Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Weekend at Home and an update on Maddie...

The pups had a pretty big week and weekend! First, on Thursday, Andrew and I took them for their first walk around the pond and fetch session. Both Copper and Penny loved chasing the tennis balls, but they were a little confused when we tried to get them to bring them back to us. Needless to say, they are both really good at Keep-Away! We'll work on the fetching...

Friday night we (the pups and me) headed to Cartersville. Copper and Penny got to meet their Shmimi and PePaw (Ma and Pa), Uncle Jake and Aunt Allie, Aunt Maddog, and they got to see their Aunt Shannon and Wilbur-Cuz again! It was fun watching them get used to the two huge dogs. They were right at home at the Crazy Lalla house!

Saturday morning I went to Holly's (Andrew's cousin) baby shower for little Hadley. The decorations were so pretty, and Hadley sure has a lot of people who love her already... as you can see by the mountain of presents! So many precious little baby things... and doesn't the mom-to-be look great?! Seriously... she looks the same except for the basketball under her dress!

PePaw babysat the pups while I was gone, and when I got home, Wilbur-Cuz was ready to teach them how to play tug-of war. Penny caught on quick, especially once Wilbur realized that he had to switch from "Big-Dog" gear to "Puppy" gear. (She got dragged a couple of times, but she is a tough little cookie.) Wilbur learned to be careful, he loves his baby cousins.

Copper couldn't let Penny have all the fun!

Copper tuckered out quick, and needed to take a quick nap on Aunt Shannon's lap. Maddie gave him a little smooch... I like to think she is telling him her secret to being the best dog in the world.

Here is sweet Maddog in her very favorite spot...
snoozing under Ma's lounge while she and Susan lay in the sunshine.

Later that night, I took the pups to meet Andrew's family at a birthday dinner for Dennis. They went wild for about 30 minutes, but then the day caught up with them...

Sunday morning, they had to have just one more round of Tug-of-War before their Wilbur-Cuz went home. They sure do love that big brown bear!

Penny was absolutely pooped Sunday night when we got home.
They slept the whole carride home (which, unfortunately, took 3 hours rather than 2), played for about an hour, ate dinner, and then came in to play with their Daddio and promptly passed out. They'll toughen up... this weekend is going to be another wild one with the Lalla's!

Princess Maddie (2006)
My homecoming crown looks waaay better on her! She's a true queen!
Unfortunately, we found out yesterday that there is nothing we can do for our sweet Maddie girl except love her and spoil her for the rest of our time with her. (That won't be hard to do!) We are heartbroken knowing that we only have 2 months at the most, and we have to watch her get weaker and weaker... but we will truly cherish the time we have left. My poor Ma is just absolutely heartbroken, especially since it hasn't been too long since Cherokee passed. Maddie is her baby girl, our Sister-dog, and it is so surreal that she will not live to see her 10th birthday. I just hope that we can keep her out of pain. She is going to be smothered with so much love! And you better believe she will be allowed on the furniture with us, now! I wish we were closer to home so I could see her every day.

I have such precious memories of sneaking her upstairs (there was a time when she wasn't supposed to go up there) to sleep in my room. That eventually turned into her having a bed next to mine! The night before I would leave to go back to college, I would let her squeeze onto my twin-sized bed with me.

My sister was in her first year at college when we got Maddie, and when she came home and saw her for the first time, Maddie peed on her shoes! Hahaha.

I could go on and on, but I should save that for another post when I can add her sweet puppy pictures... mohawk and all.

What a dog.

I love you, Maddie.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Prayers for Sweet Maddie Girl

In August of 1999, a sweet little pup with a mohawk was born. A couple of months later, that sweet little pup came home to the Lalla house, and became known as Maddie "Maddog" Lalla. She is my sister-dog, a dog that has grown up to be the most loyal, well-mannered adorable dog in the world... and a true part of our family. We just found out that Maddie has a large mass on the back of her tongue, and 90% of the time these masses are malignant. For cost and travel reasons, chemotherapy and radiation are not possible. Also, the mass cannot be removed without removing her whole tongue. Maddie's vet is attending a conference next week, and he plans to bring Maddie's records and discuss options with his colleagues. There is a shot treatment that is in the testing phase that he may be able to acquire for her. At this point we are asking for your prayers and high hopes that all will work out and Maddie will be with us for many more years. Here are some pictures of Maddie and her family throughout the past couple of years... I wish I had her puppy pictures so you could see that mohawk!

Maddie and me... Easter 2004

Maddie packing herself to come with me to college, 2005

Maddie and Shannon looking for the kitty- 2005

Maddie and her treat trick

Sleeping on her cozy bed

Maddie and me- Wedding Day 10/4/08

Maddie with her wedding bows
(she had those suckers rubbed off by the ceremony!)

Maddie giving me a wedding day hug

Dan escorting my Ma and Maddie

Our whole family

We love you so much, Maddie Girl!!! Stay strong!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

One Little, Two Little, Fun-Loving Ray Pups!

Copper and Penny are adjusting very well to life at the Ray House! We are head-over-heels in love with these little rascals, and although I know waiting was the right choice, I don't know how we waited so long to bring two little sweethearts into our lives! I've been home sick with the flu for the past couple of days (made it to work this morning, though), so I dragged my feverish self and the two pups down to Perry, Georgia for their first visit to the vet (well, my first visit- they'd been there before with the Animal Shelter folks!) on Monday. As it turns out, Copper is almost 15 weeks old and weighs 14 pounds, and Penny is 10 weeks old and weighs 11 pounds! They have to go back in 3 weeks for their next round of shots, and I can't wait to see how much they've grown! Copper suffered a little bit of seperation anxiety when his Penny was up on the table, but recovered quickly when they reunited on the ground. He was quickly over his shots with a sweet kiss and tackle from his little sister. Penny was very well-mannered and only cried a bit when her microchip was put in. They did so well in the car, both falling asleep as soon as the car started moving, and stayed asleep the 30 minutes there and 30 minutes back. (Once they get through with their shots and get fixed, we will be using a vet up the road from us... they had been to this vet while staying at the shelter, so if we finish everything up with them, we pay much less!) Here's a peek at what their first few days have been like (I'll be sure to post more pictures soon... especially ones of them "walking themselves".)

Wrestling buddies... Copper is pinning Penny as much as he can before she outgrows him!

Sleeping buddies... they love to snuggle.

Kitty Bug wondering what in the world we were thinking getting TWO monsters! (Luckily she's realized she still rules the inside of the house for most of the day.)

Playing Hide and Seek with the blanket... this picture does not do it justice- real life is high speed and hilarious!

Chasing each other under the futon in the sunroom... I wish I could get a better picture of this, too! You would just crack up at Copper and Penny's "game" faces!

Expect lots of puppy updates... I'm a proud Momma!
(P.S. My first full day away from the pups, and I've only had to look at their picture oh, 200 times or so.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Welcome to the Family!

Yesterday, Andrew and I became proud parents! We decided to take a look around at the PetSmart adoption day to see what we could find... and of course we found 2 precious pups we just couldn't live without!

Meet Copper:
Copper is a male Australian Shepherd and Spitz mix who will probably grow to about 50 lbs. He is really laid-back, loves to play hard then nap hard (what puppy doesn't?), and immediately fell in love with his new sister.

Meet Penny:
Penny is a German Shepherd mix who will grow to be about 70-80 lbs. Her Mom was also up for adoption, and was a gorgeous full-bred German Shepherd. Penny is very hyper-active (I don't have a still picture of her!) and loves as much attention as she can get... she gets a lot from us, but the most from her brother.

It didn't take long for them to fall in love with each other! (And fall asleep!)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Walk with Kitty Bug

The weather has been gorgeous the past couple of days, so I've been taking Kitty Bug outside to enjoy the yard. She's a little skittish about the outdoors (and leashes), but as Spring comes, she is treating all of the windows as her personal HDTVs... so I thought she needed to experience the action.

The walks all start the same way:
Skittish Kitty Bug creeping down the stoop to the garden.

She then finds a cozy spot to sniff the air and watch what I'm doing.

But then something catches her attention.
(Today, it was a squirrel.)

And she'll get brave and creep out of the garden and onto the walkway.

Crossing the walkway brings the reward of (very little) grass!

Kitty Bug wonders what in the world her Momma is doing
aiming that thing at her all the time.

And then decides to model a little bit.

She tried to trick me into thinking she was ready to go inside, but just after this walked all the way down the walkway!

To the base of our Bradford pear, which she tried to climb...


After that adventure, it was time to go back inside!
(Seriously, getting a cat on a leash out of a tree is exhausting. Momma needed 5 minutes alone on the porch swing to recover from that!)

Happy 21st Birthday, Mara!

This weekend, we went down to Statesboro and Savannah to celebrate Mara's (Andrew's oldest little sister) 21st birthday! We had a blast the entire weekend, but for some reason I only pulled my camera out at one point... I've got to get better at that (or get a better camera!). We got to Statesboro on Saturday night and hung out for a little bit before heading out to the bars with the birthday girl. It was a great time and I wish I had remembered my camera because there was some funny stuff going on... our last stop had us finishing off a Bachelorette party cake which was SO YUM! Anyway, Saturday morning (or afternoon) we crawled out of bed and headed down to Savannah. The weather was perfect and (aside from getting bird-pooped on! that bird is lucky it missed my drink and got me instead!) it was a great day! We wandered up and down River Street for a while (with pit-stops at various bars), stopped and ate at Tubby's Tavern, walked some more (more pit-stops), and then settled in at Tubby's Tavern on the balcony overlooking the river. Great view, great company, who could ask for more?

The Birthday Girl!

The Ray Kids... Anna, Mara and Andrew

The Ray Kids plus one

The Ray Family plus Natali, Mara and Anna's Roommate

Mara with her Mom and Dad

Andrew and me

Birthday shot

Happy 21st Birthday, Mara! We had a wonderful time celebrating with you!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Not ANOTHER one!

My friend Little (Morgan) is going through one of those times when everyone around her is pregnant (not me, though!), and it is causing her to get the Baby Bug like no one would believe. Earlier this week, she sent me an email about another friend who just found out she is pregnant, and said, "I swear, if one more person gets pregnant, I am going to SCREAM." I wanted to help her think positively about not being knocked up (which is so hard... babies are precious!), so I came up with a list of reasons for her to NOT get pregnant (and advised her to print it out and keep it on her at all times, for stressful moments like the one above!):
  • Gas, diarrhea, nauseousness, constipation... and that's without you being pregnant! Imagine those symptoms intensified 100 times and add hemorrhoids to the mix.
  • Byebye body... you will never look presentable in a bathing suit again, unless you strike it rich and hire J. Lo's trainer. You are totally fit and fab (don't you argue with me) in your early 20s, and there is no reason to toss that beach bod down the toilet.
  • Everybody's doing it, which means you won't get all of the excitement and attention! Wait until everyone births their babies and those suckers hit the terrible twos, then everybody will be excited to see a newborn sweetheart!
  • Everybody's doing it, which means if you do it, you'll be conforming! Come on, now... leave the peer pressure to the school kids.
  • Money doesn't grow on trees, and babies can't be born all-expenses paid. Vacation? Forget about it. A night out on the town? Nope, spent that on diapers. "Oh, hey here's an extra $100! I can spend it on... baby food, baby doctor bills, diapers, baby clothes, baby educational toys, baby daycare since I have to work to buy diapers! Crap, now I'm in debt again!" Nope, not until Larry is making the big bucks. Think of all current money arguments... those will at least triple, and may cause stress hemorrhoids. Nope- those don't go away right when the baby is born!
  • You might as well skip going to El Sombrero (our fave Mexican restaurant) for 9 months plus however long you breastfeed... it's not worth it without Woo-Woos.
  • Are you prepared to be Larry's designated driver for 9+ months?
  • Is Larry ready for a baby? Seriously, one spouse not being ready could ruin the rest of your lives. I can see it now, "The baby's crying, honey." "Dammit, woman! I'm playing Halo!" Hahaha... that would totally be Andrew if we weren't on the 5-year/maybe-before-we're-30 plan.
  • Did I mention gas, diarrhea, nauseousness, constipation and... hemorrhoids?!?!?!
  • Sure, babies are all fun and games when they are in a good mood, but what you don't hear about is the other 95% of the time when they are fussy, crying, cholic, pooping, barfing and SCREAMING. Usually between the hours of 10pm and 5am, or any other time you are trying to sleep.
  • Don't you love taking naps? And sleeping through the night? Sleeping through the night ends as soon you get pregnant, unless you sleep in diapers. And it lasts through the first year or so of baby's life (see above bullet point).
  • Lack of sleep causes erratic behavior... I would hate to see you try to talk to your neighbors before you realize your pants did not make it on before you walked out the door.
  • One word: Ramsey (their only child... I mean, pup). I don't think he'll be able to share the attention until he is a little older. Or else you'll have to put him in diapers, too, to save what is left of your sanity and your floors.
  • If you wait a couple of years, the economy will be better and you'll get better gifts at your baby shower!
  • I've never known you to back off of a plan... if you get knocked up, you'll have completely messed up your 5-year plan. And that 5-year plan will be so disappointed in you!
  • And last, but not least, think of your poor, lonely, NOT pregnant friend who is taking the time to write this perfectly appropriate and true anti-pregnancy list...

So, Little, I hope it keeps you on track! But if you "fall off the wagon," I'm not going to lie, I'll be SO EXCITED! :)

Monday, March 2, 2009

A little slice of meatball heaven...

Late last week, Andrew and I tried out Trisha's oh-so-tasty chicken tacos she was nice enough to share on her blog. Seriously, they were outrageously good. We have never ventured into the chicken taco territory... chicken fajitas- now that's a walk in the park! But shredded chicken tacos... man, it was worth the two-fork fighting!!! I think we are done with chicken fajitas for a while now, tacos are so hot right now!

So I've spent the weekend trying to decide which recipe to share, knowing I wanted to do it this Monday night before the week got too hectic. But, when my day turned into... ugh... one of those days, I wanted nothing more than to be crowded around the dining room table at my Ma and Pa's house with a plate piled high with her famous spaghetti and meatballs. So then it hit me- I will share the most comforting recipe in the world! My Ma's Meatballs! Also known as, MMM! (Disclaimer: part of what makes My Ma's Meatballs so incredibly tender and delicious is her absolutely-perfect-cook-all-day-in-the-crockpot-and-torture-your-senses-until-you-finally-get-to-put-it-in-your-mouth spaghetti sauce, which I have not received the appropriate cooking skills for yet. I attempt it on rare occasions, and this was definitely not the time, especially since I thought of this at 3pm... at which point the sauce would have been cooking about 7 hours. But, I digress.)

The great thing about MMM! is that they really are quick and easy to make. You can double the batch and freeze half to pull out and toss in the oven on a rushed night!

Here is what you need:

  • 1 lb. ground beef (or half beef, half pork; tonight I doubled the batch and tried out half lean beef and half ground turkey for Andrew's diet... they turned out just as tasty!)
  • 1/4 c. bread crumbs (Italian seasoned ones are perfect!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbs. parsley
  • 1 tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 tbs. pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Plop all of the ingredients in a big bowl and start mixing! The best thing about this recipe is that you can change the spices to your preference. I always add in some oregano and a little bit of rosemary. I also prefer some garlic salt to take place of half the garlic powder.

(Another Disclaimer (or two): Sorry about the blurry pictures! I have had an incredibly awesome dream camera on my wish list for about 2 years now... maybe next Christmas. Also, I was so excited to make MMM! that I forgot to take a pre-mixing picture. I started whipping away at that bowl, and suddenly stopped and ran for the camera. Poor Andrew just shook his head when he realized- he's not quite as into this blog thing yet!)

Here is all the goodness getting mixed up!

Next you have to get in there with your hands... I promise it is the only way to get it mixed perfectly!

Next, start rolling the balls and place them on your PAM'd cookie sheet.
(These aren't monster meatballs, I was using a small cookie sheet, I swear!)

Now tell your Hubby to get that warm water running because your hands will be freezing!

Put those pups in your preheated-to-400-degrees oven and set the timer for 20 minutes!
(If you make very fat meatballs, you may need to cook them longer. I usually make mine a smidge bigger than golf balls... now do you see how small my cookie sheet really was?)

When they come out, there will be a layer of grease around the bottoms. I scrape this off with the spatula before plopping them in the sauce or on my plate!
(Please ignore the empty spot... we had to test them to make sure they were ready for a picture!)

Eat them up! I like a couple in the sauce and a couple naked.

So, there you have it! I just have to warn you... you will not be able to stop eating them and you WILL fight your husband for the last one. And you will wind up with your feet propped up next to the computer reaching over your food-baby belly to get to the keyboard. Just sayin'.

If you try them, let me know what you think! Will you add any of your own special spices?