Saturday, July 28, 2012

Cooking for the boys - Sheldon & Leonard

I don’t believe I've highlighted our two little men on my blog, have I? Let me introduce you to Sheldon and Leonard (yes, fellow Big Bang Theory fans, that's where we got their names).

We met Sheldon (he was Garland then) at the Bogey Plaza Dierberg's. They were hosting a Stray Rescue adoption event and he was there looking for a forever home. Okay, well, his foster mom was looking for Garland's forever home – he was just curled up in a little ball at her feet wishing it were all over and he could go home already. We'd had to put my little man Chaser down a few years before I and still didn't think I was ready to get another dog yet, but we'd been burglarized the month before and I was rethinking my stance. Jeremy had been ready for a while – so when I saw the adoption event I called him. He was there almost immediately and fell in love with Garland – here's a pic of their first meeting, a scared puppy and a hopeful husband.
May 14, 2011 - The love story begins...
We decided to adopt him and name him Sheldon, but our first few months together were really rough. Sheldon didn't want to have anything to do with us and was just plain scared. He wouldn't leave his crate – even to eat – unless we physically pulled him out. We had to put food in his crate with him and leave the room to even get him to eat… and he wouldn't eat much even then.
And then to make matters worse – he ran away. Jeremy was taking him out for a walk and he heard a loud noise that scared him and he just took off at full speed, yanking the retractable leash out of Jeremy's hand. Jeremy couldn't keep up with him and we couldn't find him anywhere. We put up signs all over the neighborhood, called his foster mother and Stray Rescue (they organized several searches and put up signs as well). On the second day he'd been missing Jeremy and I were out looking again and I can't explain it but I just felt like I knew where he had to be. The wooded area behind our house had been searched several times, but he was such a fraidy-cat that he was never going to respond to someone calling out, so I wanted to look again. I told Jeremy that I kept thinking I could hear a dog whimpering, but we were next to a really busy road and it was windy – it was probably in my head. Jeremy and I split up started through the woods again. After a while he called to see where I was and I heard the whimper again. Then a soft bark! couldn't tell if it was near me or near Jeremy (on the phone). Jeremy and I were immediately babbling to each other a million miles a minute and getting louder in our excitement and realized we could hear each other – so he must be somewhere between us. We started walking toward each other's voices, and when I dipped down into a little ravine that was covered in brush - there he was! The leash had gotten caught in a bush and he was trapped. A few pics of his rescue and the ravine he'd been hidden in.
This is the ravine he was in - those weeds are several feet tall, and with all the brush as well he was impossible to see.
He leash was tangled in the brush and he was trapped. I still can't believe we found him!
Jeremy is untangling his leash and I'm trying to sooth him. Doesn't look soothed, does he?
We were overjoyed to have found him and took turns crying with relief/joy, but our relationship with Sheldon still didn't improve. It got worse… I felt like maybe he associated us with the trauma of being lost in the woods for two days. It broke our hearts, but after a couple of weeks we told the foster mother she would need to take him back (she'd told us she was going to keep him if we hadn't adopted him). He was just so miserable with us and we didn't know what else to do. Ironically, he loved kids - not so much adults... but LOVED kids. See?

Sheldon's foster mom agreed and asked if we'd meet her at StrayRescue first though, to meet with Randy Grim and see if he had any suggestions. When we met with Randy, he spent less than fifteen minutes with Sheldon and told us there was no reason we couldn't get through to this dog – but he was a true follower and needed an alpha dog to make him feel comfortable. He was just scared/uncomfortable without an alpha dog around – the solution was another dog. An hour or so later we left with some tips and peace of mind from Randy. For example, convince him to sleep in bed with us, bribe him with braunschweiger – no dog on earth can resist it, etc to help create a bond and asked us to give it another week. By the end of the week we were really making progress and had found another dog to adopt.
Sheldon never had any problems making friends with kids. He and Ryan were BFFs right off the bat.
"Shelton" and my niece, Chloe on her third birthday. She just couldn't get "Sheldon", so he's "Shelton" whenever we visit my sister. And again, he was great with the all the kids there for her birthday that afternoon. Just not the adults!
Jeremy had always wanted a big dog (to hunt with) and I wanted another small dog (to snuggle with). I was being really picky and wanted a specific type of dog… and then I was playing around on Craigslist, shopping for stuff I don't need with money I don't have as usual, and put in "small dog" and saw lots of breeders and then I saw him. Little Teddy.
Are you going to be my new Mommy?
I like long walks in the park, stinky socks, snuggling  and licking everything all the time always.
A young lady had a dog that she just couldn't continue to care for, he was a year old and needed more time and attention than she could give him. He was part Shih Tzu and part Yorkie – and had an underbite like an English Bulldog. SO CUTE! His owner met Sheldon and I at the park to see if they would get along and it was like Sheldon was a whole new dog – they got along like peas and carrots! Mary Beth came along with Ryan, who was a rambunctious two-year-old, so I would also see if he was good with kids. As you can see, they all got along just fine. And he became Leonard.
So here we are, a year later and we are one big happy family. We can barely remember what it was like before the boys lived with us.
But we've also learned a few things along the way, like the big lab mix that would be a perfect hunting dog... is gun shy and a total momma's boy. And the little lap dog is all about digging in the dirt and chasing animals (he even had a stand off with a COYOTE in the backyard last fall and won), and is all about Jeremy.

Leonard also seems to have a sensitive stomach. He's a puker. Yuck. I always gave Sheldon a kong full of peanut butter when I crated him up as I left for work and he loved it. But Leonard wasn't a big fan (how could you NOT love peanut butter???) – and after he threw it up a few times I needed to find something else. We went through a few options, switched to a natural chicken based dog food and things were much better. But the allergy-free-for-sensitive-stomachs dog treats are pricey – especially when you're using 4/day and they come in little bags of twenty. So I started looking for homemade options.

I found several and my first experiment was with Cleo'sPumpkin Dog Biscuits. They were quick and easy to make, super crunchy and both Sheldon and Leonard whole-heartedly approved. And they were CHEAP to make. Super cheap. So I try to have a treat jar full of them at all times for crating treats.
Sheldon thought they were pretty darned good.
And Leonard always grabbed them so quickly and ran off this is the best pic I could get!
Next up are homemade Frosty Paws! With the heat we've been enjoying this summer, the boys don't spend as much time outside as usual, but when they come in a cool treat is the way to go. I'd bought the real Frosty Paws for the boys previously and they were okay with them (Leonard liked them more than Sheldon), but they both love the homemade version. Which is great – because it's healthier for them and cheaper than the ones at the store.
Mashed banana, peanut butter, honey and yogurt.

And now I'm just going to post a bunch of pictures of my babies because I can. And becuase I think they are the cutest things around. Aren't they precious?
Our 2011 Christmas card
Family Christmas portrait Take 1
Family Christmas portrait Take 2
Family Christmas Portrait Take 3
FINALLY a keeper - 2011 Family Christmas portrait
Enough already! No more pictures! The papparazzi is SO annoying.
Weekend morning coffee on the front porch with Mom - best part of the day.
Snuggle Buddies... also they are Thunder Buddies (if you've seen Ted... you get it).
They love their matching barn coats. Shutup! They do so.
See what happens when they don't wear their coats out in the rain?
Very best friends.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Celebrating my second fairy godchild...

As most of you already know, my best friend, Mary Beth, is pregnant with my second fairy godchild. And here's what a good friend she is - she let me know what the gender was before she even knew! She had the doctor write it down and seal it in an envelope. Then she gave me the envelope. She didn't even peek once! A few days later we all went out to dinner at Tachibana's (where Jeremy discovered that he LOVES sushi) and I provided dessert - cake truffles that would reveal the gender of the baby (blue for a boy, of course, and pink for a girl).
Here's of the big reveal...

So, it's a boy! There's another Michael Neukomm headed into the world. And that's as good a reason as any to celebrate, right? Of course it is. So last Sunday I hosted a diaper shower for little Michael - to make sure that Mike and MB would have everything covered... so to speak... before the little one arrives.

Since it was a coed diaper shower, rather than a traditional women only baby shower, there were no shower games (not a fan) and no pastel mints (also not a fan).
 But there was plenty of food - specifically a lot of good cheese (Mary Beth loves cheese as much as I do - possibly more) - some cheeky favors, and most importantly plenty of loved ones to wish Mike, Mary Beth and Ryan well as their family adds another name to the roster.

I knew this would happen. I took a few pictures before everyone got there and reminded myself to take a picture of the food table after I had everything out. Of course, everything didn't hit the table before guests started arriving (early birds!) - so I never did get a picture of the food spread.
 Here comes the guest of honor, Miss Ryan Neukomm (my first fairy godchild), escorted by her father. No matter that the party was actually for her parents to celebrate her little brother's pending arrival - she's still the guest of honor.
Okay, I take it back, I did get a few pics of the food table after the spread was all laid out - but it was surrounded by people the whole time!
Here's what was on the menu: Sweetheart Cherry Pies (individual heart shaped pies with cheery cheese filling), Cinnamon Sugar Hearts (cookies), Lemon Bar Cookie Cups (OMG - these were GOOD), Cherry Brie Bites (puff pastry bites with brie and cherry filling), fried pickles with ranch dipping sauce, cheese plate, Artichoke Pizza (Mom made this and it disappeared immediately), Kid Sushi (PB&J and ham & cheese), Caprese skewers, Rubber Ducky Party Punch and a Mimosa Bar.
 We had very few leftovers, thank goodness. I took what little was left in to work the next morning and it disappeared quickly. I love it when there are no leftovers to tempt me!
 Mary Beth had some gifts to open, a few people broke the rules and brought gifts other than diapers - but you can't fault an excited Grammy! Mom made a beautiful knit swaddler, but of course my phone froze up and I didn't get a picture of it. On Mary Beth's head. Yes, her head. I know - she's so weird, isn't she?
 Much like her mother and her fairy godmother, Ryan was all about the cheese plate. She was digging on the brie. Such a sophisticated palate, am I right?

 These are the favors I made. I'm pretty proud of my little "Hershey Squirts" - appropriate for a diaper shower, don't you think? I spent weeks looking around for favors or favor ideas that interested me and I couldn't find a single thing... and then it hit me. Diaper shower... diapers... what goes in a diaper? Little squirts - and Hershey squirts! Let me know if you want one - almost everyone forgot to take their favors home after all that! I should have bought Diet Squirt so at least I'd be able to drink the ones left behind.
And finally a close up of the diaper motorcycle I made. I will say that I'm really proud of this thing. It was actually fun figuring out how to make it. And there were no diapers or monkeys harmed in the making of this Monkey Motorcycle.

I hope my guests had as much fun at the party as I did. I really can't wait to meet Michael. I finally got to feel him moving around the other night. He gave my hand a good kick, but I prefer to think of it as a high five.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

I love Thanksgiving! Not as much as Jeremy does (it's his favorite holiday since it's all about food, a four day weekend and during both hunting and football season), but I still love it. Fall is my favorite season, so decorating the house for Thanksgiving and the smells of pumpkin pie and baking bread just make me so happy!

When I was growing up, we always spent Thanksgiving with the Busch/Taylor family - either at my Aunt Ruby's house or our house. The Busch/Taylor clan always included lots of extended family and it was a large and rambuctious group - but as the older generation passed on and the younger generation grew up and married (and thus had in-laws they wanted to visit) it shrank over the years. Eventually it just kind of fizzled out. When Jeremy's mom, Cathy, lived in St. Louis, she hosted Thanksgiving so we'd attend both the Busch/Taylor meal and Cathy's meal - and then pass out in a food coma. 

But eventually we became Thanksgiving orphans - we didn't have a big Thanksgiving gathering to attend, so we made do. For a couple of years it was just the four of us at Mom and Dad's house, one year we even spent Thanksgiving in St. Thomas (totally not going to complain about that!).

My best friend, Mary Beth, was in a similar situation since her own family is scattered across the country. So last year we decided to join forces and create our own Thanksgiving celebration. Last year we had a little over twenty people and enough food for fifty! It was so much fun we decided to make it an annual thing - the NeuBroad/Broadkomm Thanksgiving. This year we had a relatively small group of only eleven, but it was just as much fun as the previous year.

I enjoyed the food and company too much to actually take the time to get out my camera, so I just took a few quick and crappy shots with my phone. Happy Thanksgiving everyone - thanks for coming and we'll see you again next year!
The mantle - all gussied up for Thanksgiving.
Mom brought beautiful bouquets for the centerpieces.
Jay's checking out the appetizers...
The apps - I should have taken a pic before they'd been attacked. It was all good, but Mom's truffled popcorn was AMAZING!
Ryan's taking time to smell the flowers before dinner.
Mary Beth is hungry - she's eating for 101, you know (Ryan told her that she has 100 babies in her tummy!).
Of course, the guys gathered around the food, with beer in hand.