Thursday, March 31, 2011

Picking up the Pupcake

Ryan and I have been talking about getting a puppy for about 4 years.  Every couple of months, we talk about it pretty seriously but have never felt like the timing was right.  But when Mally had her hip surgery last fall, it became pretty apparent to us that she's not getting any younger and perhaps it was about time to get a puppy that could keep her young and active.  She turns 10 years old in April (which makes me feel really old) and we figured it was a good time to start looking for a pup.

We knew right away that we wanted to get a Golden Retriever.  I wanted a soft, cuddly, lovable family dog that would be gentle with kids.  Ryan wanted a smart, active, water-loving retriever that he could train to be a duck-hunting dog.  A Golden Retriever fit the bill for both of us so we started looking at pups online.  I tell you what, puppies are really hard to find - all the websites I found had dogs that had champion show dog bloodlines and cost a million dollars.  They were taking "reservations" for puppies that were due a year from now.  And they shipped puppies internationally and blah, blah, blah.  We didn't need all that.  We just wanted a healthy and happy pup from a reputable breeder that was loved like a child.  I couldn't even work up the courage to send an email to any of these breeders because I was so worried about these places being puppy mills and getting a dog from someone that just cranked out dogs for money.  No thanks.

So, last week I was g-chatting with Ally (aka my partner in crime) and she sent me a link to a fun little website (www.puppyfind.com) where I could search for puppies available now in my state.  Score!  There were about 30 female Golden Retriever puppies available (or would be available soon) in Missouri and Illinois.  I spent an entire day stalking these dogs/breeders' websites and narrowing down the choices.  I got it down to 3 places with available female pups.  One breeder was a college-age girl that had 2 gorgeous reddish-colored Goldens and 2 female puppies available - she raised one litter a year and used the money to help pay for school.  There was another place that had 4 beautiful classic-colored Goldens that were all adorable and had the cutest studio-quality pictures of the puppies.  And then, there was a breeder in Kansas City that had a litter of English Cream Golden Retrievers (white Goldens).  This was the breeder (and the mama dog's) first litter of puppies and these dogs were gorgeous.  I contacted all three and then sent the pictures of all the dogs to Ryan to help me narrow down the choice.  It was impossible for me to choose - he's the voice of reason, otherwise, we'd have 40 dogs.

Since this was going to be Ryan's dog, it was his choice.  Immediately, he was drawn to the English Cream Goldens.  They're such beautiful and rare dogs - you just don't see them very often.  The first time Ryan and I ever saw a white golden was in Jackson Hole, while we were there for our wedding.  We went on a walk one morning and ran into a man with a white Golden.  We immediately stopped him and asked what kind of dog that was.  We were both completely enamored.  I told Ryan that someday I wanted a dog just like that one.  It seemed so fitting that we were now talking about getting one of our own. I contacted the breeder and immediately liked her - she was really knowledgeable about the breed, very attentive to the puppies and went above and beyond to answer all my questions.  I asked her if she knew of any hunting experience in the dog's family, which really intrigued her.  She mentioned that the daddy dog (Leo) had excellent tracking skills and she was going to enter him into tracking competitions.  Of course, that really got Ryan's attention.  When she mentioned that the dogs also watch the birds fly by in the sky, it was a done deal.  We'd found our pup. 

So, we packed up the car and made the 4 hour drive to Kansas City on Sunday to meet the pups.  There were 2 females available, Purple pup and Green pup.  Neither of us had any idea how we were going to make the decision - what was it that we were looking for in a dog?  We just figured that we'd know which one was ours when we met them.  We'd let them "speak" to us.  It was also important to us that we met the puppy's parents and see where she grew up.  We wanted to see how big the parents and the other pups were and get to know their personalities a little. 

Momma dog (Gracie) was a complete lover and sweetheart.  She was all over us!  She was about the size of Ryan's parent's dog Murphy and she was active and energetic, a fast runner and great jumper.  All excellent qualities. 

There were 9 puppies in the litter!  Three pups had left for their forever homes the day before, so we had 6 there to play with.  The breeder decided to keep one of the girls for herself, so we had the two females (purple and green) to pick from.  We took them both outside and let them run around for a while to try to figure out which one was our baby.  It was such a hard decision!  Purple or Green, Purple or Green - we could not decide.  Green was more active and adventurous, but purple was more attentive to people.  Green was bigger, but not by much.  Purple was a little clumsy on her feet, but hopped around like a rabbit, which was so cute I could die.  Green was getting into trouble left and right, but Purple was right behind her.  It was such a hard choice, but for some reason, we picked Purple pup.  She just had such a pretty face, bright eyes, smaller feet, more interest in people and showed a lot of enthusiasm in attacking the stuffed duck in the playroom.  We were in love.  We came back inside to start filling out paperwork just in time for puppy naptime.

Our pup is the one on the left (above) and middle dog (below). 
I wanted to take them all home. 
Isn't this the cutest little dogpile you've ever seen?
Our baby slept like a rock.
Here's daddy dog, Leo. 
He was very beautiful and completely showing off and flirting with me. 
I loved it!
What a ham!
And of course, we had to get our picture taken with both the parents.
That way she'd have a picture of her biological parents and her adoptive parents. 
Aren't they beautiful?
And then it was time to take her home! 
We were a little sad that she had to leave her family,
but we hope that she'll love her new family just as much.
There's no doubt that she's loved.
When we got in the car, we started talking about why we picked the Purple pup and whether or not we felt we made the right decision.  Should we have picked the Green pup?  Did we get the right one?  Right about that time, we stopped at a stoplight behind a purple car with the license plate PURPL.  I swear, it was a sign.  We laughed and knew immediately we'd made the right decision. 

The Purple pup was our baby.


Now, what were we going to name her?!  That story and more pictures to come!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

CeCe's Second Birthday Party

Well, before I go to Gus's 3rd birthday party this weekend, I figured I better get his little sister CeCe's 2nd birthday party pictures posted.  CeCe's second birthday was a few weeks ago, and since that time her mom Claire has had TWO 2 year old.  TWO babies that were both TWO.  Yes, you read that correctly.  TWO.  (Yes, she deserves a mom of the year award). 

Mom extraordinaire made these incredible cake/brownie pops dipped in chocolate. 
I ate approximately 45 of them.
Remember that amazing cake from Alice's baby shower that Claire's sister made?  Well, she did it again.  How adorable is this pink piggy cake?!  And it was delicious, of course.
Miss Cecelia was dressed to the nines for her party. 
Personalized shirt, paired with a black/white tutu, giant pink
polka-dot hair bow, black/white polka dot ruffle leggings and patent leather Mary Janes. 
I'm telling you, this kid's got style
Love it.
Talk about adorable.
Seriously, could she get any cuter?
CeCe's also a chocoholic...a girl after my own heart.
She probably had more brownie pops than I did, and that's saying a lot.
CeCe's friend CoCo was also sporting an adorable outfit. 
That headband kills me.  I just want to eat her up!
This is CoCo's big sister Lucy. 
This child has the most amazing hair. 
I would kill for hair that color. 
And I finally got to meet baby Milly! 
She was just as gorgeous as I imagined she would be.
Alice was such a natural and beautiful new mom.
By the way Alice, your hair looks great!
Finally, it was time for cake!
(Isn't Claire's plate wall fantastic?!)
CeCe was hamming it up for the cameras.
The candle was lit...
The singing began...
And CeCe got embarrassed and hid under the table! 
This kid is not shy, so this was hilarious!
It took some coaxing from mom, but she finally came up to blow out the candle.
It took the whole family to get that candle out.
And the reward for suffering through that singing...cake!
And a big kiss from mom.
CeCe's cousin Nora was loving all the attention she was getting.
Cute as a button.
Post pig-out on pig-cake, it was time for the best of any birthday, the PRESENTS!
CeCe has impeccable taste and went straight for my gift to her.
She's very smart.
I gave her that tiny baby jean jacket and that gorgeous little blue dress, with cherries on it.
I die. 
I cannot wait to see her in it - she's going to totally rock it.
Eat your heart out Rachel Zoe.
Opening gifts quickly turned into a group event. 
We all got to pitch in and help.
Although CoCo was much more interested in eating the gifts, than opening them.
CeCe was great with sharing everything with her friends...for about 2 minutes.
This laptop was a huge hit.
Claire said she slept with it that night.
And of course, she needed some more Dora gear.
But not everyone was interested in the gifts, Elise was much more content to kick back and relax with a brownie pop and watch the action.
We all thought she was a genius.
Claire's sister Kathryn (aka, cake-maker, Nora's mom, Aunt Pretty) also made this amazing superhero cape for CeCe.  It was lavender satin with a big "C" on the back. 
CeCe LOVED it.
Other gifts she loved included this sequined, sparkle, poodle-shaped purse.
(I told you this kid's got style.)
And a bucket full of lip gloss. 
It was hard for her to open any more gifts after this because she refused to put down the Lip Smackers.
Such a diva!
She also got this awesome salon chair so she can do her baby doll's hair and make-up. 
Every girl needs one of these.
This baby has no hair, but that didn't stop CeCe!
CeCe thought maybe Grandma and Aunt Pretty wanted to help.
Eventually Nora showed her how it was done.

Happy birthday CeCe!
It was an awesome party! 
Can't wait until Sunday when we get to do it again!