breakfast, Brunch, coffee, Family, Food, photography, Travel, Uncategorized

Beachy vibes: San Clemente, California

Greetings! It has been a while since my last post. Much has happened between then and now, including my parents-in-law moving to their ‘new’ home in San Clemente.

It is a place our family frequented in past years, as the house belonged to the husband’s grandmother. Nevertheless, the change is bittersweet. Our family has  been fortunate to live in close proximity, within a mile of our parents/grandparents. The sad feeling is compounded by the fact that my mom-in-law is amazing. She truly was a fixture in our community with her constant involvement in our church and schools, long after her boys graduated and even as her grandchildren continued on in our school district. It is no wonder that we love her so much; she’s really just a fabulous person. She will be sorely missed by many in our community. On the flip side, visits to Grammy’s house aren’t so much over the river and through the woods.  It’s more like down the Golden State Freeway to South Orange County and to the beach. I guess I can live with that…

San Clemente is known best for its surfing, which is all year long.  Many go to catch waves at T-street, the Pier and more. This is all within a mile of Grammy’s house. There is a cute downtown area characterized, as is much of the town, by Mediterranean-style architecture, white stucco and red tile roofs. There are also some great places to eat (though my favorite Beach Garden cafe closed a couple years ago 😦  ).

After hearing much about Antoines, which boasts the ‘best coffee, best bagels, and best breakfast’ for the past eight years, we decided to try Saturday brunch there this past weekend. The girls and I took Grammy. We figured there would be a wait as Antoines is popular with both locals and tourists, but it wasn’t too bad (about 20 minutes), probably because it was 10:30 rather than breakfast time. The menu offered some tempting bagel selections, such as the avocado bagel, but no bagel orders came from our table on this trip. I went with the California Benedict, poached eggs, tomato, avocado, bacon and Hollandaise sauce on a toasted English muffin. I had the bacon on the side so that Sami could take it. I tend to prefer my Hollandaise to have a bit more citrus, but it was a good California Benedict. Sami loved the dark hot chocolate with its mountain of whipped cream. The prices were what one would expect being in a beach town, about $15 per person. I would go back and try one of their bagels.

We will certainly have more San Clemente adventures which will be shared on the blog. There are a few coffee shops and restaurants I would like to try on our future trips. Life won’t be the same not having the parents around all the time, but one really can’t blame them for retiring where they are. The view is spectacular.

Family, Opinion, Organization, Uncategorized, writing

New Year’s Resolutions and/versus Goal Setting

I confess that I am indeed one of the millions of Americans who year after year make resolutions for the New Year.  If I am entirely honest, about half of the resolutions I make- those such as exercise more, give up caffeine, cut back on carbs, etc.- I make with the intention of not keeping them.  Carbs are delicious, and while I have had to cut back due to an unfortunate allergy, I don’t plan on giving them all up. I could stand to target my exercise routine better, but I do exercise on a regular basis.  We’re not even going to touch the caffeine thing. This coffee-fueled blogger would consider the thought of giving up caffeine on the border of some sort of blasphemy.

All that said, there are real goals that I try to set for myself and my family every year.  And as the old year passes, and the new rolls ’round, it is timely to reflect on those aspects of life that I need to continue working on.  After all, the goals I set this year are typically ones that I have set for myself in years past. And while I have seen progress in some areas, such as better organizing my schedule or actually getting on an exercise routine,  there are other areas that are definitely works in progress. I am still not the best communicator especially with my spouse, and while I can come up with a budget, it can be hard to stick to one. Especially when I’m at Target. Or Anthropologie. Okay, confession time is over…

This year I have come to the realization that in order to make real progress, I would have to follow the S.M.A.R.T method of goal-setting. Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Saying that I want to stick to a budget isn’t a goal in itself.  Rather, that would be a means to an end.  Why am I sticking to a budget? For what end am I giving up that cute top at Anthro? What am I saving for and for how long? The goal is not specific enough, and so it is easy for me to lose sight of why I am “depriving” myself. Now if I say that I am saving up for a vacation to Disney World in July, the focus is much more clear. I can either spend now and not go or I can save up for that wonderful experience later.

So as 2017 comes to a close, I reflect on all the good things of this past year: watching the kids as they grow and sharing in their accomplishments and struggles, actually going to Disney World (yay!), finally starting this blog. And as 2018 approaches, it is time to make those New Year’s resolutions, but this year in a smarter way.  By setting specific, simple goals that are measurable and realistic, I can make steady, but lasting change.

And no, I’m not giving up my morning coffee. Or my afternoon one. Here’s to a wonderful 2018. Cheers!

A snapshot of 2017. Here’s to 2018!
Hiking, Organization, Pets, Shopping, Travel, Uncategorized

Great Hikes: Be Prepared

Welcome back to my two-part series on hiking with dogs. Today the focus will be on how to prepare for a hike with your best pal.

As with just about everything in life, there are some inherent risks in exploring the great outdoors.  Weather, unexpected terrain, wildlife (by which I typically mean insects, though we have seen a couple bears in Monrovia Canyon) can easily turn a pleasant day out into a practical nightmare. Fortunately, however, most potential issues are easily prevented with some preparation beforehand and consideration once on the trail. I cannot claim credit for most of these tips. Most of these guidelines are borrowed from Scouting.

Things to consider:

As mentioned in the previous post, keep in mind your ability as well as your dog’s. Research the trail ahead of time, taking into account distance, terrain, slope grade, and whether the area offers shade. Be sure to check the weather and other conditions, such as pollen, as this can impact your experience and safety. And always be sure to have a trail map.

Water and treats for my buddy

What to bring:

Much of this is based on the Boy Scout “Ten Essentials.” This provides a good guide for what to bring on a hike or day trek.

Food: Bring ample high-calorie trail snacks. Foods such as nuts, granola, or dried fruit are good picks. The kids and canine also like meat jerky.

Water: Hydration is key. Many issues that develop on a hike happen as a result of improper hydration. A rule of thumb is 16 ounces for every hour of hiking, however this can vary depending on the individual and weather. I’d say bring at least that, and hydrate ahead of time. If you feel thirsty, it’s already late. For your pal, REI sells a few products that can be used as a dog bowl. I personally like the Ruffwear quencher collapsible bowl. It’s easy to stuff in a daypack, and easy to clean after a hike.

First aid kit: A good hiking kit will have a wrap bandage, small ice pack, band-aids, gauze pads, antiseptic wipes, antihistamine cream, and small packs of NSAID painkillers (ibuprofen or acetaminophen) and Benadryl. REI sells day packing kits in soft pouches that are easy to clip to your daypack. REI also has a few ready-made kits for canines If applicable, be sure to bring your rescue inhaler or EpiPen as well.

What’s in your daypack?

Map and compass: Know and stay on your trail. This common sense advice given me long ago will keep you from getting lost most of the time. For those rare occasions when one might get lost, a map and compass can quite literally be a lifesaver. Any reliable compass will do, but I personally like a clear compass, as this is easier to line up with a map.

Attention-getters: We always carry both a whistle and a mirror.  The mirror doubles as a hygiene (or get Instagram-worthy) tool and a signaling tool, just in case.

Weather ready: We always carry sun protection and a hat, regardless of how much shade will be on the trail.  We also will carry ponchos and a lightweight jacket just in case. Weather changes quickly in many areas, so it’s good to be prepared.

This is not a comprehensive list of what one can bring on a hike. You know yourself and your pup best. I would not recommend bringing too much extra for a day hike. Too much extra weight can lead to added fatigue and a sore back. Also, remember to pack in and pack out.  Some areas will not have trash service along the trail, so bring bags (including poop bags) to carry waste out.

As we say in Scouts, leave no trace.  Take only photos, leave only footprints, and kill only time.  Happy trails!


me and my dogggggg
In the Angeles National Forest. Happy trails!
breakfast, Brunch, coffee, Food, Kids, Style, Travel, Uncategorized, wine and drink

Girls’ Weekend with my favorite ladies

Another weekend is come and gone, and this was one for the books. The boys in our family each left for the weekend one at a time, starting with the husband on Friday, the younger boy Saturday before dawn, and finally my high schooler in the early afternoon. I call it ‘bachelorette weekend’ whenever the boys leave: the girls and I visit museums or other locales the guys think are either lame or too far to drive then come home for some hardcore scrapbooking and wine while binge watching movies the guys think are too girly or lame.

This weekend was not much different, except that I had to remember what time each of them were set to leave and make sure they and all their related gear got to the correct dropoff points. But after the morning’s drives we were able to enjoy a sweet Saturday- just  the ladies.

We started our girls weekend with brunch at one of my favorite spots, Magnolia House on Lake Avenue in Pasadena. It was the first time I  brought the girls, and they loved it. Sami especially liked the avocado toast, a slice of sourdough with a generous heap of avocado and topped with almonds, pickled onions, and burrata cheese. I was a bit skeptical of her choice (I usually get the huevos rancheros), but it was really good. Our server was very sweet and patient with Sami who sometimes has anxiety over those seemingly minor decisions such as what to eat.  I would not call Magnolia House ‘kid-friendly,’ especially for younger kids. It has a really trendy vibe and full bar with some interesting cocktails (of which I did not partake on this trip), so it’s definitely better as a grown-up girls’ brunch or date night. But Sami, who is 10, did just fine. Brunch was followed by some shopping on Lake Avenue. Emily scored a pair of Steve Maddens at TJMaxx for under $30, and Sami picked up an adorable Halloween costume at  Pottery Barn Kids.

The afternoon and evening hours took us further from home. We spent the rest of our glorious Saturday in Malibu. After driving the windy, but beautiful Malibu Canyon Road, we found ourselves at the famed Surfrider Beach, part of Malibu Lagoon State Beach. We were excited to explore the tide pools and observe the sea life that lived among the rocky pools. The girls went between playing in the waves and exploring the area. It was a beautiful, blue-sky day, significantly cooler than the 90-degree San Gabriel Valley- perfect for a day at the beach.

After playing in the ocean for a couple hours, we walked the sagescrub lined paths to get back to PCH and headed to the Malibu Pier. The Malibu Farm has both a cafe that serves coffee and snacks and a full service restaurant. Both are located on the pier. Reservations are recommended for the restaurant, though we were able to move ours forward. The Malibu Farm, as might be assumed, specializes in fresh dishes made from organic ingredients. I wasn’t really hungry after a really late lunch/snack, and so wanted dessert. Sami ate in the car on the way over and Emily lost her Subway sandwich to a seagull, so the girls were ready for dinner. And dessert. After some indecision and much debate, we finally ordered two kids meals with orzo pasta and two desserts, an organic soft serve and the grilled chocolate cake. The kids pasta was very good, and not too salty as many kids meals can be. To me the soft serve tasted like Costco. Though the girls really enjoyed it, I was less impressed, especially when the cheapskate in me remembered that I could get twice as much ice cream for $1.35 compared with $6, organic or not. But the grilled chocolate cake… What can I say other than it was heaven on a plate. The texture was perfection- thicker than your usual cake, but light enough to just melt in your mouth. It was served over a sea salt caramel drizzle and a generous dollop of fresh whipped cream. For $10 it was a splurge, but it was large enough to share among the three of us, and it was a chocolate masterpiece.

The Malibu Farm’s price point is for me on the higher end of my scale, but I would definitely return. The food was delicious and the portions generous.  We took home half of Emily’s kids meal, and I was able to share some of Sami’s. There are a few things I’d like to try the next time we go, such as the lemon basil ice cream and the berry merengue. Our server was really great. He made good recommendations, and was super friendly toward a trio of indecisive and somewhat giggly (but otherwise well-behaved) girls. And the view of the Pacific Ocean is just spectacular.

This is just a snapshot of what one can do on a visit to Malibu, a city that boasts 21 miles of scenic coastline. There are many dining and shopping options, along with museums such as the Getty, and hiking in the Santa Monica mountains. And while I didn’t do any hardcore scrapbooking, Emily did stay up to binge watch “Gilmore Girls.”

Hobbies, Kids, Organization, School, Scrapbooking, Uncategorized

Our last picture day of elementary school, scrapbooks, and what to do with class photo pages

Today was Picture Day at the elementary school Sami attends. It was the last Picture Day that I will pay Lifetouch good money for, in anticipation of that envelope of three-by-fives and wallets to pass out to relatives out of state and overseas. Samantha is in fifth grade this year; next year she will be joining her brother at the middle school. After 12 years fixed at the school by our home, we will be finally moving on at the end of the school year. I think I need a tissue… there’s something in my eye.

I tend not to be a hugely sentimental person, but I do hold tight to certain memories, especially as I am forced to acknowledge the fact that the kids are growing up very quickly.   I have already two in high school. In another two years, we’ll be sending the oldest off to college. It seems like not too long ago that they were babies. It wasn’t that long ago that they were babies.

I suppose I enjoy scrapbooking for that nostalgic sentimentality . Even with the ease of Shutterfly and other digital photo book options, I still like the tactile nature of laying out pages, cutting paper, picking out cute little embellishments to accent the photos. The kids each have several albums: a birth-preK, kinder-high school, a baby book album with their firsts, and one for Fifth Grade Outdoor Science School. Each album is the product of stress, lots of love, and money- scrapbooking isn’t exactly cheap. However I have given in a bit: for the kids’ weeklong Scout camps and hikes, I order photobooks from Shutterfly.  Let’s face it, it’s much easier to digitally ‘scrapbook’ 139 camp photos. And it takes up much less space.

Shutterfly photo books document the kids’ Scout camps
For traditional scrapbook albums, Michaels and JoAnn have a decent selection of scrapbook paper and embellishments.  I found that the brick-and-mortar store with the best selection, at least in my area, is Hobby Lobby.  They have several aisles of paper, embellishments, albums, etc. with almost anything a scrapbooker can dream of. Amazon tends to be good for basics such as glue, photo squares, and glue dots (

Science camp albums
The older kids’ Science Camp albums from their weeks at Camp in Malibu, Ca.

What to do with those large class photo sheets:

I found that the class photo sheets look awkward just glued into a traditional album. So I cut out the individual photos and label them with the student’s first name and last initial, and create a page for that grade. For the boys I would pick a theme, such as robots. The girls were stuck with some really girly pages.

Sami's grade page
Cutting and arranging the individual photos on the class photo page allowed for more room to create a custom grade-level page.

However you choose to preserve your child’s sweet memories, have fun as you look back on those moments.  The days are incredibly long but the years are short. And almost as quickly as you can turn a page in their baby albums, they will be grown up. Here’s to that journey.


Food, Uncategorized

Happy Pi Day

Sami’s first try baking a pie.

As today is 3.14, I would like to wish everyone a happy Pi Day. In honor of this irrational number, the ratio of circumference to diameter or a circle, many pie and pizza places, such as Blaze are offering 3.14- themed discounts. However, the way the Haas family commemorates Pi Day is by, well, baking a pie.

This year’s pie will be pumpkin, as that’s what I have plenty of in my cupboard. That, and Sami loves a good pumpkin pie. Other Haas favorites include apple, banana cream, cherry, and key lime. So in celebration of Pi Day, we will share one of our most beloved pie recipes.


Banana cream pie

This pie was voted best at our school’s first (and only) pie-baking contest in 2016. It uses vanilla wafer cookies for the crust to compliment the bananas.


¾ cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup flour

¼ tsp. salt

1 ¾ cup nonfat milk

¼ cup heavy cream

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 tbsp. butter

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 9” vanilla wafer crust

1 recipe whipped cream

3-4 bananas


  1. Prepare crust by crushing ½ boxes of vanilla wafers in a food processor about 30 seconds. Add 5-7 tablespoons of melted butter and pulse until cookies are crumbly and moist. Press cookie crumbles into a 9” pie plate and bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit . Set aside to cool.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in milks and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble. Cook about 2 minutes longer, then lower heat to medium-low.
  3. Stir in a small quantity of the milk mixture into the eggs to temper, then immediately add to the pan of milk. Add butter and vanilla and cook until butter melts into the mixture, then remove from heat.
  4. Slice bananas into the cooled pie crust. Top with pudding mixture. Chill in the fridge at least 2 hours. Serve with whipped cream.


Whipped cream:

1 cup heavy cream

¼ cup confectioners sugar

Combine cream and sugar and whip to desired consistency.


Have a great day. I hope you have a chance to enjoy some delicious pie!


Camping, Hiking, outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

Another fun hike… and easy camping


About two weeks ago, a small brush fire at Eaton Canyon disrupted our usual Monday night hike up to Henninger Flats with our Boy Scout troop. Fortunately, our awesome L.A. County and Pasadena firefighters were quickly able to extinguish the wind-fueled fire before it got more than about an acre. The bad news was that folks were being evacuated from Eaton Canyon and immediately surrounding trails, which meant that we could not get onto the trail up to Henninger.

Not one to miss an opportunity, however, my younger boy went home with his buddy, a fellow Scout, to hang out before their patrol meeting later that evening. Which left myself and my older two, a Boy Scout and a Venturing Scout to figure out the evening.  Jacob and Emily both did not want to head home, and as Sami was having dinner with her uncle and cousin, we figured we would find another hike. After all, Los Angeles County is home to literally hundreds of trails. And I had already carb-loaded in anticipation of making a molehill out of a mountain.

But where to go? We had debated on heading up to Echo Mountain again, but darkness made it more difficult for us to get down the last time we headed up to the ruins. Instead, we decided to take the recommendation of the very knowledgeable Sheriffs officer, who recommended Chaney trail, about 5 miles from Eaton Canyon. So my two big kids and I loaded back into the car and headed to the trailhead. We were originally going to head up, toward Echo Mountain, but the high winds and chilling temps impeded our progress. We made it about 100 yards, then I made the executive decision to turn around. Especially since I was unfamiliar with the trail. And Jacob was in a short-sleeved tee with no jacket. So much for ‘Be Prepared.”

Still not one to give up so easily, even though by now the high schoolers were starting to get a bit whiny, we got back in the car, and headed down toward Millard Canyon. At the bottom there was a parking lot, and what looked like a serene trail. Ignoring the protests of my now unenthusiastic children, we hit the trail from the parking lot, and quickly came upon the campground.  There were a few campers on the Monday evening, and they said that the water fall was just a short hike from the campground. There wasn’t much wind down in the canyon, hence the temperature was tolerable, even for jacket-less Jacob. With a renewed sense of adventure, my Scouts and I hit the trail to Millard Falls.


In the dusk’s fading light, the trail reminded me of something I would see in a fairy tale. The hike was marked by lush and green riparian forest, against the background of the canyon itself. The excursion itself was a fairly easy one, a bit over a mile out and back, but there were stream crossings and smallish boulders to hop. There wasn’t a ton of water coming out of the 50-foot falls, which comes from a stream at the top of the falls. The small pool at the base wouldn’t be enough to wade in, but is is enough for kids to get dirty. For those who are more adventurous or just want more of a work out, the trail continues to Dawn Mine.  Maybe one day when we have more time, the older two and I will try that. But for the evening, the out and back from Millard Falls was adventure enough. It was great to try a different trail, and find a campground that is easy to get to for a simple family campout.


A few logistics: Forest passes are required, as Millard Canyon is located in the Angeles National Forest. These can be picked up at REI, the U.S. Forest Service, and other retailers. We went on a Monday night, but I have been told that the campground can get busy on weekends.  There are six campsites available on a first-come, first-served basis. The U.S. Forest Service indicated that the campground occasionally closes due to bear activity.

We were so excited to find this little slice of heaven within the San Gabriel Mountains. Happy trails!

Family, Kids, Opinion, parenting, Pets, Uncategorized, writing

Sami’s hammies: another pet story

The tagline for this site is “Four kids, a dog, and a squeaker in the San Gabriel Valley.” It goes without further explanation that the four kids are my four children, the dog is our Golden retriever, and we reside in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley. But what is the squeaker?

The answer is simple.  The “squeaker” is Sami’s hamster. The hamster does change from time to time, as their lifespans are fairly short. Since the inception of the blog five months ago, there have been two hamsters- Almond Biscotti and Peppermint Mocha.  Both Syrian hamsters of the genus Mesocricetus, they are what you’ll typically find at any pet store. Our always come from the PetSmart in the Hastings Ranch area of Pasadena.

hammy 1

The hamster stories are rather unremarkable, except that Sam seems to choose hamsters that end up developing a bit of personality, perhaps in keeping with their Starbucks-inspired names. Almond Biscotti liked to rest atop her terrarium, wedged between her water bottle and the lid.  She also had free run of the house during out week-long trip to Disney World last year.  We were standing in line for Jungle Cruise when I received a call from our neighbor’s son who was watching the pets for the week. My first worry was that something had happened to Owen, but no. Almond had escaped and was nowhere to be found. We arrived home at the end of the week to find a couple of clever hamster traps, a bathroom littered with hamster droppings, along with a hammy-shaped gap in the bathroom door she created to either get in or out of the room.  I suppose at least she kept her mess in the bathroom…? And go figure, I found Almond in a corner of my bedroom the night we got home as I was about to turn in for the night. After ten minutes, moving the heavy wood dresser, and two shoeboxes, the husband and I caught Almond.  He woke Sami to show that her hammy had been caught and placed back in her home, and all was well. Until a few months later with I found that she had been hiding inside a chest of Ikea Alex drawers in the girls’ room. She had made herself a little nest, which explained why she seemed to be able to disappear when our neighbor would come to check on the pets.

But our favorite hamster was Chestnut Praline Latte. Her time at the Haas home extended one year from early 2016 to 2017.  This hamster was special, a really sweet hamster who never bit or squealed, but had a penchant for escaping. And hiding in the most interesting places.


One morning the kids for whatever reason decided to have Chestnut run in her ball. She was left rolling about the house in said ball as I made the carpool rounds. I returned home to find an empty ball and no hamster. A thorough search of the house and the faint sound of scampering lead me to the most difficult, worst possible spot to access: behind the refrigerator. Our fridge pre-kitchen remodel was wedged in a space created by an old cabinet and an awkwardly placed wall dividing the fridge space and the washroom on the other side. To move the refrigerator forward enough to access the back required shimmying the appliance between that wall and another awkward cabinet, with a maximum of three inches total to work with. Shimmying completed with the help of a friend, sure enough Chestnut was having a ball in the disgusting confines of the bottom of the refrigerator.  This became her favorite hiding spot up until the kitchen was remodeled and the old fridge with a cardboard backing was replaced with a hamster-proof LG side-by-side with a metal back.  Post remodel, we found her hiding with Sami’s stuffed animals after returning home from the Sierras, in the linen closet with the blankets, and in a Longaberger basket.

But for all the crazy hamster adventures, Chestnut was probably the one Sami bonded with the best. Sam would take her out and play with her for hours. This hamster was also the first pet that she had actual charge of.  She had to feed and water her, play with her, and make sure that her bedding was clean and dry. While Sam couldn’t quite clean the terrarium by herself, she was able to initiate the process. In short, Chestnut Praline was instrumental in beginning the journey of helping Sami to learn responsibility.  She was also the one to give her a first lesson about grief.  Chestnut Praline finally passed away in 2017. We noticed that she was not her typical active self, and seemed to be struggling, though she had been fine earlier in the day. Sami tried to feed her and warm her up, but to no avail. Chestnut would pass later on in the evening. Her ‘funeral’ would consist of a decorated shoebox with a Tsum Tsum and some food and her older brother playing Taps on his trombone as she was taken to her semi-final resting place, and many, many tears.

Today, Sami has her Peppermint Mocha, a sweet gray hamster we picked up just a couple weeks ago.  I do feel that it is good for her to have a pet of her own. The lessons on responsibility, along with lessons of love and care are ones she can carry with her. And hammies are just too cute!

sami hammy


Family, Opinion, Pets, Uncategorized, writing

Happy Gotcha Day, Owen!

the day after
The day after we brought Owen home.


Yesterday marked five years with our golden-haired pal, Owen.  Yes, I’m talking about our fun-loving, active, sweet, and slightly (though sometimes more than slightly) mischievous Golden retriever.

We adopted him in January 2013 at the Pasadena Humane Society.  We first saw the Golden on Saturday the 5th, shy and quiet, as he retreated to the back of his kennel.  The sign on his bars showed clip art of a happy doggo radiating hearts and reading “I will love you forever.” There was no hope at that point of our adopting him as he already had a full waitlist. So we moved on and met a large, but very sweet and playful German shepherd puppy. As the husband had a lifelong love of German shepherds, we decided that he would be the next addition to our family.  We just had to show up at the shelter the next day when he would be cleared for adoption.

Well, unfortunately, we missed him.  We arrived at the Humane Society just fifteen minutes too late. The beautiful German shepherd had been adopted, and as the other dogs who would fit with the ages of our children (pit bulls and their mixes were not adoptable by families with children under eight) were already fully waitlisted, we left with much sadness and no dog. Even a promised lunch at In-n-Out or McDonalds did nothing to raise morale that day.

The following Monday, I was back online searching our local shelters to find our next best friend.  Pasadena had just received a lovely cream Lab who reminded me of our first dog, Maxwell, who had passed away some years before. I called the Humane Society to inquire after Princess. I was told that (thankfully) she was chipped and was going to be released to her family, but that the Golden retriever we were interested in was possibly free for adoption.  Two families on the waitlist had dropped off, and the third was on the fence about waiting for another dog who had just come in. I would be in that morning to hopefully meet our new dog.

I arrived at Pasadena less than 15 minutes later and was lead back to the Golden’s kennel. It was empty. The counselor figured he had been taken on a walk, however as we walked toward the family meeting area, we saw that he was being shown to the remaining person on the waitlist.  I told the counselor that I would wait to see what the prospective family decided.

It must have been only about five minutes of waiting in the lobby, but it felt like hours as I waited to see whether we would be able to adopt this dog, or if I would have to return home sad again with no furry buddy. Finally, the adoption counselor who was showing the Golden came back in saying that the other prospective family had indeed decided to wait for the other dog, and the Golden retriever was now free for the Haas family to meet.

I got to meet the shy, timid retriever first. He was a bit cautious around me, but perked up when I started throwing him the ball. His lack of aggression and playful streak gave me the impression that he would be a good fit to our growing family.  All that was left was for the husband and kids to officially meet the dog and for us to sign the paperwork.  We returned just before closing that same day, and the rest is history. The Lord certainly has a way of bringing sweet blessings into our lives, and Owen is definitely a blessing. We are thankful that Owen Parker Allen has now been a Haas for the past five years.

Life hasn’t been quite as idyllic as I’m making it seem.  Owen did need some training to break some bad habits, such as digging and overexcitement when meeting other dogs.  He also had a ton more energy than it seemed when he left the shelter. Turns out he was not a timid dog, nor was he as old as first gauged. But he is so sweet, and very intelligent. And he loves people, especially his people. Just about anyone who comes through our gate is his new best friend. And his playful personality has added brightness to the interesting bunch of characters that is our family.

That sign hanging from his door at the Pasadena Humane Society has proven true thus far.  “I will love you forever” from the happy dog radiating hearts and brightness. Happy anniversary to our Owen.

good boi
Sit. Stay. Good boy. Owen and me today.


Animal shelters are great places to find your next best friend.  Both of our dogs came from the Pasadena Humane Society. or your local shelter’s websites are good tools to help start your search. Happy tails!