Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The House Hunt Begins

I'm one of those people that says "If this job falls through, maybe I'll become a Realtor" because I love looking at places. Really, I'm that friend that goes on apartment showings when you have to move in the dead of winter and I'm the friend that holds your hand as we cross the threshold into the first of many potential first homes. So when the Baconator and I first started talking about moving over four months ago, I was super stoked. Initially it was a discussion about renting a schmancy and updated two bedroom downtown in the Loop. It was only January, but I set out looking at apartments for our April move. That's how excited I was.

Since we have lived in our current one bedroom since I was entry level and he was a barista, we have a super low rent to pay, but we are missing a lot of things that married couples have... Like a dishwasher... And a legit closet. This also meant that moving to walking distance from our offices into a two bedroom with all the modern amenities would result in a rent DOUBLE our current place. Gulp. That's a big deal.

So one Sunday while watching an HGTV marathon, I turned to him and brought up the logistics of buying out own place. I think it went something like this:
Me: Nowadays, do we really need 20% down to buy a place?
Baconator: I don't think it's a requirement, but he more you put down, the smaller your payments.
Me: So we could theoretically buy a place now?
Baconator: We'd need to run the numbers, but we could.
Me: Then I think we should buy a place instead of using all that money to pay someone else's mortgage.
Baconator: WHAT?!?

The poor guy was caught totally off guard. I've been flirting with the idea of moving abroad as long as I can remember so he had shelved the idea of buying a place for the next few years. I don't really know what made me look seriously at the prospect of being homeowners but something tells me that getting a dog was a big factor.

No, I'm not some crazy person that was over come by the urge to get a dog so badly that I succumbed and through all caution to the wind. It's quite the opposite, actually. We have put lots of things on hold in case we get the chance to move abroad from little things like our registry to big things like adopting a dog, but it was the dog adoption that really made me realize how many things that we were putting aside for the "just in case."

So with the conversation started, I jumped head first into the online world of home buying. Suddenly I had accounts on Trulia, Zillow, Red Fin and a handful of other listing sites. By the time we actually met with a prospective realtor, we'd already been to four open houses, had a list of favorites a mile long and had talked ourselves out of the 3 bedroom dream into a 2 bedroom reality. Meanwhile, the Baconator was busy working numbers in Excel to calculate our max budget, how assessments & taxes might impact our lifestyle and that wiley mortgage insurance that is required for loans without 20% down.

I emailed 3-4 different realtors who had been recommended to us and we ended up having sit downs with two of them before deciding that Alley's straight forward personality and easy going, non-salesy style was what we needed. We met with a mortgage broker to get pre-approved then we were set up for MLS searches. Now I get a daily email from the system begging me to stop working and peruse through potential homes... And sometimes those emails win.

Our Very First Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sweet Sixteen

It's hard to believe that we've already had Leia for two whole weeks! I swear that she's already gained at least 5 pounds and must be a foot taller than when we first brought her home. The last couple of weeks have been pretty awesome - really, truly, awesome.

via Instagram
via Instagram
Leia is a puppy who likes to play at 3 minute intervals every hour or so and spends pretty much all other times asleep.  She doesn't fetch; she doesn't get excited by a Kong stuffed with treats; she could take or leave a rawhide;  she doesn't gnaw on her nylabones (in fact, she doesn't chew on anything that she isn't supposed to); and she's not so fond of walks.  She's one strange little puppy.

via Instagram
via Instragram
These past two weeks have had their fair share of "OMG, dog poop in the bathroom!" and "Ugh, she peed as I was putting the leash on her," but after nearly half a bottle of Nature's Miracle, our potty training is doing pretty well. It's been hard finding a balance of the right number of walks, when to put her to bed, when to set my alarm for her first walk of the day, but we're getting there slowly but surely. Not gonna lie, there has been a lot of espresso in my life lately to combat my newfound early mornings.

Thankfully, the cats aren't reacting terribly to their new sister and after a night of shunning us completely are back to sleeping with us at night and are slowly getting to be more comfortable with Leia. Of course, we aren't at snuggling besties yet, but it's only been two weeks. For now, there's lots of hissing from under the bed, swats from the bench in the kitchen and bouts of growling from the bed, but Leia takes it all in stride and only has a couple scratches to show for it. Just watching her with the cats you can tell that she came from a home with cats; they only hold her attention for a few minutes at a time, and she has never snapped back at them. Mostly, she reacts to their attitude with extra excitement, a couple of barks, and that trademark pitbull frog leg stretch.

via Instagram
via Instagram
Sixteen snuggly days later, we could not be more happy to have brought our little pittie princess home. She is just about perfect for us and we can't wait to see what hijinks she comes up with as she gets bigger.

via Instagram
Star Wars Collar via FauxPaws on Etsy / Felt flower so that folks don't think she's a boy via me

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Puppy Posies

I've been reading Two Pitties in the City since we ran into them and their foster, Levi, during our wedding last September. Since then I've been inspired to go out and become involved in a local shelter, fell in love with the pit bull breed, adopted our own pittie and have pined for a delightful flower for her collar, just like their foster, Bessie, sported throughout the winter.

Moments after adopting Leia, I was online checking out some of the great flower options available on Etsy:

From Little Blue Feather
From Doodle Pup Designs
From Bow Wow Couture
From Pecan Pie Puppies

From BonChien

But you know what I realized? I'm pretty darn crafty and spending $10-$15 per flower, so if I want to swap them out, I could spend a small fortune on flowers.  Instead, I scoured the internet and found a bevy of tutorials! 

I'm pretty proud of the way these turned out - what do you think?

Tutorial: I Am Mommy
Tutorial: Keeping Life Creative

Tutorial: See Vanessa Craft

Tutorial: Craft Snob

Tutorial: Creations by Kara
She looks pretty lovely, right?  (And not like a boy dog!!)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

After spending the evening with dear, sweet, goofy, snorting Jonas, we drove down to Matteson, IL the next day to meet our last few candidates for our new puppy. We took the day off for the excursion and started our day  with cinnamon rolls at Ann Sather's (a Chicago tradition) then were off to Wicker Park for a wander around. After spending a couple hours enjoying the beautiful weather in our future neighborhood, we settled into the car and were off for the 'burbs.

The Baconator's mom had come up with a kennel, a jumbo dog pillow, a food and water bowl and (of course!) lots of doggy treats and I'd ordered a whole host of things from Amazon, so by the time we got to the Petsmart where we were meeting the pups, we only had a short list of things left to get. We were about 20 minutes early, so we filled our cart with a leash, a collar, a harness, more chewables, more treats, some grooming accouterments, and a couple bags of food. A few minutes before 7:30, we saw a couple of pittie puppies that looked awfully familiar and they were from It's a Pittie and they were there for us!

We met a brother and sister who were being fostered together. The brother was really adorable, but he was due to the doctor because of a lump on his head (and in all honesty, if we decided on a boy, my heart had already been handed off to Mr. Jonas). Instead, we turned our attention to his beautiful white snouted sister. She had the most amazing wrinkles across her face and that mug of hers was so stinkin' cute I couldn't handle it. The thing was, she didn't seem that interested in us; in fact, she was more interested in everything but us - her brother, the floor, the aisles of food and goodies, her foster parents, the other dogs in the store, the other customers in the store. But she still had this sweetness about her that I couldn't ignore and I was really looking for a girl dog.

So we chatted and we waited until her sister (who had been fostered with another family) bounded into the store. Suddenly, this sweet pup that we had been considering for a good ten minutes was a snarling, snapping, barking ball of fur.

Um, What?!?!

We tried let them work it out for a little while puppy-style, but she just wasn't settling down. She took a walk around the store and we got to know the new puppy a little bit. This new pup, Stella, couldn't keep her paws and kisses off us; she was loving and interested in us and not aggressive to any other dog in the store. From a few minutes talking with her foster parents, we learned that they have two adult pitbulls, two cats, and an 18 month old baby; she was already crate trained, was getting to know basic commands like "Sit" and "Come;" and she was great with every animal she came into contact with. Suddenly, this girl was lookin' pretty good - Stella had even settled down a bit in the store and was hanging out with the baby.

We, the Baconator, his mom and I, took a quick chat and knew that the brother and sister combo were out. It was really down to Stella and Jonas, those other two couldn't hold a candle to the goofy pup that came by first and the sweet pup that came in last. We needed to know more about Stella before we could choose Jonas, so we found out more about how she'd been trained - was she food motivated or socially motivates? and found out more about her routine - is she good on a leash? Does she do her business right away or is she a dawdler? In the meantime, Stella was doing her own sales job which was comprised mostly of kisses and belly rubs.

By the end of it, the Baconator looked at me and said, "Well, honey, what do you think?" I looked down at the fawn, white pawed puppy in front of us, and I pulled out my photo of Jonas on my phone, and I said with some trepidation, "I think that we've gotta get Stella." Then that was it, with some paperwork behind us and solemn promises to love her like you'd never believe, not to crop her ears or tail and to get her spayed in the next two weeks (at the rescue's vet), she was ours.

We have a puppy!!! Her momma is a pitbull and her pappa is Darth Vader... oh wait, probably not. But either way, her new name is Leia and the Star Wars puns might never end.

And now for some gratuitous Instagram photos of Leia...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Puppy Reality

Have you ever prepared so much for things that you've convinced yourself that you're totally ready... Only to have your bubble burst the moment you get close to making that thing a reality? Well, tonight was one of those moments. We have been buying doggy toys and water bowls and pet gates and training books, but tonight we met our first "candidate" to be our pup, Jonas. There was this moment when we were downstairs taking a potty break and he was more interested than the local flora than coming back upstairs that it hit me that we are going to be dog owners this weekend. WOW.

I mean, we knew this was coming; we have been preparing for weeks. We submitted an adoption application to It's a Pittie Rescue in March, I had a phone interview, we had our references checked, the folks at the rescue spoke to our land lady, and we had a home check. The fact that we are getting a dog is old news, but actually having a little guy that might be ours really brought it all home.

via Instagram
Meet Jonas. He is a total goofball that's laid back and sweet and adorable and mellow and energetic and curious and full of puppy grunts, snorts and pitbull wiggles. He spent a luxurious two hours with us in our little third floor apartment and while he spent the first few minutes sniffing about, he really spent most of it  sprawled out across our laps and the floor with a rawhide in his mouth. Isn't that what you want in a puppy? He was fascinated by the cats for a few minutes and did the obligatory handful of barks and whines, then he went back to his squeak toy. Watching him so at ease in our humble abode was just so common place like we've had a dog all this time and while the realization that we'll have a dog soon was jarring, it is also so uplifting and exciting.

By the end of this week, well, just 24 short hours away, Jonas or one of his litter mates will be our new pup. And I can't wait!