And baby makes three…

That’s right: Ryan and I are expecting our first baby this February!

It's a BOY!
It’s a BOY!

We have been through a lot during this pregnancy, so we are anxiously awaiting the day when we get to hold our sweet boy in our arms. I can’t speak for Ryan, but about 90% of my thoughts over the past few months have been centered around our baby and his health. Someday, when I’m ready, I’ll share our story in hopes that it will lighten the burden of just one other person out there, but for now, I’m just trying hard to not let time slip away from me.

Today is Thanksgiving – a day I’ve always spent with family, eating delicious food and enjoying each other’s company. However, since Ryan worked today, we are postponing the big family dinner until this weekend. But I did spend this morning with my mom and dad – and we did eat delicious food and enjoyed each other’s company. And then I got to lazy-away the afternoon with my two doggies. So, all in all, it was a pretty fantastic Thanksgiving.

However, while I was watching a Friends marathon (thank you, TBS!), it occurred to me that this Thanksgiving will be the last one Ryan and celebrate with just the two of us. With all the “firsts” coming up for us, I really never thought of all the “lasts” coming our way too. We already celebrated our last birthdays and anniversary as a family of two, and pretty soon we’ll do the same with Christmas and New Year’s.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m so looking forward to motherhood and all the wonders (and challenges) that come with it. And I know that Ryan and I will enjoy every second of every new memory we make with our son, but I can’t deny how sad I am knowing that I will have to share my best friend’s time and attention from now on. We’ve been married for a little over 4 years, and in that time our little family has just been “us”. But with the most important event in our lives quickly approaching, I know our priorities will change significantly, and “us” will no longer include just the two of us.

Every choice in life comes with the good and the bad, and while I know that the good that comes with our child will be the highlight of our lives, I can’t ignore the bad. So, Ryan, I promise I’m going to make the absolute most of every minute we have together –  not only until our family expands by two little feet, but for the rest of our lives. You’re my best friend, and I’m so thankful for all we have shared. Baby makes three, but this family started out with me and you. And we’re going to conquer this parenting thing together. Just the two of us.

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Sarge’s Smile

The end of a long weekend has come. For those of us dreading the return of another work week, here is a picture of my darling Sarge, grinning like he doesn’t have a care in the world.

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I hope everyone smiles that big at least once this week! Just remember: Labor Day weekend is less than 2 months away. We’ll have another long weekend before we know!

I’d be lying if I said…

1. … I’m not at all grateful for my awesome co-workers.

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As any citizen of the U-S-of-A knows, tax season is in full swing. For those in the CPA world, that means spending more time with co-workers than family and friends, in a very stressful work environment. When things are at their worst work-wise, sometimes the only thing that can make it better is being surrounded by others who just GET IT. And it helps when those people are fun, witty and cool. I’m very fortunate to have a good group of co-workers who fit into that category. This week, a small group of us left work at 6:00 (gasp!!) to celebrate one of our own becoming an official U.S. citizen. We waved miniature flags through dinner, drawing many looks from other dining patrons. To welcome Remo as a citizen, we got him a “survival” kit, complete with a red, white and blue skull-cap, a box of knock-off brand Twinkies (Hostess, we miss you!), a trucking magazine and a tall can of Busch Light. Welcome to America, Remo!

And can I just say how awesome the people at The Rail were on Wednesday? Several other diners came over to congratulate Remo and shake his hand. That’s the America I know and love!

2. … I didn’t shave off 5:30 minutes from my previous 5K time.

That’s right: I have cut my 5K time to 5:30 faster than my first one of 2013. How happy does this make me?

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VERY HAPPY!

To be fair, my first 5K of the year was just a “let’s see where I’m at with this running stuff” test run, since I hadn’t run in over 8 months. I am not the kind of person who can just run 3.2 miles right off the bat, so that first 5K including some walking. I still did it in 33 minutes, so I was happy with that. But today, I did a 5K in 27:29, so I was SO VERY VERY VERY HAPPY about that. So happy that I don’t even care that my hair looked like that when I was done (scary). More so, I’m proud of myself for sticking with my new year’s resolution to become the gym rat I once was. Now that I’m seeing results, I’m extra motivated to stick with it. Nashville will be here in just over 9 weeks (ohmygosh)!

3. … I’m not going celebrate National Margarita Day.

Because you can bet your bottom dollar I am. It’s cinco o’clock somewhere!

4. … I’m not going to miss these two sweet faces like crazy next week.

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Ryan and I have decided to send Sarge and Gunner to a trainer for a week to get Gunner all squared away with obedience training and to work on some social anxiety issues my little Sargie has been having. Being dog-free for a week will be nice (No midnight potty breaks! We’ll have the whole bed to ourselves!), but man, I am going to miss those little guys so much. I’m sure my husband will have to deal with a weepy Whitney when we drop them off tomorrow morning.

5. … I’m not looking forward to the Oscars on Sunday.

YES! The Oscars are here! This is a big night for movie fans. I wrote about how much I enjoy this particular awards show last year, and we’ll be doing the same ballot contest in the Bowers house again this year (Here is a printable ballot, if you want to get in on the fun). I have no idea what the winner will get this year – but I’m going to make sure it’s good, since I don’t plan on losing. 🙂

Things Making Me Happy Today

As the title suggests, there are some things that are making me smile THIS BIG today!

1. Our new puppy, Gunner.

After many (many, many, many) talks about getting another dog, my husband finally won and convinced me we “need” another dog for Sarge. While I much prefer to adopt adult dogs rather than puppies, when a friend’s dog became pregnant (surprise!) with mastiff-mix puppies, it seemed like the perfect fit. Enter Gunner: the 8-week old, 17-pound addition to our family.

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Even though taking care of a puppy is a TON of work, we love having him. He seems to be fitting in just fine – and we hope that Sarge eventually warms up to him. He’s getting used to him…slowly…but for now, Sarge is happy just playing keep-away from Gunner.

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2. Making gift baskets.

I wrote about doing this for a friend’s baby shower last summer, but I just want to say it again: I love making gift baskets. I really should do this more often for people, because it really is a ton of fun. Plus, a basket full of gift that costs $25 looks waaaaaaay nicer than a $25 gift card. And in my opinion it’s a much more thoughtful, personal gift.

Anyway, a few months ago my friend Deanna asked if I would make a gift basket to auction off for a fundraising event she is helping organize. I jumped at the chance, and even got another friend to make a basket (which wasn’t hard to do at all – she is SUPER great at making these things!). I decided on a “Happy at Home” theme, and kept the color scheme red and white.

The basket includes:

* The book Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin (I haven’t read it but have heard it’s great – and it’s what the “Happy at Home” theme is centered around!)
* Two “Keep Calm and Carry On” mugs, one red and one white (sort of like this, but a little fancier)
* A wintry soup mix, to fill bellies on cold winter days
* A bag of Joe coffee (Love the bright red bag this coffee comes in!)
* A yummy smelling candle
* Milk Chocolate Lindor truffles (These are my absolute FAVORITE! And it was such a shame that the entire bag of truffles wouldn’t fit in the basket. I took one for the team and ate the extras. It’s called sacrifice, people.)
*Aloe-infused socks (sooooo soft)

The basket itself is actually a black canvas tote with a pretty damask design on the inside. Topped off with a sparkly red bow, the basket is complete! I love it – I wish I didn’t have to give it away, but since it’s for a good cause, I guess I will. 🙂

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And here is the adorable “Tea and Biscuits” basket Katie made:

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3. Ideas!

About a year ago, I started this blog, not really knowing WHAT I wanted to do with it, just that I wanted to DO it. I’m still trying to nail down this whole blog thing, but I’ve had so much fun with it over the past 12 months – it’s amazing what a little idea can become!

I’ve had a few more ideas sprout recently, and I can’t wait to see what they grow into. A few projects with my sister, a book club with my co-worker-turned-good-friend-and-wine-buddy Amy and combining two of the things I love into a volunteer opportunity. Great things to look forward to!

4. Joining a running club

I resolved this year to be committed, but I’ve also resolved to be committed to those things that hold one or more of the following:

1. It is for / important to someone I love;

2. It improves my health, brings me happiness and/or contributes to making me an overall better person; or

3. I just really, really want to do it.

Today, I’ve committed to joining the Summit Athletic Running Club (SARC) with my abovementioned friend Katie, and I couldn’t be more excited! The club sounds like a wonderful group of people, and I’m looking forward to using it as a way to stay motivated to run after the Nashville half is over. Speaking of the Nashville half…

5. The Nashville half is getting closer!

Yes, April 27 is still well over 2 months away, but it’s getting closer and closer! I definitely need a little trip away from real life, and I’m so excited to be spending time in my favorite city with my husband and some good friends.

Plus, since my old running shoes are, well, old, I’ve decided to get a new pair. It’s all in the name of pain-free running! These lovely gals have grabbed my attention:

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Those are the Asics GT-2000 in Electric Melon and Turquoise. Love ’em.

6. Some new country music

There are some new songs out right now in country music that just make me JAM! I’ve especially been rocking to these two fine tunes:

I love how music can just totally improve your mood. These two songs definitely do it for me!

Have a great weekend, everyone! Hope there is plenty to make you happy today and all weekend.

Rest Day

Happy Monday! We made it through our first weekend in February and the snow continues to fall upon us in Northeast Ohio. Keep holding on, everyone: spring will be here before we know it!

An update on my Super Bowl pick: turns out I cheered for the wrong team. Or rather, I picked the LOSING team. As a Browns fan, I know the two do not go hand in hand. But the 49er’s played a good game – I thought they were going to come back and win! I think this year’s Super Bowl was a great one – the game was exciting, most of the commercials were entertaining and we even got to experience a power-outage.

And as it always does, Sunday turned into Monday. It was back to work for a lot of us, which I’m sure not many were thrilled about. Today is no ordinary Monday for me: today is the first official day of my 12-week half-marathon training program. Since I’m pretty sure I ate my weight in Doritos at my sister’s Super Bowl party yesterday, I was reeeeaaaally not looking forward to going to the gym today. I’m sure you can imagine my absolute joy when I looked at what today held for me on the training calendar:

Day 1: REST

YES! I guess it’s not Monday Runday for me! I think it’s kind of funny that Day 1 of a half-marathon training program is “Rest”, but I’m not complaining! If there is one thing I know how to do well, it’s resting.

So after work, I put on sweats and spent the evening cuddling with Sarge. Ryan is at work until tomorrow morning, but I hear he’s enjoying his rest day too. I can’t think of anything else I would have rather been doing on this cold, snowy night. Yes, I technically should have gone to the gym today, but I had a crazy busy weekend that left me exhausted this morning. Just as with running, we need rest days in life, too.

Unfortunately, as with all good things, this rest day is coming to an end. Four-thirty tomorrow morning is going to come way too soon, so I’m off to bed. Good night, all!

Our Favorite Breed is Rescued

Sarge (about six months old)

Every morning I wake up to those same brown eyes. His breath might stink and he is pretty hairy, but his big smile makes up for all that: my heart is his. And with a big kiss, he lets me know the feeling is mutual. “You’re my favorite,” I whisper to him.

“I heard that,” my husband, Ryan, jokes next to me. But I know he’s thinking the same thing: in our house, Sarge is number one.

In case you haven’t read all the other posts about my baby, here’s some background: Sarge is our two-and-a-half year old bull mastiff-boxer mixed breed dog. Ever since he came into our lives in the summer of 2010, our world has centered around that little guy. I’ve come to know what it’s like to ask yourself multiple times a day, “What did I ever do without you?”.

When conversations about getting a dog first started, I let Ryan know one thing: I don’t buy pets. I know and love many people who do, however, it’s just something I do not do. While I adore all animals, my heart longs to help those that are having a hard time being given away for free, let alone bought for hundreds (or thousands) of dollars. So, we turned to a local rescue and found our Sarge.

Rescuing animals can get a bad rap, but the truth is, there are many advantages to getting a pet from a rescue. First, it’s easier on your wallet: rescuing is usually much less expensive than buying a pure breed dog. This is especially true if the dog is older and has already been neutered or spade. For example, we paid $200 when we rescued Sarge ($100 to get him neutered, plus a $100 donation to the rescue), however, pure-bred bull-mastiff puppies sell for anywhere between $700 – $2,000 each. Boxer puppies can cost as much as $1,200. Sarge did not come with any official papers, but we have no plans to show or breed him, so those papers aren’t worth the extra $1,000. And Sarge is so cute that the photographer we hired to take his pictures two years ago used his sweet little face on some advertising materials:

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I might be biased – but this proves it: mutts are adorable!

Secondly, if you rescue a dog, you are not supporting puppy mills. Puppy mills are evil, “factory style” facilities that care more about making money than they do about the actual dogs. These dogs live in poor conditions, are not given the proper medical care and are deprived of human companionship. Sadly, many of the puppies sold from puppy mills have health and behavioral issues, which cannot always be treated. When you get a dog from a rescue, you know they are coming from people who love and nurture them. And because they are loved…

…Rescue dogs will unconditionally adore you. Dogs are pack animals, and when they do not have that bond with an owner, they are very eager to deeply and completely get that bond. According to the Humane Society of the United States, most animals in shelters are not from abusive homes or haven’t done something “wrong”. Usually the reason these animals are given to shelters is for “people” reasons – a move, divorce or financial hardship. The result is dogs from rescues are more than ready to have a family again.

We are so thankful this Christmas (and every single day) that Take Me Too dog rescue gave us the best gift ever: Sargie. He has brought so much happiness, so much love and so much laughter into our lives. So much that ever since we rescued him, we often wonder “Who rescued who?”

Doggie Bucket List

I recently read a blog post by a kindred dog-loving spirit about the 50 things every dog should do. I loved reading about all the things his dog had done, so I thought it would be fun to share the items Sarge has checked off of his bucket list – and our plans to help him cross off a few more!

[Warning – this is a long post about my dog. If you aren’t a fan of cuteness and slobber, don’t read on.]

1. Flop down in front of a morning fire. Haven’t done this one, but we have all the necessary tools (i.e., a fireplace and a lazy dog).

2. Go for a swim in the sea. A pool? Yes. A lake? Yes. The sea? No…maybe someday.

3. Go mad in the snow. Does he ever! Sarge loves the snow and takes every opportunity to play in it.

Sarge’s favorite weather

4. Dig up a flower bed. Sarge has been caught “mud handed” doing this many, many times.

5. Do the “Beethoven” shake and soak everyone around you. Sarge is skilled at this. Luckily, he has short hair, or we would have it much, much worse.

6. Have your own spot on the sofa. Oh, please. Every spot on every sofa (and chair, and bed) in our house is “Sarge’s”.

7. Accompany your owner on a run / bike ride. Sarge joins Ryan on runs very often. Sometimes they even let me join.

8. Attend a family picnic. We do this every chance we get. The jury is out on whether he will be invited back to some places…

9. Help your owner bad a date. I’m pretty sure “bad a date” is a typo and supposed to be “bed a date”. In that case, Sarge hasn’t been given this opportunity, as both of his owners are taken, however, I’m pretty sure Sarge would be a major “block” of any sort of date bedding (see # 14).

10. Cheer up your owner when they are down. Sarge accomplished this the first day he joined our family and continues to do so anytime his services are needed. It is literally impossible to be sad around Sargie. I guarantee it.

Sarge’s happy face 🙂

11. Visit a different continent. This has not happened, it’s very doubtful it ever would. Sarge doesn’t travel well in the car and hasn’t been out of the great state of Ohio, so I don’t see a trip to another continent in his future. A dog can dream, though!

12. Roll around in a really stinky, muddy puddle. Check. Unfortunately.

13. Ruin a pair of slippers or shoes. I said it’s impossible to be sad around Sarge, but it is very possible to be mad around him, especially when you discover (yet another) pair of your favorite shoes chewed up. We’re still waiting on Sarge to grow out of this “phase”.

14. Sleep in your owner’s bed. Every night. Ryan and I have slept on the very edge of the bed many, many times, all in the name of making sure Sarge has enough room. We’re bad, I know…

15. Wake your owner with a big, wet, sloppy kiss. If a 100 lb. dog walking on you doesn’t wake you up first, the kisses will.

16. Chase a cat during a dream. We like to joke that he’s chasing squirrels, but I’m sure a cat has made its way into Sarge’s dreams a time or two.

17. Learn the word for “sit” in another language. Does sign language count? If so, done!

18. Join in on a football game in the park. American football or soccer? Either way – I’m sure this will happen. Until he pops the ball, which he’s done countless times.

19. Meet a famous dog.

20. Try your paws at dancing. Hard to believe, but Sarge does dance! He knows all the moves to the “Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah” part of LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It”. He has such a wiggly butt 🙂

21. Convince your owner you can howl English words.

22. Get filthy within 30 minutes of a bath. Grrrr. Yes.

23. Howl along with your favorite song. Sarge never howls when I sing to him. Surprisingly, he does smile and wag his tail…

24. Ride in an open top car. If the sunroof to Ryan’s car counts, check! As you can see below, the wind does hilarious things to Sarge’s lips.

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25. Learn to skateboard. I don’t ever, ever foresee this happening.

26. Have a personalized Christmas stocking. Thanks to my mom!

27. Show the postman who’s boss. They had a stand-off last year. Since the postman asked me to come get the mail, I think Sarge won. 🙂

28. Be a ring bearer at a wedding. Anyone need a ring bearer?!

29. Try to follow a squirrel up a tree. Triple check x 1,000. And Sarge has never succeeded in catching one…that is, until this Thanksgiving, when he actually caught a squirrel. It was probably the greatest thing that ever happened to Sarge, and probably one of the most traumatic things that ever happened to me.

Sarge: The Hunter

30. Go to work with your owner. Sarge is certainly not welcome at my office, and since he hates fire truck sirens, I don’t see him going with Ryan. Oh, well.

31. Have your own social media page. Well, I had never thought of that… 🙂

32. Bound through a forest.

33. Have a personalized kennel. Who needs a kennel when you have a whole house?

34. Go on a boat and get your sea legs.

35. Play frisbee on the beach. Sarge loves the Bow Wow Beach in Stow!

36. Receive your own birthday card. Guilty.

37. Steal someone’s lunch when they’re not looking. Lunch, dinner, Thanksgiving turkey – Sarge doesn’t discriminate.

38. Watch an entire episode of ‘The Washing Machine’. Not sure what this is…but he does watch TV with us, so I’ll count it.

39. Eat doggy ice cream. His favorite is vanilla topped with pulled pork (thanks, Zack’s!)

40. Create a diversion and steal another dog’s dinner. My parents’ poor dog…

41. Rug a doggy marathon. There is no way I’d ever let Sarge run 26.2 miles, even if he could (which is laughable), but there is a mile-run for dogs every year as part of a fundraiser for Akron’s Children’s Hospital. 2013 is Sarge’s year, I can feel it!

42. Receive a doggy birthday cake. We’ve haven’t done this…yet…

43. Rip the stuffing out of a pillow or cushion. Sigh…yes.

44. Unwrap birthday presents. Sarge helped me unwrap Christmas presents last year!

45. Watch Lassie on TV. We’ll need to turn on some Nick at Night to catch that.

46. Be in a family portrait. Duh.

47. Have a stand-off with your own reflection. Not yet..

48. Have a favorite local pub. I wasn’t aware this was possible, but according to Bringfido.com, there are almost 20 dog-friendly restaurants in the greater Cleveland / Akron / Canton area. We’ll have to check some out!

49. Star in a YouTube video.

50. Sleep in a boutique dog hotel. I’m excited to try this!

If I counted right, of the 50 bucket list items, Sarge has done 28! He’s off to a great start in his young life – can’t wait to see what else he checks off his list.