Anyone who has been to our house knows...Stout rules the roost.  He's territorial, he's tempermental and he's tough.  He's not very mean, unless you're a cute 1 year-old lab/husky mix who chases him, and even then - those swats on the nose are all done with claws pulled in.  Bottom line is...Stout knows what he likes. 

One of those 'likes' is his cat condo.  He loves it!
So, things were very peaceful on the homefront until....Belle discovered the cat condo.  It had been there for awhile and she never showed interest. But one day, she was being chased by the big black dog and she jumped up to discover it.

And, guess what? It's now her favorite place too.


But, every house needs a balance, and the feline balance of power is no exception.

At first they fought over the space. Hiss...growl...hiss...howl.

But lately, there has been peace. 
It's not perfect peace....Stout's rear end is covering half of Belle's body and all...but at least there is balance and harmony.
I returned home from work one evening after picking Ella up at a friend's house, only to see this note:
If you can't read it, I'll translate:

 "Mojo pooed and I love you. I went to Spring Lake. Call or Text when you can. xoxo"

Only those of us in a long-term relationship can appreciate the mixture of romance and dog poo.  I mean, it was necessary information.  It was a rainy and cold evening. If Mojo hadn't taken care of business, I would have had to brave the elements and take him for a walk. 

We usually walk him every evening, but if it's nasty out, we'd rather not (including him!).  And, even so, he's still not great at walking with me. He's so protective of me that he doesn't like to walk with just me.

Then, there's there's the obligatory 'I better tell her where I am' - he went to a brew pub to hear a chemist speak about the chemistry of brewing beer with some of my work colleaques.

Next, he says to call or text when I can.  Text? it's so cute.  Greg doesn't text (he's just learning). 

And then, an ending no girl could refuse - 2 kisses and 2 hugs.

Yep, he's a keeper. . . and a poet...ok, definitely a keeper!

We've fallen in love. . . all of us. . . all 7 of us (3 humans, 2 cats, 1 dog and 1 guinea pig).   We've all fallen in love with Rex.

This is Rex:
Rex belongs to our friends who were out of town for the weekend.  Rex and Mojo played together when they were puppies (as opposed to now, when they are both so mature).  In fact, Rex taught Mojo how to go down the deck steps into the back yard to go potty. I know, it sounds strange, but that was when Mojo was afraid of EVERYTHING.

Rex is truly a wonderful canine spirit.  I think our cats would trade him in any day for Mojo.  He didn't chase them once!   Even Stout decided to get comfortable while the other boys were chilling out.
Yep, we all fell in love with him.  But, it was Mojo who fell most of all. They played all weekend, only taking 15 minute rest breaks every few hours (and nightly sleeping).  When they came inside, they always stayed together.

I think anyone would have fallen in love with Rex.
And, I think he kinda liked us too...
I love blank slates. I love to create the impossible from nothing. It's all a challenge, and challenges are what really get me going.  And, we're facing one of those now.

In June of 2007, Greg opened his own chiropractic office after being laid off.  Let me just say that being laid off truly stinks.  Both of us have had job losses since moving to West Michigan.  But, both of us have gotten back on our feet and started again.

Greg was brave, though, because he started his own practice. It was a bold move.  Where 'who you know' and 'what your last name is' is key, this community is not easy to break into.  But, there are a lot of really good people here willing to try something new.  And, we are really thankful for those people.

But, being a small business owner is tough.  We found a great office space that would accommodate growth. We just didn't need to grow. 

After three years of trial and error, we're finally able to define the type of business we want. 

To fit this definition, Greg has decided to move his office. And now, we're starting again. Fresh.  But it's not really a blank slate. It just looks like it!   
You see, we do have history here.  Greg has built his practice for the last three years with excellent patient service.  He's learned what has worked and he's learned what has not worked. 

That's not a blank slate.

We have blank walls and a newly formed partnership in optimism.  We both believe in this and are willing to put the hours in required to make it work.

A blank slate with a cheat sheet.

Not a bad place to start.

Grand Opening is November 1st: 451 Columbia Street, E2, Holland, Michigan.  Please stop by to say hi!  Or, visit which will be updated soon!
Once upon a time, there was a couple. They had ups and downs, but life was very good to them. 
They had a beautiful daughter whom they were rarely without.  However, this daughter was growing up quickly.  She wanted to prove to her parents that she was responsible.

So, the couple decided to to trust her.  They would take the dog out for a walk while she stayed home.  Sometimes she even did the dinner dishes while they were out walking.
While they trusted her completely, they were not so trusting of the world at large, so they locked every door and window and instructed her to ignore any knock at the door or ring of the doorbell.

And she did.

And she also did the dishes.

And cleaned up the dining room.

And the couple had nice walks that felt like they were on dates, because they could talk about everything.
And they would talk to her at least three times during every walk.

And she felt trusted.

And the couple enjoyed their time together.

And when the walk was done, they were all together.

And they lived happily ever after.
Last December, I knew I wanted a dog, I just didn't know what kind. I initially wanted a rescue dog for obvious reasons, but found that it was hard to trust temperment tests at the shelter when our other pets' and Ella's safety were at stake.  Then I found an ad online for lab-mix puppies. 

So, then I knew what I wanted.  I had no idea, though, what we would get. 

Mojo's mom was half chocolate lab and half husky. Who knows what his dad was?!  We expected typical lab behavior, but haven't experience much.  His husky traits generally win out - he's quiet, skittish and doesn't retrieve or like water!

Now, Mojo is a year old, and I'm more connected to him than any other dog I've known.  I have really fallen in love.  He's gentle and sweet and playful.  He is the least aloof dog I've known.  He may be napping in the living room while I write this blog, but if I get up (even to turn on a light), he will get up to follow me. 

I've told you about his fear issues. We can walk him now (well, I can usually walk him a little by myself, but he'll go with the whole pack), but he is still afraid of the outside world...UNTIL... Greg leaves.

When I'm home alone, or with Ella, Mojo is a different dog. If Ella goes outside, he gets very concerned, because he can't look over both of us at once.  If anyone approaches the house (even Greg), Mojo growls and the hair on his neck stands up.  If it's Greg, that growl turns into an enthusiastic tail-wag!  But once, a Kirby sales guy came to the door while Ella and I were sitting on the front porch - Mojo stood between us and him and wouldn't let him approach. 

He also connects with us on different level than I've known with most dogs.  Maybe it's the training, maybe it's just him...He is very aware of his surroundings and looks us deep in the eyes.  He knows when things aren't right and he knows when you just need a nice warm dog to lie down at your feet.

Yes, we have a special relationship, Mojo and me. He knows I'm not the alpha, but he does respect me. In fact, I'm pretty sure he loves me too.
If you know me well, you know 2 things about me: I severly dislike being cold and I dislike adreneline rides even more.  So, when my company picnic was at Michigan's Adventure this year, I had very mixed feelings.  Of course we went, because Ella has been begging me to go.  So, given the above two facts, you can conclude that I'm not much fun at amusement parks.  Unlike Greg.

The entire time we were there, I kept thinking to myself....What an awesome dad.

Although this list is short and doesn't include most of what Greg does for Ella (and me), it's a pretty good start. 

So, if you want to be an awesome dad, here are some things you can try.
Throw your hands up with enthusiasm (even though you know you're about to get wet).
Pretend like your daughter was the bravest kid on the ride.
Enjoy the rides just as much as your kid.
This picture speaks for itself.
Keep smiling!
Say, 'SURE!' When she asks, 'Can we go again?!'
Move on to scarier rides when necessary.
Tell your daughter to give her mom a 'thumbs up' while ascending on the scariest ride of the day - you know she was more scared than either of you (and she was on the ground).
Ernest Porter in 1932
I was sitting at my desk at work yesterday, trying to get back into it after a week of vacation, when I read the email - my grandfather had passed away on Sunday night. So, I thought I would write him this letter.

Dear Grandpa,
In your 90 years, I only knew you three and only met you once (that I remember). Due to family politics, pride, and some half truths, we didn't know each other while I was growing up.  It's a story that makes good fiction but bad reality.

So much wasted time.

But, part of what saddens me now is the wasted time since I met you three years ago.  Ella and I flew out to Arizona so you could meet your granddaughter and great granddaughter.  I heard you were ill and something inside of me knew we should go.   I'm glad we did.

But then, we only communicated once a year - at Christmas - to send flowers or a small gift.

I knew pictures of Ella would brighten your day.  I knew a phone call now and then would make you smile.

But, I didn't do it, and I'm sorry.

I'm also sorry I didn't know more about you. The real you, not stories about you. And, I'm sorry you didn't know more about me too.  I think maybe we both weren't sure how to proceed.

Before you, I had only known one other grandparent and he died when I was 14.  Finding you was surreal. I found you and then didn't know what to do or how to feel.

Kind of like today. I've cried. I've dealt with this pit in my stomach all day while conducting business as usual. Part of me doesn't understand it. I mean, I hardly knew you. 

I guess that doesn't matter.  It doesn't matter, because you were my grandpa, and we were family. I suppose those bonds don't require much more than knowing that sometimes.

So, good-bye Grandpa Ernie. I hope meeting us impacted you as much as meeting you impacted us.

Love, your granddaughter.
So, here we are...end of the summer.  We've had the school rats for weeks and are preparing to say good-bye to them.  They need to be back today to get ready for the new kids' orientation.

Have I fallen in love with them?   Not really.

Will I miss them?  A little.
There they are, all snuggly and cute (Maya on the bottom, Layla on top).  They really are snuggly little creatures, and they are also very entertaining.  Whether it's swinging around in the t-shirt hammock, climbing the walls of the cage or reaching their little arms out for snacks, they definitely have personality. 

Way more personality than the guinea pig!  

But, they aren't as lovable as the guinea pig, who adores Ella and squeaks when she walks by!

Still, they became part of our family for the summer and I'll miss their cute little faces (not their scaly tales though - ewww!!!). 

I'm not too worried that I'll miss them too much.  We do have a few other pets and....there's always Christmas Break! 

Bon Voyage Layla and Maya!

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    My name is Kristen Porter ~ I am a corporate attorney by day, and a writer/artist/renaissance-woman wanna-be by night. 

    This is my summary of life and attempt to capture small moments forever while appreciating their impermanence.  Those small moments are what make life so wonderful!

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