Friday, January 25, 2013

Brian Turns 40!!

The day after we said goodbye to Chauncey we had our annual Henry Holiday Party.  I'm not gonna lie - it was a fabulous distraction for all of us.

And, since my husband was turning  40 on New Years Eve, I turned it into a "Surprise!!! It's your 40th Birthday!!" also.  

He had No. Idea.

I had been planning it for months and we had nearly 100 people there this year to help celebrate. I wish I had taken pictures, but you'll have to imagine how much food we had....

 I put all the leaves in my dining room table and there was so much food on it, you couldn't see the table cloth.  On top of that, we had the dresser/buffet covered with hot dishes and crock pots, along with two other tables brought into the dining room for the evening and snacks in the sitting room, kitchen and family room

People finished up the last of the food in the wee hours of the morning. 
I had absolutely NO LEFTOVERS.  

At one point I couldn't see from one end of the family room to the dining room because of all the bodies.  

My mom made his cake
Several friends conspired with me and we made him go on a liquor run once the majority of the guests had arrived (and we had so much beer, wine and liquor I have no idea why he fell for that, but he did - ha!) and as soon as they pulled out of the driveway, my  girls came running downstairs with the decorations we had made and stashed away earlier and we hastily threw up some purple, black and white tissue paper poofs, a ton of streamers,  a Happy Birthday Banner, and blew up and hung nearly 30 balloons.

Thank God for the wonderful friends we have - everyone pitched in - I was frantic - and the place was decorated in 15 minutes flat, the cake was on the table and the last candle was lit as he walked through the front door to cheers of "SURPRISE!!!"

Sadly, I took no pictures and the ones that were taken were blurry ....

He's trying to figure out what the hell is going on....all the kids had horns and followed him around blowing them constantly.  Until I confiscated them all.....
He's figured it out now ...
Our good friends, Mike, Meg and Meg's mom, Michelle, made him some custom corn hole boards with matching bags for his birthday.  Mike is the biggest Steelers fan in the world so it just shows you how much they love Brian that they made him  RAVENS themed boards. 

Can't wait to use these...

Mom Bloom (aka, Michelle) giving him his purple bags which she made for the game.

 It was such a wonderful evening and I have to tell you I have no idea what time the party broke up although I heard rumors of 3:00 am, at which time I was snoring upstairs.

Yes, I had a big fat headache the next day.

That was the end of our holiday entertaining for 2012 - WHEW! 

Three events  in 6 days  was a bit much.....

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Goodbye old friend.

I've started this post about ten times and every time I've hit delete and started over.

So, I'm just going to let my mind wander and put this stream of consciousness down on paper, as it were.

When you came into our lives, we had recently lost our first dog, Zoe, and had taken about 6 months to mourn her before thinking about getting another dog.  Olivia was just a baby and I had my hands full with her, a full time job and school.  Brian - who had taken the loss of Zoe very hard - finally decided that it was time to start looking.

Brian had always wanted a German Shepherd and so we went to a Pet Adoption at our local pet store, where a German Shepherd rescue as being featured   We walked in, saw all the German Shepherds looking for homes and had a discussion with the rescue coordinator.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw Brian approach a dog that looked NOTHING like a Shepherd, but instead like a black lab mix.

"Who's that?"  I asked the rescue coordinator.

"Oh, that's Shultzie.  We aren't sure exactly what he is but there's some shepherd in there somewhere.  He's been shuffled from home to home to home for a long time and we don't know what exactly his life has been like.  He seems to be a young dog - not an adult but maybe over a year old.  He's a bit rambunctious and skittish but his foster mother seems to think he's got potential."

From the moment Brian approached you and jumped up on him, it was all over.

We put in an application that night.

Chauncey and the girls robot, Christmas 2007

We went through the adoption process of home visits, vet references and the like and you came home to us a few days later.    We renamed you Chauncey since we thought Schultzie sounded too "Hogan's Heroes".  The first thing you did was go explore the house. You boldly walked right into Olivia's room where she was sleeping in her crib with a fever, sniffed,  whined, and laid down on her floor.  Over the course of the next few hours, between exploring the house some more, you checked back in that room six or seven times.  You were officially on duty and for the next 12 years, you would "patrol" the house when the girls and I were home alone or the kids had friends over and you would stand guard when one of us was sick.  I would imagine you saying "Don't worry mom - I 've got this.  You can relax.  You can rest."

Those first few months after you came home were AWFUL.  You see, you were still puppy like and maybe a bit afraid we'd send you away.  You wanted nothing more than to have our attention 24 hours a day.  You took the baby's toys and ran, you ran around the house like a Tasmanian devil and you barked that vicious bark if anyone approached the house.  I was at my wit's end.  You could do no wrong in Brian's eyes - you were his boy.  To me, you were just a lot of work.
Hanging in the back yard, 2008

But you calmed a bit.  And you grew on me.

It soon became apparent that you would protect us with your very being - no matter what.  No one was allowed entry into your home.  If someone came to the door, you positioned yourself between me and that "stranger".  No one could approach me - and Lord help the person that reached for the baby.  Brian encouraged your protective behavior and was even on the receiving end of a few warnings from you when he jokingly would mess around or wrestle with me.

You were "daddy's boy" but you were momma's fiercest protector.
Being attacked by the robot 

You scared me a few times in those days - not because I was afraid you'd hurt us or the baby because you were so incredibly gentle with us - but because I was afraid you'd hurt someone else in your zeal to protect your family.  We learned that we would have to put you outside when someone came to the door.  It was  the only way people could come into the house.  Once they were in, you were let back inside where you would quickly approach them with your hackles raised and sniff the devil out of them while he or she stood stock still, and all the while Brian and I would be saying -"It's OK Chauncey.  It's OK boy"  while standing next to the person with our hand on their shoulder or arm   Once you felt comfortable  you would lower your hackles and walk away.  But you NEVER let that person out of your sight   It took you several visits to feel comfortable with other people.

I definitely came to appreciate your protective nature over time.  I knew that I could allow the girls into the fenced yard to play so long as you were out there.  I knew that if anyone dared to mess with my kids you'd tear them up. I was OK with that.

The neighborhood kids used to party in the field behind  our house and play ball in the empty lot next us.  I can vividly remember sitting on the porch one afternoon and watching a stray ball fly over the fence into the yard.  Before I could get up to get the ball and give it back to the teenagers playing in the empty lot, I saw one of them hop my fence to retrieve it.  I yelled a warning but you were like a black streak of lightening going after that kid - I've never seen someone move so fast in my life - he LITERALLY dove over the fence as you crashed into it behind him. Those kids had been warned a hundred times NOT to hop our fence, but to ring the bell and let us get whatever had been lost.  After that day, we never had a problem with anyone coming into our yard or partying behind the house again.

You scared the crap outta them.
The boys doing their favorite thing - running in the yard

Your protective streak didn't just apply to us humans.  When we brought Baxter home - hoping that another dog to play with would help to settle you a bit (it did), you quickly became his best friend.  Baxter was diagnosed at a very young age with hip dysplaysia that made it very difficult for him to even walk.  During one particularly bad snow storm, the snow was up to your shoulders.  When we let you out into the back yard, you quickly went to work digging a path for Baxter to walk on - you'd bury your body in the snow and shake it off, then run back an forth over that area a few times packing the snow down and then run back to get Baxter and lead him through the cleared path and then start all over again where you left off.  You did this all way way across the yard to your favorite spot in the back.  Baxter didn't have to struggle in the snow at all - you had his back.

Best buds Baxter and Chauncey, Summer 2012

I've never seen a dog as fast as you - I would watch in amazement as you would race after a bird and jump - catching them mid air.  We lost a lot of birds that way.  When we moved to the new house and you had more room to run, you got bigger and stronger and faster.  But you also calmed down.  You became, really, the perfect dog - loyal, loving and protective.

Wrestling - another favorite past time

When you began limping we knew something was wrong.  But you never cried, you never whimpered, and you still greeted us with a wag of your tail, and goose in our butts as you led us to the cupboard with your treats.  And then, right after Christmas you stopped eating.  You stopped greeting us.  You hadn't been able to run for a long time.  You hobbled on three legs and it was depressing for you.

Your dad had been talking about letting you go for awhile.  Selfishly, I couldn't bring myself to think about it. One more Christmas - just one more.  Then - not near Brian's birthday.  And what about the girls?  They'd be heartbroken.

Chauncey, December 2012

The day came on December 29th.  We took you to a dear friends' vet hospital.  They placed us in a cozy room with  blankets on the floor and soft lighting.   It was one of the hardest things ever, watching you struggle against the meds given to make you sleepy. You were afraid to leave us - who would watch out for us?

Still on alert and making sure all is well in your house

I put your head on my lap and your dad and I stroked you and whispered in your ear - We love you.  We'll be OK.  Thank you.  You've kept us safe.

Go - Run - Chase birds - Bark out loud - We love you.

You are so, so  loved.

And you let out one last great big sigh and were gone.

Loyal Family Guardian
199?- 2012

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Yes, I know it's the middle of January. So sue me.

OK, so where were we?

Right.  Mid-December. 

Once the excitement of Misou and B’s surprise engagement died down (a little - I still squeal every time I think about it), it was time for the Henry’s to kick it into high gear for all the entertainment they were about to embark upon….

First up, the Annual Hopkins Family Christmas!

Every year I host my dad’s siblings and their children for a casual, relaxing evening of food, drink and storytelling.  This year was no exception, but for the fact that with all of the cousins growing up (I’m much older than most of them – they were all born when I was in high school), it’s getting difficult to get everyone in the same room at the same time.  On the bright side though, we’re adding more people in the form of boyfriends and girlfriends J 

Sydney made "gift bags" for each person - this is the inspirational message one of my cousins had in his - he took a picture of it posted on his fridge and posted it on Facebook for me :)

And that's the only picture I have - seriously.  I took no pictures.

The day after the Hopkins Christmas was Christmas Eve.  We have a rule – from 4:00 pm on Christmas Eve until noon on Christmas Day – no one in, and no one out.  This is our time as a family and typically I am either hosting my in laws or frantically wrapping and doing last minute shopping.  This year, it was neither, which was good since it SNOWED LIKE CRAZY!

I can’t remember the last time we had a true White Christmas – it was magical! 


Well, it was magical for us, but not for our poor neighbors, whose family couldn't make it through the snow (that shit was nasty to drive in) and who had an oven full of Osso Buco and no one to eat it.  So, we bundled ourselves up and walked down the street through the snow and had a magnificent meal together and then went home to get ready for Santa.

Well, I got ready for Santa since it looks like I am the only one in the house that still believes in him.  *sad face*

Santa was BUSY!!

The next day was Christmas Day – the snow looked amazing (and luckily the roads were cleared by noon) the kiddos slept until we woke them up at 8:30 (I’m not kidding) and we all had a wonderful Christmas morning.

$20 caption contest for Liv....
And then we had to get ready for Christmas dinner at our house, where we were hosting ten people in addition to our family of four.  Since we always have beef for Christmas we had tenderloin, roasted root vegetables, homemade scalloped potatoes, whipped sweet potatoes with roasted bananas and honey, and of course, lots of desserts.   Dinner was delicious and we fell into bed – happy, but exhausted - very late that evening.

The day after Christmas brought the clean up of the house and putting away of the presents and preparations for our NEXT party – the annual Henry Holiday Party – but this year, with a twist. 

But first, we had to say good bye to a loyal old friend….

Monday, January 14, 2013

The End of 2012

December is a notoriously crazy, busy, exciting, stressful month for us here at the Henry Home.  Let me see if I can give you a run down since I was gone for so long…

December started with Christmas decorating.  I did a few things different this year and while I don’t have the greatest pictures, I thought I’d show you what I have. 

The entry to my house is always a huge source of anxiety for me.  It's people’s first impression of the house when walking in, so I want people to walk up and feel warm and welcome and excited to see what lies on the other side of the door.  I always have this amazing picture in my head and I can never execute it the way I want.   
This  year I went with some wrapped presents and glittery sticks in my big pots – to add some color. I actually really like how it turned out and I got a ton of compliments on it from the bazillion people that traveled in and out that front door over the course of December.  

I also broke down and put some colored lights on the tree in addition to the traditional white (which are my favorite).

 Brian actually helped decorate the house this year (he rarely touches a decoration inside – but he does all the outside lights).  Over the past few years I have backed off on a lot of decorations and only use about half of what we have.  On the weekend we pulled all the Christmas stuff out, I had to run a few errands and when I got home it looked like the North Pole exploded in my house.  Brian had pulled out every single decoration we owned and used them all. 

My sitting room at night - so cozy...
The dining room at night...

My first thought was – WOW!  This looks amazing!

My second thought was - Shit.  I’m just going to have to put even more crap away in a month.

But he did a great job and since he actually took initiative to decorate I didn’t say one word. 

After the decorating was done, the holiday season went into full swing.

My brother and his girl MiSou moved into a new apartment and on December 14th, they had a housewarming/holiday party for both  her family and my brother’s family. 

Misou made some props and set up a "photo booth".

Me and my bro

The girls and Poppy

It was here that they announced their engagement!!!

We are beyond thrilled that they have finally decided to take the plunge and I couldn't ask for a better sister in law than MiSou

They asked me to make the announcement on

Tonight showed me that even on the darkest of days, new beginnings bring hope. My baby brother, whom I love with all my heart, has found the love of his life and this morning, he asked that amazing girl to be his wife. I can't think of anyone more perfect for my precious brother, or anyone I would trust his heart with more. I'm incredibly proud to call Brandon Hopkins my brother, and ecstatic that I can now finally call Misou Ho my sister. Thank you for sharing your news with all of us this evening - we couldn't be more excited!! We love you both - here's to a long and happy life together — with Misou Hoand Brandon Hopkins.

It was a welcome bit of happy news on an otherwise very sad day

A little blurry but the ONLY picture of the four of us in the entire month of December.

So that covers the beginning of December.  Next up, THE PARTIES!