Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Love Letter to Money

I had the absolute pleasure of attending Cory Michelle's Become Money Class on Sunday (www.liveyourjuicylife.com/become-money).  I've had a lot of negative energy and exchanges around money--and I realize a lot of those limiting beliefs are based on past expenditures, beliefs I've held on to that aren't even mine, and viewing my financial status as scarce versus abundant.  How can I expect to attract money if I view it as a negative institution?  Paradigm Shift.  So in order to start my journey into a positive, healthy relationship with money--I decided to write money a long overdue love letter.  Cory posed the question, "If money was your lover, what would you say to it".  So here it goes...

Dear Money,

First I want to apologize to you.  I've been unfair, I've been distant, perhaps I've even been a bit cruel.  I've often said you're the root of all evil, that you shouldn't even exist, that I wish I could survive without you.  No wonder you don't want to show up in my life--I haven't been inviting you in, I've been pushing you away.  I'm here to make things right, Money.  I'm here to tell you I DO love you, I DO cherish you, and I DO want to play with you.  I want to cultivate a loving relationship with you.  I want to show you just how much you mean to me!  

When I have you in my life I feel free, I feel happy, I feel amazing.  And when you're gone I feel sullen and imprisoned.  I promise I won't say such awful things about you anymore.  I've cleared myself of that negativity and now when I see you I'm just so grateful you are here, all of you, any of you that you're willing to give to me.  Whatever you are willing to give, I am here to receive with open arms.  I'm sorry for being fearful of a life without you, I'm sorry for always telling you that you're not enough.  I just want MORE of you! I want to build a forever life with you.  I want us to work together to grow and cultivate more freedom and experiences in our life.  I want you to allow me to show up for you and I only ask in return that you to show up for me.  

Money--I am here.  I am ready.  I am excited to make a commitment to you.  I want you to fully receive me.  Let's build a beautiful relationship together.  Come play.  Come love.  Come into my open arm, I'm ready to receive.  I'm ready and I'm waiting.

Forever Yours

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Saying Goodbye to 2013

2013 was a whirlwind of a year.  Successes, failures, and everything in between.  I'm using this blog now to record my thoughts, perspectives, successes and failures for 2014.  But before I get into that, I want to reflect on 2013 and give it a proper farewell.  I believe that past needs to stay in the past so that we can continue to move onward and foreward #neverbackward.

25 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the End of 2013

1. What am I most proud of this year?
Landing my position at prAna.  And not just that--but excelling in it when my boss unexpectedly quit during my second month.  My learning curve was steep but I managed to navigate my position and impress some really important people.  Good job Jessica!  Pat on the back!
2. How can I become a better girlfriend/friend?
I chose girlfriend and friend because I think that's where I struggle sometimes.  As far as my relationship I feel our communication needs to be more open and a lot of that lies with me.  I tend to clam up and hide in my shell when confrontation arises.  I need to learn to speak up for myself in an honest and loving way.  I need to learn to not take things personally (which I've been working on with vocal cues) and to not project my feelings/perceptions on Jared or assume how he will react to them.  
For the friend, I just need to do better.  I find myself struggling to carve out time for friends because I'm trying so hard to carve it out for myself.  So I need to find ways to combine activities that I love with friends that I love.  I need to not project feelings of guilt on myself for not being at home because that's ok.  It's OK to take a break.  It's OK to have me-time.  It's OK to see my friends.    I also need to learn how to talk on the phone--I hate it, but it's a better way of connecting than texts.
3. Where am I feeling stuck?
Trying to figure out what career path is going to make me happy.  It changes often and I still haven't quite figured it out.  I long for more freedom to choose how my hours are spent during the day but for now I need to focus on paying off my school loans and gaining experience.  My 5 year plan is to pay off my school loans, see where I'm at, and reassess.  It's never too late for change.  I need to let go of thinking there is a time limit on things.
4. Where do I need to allow myself grace?With my relationships with others.  I never give myself enough credit for how hard I'm trying or how good I'm doing in the grand scheme of things.  I can always do better but in reality I'm happy.  I'm very happy.  And I need to stop fighting myself on what society deems appropriate or right for me.  Or what my parents think is appropriate or right for me.  Or what ANYONE thinks is appropriate or right for me.  What's appropriate or right for me is up to ME. 
5. Am I passionate about my career?
Undecided.  I hate to say that because I often call prAna my dream job.  And it IS!  But whether or not my career lights a fire in my heart, I don't know yet.  Maybe wholesale marketing isn't my niche.  Maybe I'm meant for something completely different.  I just don't know until I start exploring and learning and keeping my eyes open.  I will figure it out though--I have a lot to offer the world both personally and professionally.  This I know to be true.
6. What lessons have I learned?
I learned lessons in humility (through work), pride (through relationships), and stress management (through life).  I've also started to learn to LET GO.  Of everything from negative thoughts, to the past, to ideas that have been taught to me that skew my perception of things.
7. What did I my finances look like?
This was definitely the toughest part of 2013.  This is where I struggled the most.  Truth moment: my credit card debt climbed from $2k to $5k (although I recently paid it back down to $3800).  We were in the red A LOT in 2013.  Part of it spurs from managing two sets of finances versus one and having shared expenses (and 5 dogs).  However, I've learned and accepted that I'm 27 years old.  I can't live the same lifestyle I did when I was 17 and living with my parents.  I can't afford, want, ask for, or expect the same luxuries.  And I'm learning to be OK with that.  I started a savings plan that should help me pay off my credit card debt in 2014, and I will also be practicing financial mindfulness to prevent us from going in the red month to month.  I've vowed to help Jared get organized with his business and help him manage his financials so that we can be open and honest with each other about finances and learn to grow together in this area.  We both have a lot of work to do, but better late than never.
8. How did I spend my free time?
A little of EVERYTHING.  It seems to me we spend a lot of time watching TV, but when I look back at all of our adventures that's unfair.  We mountain bike, hike, snowboard, ride in the desert, rock climb, do yoga, get creative, hang with our dogs, and hang with each other.  So my free time was spent doing many things INCLUDING relaxing (which I need to accept is ok for me to do).
9. How well did I take care of my body, mind, and soul?
This year was a JOURNEY for me in that regard.  I've started practicing the art of self-love and not being so critical or hard on myself.  I let go of using crappy face wash to control my acne and switched to whole ingredients like jojoba oil and coconut oil.  I stopped wearing makeup during the week and especially on the weekends, unless absolutely necessary.  I've been getting closer with yoga but want to form a more solid relationship there in 2014.  I've started learning how to meditate--something I'm also taking with me to 2014.  And more than anything I've learned to listen to myself, question everything, and surround myself with positivityrather than negativity.  I've also started to gossip less and judge less.
10. How have I been open-minded?
There is nothing quite like a relationship to teach you how to be open-minded.  I think I've been VERY open minded in 2013--moreso than EVER.  I've stopped blindly accepting the things I see in the media and started to question them.  I've stopped judging books (see also people) by their cover.  I've stopped thinking that what society deems appropriate and acceptable might not be true for everyone.  I've stopped thinking i have to have a perfect body to be considered beautiful.  Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and it definitely goes deeper than appearance.
11. When did I feel most creatively inspired?
Hard to say--I feel creative often but don't always act on it.  I think my best friend's wedding inspired me a lot.  She is so creative and so amazing.  She makes her visions tangible and I think that's awesome.  It inspired me to let go of perfection and try to be more creative.
12. What projects have I completed?
Yikes--see next question....I completed plenty of work projects...does that count?  
13. How have I procrastinated?
Procrastination is something I was all too familiar with in 2013.  But no more!  2014 is the year of "do things while you're thinking of them...not later".  Something I'm going to try.  I procrastinated on a lot.  But rather than give the gory details, I'll just say...no more.
14. In what ways can I re-structure my time?
I really need to learn to utilize morning hours more.  I can go to sleep at 9-10PM in order to wake up earlier.  I just need to DO IT.  I've accepted that besides dinner, dogs, cleanup, and time with my honey there's not much time for "extra" stuff after work.  But before work I can make time for yoga, juice, smoothies, meditation, creativity, reading, whatever it may be.   Also if i bring my lunches to work that frees up an hour for me to work out, read, have me-time, take a walk, meditate, run errands, whatever I need to do.  That will be key.  Mornings and lunch time.
15. How have I allowed fear of failure hold me back?
Not even fear of failure.  Fear in GENERAL.  I don't know why I have so much of it.  Why I let it consume me the way that it does.  But I need to let go and let live.  I need to rise above it and not let it control my decisions or keep me from trying new things.  Fear is going to have to take a back seat in 2014.
16. Where has self-doubt taken over?
Definitely in my relationship.  Sometimes my inner voice speaks TOO loudly and without compassion.  My goal for 2014 is to love harder and think less about what it all means....to just live and love and be happy and be in the moment.  
17. When have I felt the most alive?
On my new quad.  In the desert.  With no thoughts except HOLY SHIT I'M HAVING A BLAST!
18. How have I taught others to respect me?
I learned to stand up for myself.  I'm learning to speak it up when I don't like something, feel wrong, feel uneasy, feel scared, feel happy, sad, indifferent, etc.  I'm learning it's OK for me to feel certain ways because no one can take that from me.  No one can claim my feelings are wrong or invalid because they are inherently mine.  I just need to learn how to communicate it.
19. How can I improve my relationships?
By putting my phone away when I get home.
20. Have I been unfair to anyone?
I hope not--but probably my friends.  I don't spend enough face time with them.  But I try really hard to be a good friend and I listen when someone tells me how I can do better.
21. Who do I need to forgive?
One of the things I did in 2013 was just that--but it's not for here, it's very private.  
22. Where is it time to let go?
Of the past.  In general.  All of it.  Past discretions, decisions, successes, failures, ups, downs.  All of it.  I want to continue to look forward and look towards the future.  Not hold on to anything in the past.
23. What old habits would I like to release?
Worrying and laziness-ENOUGH ALREADY!
24. What new habits would I like to cultivate?
Meditation, mindfulness, in-the-moment-living and yoga.
25. How can I be kind to myself?
By being as compassionate towards myself and I am with others

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Oakley Progression Sessions: Day 1

Wow ok, I have put this off for far too long.  The reason I procrastinated on this post is because I felt like there was so much to talk about; I couldn’t possibly fit all of my excitement in a blog post!  Well, I won’t cover everything (after all, I want to leave you with some incentive to come check out OPS for yourself!) but I will try to hit all the major highlights.

I’ll give you a quick background on Oakley Progression Sessions first for those of you who haven’t already heard me rambling on and on about this program.  Oakley Progression Sessions (OPS) is a two-day ski and snowboard camp for women looking to hone their skills on the mountain.  The camp comes to four locations throughout North America.  Each camp is led by professional coaches and Oakley Team athletes who are ready to share the lowdown on how to ride like they do.  You also get a sick swag bag and custom Oakley goggles.  The price ranges from $189 - $300 depending on the location but it pays itself off really fast.
That's me on the right!!

I literally can not say ENOUGH good things about this program.  Through OPS I’ve hit backside 180s, started to work on 360s, became comfortable riding switch, improved my confidence level, and forged lifelong friendships with like-minded ladies.  THAT is PRICELESS, in my opinion.

ANYWAY—my trip to OPS started out a bit rough this year.  We were headed to Squaw Valley and I missed my flight (user error: I left my cell phone at home and decided I couldn’t possibly live without it—I know, I know…cut the cord already!).  But after riding standby on FULL flights all the way to Reno, I made it!  I picked up my girl Meggie and we drove to Squaw to meet up with my snowlmate Julie and our Little One Chelsea, who would be staying in a cabin on the lake with us.  Cha would meet up with us later that evening as well.  We relaxed and then headed to The Village to pick out our custom goggles, pick up our swag bag, and reunite with our friends from OPS 2012.
Left to right: Chelsea the "Little One", Julie "Snowlmate", Meggie "Megatron", Cha "Cha Cha Real Smooth" and me (I need a nickname still apparently...)
Day 1 was a WHIRLWIND!  Blue skies, sunshine, perfect hoodie weather.  Could we ask for anything more??  We spent the morning exchanging hugs and smiles with girls and coaches we had met at OPS Mammoth last year.   Our morning yoga was led by the one and only Lacey Calvert.  Once our bodies were stretched and warmed up, we were ready to split into groups and hit the slopes.  We were split into groups based on our skill level and off we went!

Our first coach was Jenny Jones.  Ok, three things you must know about Jenny Jones
1.       She is a BADASS (youtube her)
2.       She is British
3.       She is hilarious
Seriously—I couldn’t even pick a favorite coach if I tried because they all bring something different to the table; Jenny is definitely top 5 though.  Anyway we spent the morning with her working on riding switch, ollies, and jumps.  I perfected my Indy grab and started working on tail grabs.  It was so epic. 
In the afternoon we switched coaches and went riding in the smaller park with Marie-France Roy.  Ok MFR (youtube her also) is literally one of the coolest people I’ve ever met.  Not coolest pro, not coolest lady snowboarder, coolest PERSON.  She’s the most down-to-earth, generous, sustainable French-Canadian I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.  I consider her more than a coach, I consider her a friend.   So we spent the afternoon with her, working on some more skills.  She convinced me to work on frontside and backside 180s in order to start getting comfortable with the idea of throwing 360s.  I was hesitant at first, but when MFR says jump, you just say “which kind”.  Or how high I suppose, but I prefer which kind.
We ended Day 1 by running into the Oakley crew at the bar and sharing some stories and shotskis with them.  Couldn’t have picked a better ending to a better day.  I love my girls, I love Oakley, and damnit…I LOVE SNOWBOARDING.
Doing some Acroyoga with Jenny Jones


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Holy Crap It's 2013 Y'all

I haven’t updated this blog in a year!  FOR SHAME!  The good  news is…it’s because I’ve been so super busy LIVING!  So let me restart my commitment to my blog with a quick update of…gosh…the past year?  Don’t worry, I’ll keep it short and simple, I promise!

·    March – Moved to Valley Center to live with my boyfriend and our 5 dogs.  Huge step for me!  The dogs are SO much happier in VC.  They have an acre to run around on, birds to watch, gophers to chase, and dirt to roll in.  Happy dogs = happy me J
   ·    June – One year anniversary with my honey AND the puppers first birthday. 

·    July – 26th birthday spent in Grand Cayman with my parents.  The downside: perforating my eardrum on the first scubadive and not being able to scubadive the rest of the week!  Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!  Don’t worry, I still had fun J

·    August – Started my new job at Bilstein Shock Absorbers!  Definitely one of the coolest gigs I’ve had thus far (except dog washing at Petco…obviously).  And won a rock climbing gift certificate at a raffle.  Date night!

·    September - Ran my SECOND Half Marathon with Team in Training to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Disneyland Half Marathon was my run of choice.  So much fun!  I ran in memory of my Uncle Steven, who died when he was just 26 after being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma 6 years prior.
·    October – SEMA!  Ho-ly-Crap!  I got to attend SEMA.  It’s basically the biggest automotive show in North America, no biggie.  Downside: I had to work the entire time; Upside: I got to sit in the Audi R8 that had just won the 24 Hours Race at the Nurburgring.  Unreal.  Oh and Snoop Lion walked by our booth, that was cool too.

·    November – Riding in a Nascar stock racing car with my dad!   Also, watching him bond with my little Peanut on Thanksgiving (heart melt!).

·    December – The best Christmas I’ve ever had.  Not only did I get to spend time with my family, but I also got to spend time with Jared’s.  I’m so blessed to be a part of two loving families.  And my mom got me a bunch of workout clothes for Christmas; she knows me so well J

·    January – It’s 2013!  New Year, new start, new ideas, new me, new everything!  We started off our New Year’s with a ride in the desert with Jared’s fam.  I got to ride in the buggy for the first time!  Ho-ly-CRAP that is fun!  Those things rip!  I can’t wait to get a quad so I can join that badass crew

February – Whew, here we are!  We’ve come full circle!  February was action packed though!  Here are some highlights (which will soon have their own dedicated entries):

·       Snowbasin with my honey and my parents!

·       Huge gardening project

·       Crossfit 858 Team Competition

And March.  Don’t even get me started on what’s coming up in March. 

     ·        Oakley Progression Sessions at Squaw Valley

     ·        Oakley VIP Session & Brand Ambassador Awesomeness

For 2013, I decided I would make monthly goals (which are a bit easier to stick with than one big lofty goal).  January’s was to Crossfit at least 3x a week (goal met!), February’s was to avoid dairy (epic fail—who knew I liked cheese so much???).  I think March’s will be to update my blog at least once a week.  Get me in the habit of updating this thing a bit more frequently.  Sorry Facebook—you might have to take a backseat for a bit, mama wants to try something new J


Thanks for hanging in during that update!  More to follow after this weekend (Oakley Progression Sessions!)

Friday, February 10, 2012

So Your Dog Needs Some Training...

I had a friend ask me to do my next post about training since her doggie needs some training.  Of course, I couldn’t wait to recommend Rachel Bowman, so I texted her immediately.  Still, I feel like I’d be doing everyone with a dog a disservice if I didn’t post about training immediately. 

As not only a first-time dog owner, but a first-time pitbull owner, I knew that I wanted to get Chief into training as soon as he was old enough (which ended up being about 3 months old for us).  I wasn’t sure where to go, how much it would cost, if I could even afford it, and if they’d be able to handle a pitbull.  Now, granted, Chief isn’t aggressive or anything like that, but pitbulls have a bad reputation connected with them.  If I took him to a group class at Petco, where he was training with Pomeranians, I was worried I’d get some glares, or that if anything happened during socialization or during the training that the group would automatically blame my pup because he’s a pitbull. 

So I found a San Diego Pitbull meetup group and scoured their message boards for recommendations about trainers.  I found a few and did some research; one of the few that were recommended was Rachel Bowman.  I checked out her page and saw that she not only ran a rescue as well, but also specialized in issues ranging from dog-dog reactivity to fear based human aggression.  Knowing what I know about the public’s perception of pitbulls I decided that she was the one for me.  Like I said, Chief wasn’t dog reactive or human aggressive; he was just a normal, happy puppy (and he still is).  However, he did seem to be pretty timid when he was out in the world.  So I sent her an email and said I was interested in private half hour sessions (since he was still too young for a group class).  We booked an appointment for that same weekend and I’m SO glad I did.  I can’t say enough great things about Rachel; in fact, I wrote a client testimonial for her not too long ago.  Here it is!

Reason You Started Training: I wanted Chief to learn some basic commands as soon as possible.  I figured the younger we started on obedience training and socialization the better.  As a responsible pitbull owner I wanted to instill confidence, as well as obedience, into my pup.

How Has Your Dog Improved Since You Started Training with Bowman's Canine: Chief is a wonderfully behaved puppy.  He does so well with "sit" and "watch" that it is very easy to get and keep his attention when there is chaos surrounding him.  Not only has Rachel helped with training but she's given me a ton of insight into dog behavior.  With her help I am constantly in tune with Chief's body language.  I am able to spot his stress signs so that I can remove him from stressful situations and/or praise him when he removes himself.  We also work on his confidence a lot since he tends to be a very timid puppy.  Working with Rachel has helped Chief blossom and he looks to me as his leader which makes our relationship very beneficial to each other.

Would You Recommend Bowman's Canine To Others: In a heartbeat, over and over and over.  Rachel not only provides easy to follow training methods, but she provides real insight into dog behavior.  As a dog owner, I'm not just learning commands, I'm learning to spot stress signs, read dog body language, understand methods of play, and overall learn how to be a better and more responsible dog owner.  Rachel understands and has experience with bully breeds, as well as understanding that not every dog learns the same.  Her training isn't the cookie cutter training you would get at a huge brand name store; it's personalized to your dogs personalities, strengths, and weaknesses.   Rachel doesn't just bring out the best in a dog, she brings out the best in their owners as well.

Update: Chief is now also pretty good at “come” and “stay”.  When we are out and about I always keep him on a leash for his safety, as well as others.  Like I’ve mentioned, he isn’t dog or human reactive, but as a new owner it’s tough to tell what situations make him uneasy, so for now I keep him on a leash unless we’re in the backyard or on a hiking trail by ourselves.  I strongly believe that in order to help change the public’s perception of a pitbull (I’ll blog about this one day for sure), I need to be overly responsible.  I’m ok with that.  I don’t want Chief to spot a squirrel and run out into traffic.  While I’m confident about his ability to “come” and “stay”, we haven’t yet tried it with distractions.  But that’ll be another thing I’ll have Rachel help us with.  I don’t believe in just training your dog as a puppy, I think training should be a life-long learning experience.  Just my opinion =)

Ok so that’s my recommendation in a nutshell.  However, I love so many other things about Rachel, I think I’ll just bullet point them.  If you want more information or want me to rave about her personally, then please feel free to contact me.  Otherwise, visit her website and see for yourself!  www.bowmanscanine.com

Things I like about Rachel Bowman
    ·    She owns 3 gorgeous pitbulls of her own
    ·    She rescues pitbulls (PS: she has two up for adoption, if you’re interested check out her page—they’re beautiful dogs, I’d take them if we didn’t already have 5)
    ·    She rescues chickens and roosters too (I don’t know why but I weirdly love this)
    ·    Her hubby is a tattoo artist (Good Neighbor Tattoo)
    ·    She has a killer sleeve
    ·    She loves little Chiefster and he digs her too (sure, she’s the lady with the treats but he’s not responsive to everyone)
    ·    She’s super knowledgeable about dogs and dog behavior
    ·    I can write her an email or a facebook message with questions and she always gets back to me
    ·    I bring her lists of personality traits, questions, habits, etc of all the dogs we own and she helps me with them also
    ·    She introduced me to Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth, which is a WAY cheaper method of preventing parasites and deworming dogs (as well as many other health benefits).  We just can’t afford Sentinal for 6 dogs.  Oh and the dogs freakin’ LOVE it
·         Her training methods are easy to learn and convenient.  I say convenient because I don’t always have treats on me (although I’ve learned now it’s best to just keep treats on me all the time); but all I have to use with Rachel’s style of training is my words and my hands.  I can tell Chief ‘Yes, good boy’ and press my palm against his nose with no treat and he still associates it with doing something right.  Of course, every so often I have a treat, or kibble, or just a bunch of pets to reward him with (he LOVES to be loved—trust me, it’s the top tier reward for him).
·         She doesn’t just work with my dog on “sit” and “stay”, she helps with his shyness, his separation anxiety, his tendency to growl when he’s unsure of things, and his need to finish his food as fast as possible so he can eat the other puppies food.
·         Rachel is passionate about her work.  It’s obvious that she loves dogs, she loves pitbulls, and she genuinely loves what she does.  Her passion comes through in her conversations and her training sessions.  It seems to me that she never stops learning so she can continually be an amazing trainer and up-to-date on the latest and greatest methods.
·         On top of ALL of these really awesome traits, Rachel is just a cool person.  I don’t know the last time someone offered me a service that I paid for and I thought to myself “omg…I want to be her friend!”.  No really, I want to like…hang out with her, and have doggie dates with her.  That’s how cool she is. 

So that’s it.  If you need training for your dog or puppy, go to Rachel Bowman.  I can’t stress it enough.  Trust me…I drive an HOUR from Julian to train with her, that’s how worth it she is.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Introducing: My "Pack"

For my first post, I will start simple. Just a teeny tiny (ok I lied, it's kind of long) introduction for those of you who are new to my most recent adventures. It would seem to most people that I now travel with a "pack". I guess I can't really call them "my" pack, because they are actually Jared's pack (Jared = boyfriend). Really, I'm a part of their pack, but now we are splitting hairs.

Jared is the obvious leader of our pack, so I'll briefly introduce him. Jared is my boyfriend. We met through a mutual group of friends and nothing about our relationship is traditional. But I like it that way. Our first date was a lovely 4 mile round trip hike. It starts out with a friendly elevation loss of about 1000 feet. You understand what that means right? That there is a 1000 foot elevation gain on the 2 mile hike back out. Nothing says first date like dirt and sweat. Add in 2 dogs and you have our first date in a nutshell. Oh wait, I forgot...there are no bathrooms at Three Sisters Waterfalls...so on our first date I had to pee behind a rock, straddling what seemed to be normal plants with just a sprinkling of poison ivy. Once Jared realized I was cool enough to pee behind a rock on our first date, he realized I was cool enough to meet the rest of his dogs.

 Since this is really about "my pack" I'm going to skip the introduction of 3 of the dogs that were living in his house when we first started dating. Long story short, Jared was fostering 3 of his landlord's pitbulls; Roxie, Sarge, and Apache. Long story long, none of them were fixed (until we got to them) and Roxie was pregnant when I first met her. Really pregnant. Less than a week after our first date...13 puppies were born. Ok--to finish this long story quickly, I helped Jared raise and find homes for the litter of puppies. Obviously it took some time but we have managed to find homes for 12 out of the 13 puppies so far!  Needless to say...we did end up keeping 2 of the puppies...dang those cute faces!

NOW here is my introduction to the pack...

Burmie (on the left)
This is Burmie, the original founder of the pack.  She's 7 years old, fawn colored, and so well-behaved that I almost can't believe it.  I can't say enough great things about this dog, she truly is a breed ambassador for pitbulls.  Rather than giving you a complete history of all these dogs, I will instead list a few of their funny personality quirks.  Burmie wants nothing more in life than to be covered with a blanket.  Whether she's trying to burrow between the covers with us or just begging to be covered with a blanket while she's on the floor--that is when she is happiest.  I will be sure to add a picture of this burrowing in a future blog post--maybe I'll devote an entire blog post to it, who knows.  Burmie is also a toy tweaker.  If you throw a ball, you better plan on throwing it 100 more times.  Trust me, you'll want to quit playing fetch before she ever will.  She's so crazy about it that I've seen her put her head underwater, to rip out a stick, by the root, to play with.  Literally, she will bring home tree branches if you don't keep an eye on her.  So you think you want to throw a football around?  Think again, she'll take it.  But...she does it with a smile :)  And it's a great way to keep kids busy if you have to.  Most of the times you see Burms she's got one of those huge pittie smiles (that all pittie enthusiasts know and love); however, there are times when she pouts.  Literally, she sticks her bottom lip out and turns up her sad little "eyebrows".  She's good at it too. 

Maples aka Mamas
This here is Maples.  You can also see her in the picture with Burms (see above).  Maples is also about 7ish years old, maybe older and is half Bull Mastiff.  She lived in the wild for a year after her owner banished her for one reason or another.  Maples also had a litter of puppies while she was living in the wild, at which point Jared decided to take care of her and her pups.  That is how he came to own Maples and Kingston (who I will introduce next).  Maples is an amazing dog.  She is VERY timid around people and therefore is happiest in nature (when there aren't any people around).  She warmed up to me, although my excitement can sometimes still spook her.  The most amazing thing about Maples is her ability to rock climb.  I'm not kidding, she can climb things that some people can't.  We will be on hikes and I'll be taking a headcount wondering "Where the heck is Maples".  Look around, look down, look up--there she is!  On top of a rock somewhere.  She must have been a goat in her past life.  In addition to being an amazing climber, Maples is also an amazing mom.  The pups annoy the crap out of her sometimes, but I've caught little moments of her licking them clean and snuggling up with them.  Maples definitely beat the odds living out in the wild for a year; she is a true survivor.

My sweet, sweet Kingston.  This is one of Maple's pups.  I believe he is about 5-6 years old, born in the wild like I mentioned.  He is also a bit timid around people, but if you can get him to high five you, then you're on his good side.  After a few weeks of showing up at Jared's each weekend, we finally bonded over a quiet high five.  Kingston is one of the most beautiful dogs I've ever seen.  Tall, dark brindle, deep orange eyes, and the most beautiful canines I've seen on a dog (that seems like a strange thing to notice but whatever).  Kingston loves to give kisses if you say "little kiss"--but it has to be with the Nacho Libre accent.  Like I mentioned he does high five, as well as low five.  While Kingston is more of a "flight" in the whole "fight or flight" theory, he is still an integral part of the pack and a protector in his own right.  I contribute part of this to his being born and living in the wild for a short time.  We went on a camping trip once and as we were settling down for bed (under the stars, no tent), I looked around in the darkness trying to get comfortable with where we were (I watch a lot of scary movies).  I noticed Kingston was sitting with his back to us watching the darkness also.  When he was content with one area, he would get up, walk to the next corner, and watch.  He continued this until he had apparently secure the perimeter.  Nothing makes me more comfortable than knowing Kingston has my back.  After that, I fell head over heels in love with him.

This little girl has been melting my heart since she was born 7 months ago.  She was the runt of the litter (along with her sister Kali).  Always getting pushed back during feeding time, always getting trampled on, but she grew up into a strong, fearless pup.  I named her Peanut long before we decided to keep her because she looks like a little peanut.  All brown, with the coolest markings I’ve seen on a pitbull to date.  She has the squishiest little face and the beautiful green artichoke eyes that so many pups in this litter had.  Jared renamed her Ambrosia, which is good on paper, but we still call her Peanut.  This dog LOVES to cuddle.  So many times she has wormed her way into bed with us and we just can’t say no!  We try, believe me try, but 9 out of 10 times we give in and let her up.  Sometimes we wake up with her in between us, she’s very sneaky.  When she gets excited her entire body wiggles with happiness and she can’t decide if she should point her butt or her face at me so she just wiggles around pointing both.  Jared was already set on keeping her long before I brought it up.  He likes the runt of a litter (Burmie was also a runt), but really...who could say no to that squishy little face?

Chief (also 7 months old) is essentially my dog and I only mean that if Jared and I broke up tomorrow, I'd take Chief and he'd keep the rest (even though I've become so attached to all the dogs that my heart would be broken...I guess I have no choice but to never break up with Jared).  I never understood what it was like to be "chosen" by an animal, but Chief chose me.  I don't have any pictures of him as a puppy because we never bonded until he was about 3 months old.  I don't know how I missed this gorgeous face in all my pictures of the litters but somehow I did.  I took him to a company picnic to socialize him and hopefully get him adopted out, but we bonded so deeply that I couldn't bear the thought of parting with him.  He was very close to finding a home when Jared offered to keep him for me until I could find a dog-friendly place to live (which, as it turns out, will probably just be with Jared).  Chief is...a funny puppy.  He has the most beautiful face, and a little Sherrif's star on his neck.  He melts my heart every time he sits at my feet and looks straight up at me with those light green eyes.  But this dog is special.  He's weird about crossing thresholds (which makes doors really fun).  He's weird about changing textures (going from grass to concrete).  He's weird about car rides.  He's just a weird little boy.  But man he loves his mom.  He's the definition of a "velcro dog" especially if it's just me and him.  He will NOT leave my side.  I could write a whole entry on Chief and his funny personality quirks, probably because I've spent the most one-on-one time with him out of all the dogs, but I will get into that another day since this is only an INTRODUCTION.

So there you have it--5 dogs and I couldn't be happier.  Are they a lot of work?  Yes.  Do they sometimes eat my shoes and upset me? Definitely.  Would I trade it for anything?  Absolutely...NOT.  Sure cats are easy, one dog is nice, two dogs is fun, but I would never ever trade my new pack in.  Not only has caring for this many dogs made me a better, more patient person, but it has also taught me to be compassionate and responsible.  Do I want to buy those new Betsy Johnson shoes?  Sure, but I'd rather buy two bags of Canidae dog food and keep my pack healthy and happy.  That's what sacrifices are all about.  That's what being a responsible owner is all about. 

So--stay tuned because I plan on blogging about the following subjects in the near future:
Training (and a personal recommendation of who to go to)
More puppy stories
Responsible Dog Owners
Pitbulls in general
Updates on the litter
And of course...the other crazy adventures of my life :)