Wednesday, June 27, 2012

R.I.P. Caesar

Well, there's one thing that even most strangers know about us, we are dog people.  At one point we had 16 dogs under our roof (12 of them being puppies, but still a lotta' dogs!).  Today, we lost Caesar and I can honestly say I've never had a better dog.

This is the dog that gave me comfort each night that Tyler walked out the door because I knew that if given the chance Caesar would take a bullet for him.  And I'm not kidding.  It would not have surprised me, if put in a situation that was life or death, to find out that Caesar had leaped and bounded and squeezed his way through a tiny hole just to put himself in between a perp and my husband.

This is the dog that helped me sleep peacefully at night when we had our precious baby boy.  Tyler was still working nights and Caesar was retired.  This is when I felt like he became my dog too.  He would sleep in the hallway between my room and Ryker's.  If we got home while it was dark and Ty was already at work- I'd send Caes in front of us and he would check each room thoroughly.  Let me tell you, it's a good thing none of you decided to throw me a surprise party during this time.  It's very possible that Caes would've found you first and tore apart a limb.

He was trained in bite work and bomb detection.  He was one of the best.  So much so that he took my husband away from me for our first Thanksgiving together as a married couple.  Ty got to go all the way to Jamaica for a dog demo with his loyal companion.  Even with how well trained and aggressive this dog potentially could be, he's the same dog that let my little cousins climb all over him, wouldn't bat an eye as kids would tug on his tail, and if a child took that beloved red Kong out of his mouth he would just stare at it whimpering and drooling all over until one of us gave it back.

As much as I loved Caes he was always my husbands dog till the day he died.  He would follow that man anywhere and if you put anything in between them he would wine and wine until he finally could be by his side again.  OH MAN.....what a good dog.   Darnit!  Here I am sobbing at my computer.  Not because I am stricken with grief, but because I am so thankful to this dog.  He was a loyal companion, yes.  But he was a protector, a comforter and just plain good.

We'll miss you Caes, but thank you for being a dear dog to us. Thank you for serving the people of Nampa.  And thank you for looking scary and mean (or as they would whisper to one another in Jamaica, "It's Diablo."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Please Get Me a Birthday Present

It isn't very often that I ask for a Birthday gift.  I've always been the person who says, when asked, "oh, no I don't need anything. Just your company is enough."  You know- gushy stuff like that.  Well, this year I am going to ask each and every one of you to get me a gift and not be ashamed of it.  You may think I am a snob as you are reading this.  You may even want to click the little red X sign right now, but hold on.....keep reading....this is something I really really really really WANT :) Please read the whole thing.

As many of you know Ryker is my joy.  He fills me up with so much love I can hardly stand to hold it inside.  My heart aches when he is away from me and oh my mamma heart leaps for joy when he gives me that cute little grin.  It is my hope and my prayer that other families will be able to experience the amazing miracle of adoption.  Tyler and I knew we wanted to adopt, so we would have gone to great lengths to make sure that happened, but on the financial side of things it can get overwhelming.  We felt such a relief when we found out about the Adoption Tax Credit.  Now, this didn't pay for every cent of the adoption, it didn't give us money to spend on fancy things.  It just helped to make adopting possible for us without going into a huge amount of debt.  This tax credit has helped thousands of families make what seemed impossible, possible.

Now, many of you also may know that I am a pretty conservative woman.  I don't preach politics, but I will say I am all for running this country like we run a business, so if you're like me read this paragraph.  If you aren't than you can skip it :)  An adoption tax credit (one time money) of $12,000 to help put a child in a home where they will provide for that child for the next 18+ years (Yes I say 18+ because otherwise statistics show the probability of children in foster care ending up on welfare is much higher than those in forever families).  Well, that $12,000 starts to look like a small number compared to the $5,000+ PER YEAR that child will end up costing the state because they are in the system.  So, yes this is a bleeding heart request, but 'common it's also a 'numbers don't lie' request!

So, back to my Birthday gift :)  I've copied an example of a letter below.  All you have to do is copy this-take out my personal paragraph-perhaps add your own, or just leave it simple.  Then send this along to you congressman and senators.  I also have a link to some facts regarding the Adoption Tax Credit in case you would like to learn more about it.  And I've even attached a link to all of the IDAHO Congressman and Senators.

I know this tax credit may not affect you at all, it may not even be something you are somewhat interested in.  BUT REMEMBER.....It's my Birthday coming up.....and I'm thinking this may be a much cheaper gift than the Horse I was planning on asking for.

I love you all!  Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Facts About the Adoption Tax Credit:


Letter Example:

Dear Senator/Representative NAME:
I have the most beautiful blessing who came to my husband and I through adoption.  His name is Ryker and he is 18 months old.  Because of our strong desire to adopt we would have jumped through hoops in order to bring our son home to us, but when we found out about the adoption tax credit it helped to relieve some of the financial debt that we would have incurred.  It is our hope to adopt again someday, but might be unlikely if this tax credit completely diminishes. 
I am writing to ask you to support the adoption tax credit, which is set to expire on December 31, 2012. Since 1997, the adoption tax credit has helped tens of thousands of parents offset the high cost of adoption-like us, making it possible for those who adopt to provide children with loving, permanent families.
If Congress does not take action, the current adoption tax credit will expire at the end of 2012. The credit will be reduced to $6,000, and will only benefit the few families that adopt children with special needs and have qualified adoption expenses. Most families adopting children from foster care, intercountry adoption, and domestic infant adoption will not receive any benefit. Without the adoption tax credit, many parents hoping to adopt will be unable to do so, and others will face great financial hardship. The adoption tax credit is essential to ensuring that as many children as possible find the forever families they deserve and ensuring that those families are in a more stable financial position to provide an environment where children can thrive.
The adoption tax credit must be extended to help as many children as possible find the permanent, loving family they need and deserve. And for 2012 it should be made refundable again so that most adoptive families will benefit from it. I understand we are in an economic hardship, but I also understand the greatness of placing children with forever families rather than paying thousands upon thousands for them to stay in foster care throughout their childhood.
On behalf of the countless children waiting to be adopted, and the many thousands of families that stand to benefit from the adoption tax credit, thank you for your attention to this important issue.
Brianne Gray
Nampa, Idaho

Friday, June 1, 2012

My Baby Brother is Graduating!

Tonight my baby brother will graduate from High School.  For so many reasons I am proud of this young man.  I am seven years older than my brother, Chase.  As soon as I was old enough to understand the difference between having a sibling and being an only child I began praying for a little brother or sister.  I remember desperately wanting someone to play with and someone to look up to me.

Unfortunately, I didn't take the role of big sister very well.  I soon figured out that I wasn't the center of attention and my selfish, bratty attitude came out.  When he began walking and getting into things I quickly figured out that I could blame things on him even when I was the culprit.  It often didn't get past my mom and dad, but sometimes it did.  I now look back and feel horrible for the times Chase took the brunt of the scolding rather than me - all because I pointed my finger.

Pretty soon we became the typical bickering siblings, but I tell you what as much as we fought I better not hear someone else say a bad word about him!  And he was the same way.  I still remember a note he left under my door my senior year of high school.  I had been dealing with a couple of boys who were being really hurtful toward me and one day after school came home in tears.  My brother slipped a note under my door that night telling me he was sorry that people were being mean to me and that he loved me.  He even offered to go beat them up.

Now, I look at this young man who has so much personality and so much potential.  He is such an incredible brother.  He's been more than helpful as we have begun our business venture.  My boys absolutely love him and it;s been so sweet to see how great he is with both of them.  A few weeks ago he could see I was feeling overwhelmed with Titus screaming and Ryker being a busy body.  He took Titus and walked around with him to give me some relief.

My brother is such an incredible young man.  He doesn't wear his emotions on his sleeve, but he cares deeply for people.  You wouldn't consider him a bible thumper, but he is a man who loves God and desires to praise Him.  He is so smart and wherever he goes he is able to ignite the room.  His personality seems to just overflow in any situation he is placed in.

I am so excited to see where God takes him and what wonderful things lie ahead in his life!  Congratulations Chase!  You deserve all the best in life.  I am proud of the young man you have become. I am proud to call you my brother.  Enjoy celebrating this wonderful night!