My little lucky Penny

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Since Ellie got a whole post dedicated to her, I thought it unfair if I did not show some love to Penny. This is the story of how Penny came into my life.

It was August 2004, a few weeks before I was leaving for my sophomore year of college. At the last minute, I ended up living by myself for the Fall semester in an off-campus townhouse. My mom was concerned about her 19-year-old daughter living by herself. My solution was to take Tucker, who was technically my dog, with me to Gainesville. Tucker was about 5 years old, a small mound of white fluff and sweetness. He had found my family when I was in 9th grade (he literally followed one of our dogs home and adopted us. It wasn't long before we adopted him, too) and became my dog - or so I thought. See, as much as Mom wanted me to have a dog in my townhouse for company and an "alarm system," she wanted to keep Tucker even more. Enter Penny.

Penny at 4 years old
We were at a local market in my hometown one Saturday with one of my Mom's friends. Her friend said, "You HAVE to see this puppy," and there she was. A little pouf of strawberry blond fur, she weighed merely a pound. Mom tried to persuade me, saying "Wouldn't you love to take this thing home with you?" but I knew what she was up to. I said, No thanks, I'd rather have my dog who is already housebroken. But the more I thought about her, the more I knew I wanted to take her to Gainesville with me. So about a week later, when she was 8 weeks old, Mom purchased her for me as an early 20th birthday gift. I named her Penny Anne: "Penny" because she was small and copper-colored, and "Anne" after the red-headed Little Orphan Annie.
My little angel

Penny has since been with me for 7.5 years. She finished undergrad with me; moved to Chicago and ventured to the top of the Sears Tower (where no dogs are allowed, but there she went!); she returned to Gainesville with me for Grad School and sat in my lap over many long days and nights while I wrote my thesis; she met Alex the same night I did and instantly approved; she comforted me through a long-distance relationship and a job search that seemed never-ending; she moved to South Carolina when both the long-distance and the job search finally ended; she relocated when our house was complete and was officially "adopted" by Alex when we got married; at the age of 7, she accepted Ellie as her sister, even though she would have been happy to be an only child forever. To say that we've been through some ups and downs together would be an understatement.
6 years old, loving life at the beach!

When Alex laughs at me for how obsessed I am with her (which is totally a valid point), I sometimes I like to remind him that she's been in my life longer than he has. I love that little dog so much. Though I've had many dogs in my life, she was the first that was truly mine and who loved me more than anyone else. I can't tell you how happy my heart is when I see her excited face when I get home from work each day. In over 7 years, I haven't lost my luster I guess. And she hasn't, either.

Penny joined in on some of our engagement pictures!

Meet Ellie

Saturday, January 28, 2012

In November, we decided we needed to add another member to our household of 3 (the third being Penny, my 4-pound, 7-year-old poodle/chihuahua). Alex had been lobbying hard for a larger dog since before we even got married, and I knew that it was going to happen - there was no sense in fighting it. And to be honest, I wanted a larger dog, too: as much as I adore Penny, she can't play fetch with a tennis ball (her mouth's too small to get around it); she can't go on long walks or hikes (her legs are too short to take her very far); and you can't really rely on her for protection (although for a little one, she has quite the ferocious bark). I grew up with larger dogs, and thought one would be a good addition to the family, too. So in early November, we found a litter of Golden Retriever puppies and set out to take a look. We ended up meeting our precious Ellie that night!
Ellie at 6 weeks old!
She was the right one for us. The "Red" puppy - the breeder had identified Ellie and her 8 brothers and sisters by different colored collars, rather than naming them from birth - she was calmer and a bit smaller than the others. She came right up to me and put her paws up on my leg. I fell in puppy love.

Our first night at home with Ellie - Penny is less than thrilled!
We picked Ellie up 2 weeks later and brought her home to meet Penny. I was nervous about how Penny would react - she had been the only child her entire life. At first, I think Penny thought "This too shall pass," but when Ellie hadn't gone anywhere after a few weeks, reality sank in: Penny was a big sister.
Penny and Ellie have learned to share - sort of...
Over the last few months, Ellie has kept growing...and growing...and she's been the best puppy we could have asked for. Seriously. She's not quite as calm as she was that first night we met her, but I was waiting for that to wear off. However, she was housebroken within 3 weeks, was a star student in Puppy Class ("Sit! Shake! Rollover!") and is the perfect addition to our family. We made the right choice.
3 months old, all decked out for Christmas!
I have always heard that Goldens are kind, smart, and tirelessly loyal dogs. I can see it now, just in the 2.5 months we've had Ellie. Although she has a lot of growing and learning left to do, her demeanor is so sweet that I know she'll be good to us for years to come, through celebrations and sad times, through road-trips and vacations when she gets to tag along, and one day, through the joy of bringing children into our life. (And, okay, I am looking forward to years of all-American Christmas cards adorned by my Golden Retriever's picture. Just an added bonus!).
Sisters! They really do love each other.

200 days

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

We have been married for 200 days! While this might not be a typical milestone, it's significant: our wedding was more than half a year ago...and if my math's correct, that means we're less than 6 months from celebrating our first anniversary and busting into our frozen wedding cake.

I remember when there were 200 days to go until our wedding day (thanks, The Knot!) and how that seemed both impossibly far and frightfully close, with all the things I needed to plan, order, create and decide in those 200 days racing through my mind. Now wedding planning seems like another life, a blur of flower selections, dress fittings and cake tastings, even though it was technically only 201 days ago that it ended. 
Each day, I thank God that He brought me to the wonderful man who became my husband 200 days ago. Alex and I often say to each other, "I love our life." And it's true. I love the life that we have. I look forward to hundreds upon hundreds more days in this life together.

The best is yet to come: happy 2012!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Today is the first day of the year, a day that most people view as a new beginning, a blank page, a fresh start. Others see it as any other day - the same as yesterday, the same as tomorrow. I usually fall somewhere in the middle.

But this new year is special to me. This is the first I am starting as a married lady, in my marital home, with my handsome husband by my side as more than a boyfriend, more than a fiance, but as my life partner bound by God and the laws of the state of South Carolina.

Whoa, things just got serious.

In all honesty, 2011 was a fantastic year for so many reasons, a true banner year for A (the hubs) and I. We tied the knot and enjoyed all the things that go along with a wedding: bridal showers, parties in our honor, bachelor/bachelorette weekends, a tropical honeymoon, and of course, the wedding day itself that we shared with 220 people near and dear to us. But we also finished our first home and moved into it as husband and wife; added a puppy to our family, bringing the canine count to two; and probably most importantly, began to understand why the adventure known as marriage is the best thing you can do in life, although it isn't always easy and there's a lot to learn. I say all of this to ask: how can 2012 or any year possibly top this?

I once heard a sermon about how we often get caught up in the moment, thinking "this is the time of my life," when in reality, the best is always yet to be. How many times have I thought that I was currently in the best time of my life? In high school, yes. College? For sure. Planning my wedding, the day I had always dreamed about? Oh, yessssss. But I have to remind myself that God has great plans for all of us, and if we knew that high school or college or wedding planning was the best time of our life, and then it was over - how sad would that be? No, the future holds great promises.

So get pumped for a new year! This is a new start, whether you see it that way or not. The fact is, today is 1-1-2012. The first day of a new year. Embrace it, face it head-on. I can't wait to see what this year holds for me. After all, the best is yet to come.

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