Weddings, Simple or Complicated

Here's what I was up to this weekend in the kitchen.

Simple, straightforward cupcakes, chocolate and vanilla, with dainty rose decorations. 
Only a hundred.

And a little pink wedding cake for the bride and groom to cut together.

And then a cake that was decidedly not simple and straightforward, but challenging, time-consuming, complicated and ultimately satisfying. I really stretched and worked my skills with this one. Learned a lot about the difficulties of black buttercream. Do not look too closely at it or you will see all my mistakes. If I could make another one this week and apply all I learned, it would be three times better.

It is pretty photogenic from a distance though, isn't it?

Family reunion in Montreal!

Today we went to a family get together at Haydee's house in Montreal to say farewell and bon voyage to our cousins Silvia and Raul, who are returning home to Argentina after a wonderful visit. Kerri wasted no time teaching her cousin Amy how to play the DS.

Raul and Luis enjoyed the comfy chairs!

Amy asked hubby to help her with the game, but she ended up teaching him how to play.

And this is where Kerri spent the entire afternoon. She really likes swings!

Cousin Laura and hubby posed.

And then we all got into the picture! Top row: Luis, Haydee, me, Ryan, Carla, Corey, Stephen, Silvia. Bottom row: Kerri, Sebastian, Amy, Daniela, Samara, Charlie, Cathy, baby Ellie, Pablo, Sam, Raul (I might have gotten Sam and Charlie mixed up, they are hard to tell apart!)

These two are inseparable. They are more like twins and best friends!

And Brownie...ugh. He spent the entire day trying to get some action.

My lovely flower girl Samara (can you believe she is 15?!) and her mom, my beautiful cousin Carla.

We had such a wonderful day! It was awesome to see everyone again and catch up. Thank you Haydee and Luis for inviting us to your home, everything was yummy! Kerri was so tired from playing all day that she fell asleep in the car on the way home. Hubby and I enjoyed two hours of peace and quiet conversation in the car - a first!

We ended the day going out to dinner at Montana's, and then came home to a very excited Pookie. We are definitely looking forward to our next get together in September!

Life with Kerri is all about family.

Fun Stuff

The kid and I spent a lot of time together this weekend. I worked at a pet expo until 3:00 on Saturday (her dad brought her by to visit me there as well) and after that, we hit the road.  It was just me and her.  I had this theory that if I left P home alone long enough, he would use this free time to stain the deck. As it turns out, if you leave him home alone long enough, he hops in the car and takes himself to a movie (Captain America).

First we went out to dinner. She'd had a fever Friday night and although Tylenol had taken care of it by morning, she still seemed a little off on Saturday. And by "off" I mean "compliant." I wasn't sure whether to worry about her or to sing hallelujah in the streets. After dinner, we stopped at a park.  A storm had just blown through, so the park was empty. I don't mean to brag here, but I found three (wet, sandy) dollars next to the swing set. I'm currently looking into some investment strategies. I'm worried that I'll start getting letters from down-on-their-luck strangers asking for a piece of my windfall.

From there, we went to a candy store and then to a bluegrass concert (a local but extremely talented band was performing). A was the one and only kid there. I think I was actually the second youngest person in the audience, in all honesty. I scanned the crowd and, as far as I could tell, nary a one was born after the Korean war. It was a lot of fun, though. The older folks got a kick out of the kid. At intermission we went to the ladies' room, where we spotted some fancy hand lotions and such that were placed there by a local high-end boutique. I put on some hand lotion that had a fairly pleasant scent - something like honey and jasmine. A put some on her hands and loudly proclaimed that it "smells JUST LIKE MEDICINE!" The lady behind us said, "Well, I guess I'll pass then."

We left the concert a bit before it ended because we had an hour drive to get back home and I didn't want miss crabby-in-the-morning to be up too late. All in all, it was a good time. Winter lasts so long in these parts, and it seems like I always hear myself promising to "do that when it gets warm."  So, I've been trying to make good on my promises.  We even rode go-karts on Tuesday night. Before we know it, the snow will fly and such chances will be lost.

I have to share my favorite photo from the weekend. Elle est tres jolie, ne c'est pas?

Summer day.

Life with Kerri brightens up every day.

It's crazy up in hair

Another self-portrait
As my daughter gets older, I am definitely noticing her need to exert her independence and express her individuality a little more each day. Yesterday she had a playdate at her friend's house. This friend lives three blocks away. I decided to let her ride her bike. I acted like it was no big deal, but in my head, I was mentally calculating all of the things that could happen to her in three blocks. I strapped her helmet onto her noggin, gave her a little push, and then stood in the yard like a lawn ornament until I saw her pull into her friend's driveway. I am planning to do this for all such outings, until she is married.

Try as I might to stop the clock, she persists in growing up. Her wardrobe is one of the most obvious signs. She used to wear whatever I put on her, but now she wants a say in it. So, I've been involving her more in my buying decisions so that we're not stuck with clothing she refuses to wear.  A few pairs of shoes have been rejected out of hand, and I'm still not even sure what it was that made them so offensive all of a sudden.

The biggest kid-related battle I face these days is right on top of my daughter's head.  The girls at Kindercare like to "do" each other's hair.  There are some older kids in A's classroom (they divide the joint up into: children two and under, three-year-olds, four-year-olds, and then "school age") and I think she is influenced by them in some ways.  I send her off with her hair in a ponytail or a headband and when I pick her up, the hair implement is inevitably broken and her curls are poufed out about a foot in all directions. I feel like her head can be seen from space. Now, I should add that this seems to happen whether the girls at daycare touch her hair or not. What I don't understand it why it bugs me so much.

My daughter is bi-racial. Before she was born, I did some reading about different types of hair and wondered what I might need to learn. Braiding? Special conditioners? When she was born, she had soft brown hair that started to curl when she was around 18 months old - nothing that seemed to require any sort of special know-how. Until she was around four, her hair was mostly soft ringlets - not too hard to manage. My wee baby sister has curly hair, so I had some idea of what to do and what not to do. I also began quizzing curly-haired friends about what products they use. I think I've easily spent a mortgage payment on hair products for Short Stuff.  Over the past couple of years, her hair has changed. It's less curly and more . . . well, frizzy. The hair at the crown of her head has very little curl to it, whereas the hair underneath is still very curly.  I use various leave-in conditioners and curl creams and whatnot, with mixed results. Some days her hair looks fine, other days it's pretty much out of control. I've taken her to various stylists, who haven't been as helpful as one might expect.

If she had her way, I think she'd be fine with walking around looking like Medusa. What she really wants is straight hair, just like I would love to have curly hair.  When I fix her hair in the mornings and she is in a particularly cantankerous mood, fighting me all the way, I sometimes find myself saying, "Fine, just go out with your hair like that then!" Like "that" = a big mass of tangles and disorder. It occurs to me that I may be leaving her with the impression that there is something wrong with her hair and of course that is not my intent at all.  My daughter (all parts of her) is beautiful and if you don't agree, I'll fight you.

In the end, I guess it's really my hang-up, not hers. I'm not the roll-out-of-bed-and-go sort.  You won't see me with bedhead or rolling through town in sweatpants. I remember one day my long-time hair stylist had finished blow-drying my hair and, on a whim, combed a zigzag part into my hair. I stared at myself in the mirror. Donna looked back at me and said, "You can't stand it, can you?"  She laughed.  She was right. I could not.

So, what do I do? Try to coerce my daughter into complying with how I'd like her hair to look (i.e. like she is not homeless) or let her do what she wants and not worry about it?  Is there some magical product that would allow her wear her her natural but without all the . . . disorder?

I'm off to fret about some other trivial thing now. Like how no one on Facebook seems to know the difference between your and you're.

Seriously, how does she keep getting my camera???

Little Miss Popular

Before my daughter was born, her birthmom warned me that I would be reduced to the status of a small rodent from the date the baby arrived on the planet until . . . well, forever. And it was true. Everyone I know was smitten with the little cherub - they still are, in fact. I'm pretty sure most of them like her better than they like me, not that I blame them. I mean, I know every mom thinks her child is particularly spectacular, but mine is irrepressibly cute and outgoing and has a giggle that leaves you no choice but to start giggling yourself. You see, that's one benefit of adopting - I can be pretty obnoxious as far as bragging about her and it's not as if I'm paying some sort of compliment to myself at the same time. It's not like I'm pointing at my child and saying, "Did you see what I MADE?! My DNA is extraordinary, is it not?"

My father called me last week to make sure we'd gotten home safely from our visit to the east coast. As part of his refusal to acknowledge technology of any sort, he loves to buy those little disposable cardboard cameras and uses them aplenty. When he called, he had just picked up a batch of photos he'd had developed. "I got some pictures of my baby," he told me.  For half a second, I thought he meant me (since I am, you know, his first-born child and all).  Then I realized he meant his granddaughter. Ah, of course.

My sisters and my parents sent me birthday gifts in February. They arrived from between a week and four weeks late. The gifts they sent my daughter in May? Right on time.

I'm mostly just amused by the whole thing. Her fan club is vast. Relatives call specifically to speak to my daughter. Many of my friends buy Christmas and birthday gifts for her. A has three living grandparents and all three are hopelessly in love with her. My stad gets such a kick out of her (he was amused to learn of her recent tantrum because I would not allow her to wear tap shoes to church) and loves spending time with her. My mom makes dress after dress for Miss-I-Don't-Wear-Pants. She is counting the days until A is old enough to fly as an unaccompanied minor so that I can ship her granddaughter out for a visit (the two of them can't wait to stay up late and eat ice cream for dinner, I suspect). When we were in VA, my father handed the kid $40.00 and told her it was "grandkids' day." This was in addition to the c-note he just gave her for her birthday. After handing her the cash, he pointed at me and said, "You'll just have to wait until I die."  (I'm named in his will.)  That could be arranged, I thought to myself.

On Sunday, I took my daughter to visit her Kindergarten teacher. Mrs. L had called a couple of times this summer, wondering when A could come for a visit. I don't remember a teacher ever inviting me to their home, that's for sure.  Mrs. L has a pond, sheep, cats, etc. and enjoys having students drop by (she and her husband are empty-nesters). Anyway, the kid was beyond excited by the time we pulled up at her teacher's home. "This is the best kind of day!" she exclaimed as she hopped out of the van and ran into the arms of her teacher.  We spent the next hour and a half touring the home and the pond, sipping lemonade and taking photos. We talked a bit about academics. Mrs. L told me that my daughter reads at "at least a second grade level."  Needless to say, I was one proud, puffed-up mama. (I didn't make her brain, but I get to take partial credit for all the reading she and I have done together!)

As wonderful as my daughter is, I have to feel a bit sorry for her future boss as well as her future spouse. Why?  Two words: weekday mornings. I don't mean to spill all of her secrets (oh, who am I kidding? of course I do!), but Miss Popularity is an absolutely ill-tempered tyrannical pill for about the first two hours after she gets up.  You didn't think it was all sunshine and giggles around our house, did you?
With her teacher

With Granddaddy

With Grandpa

Baking for the County Fair

We had quite a time in the kitchen the other day.

No, this is not from baking ten cakes and seventy-five cupcakes like I did today.  This is only a bit of what three kids generated while making their county fair 4-H entries. I was so engrossed in controlling the chaos that I didn't think to take a photo of my flour covered offspring measuring, mixing, rolling, and baking six different recipes all at the same time in the same space using the same oven and utensils.

This is the boy's very first year in 4-H since in Oregon it starts in the 4th grade of school. We didn't get much done but they managed to make two recipes each and they entered an art project they made last Christmas.

This is Alyssa's very last year in 4-H as a senior. She made the more advanced technique of pie crust and also gluten-free brownies.

The county fair began today and we found out the results of their efforts. They all received blue ribbons on their food projects.

Peter was especially thrilled that both his double chocolate cookies and his chocolate chip muffins (the boy likes his chocolate) won champion ribbons and will be going to the state fair!

Alyssa received accolades for her flaky pie crust. Not only did it receive a champion ribbon but the pie crust was also given a Best of Show award/Grand Champion.

All the time that Alyssa has spent helping me with pies and apple turnovers in our kitchen has honed her skills and made her confident in her ability to foster and pass along the fading American pie traditions.

I am proud of my kids and all their efforts!

Cousins come to visit!

My cousin Silvia from Argentina came for a visit. I had not seen her in years!

It was so very awesome to catch up. We had lots of fun!

Top row: Corey, Pookie, cousins Luis and Haydee. Bottom row: Kerri, cousins Raul and Silvia

We had an awesome afternoon, and taught Raul how to play Scooby Doo on the Wii. Actually, Kerri just beat him up while he tried to figure out how to fling sausages at her. It was hilarious!

Thank you Haydee and Luis for coming to visit and bringing Silvia and Raul to see us. We truly enjoyed ourselves, and it was awesome to catch up with Silvia.

Life with Kerri is better when shared.

See This Beautiful Wedding Venue

So I've told you about the amazing wedding venues we have here in the Columbia River Gorge but I haven't been able to show you. Today the photographer from one of last weekend's weddings sent me the link to her blog. Take a look at see the beautiful vistas these wedding guests enjoyed. The venue is the Gorge Crest Vineyards sitting on a north facing slope with views of the gorge and Mt. Hood. They have a beautiful grassy area for dining and dancing as well as a pavilion for indoor partying. Alica Falzone took some wonderful photos of my cake as well as the beautiful flowers from the florist I work with.

This wedding was special in that the bride and groom are currently living in Germany. I had not met the bride until I delivered the cake since we worked together only via email and phone calls.

Here is the website. Scroll down to see the post about this gorgeous wedding.

Too. Many. Questions.

I remember when my little sisters would ask "Why?" constantly. But they grew out of it really quickly. Kerri, on the other hand, has a myriad of questions on a daily basis. And some of them are just turning my hair grey.

For example:

"What does sexy mean?"
"How do people have sex?"
"What does being gay mean?"
"How does the baby get in the Mommy's stomach?"

And if you see a theme here, you are right. When I was growing up, we really did not get answers to these questions. And we did not even ask some of them. And when we did, Mom told us to ask Dad, and Dad told us to ask Mom. So we just assumed neither of them knew the answer and just gave up asking.

But we are taking a different approach. We decided we would be age-appropriate honest. That meant lots of trips to the book store to get books on subjects I was not sure how to answer. And the questions have progressed as Kerri has gotten older. She wants facts, details, pictures.

Tia sent Kerri a college level biology and anatomy book. Kerri LOVES it. She reads it almost every day, looks at the pictures, and asks really good questions. And sometimes we learn something new right along with her.

But oh boy, is it ever hard to answer certain questions. You know, the ones I never got answers to when I was growing up. Sometimes I can just feel my hair turning grey as I mentally grasp for what to say. And lately, I find myself saying, "I am not sure Kerri, let's go to the book store and find a book on the subject so we can learn about it together." Yeah, it's a cop out. But at least I won't have to dye my hair every other day!

Life with Kerri has lots of questions that need answering.

Monday Wedding Cake Round Up

See? This could be a regular Monday morning feature. Do you want to see the wedding cakes that I am churning out every single weekend? Here are the three I just did.

This was a very hefty cake. Red velvet, which I discovered is the crummiest cake ever. Like glitter, the crumbs get everywhere and clean up is challenging. It took two strong server guys to carry this thing to where it needed to be. And notice the color scheme includes purple, the trendy color of the year. The bridesmaids wore charcoal gray gowns.

This was a very petite cake. It is hard to tell the scale from this photo but the bottom is a regular nine inch birthday cake size. All white, very classically bridal.

This was for a bride who loved color. The bouquets were a rainbow of flowers. The bridesmaids also wore gray gowns. Ribbon has been very big this year for cake accents. As you can see all three of these cakes had ribbon.

Next weekend I have my most challenging cake of the summer. A five tiered cake in a black and white design.

#600 - that a lotta bons mots, people

Here 'tis, my 600th post. That reminds me - I got an email from Once Upon a Child advertising a clearance sale on July 23th. And a client told me she'd get me feedback on a website design by June 31st. I'm the only one who finds this stuff amusing? Ah, okay.

On this auspicious occasion, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my small but ardent pool of readers. As you may have noticed, fame and fortune continue to elude me, so I'll keep plugging away at this writing thing. I sometimes wonder if, someday in the future, my daughter will read my blog and declare it to be blatant child abuse.  I've carefully chronicled the last four and half years of her life in intricate detail, and it's true that she did crap her pants a lot in the early entries.

We're getting ready to head to a wedding and so, alas, I must keep this short. As I was typing this entry, I learned of the death of Amy Winehouse. I guess I knew it was coming, just as we all did. A few weeks ago, I watched with sadness a recent video of her on stage in Europe, stumbling around and forgetting the words to her own songs. While it has not yet been confirmed that her death is attributed to drugs/alcohol, I think we'd all be astounded if it was somehow unrelated. It's a crying shame, it really is. When I first heard the Back to Black album a few years ago, I don't know when I'd been so blown away by someone's talent.  I guess when someone is determined to self-destruct, they'll always find a way. Ah, such a shame.

Mama look a boo-boo!

Last night hubby walked into a chair. And he was in a lot of pain. But, he thought it was going to be OK, and went to bed. This morning at 2:30 AM he woke me up. He was in a lot more pain, and his toe was purple and swollen. So he drove himself to the emergency room at the hospital.

We finally got to bed around 7 AM, only to wake up a few hours later. The cleaning crew was coming. As soon as they were done and left, we headed to the doctor's office.

At the doctor's office, Kerri was full of questions. Everything from how the blood pressure machine works, to what does being a gay person mean. Thank goodness the doctor was busy and we had time to answer all her questions in the privacy of the room.

Hubby broke his toe. He got it taped up. He also received a note from the doctor so he can explain to his employer why he cannot wear normal shoes for a few weeks. And now hubby has an excuse to sit on the couch, leg up. And a very good reason to be pampered by a certain little princess and her pooch. And of course, me.

Life with Kerri sometimes includes boo-boos.

Marinated Summer Vegetables

This month I have been doing a cleanse, a special fasting diet to improve my general health. Whenever I do a cleanse, which isn't as often as I should, (it's been a couple years) I only do it in the summer when there is an abundance of healthy fresh fruits and vegetables to tempt me. This time I am doing the cleanse program from a supplement company that I have found to be very good, Standard Process.

I decided that this month would be a good time to be on a special diet because my little boys were gone for almost two weeks and Mr. D. was gone for a few days of that too. So during that time I didn't have to feed anyone but myself. Not having to cook good stuff like pastas and potato salads for other people that I wasn't going to be able to eat was a huge help in getting started on this thing. I've been so, so busy with wedding season. The days that I am icing cakes and delivering to weddings were made easier by just grabbing something simple and nutritious to eat. Because I normally spend many hours in my kitchen preparing meals for many people, not cooking has been very liberating! What I am missing most is my iced coffee while I'm working and a glass of wine when I am done. But I'm on day 15 and so far so good!

Last weekend I had a birthday party for my mother and a houseful of people to cook for. I was challenged to make a meal that was enjoyable for everyone, including me. I decided to go back to a dish that I haven't made in years but is easy, delicious and healthful.

Marinated Summer Vegetables

This could be made with any favorites from the garden but I chose broccoli, cauliflower, yellow sweet peppers, grape tomatoes and green onions and herbs from the garden. I love the color palette of this bowl.

Here's how to make this simple summery dish.

First blanch the broccoli and cauliflower florets (from one head of each) in boiling water for four minutes. This tenderizes them a bit and releases their vitamins. After four minutes put them directly into cold water to stop the cooking and cool them. Drain until ready to use in the salad.

Cut a yellow (or orange, green or red) pepper into short strips, and slice and dice two or three green onions.

In a large bowl mix some marinade: for a healthy combination I used organic apple cider vinegar, about 1/2 cup, 2 tablespoons real maple syrup (a healthy alternative to sugar and packed with minerals), 1 teaspoon salt and some ground pepper. Whisking vigorously, drizzle in 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil until emulsified. To this marinade any combination of herbs can be added. I used some dried parsley (2 teaspoons), dried basil (1 teaspoon) and garlic powder (1 teaspoon). I also finely chopped some fresh basil from the garden and tossed that into the vegetables. Unfortunately, because we are having a very cool summer (sorry to rub that in for you folks suffering in the heat wave) I am not getting much for fresh basil or parsley in the garden. I had to resort to some dried.

Put all the vegetables into the marinade in the bowl and toss until everything is thoroughly coated with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least two hours. Toss again before serving.

These vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals. Eaten with the apple cider vinegar and the good fat of the olive oil they deliver a health building punch.  Even if you are not eating a special diet this dish is a delicious way to eat vegetables on a hot summer day.

I wish we had one or two of those around here.

Remembering Brody-O

Years ago (11ish), I got involved in rescue as a volunteer. At that time, there were just two of us (Vicki, the rescue's founder, and me), taking in homeless Boxers and finding new homes for them. Today, the organization has expanded considerably and has taken in well over 700 dogs to date. Over the years, I've learned a lot about canine behavior, fundraising, and various medical conditions ranging from entropion to degenerative myelopathy to megaesophagus. I've made some wonderful friends along the way and I've met a few nutjobs, too.

Back in the early days with the rescue, I used to write articles for a site called Themestream. The way Themestream worked was that people could post their writing and if a site visitor clicked on your article, you'd make a few cents. I was actually faring pretty well on the site and had the intention of donating the money to the rescue. I certainly would have done so, except that Themestream shut itself down and left like a thief in the night, not paying any of its writers for their work. I think a few people tried to file lawsuits, to no avail. A friend recently dug out an article I wrote for Themestream and sent it to me. I was glad to have it, because I lost some of my older writing when my computer died its violent death in May.  So, here it is, the story of Brody-O, a sweet soul who lives on in my heart.


I imagine that Brody the Boxer must have started his life as a typically exuberant and affectionate pup. By the time we met him, he was a sweet but cautious adult. As we would soon learn, he looked fine on the outside, but on the inside he was broken. We just didn't realize at first how badly he was broken. We thought he was simply damaged and that with a steady stream of hugs and kisses and "good boy's," we could fix him up good as new. We'd done it before and we thought we could hand out second chances just that easily. Our proverbial cup is always half full.

Last summer our rescue got a call from a Wisconsin shelter asking if we could take a nice six-year-old male Boxer. First we did what we always do - mutter and sputter about how someone could dump a six-year-old dog. Dogs of that age are difficult for us to place since applicants naturally want a younger dog, one that will be with them longer. Nonetheless, we agreed to take him because that is what why we are here - to help Boxers in need. We've even managed to place several 8-10 year old Boxers with kind-hearted adopters. At least you don't have to worry about chewing and housebreaking, we always say.

All we knew about Brody was that he had been surrendered for being a "runner" and that he hadn't been treated very well. From what we were told, he had lived with two different families. When the first family gave him to the second family, he ran away and returned to the first. Evidently he ran away a couple of times and ended up at the shelter. Eventually, no one wanted to claim him.

My rescue partner, Vicki, picked Brody up and brought him back to her home. Her teenaged daughter Kim took an immediate liking to Brody. He was a handsome fawn with cropped ears and a black mask. His dark eyes seemed very knowing. Brody was obviously very bright and Kim even taught him to raise himself onto his rear legs and dance. Before long, though, a few little warning signs began to appear. Brody very much enjoyed being outside and sometimes didn't agree that it was time for him to come in. One day Kim went outside to lure Brody in. Brody growled at her and took a rather menacing stance. Not long after that incident, he again got very agitated when Vicki told him to stop rooting in the garbage. We attributed Brody's behavior to the many recent changes in his life and felt that in time he would become more comfortable and not exhibit defensive behavior.

Since I have done some obedience training with my own dogs and with many of the rescue dogs as well, Vicki and I decided that she would transfer Brody to me so that I could work with him. I don't have children and my house is a bit less chaotic than Vicki's, so we felt that Brody would fare better in a quieter environment. Sure enough, Brody did very well at my home. He got along with the other dogs and did very well in his training. Once or twice a week I would take him to obedience class and the instructor would always remark on what a smart, well-behaved dog Brody was.

As the weeks passed, I came to love Brody very, very much. He was sweet and affectionate, and I felt that we had a wonderful, wordless bond. I loved the way he would spin himself in circles when he knew it was his turn to go for a r-i-d-e. At the same time, Brody was a fairly complex dog and I began to have my doubts that the right home would ever come along.

We had some nice warm autumn days then, and Brody often did not want to come back inside. He would approach the door as if he wanted to come in, but then would scoot away when I opened the door. Over time it became harder and harder to lure him in. Brody knew nothing but kind words in our home, but he never seemed able to shake those residual memories of prior mistreatment. It was as if he was always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Eventually came that sad October day when our hopes for finding a new home for Brody slipped away. I left work for an early lunch that day. We had an applicant who wanted to come by and meet Bandit, a young deaf Boxer who was living with me at that time. The young man brought his three-year-old child and his female Boxer for the visit. I left the other dogs crated in order to give the family time to meet Bandit and interact with him. Eventually, I decided to let all of the dogs out to go potty so that I could get back to work. Afterward, I rounded my two dogs up and brought them back into the house. As I should have guessed in advance, Brody did not want to come back in. He was sitting on the deck, watching Bandit cavort with the visiting Boxer. "Come on in, Brody-o," I said. The day had grown chilly so I knew that I couldn't leave Brody outside. Boxers are strictly indoor dogs. Their single-layer coats make them poorly suited to cold temperatures, and their short muzzles make hot weather equally perilous. As I was talking to the visitor, I had Brody's collar in my hand. I began to walk toward the house with the intention of bringing Brody with me. He sat in place and would not move. In retrospect, I know that I should have let go of Brody's collar right then, but I held on for just a moment too long. Quite suddenly, Brody began lunging at me, springing up to his full height. He seemed to be targeting my hands. I couldn't read his face; it was if he was a different dog. I drew my hands up towards my chest, all the while yelling at Brody to stop. Brody was clearly out of control and seemed unable to stop. He lunged at me again and again. Jay, the visitor, stood horrified, holding tightly to his child and his own dog. He later confessed that he felt terrible about not being able to help, but I knew he had to put the safety of his child and dog first. In the span of those few seconds I did something I had never done and hope never to do again. I began kicking Brody, just to keep him away and bring him back to his senses. Finally, as quickly as it had begun, the attack was over and Brody had retreated. I felt terrible about Jay having witnessed this terrible scene. I didn't want to blow Bandit's chances at getting a new home. Jay asked me if I was okay and I said I was fine. I grabbed a wad of paper towels from the kitchen and wrapped it around my left hand, which seemed slightly worse off than the right. The towels immediately turned red and I knew it was bad. "Thanks for coming by!" I said to Jay. I hoped he wouldn't notice how distraught I was.

When he left, I called my husband and told him to come and take me to the emergency room. I then called Vicki to let her know what had happened. Sadly, we agreed on a course of action. We had known that Brody was a bit quirky, but we had hoped that an experienced dog owner could give him a good home. We never dreamed that he would bite someone. When I opened the back door soon after the attack, Brody came bounding in with no hesitation. As I sat on the couch waiting for my husband, Brody came and put his head on my lap, licking at my makeshift bandages. "Oh, Brody," I sobbed. "Why?" It was if he knew on some level that he had caused this terrible thing. I kissed him on top of his head and told him he was a good boy. My husband arrived and took me to the emergency room. They declined to sew up the wounds because dog bites are considered "dirty" and the risk for infection is very high. They cleaned me up and sent me home with some strong antibiotics and painkillers. I didn't know which hand hurt worse. My left hand was lacerated in more places than I could count. My right hand was bruised and had wounds on both sides where Brody's teeth had clamped down. I held my hands out gingerly on the way home. Even today I still do not have full flexibility in my left index finger.

Initially we thought of moving Brody to a shelter where he could be isolated. But I just couldn't picture my Brody-o spending his last ten days in a cage. By law I had to wait ten days before having him euthanized, even though I knew he was vaccinated against rabies. I spent those ten days making sure Brody knew that he was loved and well cared for. We cuddled together on the couch. The only difference was that I was a bit cautious around him. For the first time in my life, I was afraid of a dog.

That evening I called Jay to apologize once again for the terrible scene he had witnessed. Since he had a Boxer already, he was very familiar with the breed and knew that it is excessively rare for a Boxer to bite anyone. I had prayed that Brody's behavior would not reflect negatively on the breed itself or on Boxer Rescue. Fortunately, Jay remained very excited about adopting young Bandit. Today, Bandit has a customer service job at the family's Harley-Davidson dealership.

Although it might seem strange for me to say, I was relieved that Brody had bitten me and not an adoptive family. I was also relieved that my own dogs had been in the house during the attack. Since my Boxer, Lucy, gets agitated when my husband and I pretend to wrestle and swat at each other, I can only imagine what she would have done to try to protect me.

After much soul-searching, I have decided that it seems appropriate now to tell Brody's story. Dogs are remarkably resilient creatures. A dog's loyalty is so woven into his heart that he will stay with someone who abuses him, even when he has a chance to run away. The world is full of stories of animals that have survived all sorts of horrors, but always emerge pure of heart and ready to love again. In Brody's case, though, we think he had perhaps just endured too much. We saw it in the way he always came to us for some affection with his head down, as though he didn't deserve even the smallest pat on the head. His dark, knowing eyes always seemed to wonder when our kindness would end and the abuse and neglect from his old life would resume.

On that Saturday morning in early November, Vicki and I solemnly loaded Brody into her van and drove him to my vet. My vet apologized and explained that he would have to muzzle Brody for the procedure. We nodded in understanding. A veterinary technician came in to help, and we all lifted Brody to the exam table. He was distressed by the gauze looped around his muzzle. Vicki and I were blinking back tears as the full impact of Brody's imminent passing became reality. We each stood on one side of him. The veterinarian prepared to inject the sodium pentobarbital into Brody's right rear leg. I held Brody's head and tried to reassure him. "I'm so sorry, Brody," I murmured. "You are such a good boy, such a good boy . . ." Within a few moments Brody was quiet and the vet confirmed that his heart had stopped.

Vicki and I spent a lot of time talking about Brody and what might have gone wrong with him. As rescuers we pour our hearts into saving dogs. We live for cards and emails from adopters telling us, "thank you for bringing this great dog into my life!" Our only solace was focusing on the many, many dogs that were now snoozing on couches in new homes around the state. We hoped that Brody knew we loved him. We imagine now that he spends his days in a place where he never has to come inside and where he knows only soft words and gentle hands. We would want nothing less for our Brody-o. He's not broken anymore.

Gotta dance.

Yesterday I was playing some 80's music on You Tube, and hubby and Kerri started dancing in the living room. Kerri was laughing so hard she fell to the floor in a giggling heap. I guess she thinks some of Daddy's hip 80's moves are just hilarious. Then again, after watching some of these videos, I kind of agree!

Later on her ex boyfriend came on in, and asked for some old fashioned country rock. And Kerri and the ex had their own dance session, playing air guitar, head banging, playing air drums, and even the air piano. This time it was our turn to laugh at the kids!

So whenever you feel a little down, or need some exercise, or just a quick pick me up; just look up some of your old favorite music videos from way back when. And if no one is watching, you may just want to sing and dance. It will at least make you smile. But in this house, it guarantees fits of laughter!

Life with Kerri dances the night away.

We're Birds of a Feather

Remember this pair from last May, distracting us with their interior decorating during out outdoor school work?

This is what they're doing now. They have a houseful of kids squawking at them all day.

The noisemakers are like hungry human teenagers who can hoover a whole bag of chips and jar of salsa in one short sitting.

The harried parents are constantly running back and forth to the store to buy more chips and bread and lunch meat but the kids are never satisfied, always yelling for more.

I'm hungry! What is there to eat?

I love the look on Dad's face.

Another Monday Morning Wedding Recap

One of the very predictable things about Oregon summer is that after the 4th of July it never rains. Really. It doesn't. It is so completely reliable that the wedding industry here has become very big. We have numerous beautiful outdoor venues with spectacular mountain views, lush garden settings. charming vineyards or Columbia Gorge cliffside sites, all fully booked every weekend with brides and grooms eager to celebrate their marriages amid Oregon's natural beauty without having to think about back-up plans for inclement weather.

It took us Midwesterners a while to learn how to garden in a place that received no rain for two or three months of the year (but making up for it the rest of the year). We had to become acquainted with the irrigation system, utilizing the melting mountain snow, piping and sprinklers to water our lawns, flowers and vegetables. And really, when it rains incessantly for six months of the rest of the year, we like the break. We look forward to planning our events and excursions (like camping) knowing we don't have to worry about rain gear or needing a back-up plan for weather changes.

Which is why the rain this last weekend, in the middle of July, was so dismaying to so many. It rained Saturday morning, steadily, and I could just hear the tearful brides lamenting all over the valley. When I delivered my first wedding in the early afternoon the caterers were valiantly spreading linens on the tables surrounded by profusely flowering gardens, while large drops of rain continued to dampen the spirits of the bridal party. Luckily, those raindrops were the last precipitation for the day. The clouds parted just in time for the wedding vows and the rest of the evening was dry, temperatures only in the 60's.

That first wedding had a garden setting and a charming bird motif. This little bridal cake was a white chocolate confection.

The cupcakes also had birds in purple and orange- the trendy colors this year.

The second wedding I delivered cake to was in the middle of a hillside vineyard. The rain was actually a blessing that kept down the dust of the ground but there were some tenacious gorge winds blowing the table linens. Again, the color scheme was purple. This cake suffered a dent as I drove the bumpy trail through the vineyard. It got covered with some more flowers and turned to the back. Another learning experience.

The final wedding Saturday was at an elevation with stunning views of the green valley and orchards. Our snow capped mountain continued to be partially or fully obscured by clouds which was a disappointment to the photographers who use it as a backdrop for all these weddings. This wedding also followed the color trend of the year- orange.

Will that be the last rain for the summer? Many more brides and grooms, event planners and venue owners are hoping so!

More fun with David.

Kerri has two lizards that stick to the wall and ceiling. Here she was playing a game with David to see whose lizard would come off the ceiling first. You can guess by Kerri's victory dance who won this round!

They played "fling the lizard on the ceiling" for quite awhile!

And this is hubby grilling up some burgers and franks for dinner.

We got a wicked thunderstorm with crazy winds last night, so David stayed over a little longer and played a wicked game of Monopoly Jr. with Kerri and hubby. Bet you can guess who won.

Thank you cousin David for spending a relaxing and fun weekend with us!

Life with Kerri makes me a winner.

Weekend with David.

We spent the weekend doing a lot of this.

And some of this:

And more of this:
Followed by this too:

With plenty of eating and laughing in between!

Life with Kerri is fun when cousin David comes to visit!