Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Booker Annual Holiday Update 2015

Where has the past year gone?!?!?! I can't believe that 2016 is almost upon us!

As has become the Booker tradition, this is our Official Annual Virtual Update. I have come to accept that I will never plan far enough in advance to get a holiday-themed photo shoot done, cards ordered and mailed before Christmas. It has a lot to do with the fact that I refuse to start anything Christmas-related until after Thanksgiving. I know, I have issues.

I took the kids out for a holiday-themed photo shoot yesterday. It was complicated by the fact that...

1. The beautiful, perfectly lighted, overcast day turned into blinding sunshine just as I got the kids dressed in their festive regalia.
2. It was 83 degrees. In December.
3. Will refuses to look at the camera these days. I have to shout things like, "Look! A bear!" and then snap a shot while he swivels around in confused horror.

Luckily, my dear friend Narelle let me volunteer her to be official kid distractor/wrangler, so I could focus on the camera for the entire twelve and half minutes the kids tolerated being photographed. It was a Christmas miracle! (Thank you Narelle! You are the BEST!)   

Anywho, life was good to the Bookers this year. We're finally in the swing of this two-kid thing (and by that I mean we've come to welcome perpetual chaos.) We recently lost our sweet Maisy Joonbug but have been blessed with not one but two new pack members this year: kitten GiGi and, more recently, our new pup Mayflower. I keep telling Harper and Will they are the luckiest kids on the planet. I mean, how many children get both a kitten and a puppy in the same year?!?! Score! 

Brad and I have been plugging along. We got outside the house more this year, and are looking forward to TWO REAL family vacations in 2016, including a trip to New York City! (!!!) I am beside myself with anticipation!  

Harper has been "homeschooling" this year (if you can call pre-K homeschooling) with the help of a private tutor a couple of times a week. It has really benefited her and we're very happy with her progress. In addition to school work, our little dynamo is still swimming as well as attending a weekly science class at the Florida Aquarium (AKA, our second home) and she switched out ballet for gymnastics ("Mom, I LOVE gymnastics. I want to do gymnastics until I die."). While paleontology and marine wildlife biology remain her passions, she has added art to her list of interests (at this time, crayon and chalk are her preferred mediums). She also enjoys interrupting anyone who is on the phone and playing/squabbling/plotting with her younger brother. They have become quite the duo. I look forward to witnessing their exploits in the coming year. I think.

Wilson has developed quite a strong sense of personal taste this year. While he prefers his truck videos he does enjoy the occasional full-length washing machine wash-cycle video on youtube (you can find anything on that site). His t-shirts absolutely must have some sort of heavy machinery graphic on them, and he had better be wearing his red fire engine pajamas come bedtime or everyone within earshot will pay the price (truly, you will come to regret the day you were born if those PJ's are in the wash). Also, the pre-bedtime ritual may or may not require his sparkly snowflake-fairy tutu, depending on his mood. And he has developed a full-blown phobia of the vacuum cleaner, so that has complicated life. As much as he has blossomed into a BOY with a capital B this year (where has my baby gone?), he is still such a sweet, silly, happy kid who idolizes his big sister. He is an absolute delight.

To all our friends and family, we thank you for all your love and generosity to our family over the years. We cherish you all, and look forward to sharing the upcoming year with you! 

May peace and love find you this holiday season!
the Booker Pack

Bradley, Leah, Harper, Wilson
Willa, Mayflower, Hemlock and GiGi 


I got the camera out today to get some photos of the kids for the Booker Annual Holiday Update (coming soon!). Afterward I took the kids to the park to work off their crazies (don't worry; it didn't work.). 

When I uploaded the photos to the computer I realized there were a couple I had never posted. So here they are... 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

On The Subject Of Introducing Two Dogs...

Many of you have been wondering how Willa and May are getting along. So far it's a lot of this: 

For those of you not in the know, that's a heated game of what we professionals like to call "Snarky Face." It's the new post-evening walk/pre-bedtime ritual.

I haven't seen Willa this happy since before Maisy got sick. I'm so pleased she loves her new puppy!

Monday, November 30, 2015


I will stop posting about the new puppy soon. Probably. But not yet because this morning the kids wanted to play outside with the dogs while I made breakfast, so I got a couple of short videos of the melee.

Check out her hind end... she's got the legs of a kangaroo! And that tail kills me! She's already as tall as Willa and much longer. 

We're so crazy in love with her. She is absolutely the calmest, most responsive, most engaging puppy I have ever seen. We couldn't be more pleased with our sweet, lanky Mayflower!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Homeward Bound!

Today we got to bring our new puppy home! For those of you who have been waiting for the official announcement, we were inspired by the holiday weekend and decided to name her...

(We'll call her May for short.)

I love it because it's clumsy-sweet, just like she is. And come on, is that face a May or what?! It's the perfect name for our perfectly adorable pup. 

So far she's been a dream. It's been the easiest transition I've ever seen. She just fits right in like she's always been here. And Willa is thrilled to have another dog in the house. I knew she was depressed after Maisy passed but I didn't realize how lonely she was. Gigi, on the other hand, is pretty irritated with the whole new dog thing. I think she just misses not being the youngest. She's all talk, though; they'll probably be thick as thieves in a week.

I'll post some adorable photos later in the week. They should be easy to come by. 

Now I'm off for the serious puppy cuddles.  


Today was supposed to be Puppy Pick-Up Day. Brad took the whole day off for the related festivities.

We headed over to Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center to get our girl and, after a forty minute wait in line, were informed that there had been a mix up; instead of getting spayed last Wednesday as planned she wasn't spayed until this morning and they forgot to call and let us know. We were holding out hope that they'd let her go home this evening but we just got the final word from the vet: no puppy today. Now we can't pick her up until late Sunday afternoon. We wasted Brad's entire day off waiting around for them to let us know what was going on. 

I spent some time with her between being passed from staff member to staff member. She was in post-surgical exhaustion but still managed to wag her tail when she saw me. She really is a great pup. I so wanted to scoop her up and take her home so she could rest in a cleaner, more comfortable environment. I wasn't even allowed to go in and pet her. 

I'm so aggravated! We just want her to come home!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful Weekend

Happy Thanksgiving! We have a little something extra to be thankful about this year... we'll be bringing this little girl home from the county shelter on Saturday! We're so excited! 

She's a (~) five months old, 36 lb, German Shepherd mix (I never thought I'd own a German Shepherd), and the sweetest, most gentle dog you'll ever meet. She's also got the legs of a deer. We're hoping she'll grow into them. 

We're thrilled to have found such a nice pup and we're sure she'll fit right in to our family! 

We started thinking about adopting another dog a couple of months after getting Maisy's diagnosis. Of course, the whole thing was put on hold when she got so sick, but we got pretty serious about it after her passing. 

I have been very particular about temperament this time around. With a dog with an enlarged heart, an old, sick cat, a kitten and two young kids in the house, we really needed someone who would fit right in without being a huge project. We were much less concerned with breed; we just wanted a nice, calm, friendly, younger dog (someone we'd have for many years to come) with an easy-to-groom coat who would grow up to be huge and look intimidating. 

I had been to the shelters about ten times in the past week and a half and looked at a dozen dogs, but none of them were quite right. There was the doberman who was nice until he started to go kennel-crazy (luckily, his owner redeemed him), the "pit bull" who was an absolute dream with the kids (truly, she could not have been sweeter or more patient and calm) but tried to murder the dog in the run next to us, the mastiff-mix who was too afraid to move outside of her run, the "boxer-mix" who was the bull in a China shop, the stunningly gorgeous weimaraner/greyhound/"pit bull" mix who was too busy to notice we were in the run with him... and the list goes on and on. Then we met our pooch and knew she was for us.

The only hiccup has been naming her. We're stumped. The following is a list of name suggestions.

From Will:
Purple Head
Summary: Will prefers a tried-and-true name.

From Harper (this is only a partial list of her suggestions as she has been quite prolific):
Princess Sparkle
North America
Happy Thanksgiving
Fancy Nancy
Turkey Leg
Mashed Potatoes (this is not helpful, Harper.)
Summary: Harper likes a noun that sounds like it might be a name to someone visiting from one of the outer rings of Saturn.

From Brad:
Erika (I'm pretty sure he was just listing the names of girls in his second grade class)
Angry Bird (Harper: "We could call her 'Angry' for short!")
Tom Osborne
Bradinia (nice try, Brad)
Summary: Brad really needs to move on from 1980.

From Me:
Astrid (Courtesy of Vanessa)
Zinnia (We'd call her "Z")
Summary: German names. Nature names. Something uncommon.

So far the only name we are remotely agreed on is Clover, which, to her credit, was a Harper contribution (so sorry, Becky, if we end up with a dog named after your daughter). 

So how about it, people?! We need name suggestions and we need them before Saturday!

And have a Happy Thanksgiving, from the Booker Pack!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


The kids "dressed up warm" this morning because it was "freezing cold" inside the house when they awoke. It was 65 degrees. 

That's what happens when your kids are born in Florida.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Maisy Joonbug 

Today we said goodbye to our sweet Maisy Joonbug. After nearly five months of battling cancer, it became very clear this morning that her pain was too great. I took her out for one last pack walk and took some final photos to remember her by- not that we could ever forget her. 

Then we let her go. 

Maisy was the best dog we could have ever asked for. She changed my life. I became interested in dog behavior because of her. She mock-nursed dozens of bottle-fed kittens; mothering them in a way I never could. She brought balance to innumerable dogs, and became the matriarch of our pack. I will always remember her sweet puppy face, her patient demeanor, and her loyalty. 

Thank you for being my dog, Maisy. Thank you for being my teacher for 13 years. The grief I feel now is so great only because of how deeply I loved you, but it is worth everything to have had the honor of knowing you.

Rest now, sweet girl. You have earned it.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Birthday Dinosaurs

As has become a Booker tradition, we went to Dinosaur World today as part of Harper's birthday weekend. 

First, she hatched.

Look out behind you!


Hide and Seek.

After solving the giant puzzle there was a pretty serious tickle fight. 

 It's just a shame that in the end they were both picked off by roving Tyrannosaurs. 

After the all the fun Harper took her birthday money from her grandparents and bought two toys for her and two matching toys for Will. "... Because I have empathy," she explained. 

I have the best kids.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Birthday Girl

Tonight I said goodnight to my four-year-old for the last time and tomorrow I will embrace my big five-year-old birthday girl! After months of anticipation, Harper's big day is here!   

I slipped a new Halloween-inspired, birthday outfit into her closet as a surprise for the morning. Then we'll find something fun to do and meet Brad for lunch in town (chocolate chip pancakes, which she decided on two months ago). Later it will be off to dress-rehearsal for her fall dance recital (tap dancing mermaids... obviously). We'll do gifts and birthday regalia at dinner.

I can't believe my baby is five all ready. How did that happen? It seems like just a couple of months ago that I was holding her for the first time. 

Happy, happy birthday, my sweet Harper. We love every minute we get to spend with your curious, creative, joyous little self.