July 30, 2014

Our Golden Story

Story of a family that loves Golden Retrievers-www.goldenboysandme.com
Billy and I brought our first Golden home during our first year of married life.  Billy never had a dog growing up and he always wanted one.  A big yellow dog. We thought that we would get a yellow Labrador Retriever, but after meeting our friends' Golden, we decided that a Golden Retriever would be the perfect dog for us.   As soon as we purchased our first house, we began the search for a Golden and we found a breeder in NJ.  Our first Golden puppy, Bogey, made us fall in love with the breed.
He was there as we welcomed all three of our baby boys into our family.  All of the dog books told us how wonderful Goldens are with children and Bogey did not disappoint.  He was gentle and fun and always ready for any adventure.
Golden Retriever and toddler sleeping-www.goldenboysandme.com
Kyle and Bogey
When he passed away suddenly at age 8, we were devastated.  We learned the pain that comes along with loving this breed, which is plagued with cancer.  Sadly, death at age 8 isn't really all that rare in Goldens.  However, we decided that our family just didn't feel complete without a dog in it.  So, we set out to bring home another.  Forrest, who is named after Forrest Gump and lovingly called "Gumpy" in our house, joined our family when our youngest boy was just 6 months old.  Our parents thought we were insane.  Three active boys, one of which was an infant, and now a new puppy.  To us, there was no other choice.
Forrest, 8 weeks, and Matty, 6 months
But, Forrest was up for the task.  He didn't complain when he had to spend time in his cage because we had a new crawler and his razor sharp puppy teeth were dangerous for a baby.  He loved these boys something fierce from day one.  They were his pack.
Forrest and Kyle

He has taught our boys about unconditional love and compassion.  He has taught them about responsibility and joy.  
Golden Retriever and boy reading-www.goldenboysandme.com
When Forrest got sick at just five years of age, we couldn't believe we could be saying goodbye to yet another young dog.  The vet told us that he had cancer, hemangiosarcoma, and that he probably wouldn't survive through the night.  His heart was filled with fluid, likely from a ruptured tumor.  They could try to drain the fluid, but chances are, his heart would fill back up.  Despite the high cost, we asked them to drain the fluid.  We came home and tried to be strong for our boys. We all returned to the animal hospital to pick up our Gumpy and bring him home after the procedure.  He survived through the night.  Christmas was 2 weeks away and we were in the middle of renovating our family room.  We took Gumpy everywhere with us.  He came to the stone yard to pick out our hearth.  We snuck him into my mom's condo, that didn't allow dogs, on Christmas.  I cooked him scrambled eggs for breakfast and chicken and rice for dinner.  We spoiled him rotten.  And aside from the part of his fur that they had shaved to drain his heart, you wouldn't know there was a thing wrong with him.  He ran around with the kids.  We spent a large amount of time researching his condition.  We learned that there was a small chance that this fluid build-up could be idiopathic (no known cause) rather than cancerous.  As he got stronger each day, we prayed that would be the case.  We welcomed Keeper, another Golden, into our family.  Her name represents what we hoped she would be for our family if we lost Forrest, a keeper of our hearts.  
Golden Retriever puppy and adult Golden-www.goldenboysandme.com

Boy and Golden Retrievers in snowy woods-www.goldenboysandme.com
We celebrated Forrest's 8th birthday this past year.  His heart has filled with fluid twice more.  Both times, we recognized the symptoms (lack of appetite and white gums) immediately and brought him in to have the fluid drained.  We have consulted with a heart surgeon who was willing to do surgery to remove the sac that surrounds Forrest's heart, but he told us that there was a 50/50 chance the surgery wouldn't help at all, and in fact the surgery and recovery would be very tough on him.  We were so grateful to have found such a compassionate vet who wasn't just concerned with making money from a very expensive surgery.  We opted not to have the surgery and to continue being vigilant about his health.
We never leave Gumpy to go on vacation.  Billy and I know him so well that we can spot when something might be wrong right away and get him to the animal hospital to get checked out.  We are fortunate that he can come away to Upstate NY with us.  Our kids understand this and, although they might be missing out on that trip to Disney, they are learning what it is to be responsible pet owners and what is is to put another's needs first.  They all agree that Forrest is worth it.
While we were in Upstate NY this summer, we had to take Forrest to a local vet for an ear infection.  When the vet commented on what a healthy dog he is, Billy told him our story.  He was amazed at all Forrest had been through.  We were reminded, yet again, how lucky we are.   

I know we are a bit extreme about our dogs.  We really do consider them our 4th and 5th kids. Goldens (and lots of other types of dogs, purebred or not) just have a way of getting into your heart. We have learned a lot about the breed over the years.  If you have any questions about Goldens, please feel free to e-mail me and I would be happy to tell you more.

July 24, 2014

Vermont

I think I was in love with Vermont before I ever set foot in the state.  I have always been attracted to all things New England-y and so Vermont was included in that.  When I found out there was a ferry to Vermont less than 1/2 hour from our Upstate house, I had to go.  Vermont never disappoints.  We have visited every year since, usually in both summer and fall.
It's not surprising that our oldest boy, a Junior in high school this year, is considering a couple of schools in Vermont for college.  We decided to take a ride to them just to get a feel for the areas they are in.  We had to drive right past the Ben & Jerry's factory so we figured we would finally stop and take in this quintessential Vermont tourist destination.
Taking pictures wasn't allowed on the tour, and we visited on a Sunday so they weren't actually making ice cream that day.  We were able to see onto the floor where they make the ice cream and watch a video that showed the process.  They also showed a quick video of Ben & Jerry's story at the beginning of the tour.  All in all, it was quick and interesting.  Plus, they give you a free sample of the flavor of the day.  Our sample was "Milk & Cookies" and though we had never tasted it before, my whole family quickly became fans of this flavor.  We also learned that employees of Ben & Jerry's get to take home 3 pints of ice cream everyday, so now our youngest aspires to work there someday :)
Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory tour-www.goldenboysandme.com
The grounds of the factory are gorgeous and it is definitely a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.  The flavor graveyard is just up the hill and you can visit all of the discontinued flavors.

Next stop was Norwich University, followed by the University of Vermont.  Our boy got a good vibe from both impressive campuses.  I may have gotten sick to my stomach just at the thought of him going to college, but I tried to keep it to myself.  
Here's a shot taken from the ferry.  Those are the Adirondack Mts as we crossed Lake Champlain.
Adirondack mountains Lake Champlain-www.goldenboysandme.com
My love of all things Vermont continued when we returned home from vacation and I started (and quickly devoured finished) Chris Bohjalian's new novel, "Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands".   I am a huge fan of his novels, especially those which are set in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, an area that he lives in and writes so vividly about.  This novel is pretty dark and thought provoking, about the fallout from a nuclear power plant explosion that leads a young girl onto the streets of Burlington, VT among the homeless.  I highly recommend it.
 Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands 
I am currently reading yet another book, this one a memoir, about (you guessed it)Vermont.  I am only a couple of chapters in but I am already enjoying it.  This one tells the story of a family that fell in love with Vermont on a leaf peeping trip.  Instead of just writing a blog post about it like I am doing, the author actually picked up and moved her whole family there.  That's not a feasible option for us at this time so I am happy to be a voyeur in Emma Simpson's tale, titled "Mud Season".  
 Mud Season
Billy and I have become obsessed with looking at real estate in Vermont and New Hampshire on the internet.  We have no intentions of moving anytime soon, so it is strictly for entertainment.  Do you do that too?  I suspect other people do too, but maybe we are just a bit nuts :)

July 20, 2014

Featured at Town and Country Living

Hello and Happy Sunday!

I am very excited to have our home featured at Town and Country Living today.  I love reading through Jennifer's tours of homes.  She chooses such warm and inviting homes filled with tons of ideas, so I am incredibly honored to be included.  If you haven't already, definitely tour some of the homes in her Charming Home Series.

 

We are slowly getting back into a routine after vacation and I am already feeling pressure to get everybody ready for back to school...crazy!  All the of the school supplies are stocked in the stores and they are already picked over and crowded.  I thought that usually happened at the end of August?  Heck, when I was a kid we would run out to get the couple of items we needed after school started.  Now, my kids get detailed lists (including brands of scissors and calculators) that cost upwards of $100 plus for each child.  It seems out of hand to me?  Do your kids get detailed lists too?

I am just going to put that all out of my mind for the next few weeks and enjoy our summer.  I hope your summer is going great!

July 17, 2014

Our July Vacation in Schroon Lake

We are just back from 2 weeks away at our family's vacation home in Schroon Lake, NY.  It is always bittersweet to come home from a long vacation.  Of course, we missed the conveniences of our NJ home, like internet access, our dishwasher and our comfortable beds. But, there is nothing like spending time together at a slower pace.  No one is distracted by text messages because our cell phones don't work at the house.  I know our time spent in the Upstate house has made our family closer.  Billy and I are so grateful to his parents for providing us with this place to use.  Recently, at a casual family dinner, my mother in law was joking with us about playing the lottery.  She asked us what we would want if she won, because if she won, it would be all about making her kids' lives better...that's just the kind of great mom she is.  So we told her we feel like we have already won the lottery by having the Upstate house to use.  That's how special this house is to us.
Schroon Lake exit sign on the Northway in the Adirondacks-www.goldenboysandme.com
The busiest week of the year in the small town of Schroon Lake, NY is 4th of July week.  It is exciting to watch the town come alive in the days leading up to the holiday.  There is always a big parade and fireworks.  It's good, old fashioned family fun.  We loved this old fire truck in the parade.
Old red fire truck in Schroon Lake 4th of July parade-www.goldenboyandme.com
We took a quick family picture before heading out to the parade.  Our middle guy turned 13 on this vacation so now I am officially a mom to 2 teenagers-yikes!!  
We got to spent a good amount of time on our boat on the lake.  Schroon Lake is 9 miles long and surrounded by gorgeous mountain views.  We dream of having a cabin right on the lake someday.  I can almost see myself in that cabin with our grandchildren swimming off the dock.
Sea Doo jet boat with Big Mable towable on Schroon Lake in NY-www.goldenboysandme.com
I know that even if that particular dream doesn't come true, I am happy for the time we get to spend on the lake.  My parents had a small bungalow on a NJ lake when I was growing up so I have loved boating from an early age.  Boating is such a fun activity for the whole family.  Even the dogs love it.
Golden Retriever with red bandanna on a boat-www.goldenboysandme.com


Our house is up the road from the lake a few miles, on a mountain.  The trails and the woods near the house are also a favorite spot.  We like to swim in this creek.  The water is clear and cold and refeshing after the hike to get to it.



We also like to visit this nearby waterfall.
We also like to fly kites in a field down the road.  Flying a kite is just on of those simple pleasures, right?  There's nothing like it on a breezy day with bright blue skies and white puffy clouds.  That small white building in the picture below is a former one room schoolhouse.  
I have some more pictures to share of our day in Vermont and I also took some pictures of the inside of our house but I will save those for another post.  For now, I am trying to get back into the groove of everyday life around here. 

July 9, 2014

Shower Niche Tutorial

diy tall shower niche tutorial-www.goldenboysandme.com

One of our frequently asked questions is about how we built the tall shower niche in our Master Bath and if we are happy with it.   I am very pleased with the single tall niche.  Our shower isn't very big and this niche gives us lots of storage.  Also, since we didn't have room for a bench in the shower, the bottom shelf functions as a ledge to put my foot on for shaving.  Mostly, I like the added touch of the green glass tiles and the marble shelves to the white subway tiles.

July 2, 2014

New Gallery Wall & Corner Home Office

We don't have a room dedicated to home office space in our home, but I still like to have an organized space to work from.  I decided to carve out a corner of our Family Room just for this purpose.
Gallery Wall and Corner Home Office with antlers, Target cubbies and typography-www.goldenboysandme.com

June 27, 2014

The Start of our Summer

Our boys are finally finished with school after what felt like the longest June ever.  We have plans to have a very fun summer!  We got to put our boat in the lake for the first time this season and there is nothing like that first boat ride of the year.