Friday, August 26, 2011

Ode to the Vitara

**my apologies to any writers or poets out there**

Oh my sweet Suzuki Vitara--

You have been a good car for the past 10 years;
You've carried me safely through college and graduate school, countless moves,
and several ex-boyfriends;
Some people lovingly called you the "Atari,"(BeacausewhoknewSuzukievenmadecarsin2001?)
But to me you were always reliable transport
and never really let me down

Until this past Sunday when your radiator could go no more
And you broke down on our way to Charleston,
leaving me on the side of the road.

I understand my little Vitara
that you are old and that our time would eventually come to an end,
I have replaced all I can afford to replace
and have decided you must find a new friend.

I will be sad to see you go
but hope your new owner will put you to good use--
For I know you still have a few good miles left
before you drift to that big garage in the sky.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Weatherizing 2011

Hey there! Sorry for the silence last week but things have been really busy for me at work and at home especially with little miss Lulu. Speaking of the pup, she turned 3 months old on Friday so we are now in the "terrible two's" phase according to the puppy books. So far, the little miss has been pretty good. She likes to bite a lot but isn't much of a chewer per se. We are trying to teach her biting is only for her toys but she isn't quite getting it yet. I have high hopes though considering she was so quick to learn sit, stay, and lay down. Not to mention we have been pretty much accident free in terms of peeing/pooping in the house for the last week (yay!). In terms of other "firsts" this week Lulu got her first bath (which she did not like at all) and we also made our first trip to the park on Sunday morning. We had a nice long walk and Lulu loved meeting new people and making friends with other dogs. She was so tired when we got home that she slept the rest of the afternoon.

She's getting so big!

But enough about the dog. I know you all are dying to hear about weatherizing (I mean that is the reason you clicked on this post, right?).

Unless you live on the west coast I think everyone can agree that this summer has been H-O-T hot! Since moving into my little house I've been curious about how terrible my bills were going to be during the summer and winter months. Since my house is older construction I wasn't expecting much in terms of the house being well insulated but was still taken aback when I got my last power bill and it read $213 (this for my 1100 sqaure foot, 2 bedroom house)!! Yikes.

I immediately started trying to figure out how why it was so high. The bill for the previous month was $160 (high, but not ridiculous) and it didn't seem to me that the temperatures for the current month were that much different than the last month. I have a programmable thermostat that never changes (78 during the day, 76 at night) so I figured my bills would stay somewhat the same. Since I was obviously very wrong about this I decided that I needed to figure out a way to not have a repeat $200 bill and the most obvious solution was to try my hand at weatherizing the windows and doors.

After reading some tips on the interwebs, Erik and I headed off to Lowe's to pick up some weather stripping materials to seal the front and back door as well as the windows in the front and back of the house. We got several different kinds of stripping because we really had no idea what would work best and we knew for certain that the doors had different frames which would require different styles of stripping. For example, in the back door we were able to use a V-shaped rubber strip just popped right in the frame. However, the front door was a little tougher since it didn't have an inset in the framing that would accomodate the V-shaped stripping.

Easy pop-in V-shaped stripping in the back door
The first type of stripping we tried in the front door was vinyl and had to be nailed into the frame. But before we attempted to put a million little nails in the door frame, we tested the stripping by only nailing a few nails at the sides and the top of the frame. I'm very glad we did this because when we tried to close the door, we found it would not shut (the rubber stripping had made the door too "big" for the frame). We tried various methods of cutting the stripping to help the door close but we eventually had to give up on this type of weather strip. Luckily we had purchased a third kind of weather stripping to use on the windows--a kind of foamy strip that has a sticky back. Theoretically all you are supposed to have to do is peel the backing off and stick to your door frame, however we found that the stickiness was just not powerful enough and every time we tried to press it on the door it would peel right off. We tried cleaning the door frame really well thinking this might help the adhesion but no luck. We ended up having to nail it in which (thank god) worked pretty well.

Vinyl Stripping was definitely a no-go on the front door

Adhesive weather stripping

The final solution on the front door
By the time we were finished with the front door I was done weather stripping for the day (yes, I can be a bit ADD when it comes to home improvement projects) so the windows have been put on hold until we get around to it. So far I have been able to tell a big difference in the way the doors close and seal so I'm hoping this registers into some saved money in next month's power bill. We'll see. All I know is that I cannot wait until the fall weather arrives. I don't know about anyone else but I am officially done with 104 degree weather. Bring on the pumpkins, falling leaves, and apple cider! I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sit Lulu

Just a little video of the smartest puppy ever! : )

(Apologies for the quality--I took it on my iPhone)

**Remember we've only had her 3 days!! I'm a  proud mama!

Poop and Pee Times Three

We are on day 3 of puppy ownership and little Lulu is doing well. I stayed home from work yesterday to be with her and Erik and we were able to get in some quality time. There was lots of playing, sleeping, and our smart pup has even learned her first command: sit. Erik and I also found a ginormous crate someone was offering on Craigslist for $55. She looks a bit ridiculous in it right now, but it will be big enough that we should never have to buy a new one. It even came with a nice fluffy dog pillow that the previous owner had kindly washed for us (we found out later that her dog had been hit by a car--so sad).

Lulu's Puppy Condo
Of course there is the other side of puppy ownership that I have never had to deal with which is the oh-so-fun potty training aspect (cats are pretty much litter trained from birth and are good to go once you show them the litter box and what its for). Since Erik hasn't had to work the last few days we have tried to be very diligent about taking Lulu out every couple hours to pee and also making sure she goes after she eats and right after she wakes from a nap. We've definitely caught her a couple of times going in the house but we always gently scold her and take her right outside. The good news is she seems to understand exactly why we go outside. She doesn't mess around in the backyard and immediately finds a spot to do her business. I can't help but think that this is a good sign (wishful thinking?). When she goes potty outside we praise her and give her a treat when we come inside.

I realize that Lulu isn't going to be potty-trained over night and that there are going to be lots more accidents and clean-ups in my future until the little girl gets her tiny bladder under control. I expect her to not understand quite yet because she is a baby, my two adult cats on the other hand should really know better.

This morning I woke up to the smell of cat urine in the bedroom and I thought for sure that Zeke (who has been camping out under my bed since the puppy's arrival) had had an accident on the floor under the bed. I proceed to move the bed and pull everything out from underneath and can't see any puddles or wet spots. Confused I sit on the bed and that's when I find it--a huge yellow, wet spot all over my white duvet and comforter. The same duvet and comforter we had been sleeping under just 10 minutes earlier.

Now, there are probably a few contributing factors as to why my cats decided they needed to defile my bed. First, Im sure they are pissed about the dog (obviously) and second Erik and I did have the door to the bedroom closed last night because of the puppy crying (therefore the cats could not make it out to the litterbox which is in the laundry room). The thing is, I know my cats can hold it for 6 hours (Jezebel has locked herself in the closet and held it longer than that) and while I am sure fear of the dog and the door being closed are part of the reason for the pee on the duvet I can't help but feel they are making their feelings known.

Either way, the litterbox is now located in the bedroom for easy cat pee/poop access so we'll see if this solves the problem. If I find pee on the bed again, well, I guess I'll know what's up. As for the duvet, cover, and sheets--they got a thorough washing and will hopefully be salvageable.

As if dealing with the cat pee incident this morning wasn't enough, I walk into the guest bedroom to get something only to find both poop and pee on the floor (pretty sure this was miss Lulu's doing although I am not sure when she had a chance to do this as we have been watching her like a hawk). So poop and pee times three this morning all before 8 o'clock. Thank you kitties and puppy for starting the day off right.

Although it's hard to be too upset when you come home to this:

And this:

Monday, August 1, 2011

I'm In Trouble

This weekend Erik and I adopted a puppy. Actually yesterday at apporximately 5pm we adopted a puppy. We named her Lulu.

Before I go any further I feel like I need to give a little background on my relationship with dogs. First,  I have never owned a dog, grown up with a dog, and have never lived with a roommate who had a dog. I have friends who own dogs and my sister has a dog but other than occasional visits my time spent around dogs has been limited. Second, I know absolutely nothing about training them or caring for them other than the basics like taking them for walks and giving them food. Third, I have never been what I consider to be a "dog person." Sure I think they are cute and I have known some really sweet ones, but I have never dreamt of owning a dog or even pictured myself as a dog owner.

Now that I have said that, you are probably wondering (given my past history) how the heck I ended up with a dog this weekend. Well, in a way this was an unplanned pregnancy. Erik and I have been discussing getting a dog for awhile. He grew up with dogs and his parents have 3 at their house (who Erik is crazy about). I was amenable to the idea because I thought having a dog around the house would be good protection. My neighborhood isn't bad per se, but there are the occasional break ins (I do live in the city of Atlanta after all) and I felt like a dog would be a good deterrant to potential criminals.

We had a lot of discussions about what kind of dog we would want to get and I was pretty insistent that if we got any dog it would have to be a rescue. For awhile we were looking online and checking out the dogs up for adoption at the local Petsmart or PetCo on weekends when I would need to pop in and buy food for the cats. I don't think either of us ever saw animal that particularly struck us so we would move on and that would be that.

Yesterday we were out running errands and I noticed Erik driving a different way to get out of the shopping plaza we were in. I asked if he needed to make a stop by Target (which was the direction we were headed) but he said he just wanted to drive by PetCo to see if there were any dogs outside waiting to be adopted. I'm not sure what made me say it but I blurted out, "well you know if you want to look at dogs we can always go by the Atlanta Humane Society." I fully expected him to say something like "yeah,we could but not today" but instead he put the address into his gps and off we went.

Of course the conversation on the way over there went something like this:

Erik: "You know we can't adopt a dog today."
Me: "Yeah totally. We do not need to get a dog today."

Chuckle, chuckle.

So we get to the Atlanta Humane Society (which is very nice by the way) and head over to look at the dogs in the kennels. Talk about heartbreaking. It was like walking through puppy jail. Don't get me wrong, the dogs were well taken care of but they all just looked so lonely and sad. Then we went into a separate room, which I'll call the "puppy room" where there were all kinds of little guys playing and waiting to be adopted. This room was a much happier place. Erik and I made our way over to this one bin where there was a litter of about 6 puppies. I had looked online prior to our arrival and had taken a liking to one puppy in particular and I saw her amongst this litter. Sadly, she was adopted just minutes after we had first walked in the door.

As we were studying the other pups from the same litter a couple walks over to put one that they were holding back into the bin. They asked if I wanted to hold her and I took one look at her sweet face and said of course. She was the only brindle-coated puppy of the litter and she immediately began licking me all over and curled up in my arms. Needless to say, I didn't want to put her down. It wasn't minutes later before Erik was filling out the paperwork for adoption and an hour or so later we were walking to the car with our new puppy.

Talk about an unexpected afternoon!

So here are the basic stats on our new dog:
Name: Lulu
Sex: Female
Birthday: around May 12, 2011 (which means she is a little more than 2 1/2 months old)
Breed: American Pit Bull Terrier/Labrador Retriver Mix
Weight: 9 pounds
Coloring: Brindle (black/brown/tan zebra-like pattern)

She has been really sweet so far. She's definitely had a few "accidents" in the house but that's to be expected until she is potty-trained. She slept pretty good last night--only cried for a little bit and then was out for about 4 hours. Erik got up around 4:30 to take her out and neither of us could go back to sleep (even though she did) so I am pretty exhausted. Erik stayed home with her today and I feel better knowing that he is there as she adjusts to her first full day in her new home.

All in all I would say I am excited for this adventure. I'm still very nervous about being a dog owner (I have these fears that my dog is going to be that bad dog that everyone hates to be around) but I've been reading a lot about lab/pit mixes and everyone says they make great dogs--very loyal, loving, and smart--so that makes me relax a bit. I was also worried about how my cats would take to the new addition but they seem to be doing better than I expected and, with a bit of adjustment, I think everything will work out okay in that department.

So that's that. I have a dog and her name is Lulu. She is adorable, sweet, playful, and has definitely captured my heart. So yes, I'm in trouble. Big trouble.

Meet Lulu!