Friday, June 13, 2014

Summer Summer Summertime!

It's summertime! In Florida, that means an onslaught of humid days and afternoon showers. However, in spite of this not being the ideal season for Floridians, I definitely have some things to look forward to!

(1) Summer concert tours are some of the best. Back in my high school and college days, it would have been shows like Lillith Fair (I have a deep love for female singer/songwriters). The artist has to be a favorite of mine to attend the concert, since we have to arrange for childcare. Earlier this year, J and I saw John Legend. I've also been lucky to see Pink Martini and Indigo Girls.

 J and I along with our friends will be seeing Dave Matthews Band in July! Hearing DMB immediately brings me back to my high school and college days. Truth be told, I haven't listened to them a lot these days, but I am looking forward to waxing nostalgic for one night.

A few weeks later I will be seeing Sara Bareilles with my sister. I am not very familiar with her music, other than a handful of songs. But I adored her on "The Sing-Off". My sister is a huge fan. I enjoy hearing new music in a live venue. Something about not having a preconceived notion of how a song should sound makes the experience amazing.

(2) J and I are also traveling this summer! His fraternity brother is getting married in the heart of DC. We will see his college friends, eat some good food, drink some good beers and welcome his fraternity brother to the married club. I don't know if we will be able to sneak in any sight seeing, but I'd love to see the Lincoln Memorial at night!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

San Francisco

Our good friends have left us for the West Coast. While an amazing opportunity, we sure will miss them. San Francisco is one of my favorite cities around. In fact, J and I honeymooned there! Here are some of my favorite San Francisco places and spaces (in case the B's need any ideas!)

Palace of Fine Arts - I feel this place is slightly magical. Ever since I watched "So I Married An Axe Murderer" and saw Nancy Travis and Mike Myers traipsing through the park, I knew I had to visit. I've been to San Francisco four times and I never miss going to this place!

Goldilocks - This is THE Filipino bakery. There are a handful of US locations, with one being right in San Francisco. For a first timer, I'd recommend some enseymada (Filipino brioche) or mocha roll.

Jollibee - Another Filipino staple with a location in San Francisco. Jollibee is an experience. Perhaps only a "try once" kind of place. Get the Chicken Joy. Or at least watch these folks try Jollibee for the first time.

Golden Gate Park - What a treasure in San Francisco! There are so many activities available. My personal favorite activities include tea at the Japanese Tea Garden and peddling (by boat) around Stow Lake. I enjoyed looking at all the statues and watching people practice Tai Chi.

Like many big cities, San Francisco offers great events such as movies in the park and festivals. I just know they will soak it all up.

P.S. Let me know when you make it to Berkeley and see your first protest :)

P.P.S. - Miss y'all already.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Truffle makes "Sit Happen" - Part 2 of 2

We had Dave's (of Sit Happens) card on our refrigerator for almost a year before we called him. I had even friended him on Facebook. Deep down, we knew we would get to this place of desperation before calling him.

J contacted him and scheduled our free consultation. That meeting had to take place on our front porch as Truffle went nuts when Dave arrived. It didn't take long for Dave to see that we really needed his help. He quickly saw that Truffle felt he was the protector of the house. Bottom line, Truffle did not see J as the alpha dog.

In advance of their first lesson, J bought Truffle a leather collar and new leash. He also ordered a muzzle (did I mention Truffle had nipped people before?). Dave would bring us an additional collar to help Truffle focus on listening to us.

The first lesson: Jack and I were not present. Dave wanted to lessen the number of people Truffle felt he needed to protect. Dave and J worked on basic commands such as "come"and "place". "Place" is a command where Truffle was not to move until J called him. Truffle did not eat Dave, so that was a success.

J would continue his homework with Truffle twice a day, completing numerous repetitions.

The second lesson:  Dave taught J how to walk Truffle on the leash. Truffle would need to stay by J's side and not go in front of him. By the end of the lesson, Truffle had the muzzle off and Dave was able to walk him. In fact, Dave was able to come in our house and sit on the couch, while Truffle chilled on the floor.

Homework included more regular walks and practice. Lots of practice. We also blocked off the front window so Truffle could not stand and bark his head off at the neighbors. We also moved his bed away from the front window and moved to the back of the house.

We really started to notice progress. Truffle looked relaxed. He would usually be "on alert", ready to attack at any time. His jumping on us behavior had subsided as well.

The third lesson: Dave brought his dogs over. The whole group went for a walk. We also worked on a routine for when the doorbell would ring. That routine included telling Truffle to go to his house (crate) and showing him we had the situation under control. We also learned how to break that line of sight if Truffle looked like he felt threatened.

We started taking walks as a family. Truffle would also just relax while in the backyard. Wheras before, he would be barking at everything and patrolling the perimeter.

Truffle in the place position.

The last lesson: J and Dave met at the beach, with lots of people around. It was a success!

Learning how to be good owners to Truffle really changed our entire family dynamic. The stress and anxiety we would feel when he wouldn't listen to us was gone. I can now call for him to "come" from the yard and he is immediately responsive. When we tell him to go to his house, he just goes in. I used to have to corner him and force him inside.

Thanks to Dave for helping our family!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Truffle makes "Sit Happen" - Part 1 of 2

Truffle is my first child, albeit of the canine persuasion. He had never through any formal puppy training. He didn't walk on a leash well at all. In fact, we had a random neighbor scold us about Truffle. While we knew that we probably should, truthfully? We were lazy. Then Jack joined out family. Luckily, Truffle loved Jack and vice versa. Truffle is very protective of him.

However, it was at that time that the tide really turned. A few weeks after we brought Jack home, Truffle stopped wanting to go outside. He would freeze at the doorway. It was so bad that J would have to carry him across the street to get him to walk and relieve himself. We took him to the vet, who recommended we put him on Reconcile (doggie prozac) and also give him doggy anxiety meds for when it would storm badly (Truffle would get major shakes and anxiety, even with the Thundershirt on). She also recommended we pair this with behavioral training and provided us the name of a guy to contact.

Well, we ignored the training recommendation, but took her up on the meds. We had a newborn. There was no time!

Did the meds help? It seemed like they did for a while. But there were side effects on the Reconcile. Especially when there was a shortage of Reconcile and we switched to generic. Truffle would get super aggressive with people he didn't like. It got so bad that we stopped having people over, other than those he did like (our families etc).

Last spring, we moved from our 2nd floor condo to a single family home, complete with a big yard. We figured Truffle would have his own space to run and wear himself out. We weaned him off his meds as well. For the first few weeks, it seemed like things were getting better.

We were wrong.

Truffle continued to not listen to us. I could yell for him to come inside and he would ignore me. He would still be aggressive to people. He even nipped at some people.

One night, after he was circling around the living room and jumping all over us. I yelled to J, "Maybe it's time we got rid of Truffle".

I could not believe it. I never thought I would say those words.

So we knew what we had to do. We needed to call the dog trainer.

To be continued...

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fiscal Friday: Planning for the year

So...just so we are clear. It isn't Friday. I am a tad I mean a wee...I'm just late with this post! Honestly, I just plain forgot! However, the time helped me as I decided on my topic for the month: planning expenses for the year. I guess this is a budget? Really, I'm working to identify those annual/semi-annual/quarterly expenses that occur. I would forget about these expenses, so when they showed up, it would feel like a setback.

So far, I've identified some of those expenses:

Annual Expenses
Car registration
Junior League dues

Semi-Annual Expenses
Home insurance
Pet wellness visits (including shots)

Quarterly Expenses
Misc Insurances

My goal this month is to identify these expenses that take me by surprise every.single.year.

Make sure to visit Christina and Katie to see what they are talking about for Fiscal Friday!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

My Provisional Year in Junior League

My first memory of volunteering was from junior high school. I was a candy striper  junior volunteer at our local hospital. I started in the Emergency Department, directing patients to the registration area. Until I started to see people I knew coming in and I freaked out (about seeing them hurt, not about just seeing them). After that, I floated everywhere, from the pharmacy to labor & delivery.

Since then, I've had some really fun and interesting volunteer opportunities. I volunteered at the Chicago Children's Museum, where once I saw Dave Matthews with his kids. I helped relative caregivers shop for new school clothes for their kids (shopping + volunteering = fun). However, after having Jack, I wasn't doing much volunteering.

And I missed it. I really missed it.

Here's the thing. Yes, you are helping when you volunteer: helping an individual, family or even the community. But you feel so good afterwards. And I realized I needed that.

As I was having all these feelings, I had met some ladies from Junior League. After some research, I filled out the application, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

Truthfully, I was apprehensive on my first New Member event. A few people had referred to Junior League as a grown up sorority. I was not Greek in college, so I wasn't even sure what that really meant. Basically, would I meet anyone that I connected with? Would I stick out like a sore thumb because of what I looked like (can't help but worry about that stuff)?

However, I stayed positive and I'm glad I did. From the first New Member event and forward, I have truly enjoyed all that Junior League offered! My New Member neighborhood group is fantastic. A great group of ladies with a phenomenal advisor. Our advisor planned monthly activities for us that included pottery painting, brunch, and happy hours. We attended League events together, so I always knew I would know somebody.

As a provisional member, I wasn't required to participate in DIAD (Done in a Day). However, the biggest reason I joined the League was to volunteer. I took a deep breath and started signing up, even if I didn't know anyone else volunteering. I volunteered with The Daniel Foundation, doing arts and crafts, playing games and other fun activities with a group of kids. I put my seven years of flute playing to use at the Jacksonville Symphony's Instrument Zoo. At both events, I met fellow provisionals who were not in my group plus active members. I lucked out as everyone was very friendly and welcoming.

This is not to say I'm BFF with every single person. Just like any organization, you are going to connect with some and not with others. But there are definitely people who I enjoyed getting to know and have made this such a great experience.

I'm so glad that I joined as being around others who also find value in volunteering has been amazing.

Looking forward to my first active year!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

2014 RAP Tour of Homes

One of my favorite activities is going on home tours. I feel like it is like watching HGTV, but live action! I attended the Riverside Avondale Preservation's Tour of Homes. with my mom. Coincidentally, it was also her birthday! We enjoyed peaking into some of the nicest homes in the historic district. 

I tried to limit the number of pictures, but we saw some many nice things. It was hard to narrow it down! We toured four homes total, then relaxed in the air-conditioned oasis of Biscotti's and enjoyed a relaxing lunch. These pictures are from my two favorite houses.

I think this was my favorite house. It was on a quiet cul de sac by the river. 

Front porch sitting would not be hard here!

Love this huge sink, located on the back porch

This room was my favorite. They converted the second floor porch (see first picture) into a grandkids room! Not pictured is a living room area with oversized couches and tv. Also not pictured was a stellar library with plenty of children's books and a desk area.

The next set of pictures are from the first home we toured.  I dream of having a bar cart in my home.

Shoe shelves in one of their daughter's room. The piece did not take up a lot of space. I feel like J and I have a wall where we could have something like this (for all his sneakers!) Edit: This is not from the first house we saw. This was in my fave house above!

The first home had an amazing pool house, complete with al fresco dining. 

Gas powered fire pit!

My mom had never attended a home tour before. It was fun to share it with her and celebrate her birthday!