Sunday, December 4, 2016

Blogmas Day 4 - The Tree!

There's something about a Christmas tree that really makes it feel like Christmas. :) Except for last year, from Miley's perspective.  Last year I got a little overzealous with the "fullness" of my tree and picked a tree that was slightly oversized for my living room...

After getting it into the house, I over pruned the back side of it, causing the tree to be front heavy.  I didn't even consider the physics of the situation until the tree toppled over in the middle of the night.  In my defense, it did stay upright for three days before it fell.  Unfortunately, Miley was sleeping on the couch at the time and as you can imagine, having a giant tree falling over and seemingly trying to kill you, can be fairly traumatic.  Several ornaments were broken in the process to one extent or another.  Some shattered beyond being salvageable and some just needed a little glue and they were good as new.  In hind sight, I wish that I had taken pictures of what I found.  At the time, the huge mess and the resulting terrified dog were not even remotely amusing.

This year I opted for a moderately sized tree and I'm really happy with the one that I picked.  I'm confident that it'll stay upright, but with the addition of Dominic, and more importantly, his tail, I'm not entirely sure how many ornaments will survive.  As of this blog post, we have only lost one to the perils of his ever enthusiastically happy tail.  This year I also decided to video tape the various steps in getting the tree up and decorated.  Or more specifically, I video taped the dogs "helping."  I picked the tree up last Sunday, and decided to split the process of getting the tree up and decorated across three week nights so that I was still able to fit my normal week night activities in.  Here is our tree decorating process:

As you can see from the video, Miley is still hesitant around the tree, but she is making progress.  Currently she's passed out on the couch with Dominic and isn't bothered.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Blogmas Day 3 - Christmas Movie Marathon

Since I'm delving into this Blogmas theme, I thought why not let you further into the Christmas crazy that lurks within?  Recurring theme, I love all things Christmas.  Which absolutely includes Christmas movies.  What constitutes a Christmas movie is somewhat open to interpretation.  With some people I know loving to argue that Die Hard is a Christmas movie.  I eye roll real hard at that.  Especially when I have co-workers who enjoy bringing this up on a pretty much daily basis.  I'm talking movies that are generally about Christmas or Christmas related.  Over the years, I've built up a bit of a collection of these movies.

I'm rather proud of some of the less well known movies that I have.  For instance, did you know that there is a He-Man and She-Ra Christmas special?  There is and it is He-Man and She-Ra fantastic!  I'm also a fan of basically every Rankin/Bass movie that I can get my hands on.  The Life And Adventures of Santa Claus being one of their less well known holiday movies (I'm also a fan of some of the other, non-Christmas holiday specials they did).  And admittedly, I have some specials that are really only amusing for their not so greatness, such as Santa With Muscles, starring Hulk Hogan.  Yes, you read all of the correctly.  I have no shame in my Christmas game.

As I started accumulating Christmas movies, I thought it would be fun to have a weekend day that was dedicated to watching just Christmas movies.  And so started my annual Christmas Movie Marathon.  But I don't do just any slap shod, random Christmas movie day of gluttony.  Oh no.  Please believe that I take it to the next obsessive level.  That's right, I bring in my next true love, Excel.

I have a spreadsheet that has a listing of every single Christmas movie that I own, with the run time of each movie.  I then have a separate tab for each year that I do the movie marathon (this year marks the 12th year, with last year being a skip since I was up in Seattle watching the Browns play the Seahawks), so that I can work out the lineup for that year and back reference previous years as I continue to rotate out specific spots in the line up so that there are some different movies getting shown each year, with certain movies being an annual staple.  I know, who doesn't do that, right?  But it gets better.

I don't just have the movies listed in the order that they'll play, I have specific breaks throughout the day scheduled in, as well as a three minute window in between movies.  This 3 minute window allows people to get up and get food, use the restroom, stretch their legs or whatever.  It also gives me some time to change out DVDs.  That's right, I have my annual Christmas movie marathon scheduled down to the minute.  THAT is the level of crazy that I operate on. :) To give you an idea, here is an example of a lineup from a previous year:

7:00 AM   Breakfast
8:00 AM   The Muppet Christmas Carol
9:32 AM   Claymation Christmas 
9:59 AM   The Year Without a Santa Claus
10:52 AM   He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special
11:40 AM   Santa Claus is Comin To Town
12:29 PM   45 min. lunch break
1:14 PM   Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
2:08 PM   Frosty the Snowman
2:35 PM   Frosty's Winter Wonderland
3:02 PM   A Charlie Brown Christmas
3:30 PM   A Garfield Christmas
3:56 PM   How the Grinch Stole Christmas
4:24 PM   Classic Holiday Stories
4:59 PM   Prep & Landing, Prep & Landing Naughty vs. Nice
5:43 PM   60 min. Dinner Break
6:43 PM   National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
8:23 PM   Elf
10:01 PM   Fred Claus
11:46 PM   The 11th Annual Christmas Movie Marathon is over until next year

I provide the breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a variety of holiday themed items sprinkled throughout.  It makes for a deliciously indulgent day.  The number of people that are in my house at any one time fluctuates, as it's obviously a pretty long day and I would be very much surprised if anyone other than me was able to make it through the whole day.  Depending on the number of people that show up for a particular movie, I'll have the dogs loose in the house if there aren't too many.  If there's a lot of people, it's just a lot easier to have them barricaded in my bedroom or some portion of the house, depending on how I have things layed out that year.  I've toyed with rearranging furniture in three different orientations in my current house to try and figure out what works best.  I'm still working on it.  

Two years ago, when Miley was still a sassy wee hopper, she was thoroughly enjoying glomming onto my cousin James.

Heffner was not without his own lovin from my cousin Andrea. :)

This year's movie marathon was a little different than previous years.  For one, the timing.  I usually shoot for hosting it the Saturday before Christmas, as long as Christmas doesn't land on the immediate Sunday.  This year, my sister was due with her son on Christmas Eve, so we moved the date up in the hopes that she could make it to the marathon before popping out the wee hopper.  Babies, however, just don't understand time lines, and my nephew came early.

The other change up this year was that I ended the marathon before 11pm.  With so many holiday gatherings and activities to fit in, I needed tonight free so that I could attend a holiday party hosted by some friends that I definitely wanted to attend.  I had toyed with the thought of ending the marathon early (it's not like I won't watch these movies on my own!) before, but this year I had an actual reason to.  I'm not sure if I'll continue with this plan or not, but it does allow for more flexibility in the day.

I also limited the guest list more than I usually do.  While the list of people I would LOVE to invite is lengthy, my 1,100 sq ft house can only really accommodate so many people.  So I kept things intentionally small, to see how that worked out.  I think the number of people was good and it also has me thinking that maybe, just maybe, I could fit in one big marathon and one or two smaller marathons so that I don't feel like I'm leaving anyone out.  That is the last feeling that I want to give anyone, especially this time of year.  I do not want someone to feel that they are intentionally left out.  Going on at length about trying to manage personalities, backgrounds, etc. of various people I know in a group setting so that all parties are comfortable and mesh well, could be a novel in and of itself and really starts going beyond what this blog is about.  But it most definitely is a factor when I plan any group gathering.

While this post is not super heavy on the dog side of things, the movie marathon itself requires a little bit of back explaining outside of the dogs.  This year the dogs were gated in the crating/training area of the house.  There was enough food out (cough, Dominic, cough) and enough people, that having both dogs free roaming in the house wasn't really going to work.  They still got plenty of attention and loving from various people and from my parents in particular.  So their day was not entirely boring, they just weren't allowed to plop themselves into the laps of unsuspecting visitors. ;)

Happy December 3rd!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Blogmas Day 2 - The Unboxing of Christmas

Happy December 2nd!  And go me for not immediately falling off the Blogmas wagon. ;) The process of unboxing Christmas in my house, is exactly that.  A freaking process.  As I've mentioned, I love Christmas.  Which also means that I've accumulated quite a bit of Christmas related items through the years, whether it was by my own means or others who support and are entertained by my habit.  All of these Christmas items are stored in my attic for the other 11 months out of the year that it is commonly not acceptable to have them out.  Which means that I have to retrieve them all one by one down my somewhat rickety attic stairs and accumulate them in the garage, which gets dubbed the staging zone this time of year.

This year's retrieval of the boxes was not without incident, unfortunately.  In my excitement about the impending decorating, I managed to miss a critical hand grab of a beam and fell right through the hole in the attic where the stairs are, and down the stairs.  It was actually fairly lucky the way I fell because I could have been hurt a lot worse.  The fall thankfully only resulted in a scraped up left hand and some bruising on one leg and my back.  But not much will stop me and after some bandaging (I decided against taking pictures of the injuries), I finished the job.

From there it's a matter of going through each totes contents and figuring out how I'm going to go about decorating the house.  This year, thanks to finally getting around to getting some book shelves, I now have a place to put out my Christmas village!  And things are even up high enough that Dominic's tail can't destroy everything.

Naturally, the dogs are incredibly curious about everything that is going on.  This is Dominic's first Christmas with me, so he is extra curious about all the interesting things that he's never seen or experienced before.  I videoed a little bit of the process from getting the totes out of the attic to the dogs reactions to some of the animated toys that I have.  Probably the funniest clip involves Dominic's reaction to the Christmas dancing chicken.  I probably find him funnier because I live with him, but his reaction was just cracking me up.  Here's the video:

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Blogmas Day 1!

DECEMBER IS FINALLY HERE!!!  Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday.  Love it, love it, love it!  Red and green are my favorite colors.  I love all the decorations.  I love all the warm fuzzy feelings this time of year tends to bring out.  I love the Christmas specials.  I love the music.  I love it all!!  Now that's not saying that this time of year is also hectic and potentially quite stress inducing.  Especially if you're like me and you tend to place a lot of pressure on yourself to try and meet every one's expectations, fit in as many of the festive gatherings as possible, and still find time to enjoy the holiday on your terms.  It's a challenging juggling act that has me simultaneously wishing December was longer, while also being thankful that it's not.  Since I'm trying to keep myself on the roll of blogging, I love this time of year and I needed a self proclaimed challenge to keep my Christmas and dog juices flowing, I decided to task myself with the challenge of blogging every day.  Initially I thought I'd take part in the Vlogmas "challenge" on YouTube and task myself with creating a video and/or video blog every day, but I pretty quickly realized that I was in no way prepared to spit out that kind of content and put in the time editing videos on a daily basis.  So I decided to start a little smaller by challenging myself to blog every day in December (hence the Blogmas title) leading up to Christmas.  The blogs will be a combination of pictures and video that are Christmas related and based around our various excursions throughout the month.  There will be some training mixed in as well as just the usual randomness that is our life.  This is a challenge that I think I'll be able to handle.  I guess we'll soon find out!

On this first day of Blogmas, I wanted to share with you the picture taking process for our Christmas card shots that we did back in October. :) Getting these pictures taken is always a bit of a process.  I like the outdoor setting, which means that there are going to be plenty of uncontrollable distractions.  Not to mention we're in public, which means that there are bound to be people who want to come up and say hi to the dogs.  Luckily for me, one of those people was my friend Annie!!  Thankfully, she was also willing to help wrangle dogs while I got them dressed in their holiday attire, as well as helping to get their attention behind the photographer (my every patient friend Andy) so that we could get the right shot.  Naturally, there were some entertaining moments.

For the shots with the rock wall in front of me I was able to wear my nice comfortable foot wear.  But my original plan was to wear some cute, sparkly green heels that I have to complete the whole red and green look.  Heels really only work for nice firm ground.  Most of the park was NOT nice firm ground....

We (and by we, I really mean Andy) realized that not only is it difficult to get both of the dogs to look in the direction of the camera, but it's also difficult to get me looking at the camera at the same time that they are....

And in case you're wondering, yes, we walked around a public park looking like this, in October.

Our next challenge, was trying to get a decent picture on a path in the woods while squirrels were frolicking in the trees just a few feet away.  It did lend itself to a few moments where Dominic decided to just free stack.  Could I get someone to double handle with a squirrel at his dog shows???

There were so many pictures that I love for a variety of reasons.  Only one made the Christmas card cut, but I am in love with so many of these shots!

And with that, I wish you a happy December 1st (for previous Christmas fun posts that I've done, just browse through the various years of December posts on this blog) and I'm off to do some distraction training with the dogs!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

False Pregnancies

Suck.  Or maybe I should say that Miley's false pregnancies suck.  It's two months of her emotions messing with her mind and driving both she and I crazy.  Miley gets clingy and emotional/depressed during this time.  It's not uncommon to find her standing in the kitchen with her tail tucked, head hanging and emitting a quiet, high pitched whine.  For no apparent reason.  She's upset and she has no idea why, but it surely is the end of the world.

Before Dominic entered the scene, Miley's moping and whining was so bad that I really thought I was going to lose it.  There was no appeasing her.  I couldn't put her in a crate, because she would just whine non-stop.  Leaving her loose in the house created the beaten looking dog in the kitchen.  Occasionally I could get her to settle on the couch, but that was usually only as long as I was on the couch with her.  As soon as I got up, she was up.

Now that the ever exuberant Dominic is around, once Miley starts whining, he's there in a flash to pounce on her and shake her out of it.  That lasts as long as they're playing, but once he wanders off to something else, it's back to depressed Miley.

She becomes incredibly motion and sound sensitive.  Any creaking of anything in the house unnerves her.  Motion of any sort, particularly on the periphery of her vision, has her wipping around with tail tucked.  When we're training inside the house, the sound of the wind outside, even faint, can cause her to break her stay and come running up to me.  Dominic adjusting his position on the dog bed while he holds a down stay and I work her, will cause the same tail tucked, melting reaction.  the noise sensitivity isn't just in the house either.  Its any where that we go.  Hiking, to the pet store, just out on a walk.  Trying to work her through it and somehow desensitize her hasn't seemed to work.  I realize that its somehow hormone related, so that doesn't make it easier to get at the root of the problem.  And then after the two months are up, these symptoms gradually fade.

Probably the most irritating and difficult to predict the onset of is the furniture chewing.  It happens each time and I haven't been able to pin point the timing in the false pregnancy when it occurs.  She has nibbled on the base boards in the crate room, my bedroom door frame, a small section of the office room door frame, a little bit on my bed frame, but most irritating is my dresser.

She hasn't damaged the structural integrity of it, yet.  But as you can see, she's done some damage.  I thought I had things under control by putting up a baby gate to my bedroom any time I wasn't home.  That kept her from continuing to chew on my dresser.  But she decided to move on to the couch.

I'm really not happy about that one.  At this point, I have no idea what she might chew on, so she is now crated whenever I'm not home.  I have no idea what kicks off the chewing.  It seems to be anxiety related, maybe separation anxiety as she only does it when I'm not home.  And a couple of the times (the dresser and the couch) she did that while Dominic was loose in the house with her too, so it couldn't have been for lack of companionship.  She is definitely way more anxious when she's going through the false pregnancy than at any other time, so the separation anxiety theory makes sense.  I just don't get it though!

Needless to say, I am very much looking forward to Miley's uterus and ovaries taking a one way trip out of this household so that I can get my normal Miley back.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

November Wrap Up

I know that November isn't quite over yet, but I've got non-catch up blog posts that I want to get to and Christmas decorating to get after!  November was an eventful month!  The first weekend I was in Bend for what turned out to be just a weekend get away with friends.  Originally I was going to run a half marathon, but I've been plagued by a hamstring injury that finally forced me to do some much needed physical therapy, so I withdrew from the race.  My friend Bre was still running it and I definitely wanted to cheer her on, so what not have a fun weekend in Bend to boot?  It was a GORGEOUS four days filled with hiking around Smith Rock and the painted hills as well as some delicious brewery hopping.  Just what the doctor ordered!

And I'm not sure if you heard, but an election happened.  I won't get into politics on here, though, so don't worry.  I find those conversations best to be had in person if both parties are willing.  Instead of spending my evening glued to the TV, I took advantage of the nice weather to take the dogs for walks and start fiddling around with night time pictures.  I did go for a patriotic slant in as much as there's a flag in the pictures.

On the 9th, Dominic turned one year old!  I can hardly believe my little snugly puppy is a year old already!  He's got this hilarious mixture of "hey girl" swagger combined with derpy boy puppy that has me over flowing with cuteness aggression at times.  I'm constantly entertained by him.

Training wise, I've been making sure that I'm consistent with getting the dogs out to a different location each week to work on distraction training.  I'm getting a pretty good grasp on how long it takes Miley to acclimate and what sorts of things will draw her attention away from me.  What I'm really impressed with is that she has started using giving me attention and swinging into heel position as a way of dealing with distractions that she's a little unsure of.  She's starting to use that position and eye contact connection as a support system and that is EXACTLY what I want her to think of it as.  The few times she's done that, I've mondo rewarded her.

Dominic has also been impressing me.  He hasn't had much distraction training and definitely hasn't had as much obedience training as Miley, but he has shown me that there is definitely some really good potential in there.  He's already working for longer durations (longer durations for him could be a 30 second heeling "pattern") before getting his reward.  Granted, he is HIGHLY food motivated and knows that the treat is coming, so that definitely helps.  But he is understanding the concept of work mode and getting rewarded for that as well as starting to understand that he gets rewarded for checking in.  There's the glimmer of the beginnings of understanding how to ask to work, but that's still pretty faint and probably more coincidence with him feeling like he's gotten a good grasp on the environment.

With the days getting dark so early, I have to admit that I'm feeling a little uninspired when it comes to picture taking.  Giving myself the personal challenge of figuring out outdoor evening shots has helped.  Thankfully we've got Christmas coming up and that is filled with picture ideas! :) I did take a few random videos of the dogs on some of our little jaunts and put them together.  There's even a clip in there complete with Dominic using me as his braking system.  Freaking boy puppies.

And then there was that big eating holiday recently. :) The dogs got their own special Thanksgiving dinner with a cornish game hen each.

Here's to this week hopefully being a gentle one.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

October Wrap Up

October was a fun month.  I had planned on getting Miley spayed and gastropexied at the beginning of it.  My mental math at the time put her due to go into season again at the beginning of November.  As it turns out, I was remembering incorrectly.  She was due at the beginning of October (something I actually didn't realize until I started updating the blog!) and like clock work, she came into season.  I cancelled the spay and got ready to hunker down for a potentially irritating three weeks.  I have never had an intact male at the same time that I've had an intact female, let alone while the female is in season.  Thankfully Dominic was still young enough that he didn't completely lose it.  Actually, for the first week and a half things were going pretty smoothly.  Other than a lot of sniffing from him, I could still let them hang out together in the house while supervised.  Then the part of the cycle hit, as it always does, where the girls become undeniable.  Dominic never went off his food, but it did get to the point where I put an x-pen up to divide the house.  And eventually I was keeping them at opposite ends of the house and out of each others' sight.  Under ordinary circumstances, I would have felt bad keeping them separated like that and splitting my time between the two.  At the time, though, both of their brains were so hormone addled that all Miley wanted to do was lay down and be mopey and all Dominic wanted to do was be in constant motion while he tried to comprehend what his body was doing.  It was a bit much at times.  There were a couple nights of mournful howling.  It's a little fuzzy now whether I was part of that.  But we made it through.  And now have Miley's wonderful false pregnancy to live through.....

Also in October, I got some family photos back that we had taken in the spring.  The photographer is a friend of mine, Danielle of HOW Pictures. :) She does a great job of capturing moments that will melt your heart.  This photo shoot was without exception.  Here are a few of our pictures:

And with October being the Halloween month and this being Dominic's first Halloween, naturally I had a little fun with him. ;)

We also managed to fit in a little Christmas card shoot!  But those pictures are going to have to wait until December. ;) While a chunk of the month was preoccupied with juggling the hormones swirling in my house, I did take a little bit of video.  Here are some of the random moments I caught:

And the biggest news of today, THE OREGON STATE BEAVERS BEAT THE UNIVERSITY OF OREGON DUCKS!!!! Woo hoo!!!!

I did a little then and now on Instagram...

I could not for the life of me find my OSU flag, but I guess that just gives us goals for next year! Some of our previous Civil Ware moments can be found here and here.  Happy weekend everyone!