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Devious Dogs and Countermeasures

photo(5)We always get dogs and then wish we hadn’t gotten dogs. Because dogs are super annoying.

We thought we’d learned our lesson with Chester, the grumpy old beagle. But then we needed to get Oliver, my therapy dog. So lesson-learned turned into lesson-forgotten.

And once you get a dog, you have to keep it.

(I mean, I understand that sometimes it’s impossible. Like if you adopt a dog and then realize your throat starts to close up every time you’re around it, that’s something to consider. Or if your landlord threatens to evict you… I get it. But if it’s just that you realize they poop a lot? Not a good reason.)

Because when you get a dog, you’re committing to care for it. JESUS wants you keep that dog, because he made people to be caretakers of the earth and animals (but hopefully not plants, because I always kill plants on accident). And dogs are people too (not really), and they have feelings (really). And if they get ditched, they are sad and confused.

So dogs are for life.

But they are annoying. Because of them, we had to get a new garbage can.

What we used to have was the kind with the swinging top. And I wasn’t in love with it or anything. Because it always swung shut just as you were dumping the coffee grounds in, and then you’d end up with grounds on the lid, on the floor, in your shoes, etc. And the kids only half-heartedly pushed it open as they threw away the foil from the tops of their yogurts. So there were always yogurt foils stuck to the lid.

Basically all the garbage was on the lid instead of in the garbage can.

So it wasn’t the garbage can of our dreams. But when I go to the store, there a lot of things on my list before buying something new to throw waste into.

Chester, the beagle, had become pretty adept at swiping stuff out of this trash can. But he tried to be subtle. If we weren’t looking, he’d poke his nose in and quickly sneak something off the top of the garbage pile.

But lately… Lately, he’d lost even the hint of subterfuge. Also, apparently his neck had grown 3 sizes longer. Because I started to find pieces of garbage strewn around the house when the can was barely half full.

Oliver, the Yorkie, loved it. He was too short to get in the can himself, but he was happy to take the remnants of anything Chester pulled out. For all I know, he was egging Chester on. I just kept picking up garbage and dealing.


Chester got a diaper. A poopy one.

That was the last straw. I mean, I don’t know what that stuff in diapers is, but it’s awful. Like little gel-balls of sticky evil. You can’t vacuum it up. You can’t wipe it up. I don’t even know…

So I told Chris that it was time for a new trash can. One with a foot peddle to lift the lid. I highly doubt that Chester can figure out how to get into that.

If he does, I’m sure you’ll hear about it.

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Another blog, just for you!

Everyone has been telling me to blog. Chris even gives me suggestions about what I should blog about. We’ll be talking about something, like my opinion on the Emergent Church or why large grapes always have seeds, and he says, “You should blog about it!” To which I reply, “I don’t blog about stuff like that.” Someone else told me I needed to blog and I told them I probably would in the next week or two. “I feel a blog rising up inside of me,” I assured them. I have to feel it! Others think I should skip the blog step and just write a book. Find me a publisher and I’ll think about it.

So on to THE BLOG!

Leah has a tooth and a half. She’s almost 11 months so it’s about time. The half one is really not very visible yet, but the one you can see is the cutest tooth ever. She tried it out on mom a couple times. I didn’t appreciate it and it was one factor in the “it’s time to ween” decision.

The other factor is that Chris and I have an anniversary coming up. Last spring our Pastor’s wife did a Bible study with the ladies of our church. Since I’d already done the study in California, she asked me to do childcare. When she told me, “I owe you, Hannah,” I grinned evilly and said, “Watch my kids for our anniversary?” And so the deal was made. I have a babysitter for our anniversary. An overnight babysitter! And we’re not using her for a youth event! Oh yes, Leah will be weened by October!

Actually, she already is. My plan had been to transition her right to sippy cups, but Leah disagreed, so I finally broke down and gave her a bottle. She liked those a lot better, but I still always nursed her when she woke at 4:00 am. Finally the night came where I had a bottle all waiting for her when she woke for her nightly feeding. She took a few sips and then threw it on the floor. So I put her back to bed. An hour later she woke again and Chris decided to give it a try. She took one look at him through the crib bars and threw herself down in her crib, protesting intensely. She definitely knew Daddy didn’t have what she wanted! After we made it through that traumatic night, she has been willing to take her bottles. So I get to have an anniversary!

Leah has known how to clap her hands for a while, but the other night she learned to raise her hands. She claps a little and then if we say, “Praise Jesus!” she’ll lift her hands up in the air! The Sunday morning after she learned this skill, she saw people in church raising their hands, so she joined in. She threw her head back and her hands up as high as she could get them, much to the delight of those around her.

Chris just redesigned the kids’ site. When he was working on it, he showed Isaiah pictures of him as a baby. Isaiah thought about them and then asked, “What happened to me?” When we see how big he is, we wonder the same thing.

The other night, Chris came downstairs to find Isaiah hiding behind the couch, peaking over the top to watch Wallace and Gromit. Chris asked if he was alright and Isaiah responded, “Yeah, everything’s OK.” Chris asked him if he was scared. “No, not really,” Isaiah assured him, but then went on to tell him what was so “scary” about the movie.

As for the third child (the one that enables us to have 2.5 children… commonly referred to as the dog), he ran away again. Really, we’re getting used to it. The odd thing is that he escapes for a different reason every time. Never has the same part been at fault in our collar/leash/run system. So it is very hard to prevent these expeditions. We just left the door cracked open for him. An hour later he came in growling, with his fur standing on end. He’s such a big baby, something must have scared him and he came running back home to Mommy.

I always say Chester should be called Cinderella. He’s like the step-child that gets the second-rate treatment. When the whole family piles on the couch to watch a movie, Chester has to lay on a pillow on the floor. When we all go out for some fun activity, Chester gets put in his “house.” When family vacation time comes, Chester goes to the kennel. Poor guy… it’s no wonder he runs away.

If you want to check out the new design of our kids’ site, go to

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On My Own

So, in my investigation into who makes the messes around our house, I’ve narrowed it down to 2 suspects… and neither of them is me.

Chris took a team of our youth to Baja, Mexico for a missions/leadership building trip. He’s been gone for 2 weeks! And during that time, Isaiah is at Papa and Gran’s in Arkansas. So it’s just Leah and me, and of course Chester. And the housework is surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly) light!

Chris called one day and I put him on speaker phone. When Leah heard his voice, her whole face lit up! She made a happy grunting sound and then she said, “Da da!” Awww… She’s also trying to say Chester. She’s a little unsure of herself so she just whispers something like, “Teh-Teh” or “Cheh”.

Speaking of the evil beast we harbor in our home, he ran away tonight… AGAIN. I was bringing him in the house and his collar just slipped off; I don’t even know how. He took off and I knew there was no way I was going to catch him. He stayed within my sight for a bit, but he never let me get close and then I couldn’t see him at all. I left the back door open so that if he decided to come back he would have a way in. After an hour and a half he strolled in like nothing had happened, with a big wad of black junk in his mouth. He happily dropped that on the carpet and ran upstairs to get a drink.

I offered him a treat and enticed him into the pantry and shut it, so I could inspect whatever it was he’d deposited in my home. My worst fears were correct. It was a beyond rotten animal of some kind. I don’t know if if was a rabbit or some type of large rodent, but it was the most disgusting thing ever! I got a tongs type thing, but I couldn’t bring myself to grab it with that, because you could still tell what its feet were and it was just too horrifying. For a while I just stood down there and squealed and debated if I should call Pastor. Finally I shoved it into an old cardboard box with the help of another box and threw the whole thing down the hill, into the woods. Yes, I know it might be bad for the environment, but cardboard is recyclable, so I’m sure it’s kind of biodegradable. And there was no way I was going to do anything else with it!

So my husband comes home tomorrow night. And this is a very good thing, because I’ve had it with this on my own stuff!

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Never dull…

So I was shopping for a new dog today. Not because we want another one. No… it was because Chester ran away. His lead broke and he disappeared into the woods. He’d only been gone for about 15 minutes when we realized it, but a dog can get far in 15 minutes. Especially when he’s got open woods for miles.

Chris went looking for him, but he eventually gave up and came back. I was all positive, and said, “Maybe he’ll come back!” But Chris was pretty sure his nose would keep him chasing stuff permanently. Our biggest concern (besides not wanting Chester to suffer or something) was how Isaiah would take it.

It didn’t take him too long to ask, “Where’s Chester?” We already had a speech prepared, so Chris told him how Chester went to play with the other animals and that he might not come back if he made lots of animal friends. Isaiah had my positiveness. He said, “Chester will come back.” A little later he told me, “Chester want to come back, be with Mommy, Daddy, Isaiah, Baby Sister!” I tried to tell him Chester might like his new animal friends better.

So that was when I started looking online at dog breeds. At first Chris had said we would wait a while before we got another dog, but with Isaiah being so concerned, we started thinking we might need something to distract him. I shied pretty clear of anything houndish or big. The last thing we need is a dog who loves his nose more than his family.

As I was searching for something small, low maintenance, good with children, and not butt ugly, Chris heard a bark! He ran outside, but if it was Chester, he was super far away. We put Isaiah down for his nap and then heard more barking that was definitely Chester! Chris decided to walk along the road in the direction it came from.

About 20 minutes later he came back and announced, “The prodigal has returned.” He had found the dog by following his barks. All in all, Chester had been missing for about 3 hours. When Chris found him, he thought Chester was hurt at first because he acted all droopy, but it turned out he just felt guilty. He knew he’d been bad.

So it turned out OK. I had helped Isaiah pray that Chester would come back safe and I guess Jesus couldn’t refuse the prayers of a sweet little boy… and girl, because if Leah had understood, she would have been praying too. She loves Chester better than any of us!

Isaiah is so full of conversation and new expressions. The other day I asked him to do something, which he didn’t hear. He came over to me and said, “What did you say?” Whenever we say, “Isaiah,” he answers, “Why?” It’s pretty funny. He has also started saying “well”. He’ll be telling me something about his trains and he’ll say, “Well… Percy is over here.” He’s also really into “scary” stuff, like dinosaurs that roar and suspenseful moments in his little movies.

Leah finally figured out solid food is a meal, not appetizer before nursing. She likes bananas and oatmeal the best, but has also tried applesauce and carrots. She is working on her sitting up skills and she looks like she will crawl soon. She talks and screams a lot!

We’re really enjoying PA life! Especially as it’s finally warmed up! We’ve been to downtown Pittsburgh a bunch now, but always for events and stuff. We still haven’t gotten to explore the city the way we want to. Chris’ brother is coming to visit us next weekend, so hopefully we’ll get a chance to look around it with him.

God’s doing a lot in our church. It seems like every week the atmosphere is different. It’s wonderful to see how the Lord brought us all together with this church to accomplish great things for His Kingdom!

Something else I like about living in Pittsburgh is that we get a lot of cool speakers and events into our area, because it is more conveniently located than CA was. We got to go hear Lila Terhune (one of our teachers from BRSM) this weekend. It was great to see her again and hear her laugh! It was cool because some of the stuff that she was teaching in her session was the same stuff our Pastor preached the next Sunday and he hadn’t heard her speak!

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Our Dog Is Evil

Our dog is evil. He’s family and we love him, against our will. And he’s lucky we do, or I’m sure we’d have given him away by now. He’s been a poop-butt (please pardon my vernacular) ever since we moved to Pittsburgh. Yes, I realize it’s a major transition for a little animal, but it’s getting old.

He barks every time the house creeks or a car drives by or I shut a cabinet door. Our house is so big that things must sound weird to him when he hears them from a distance. And he doesn’t bark once, discover everything is fine and then drop it. He keeps barking and there is nothing we can do to get him to stop.

He also barks randomly in the night. We can’t just ignore him, because he is super loud and one of our youth staff has her apartment right above the part of the basement that his house is in. So we have to run downstairs and tell him to hush. When the sun starts to rise there is nothing we can do to get him to shut up, except let him come upstairs and sleep on the end of our bed. It has become a habit, so every morning we have a dog in bed with us. Very annoying.

But last night, Chester really topped off his annoyingness. I was taking him outside to do his business. I didn’t have my hand through the loop on his leash and he saw a cat in the woods. He took off and the leash slipped right through my fingers. So there was our stupid beagle running through the wooded hills in the middle of the night with rain drizzling down. Obviously I’m helpless in a situation like this, so Chris had to chase him. It took my poor husband forever to get him back. He was only in sandals and had no coat and he was chasing a dog through the freezing woods. He despaired a couple times, but he prayed and finally managed to step on the end of the leash and grab him. Chris had to take a hot shower to get warmed up again.

It’s a good thing Chris was home when this happened. He had taken our youth to a Battle Cry conference in Detroit over the weekend. I’d have died if Chester had taken off while he was gone! But I will say this for Chester; he was sorry. If that makes up for anything. He was kind of mopey all night because he knew he’d been a bad boy.

Chester is young, but I already have plans for when he goes to his final reward. Granted, I’ll probably miss him more than anyone else, but I say our next dog will be a “purse dog.” Something small that I can control and can go on a plane as a carry on. And something that will cuddle. Yes, that would be nice.

Other excitement? Leah rolled from her belly to her back, so now she can go either way! She tried oatmeal and loved it! She’s also eaten banana and that was a big hit too. She’s working on her hand-eye coordination and likes to grab at stuff (like Mommy’s cell phone).

Isaiah is working on his ABC’s. He can sing the song, but some of the letter names don’t sound quite right! We have flash cards that he loves to go through with me. His counting just keeps getting better. We’ve always practiced counting items by me holding his hand and helping him point to each thing while he counts. Last night he pointed to each thing by himself and counted perfectly!

Pastor and Clara took us, and everyone visiting from CA, to a play of Willie Wonka in downtown Pittsburgh. It was done with a cast of only 7 people and very creative. The set was simple, but the props were done artistically so that it worked. The actors played multiple parts and sang and danced really well. Isaiah was a little bored until they got to the part at the factory. Then he was intrigued.

Pittsburgh is quiet on Sunday. It’s a little big city, I think. Parking was only $6, which is much nicer than the $10-$20 that we paid in CA. There were a lot of cool looking areas that we need to take time to explore!

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