Saturday, December 29, 2007

Hope's New Clothes

If you haven't been watching the weather, it's been unusually snowy here in Lawrence this December. My boss told me the other day that this is very close to being the the snowiest December in Lawrence ever. Since I love the snow, I don't mind this weather trend one bit. Celtic happens to love the snow as well. He'll go outside no matter how much snow is on the ground, and he loves to romp and play in the drifts. He'll stick his entire head under the snow to sniff around. After being outside in the cold weather, he'll come flying back into the house, running around like a crazy dog, acting like a puppy again. No matter how cold it is, he loves to go for walks, and if there's snow on the ground he will pull extra hard on the leash, like he's a husky practicing for his sled team. I guess he just finds the snow invigorating.

His sister, on the other hand, absolutely hates the cold weather. If it's the least bit chilly, she wants no part of being outside longer than absolutely necessary. When it's downright cold, we sometimes have to force her to go outside at all, and once she gets out there she sprints out to the yard, does her business, and sprints back to the door. Her weather "wimpiness" has made it difficult to take her on walks as of late, since during our outings she often pulls towards home before anyone else is ready to go that way!

In Hope's defense, she does have really short hair and is fairly lean, so there's not a lot on her body that can keep her warm. Since she seemed so miserable, Chad and I started shopping for a coat for her, but we didn't find very many dog coats available for a 55 pound dog. Strangely enough, we finally found a cute pink puffy coat in her size at Old Navy, of all places. We bought her a large, which looked like it was the right size for her weight, but when we got it home it was absolutely huge! We put it aside to take back at a later date, but I couldn't help but think that I needed to find something for her to wear in the meantime. I found an old sweatshirt of mine, and modified it slightly so that Hope could wear it. Needless to say, she wasn't very happy about it, although I thought she looked adorable.

Having never worn clothes before, she was pretty freaked out by the whole thing. She kept following me around the house, leaning up against my leg or making me trip over her. Celtic became obsessed with her (I guess he thought she looked pretty cute) and she was miserable, so I thought I'd make her feel better by putting a coat on Celtic too. He's had one for years, but since he doesn't mind the cold and despises the coat, we never make it him wear it. My plan worked, and as soon as Celtic's coat was on he quit obsessing over Hope and instead started feeling sorry for himself.


Hope wasn't quite as freaked out by her coat after seeing that Celtic had one too, so we took off on our walk (although we took Celtic's coat back off just before we walked out the door), and Hope got several compliments from the neighbors. She looked pretty adorable, although you could tell she wasn't entirely comfortable in her new clothes. She only had to wear it a couple of times before the weather warmed up a little and she could go on walks naked again.

So on my next trip out to the Old Navy area, I stopped by the store to exchange the gigantic coat we'd purchased there. They didn't have any mediums in pink (which is probably fine since Hope isn't really a girly-girl anyway), so I snatched up their last medium, which was white. A couple of nights ago when the temperature dropped back down into the teens, Hope got to try out her new coat for the first time. I think she looks pretty cute! :)


Of course, you can tell Hope is still pretty uncomfortable with the whole clothing thing, but how could she not grow to love this adorable puffy coat with all the cute little patches and everything? When we were out on our walk, she was still acting a little weird and was practically glued to my leg, but as soon as she was distracted by another dog or a squirrel something, she'd forget she was freaked out about her coat and start walking completely normally. Clearly it was a psychological impairment and the coat wasn't actually physically restrictive. Hopefully, our dear little girl will grow to appreciate the extra warmth on our outings into the freezing Kansas temperatures!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Sign of a Bad Haircut

I've been so busy with holiday related activities I haven't had the chance to blog about my recent haircut. Last Friday, I got my hair chopped off (this is where the story would end if my husband were telling it, but since this is my blog and not his I'm going to provide much more detail).

I had actually been planning for several months to get a big haircut. I was inspired by my friend Quillen, who donated her hair to Locks of Love in February. At the time of her haircut, mine was already pretty long, so I figured I should just let it grow the few remaining inches until I had the minimum ten inches to donate. A few months later I discovered another hair donation program called Beautiful Lengths that creates wigs for women who have lost their hair during cancer treatment. Since this cause is really close to my heart, and since they only require 8 inches instead of 10, it seemed like a good fit for me.

By the late summer, I probably had 8 inches I could have cut off, but there were so many layers around the front I decided to give it some more growing time so that those layers would catch up, which would give me even more hair to donate. My friend and stylist Ryan apparently didn't understand the concept of growing out my layers, so I ended up getting a haircut this fall which actually made my layers shorter and put me farther from my goal of having all-one-length hair. I decided that I'd just keep growing it until next spring, and then I'd make the ponytail cut for Beautiful Lengths after a few of my layers got to be a full 8 inches.

The problem with my plan was that a few months ago I started "shedding" excessively. When my shedding hadn't really slowed down by the beginning of December, I decided that I should just go ahead and cut my hair now, since with every passing day I felt like I had less and less to donate. Even though the front layers were only 6 inches or so and couldn't be used for the program, in the back I was able to cut off an 11 inch ponytail.

So here are my before, during and after pictures that Chad took at my haircut on Friday.

Me before my cut

Ryan removes the ponytail

It's clearly shorter, but Ryan has lots of work left to do

Later that evening

A pic from yesterday, so you can see a little better what it looks like from the side

The weird thing is that Chad claims to actually like my haircut this time, as opposed to the other times I've gotten my hair cut short during our marriage. I think it makes me look older, which is certainly not ideal, but other than that I like it too. I got a few thoughtful compliments from family members over the weekend, but then today I started to think maybe my haircut might be less than attractive. Although I didn't spend a lot of time outside of my basement office today, of the approximately 10 people that I ran into somewhere in the building, not a single one said anything about my hair. I think that's the sign of a bad haircut! Don't you think if people thought it looked okay they would say something? I find it hard to believe that people didn't notice, since it doesn't take a detective to spot 11 fewer inches of hair. Then again, maybe some people just aren't very observant.

I did have one coworker who commented on my hair, but again, I don't think it was a good sign since this was the conversation:

Coworker, standing in my doorway: "Did you get a haircut?"
Me: (Dramatic pause) "Nope."
Coworker, looking confused: "Really?"
Me: (Awkward pause, since my joke didn't really work) "Uh, yeah. I did."
Coworker: "Oh, I couldn't really tell. I thought maybe it was tucked into your shirt."
Me: "Uh, no. I actually had about 11 inches cut off." (thinking how uncomfortable it would be to have 11 inches of hair tucked into your shirt)
Coworker: "That must have taken a lot of weight off your head."
Me: "Uh, no. Actually my hair didn't weigh a lot."
Coworker: "Well, it looks nice."
Me: "Thanks."

My theory is that if it takes an entire conversation about your new haircut for someone to mention that it looks okay, then maybe it doesn't really look okay!! The good news is, Chad's opinion is the only one that really matters, and if he (who has always preferred long hair) says it looks good, then that's the only compliment I need! :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas today! Christmas is most definitely my favorite holiday of the year. Not only is important to me to celebrate the birth of Christ, but I also LOVE giving presents. I love to watch my friends and family open their gifts and see the looks (hopefully happy ones) on their faces. Christmas shopping is always fun for me because I love to browse until I find that special something that I think my friend or family member might enjoy or need, which Chad absolutely hates because he is definitely a buyer and not a browser. It is a challenge not to resort to gift certificates (except in the case of Chad's little brother Jonathan, for whom it's kind of a tradition for us to get a Target gift card), but hopefully our friends and family appreciate the extra time and thought we put into their gifts each year. Of course, that might just be wishful thinking--maybe they all really would prefer a Target gift card!

Whether you got everything on your wish list or not, I hope you had a wonderful day with family and loved ones. Consider this reproduction of our Christmas card your official Christmas greeting if you didn't already receive one from us in the mail.



As you can probably tell, our Christmas cards are homemade, which is one of the reasons we don't send out as many as we probably should each year! Making our own cards is another very time consuming tradition that I started many years ago and just can't seem to break the habit of. Some years they aren't very elaborate, but this year I had the urge to do something a little more creative. I think they turned out kind of cute, although I had to actually take a day off work to get them finished. Why I can't seem to actually get them started before December 15, I'll never know. I'm not sure what my problem is with regard to procrastinating my Christmas cards. Every year I tell myself that I'm going to start the weekend of Thanksgiving, but I never actually do. I always tell myself that I can't send them too far in advance because a) I don't want to write our Christmas letter prior to mid December because so many important things (like Chad's new job) seem to happen late in the year, and b) we traditionally take a family picture in front of the tree, which we never actually get up and decorated until about the second weekend of the month. So those are my excuses, which I guess I don't even really need because hopefully everyone's card should have arrived prior to December 25th!

Speaking of our family picture, you may have noticed that our goofy girl Hope has her eyes closed in this year's shot (you can see a more clear copy of the picture here). Our friend Quillen took about 10 pictures of the 4 of us and Hope had her eyes closed in about half of them! I could have probably photoshopped different eyeballs onto her face, but Chad and I decided that her squinted eyes really capture her weirdness better than normal eyes would! She's just a quirky girl and this is a good example of her quirkiness!

Anyway, I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas day and a terrific celebration with friends and loved ones! As our friend Nolan texted us earlier today, "Happy Birthday, Dear Jesus!" :)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Not So Good Gifts

Over the last few years, our annual Christmas party with our small group from church has become one of our favorite gatherings of the season. We always have a great time with this group of friends, but this particular party is especially entertaining and joyful because of the traditional white elephant gift exchange. This year was no exception, as several amazing treasures were gifted (or re-gifted in many cases) and received. Some of the highlights: a fabulously hideous painting that Dillon found dumpster diving, a creepy rubber chicken dressed as Elvis, and a little decorative head for your glue stick. You can watch the slide show below to see all of the awesomely awful gag gifts.



Along with the mediocre and downright bad gifts we gave each other, we all had the wonderful gift of getting to spend time with our dear friends and former small group members James and Beth, who we hadn't seen since they moved to Guatemala in August. The evening just wouldn't have been complete without them. :)

Good Gifts

This year, instead of exchanging Christmas gifts with our good friends Heather and Grant, we decided to instead adopt a needy family together for Christmas. We called Ballard Community Services here in Lawrence and they got us hooked up with a single mom with three children. They gave us the ages, genders and sizes for each child, as well as a few toys on each of their wish lists. We also received the mom's sizes and some household items that she might need, and then we were charged with the task of getting each person in the family an outfit as well as a gift from their wish list. Heather and I first set off to find clothes for the mom, which turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be! We had no clue what she did for a living, so we weren't sure if we should buy her jeans or casual clothes or business clothing--it was really difficult! We decided that whatever she did, we wanted her to look nice, so we picked out a pair of black pants with a beautiful red sweater. Even if she doesn't have many occasions to wear the items together, hopefully she will get some good use out of the items separately!

The next day we gathered up Chad, Grant and their daughter Quillen and headed back to the store to pick out clothes and toys for the kids. The guys did a great job picking out clothing for the two boys, and we girls picked out a cute little outfit for the four-year-old daughter as well. After the outfits were complete, we all headed over to the toy department at Wal-Mart (only because they has specifically asked for Wal-Mart gift certificates, so we figured they already shopped there) to pick out some toys for the kids. We had to do a lot of searching to find some Dora the Explorer gear since it was pretty picked over, and I did have an argument with Chad and Grant about purchasing a basketball for one of the kids who actually asked for a football. Aside from those small challenges, it turned out to be a fun experience, albeit a little more expensive than we originally thought it would be! Heather and Quillen came over the next night and we spent the whole evening wrapping packages, and then I dropped off said packages at Penn House on Wednesday. The staff and volunteers there delivered the presents directly to our family over the weekend. As Heather put it, it would be really nice to be a fly on their wall on Christmas morning so we could see their reactions to the gifts. Hopefully we picked out some things that they really like and can use!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Snowing and Blowing but We're Still Going

Today was a bonus day for us. Whenever we get to spend time together that we hadn't planned to spend together, we call it bonus time. When we awoke this morning, we thought we'd be heading straight to Kansas City for a Christmas celebration with Chad's family. As soon as we talked to his parents in Salina, we discovered that the weather was going to prevent any sort of traveling, so we were excited about the prospect of a bonus day to ourselves. I thought I might spend the day doing laundry and finishing up my wrapping/painting of packages, and maybe I'd head over to the shelter for a few pictures of the new dogs. Just as I was mulling over all of my future accomplishments, the phone rang and Chad's boss Terry invited us to go to the KU basketball against Miami of Ohio. Since our day had just opened up completely, and since we never really know how many games we'll have the opportunity to see, we accepted Terry's offer immediately.

Minutes after getting showered and dressed we happened to look out the window, and it suddenly became very clear why Chad's parents couldn't make it to KC today--it was like a blizzard outside! We met Terry and his daughter Lindsay at their favorite parking spot and then walked through some crazy blowing snow to get to the field house! As we walked down Naismith Hill, we saw a sudden flash of bright light, and just as I turned around to Terry and Lindsay with a "what was that?" look on my face we heard these loud claps of thunder in the clouds! It was so weird--I have very few recollections of ever experiencing thunder snow!

I was definitely glad we went to the game, despite the fact that we had to walk through a blizzard to get there. The Jayhawks played well and they were super fun to watch since they pretty much dominated Miami. The snow was coming down just as hard when we left Allen Fieldhouse, and we had a very slow and steady trip home as the roads were incredibly slick from all the snow. We went back out into the elements a little later in the day to mail a few Christmas presents (which will clearly not get there by Christmas) and pick up a few more wrapping supplies along with a few groceries. The roads were still messy and slick and the snow was still coming down. By the time it finally stopped this evening, we had at least 4 inches of snow with drifts of about a foot in some places, including some crazy drifts on our back patio. Four inches is kind of a lot for Lawrence! It's supposed to be sunny and warmer tomorrow, but hopefully it doesn't get so warm that all the snow melts away--I'd love to keep this snow around for a white Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's Official

I can't believe almost a week has gone by since I've posted anything! It's not that I haven't had stuff to talk about in the last week--just that I haven't had time to say it! I know everyone can sympathize with the craziness of the holidays, so I won't bother to tell you the details of all the holiday parties, shopping, and Christmas card lists. I'll save that for later. :)

What I will tell you about tonight is some good news that came out of the Luce household this week. Yesterday an official announcement was finally made about a job Chad had interviewed for many weeks ago, and I'm proud to say my dear hubby received the promotion! As of January 1, he will be the new manager for customer and community relations in Westar's northern territory. In his words, he's graduated to middle management--the new Michael Scott of the energy company.

In all seriousness, I am very proud of him, and he does have some very big challenges ahead. Being a first time supervisor will be even more complicated because of the existing relationships with his new employees. He'll be leading a team that includes his former boss (awkwardness), a coworker who has worked at the company for 28 years who also interviewed for the job (more awkwardness), and his best friend (not sure how they'll ever be serious enough to get anything done). I think he has his work cut out for him, but I'm sure he's up for the challenge.

I've already said way more than Chad wanted me to about the new job. His suggestion was that I write this:

"Chad got a new job. Seeyalaterbye."

I have a feeling he'll be a boss of few words. :)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Ice Was Nice

All I really felt like blogging about yesterday was the same subject I'd blogged about the day before--the beautiful ice storm. I had the urge to bring my camera to work and just take pictures all around the grounds of our building, which is landscaped with tons of young trees and is right next to a heavily wooded area. It was just so beautiful I was dying to capture it all, but I decided against bringing my camera when I came back after lunch because a) my coworkers would probably think I was completely insane if I walked around the outside of our building taking pictures of trees, and b) I realized I actually did take pictures around there during another ice storm a few years ago, so I probably already have some pictures that look exactly the same!

Although I didn't break down and bring my camera in to work for this storm, I did break down and take one picture this year with my new cell phone, which thankfully has a much better camera than my last cell. As I was looking out my window this morning, the sun came out and sparkled off of the icy trees, and I just couldn't resist--it was just so beautiful! The trees sparkled like diamonds.



Even with the crappy cell phone camera you can see that sparkle if you zoom in! You can hopefully imagine how gorgeous it was in real life!

Apparently I wasn't the only one who was fascinated by the beauty of the ice encased trees. As I was leaving our parking lot, some woman had parked on the opposite side of the street and walked across to our lot, and was standing in the driveway to our office taking a picture of some trees. She was actually blocking my path so that I had to stop and wait for her to finish before I could leave. Although I was slightly annoyed, I gave her a kindly wave since I so appreciate the beauty she was trying to capture (although I must say that I'd like to think that I wouldn't stand in front of a moving vehicle in order to capture it!).

As I left Endowment and drove to my afternoon office at the Alumni Association, I began to understand why the woman couldn't resist stopping and blocking our driveway. The campus was amazingly beatiful. The sun was shining so brightly and the trees and buildings all glistened with moisture as the ice melted. I was comepletely in awe. I almost stopped to to take another cell phone picture as I passed the Campanile and Memorial Drive. So gorgeous! Although I'm glad for Chad's sake that the ice is melting today, I'm definitely going to miss its amazing beauty!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ice Storm 2007

Last night about 6:00 the freezing rain that had been enveloping the entire state of Kansas throughout the day finally started coming down in Lawrence. By 6:15, the whole state looked like this:


While I was excited about the prospect of the massive storm causing an inclement weather day on KU's campus, I was also very bummed that the storm kept my hubby at work all night long. The storm obviously caused massive outages for Westar (which peaked at about 92,000 homes without power earlier today), and one representative from the Business Center where Chad works has to be available at all times during such an emergency. Thankfully, despite the bad weather, Chad arrived home safely this morning at 4:45 a.m.

I wasn't so thankful an hour and a half later when I woke up to find that KU had not been closed for the day, even though Lawrence schools had. I couldn't really complain when I drove to work though--the roads really weren't slick at all. Despite all the freezing rain, the temperature was holding steady at about 32 degrees, so ice wasn't really staying on the roadways. It was, however, sticking to the trees. It continued to rain all day and the temp hovered right around freezing, so the trees were layered with ice upon ice. Older trees had huge branches breaking off, while the younger ones just drooped with the weight. As dangerous and cold as ice storms are though, I just can't help but find them so beautiful. When we were out walking the dogs this evening, I snapped a few pictures of what I always think looks like an amazing winter wonderland.





The pictures don't do the beauty of the ice justice, but maybe you can get the idea. While I do marvel at the sight of the ice on the trees, the sound of ice on trees is another story. When the wind picked up little this evening and we were out walking, all you could hear was the creaking and cracking of ice on the branches, which was an ominous precursor to what we will likely have more of tonight--broken tree branches damaging power lines! Unfortunately, it will be a long, long week for those linemen at Westar, and probably a few more late nights for my dear husband too. :(

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Breast Cancer 3-Day: Day 3

The 3rd day of our 3-Day journey started entirely too early. At about 4 in the morning we started hearing rustling and whispering from the tents nearby. By 4:30, people around us were full out talking, and Vikkie and I resorted to blurting out "SHHHHHHHHHHHH" like schoolgirls at summer camp. Our neighbors would quiet down very briefly, but before long they'd be loud enough for the whole area to hear, so by about 5 a.m. we were forced to give up trying to sleep completely.

It was actually kind of good that we got up when we did, because there was a lot of packing and cleanup to do before hitting the trail. On the last day, they are especially strict about people leaving camp at exactly 7:30 so that everyone has enough time to be finished before closing ceremonies at 4 that afternoon. When Vikkie and I headed off to the bathroom at different times in the morning we actually got separated, so I went and washed my face and ate breakfast while Vikkie was dressing/packing because I couldn't find her, and then she went and ate after getting dressed because she couldn't find me! Either way, we both enjoyed the standard breakfast fare with some slight variations (I think we had some fruit crepes that day) and chatted with a few other walkers while I ate. I was fascinated to find that all 4 of the people that I happened to talk to that morning had each taken a sweep van the previous day. I was really surprised to find that no one else had walked the entire time, but they all seemed pretty okay with it!

I realized at breakfast that I might be a little pressed for time, so I rushed back to my tent and dressed quickly, and then started packing up my stuff and sleeping bag. Everything was so damp from the moist ocean air, it was a little messy putting away wet sleeping bags. When Vikkie arrived back from breakfast we started taking down our tent, which was downright sloppy since it was so wet. We ended up rolling the tent up as best we could and stuffing it back into the bag from which it came, feeling bad that someone else might have to clean up our mess later. Later we found out that the tents aren't actually reused, but rather recycled! In bulk, these "disposable" tents (which are super duper thin) actually only cost the 3-Day organization about $1.50 each! They use them just once and then recycle the materials for next year. After hearing that, we didn't feel so terrible that our tent had been wadded up and wet!

As we headed to the "starting line" for the day, it was somewhere around 7:10 or 7:15, and there were tons of people heading in that direction around the same time. Thankfully we got there before 7:30, because there were hundreds of people all waiting to get scanned and out on the course before the deadline. We stood in line for 15 or 20 minutes, and finally got scanned and out on the route at 7:33 a.m. The route was only around 15 miles on Sunday, and while it might seem like we cheated a bit since we only walked about 21-22 miles the previous two days, I'm confident that we got a whole 60 miles in over the weekend just because the camp was so spread out!

Since I still didn't have my Garmin on day 3, it was again a little difficult to tell exactly where we walked on that day. We started out heading in the opposite direction as we had on the previous two days, walking north first and then east through some residential and small little business districts before turning back around the east side of the bay and going south. Just before a pit stop along this stretch was where we got passed by some tall power-walking woman. The path was so crowded it was difficult for us to keep up with her, because she was passing so many people so quickly! Two people can't pass as easily as one, so we gave up and let her power on ahead of us. We were disappointed, but it turned out to be our only "defeat" of the day. As we followed the bay south, we ended up passing by Sea World again and walking along the Southern Wildlife Preserve like we had towards the end of the day before. It was along this stretch of road that Vikkie actually demonstrated her superhuman power--a power I didn't even know she had.

We were walking along, and as usual we were passing large groups of people. Vikkie glanced over to her right and said, "Kim, I know you're going to think I'm crazy, but I think I'm related to that lady over there." I assured her it really wasn't that crazy, since one time that I'd been in San Diego with my dad over 10 years ago, we were at the zoo when we realized the woman standing next to us at an exhibit was Dad's first cousin, who just happened to be visiting San Diego at the same time. I assured Vikkie that it was a very small world and encouraged her to go say something. We turned around, and Vikkie walked directly up to this woman and started the following (approximate) conversation:

Vikkie: "Hi, I know this is going to sound crazy, but I feel like I know you from somewhere. Are you from this area?"

Lady: "No, I'm actually from Ventura, just north of here."

Vikkie: "But originally...are you from there originally?"

Lady: "Well, no, I'm originally from Kansas."

Vikkie: "Okay, now we're getting somewhere. Where in Kansas?"

Lady: "Oh, it's a small town in northeast Kansas."

Vikkie: "Is it Sabetha?"

The woman stopped dead in her tracks. Her jaw dropped open and she literally grabbed onto Vikkie's arm like she was going to fall over and just stared at her. Vikkie exclaimed "I'm from Sabetha--I'm Craig's daughter!" The woman's eyes got huge and she said "YOU'RE Craig's daughter?!!!" Vikkie's dad Craig is apparently a cousin or something of this woman, whose name was Sandy. They went on to discuss the fact that the only reason Vikkie recognized Sandy was because when Vikkie was in high school she used to clean the home of Sandy's mother, and there were pictures of Sandy everywhere. This was obviously like 10 years ago, and Vikkie wasn't even sure at the time if she'd ever even seen Sandy in person!! She said it happens all the time, where she sees someone she's met once many years before and she immediately knows them. How's that for a super power!??

After our Sabetha sighting, we re-passed all of the people who'd passed us while we were talking with Sandy, and then crossed over a big bridge on the south side of the bay, and sort of started heading back in the direction we'd already come. This was probably the least scenic part of the entire walk, even though the wildlife area was on our left, because the highway was right next to us on the other side. It seems like we walked along this stretch for about a mile, but then we started heading through some pretty residential areas. There was a great pit stop in this area with the whole crew dressed in 80s prom clothes, which was great for a laugh along the way! The pit stops always had themes and were generally pretty entertaining, but this one was definitely my favorite of the weekend! I think it was soon after this that we skirted the edge of the Old Town area, but it wasn't until the next day that we even realized that's where we had been.

We arrived at lunch entirely too early once again, somewhere between 9:30 and 10 a.m. Since there had been even more supporters along the route than the previous two days, we'd eaten even more candy than the previous two days, which meant we really weren't hungry for a turkey sandwich at 9:45 in the morning. We snacked on a couple of side items and packed our sandwiches, did some stretching, and then headed back onto the trail by 10:15 or so. With only about 5 more miles to go, we were ready to get a move on!

We walked through a few residential areas before coming to the Hillcrest neighborhood, which actually happens to be near where my brother lived in San Diego many years ago. This is a cute little community that kind of feels like a smaller town in the middle of the big city, with lots of cute shops in a quaint downtown. We turned south somewhere in Hillcrest and then headed towards Balboa Park. We didn't actually walk through the heart of Balboa, but headed down the main street that runs along the east side of the park. The funny thing is, once again I had no idea we were walking so close to this major city landmark! I think we were just completely focused on finishing and not paying attention to the scenery! In our defense though, the entire stretch of Park Boulevard where we walked was littered with spectators cheering us on. It was a little difficult to pay attention to the area when we were busy acknowledging all of our supporters!

Once we reached the south end of Balboa, there was really only about a mile or so of walking through the downtown area before we arrived at Petco Park. The last few city blocks were already packed with people, and I think it was only a little after noon when we arrived. Although we didn't get an official finisher number when we arrived, we heard some other people who came in just before us say that they were around number 250. Again, it sounded like we got slower on the third day, but we still felt good about our time since we were among the last to leave that morning!

After crossing the finish line we picked up our victory t-shirts, took pictures by the Day 3 banner, then parked ourselves on a grassy hill outside the stadium where we stretched, ate our sandwiches and watched the other walkers coming in. It was actually a little chilly once we stopped moving, and when it started to sprinkle a while later we weren't too thrilled about the possibility of being cold and wet. We grabbed our gear and hustled down underneath the ballpark, where we had a great view of the incoming walkers. We started noticing that as they crossed the finish line they all looked a little lost, because there were several different ways they could turn, and they didn't immediately notice the greeting crew standing farther into the park. Vikkie and I decided that we would be helpful and encouraging and stand where we could direct them while cheering them on. Within a couple of minutes, a couple of women joined our line of two. A few minutes later, a couple of other women joined our line of four. At that point we started doing a wave of six for all the finishing walkers as they game by, which was pretty darn funny. Then some more people lined up across from us to cheer and dance and clap for the incoming walkers. Within 20 minutes, there were at least a hundred people who had joined our receiving line! It was huge! A woman a few people down from us said "What a great idea--who started this?" and several women pointed to Vikkie and I. Another woman took our picture, apparently wanting to remember the spirited organizers of "the line." It was so fun because we got to be goofy and dance around and clap for people, but it was also very moving because we got to see close up how overwhelmed with emotion people were as they finished their 60 miles. Many would walk down the line and receive hugs and pats on the back and just break down in tears, which would cause everyone in the welcome line to get teary as well. It was a pretty cool place to be, and of course it was all our idea. :)

After about an hour and a half of being on our feet dancing and clapping, when our line of two had grown into a line of hundreds, Vikkie and I said "our work is done here" and decided to go relax. We headed out the gates of the ball park to the La Croix tent, where our awesome foot massagers were just waiting for us! We pampered our feet while making calls to our families, and then headed back out to the street, where there were thousands and thousands of people congregating to cheer on the incoming walkers and prepare for closing ceremonies. I know I keep saying this, but it was so amazing how many people came out in support of the event.

We headed back to the holding area inside the ballpark and did a little shopping at some sponsor tents, and then decided to sit back and admire our beautiful welcome line, which looked like it was over 1,000 people long. People would walk through the line, pick up their t-shirts, and then go join the end of the line to make it even longer. We took a series of pictures, since it was way too long to fit into one frame. We thought it was pretty cool. :)

The last walker finished soon after at about 3:45, and the organizers immediately started herding people around to get set up for the victory walk to the closing ceremonies. By the time the 4,600 people were in an organized line, it was starting to sprinkle again. The entire mass of people marched about a half mile around the outside of Petco Park into what appeared to be a parking lot, where the stage was set up and spectators were gathered. We were actually fairly near the front, which meant we stood around for what seemed like an hour waiting for the other 4,000 participants to pour into the area. Thankfully we'd packed our ponchos that day, because we were starting to get a little damp!

The closing ceremonies finally started, and while very moving and powerful, they felt just a little bit long, probably because it was dark by this point and we were all pretty wet with drizzle and we'd been up since before 5 a.m.! When the ceremony was finished, we wandered over to the next parking lot where our suitcases were all waiting (in the rain). We drug our bags to a nearby corner and tried calling a cab, but since I only had an intersection and not the actual address of Petco, they wouldn't come and get us! We soon realized that the streets around the stadium had been blocked off anyway, so we just started following the crowds to the main downtown area until we saw a cab. We shared a cab with a nice woman from Iowa, and then arrived at our hotel, where the kind woman at the front desk upgraded us to a suite! I think she just felt sorry for us since she knew we'd walked 60 miles and were wet and cold!

Our suite was nice and spacious, and after unpacking and getting organized, we decided that because of the wet and chilly weather we'd just stay in for the night and order some pizza. Thankfully, the hotel had a laundry room just two doors down from us, so we were able to get our laundry done and enjoy a cozy evening in warm beds for the first time in 3 days! :)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Creepy Christmas Gifts

The other day we were doing some Christmas shopping and had to stop by Wally World. If you're a regular reader you might know that I generally try not to make shopping at Wal-Mart a habit, but there was particular person on our Christmas list who wanted a particular CD which was only being released at this particular store. So there we were. We were wandering through the aisles, checking out the always fascinating bargains and bargain shoppers, when I was startled by what I considered a particularly creepy item:

I wasn't exactly sure what this head of Elvis actually did, so I started checking out the box a little more closely to see if I could identify its purpose. As I feared, it apparently comes alive, as indicated by the label in the top left corner:

WowWee is right. Apparently the head sings like 8 songs and says a few other Elvis-ish phrases or quotes from his movies or something. While it pretty much creeps me out, I thought maybe some huge Elvis fan or a kid would enjoy this as a sort of gag gift. Then I glanced up at the price:

Really, Wal-Mart. Two hundred and fifty dollars? Really? I can't even begin to fathom who would pay this much for a talking Elvis head. It scares me. Really.*

*If you're wondering why I can't stop saying "really" you might check out my favorite news segment on Saturday Night Live, Really!?! with Seth & Amy. It makes me laugh out loud every time!

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Trip Down Memory Lane

I'm almost done with my next installment of the 3-Day series, but while I finish it up I thought I'd share something my friend Erin sent me via email a few weeks ago. The email was a "review" of some clothing and items from a 1977 JC Penney catalog, and it was absolutely hysterical. It made reference to being from someone's blog, so I Googled some of the phrases in the email and found the original posting right away, on a blog called 15 Minute Lunch. I haven't yet checked out the rest of the blog, but this particular post about the catalog made Chad and I laugh so hard we cried. Just so you know, it's not exactly appropriate for children, but it's pretty wicked funny none the less! Click here and enjoy!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Snowy Season

There are so many things that Ive been wanting to blog about lately, but today I just have to mention the beautiful first snowfall that we had today! Just a few minutes after I got to work the snow started coming down, and it was absolutely gorgeous. It went from fine powdery flakes to huge clumps of flakes to so many flakes you could hardly see! I tried to take pictures out my office window, but I only had my Palm camera and not my real camera, and the quality was so low that it just looked like a big mass of white through the glass. I opted to use this cool picture from the Lawrence Journal-World instead to help me remember the day. It snowed until almost 2:30, and we ended up with around 2 inches on the ground. I'm probably one of the few people in my office that was hoping for the snow to continue all day, since I don't mind driving in snowy weather at all!

While I do love the snow just for being snow, I also loved the weather today because for the first time this year it actually felt like the Christmas season! Hooray for my favorite holiday of the year!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Happy Birthday, Amber!!!

Today is my wonderful friend Amber's birthday, and I just have to say that she is just one of the greatest friends anyone could ever ask for! Amber and I first met 5 or 6 years ago when she worked for a short time at the KUMC office of KU Endowment. Her time there didn't last long (because she soon went back to graduate school), but thankfully our friendship did! I just feel so blessed that she is part of my life. Not only is she extremely fun to be with and amazingly hardworking and smart (she'll officially become a PhD this year), but Amber is also one of the most thoughtful and considerate people I know. She is forever going out of her way to do nice things for people, whether it's baking a cake, sending a card or just dropping a thoughtful email. She's a great organizer, decorator and party planner extraordinaire--my birthday was a prime example of her thoughtfulness and decorating talent! She frequently hosts festive parties for lots of friends and always makes the most amazing snacks, including her famous 3-2-1 dip (aka "crack dip"). No one every turns down Amber's snacks and baked goods!

In my second year of blogging, I haven't done nearly as good of a job recognizing the birthdays of my friends and family members, but there are a few good reasons I had to make sure the day didn't go by without talking about my fantastic friend. First, last year I failed to mention her birthday entirely! I actually blogged about doing something with her and failed to mention her birthday at all! I'm clearly not the considerate friend that she is. Secondly, Amber is not only a dedicated reader of my blog, but she's also a dedicated commenter, which I very much appreciate. Thirdly, Amber was my most loyal training partner this summer/fall, and I was so incredibly grateful for her companionship for all of those miles. Finally, I have to recognize this b-day because it may be the last time Amber and I live in the same town and can celebrate together! I will be so very sad when she and her husband Jake move to the DC area this summer. I miss them already. :( Happy birthday, my dear friend!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Slinkyness

It's probably pretty clear that I'm mildly insane, based on the fact that this is my second post about a dog who stayed with us for barely over 24 hours. I just can't help it--Slinky was such a doll! In that one short day, with just a few hours of loving human contact, she made such a huge amount of progress. She was almost like a normal house dog, as opposed to the terrified little runaway we'd captured the night before. She started following us all over the house, and while still skittish and nervous, she would allow us to pet her, give us lots of nose kisses and even come when she was called. She had no accidents in the house, although clearly she hadn't been a house dog before, since each and every piece of furniture, counter and tabletop became a climbing apparatus for her! It was hilarious to watch her explore the house, and I wish I'd captured pictures of her standing on the coffee table and climbing over the firewood rack! Of course, I quickly told her "no" in those situations, so there wasn't really time to grab the camera! I did, of course, take a few other pictures of her yesterday evening.






The neighbors who are going to train her and find her a permanent home came to pick her up last night, and she seemed very comfortable with them, as she laid right down in the middle of the living room while we all discussed her care. Tonight I saw Slinky and her foster family walk by the house, so I went out to say hi, and she walked right up to me without fear! I didn't get to talk to them much because I was on the phone (sorry, Kelly), but they said she is doing well! I'm so happy for Slinky!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Operation Save Slinky

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a cute little stray black and white dog running around a few blocks away from our house. A couple of days later, I saw her again. I stopped the car to see if she'd come to me, and she bolted in the other direction. A couple of days after that, she was in our front yard, but as soon as we went out the door, she went running. We went out to walk the dogs the next night, and we spotted her in a neighbor's front yard. She came right up to sniff Celtic, only to take off as soon as we tried to get near her. The entire walk we discussed how we might corral her, since we were so worried about her being hungry, being out in the elements, and being hit by a car. So many of the days we'd seen her, she was very near or even in the road. As we neared home, we were plotting how maybe we could get her to follow the dogs, since she seemed to like Celtic so much. Seconds later, Chad glanced over his shoulder and was startled to find that she was walking about 10 feet behind us! We stopped to see if she would come closer, but instead she quickly disappeared into the night. It was at that moment that we dubbed our little neighbor stray Slinky.

That was the first night we started leaving food out for Slinky. Each day, we saw her at least once, sometimes two or three times, often across north Iowa Street, which has lots of heavy truck traffic. Every time we came home we were so afraid we would find her lying on the side of the road after being hit, but every time we left the house we'd leave food out for her anyway. About the second day that I left a snack for her at lunch, I started getting nervous when I got nearer to home, since I hadn't spotted her on any of the blocks approaching our house. As I rounded the corner onto our street, I found Slinky standing in our driveway eating. She jumped when the garage door opened, but stood there cautiously and watched me as I pulled in. By the time I got out of the car, Slinky had disappeared. It was fascinating that she could always appear and disappear so quickly!

A couple of nights later the temperature was supposed to drop down below freezing. I was so worried that Slinky wouldn't survive the night. I left some dinner out for her, but she didn't come to get it before we went to bed. When I woke up, I ran to the door and her chicken scraps were gone, but I had no idea if she'd gotten them or if I'd lured a raccoon to our front steps. As I left for work, I scanned the neighborhood carefully and saw no sign of her, and then backed out of the driveway only to find her standing in our flower garden. I jumped out and grabbed the bread I'd just thrown down, threw her a piece, and watched frustratingly as she grabbed a bite and took off in the other direction. I jumped in the car and followed her, and made desperate hand signals to a neighbor who was out walking as Slinky approached her dog. Before she realized what I was saying, Slinky was gone again, halfway down the next block. I talked with the neighbor only to find that her family had been feeding and trying to capture Slinky as well. She said other people on her block had also made efforts to no avail. That night my next door neighbor also called to say she'd been trying to tame and capture this very smart, very wary little girl!

Yesterday morning, as Chad headed out of the neighborhood, he called and said Slinky was right in front of a building on the edge of the industrial area near our house. He's stopped and tried to lure her in, but of course she took off. He came back to the house to grab the dogs (our bait) and we drove back to the industrial area and started our search. We drove through several parking lots and saw nothing, and just as we were about to head for home we saw her walking out of the K-Mart distribution center lot. We parked and jumped out of the car with the dogs and some tasty ham, and tossed Slinky a few pieces as she approached her fellow canines. As soon as I moved, however, she took off into a lot where TWO semis were trying to back into their respective stalls. We watched in horror as she actually walked under one of the trucks while it was moving, thankfully very slowly!

We followed Slinky through this lot of parked trucks and watched her slip through a hole in a fence--she was clearly very familiar with the area. She marched over to an office building and laid down, cleaning her wet and muddy paws and rolling around in the grass trying to dry off from the recent sprinkles. We jumped back into the car and drove to this lot, where we parked at a safe distance, trying to figure out our next move. Finally, I got out and walked to one end of the lot while Chad drove the dogs to the other end. We were hoping to herd her in my direction so that I could catch her as she went by. Chad got out with Celtic (Hope gets much to crazy around new dogs) and they started walking near Slinky, but then quickly walked away from her, which definitely piqued her interest. She followed, then sniffed with Celtic for a moment, unfortunately just out of Chad's reach. As soon as he made a move near her, she started jogging away. At this point it was sprinkling again, so we decided to give up our chase for the day.

We left food out again overnight, this time not as worried about the weather since she'd made it through two freezing nights and one rainy night with no problem. Today as I left for the shelter at about 1:00, Slinky was sitting on the corner of Iowa and River Ridge right in front of the inconvenience store. She started rolling around in the grass like she didn't have a care in the world, apparently completely unaware that she was lost or in danger at all. I pulled into the parking lot, knowing that I hadn't a chance in the world of catching her, but as soon as I stopped the car in her vicinity she took off across the road, prancing along like she was just out for a morning romp. I had to laugh because she was just so adorable!

Later this evening, Chad and I were downstairs watching the Jayhawks game against USC (which we'd recorded since we weren't home to watch it earlier). Suddenly Hope jumped off the couch and tore up the stairs, because she heard Celtic barking at something outside. She was going crazy with her hysterical bawling, so I ran up to see a little black and white body slinking around the corner. Chad jumped into action (since I was wearing slippers) and got Celtic's leash on and walked out the door. As he left I suggested that he try and lure her into the backyard. Hope and I stood and watched out the front door, and a few minutes later Slinky came walking back into our view, stopped a moment, and then took off around the corner again. I stepped out to follow her, not knowing if Chad realized where she was. As I rounded the corner I saw her standing in our neighbor's backyard, so I started to slowly approach with some treats. Suddenly, Chad walks out of the back yard gate and takes a few steps towards her with Celtic, then turns around and runs right back in through the gate, and she followed! I started to run to close the gate behind him, but he was already on top of it. When I heard the gate slam behind him I literally started screaming, "I can't believe it!! You did it!" I was so thrilled!! My husband is my hero!

It took about another 2o minutes of chasing her around the backyard in the freezing cold darkness with flashlights until we finally cornered her and got a leash on. She was so terrified, but even in her scared state she never tried to bite, even with strange people grabbing at her. The weird thing was when we went to put the leash on her, we noticed she was wearing a collar, which we're almost sure she wasn't wearing when we chased her yesterday. It's almost as if someone else finally caught her today and then lost her again. Regardless, in the few hours she's been with us, she's already doing better with walking on a leash and even coming back to us when we let her off in the backyard. She is still very scared and will need a lot of work before being adoptable, which is why one of the other neighbors wants to keep and train/socialize her before finding her a permanent home.

So tonight we have a very timid little visitor sleeping with her own little blankets in the warmth of our garage. Operation Save Slinky has been a success!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Breast Cancer 3-Day: Day 2

On Day 2 of the 3-Day in San Diego, Vikkie and I were unfortunately awakened by the chatter and clatter of the campers around us, who insisted on waking up at like 5 in the morning to prepare for the day. Ugh! Thank goodness we'd gone to bed early! We finally rolled out of bed at around 6 or so and headed to breakfast, where we had oatmeal, eggs, potatoes, yogurt, fruit and all sorts of things to start our day. Other than the soggy bacon (which neither of us actually tried), it was a very tasty breakfast!

We stopped off to wash our faces and brush our teeth along the way back to our tent, and then got dressed and packed up to head out onto the trail. We left camp at about 7:10, but the route had opened at 6:15, so we knew there were a lot of people who were way ahead of us! We walked right along the bay all morning, passing lots of beach front complexes and homes that were very nice (and passing lots of other walkers as well!). The weather was beautiful this day--a little warmer than day one and very sunny. Since it was such a gorgeous Saturday morning, the boardwalk along the beach was just packed with other bikers, walkers and joggers. We passed at least a couple of marinas as well as a couple of parks with pit stops, and all along the way there were amazing numbers of supporters, many of whom were the same people we'd seen cheering us on the previous day! I was so amazed that these dedicated people were giving up their entire weekend just to come out and clap, cheer and pass out treats--and pass out treats they did!! At some point before the walk started on day one, one of the returning walkers welcomed everyone to the "60 mile San Diego Buffet." I couldn't figure out what that meant at the time, but we realized very quickly that it was a reference to all of the walker stalkers, who were passing out huge amounts of candy around every corner! There would be entire Girl Scout troops and cheerleading squads with bowls full of chocolate and buckets of red vines, and you felt terrible refusing because you were so appreciative of them just being there! We were sick from too much candy by 9 in the morning!

We arrived at a section of Mission Bay Park on the south side of the bay for "lunch", which was just over 9.5 miles into the day. Even though it was before 9:30 a.m., we enjoyed a chicken wrap, a few chips and a fruit cup just so we wouldn't have to haul the food around with us to eat later. It was such a nice day and the park was so beautiful, it might have been nice to lounge around there all afternoon! The crew had decorated the area like a 50s diner, with oldies music playing and crew members in poodle skirts. It was really quite entertaining, but we only rested and stretched about a half hour before heading back out onto the route. We soon passed a dog park called "Dog Beach" on the northern end of Ocean Beach, and of course Vikkie and I both loved watching all the dogs romp and play in the sand and surf!

It was soon after this that the battery on my Garmin Forerunner went dead, which is unfortunate because I really had no idea where we were walking without looking at a map! I do know that we walked south for a little while longer before walking through a bunch of residential areas that had a ton of hills! These hills were killer--they were steep and there were lots of them! This was probably the only time during the 3 days of walking that we really got our heart rates up and worked up a sweat. We hauled up and down several hills before heading back north towards the Mission Bay area, where we walked past Sea World and around the park some more before heading back to our campsite, which was at Crown Point Shores in Mission Bay Park. We arrived about 1:30 p.m. and were the 112th/113th people to finish the 21.1 miles that day. While it might sound like we were slower than the day before because we came in behind more people, we actually felt better about our finish because we didn't have a single person pass us the entire day! All of those people finishing in front of us either started before us or took one of the "sweep" vans (vans that pick up injured/tired/wimpy walkers to transport them to the next pit stop or checkpoint) to get there!

In all seriousness, I was really surprised at how many people were eager to get on a sweep van and then weren't embarrassed at all about having done so. As Vikkie and I often discussed, after training for so many weeks we a) didn't ever feel the need to be rescued by a sweep van and b) wouldn't have been caught dead doing so because of our competitive natures. I mean how could we raise all that money based on the condition that we were going to walk 60 miles and then not actually walk 60 miles? It seems like false advertising, if you ask me. Call me callous, but I had a hard time feeling sorry for people who "couldn't" finish walking because of blisters. Vikkie and I made a lot of weekend sacrifices in order to put in hours and hours of training, and people who ended up with "hamburger feet" clearly didn't. That was their choice, so I have a hard time having any sympathy for them! That probably sounds cruel, but I'm just being honest!

So back to the review of our day, now that I've gotten off my soap box. :) After finishing on day 2 we did the same things we did the day before: foot massage, snacks, stretching, etc., and then we headed off to take showers, since our friend Tish (who used to work at KU Endowment before moving to LA), was going to come down to San Diego in the late afternoon to come hang out with us and go watch the KU/OSU football game! We skipped the dinner at camp since we planned to eat with Tish, who ended up getting to SD a lot later than expected, and then getting lost because we weren't able to give her good directions since we didn't really know exactly where we were! Finally, with the help of a creepy cab guy who talked Tish through getting there on the phone, she arrived at about 6 or so. Since the game had started just after 5, we were getting text message updates from Chad since we were missing the action!

Thankfully I had printed off directions at home to the local place which is famous for playing all the KU games, Kansas City Barbeque. They were listed on the KUAA website as the place to go for a watch party, but when we got there and glanced around the tiny restaurant the game wasn't even on! We asked the staff where the game was, only to receive some vague answer about them not being able to get it! ACK!!!! They suggested we walk down the street to a restaurant in a nearby hotel that was supposed to be able to get every game, which we did, only to sit around and wait forever for their staff to try to get the game on. What we eventually discovered was that somehow our game wasn't being shown in their area, even on satellite, because of some huge area rivalry that was superseding KU. We ate dinner and watched other Big 12 games, which provided us with updates of our own game to supplement the text messages Chad was sending us. Thankfully, our Jayhawks were victorious even though we didn't get to watch a single down!

We arrived back at camp right before 9:00, and since "lights out" was at 9 we made it back to our tent just in time for changing clothes, brushing teeth and crawling into out sleeping bags! Somehow, we weren't even quite as exhausted as we had been after day 1!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Coaches vs. Obesity

You may have already seen this, but my friend Beth sent this to me via email this morning, with a subject line of "1st Annual Coaches vs. Obesity Classic." Classic is right. I think it's freakin' hilarious, although if you're like my husband you probably don't find it nearly as amusing.



While clearly a fake picture (Mangino is much fatter than that in person), it still cracks me up. I love it that formerly fatter coaches Bill Parcells and Charlie Weis are there cheering on Mangino and the Tennessee coach, who in real life isn't fat at all, comparatively speaking. It would have probably been a funnier picture if the larger coach behind them, who Chad tells me is Ralph Friedgen from Maryland, was the one Mangino was wrestling. Chad and I were having an argument earlier about who is bigger in real life. I think Mangino has at least a chin on Friedgen--maybe you can be the judge.

What I think is so funny is that the alumni and students of all these other schools make these funny jokes and pictures with Mangino as the butt, but KU fans don't find them offensive at all! There's no denying that Mangino is morbidly obese, so we've learned to just embrace the bulge and laugh right along!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

MyUbby

Since I'm guessing I won't get finished with my next 3-Day synopsis for a few more days, today I'm posting something that I actually meant to share before I left for San Diego. One of Chad's best friends from high school (Ted) and his wife (Aimee, who is also from our high school) recently started their own online business, called myubby. Ubby is what their son Joseph (now 6) named his very special blanket. Since his ubby has been such an important part of his life, they decided to make a site where other people can make very special one-of-a-kind blankies of their own.

It's a very neat concept and a really cool website, where you can pick fabrics, colors, patterns, trim and stitching for a custom ubby, and get an idea of what it will look like when it's all finished. It's a great gift idea for new babies! Check it out at myubby.com!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Breast Cancer 3-Day: Day 1

On Friday morning, November 9, Vikkie and I got up just before 5 a.m. I'd called a cab the night before to pick us up at 5:30, and thankfully, there was a knock on our door by 5:25. We loaded up our stuff in the cab and headed south towards Del Mar, where the opening ceremonies were scheduled to start at 7 a.m. at the county fairgrounds. Our trip there was rather uneventful, except for the moment when we passed an adorable little downtown shopping area, which the cab driver informed us was downtown Encinitas, which we'd been trying to walk to the day before. I guess we just didn't walk far enough, which was probably better since we would have definitely put in more than five miles that day had we actually reached the downtown! It was an 8.5 mile drive from northern Encinitas (an area they call Leucadia) that was supposed to take us about 11 minutes, but once we got near the fairgrounds, the traffic slowed down to a crawl, since thousands of other drivers were also trying to drop off their friends and loved ones at opening ceremonies as well! We had guessed it would probably be about a $20 cab ride to Del Mar, but as we were inching our way into the drop off area I glanced up at the still ticking meter, which was ringing up at $23. Thankfully, a couple of minutes later the very kind driver shut the timer off, so that we only had to pay for any additional mileage, which couldn't have been more than a quarter mile. We sat there in traffic for another 15-20 minutes waiting to get to the unloading area, so we were very thankful that a) we'd left the hotel plenty early, and b) we had a very generous cab driver. What a blessing!

We finally got to the unloading area and dropped our bags off at one of about 10 semis, where one of the awesome volunteer crew members loaded it onto the truck specific to our tent area at camp. (There were 550 crew members who volunteered for the San Diego event this year!) We walked about a half mile through the grounds to where the opening ceremony would be held, and I quickly realized these fairgrounds weren't at all like the fairgrounds we have in Douglas County! The Del Mar Fairgrounds and the nearby equestrian park host several major San Diego events throughout the year, and the beautiful buildings all over the grounds are a far cry from the metal farm buildings that litter the fairgrounds here in Lawrence.

We stood around for at least 30 minutes before the staff started leading us in some stretches (which I've never really understood since I'm not sure why anyone would need to stretch before walking), and finally the opening ceremonies began. The national spokesperson of the 3-Day was the emcee of the program, and she did a really good job. Last year it was a different woman who was a little cheesy and very scripted, but this year's spokesperson was so much better. The program also incorporated these big flags with different milestones and events written on them, which were first presented by a group of survivors who were getting ready to start the walk themselves. It was very moving and also very cool because the flags were all carried by different walkers for all 60 miles of the 3 days! People would just carry a flag for a while until they passed someone else on the route, and then they'd pass it along, with the goal being that eventually every one of the 4,600 walkers would have carried the flag at some point during the 3 days.

After the program ended and the flag bearers began walking, there was unfortunately a lot of standing around, as all 4,600 people had to be funneled through a fairly small chute so that they could be scanned by more volunteers. (Each time the walkers go on or off the route, their credentials are scanned so that every walker is always accounted for.) We finally started walking at 7:26 a.m.! After the first few miles we came to the first really scenic area on the route, which was a long bridge along the ocean coming up on the hill to Torrey Pines State Reserve. It was along that stretch of road that we first came upon the many, many supporters who were out cheering for the walkers. I can't even explain how many people decorated their cars, costumed themselves and came out to encourage the 3-Day participants all weekend long. They called themselves "walker stalkers," because they followed the walkers all around town, offering trinkets ("flair" for our waist packs and lanyards) and stickers and candy and muffins and cheers and hugs and support. It was just amazing! It made the walk go by so much more quickly because around almost every corner there was a new group of supports cheering you on, many of whom were decked out in such hilarious outfits you just couldn't help but laugh!

Anyway, after stopping and getting a snack at our first pit stop we started up the very long hill at Torrey Pines. This hill was pretty killer--the elevation increased steadily for over a mile--but the view was gorgeous. We walked past the famous Torrey Pines golf course before the plateau final leveled off. Soon after leaving the reserve we hit the outskirts of the beautiful city of La Jolla. We skimmed the beautiful beaches and rock formations along the coast of that area until stopping in a beautiful grassy area for an early lunch at about 10:30, just over 11 miles into the day. Once we stopped walking, the breeze off the ocean made it really chilly, since it was a pretty cloudy day. After a rest of 30 minutes or so, we headed back out onto the trail, blowing through some residential areas, small business districts, a couple of cheering stations (which were difficult to distinguish since there were so many people cheering all along the route) and a few quick pit stops during the late morning. We made an extra stop at a hardware store since we forgot a flashlight, and then powered through the last 4 or 5 miles to end up at the beautiful Mission Bay Park at around 1:20 in the afternoon. We felt good about our pace over the 22 mile course that day, given that only 2 people passed us the entire time. We passed a few thousand people and were the 70th and 71st people to come into camp.

After arriving at camp and locating our campsite and gear, we set up our tent and got settled into our temporary home. We milled around camp for a while and checked out the post office tent, the snack tent, the stretching area, the 3-Day store, and the La Croix tent, where a La Croix rep provides these awesome foot massagers for walkers when they're finished, along with lots of different flavored waters. After a good foot massage we headed back to our tent to get our shower stuff and fresh clothes, and then headed off to the mobile shower trucks to enjoy a nice, hot shower!

By the time we were all cleaned up, dinner was being served in the dining tent, and we enjoyed a nice meal of pasta, salad and rolls. When we were done eating we went back to the "lounge" tent, where we watched a little TV, called our families and waved to them on the webcam, and then went by and visited the remembrance tent, where walkers memorialize their loved ones lost to breast cancer. We started getting tired by 7:30 or so, so we headed back to our tent and got ready for bed, and I'm pretty sure we were asleep by 8 or 8:30! It's amazing how tired walking 22 miles in a day will make you! :)

Hopefully soon I'll get finished detailing days 2 and 3, but until then, check out some new pictures I loaded onto my Picasa page that Vikkie recently sent from her camera!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Am Depressed

What can I say. Last night was miserably depressing. Our beloved Jayhawks' amazing run came to an end. First, let me just say that I'm still so proud of their storybook season. I'm just so depressed it didn't have a storybook ending!

The bottom line is that we played a Missouri team who I think was more talented and more experienced (by way of a more challenging schedule) than we were, so we needed to play a solid game with no mistakes in order to beat them. We'd gotten off to a slow started in many of our other games this year, but since we were just a better team than most of our opponents, were able to take the extra "warm up" time to get settled down without too much backlash. Not so with the Missouri Tigers. We managed to drive down the field several times in the first half, but with two very costly interceptions in the red zone and two missed field goals, we were lucky to only be down 14-0 at halftime.

I can't help but think that the pressure of this huge game, the unusually large venue and the national TV audience were all contributing factors to the nerves that were likely behindLawrence Journal World Picture these unusual errors by our offense. Reesing has been interception free for so many games, and Webb had only one other game this year where he wasn't totally reliable on field goals. I just can't imagine how nervous they must have been playing in such a huge game with their whole season on the line. Once they got settled down and synced up in the second half, the offense was very productive, like the offense we'd been seeing all year. Todd made some amazing throws, and Meier and Briscoe both had amazing receptions for huge gains at critical moments. Our defense gave up a lot of short passes which added up to a lot of yards throughout the whole game, but we still managed to hold the Mizzou offense to under their 42 points per game scoring average on the season. To me, that was kind of a moral victory, and the fact that we came back from a 21 point deficit and made it a very interesting and exciting game at the end was definitely something of which our boys should be proud. Our Jayhawks played hard and never gave up even when it looked like it might be a blowout.

Really, I have to say that the most frustrating thing about the game was the fact that we played it at Arrowhead stadium. I certainly can't say for sure that we would have won at Memorial Stadium, but I do know that we would have had a much better chance with the home field advantage. The game last night was not even remotely close to a home game. KU had been issued more tickets, but then a huge chunk of the tickets were given to Chiefs ticket holders, a lot of whom likely sold theirs to the highest bidder. The pre-game estimate was that the attendance would be 60-70% KU fans with the rest being Missouri people. This wasn't even close to the case. The breakdown looked to be more like 50/50, and it sounded more like 70/30 in favor of the Tigers. It was so frustrating to be surrounded by so many Missouri fans in what was supposed to be a home game for us! Not only that, but the Missouri fans are just more knowledgeable when it comes to football than KU fans, presumably because they've been better at football for several years, and because they have only one cheer to learn--M-I-Z-(pause)-Z-O-U--which just about drove me crazy last night! I'm sure that not all of the KU season ticket holders from Lawrence game to the game (because of the cold temperature and late hour), which means that there were tens of thousands of KU "fans" there who probably hadn't been to a KU game in years! For example, although the people behind us had their faces painted in crimson and blue, they would not stop their deafening screams every time we were on offense!!! Really? You don't know any better than to be quiet when our quarterback is trying to bark out the plays to his teammates? Really. I can't even tell you how much their football incompetence annoyed me. The Missouri fans were so loud when they were on defense, which made calling audibles very difficult for our quarterback. It certainly didn't help that there were KU morons sitting behind us screaming "Go Jayhawks" and helping the Mizzou efforts, which I'm pretty sure wouldn't have happened had we been at Memorial Stadium. I hope our evil Orc of an A.D. is happy with his greed. Maybe he thinks the cool million our athletics department received to move the game to Arrowhead (in addition to the millions he's already milked from donors through the points system) was worth risking our shot at the Big 12 North title. I, however, do not.

Although we were freezing the entire evening and we were very sad about the outcome of the game, we at least had fun tailgating with some friends beforehand. And just because our Jayhawks are no longer undefeated, that doesn't mean Chad and and I won't be there to support them in whatever bowl game they play at the end of the season. We're in. Who's coming with us? :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I've Never Been So Nervous

We're on our way to KC for the biggest, most important, most hyped football game of our entire life. I can't even explain how nervous we are. A few hours ago, Chad was pretty sure he was going to throw up at some point before kickoff. Right now I'm sweating profusely even though it's freezing outside. I can't handle the pressure!! Everyone please say a prayer for our Jayhawks!! BEAT THOSE EVIL TIGERS!!!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope everyone is finding lots of reasons for thankfulness today. Here are just a few things for which I'm thankful this year:

*I'm thankful that today we were able to have a great meal with some of Chad's family. His mom Joanie hosted Thanksgiving dinner for her three sons and two grandsons and some other family members, so we were able to spend time with Joanie and her husband Rory, Chad's brother Mark and his wife Jen and our nephews, and Chad's brother Jonathan and his girlfriend Molly. Here are just a couple of pictures from the day.

Jonathan and Chad

Quinn and Miles doing "magic" card "tricks"

*I'm thankful that tomorrow we'll get to have another Thanksgiving dinner with my mom, and that Chad's dad, mom and grandma Decker will be coming to visit us on Sunday.

*I'm thankful that I was able to spend a wonderful week in San Diego, participate in an amazing 3-Day event, and spend a day with my brother.

*I'm thankful for my loving husband and best friend who makes me laugh all the time!

*I'm thankful for our wonderful dogs Celtic and Hope, and especially that Hope survived her battle with cancer earlier this year.

*I'm thankful that we have a church that we love, jobs we enjoy and friends that we adore all right here in the wonderful city of Lawrence.

*I'm thankful for our 11-0 Jayhawks, and that in just under 48 hours we'll be watching them play for the Big 12 North title!