Tuesday, August 30, 2011


While we are still waiting on Mike & Arlene's wedding pictures, as well as a guest post by Mr. Steven Dunlap himself concerning his new job, this smattering of pictures will have to do for now.

August has been hot! And there's nothing that says summer more than picking a pumpkin in 100+ degree weather. Our dear neighbor friends, Doug and Martin, invited the kids over to pick themselves a pumpkin. It was super duper hot, but worth it.

A Delaney-sized pumpkin

A Jude-sized pumpkin

Jude has decided to become a big kid in a matter of days. He's now eating solids in his high chair and sitting up unassisted. And he's so close to crawling. Hey Jude, what's wrong with being a baby? Slow down, buddy guy.

Just working on some literacy skills

Sitting up and pleased as punch

And this one insists on wearing dress-up dresses around the clock...I am loving her emerging imagination!

Monday, August 29, 2011

For Charlie

On August 12, 2011, our family said good-bye to the greatest feline friend one could ask for. Charles Douglas Dunlap (known as Charlie or Chizzy) was not just a cat; he was a true friend and an important member of our family.

I haven't blogged lately because I knew that this was the post that I needed to write. And It's hard, writing about loss. Even if it's "just a cat." It's hard, feeling like you need to sum up the importance of a friend in one blog post. It's hard, having to say good-bye.

I found Charlie in my parents' barn when he was teeny-tiny and covered with fleas. He was sickly, dirty, and pitiful. And I loved him the moment I saw him, and I'm pretty sure he felt the same way about me. It was August of 2005, and Steve and I were visiting family and friends in Oregon during our summer break. I brought Charlie into my parents' house and announced that we had to save this poor soul. So I drove into town and bought some flea shampoo and a comb. My mom and I gave Charlie a bath in the laundry room's sink and I swear he was grateful. Charlie didn't even protest; he just purred his gratitude towards us for going to battle against those ding-dang fleas.

When Steve and I flew back up to Oregon that September, I convinced Steve that Charlie would be returning home with us. I don't know how I talked Steve into my crazy idea of purchasing a one-way pet airline ticket. Secretly, I think Steve had a soft-spot already carved out for that cat. Or maybe Steve has a hard time saying no to me...either way, Charlie flew home with us and thus began his life as a southern Californian kitty.

It's hard to explain to non-pet people just how important your animals are to your family. But Charlie came into our life pre-baby, and therefore, he was our baby. Charlie was around for some pretty big milestones in our marriage: me starting my teaching career, Steve starting his teaching career, the purchase of our first home, two pregnancies, two babies...Charlie was there for it all, even if he did choose to sleep under the bed for long stretches of the day once Delaney and Jude came along.

Not only was Charlie our baby-before-babies, but he was Delaney's kitty. Charlie was such a big guy, weighing over 18 lbs. before he got sick. We constantly gaged Delaney's weight gain against Charlie's weight, and celebrated the day that she outweighed him. It took Delaney over a year to do it, but Delaney finally had Chizzy beat! Charlie put up with Delaney's bear hugs, constant attention, and violation of personal space with great aplomb. One of the hardest parts of losing Charlie has been explaining it all to Delaney. Now that a few weeks have passed, she doesn't talk about him as much, and it's been difficult acknowledging the fact that she probably won't remember Charlie. But right after he passed, she would vacillate between statements such as, "Don't be sad, Mommy. Chizzy is in heaven, and he's running with Jesus" or "It's ok, Mommy, I go to heaven too and play with Chizzy." It's all so sweet and heart-breaking in the same breath.

Thankfully, when Charlie got sick, it all happened pretty quickly and he probably wasn't in much pain. A month before he passed I started noticing a few odd behaviors and that he seemed to have lost weight. I had a strange premonition that it was some type of kidney malfunction, and after waiting 5 hours in the vet's office, my fears were confirmed. However, the vet was pretty hopeful that with a day or two of hospitalization and a new diet and medication, we could get this problem under control. Well, a day or two of hospitalization turned into 5 days, and we were all so happy to have him home. Delaney made this sign to welcome him home:

Things were looking ok for a week or so, but getting Charlie to eat was a real challenge. He was on 4 different types of medications and let me tell you, shoving a slew of pills down a sick cat's throat is up there on my List of Things I Never Want to Do Again. On top of having a toddler, a baby, and dealing with my own set of emotions that come with returning to work and leaving my children with someone else. I'll save you the unpleasantries and let you know that Charlie put up a good fight, but in the end, kidney failure won. We had to make the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad decision to let Charlie go. As I sit and type, this part of the story is still really raw and difficult to retell, and yet, I know we made the right decision. It is what he deserved, but it was, and still is, really painful.

If you are still reading this, you are a champ and you must really love us. Maybe it's silly to spend so many words and tears over a cat, but if you know us, you know how important Charlie was to us. Our dear friends and fellow kitty lovers, the Heun Family, blessed us with a rose bush and we intend on planting it in Chizzy's honor. Now that Charlie is gone, we don't have to dwell on his sickness. We'll just remember how great the last 6 years have been and consider ourselves lucky to have spent them with our big, furry friend.

Charlie with Delaney at the end of his battle

Jude & Charlie...horrible picture, but proof that they were pals nonetheless!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

6 Months

Jude has been with us now for half a year. Half a year! Although it's terribly cliche to say, it really does go by so fast. "Brother Boy," which is what Delaney calls Jude, is such a joy. He has now had a smattering of solid foods and loves everything we offer him. He's such a different eater than his "big" sister! In fact, Jude now weighs what Delaney did when she was a year old. Jude's closing in on her!

While Ju-Ju-Bee is usually such a mellow, happy guy, teething has gotten the best of him lately. He still has nothing to show for all of that drooling and hard work. Jude gets up on all fours and is trying his darndest to crawl, and Delaney loves to encourage him. I returned to work this week, and so Jude and I have been apart longer than we ever have been before. While I sure do miss the little man, he's been a good guy for "Auntie" Kari. We can't wait to see what exciting milestones Jude will hit next. Maybe he'll start sleeping through the night...ha! A girl can dream, right?

17 lbs.
26.5 inches (I think...this was what I measured him at last month as well, but boy-oh-boy is he a wiggler!)

Love you, Buddy Boy!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer craziness

It seems as though every post I write begins with an apology. This post is not exempt...so, I'm sorry, it has been too long since I've blogged. And you know what? This post that I'm currently writing doesn't even really count. I just wanted to throw up a few pictures to let our fans know that we're still here. Summer has been crazy! Here are a few things that I need to spend some time blogging about:
  • Mike (Steve's bro) and Arlene got married and it was amazing.
  • Steve went to Washington DC and it was amazing (or so I hear).
  • Steve got a new job...he's now a fancy pants Instructional Services Specialist for Riverside Unified School District...because he's amazing.
  • Charlie the Cat had a 5 day stint at the animal hospital. Kidney failure in kitties is no laughing matter. He is home now but not doing very well. So not amazing.
  • I (Karen) started back to work after 6 months at home...amazing that I was able to take so much time off.
  • Jude turned 6 months old and he's amazingly awesome.
  • Delaney continues to amaze us with her sense of humor, smarts, and verbal ability...and dance moves. The kid has got some amazing moves.
So yes, we have a lot to talk and blog about. Tomorrow is my first day with students, so things are a bit hectic around here. If I make it through this week, I pinkie swear that I'll do some blog catching up next week...until then, here are few pictures to whet you appetite:

My mom sent me some pictures of our Oregon trip and she managed to capture a decent photo of the Dos Dunlaps x 2.

I came home the other day to find Super Kitty playing the drums. It was possibly one of the greatest parenting moments of my life.

Can you believe it's been half a year already? This little baby guy isn't so little anymore.