of her playing in the leaves and she wandered off – silly model leaving the photo shoot!

If you’ve noticed that I haven’t been posting much for the last little bit (it’s okay if you didn’t miss me – really!), we took a long weekend trip to Chicago.  We take the train which makes it a lot easier on Arden since she can move around a bit more and take potty breaks.

We stayed at a Bed & Breakfast – The Wicker Park Inn in… you guessed it – Wicker Park.  A very nice stay, and they were very accommodating of tiny guests which turned out to be a bit of a rarity in my Chicago B&B search.  In addition to our lovely room with ensuite bathroom, they have a cute little courtyard for guests.  Arden took advantage of the courtyard for a snack of pumpkin bread from Red Hen and some playtime.  The little bug car is a toy from when I was a baby, we call them “gigglers”.

We went to Navy Pier and Arden went on both her first carousel ride and her first Ferris wheel ride.  She enjoyed both very much!  I’m not really afraid of heights; I just fear I’ll do something stupid and trip and fall over the railing – it’s called autophobia.  Needless to say I was happy to mostly concentrate on trying to get pictures of Arden.  The last picture is Arden at breakfast the next morning.

On Sunday we went to the Children’s Museum at Navy Pier.  We all had a blast!  She kept organizing the orange cones in the firefighters area and went down the fire pole about ten times.  I think I was enjoying the fossil dig more than she was – she took off before we could uncover our dinosaur skeleton!

On Monday morning we went to the playground at Wicker Park to let Arden run off some energy before we headed back to Union Station.  It was nice to talk with some other mothers while Arden played, though we received some envious comments when I started to describe our yard and the dogs running around the playset.  It seems there’s upsides and downsides to both city and suburban living…

I made more progress on Arden’s chef costume.  I finished up the pants and the hat and of course had to try them on Arden.  I know most kids don’t like to wear hats and tear them off at every opportunity.  Not Arden.  She’s always liked to wear hats which is great since I like to knit them for her!  It’s somehow very appropriate that one of the signs she’s learned at daycare is “hat”.  That and “bubbles” make frequent appearances.

So I try the hat on her and it’s adorable.  I’m very excited with how the costume is turning out.  Problem is that she wouldn’t let me take it off her all day Sunday.  Here are a couple of photos as a sneak preview:

Chef Arden

Modeling the hat in action in her play kitchen.

Newfound fondess for football

And here she is several hours later while watching some football.  I don’t really follow football, but I miss the sound of a game playing on Sunday – reminds me of snuggling under a blanket with my Dad and a bowl of caramel popcorn.  Arden is not much of a TV watcher, but this seemed to hold her interest for about ten minutes.  Maybe it was the pink the players and refs were wearing for the breast cancer awareness game.

Sew Dang Cute has a brand new competition – Crafting With the Stars.  I submitted my DIY Play Rifridgerator project.  Please, please go check out the entries and click on mine – number of views may be considered in the audition process!

Wish Me Luck!

Since I’ve been in a little bit of a project funk lately, I thought I’d take the time to share some parts of my life since this is supposed to be about Life. Family. Crafts.  So, I browsed through some of my photo albums and lo and behold, one of the largest is the one where I toss all the random photos of our dogs.

Picking Laser up at PAWS

What a sweet face

Laser came to us via the PAWS With a Cause organization.  We volunteered to be foster puppy raisers with the hopes of raising a puppy for about a year and then turning him over to PAWS to help someone with a physical disability.  Laser had other plans.  Laser was a “difficult” puppy.  My poor husband who was new to dog raising told me that I seriously undersold the difficulty level.  I told him that not all dogs are like Laser.  We had to walk Laser twice a day for VERY long walks to try to tire him out.  When that didn’t work, we got special permission from PAWS to run with him in an attempt to wear him down enough to be manageable.  At this point in our lives, both Dave and I were running marathons, so Laser built up to some serious mileage.  He just became a very fit high-energy dog with greater stamina.  Laser was smart enough to learn everything – he was just so smart that he tried to figure a way around the rules.  If you’ve read the book or seen the movie Marley and Me, they must be cousins because pretty much if you take away the fear of lightning, Laser was a whole lot of Marley.

Laser was donated to PAWS from a private breeder, likely because his tail was accidentally docked as a puppy and thus “non-standard” for the breed.  I’ve since learned there are two main lines of labradors – Show and Trial Bred.  Show are the stocky, blocky CALM and affable labs bred to amble around conformation shows and look pretty.  Trial Bred labradors are leaner and longer with a tighter coat and thinner tails.  According to Wikipedia, they are “commonly higher energy and more high-strung” and “as a consequence may be more suited to working relationships than being a “family” pet.”  Any guesses which line Laser is?

LASER stands for Light Amplification through Stimulation of Emission of Radiation.  My husband Dave is a physicist who works with lasers and Laser was on the list of PAWS approved names we got to choose from.  He could also have been called Quark or Kafka, so I think he got the best of the lot.  (Dave’s other pets have been named after physicists and mathemeticians, which is how Otto and Erwin got their names and I eventually played along by suggesting Sophie.  Bonus points if you know the last names without Googling.)

One of the neat things about being a foster puppy raiser is that you’re encouraged to take the puppy with you everywhere you go.  Laser wore his little PAWS cape and went with me almost every week to the grocery store.  We took him to festivals and races.  I took him to the library, and to Toronto when I ran the marathon there (he refused to pee outside for nearly the entire weekend because it’s such a dog-intense city and the smell overwhelmed him).  We flew with him to San Diego – yes, he got to be in the cabin with us, go NWA for their policy for dogs in training to be service animals.  While in San Diego we took him to Sea World along with countless coffee shops.

Toronto Marathon

San Diego Sea World

Needless to say after lots of encouragement and coaching from Ellen, our wonderful PAWS field representative, Laser was officially career changed after trying to drag his caregiver at doggie daycare across the street.  Career changed is really just PAWS speak for “He’s too much of a spazz for our program and we would never trust him to be left alone with a person using a wheelchair”.

Sadly, the caption is true

Through contacts with PAWS, we tried to find another career for Laser because man, he needed a job.  He was too big for arson since the investigators might need to carry the dog up a ladder.  He was ironically not insane enough for bomb or drug detection.  They use balls as the reward for those dogs and while Laser is a retrieving fool, he didn’t try to dismantle a dresser when the trainer put a ball in one of the drawers.  Laser was just like “Uh, the ball’s in here – where’s my treat?”.

PAWS would have placed Laser with a family – apparently there’s quite a market for highly-trained purebreeds who are past the puppy phase.  But, masochists that we apparently are, we decided to keep Laser as our “forever” dog. 

Laser has mellowed with age.  A little.  PAWS dogs aren’t allowed to go swimming since they don’t want a dog pulling a wheelchair to be attracted to the water.  Once Laser was released from service, we found that he LOVED the water.  He would retrieve until he could hardly haul himself out of the water.  He also shows a pretty good aptitude for agility, and placed several times in his first competition.  He loves to go to the dog park and will retrieve endlessly.  We even discovered that he would fetch in the dark.  He waits until he hears the ball hit the ground and then runs in that general direction. 

Laser like swim!

He still has his faults.  He’s a champion counter surfer and will get into anything that he can reach.  I have poison control on speed dial specifically for him.  He’s eaten muscle relaxers, an entire bag of Halls, organic weed preventer, and ant traps.  So far he’s still with us.  Poison control seemed to get a kick out of the Halls call – after telling us there should be no ill effects the operator said “his breath will smell good”.  He still tries to drag me where he wants to go and has caused me to fall a couple of times.

The main thing about him now is that he does amazingly well with Arden.  Now that she’s more mobile, he’s had to become even more tolerant of her.  She loves to “ride” him – straddling him and bouncing up and down when he’s laying on the ground.  His docked tail is actually a nice feature, as he doesn’t whack into stuff or Ardens head like Sophie’s does.  Arden likes to dress him up and he just sits there nicely looking up with big sad eyes as if to say “what did I do to deserve this?”.  See above buddy.  See above.

So, that’s the story of our loveable but frequently infuriating dog Laser.  Next time I don’t have any fun projects to post, I’ll introduce you to Sophie.

So, the last time we talked about the garage reconstruction, it looked like this:

Garage Demolition

Since then, we cleaned up the last bits of the structure and crammed it all into the rented dumpster – barely. 

The builder came out and checked the foundation and it’s not adequate for the new garage.  So, that meant the lovely black walnut tree you can see apparently holding up the neighbor’s dilapidated garage was in danger.  I spoke to an arborist and he said it would either not survive or would become unstable after they dug for the footings and therefore needed to come down.

I called and arranged for the tree removal, which I have to say was an unexpectedly easy experience.  I called, the tree removal guy came to my house within a couple of hours and called me back with a bid.  I told him I had made another call and wanted to give them a chance to call back.  The other guy didn’t call back the next day so I called the first guy back and asked them to schedule the removal.  He said it would be Thursday.  Fine.  They called Monday around 2 PM and said they would start taking it down within the hour.  By the time I came home Monday evening, the tree was gone.  A week later the second guy called back.  Um, you’re a tad late Mister.

I took all the plans and paperwork on to City Hall and got our building permit.  Woo hoo!  We’re official!

We then needed to get the stump ground so it wasn’t in the way of the new garage.  We also had a couple of other stumps to be ground, or we would have had them do it the same day.  Once we were ready for all the stumps to be done, I called the tree guy on Monday.  He said it would probably be Tuesday.  Fine.  They knocked on my door two hours later and were there to grind the stumps.  Is there such a thing as being too prompt in the service industry?

So, next step is the builder will construct the treated lumber footings and come the same day with the excavator and remove the old slab and dig the trenches for the footings and the drain.

Cross your fingers!  We’re off to the races now!