One-Year Anniversary

It’s official.. we have been blogging here at And Foster Makes Five for a full year! Can you believe it? Georgia has become such an integral part of our lives, that it is difficult to remember what life was like before her. I love to read back to old posts, and the memories come flooding back. Like when we first met her, finding her flaw, and her best trait. Then there was the time we discovered her talents as a housewife, her beauty marks, and her Halloween costume. Ohh, and what about the time we shared everything we were thankful for? Some might say that was the beginning of the end… Of course, there is the letter to Tonk, one of my favorites. Then we begin the journey into the shadows, when we have our first meet and greet, and that result.  I begged Santa for a home for our girl (he is a trickster, that guy), and showcased the bond I share with her. And what about our friend Charlie, do you remember him?! We helped to save him from NYC death row! As the new year rolled in, we shared the Top 10 Reasons to adopt Georgia, and our tips and tricks for integrating a new dog into your home. Then we talked about The Vow that we as adopters make to our pets… we should have known then that it was all over! And what about the day we finally integrated all of the pups into the house! That was cause for celebration. Finally, by the end of February, after lots of back and forth discussion, we’d done it… we adopted our girl!

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Of course, those are only a few of the highlights. What is your favorite post? Do you like the fun, photo-filled adventures, or do you come here to hear advice and insight that we may share on dog ownership? Maybe you like to hear our perspectives on rescuing, overpopulation and other animal welfare issues, or instead want to know about the latest trends in pet products. Or maybe it’s the contests you are here for. Perhaps you are more interested in daily updates, or instead our philosophical ponderings (ha!) or the times we stray off subject… I want to know what brought you here, what brings you back, and what you look forward to!

Thanks to Sweeter Side Mom for the photo shoot!

Thanks to Sweeter Side Mom for the photo shoot!

In this past year, we have officially become a 3 dog household. We have focused on training and thereby improved communication with our dogs (and each other!) We have celebrated our first anniversary as a married couple. I have tried on a few different job hats, and J. has excelled in his field. We have traveled, laughed, learned, cried, hurt, and healed. We have celebrated and sympathized. We have saved and spent. We have grown and regressed. We have met new people and new animals… sometimes even at the same time! We have tried to help our communities to become better places, in the little ways that matter to us individually. Mostly, we have supported one another in getting one step closer to the people we strive to become.

Genevieve Stewart Photography

Genevieve Stewart Photography

In the past year, our blog has had over 21,000 views and 987 comments. Our most popular post was in August, and received 545 views. The most astounding fact? We have readers in over SEVENTY-FOUR countries! The top ‘clicks’ on our blog (meaning, the links that our readers clicked on which took them outside of our blog) go to some of our favorite bloggers: Temporary Home, Permanent Love (our BBF, no surprise there!) and Peace, Love, & Fostering (that girl is wise beyond her years, and always has something insightful to share.) Conversely, aside from facebook and google, our readers most often found us via our friends at Two Kitties, One Pittie and Pitlandia (thanks, guys!). We have made 164 posts and generated just under 200 followers. Our most regular commenter was our friend Emily from Adventures of a Dog Mom (she is just the sweetest!).

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Thank you to all of you who have made us feel so welcomed over the past year. I have a lot of goals in mind, personally, professionally, creatively, and in my many diverse relationships. The only constant is that in each of my endeavors, I look forward to growth and change. This is a big step for me! As someone who embraces organization and consistency, I have a difficult time appreciating where I am and enjoying the journey. Nevertheless, I cannot wait to see what the next year has in store for all of us, and more than that, I feel so grateful to have so many friends and loved ones along for the ride. If you know me in real life, you know that I am not a big hugger, but I am all about words of affirmation. So I am not afraid to say that I truly love you all and this space we have created together. I hope I am the first person you come to if you need some words of advice, a helping hand, or someone to cheer for you on your way to victory, because that is exactly what all of you have done for me.

 

LOTS and lots of love, and a little bit of slobbery kisses… (from the dogs, of course!)

Stephanie

(and Jonathan, Tonka, Gaige, Georgia, and even little Bella!)

And Foster Makes Five

 

“The Best Gift Ever”

You may remember that during our fundraiser, we introduced our readers to the genius and adorable-ness (what? This is my blog… I can make up words if I want!) that is Yellow Brick Home. If not, you can check out the post here.

Yellow Brick Home is a dynamic duo of a husband and wife team. Kim is the artist behind these masterpieces, that feature the mugs of YOUR precious pets. That’s right… utilizing photos of your fur-children, along with detailed descriptions of their personalities and past-times, she creates one-of-a-kind works of art to encapsulate all that you know and love about your pet. Okay, they aren’t exactly cuddly and squeezable, as they are painted on wooden blocks… but seriously people, we are talking minute attention to detail and incredibly intricate work! Painted with whimsical creativity and bright, bold backgrounds, Kim has a knack for capturing the adorable antics that set our pets out from the rest of the pack. Don’t believe me? See what I mean… and try to spot some of your blogging favorites!

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We… well, I… have been wanting to commission some portraits of our pups for quite some time now. Of course, I was strategically hoping to find a way for this to be a ‘gift’ as well; you know, a two dogs, one bone kinda thing. What better time than Foster Dad’s birthday?!

DSC_0017For budgeting reasons, we chose the smallest size, but you really can’t go wrong with any choice! (They are available in 4×4, 6×6, or 8×8 blocks) We can’t wait to add more to our collection!

This gift was a 100% surprise for Foster Dad… which, if you know me in real life, is so rare. I can’t lie, can’t tell a fib, and certainly can’t resist spoiling a good surprise! I L-O-V-E selecting gifts, about 10x more than I love receiving them. So sometimes the anticipation of giving that perfect gift is just TOO MUCH for me to bare, and I end up letting the dog out of the crate, so to speak. But this time, it was just too good… I may have dropped some hints here and there, but it is safe to say that Foster Dad was legitimately surprised! (Don’t mind the fact that I made him open all of his presents on Friday night, when his birthday wasn’t actually until Monday… that’s just what I like to call stretching out the celebration, people!) He may have even shed a tear or two, but don’t tell him I told you that! Gaige is his little baby, after all.

Of course, what portrait of Gaige would be complete without her big red ball?

I think it’s safe to say that Gaige approves…

Of course, what portrait of Gaige would be complete without her big red ball? And if you look closely, you will even notice the slight white roaning across her back. It’s our girl!

I am telling you… run, don’t walk, over to The Pet Shop to place your order. You will be so glad that you did!

Thank you so so much, Kim! We just adore your work. This will be a treasured keepsake for years to come… J already told me that it is his ‘fire thing’. (You know, the one thing you’d grab if there was a fire and all living beings had been safely removed from the home. How special!) Did I mention that Kim had this to us well BEFORE the estimated delivery date? I told you she was the best…

To You

It is no secret to my friends that I am a people watcher by nature. Take me to a crowded mall or busy street, and I could sit in quiet contentment for hours, lost in my own head. This act of observation never comes from a place of judgement, but rather from a place of curiosity. I watch people because they fascinate me. We are full of layers, of emotions and dreams and thoughts, tucked just beneath the surface; seemingly within reach, but ever so slightly unattainable. I am always taking notes on the little things that make others stand out to me – but most of all, I am interested in their passions, those things that set them apart, and set them on fire. I search to see the good in people, and when possible, I like to share my friendly observations with them. You deserve to appreciate your humor as it lifts up those around you, your quiet depth of spirit, or your passion as it inspires others.

I make an effort, at least once each day, to sit silently and watch the world around me. At my age, I am often surrounded by 20-something year olds, bright young things who are seizing the world, brash and loud and impatient. While there is something to be admired in their voracity and drive, it seems that only those who have garnered wisdom from their elevated years, are able to sit next to one another in quiet, and not feel the need to find words to soften the silences. As much as I crave the companionship of meaningful conversation with those that equal me in depth, I believe that there must be a balance in life. For me, silence is pure and divine. It draws people together as much as speech, because only those who are truly comfortable with each other can sit easily together without words.

I turn to words and writing, to organize my thoughts and the questions that seem to haunt my life. The pursuit of the perfect words to eloquently and concisely sum up my perspective is, to me, a divine process. I love to begin with a jumble of thoughts, and once I’ve arrived at the perfect combination of words, I end with a bit of ‘poetry’ on paper. Yet, amazingly enough, there are days. Days when I just cannot find my words. Days of silence, and of quiet contemplation. They happen for a variety of reasons, but on those days, I prefer to draw inspiration from the words of people, times, and hearts that move me. Collecting quotes is a part of who I am.

This is one reason that I have grown to so love blogging. I feel inspiration and support from this community of people, brought together by interests shared or diverse, the common thread of writing and sharing and caring tying us all together. If I am experiencing something that I cannot seem to put into words, someone somewhere out there in the blogging world probably already has. Thank you all for what you do for me, and for the world around you. I feel parts of myself coming alive more and more each day, as we reach to discover more about ourselves, all the while pushing those around us to deeper levels of self-discovery and understanding. Thanks, friends. I heart you in big ways!

Smells like Thanksgiving…

When the Foster Gods giveth, they giveth in bounty!

1. Today, we are thankful for not just one, but TWO families who are interested in Georgia. 🙂 NOT that we are surprised, but it is great to realize that other people are seeing what we see in our lovebug.

2. We are thankful for foster siblings that are so willing to share; their toys, their beds & couches, their treats, and their time with mama. You two are the best foster siblings we could have asked for. Tonka, ever the kind & gracious gentleman, and Gaige, a little socially awkward, but always ready to wrestle and play. You are wonderful examples to Miss Georgia, and have welcomed her beautifully into our family. We would never have been able to help her without your enthusiastic cooperation. She is so lucky to have you both.

3. We give thanks for our Cat that Thinks She’s a Dog, Bella. From eating my slippers, to playing with tennis balls, and from sleeping sprawled out on the floor, to wrestling with Gaige… we can’t blame you for your weirdness in thinking you’re a dog. In fact, we love it. In a family that likes cats, but never considered ourselves to be ‘cat people,’ you fit right in. I guess we are cat-dog people, instead.

Didn’t believe me?

4. Every day, I count my blessings for a foster dad that loves our furries almost just as much as I do. No matter what crazy schemes I come up with, you are always ready; not just to cheer me on from the sidelines, but to jump right in and help me reach my goals and dreams. You came into this as green as can be, and now I catch you giving me advice. It warms my heart that you put so much effort into making all of our aminals productive members of society. Whether you are pooper-scooping, working on obedience (the dogs’, not your own!), bragging to strangers about our ‘kids,’ or cuddling with one of the many in our big bed, you can’t hide your soft side… and I love you all the more for that!

5. In the wake of the hurricane, it is easy to remind ourselves of our many gifts and blessings. We are SO thankful for a warm, dry home, with working electricity, clean water, plenty of nourishing food, and even some of life’s extras (like Tempurpedic dog beds, big fields for running, and new squeaky toys). It breaks our hearts to see all of the beings, both two and four-legged, that are going without. Worse still, are the dogs and cats on euthanasia lists by the HUNDREDS due to the aftermath of the storm. If you can give, in ways of time, physical donations, or monetary gifts, please do not hesitate. It will save lives.

6. When counting our blessings, we could never forget our wonderful rescue organization, LCPO. They stand by us through everything from adoption questions to health issues and training techniques. You brought us into this journey, and have stood by us every step of the way. We are so thankful to have found a strong organization, run by individuals that are truly caring and endlessly dedicated. This goes out to Julee, Casey, Kaelyn, Christine, Kate, & Patti, just to name a few! If you are interested in adopting a pittie, but for some crazy reason don’t think Georgia is the right fit for you, please check out LCPO’s other adopta-bulls.

7. The most surprising, or at least the most unexpected, thank you, goes out to our blogging family. Really, when I started this journey, I thought that my only reader would be my mom (actually, I’m not sure that she even reads this regularly). However, we have been welcomed by a community of people who have been in our shoes. The guidance and support you all have offered us is so refreshing and inspiring. I am so glad we are all in this together!

8. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, my most heartfelt thanks goes to Georgia. You have been the sweetest, easiest pooch we could have asked for in a foster. Really, you’ve spoiled us. We were prepared to take on stained carpets, chewed shoes, and terrible manners… the worst you’ve ever offered were enthusiastic greetings and hundreds thousands millions of kisses. We have enjoyed every step of this journey with you, and while we have tried our best to make you even more adoptable than you already were, we want you to know that we are the lucky ones in this relationship. You have changed us so much as individuals and as a family. I had myself convinced that I would not get too attached, that this giving up process would be an easy one… but even thinking about a morning without your kind eyes, warm kisses, or soft tummy, makes me teary-eyed. You are such a special girl, and you are going to continue to do special things in the lives of the family who is lucky enough to end up with you.

Our cuddle bug