Whitener Wednesday-We have been married 3 years!

Today is our anniversary. It is hard to believe that it was only 3 years ago that I walked down the aisle towards the rest of my life.

Year 3 as with every year has had its good and bad moments.

We left off on our story last week with our first military ball.

Moving in together for realsies had its struggles. We were both used to having things a certain way after so long and then there are the added differences of life post-deployment and moving to a new state. I swore at times my husband resembled a caveman, but then again I wasn’t a perfect princess either with my nagging on where things belong. It was like we were recycling back to our first year of marriage.

The end of that summer I geared up for the beginning of a new school year at a new school. I felt like I was in a groove at work and was ready for the new challenges. I was continuing to job search for a full-time job because there did not seem to be any sign that they would be turning my part-time gig into something more permanent. I however, worked that semester trying to change their minds.

It was that fall that Tom started an intensive training schedule. He was out at a range or some training mission every other week it seemed.

In September, he had to undergo another surgery for a tumor that had grown on his hip.

Also in September, we made the plunge and added to our family by adopting Crosby. It has been a whirlwind with them since, but I couldn’t imagine not being a two dog family. I love my little pups, even with moments like this…


I ran my fourth half marathon for a family that we have had a great time getting to know in the past year. They inspire me greatly as Tom and I look to start our own family.

Tom and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house for the first time, and I would like to think that it went off really well. We had turkey for days…

This year is the first year in our ENTIRE relationship that we have been together for every single holiday for the ENTIRE year. Mind boggling that it took us seven years to do that. It was so great to have Christmas, birthdays, and everything in between with Tom.

Right after the new year, Tom was forced into a job change. We also had to come to grips that Tom would be deployed again. Some days I have accepted it, other days there is just anger and bitterness knowing that he is so close to peacing out from the military.

We had been actively trying to conceive for awhile, but after the new year thanks to some complications I was having hormone wise, we decided we would look into a fertility specialist just to make sure that everything was hunkydory on this journey. We also wanted to get everything checked out before Tom went on deployment while we had the time.

It was then that our life changed completely. We found out AT the fertility doctor that we were actually 8 weeks pregnant. You can read more about that story here.  We are having a baby! We still get a kick out of telling that story.

Baby 1

Our lives have kind of been topsy-turvey since. Tom still has been doing training missions, and I have been working as much as I was allowed. We have crafted and DIYed our butts off this year. Check those specific tabs if you want to see what we have done in the last year! Some have been duds, but some have been the bombdiggity.

We then found out that we are having a boy, and we decided on the name George Lawson. We think the dogs know what is going on by some weird behavior we have been seeing, and we hope they are as excited as we are once George becomes their new playmate!


I participated in my 5th half marathon with my sister-in law. I was 19 weeks along at the time, and we successfully made it all 13.1 miles.

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We have done some traveling over the past year. There have been countless trips to Missouri to see the famjams. We had a trip over Easter to see our friends in Indiana, and recently we took a trip to Iowa.

But mostly this year we have spent being homebodies enjoying being together. It was the first time we got to come home to each other every day. It was the first time that things seemed relatively normal, as normal as they can get being a military family that is. It was the first time that we didn’t have a countdown going until the next time we would see each other. So in our third year of marriage and seventh year together, we were still able to have a lot of firsts.

We have gone through every emotion possible between the two of us this past year. We both have been strung along and had discontent with how our careers were going. I had ups and downs of being a temporary employee (ups like I wrote here, here and here; downs like this) and being stuck in a never ending job search. Tom’s leadership has been less than stellar leading him down some paths he never wanted to go through during his Army career. For example, they forced him into a job he didn’t want and had him slotted for a deployment that he will need to reenlist for even though he has no intention of doing so, but they are sure he will. Hence him being on the list in the first place. You know stuff that we have no control over, but impacts our life dramatically.  It was during these times that we have had to be each other’s rock and just keep keeping on. We learned to accept things and make new plans when necessary. We learned a lot about ways to support each other through this year, and it has been nice to do that in person. Special moments.

And then to learn that we are going to be parents. Words cannot describe the happiness and content we have experienced since hearing, “You knocked her up.”

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It has been a year.

So much has happened, but yet at the same time very little in comparison to other years. Although, I think George kind of trumps everything as far as life changes. It is a little ironic that our first year of just us in one place, will also be our last with just us.

All I have to say for the last few years is, “High five Husband.”


Happy Anniversary to the man who has taught me so much about life, love, and happiness. To the man who can make me laugh even in my darkest moments. To the man who never ceases to amaze me with his courage and passion. To the man who is the best dog dad and soon-to-be-George dad. To the man who encourages me in all of my endeavors and has made so many sacrifices for our family. To the man who is always on board for crafty time and is the best handy man to have around. To the man who makes me prouder than I ever believed possible. To a man who has never doubted us for a second since we met.

Here is to many more great years to our add to our love story.

Whitener Wednesday-Our First Year Married

Right after the big day, Tom and I had some big decisions to make. I would say they were not your typical first year of marriage problems. To make sure everyone is following along, the year was June 2011 to June 2012.

I was about to start my second year at Iowa State in a position that I loved. Tom, however, had not been as lucky in the job search realm. He had been interviewing for police positions all over the central Iowa area, and even some departments more than once with no luck for over a year.

We decided after the wedding Tom would apply for one more department. He had always talked about going into the Army. If you remember during grad school, he had considered enlisting, and I wasn’t as on board then. If he wasn’t able to find a police position within the first six months of our marriage, we agreed that he would enlist. I finally saw that it was something he needed to do. We felt that it would help in the future for job searching or it could end up being a career move for him. Either way, it would be a way for Tom to provide for our family and have some career satisfaction.

The next few months we waited for some good news. We filled our time with trying to act like a normal couple without this huge decision on our shoulders. We went to ZooBrew like champs and visited our families.


ZooBrew was one of our favorite summer time activities. Booze and large animals? Yes please.



Getting in some Nuncle Tom and Aunt Teffie time with our beautiful little niece.

During all this madness, we decided it was a good idea to get a dog. It was not our intention to get one until we had things figured out, but things just kind of spiraled out of control one weekend. Before we knew it, we brought Grace home that Halloween. By far the best thing that happened that first year! (Also in writing this, I realized that I have never wrote about Grace’s adoption since we got her prior to my blogging adventure. We told Crosby’s, so I guess I should maybe plan to tell the full story about how we got Gracie lady!)


Grace on the way home with us from the shelter. Now seeing her pictures from back then, I can see she has definitely grown since we got her at 36 pounds!

Grace managed to keep us busy and definitely made things happier for us. We were feeling like a family and things were normal right?

Well our life likes to be tricky and never goes as we planned. There were still no job prospects…crickets I tell ya. So Tom enlisted into the US Army right before our 6 month anniversary. Tom would leave that March for Basic Training, and we would have to endure long distance once again.

Fun story though, while Tom was at MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station-where he officially enlisted and did all the initial testing/signing his life away) he got two calls for job offers. One was for a police department, and one was to teach Criminal Justice courses at a local college. Seriously? This is our life…

6 months

Since we knew that Tom would be gone for our first anniversary, we decided to celebrate our 6 month as if it was the whole first year.

I managed to throw the most epic surprise going-away party ever for Tom, which is saying something because I am the worst at keeping secrets. It was a great day to celebrate and be with friends and family before our life changed completely…once again.


Tom humor on our kitchen calendar.

He left for Basic Training at Ft. Benning GA in March and did not graduate until July 3rd after our first year anniversary. For those 3.5 months, we talked mostly in letters. We each wrote one every single day, which are pieces of our life that we still have in a box to cherish for a life time. We talked on the phone twice the entire time. One happened to be around my birthday and the other was on our anniversary. We were lucky that these days fell around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day so they got to use the phone for those things. And my wonderful husband choose to call me quickly as well before he talked with his parents. Such a cool feeling to hear him talk after silence for months.

This kind of distance was much different than our first go around obviously. Since our communication was very limited or delayed, there were a lot of first year marriage milestones that we didn’t get to experience or where one of us had to make decisions on our own without the knowledge or input from our partner. I knew he was out of danger so there was something romantic about writing love letters every day to him before I went to bed. Granted I would rather of had him home, but you have to look at the positives. Every day, I wrote to him “I love you more than yesterday.” And every day it rang true.

Not much else happened those few months besides me taking a picture of Grace every day to mail him. Having Grace was the best distraction while Tom was away. I mean work definitely was distracting too (have you ever been on a college campus during move out?). But really I just hung out with Gracers for the most part being an obnoxious dog mom.


These are just a few of our gems.

I did get to see him for one weekend while they had pass. It was a glorious couple of days. I will never forget how skinny he was then! It was like I was married to a different person.


I also had it in the back of my mind that this could possibly be my last year at Iowa State before we had to move to wherever the Army sent us. So I just tried distracting myself with making the most of the time I had there.

It may sound horrible, but I honestly don’t remember what I did for our anniversary that year. I probably took Grace for a long walk and did nothing if I would have to guess. I may have taken the day off work…

But in all fairness I knew we had a big reunion coming up in the next month with his graduation. I was just counting down our long distance days at this point.

Come back next week to see how year two went with Basic Graduation starting us off! Thanks for reading every week!


At least we looked good that year! (I also had perfected the wavy curl look, so it is obvious I used it on every special occasion…)

Talks with Tom #23

Tom and I were talking about our sweet pups and how good they are on road trips, when this came out of Tom.

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Crosby got really lucky because Grace is super hot. He got to come home to one girl. He is a really nice guy and sweet and dopey. He is absolutely the kind of guy that she would have friend-zoned right away.

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I Wink at My Dogs

I have a very weird relationship with my dogs. I think it is normal, but others find it weird.

I snuggle with them every chance I can get.

I kiss them on the mouth.

I talk to them like they are humans, even if no humans are in the room.

I want to leave social functions early because I don’t want to leave them home alone too long.

I buy them collars like it is an addiction.

I would let them lay on top of me even if I am suffocating just so they will be comfortable.

I wink at them when they wink at me. (Seriously, they wink at me.)

I just love them so much. They are the best things that have happened to Tom and I.

We took in a stray yesterday who we found at our fence. He was shivering and his paws were all bloody. We ended up bringing him in the house because with Clarksville being shut down basically due to this ice situation, we didn’t want to leave him out for who knows how long until we either found an owner or the shelter was able to pick him up. We kept him segregated from our dogs who were being territorial from about 9am until 4pm when the local shelter was able to pick him up. Tom and I took turns cuddling with him and giving him much needed attention. We spread “flyers” through Facebook, and Tom drove around the neighborhood and tried to follow the pups tracks back to his home. This poor sweet puppy just wanted a warm place to stay. If our dogs wouldn’t have been so jealous about “Carl,” we would have kept him longer. Grace and Crosby were not happy with us AT ALL though. So we sent Carl off with people who could see if he had a microchip and find his home. I almost cried though when they took him in the truck.

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He was so sweet. I wish we could have kept him. I am glad we were able to help him at least be warm and happy for the day.

It makes me think about the lives that Grace and Crosby had before us. I am so glad that we are able to offer them a warm house, food, and most of all love.

They really do complete our lives. And they do things that surprise us every day.

When I was hugging the porcelain throne on Friday, Crosby laid with me the whole night. Grace came and checked in on me off and on. They are already taking this baby guard duty seriously.

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This was early in the night, but Crosby stayed for every minute of this night right beside me.

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This is where I was struggling, and Crosby was not happy about people disturbing his guarding. He takes his job seriously. There was one point in the night I had to puke over him because he was insistent on not leaving his post.

While some people think it is weird that we treat our dogs like humans and real children, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. If they are going to take care of me completely, why wouldn’t we do the same?

I just love them, and I hope that all dogs get to experience that at some point in their lives.

My babies are Three!

I cannot believe our darling dogs are 3 today!


I know it is crazy!

Ok so we aren’t exactly sure when Crosby’s birthday is, so we just made it the same as Grace’s since they are so close in age.

So Happy Birthday to Grace and Crosby!

Here is a run down of where they are at 3 years old:

Their past before us

  • Grace-Her owners before us surrendered her to the shelter because she would run away a lot. We have never had this problem. Even if she gets off leash on walks she never goes far and will come quickly back if you call her name. She also had some scars on her face when we adopted her, so we think there was more to the run away story.
  • Crosby-He ran the streets before animal control caught him and surrendered him to the local shelter here in town. We assume he had a pretty rough life because he has gashes/scars that tell a tale that we will never know all over his throat and near his eyes. He was also at the shelter for almost 2 months before we took him in, which is a really long time in shelter life times.

Adoption Stories

  • Grace-We adopted her from a shelter in Marshalltown, IA. We actually went there to see another dog, who had already been adopted out by the time we made the hour drive there. I saw Grace and just knew. She was so sweet and shy. And just the right size for the apartment we were living in at the time. She was 10 months old when we got her.
  • Crosby-You can read more here. Tom and I were just saying the other day it is hard to believe we have only had him for a few months.

This was our first professional shoot with them!


  • As I stated Friday, I have a love for old Hollywood. Luckily, my husband goes along with it.
  • Grace after Grace Kelly. Her original name was Izzy. She has always known her name Grace though.
  • Crosby after Bing Crosby. His original name was Kramer. He just recently has started recognizing his name.


  • G-Boxer (of the brindle persuasion)
  • C-Boxer (but we assume he also has something else because of his block head that resembles a St. Bernard)


  • G-63 (which is almost twice the weight when we got her 2 years ago)
  • C-76

Look at me!


  • G-sit, shake, and down. She will not do the down if there are other dogs present or too many people to make it a show. She will do the sit and shake for anyone (and any audience size) as long a treat is involved. Tom also had her trained at one point to bark/growl at the sound of the door opening. She will also sit in front of you while you go to the bathroom to protect you.
  • C-sit and shake. He gets really anxious though and is not patient for treats. He will also shake when he thinks he is in trouble. Trying to warm our hearts-smart dog.


  • G-doesn’t always make it through the night. I never had this problem until we moved here, so I am not sure what the deal is with her pooping in the kitchen if Tom and I don’t wake up at 5 on the dot for her. And it is really random when it happens. She’ll go weeks without doing it. Then, PLOP, there it is. A mystery.
  • C-he is like a rock once he is down. He is good about making it through the night and is usually a diva about people waking him up. He also snores like a train.


  • G-Iams Proactive Health. We went through quite a few brands at first, but this was the only one that consistently didn’t give her the runs, and wouldn’t break the bank for me.
  • C-always Iams Proactive Health.
  • They both will eat anything in the form of table scraps, which has made them ridiculous beggars. It doesn’t help that Tom gives them part of his meal whenever he eats. (Ok I do sometimes too.)

They are on their best behaviors when food is involved.

House trained

  • G-It has been a long road for this gal! I think we are finally there, except for the occasionally dumps in the am.
  • C-mostly successful. We have lost a pillow and a couple remotes are not as aesthetically pleasing. Oh and that couch
  • We have gotten into a pretty good routine of what works for them and what doesn’t in order to leave them out in the house by themselves. Tom and I also have had to make some adjustments on what we can leave out and how clean our clutter needs to be. It is so great not to have to worry about them in the kennels.

Bad Habits

  • G-she still has separation anxiety, but it is much more manageable now that Crosby is around. This is one big reason why we have never kenneled her though because we don’t want her to revert back to where she was two years ago. She also eats poop, then vomits it up, then she may eat it again. It’s a vicious cycle that I wish she would stop doing. Grace also likes digging into my lady trash…
  • C-he is a nervous chewer, which is why the top of our TV remote is missing. He also is a huge jumper, which we are working on.

We only have single shots of Grace because as we were taking these cuties, Crosby was digging his face in the peanut butter jar….whoops.


  • G-she is the best cuddler! I just love laying in bed/on the couch with her. She will nuzzle up to you just so perfectly. It is amazing how a larger dog like her can make herself so small. She will also sit perfectly still so you can hug her. We also don’t have to worry about her in the car because she is a great traveler!
  • C-he loves to kiss you. While I am not the biggest fan of the wetness, it is super adorable to watch him do it to Grace and Tom. He will dance with me and is just so jolly. He is pretty low key and also a great traveling dog!

As Siblings

  • They actually do really well together. They play and then clean each other. You will often find them snuggled up together in the most adorable ways. I think Tom gets annoyed when I point out their cuteness at least a couple times every night.
  • Grace does get really jealous of Crosby at times, and will often grumble at him (or us) if she feels he is getting more attention.
  • Crosby gets annoyed with Grace sometimes when she is too energetic, and he will put her in her place.
  • We have only had one brawl between the two of them. Of course it was when we had people over for Thanksgiving. We think it was the combination of the food, lots of people, and another dog that caused the trauma for the two.

They do really love each other.


  • G-loves anything she can rip (ropes and socks). She also loves balls, kongs, and bones. She is good at going after toys, but not so good at picking them up and bringing them back.
  • C-we have eliminated all toys except nylabones. He is a power chewer. He has even ripped through a Kong, which are supposed to last longer than 2 months. He would chew up a toy into large chunks, and then Grace would come after the chunks and choke on them. So we decided that the best avenue was just to stick with Nylabones.

Year 3 Accomplishments

  • G-not that she knew it, but she was my rock during Tom’s deployment. I am not sure I would have gotten through as well without her. Grace also ran a race with me last year-Jingle Jog 5k. I dressed her up in a Christmas sweater and everything. We also successfully moved her to KY from IA.
  • C-he got adopted, so I am not sure there is anything better than that!

This was a contender for the card.

Around other Humans

  • G-She is super shy if she doesn’t know you. This was super helpful when I lived in the residence hall with her because she didn’t go nuts on the strangers who were around us all the time. However, if she knows you, she is crazy! She turns in a U shape and just bounds around until you love on her. She is so patient and gentle with kids. She has let my nieces pull and tug on her every which way, and she just stands there and takes it.
  • C-He is not shy at all. He will come up to you for a kiss almost immediately! So get your kissers ready for him! He is good with kids, except he also attacks them with kisses!

Around other Animals

  • G-Loves to play with any dog she meets. She also thinks she likes cats, and she will try to find them in Grandpa and Grandma’s house. They are all her BFFs to her and is never shy. She has also killed a baby bird. Probably the most horrifying moment of my puppy mom life to see the wings of a bird hanging out of Grace’s mouth as she pranced back to me.
  • C-He does not like other dogs at first. He is super protective and is very skeptical of them at first. So we have to slowly introduce other dogs to him and then he is fine. He has also got a hold of a possum and pranced around the yard with it a bit before Tom made him let the thing go and shooed it out of the yard.

Funny things they do

  • G-she whimpers so pathetically. It’s kind of like a whine/gurgle/dolphin speaking. When we have food in front of her, she salivates so much that there is a puddle underneath her within minutes. She was also so terrified of the backyard until we got Crosby. She would not go off the porch unless we stood next to her. A lot of it had to do with the birds attacking her just like in the Hitchcock movie. They must have talked with the Iowa birds…
  • C-gets the hiccups on a regular basis. He tries really hard to howl, but he never quite gets there. He will lay anywhere like a statue. I have to check to make sure he didn’t die in the middle of the kitchen and is still breathing.
  • They both love toilet water, which I find disgusting and Tom will purposely leave it up so they can have at it.

Since we are traveling, I wasn’t able to make treats for them like I did for Grace last year. But I do want to share an awesome site! I was contacted by DogVacay, and all these thoughts are my own.

They shared several recipes with me that I think look delicious for people, let alone for my pups.

I mean look at this Puppy Meatloaf.

I also want to try the Doggy Candy Canes, Pupkin Pie, and the Dog Nog. I think G & C would love them all! Yum!

If you have a dog, you should really check out DogVacay. They had so many great articles for dog owners. I spent a good chunk of my morning looking at various parts of their site. I also am considering looking into the dog sitter options they have since we don’t want to go the kennel route. Here are dog boarding options in my area. It seems like a pretty sweet deal. I am looking forward to learning more about this company!

All the pictures of Grace and Crosby are ones that I took for our family Christmas card. We ended up sending a version of the one below.

Christmas card

Happy Holidays from the Whiteners clan! And Happy Birthday to my pups!