Plus 2 | Prickly Pear

beer loving puppies at prickly pear

“And now I know you’ve lost your mind!” my friend replied to my text.

But I had been looking for my Sadie dog for some time. Even the grandkids knew that Sadie was coming to our house. “Neenee, go get Sadie!” Liam would say. “I’m looking for her,” I’d reply. “She’s coming, she’s just not here yet.”

I had an image of what Sadie would look like. Big, fluffy, loving, happy, the Old English Sheepdog type. Sadie would be our next great dog. When friends asked Jeff about the new dog, he’d laugh and say, “We’re not getting a dog.”

On Thursday morning I opened craigslist as a distraction from dealing with life’s drama, (you know – when it feels like good never wins and the crazies are taking over the  universe!!!)  I clicked on community and found pets. I scrolled down the list and the words Lab Puppies Ready Now, caught my attention. I hadn’t considered another Lab but it was worth a peek.

The post said that 5 puppies were ready for their new homes. I opened the images of puppy #1, puppy #2 and the moment #3 opened I proclaimed, “Sadie, there you are! I’ve been waiting for you!” I stared at her. Those sweet sad eyes looking right through the camera and sucked me in. Her brown paws gently folded in front of her.  “I’ve found her, I found Sadie!”

Sadie the newest member at PricklyPear by author Jeannie Bruenning

I clicked on puppy #4 and then #5…

Charlie the newest addition to PricklyPear by author Jeannie Bruenning

How could I possibly leave #5 behind?!?

I began texting; are they still available? Is puppy #3 a girl or boy? When will they be ready? Are they a mix?  Is puppy #5 still available?

Yes they are available, #3’s a girl and #5’s a boy, they are ready now, both parents are black labs, I’ll send you their picture, do you want both, when would you like to get them…

Give me till 12:00, I need to get a few approvals…

A few approvals? Ha!! There are five other adults living in this house, two of them have an eight-month old and one of them is convinced he’s not getting a dog!!

The next two hours were filled with;

You’re crazy!

            I don’t really like puppies but you do what you want.

            Is this really a good time for puppies. (Is anytime a good time for puppies?)

At 12:07 I replied, I’ll take both!

Where would you like to meet?

I’m coming from Pismo and not sure if I can come until Sunday.

I’ll be happy to deliver them.

That would be great!

I’ll be there in 3 hrs, around 3:30…

She may have been right, I may have lost my mind!

 

Hello World!!

Meet Sadie and Charlie – the newest additions to our Prickly Pear Family!

Yes, Charlie loves beer…

beer loving puppies at prickly pear

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Lucky or Unlucky? | Prickly Pear

We are so luck written by Jeannie Bruenning

I spent time imagining what this new living arrangement would be like, being in the same house that our youngest grand daughter would learn to walk in, she’ll go to her first day of kindergarten from this house and some day move out. I’ve tried to picture how having a space like this is going to make the holidays different. I’ve tried to calculate what Oktoberfest, Purim and Passover might look like?

It was never our intention to have regular family meals but in our first week of being here, Megan’s mom and grand-mother brought us two meals which were wonderful and allowed us to stop unpacking and gather around the table for dinner. Then we had a pizza night, a Megan’s Cooking!! night and Liams Surprise Dinner night and soon we were checking with each other about what we should do for dinner.

While the ten of us sit around the table enjoying the meal, the kids talk about their school day and the adults about what’s the next project. It didn’t take long to realize that this time of the day provides an abundance of unexpected fun. Amelia can now join in as she can sit in a high chair. She laughs at us and we laugh at her and when we forget that she is the center of the universe, she squeals and let’s us know we’re ignoring her. Emery comments on the spiciness of the food and Liam usually has made desert for us to enjoy later. 

Our kitchen/dinning room is almost a third of the size of the entire house. In fact, it’s almost the same size of the condo we owned in Chicago. It has 2 refrigerators, a new sparkling oven, a table that seats 12 and is becoming the hub. The place we gather to eat and drink and stay connected. 

The other night Austyn read a short story that Emery had written. The assignment was to write about a time when you felt lucky or unlucky. This is her story…

I feel lucky for living in this house.

We live on a hill and have more space to play and walk around.

It is beautiful.

We can see lots of things like hills, palm trees and lots of sky.

I am lucky.

That night we all realized just a little bit more how lucky we are.

Make it Amazing! | Prickly Pear

Make it Amazing blog written by Jeannie Bruenning

 

Today I repurposed a Jade plant. It’s most likely the largest succulent plant I have every seen. It took hours to thin it down and load it in my new Gorilla Wagon, the coolest wagon in the world! 

I took my awesome wagon down the hill to replant the pieces I had removed and trimmed. I dug small holes, gathered two or three stems and carefully placed them in their new home, patted the soil back around them and with each new planting said, “Today, I give you new life…make it amazing!”

We’ve had a lot of comments about this multi-generational living thing. Many who think it’s wonderful. Others who wish they could do the same. Some who want to movie in with us. And several who say, “I couldn’t live with my kids.” 

I get it. Jeff and I would have said the same thing a few years ago. But our kids have been through real life. They have had trauma, pain, difficulties, success and they made it through. If we were really faced with the situation of having to choose who we’d be stuck on a deserted island with, it would be our kids…including their spouses.

“I couldn’t live with my parents. They are too controlling,” is another reason we hear of this impossibility. If you’re in your twenties and figuring out life, you most likely shouldn’t be living with your parents. But usually, I’m not talking to 20 somethings, rather, forty and fifty year olds. 

Why as parents is there the need to control our kids? The common commands that are barked out such as, “It’s my way or the highway!” or “If you live under my roof…” or the tough love thing that says, “Live my way if you want my approval!” are the acceptable ways of raising kids – even when they are adults. As parents, why is raising obedient children the focus over raising kids to become amazing adults who know how to control their own lives?

One reason our multi-generational adventure is working is because this isn’t Jeff and my house. It’s truly our house. Our son-in-law and daughter-in-law have as much ownership as we do. I love that! I love watching them making decisions. I love having them take control. 

In twenty years when my newly planted succulents have spread across the bottom of the hill and have made a new amazing life for themselves, we will be watching the next generation of adults making choices, a new generation of toddlers figuring out life and I hope I’m still saying, “Today, I give you new life…make it amazing!”

A Few Too Many

When you put three households together you quickly figure out where everyone has spent their money. We have a dozen bikes, this is more than the amount of people residing in our home. It’s also about 11 more than get used.  We have 3 jeeps, 2 sedans and a Subaru in the driveway, and yes, they all get used regularly. We have 2 TVs in the storage room since every room that could possibly contain a television has one.

We did realize that the kitchen is one of all of our favorite places. We have 4 food processors, 3 blenders, 4 crock pots and more spices than Trader Joe’s. In fact, we tossed out 1/2 of the spices and still have too many. 

Not only do we have the supplies and equipment to prepare mega meals, we have enough dishes, glasses and silverware to set a table for 50 with complete place settings.  

If you are having difficulty envisioning this, here’s some images…

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Prickly Pear

Just in case we decide to open a meat market, we’re set with carving utensils…

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Spices anyone?

Prickly Pear spaces

Best of all we have our very own greenhouse, minus the house. There are citrus, avocado, and almond trees, succulents, and starter plants for our garden. In the multitude of citrus trees there isn’t one lime tree on the lot. This clearly means we aren’t done, who doesn’t need limes?

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Best of all, a few years back Jeff and I took all the grandkids to a local store to buy baby succulents to be planted in the “Neenee Garden”. Each succulent has been cared for and some have grown so large they required a house of their own. The rest of the collection have been cohabitating in this, now over-grown, planter. The “Neenee Garden” is coming soon.

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The Walk | Prickly Pear

Our hacienda is one long ranch style house. At some point the owner turned a two car garage into more living space which makes it feel extra long. We do a lot of walking in here because if you want to talk to someone on the other end of the house, you either call them or walk over to them.  Amelia and I were making that walk the other afternoon. We started at their end of the house cause a new diaper was required. As we made the trip back down the hallway I was amused by the story that was being written at that moment.  From the next room, Sage, her friend Ethan and Raun were putting together Sage’s new furniture. The music was playing something I had never heard and couldn’t really understand but they were enjoying it.

The walk at Prickly Pear

A few steps further we found Emery hanging out with her favorite friends in all the world – the Pokemans – who have their own special form of music.

Outside of her door, Sir Winston was finishing up a peanut butter jar.

As we passed through the kitchen, Liam was busy making desert for dinner. And just past the kitchen, Jeff and Austyn were singing songs from The Greatest Showman and The Waitress.  Amelia and I enter our living room and saw Uncle Brian trimming the pepper tree. Then we stood in the bay window and watched for mom to come up the hill in her purple jeep and made our own music. The walk from one end of the house to the other is a walk I now take intentionally and every time I get more excited about the life stories that are being written.

The Right Wrong Number

I’ve heard it said that waiting for something to happen is sometimes more about how long we feel is necessary rather how long it really takes. I was pondering this idea one morning as I walked through our neighborhood. 

What if we don’t have to wait two years for our hacienda? What if it could happen sooner than 2020? Am I prolonging it because I think two years is somehow required?

And then the fear of the unknown, loan approvals, inspections, closing costs, and leases overtook me, so I turned it off and admired a beautify palm tree, the blue sky and the white ocean waves. 

A few days later I sat on the sofa deeply engulfed in a project when the phone rang. I glanced down and saw it was a local number and felt the need to answer. 

“Hello, this is Jeannie.”  (long pause – callers always mistake me for a recorded message.)

“Oh, hello,” the voice replied. “My name is Lauri, I’m a local realtor and I’m calling to see if you have considered selling your home?”

“No, I’m sorry, we are currently renters.”

“Well, have you considered buying…”

Lauri continued to tell me about the current market and how she could assist us in finding a new home. Her voice faded in the background as two other conversations began playing in my head. Sometimes we stand in the way because we have predetermined our own timeline and Lady you have the wrong number!

Then the phone went quiet and I realized Lauri had finished and it was time for me to say something. Get out of the way – maybe this could lead somewhere – go ahead and tell her about the Hacienda dream – Really? You want a realtor calling you every other day to check up on you….it’s way too soon…

Well actually,” I heard myself say, “we have a plan, but we are really early in it and we won’t be ready for two years…” I told Lauri of our hacienda dream, how it would be three families and we all needed separate living space. How we really hadn’t even begun looking…cause, did I mention, we were still two years away.

“Let’s just get some information and I’ll start sending you listings and if anything looks interesting, you can call me.” So we did and she took the info about pricing, size, bedrooms etc. 

“And your last name is Hardy?” she continued.

I laughed and said, “No, that not my last name.” At that moment I think we both realized that this may have been the strangest conversation of the day. Wrong address. Wrong last name and a Chicago phone number – what a were the odds?

Fast forward four weeks and I’m shaking Lauri’s hand for the first time as we are stand outside a big blue ranch house on top a hill with a view to die for. One week later six of us are signing paperwork in the kitchen of that house and putting in an offer on a dream.

Maybe we do stand in the way of wonderful things happening to us. 

Maybe time is only defined by us, not the universe.

Maybe we’ve been waiting for things to happen and we really don’t have to.

Maybe wrong numbers are really right numbers and miss-information is exactly the information  needed. 

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For more information about the author check out: www.jeanniebruenning.com

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