Sunday, July 30, 2017

The House

I've given up on trying to make all of this a "series", since I can't seem to update regularly, but I'll continue where I stopped before:

I left off Part 4 (before posting all about adopting Token in Part 5) that we had been assigned a close date for the house and anxiously waiting for March 23rd to roll around the corner.

Sooooo! On we go to packing, house closing, and moving!

Spoiler alert: I have a ton of stuff. Anthony does not. I took a 15 foot UHaul and three strong guys to move, he needed two (small) cars and the two of us. Plus his mom's truck and brother's help to move his bed. How embarrassing for me!

The day we adopted Token we went to my mom's (where we'd be keeping him), and after apologizing for what I was about to show her (and promising to pick up 5 months worth of double-dog poop from the back yard), my mom met her grand-puppy. He's so cute that I don't even think she was mad, and she made out with the deal because she had someone to willingly pick up a ginormous garbage bag's worth of dog poop from the back yard.

For real, that bag was so heavy that I almost couldn't actually lift it into the garbage can.

I have always been a "let's make a deal" type of girl when it comes to getting out of trouble ;)

The first night at his fifth (and last!) temporary home!!
Curled up on daddy, staying safe from the big strange dogs after a very long adoption day!

Making a bed out of momma's stuffed animals and some pillows.
I started packing on Sunday, hoping to make a dent in the stuff I had all over the house. My entire bedroom had to be packed, almost all the contents of our den (and its closet) needed going over, and I had oodles of stuff in the basement and crawlspace to go through as well. I had initially planned to only take Wednesday (close date) through Friday off work, but realized I desperately needed Monday and Tuesday as well. So after a quick text convo with my manager, it was confirmed that I had the week off.

It was a good thing too.

I was able to watch the puppy while I packed (he had to be separated from Stewart and Nigel when unsupervised because Stewart really had no idea what to do with something so small and wiggly, and was prone to snapping at him), which meant I had to come up with clever ways to block Token from escaping certain rooms:
Hands down one of my favorite pictures of the little nugget! 'Where ya goin', mom???'

Snoozing when he wasn't making trouble. He no longer fits in this basket :P
After three-ish long days of packing (Sunday afternoon through Wednesday morning) I was mostly done...if Steve, my cousin's husband and expert UHaul packer is reading this he's laughing, but more on that later.

I took a few minutes that morning to drive to the bank and get my down payment check from the bank and then packed up my car with the essentials. It was stuff with things I knew we would need for the first two nights in the house (a bag of clothes, some cooking stuff, blankets and pillows, electronics chargers, etc), since the rest of my stuff wouldn't be moved until Friday. Here's me with my tiny car, packed to the gills:

I had to make a quick stop at Walmart too, because I realized we did not have any cleaning supplies. With no room in the back, the stuff I bought got to sit up front:

I drove out to to pick up Anthony (and Token) and do one last walk through of the house with Barb to make sure things were satisfactory. It was only then that I realized that the title company (where we would close)...was in Crystal Lake. D'oh!

Back to CL we drove!

We were the first ones there, and hung out waiting for the attorneys and Barb to arrive, and once they did we got things started.

It was honestly pretty boring. Many of you probably already know this, but for those who don't, the "closing" part of buying a house basically consists of signing your name 7,000 times and ends with your attorney and real estate agent congratulating you on the huge amount of money you now owe your mortgage lender. And then they hand you the keys!

Prior to close, people told me horror stories about theirs, and things that came up at the last minute or people who forgot paperwork and stuff about having to wait around all day to be done, etc etc. We were really lucky (and told so a few times) that there was only one hiccup with our close: The name of the title company on the cashier's check I got at the bank was wrong! I was so sure I'd written the right name down (I'd been copying it from an email on my phone) so I couldn't believe it! Instead of "Old Republic" it said "One Republic"...and then someone made a joke that I must have gotten confused and written down the band name and...well it had to be fixed.

So Anthony and I hopped in the car with the Tokester and drove down the street to the bank, where they rectified the mistake AND proved that I had written the right thing on the slip the first time, because they were able to pull out the copy of my first request. It turns out it was the teller who messed up!

After that short (maybe 30 minute) hiccup, we were back at the title company, and I was signing the last few pages, and getting those keys I'd mentioned before!
Something about this set of keys reinforced to me that we picked the right place!
We started our move in right away. We drove back to the house and reveled in the fact that this house was now ours, even though it was still completely empty and we had no furniture or food or anything in it (besides the few things I had brought with).

The very first thing I did was tore down the ugly drapes in the living room and sent a picture to Barb (this was a running joke). We have yet to take down the hardware the drapes were on (we don't own a power drill...yet), but those drapes had to come down!

I unpacked the kitchen stuff that I'd brought, finding homes for everything in my bins, and then heated up some food to eat before going to Anthony's sister's house to grab all of his stuff to move in. That took all of an hour, and he had it unpacked in about that much time once we got back.

That started the long process of putting the house together, which didn't even really start until two days later. On Thursday I got our garbage service set up (since it would start on Friday) and of our web accounts for the utilities set up using my tiny netbook and my phone as a hotspot, and then waited around for the Comcast guy to install our cable. Here's a fun picture of me adulting with no furniture, and a pup who just wanted to cuddle:

Tiny puppy in his new home!

Playing with daddy in his new (forever!) home :)
Friday Move Day!
On Friday we went back to Crystal Lake to pack up my stuff into a UHaul and move it all to the  house. My brother was kind enough to pick up (and later return) the UHaul for us, and Steve tetrised it all into place and then both helped us get moved in.

My UHaul stash. Every time I told Steve "that's all the boxes" somehow we found more. And not like one 6 more. This probably happened three times until, in fact, there were no more boxes (except the ones my mom packed full of stuff I forgot and brought over for me):
Please note, this did include our couch and a majority of our furniture.

 Most important things first, we got the TV and the kitchen set up, and I made cookies (had to break in the kitchen ASAP!!):
This TV stand has now seen multiple homes. My uncle made it for my mom when he was in highschool, so it's been in all of her homes, and now in ours!

And then we went to Liana's house for dinner, where Token's little birthday twin spent hours trying to pet him and play with him:

And that, was move-in day!


Now...time for pictures! We're all settled in so I've had the chance to take a few during the small amount of time that our house is "presentable". Here you go!

The Living Room
Complete with Harry Potter bookshelf and race medals!

The "Dining Room"
Kudos to my Uncle Paul and Aunt Cathleen for the beautiful table!!

The Kitchen (my room, if there is one I get to claim to myself!)

The island gets it's own picture because I love it so much. It was the most expensive purchase for the interior of the house, $400 at Ikea and I wouldn't trade it for anything. If you need a kitchen island, this one is amazing! A huge workspace, and extra storage to boot (which I greatly appreciate since we don't have a pantry).
The Hallway to the Bedrooms (and a dog)
That's not poop in the hallway, it's a ram's horn that Token insisted on putting there after I'd cleaned the whole upstairs.
The Bathroom
It will do for now, but we have other aspirations for this space (see my Hopes and Dreams section below, lol).

The Office
Heavily used on work from home days, not much used the rest of the week :P
The Guest Room
Not much to write home about at the moment, but when people need to stay the night we at least have a bed for them! This room will be undergoing a revamp soon :)
Our Room
And finally...our room! This is as clean as it gets. Token gets to use a sleeping bag as a bed, but he generally ignores it and crawls into bed with us. #badhabitswecantbreak
We bought a new king sized bed to go with our new room in our new house (all of that is SO fun to be able to type out!!), and I must say it makes getting up that much harder every morning (still, even though it was like a million months ago now).

The Yard
We (mostly) lucked out and have a huge yard with a well built deck and some pretty good landscaping. I'll save the story about storm flooding for another day, as it could take up it's own post for sure. Here you go (pardon the long grass, it gets mowed today):

To the right is the wheelchair lift that was installed by the previous owner...hopefully we can sell that!
For our housewarming my mom got us a White Lilac. It's a longstanding tradition on my dad's side, and we've always had them at our houses so this was the perfect gift :)
Bonus picture of Token ;)

The Basement
The only spot left to show is...the basement. I guess it's not really a basement because the house is a raised ranch, so it's the "lower level" and isn't a sublevel, but whatever. We call it the basement.

And it needs work. A lot of it. Currently, it's a mess. Here's some proof:
What do you mean, Christina, that doesn't look so bad!
Oh. Yeah. You're right. That needs help...
And the half bath + laundry room. Also in need of a makeover (not any time soon though).
Hopes and Dreams
I have lots of things for us to get done in the next few months. Over the next few weeks the plan is to convert the basement from it's storage state to library/workout area. I have a million books and trinkets that need to be unpacked which is what's in most of those boxes, aside from some Christmas decorations and stuffed animals. Anything that needs to be stored will go under the hall stairs, or into the attic.

The icky brown paneling will be painted white, and the wall that you can't see (which has wallpaper) will turn beige like the rest of the house (the sellers left some paint for us).

The empty space on the left will be the workout zone, with my trainer and whatever weights we can acquire. The space on the right will be the library area, with bookshelves, and eventually a TV. I see this space transforming a lot over the next few years.

As for the upstairs, we'll get started on the guest room. Still planning that one out, but it will be done over the fall. I also have some miscellaneous tasks I want completed, like taking down a majority of the window treatments and maybe investing in some new (nicer) blinds for the other rooms.

The only other big project in the foreseeable future (within a year, we hope) is redoing the upstairs bathroom. You'll notice that the house was made wheelchair accessible, and part of that includes the shower. We want to take our the existing shower, put in a large tub, tile around the tub, and retile the floor, as well as invest in a new toilet (the current caulk situation is truly disgusting). We'll leave the cabinets, but I'd like a new mirror/vanity. We'll see what money will allow. As plans stand, Hannah and her family will come visit in April and I'm dying to have it done by then! Maybe we can file our taxes early...?

Anyways! I'm totally rambling now, and I have to get going! I hope the four month wait for something about our house was worth sure has been wonderful for us!


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Second Installation: All the updates at once - Part 5 (TOKEN!!!!)

Editing to add: Part 4 here, Part 6 on it's way!!

Happy belated 4th of July! Here's some patriotic jello from our BBQ yesterday to get you through your July 5th:
Made by my cousin Jennie, the Presidentress. For a tutorial click here!
And now, let's ring in July (albeit a tad late) with the next installment of the crazy journey that has been this year so far. Wow. One half of the year gone...and so much happened. Sheesh!! But here goes!

The Friday before close (March 17th) as I was getting ready for work, I was checking through my emails and noticed one from Purina's Adopt-A-Pet. If you're thinking about adopting a pet and don't know about this tool, you should. Anthony and I had been talking about getting a dog for our house for a long time, and at some point in December-ish I set up a search alert on this site.

Adopt-A-Pet 101:
You enter the type of pet your looking for - everything from species to breed to sex and/or age, and then enter a mile radius from your zip code, and the search brings up a list of all adoptable animals at shelters and fosters within that radius. You can set an alert to tell you when animals like what you're looking for come up for adoption...and that's how one morning at 4:30 I opened my email and saw this face staring up at me:

I clicked in to the little profile and read the description...he was absolutely everything Anthony and I were looking for. The color, the breed, the age...and that face.

I texted Anthony a screenshot of his picture and profile and asked what he thought. We were so close to closing on the house...did we take a chance and apply, or did we just wait?

I'll tell you what, people: I take chances on houses, not puppies.

By the time I got to work and plopped myself down, all I was thinking about was that pooch, and the first thing I did was go to the shelter's webpage, fill out an application, and send it over. I wasn't about to take chances at losing that face.

We waited all day to hear something, but no dice. That evening when I left work I made the mistake (or perhaps it wasn't?) of creeping the adoption event Facebook page and saw that someone else was asking about this puppy. I quickly Facebook messaged the shelter, and then waited hours until Anthony got home with no response.

Oh no. Oh no no no no no no. I was panicking. I couldn't let someone else get him. Someone who wouldn't love him as much! I wasn't about to lose this little guy too.

Anthony agreed, wholeheartedly. We discussed where we would keep him, and agreed my mom's house. Best to ask for forgiveness, rather than permission, right? ;) Then we decided that we'd be up early the next morning, and drive the 35 minutes from his sister's to the adoption event at the Geneva Petco.

And that's just what we did. All of our Saturday morning gym plans went out the window. We got up, threw on some semi decent clothes (they really weren't decent, you'll see in a minute), and got ourselves to the store 30 minutes before the event started. They were still setting up and there were no puppies in sight. We hovered awkwardly for a few moments before someone asked if she could help us. She turned out to be Tammi, the director of the shelter. I told her we'd gotten an email for Blu, we were VERY interested and wanted to meet him, and that if we were all a fit and got approved we wanted to adopt him. I let her know that I'd sent an application the day before as well.

And that was when we found out that they had THIRTY EIGHT adoptions scheduled for that day. Between 10 and 1. She said that she could pull up our application, but she still had to run credit and background checks on us and we would have to wait around and see if things worked out in our favor...which meant we might not get to adopt him.

We said okay, and decided we'd just have to "wait and see" (a common theme in life, right?). We walked around Petco, I purchased some hamster things I needed and then we went back in and planted ourselves at the front of the adoption event. We said hi to the puppies that were trickling in, ready to fight off anyone who so much as thought the name "Blu".

At one point, another shelter volunteer came over and asked us if she could help. I made what must have been a very desperate plea for this dog, finishing with, "We will literally do anything to adopt him! Anything we can do, we'll do it!" She said she'd see what she could do, walked over to Tammi who glanced up at us and then said something to the volunteer, and then pulled out her phone (as it turns out, she was pulling up our application).

It gave me hope, even though I didn't know what she was doing (Anthony was still wary that we'd walk away without our pup).

Finally, about half an hour after the event started, we spotted "Blu" walking in with his foster mom. He was just as adorable in real life as in the pictures. We were already in love. Tammi came over and introduced us to Karen, Blu's foster mom, and told her to grill us hard. To ask us anything and everything, and we said, "Fire away!". We knew going into the adoption, because of the "pitbull" breed this puppy had been assigned, that we would be scrutinized harder than if we were looking at another breed. No shelter wants their dog to end up as a fighter, or a bait dog, and unfortunately people look for "bully" breeds for that reason.

So we sat down and started talking to Karen and playing with "Blu". We were already so in love that we couldn't help but take pictures too:

Saying 'hi' to another foster pup, Fred. FYI, Fred was adopted a few weeks ago, and then his sister Ginger's foster family ended up adopting her!

The first picture of my boys together. All "Blu" wanted to do was sit in our laps and cuddle!

And now some a series of extra cute still-an-orphan pictures, to photo brag:

So handsome and relaxed around everyone!

That. Face. It STILL gets me and now I see him every day!!! Do rescue pups ever loose the "don't abandon me" look???

Karen told us all about "Blu".

He was one of a group of puppies that was rescued from animal control in a random county in Alabama. He was the only puppy in his litter that was found, as a stray...cue heartbreak for whatever happened to the rest of his litter :'(. The county he was in does not adopt about pitbulls, or pit mixes. "Blu" had two ways out - either a shelter had to transport him out, or he would be euthanized. I looked at his little face and wanted to cry when she said that. He was sitting on my lap and I hugged him even tighter.

Safe Haven selected "Blu" for transport (along with nearly 40 other pups, almost all of whom were adopted that day), and he made his way to Illinois where Karen was waiting to foster him. He wasn't available for adoption right away because he needed to be dewormed and checked out, and that Saturday was the first day he was available to adopt.

Quiet, cuddly, and supremely chill, we knew from sitting there with him that "Blu" was meant to be ours.

And then Karen mentioned something neither of us had noticed. Hidden under his collar on the back of his neck was a small, white mark. An "Angel Kiss".

Anthony and I looked at each other, and I almost started crying (again). We were thinking the exact same thing...we knew this puppy was picked for us. I don't care what anyone else thinks or believes, Anthony and I looked at each other thinking that this dog was meant to be ours, and the baby we lost chose him for us.

After a few hours getting to know him and talking to Karen, she told us we could take him for a wander around the store and outside. She clearly trusted that we were in this for all the right reasons, and that we'd bring him back and not steal him! We took a nice long wander around the store, took him out in the fresh air to relieve himself, and then wandered back in.

The one downside about the adoption event was that "Blu" was much bigger than all of the other puppies, which meant he couldn't play with them even though he really wanted to! We finally had the chance to take him in the gated off training area and found some toys to play with and balls to roll around for him to chase, but you could tell he wanted to scrap with some other pups! Instead he had to contend with us :P

After what felt like forever (it was almost 1:00pm!) Tammi came over to Anthony and Karen and me and said, "Well I'm sorry to say..." face fell, the pit dropped out of my stomach, and I held my breath for what came next. I mean...what? Did I not pass the credit check? How do you pass a credit check to buy a house but not adopt a dog???

"'re approved to adopt!"

My brain took a few seconds to register what she said, then all I could think was, 'WHY IS SHE SORRY???!!! That's great news!!' She and Karen had a little giggle at me, and Tammi said that we had passed everything with flying colors and, moreover, we were beyond patient. Hanging around all day sitting on the floor at Petco apparently shows you like animals!

We had to wait a bit longer for our turn to fill out paperwork, during which we walked around gathering supplies - food, a collar and leash, a few toys, and most importantly a dog tag that officially christened our new pup with the name Token. Then we sat down, went through all the signing and payments, and around 2:00pm (nearly five hours after arriving), we walked left the Geneva Petco with the newest member of our family.

We even got our first family picture and everything. We look terrible and tired in it, but we were SO happy!
We legit look like we just rolled out of bed, and Token looked ready to crawl into one!
We took our tiny, adorable, no-longer-an-orphan pup out to the car, where he fell asleep for the ride "home".

A few months on:
It's now been just over 3 months since we adopted Token, and I cannot express how happy we are that we have him. He has been such an amazing addition to our family - sweet and gentle and cuddly and adorable. He's still growing (duh), and we're fairly positive at this point that he was mixed with something lanky and lean (in addition to the pitbull part) and that he'll end up being just that: Lanky, lean, and muscular, rather than thick and short like many pits. He still has a good deal of puppy fat to lose, and he still looks soft, but at times his muscle comes out and it's amazing to see how he's changing. It will be great to see him grow into an adult!

I don't have many pictures that show how much he's grown...but in the picture on the left he's about half the size of Nala (his cousin) and on the right...well you can see he's much bigger now :P
Token is also so well behaved that we were even able to take him to a wedding (that's a story for another day), and person after person came up and commented on how good he was, and no one could believe he was only 5 months old.

He's well behaved...and he's smart. Wise beyond his little puppy years, and he has excelled at training. He's so smart that he knows when he's ignoring you or being disobedient, and he gets salty as hell when he gets in trouble...but he always walks over, ears tucked back in apology a few minutes later, hoping you'll still cuddle with him.

Though he has boundless energy at times, he's also incredibly lazy, and will take a nap with you just as willingly as he'll play. He enjoys fetch and tug of war, and his favorite toys are ropes or socks.

Even though we promised we wouldn't let him, Token sleeps in bed with us. Normally the night starts off with him on the floor, and around 1 or 2 am he takes it upon himself to jump into bed, and wedge himself right smack dab between us, however hard he has to try. He's been known to climb on top of us if there's no room for him, and wait for us to roll to the side to grant him the space he's seeking.

He loves other dogs just as much as he loves people, and has even made his way into Uncle Stewart's wary heart!
This was the only picture I got of them together. Dogs being dogs, I guess!
Stewart, who is generally afraid or on guard around all other dogs, has been opening up to Token and finally realized he's just a puppy who wants to play! I'll talk about it more later, but the week at my mom's while we packed to move was made difficult by always having to keep the dogs in different rooms!

Token also has the advantage of being able to play with his cousin Nala (picture up top), and since we finally got Token fixed they can have unsupervised play dates now!

Phew...that's a lot, but that's the fun braggy stuff I can say! I was going to post another 10 or so pictures, but I thought that might be overkill :P. I post plenty of him on Instagram, so make sure you're following me there if you want to see more!

Safe Haven
Finally, I could not put this post up in good conscience without mentioning Safe Haven Dog Rescue (website and Facebook links - Facebook is more updated with currently adoptable dogs). They were absolutely amazing to us (as you can probably tell from the post). Everyone we met and talked to the day we adopted Token was so nice and welcoming, and I'm Facebook friends with Karen and send her pictures of him every so often.

Safe Haven has adoption events regularly (I believe every other week) from the Geneva, IL Petco. Token's adoption fee was $300, which included all vaccinations to date (puppies are vaccinated on an age-appropriate schedule, and you pay for any vaccinations after adoption), as well as basic neutering from a partner clinic (blood panel and heart worm tests were extra). They also provide you with a micro chip that the vet can insert (Token was chipped when he was neutered). FYI - in the state of Illinois, if you rescue a dog it is mandatory that you have the dog fixed, which is something I didn't know before all of this!

Anyways...I would 100% adopt from them again. Anthony and I were so happy that Tammi and Karen took the extra time with us that day and made Token's adoption possible - he has been a better addition to our family that we ever would have dreamed, and we're so happy he's ours.