Saturday, March 31, 2007

Welcome Addie!

On Wednesday, my good friend Erin gave birth to a beautiful new daughter named Addison. She was welcomed by her mom, dad Jason, and big brother Zachary, who turned three in December. Addie weighed in at 6 pounds, 11 ounces, and looks a little like Zach when he was born, although she is much, much smaller! I would have posted a welcome blog to Addie on her actual birthday, but I wanted to wait until I had a picture to go along with it! She and her family live in Mississippi, so I probably won't get to meet her in person for a while, but I'm looking forward to more pictures soon. She is a beautiful baby!

Happy Birthday Addison, and congrats to mom, dad and Zach! :)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Answered Prayer

Today Hope received her second chemotherapy injection, and we also received some positive news. The vet had informed us that there was only a 50/50 chance that her tumor would respond to chemo, and it appears that we've won the coin toss! Dr. Heeb was very pleased with the cancer's response to the treatment so far, and termed her cancer in "partial remission." While this sounds a little better than it really is, it's still great news!

We will continue to pray that the tumor keeps shrinking as we wait for her third treatment next Wednesday. If there is additional improvement after the fourth treatment, we may be able to revisit the surgery option to remove any remaining cancer cells.

Thank you all so much for your prayers and kind thoughts. We know that our prayers are being heard!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Picasa Pictures

I think I've mentioned before how much I love pictures. I'm like Abigail Breslin in that commercial (I think it's for Kodak) where she talks about how if she didn't have pictures, she wouldn't remember anything...or something to that effect. I love looking back through my picture folders on the computer (since I can't seem to find the time to actually put them into albums these days) to revisit the significant and not so significant moments in our lives.

A few months ago I was telling my brother that I needed to find a better picture sharing website, because I wasn't really that thrilled with any that I'd used or seen so far. He told me about Picasa, a free product from Google for editing, enhancing, organizing and sharing your photos. I wasn't really that interested in the editing/enhancing part, but after playing around with it a while, I actually think some of the effects are kind of cool (see the fun [albeit kind of old] pictures of our nephews below)! I also like the way it organizes your photos for you, so that you can quickly and easily see what each folder contains. Loading the pictures onto the web for sharing is much easier than with the previous site I was using, and adding captions was faster as well. I also really like the way the slide show displays large images that take up entire screen, and not just in a tiny little window on the page. I haven't gotten the chance to upload very many albums yet, but so far, I like it! If you want to check it out, here's a link to our Picasa page!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

On Pins and Needles

As most of my friends and loved ones are aware, for the last couple of years I've been struggling with pain from a bulging disc in my lower back. So far, I've sought relief from traditional chiropractic, physical therapy, large quantities of ibuprofen, massage therapy, nerve stimulation, and some homeopathic muscle relaxers. None of these things have proven to be especially helpful. My doctor has recommended a series of 3 epidural steroid injections, which may relieve pain for up to a year, but which aren't really designed to correct the bulging disc that's causing the problem. Because I've talked to several people who had either bad luck or no luck at all with epidurals, I'm making a few more attempts at relief through other means before resorting to that treatment.

I'd talked to several people who had significant relief from acupuncture--even relief from bulging discs. While I didn't really know any of the science behind why it works, I was still willing to give it a try because it seemed like a non-invasive and safe option. I took some recommendations as to which acupuncturist to visit, and was directed to Dr. Farhang Khosh at Natural Medical Care here in Lawrence. I was impressed with their website and his credentials, so I made the appointment and went for my first appointment this afternoon.

Dr. Khosh was very kind, honest and professional and made my first visit very pleasant. I barely felt most of the needles as he placed them, and once they were all in I fell asleep on the table, so it was very relaxing. While I don't necessarily feel any immediate relief, I'm not entirely surprised because I've read that sometimes your pain will get slightly worse before it gets better. I also didn't really expect acupuncture to work instantaneously, so I'm planning to do one treatment a week for at least a month before I make a judgment on whether it's been beneficial.

I've done lots of reading since I've been home, and honestly, I still don't have a very good understanding about why or how acupuncture provides relief. There are apparently several different theories, and of course many people in the medical community still think it's a sham. The one that seems to make the most sense to me is that needling these trigger points releases chemicals in the spinal cord and muscles that will change the experience of pain. Dr. Khosh also indicated that the ultimate goal of acupuncture in this case is to reduce the inflammation of the nerves that my bulging disc is pressing on, since the inflammation is actually what's causing the pain in the first place.

Honestly, I don't really care if I understand why or how it works. I just hope it does. :)

Monday, March 26, 2007

St. Paddy's Addendum

The other day I was blogging about the St. Paddy's Day parade and my disappointment in the fact that there were no pictures of the Lawrence Humane Society's float in the Lawrence Journal-World. Over the weekend I was looking for something else in the paper related to the shelter, and I found this video news story online about their current construction project, where the staff is shown working on the float a few days before the parade. Since I'm sure I didn't do a very good job describing it the other day, now you can check it out and see what I'm talking about!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Q Is Two

Happy birthday to you, Q! Today is the 2nd anniversary of the birth of our dear little nephew Quinton, more commonly known as Quinn to his friends and family! This curly-headed cutie is a sweet and happy little boy whose favorite things are Thomas the Tank Engine, Sponge Bob and Spiderman. We had a great time watching him open presents and play with all of his new toys today, and he did a pretty good job blowing out his candles for the first time too!

Our sister-in-law Jen was telling us today that Quinn and his brother Miles have been really into watching YouTube videos lately. They especially like the stop-motion lego videos and also enjoy videos of babies and "talking" cats. I thought it would be fun to upload some videos of them from today so that they can see themselves on YouTube as well, but YouTube won't seem to let me upload this evening. Hopefully soon I'll figure out the problem. Until then, maybe Q will enjoy seeing his picture on the web at least. Happy birthday, munchkin!

Dashed Dreams

My NCAA Tournament dreams ended last night (along with those of every other KU fan in the country) with a very frustrating loss to UCLA. The pain is still so new it's difficult to talk about, but in a nutshell, we had entirely too many turnovers (21) and missed entirely too many lay-ups (19). The boys just didn't take care of the ball and couldn't get any shots to fall. It was especially upsetting because the Jayhawks didn't get beat by a better team--they beat themselves instead.

I'm not as upset as in past years, I think because this year I tried really hard not to get my hopes up. All year long we had flashes of incompetence in between our flashes of brilliance, and I just had a feeling that our sloppy play would rear its ugly head at the wrong time. I hate doubting Bill's boys, but then again I hate being crushed into depression when they lose if I'm expecting them to win it all.

There are two things that helped lift my post-loss depression a little bit today:

1. Watching the Tarheels come unglued so that we weren't the only #1 seed missing from the Final Four.

2. Being at the top of both my bracket pools. :)

Friday, March 23, 2007

An Announcement Announcement

Although we didn't have good news yesterday with regard to Hope, we did get some other good news which helped make the day a little less gloomy. My brother Eric called in the afternoon to check on his "niece," and to tell us that he booked a new commercial! This one isn't a commercial in the traditional sense of the word, but is actually a public service announcement for some government agency that helps you figure out how to get through the red tape of other government agencies. Pretty exciting!! He hasn't shot it yet, but hopefully soon we'll be seeing him on TV again! Yeah Eric!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hoping For Hope

Today we went to see the veterinary oncologist at the Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center in Overland Park. We had hoped that this specialist would have good news for us with regards to Hope's tumor. I kind of assumed since she's probably seen a lot more mast cell tumors than our vet, she'd be a lot more confident about treating them. Unfortunately, we didn't exactly get the news we were wanting. After an exam, Dr. Heeb informed us that because of the location and size of Hope's tumor, she would not recommend surgically removing it right now. If the tumor were anywhere else on her body, they would simply excise it with a wide margin and she would be completely back to normal. However, because of the sensitive location of Hope's growth, removing it in its entirety could possibly result in damage to her urinary tract and glandular activity.

Her recommended course of action in Hope's case is a chemotherapy drug called Vinblastine, used in conjunction with a steroid called Prednisone. These drugs together could shrink the tumor enough that it could be surgically removed. Unfortunately, mast cell tumors only respond to this treatment about 50% of the time. If Hope's tumor doesn't respond to this treatment, there is one other chemo drug that they can try, but that drug has an even smaller chance of success. Sadly, we will have no other options if neither of these drugs work.

So Hope started her chemotherapy today, and thankfully, there are very few side effects associated with the chemo drug. She will have some side effects from the steroids, but nothing that will affect her quality of life too badly. Within the first few weeks of treatment, the vet said we should know if her tumor is responding positively or not. For now, the plan is to take her to chemo every Thursday for the next 3 weeks, and then every other Thursday for four more treatments.

All we can do at this point is pray that the chemo is effective, and that surgery will eventually be an option. So that's what we're doing. We hope you'll join us in hoping and praying for Hope.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Parading Pooches

My fellow Lawrence Humane Society volunteers and I helped make history last weekend as we participated in the largest ever St. Patrick's Day parade in Lawrence. My friends Brenda and JoAnna and I walked three shelter dogs behind the LHS float through the throngs of cheering onlookers. The crowd was crazy huge and there were over 100 groups, organizations and businesses with floats or entries into the parade.

I didn't want to carry my camera with me, so unfortunately I didn't get any pictures. The Lawrence Journal-World didn't really get very good pictures either, since there isn't a single picture in the photo gallery that shows an actual float in its entirety! What's up with that? I actually thought the Humane Society float was one of the better ones they've had in the last few years--I wish I had a picture to share! They are currently raising money for an expansion, so the float was a small half-finished building decorated much like the shelter, with the staff riding along dressed like construction workers. Although the shelter didn't win, they did receive an honorable mention from the judges.

The dogs who walked along with the float were all very well behaved, aside from Astris pulling Brenda almost the entire way. I walked Charlie, a wonderfully behaved and very handsome yellow lab mix who was a complete angel! He walked nicely on the leash and would sit and shake whenever tempted with a treat. He had small children reaching out to pet him the entire parade and didn't seem to mind a bit. There were hundreds of other dogs downtown and he didn't bark at a single one. He was such a good boy, even though he had to wear a pink "Adopt Me" bandanna because we couldn't find any other color. Hopefully our downtown trip gave Charlie, Astris and their friend Cookie some much needed exposure and some much enjoyed time away from the shelter!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Allergy Alert!

In the last few weeks, I think I've gone through at least 2 boxes of tissue and 2 rolls of toilet paper just sneezing and blowing my nose. This morning I sneezed 15 times before 10 a.m. What is the deal? Is anyone else having abnormally severe symptoms? I have always had allergies, but normally I'm more burdened with them in the fall than the spring. This year they seem to have started way earlier than normal, and I'm not so happy about it! I have to take a package of tissue with me everywhere--I'm like a grandma with tissues throughout my purse and stuffed up my sleeve (just kidding...I really don't stuff them up my sleeve--they're in my pockets). It's really ridiculous. I read some news articles that indicated pollen counts are at record highs this year, and they suggest that you limit your time outside to avoid the allergens. That doesn't seem to be helping me at all, since I spent my whole morning sneezing and blowing at my desk!

I really need to quit complaining about it and get off my duff to call the doctor for a refill of Nasonex. In fact, I'm going to quit typing and do it right now! :)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Hope and Basketball

With all the great basketball this weekend, I kind of wanted to be blogging about this game from yesterday:

Kansas 88, Kentucky 76

I definitely wanted to mention this game from Friday:

Kansas 107, Niagara 67

I most certainly wanted to talk about an even more exciting game on Thursday, which made me scream so loud my throat was sore:

VCU 79, Duke 77

However, there's something way more important that's on my heart and mind today that I have to talk about instead. On Saturday, our veterinarian called with the results from a biopsy he'd done last week on a strange growth we'd recently discovered on Hope. Unfortunately, our little girl has a malignant mast cell tumor. While we are shocked and saddened about this news, it would seem at this point that the good news outweighs the bad.

The Good News:
  • We believe we found the tumor relatively early--we're pretty sure it wasn't there until about 5 weeks ago, when we pointed it out to our vet, who wanted to wait a few weeks before acting just to see if it went away on its own.
  • The mass is a Grade 1 tumor, which just means that the mast cells are relatively well differentiated and the tumor is less aggressive than one at Grade 2 or 3.
  • Hope doesn't seem to feel bad at all, although she'd finding the lump quite irritating and wants to lick it more often than we would like.
  • We were able to get an appointment with a veterinary oncologist in Kansas City really quickly, so we'll meet with her on Thursday morning.
The Bad News:
  • Hope's tumor is in a very sensitive area, so our vet thinks it's going to be very difficult to remove, which means that Hope will likely have to undergo radiation and/or chemotherapy after surgery.
We are very sad that our sweet little girl is going to have to go through this ordeal. Although we don't know her exact age, we're pretty sure she is way too young to be developing these types of tumors, which generally don't start until age 8 or 9. Of course, early onset of major diseases seems to be a recurring theme in our family--I guess you could say we're way above average in that sense!

All kidding aside, please say a prayer for our adorably sweet and goofy (but very loud) girl Hope when you get the chance.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mom! (Part Two)

Yesterday I was slightly too busy watching basketball to blog, but what I should have made note of was yet another mother in our family who had a birthday! Chad's biological mom turned "double nickels" yesterday--happy birthday, Joanie! Back-to-back mom birthdays at our house make the birthdays very easy to remember!

Joanie is an artistic and creative person who also happens to be a talented gardener/botanist. She loves flowers, loves good coffee, and loves to walk for exercise. She is a very patient and compassionate woman who exhibited both of these qualities last year when she made 1,000 origami paper cranes for my mom Sherry during her cancer treatment. Her diligence and determination also paid off a few years ago when she finished her Bachelor's degree at Wichita State.

Joanie lives in Wichita, but she and her husband Rory are currently house shopping in Lawrence. She is a terrific mother-in-law and I feel very fortunate that she happens to be mine!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mom!

I couldn't let today go by without giving a shout out to my wonderful mother (aka Sherry). Happy birthday, Momma! Sixty-one years ago today, my fantastic mother came into this world. She is an amazing woman who earned the title of "Dr. Mom" 12 years ago when she received her PhD from K-State (I try not to hold her choice of schools against her). She previously worked as a clinical counselor, but is currently an assistant professor in the department of Psychology and Special Education at Emporia State University. She commutes there from Topeka several days a week and then also teaches at their satellite campus in Kansas City, so she is definitely a woman on the go!

In 2006 my dear mother battled breast cancer nearly the entire year, and throughout her ordeal, she kept a positive attitude and a smile on her face. She was living proof that bald can be beautiful! :) With or without hair, I think she is the most gorgeous and naturally youthful looking 61-year-old woman that I've ever met. I can only hope that I have inherited her "young" genes!

Although I brag about my mom's outer beauty, I'm even more proud of the compassionate, caring, considerate and creative person that she is inside! She can paint and write poetry as well as counsel and teach, and she always thinks of others before she thinks of herself. She's generous, genuine and generally goofy, which makes her loads of fun to be with. She's just an amazing woman! Happy 61st, Mom!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I'm Ready To Relay!

In early 2005, my coworker Terri Knoll Johnson passed away after battling breast cancer off-and-on for 14 years. For many years prior to her death, she had been involved with the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in her hometown of Baldwin, but I only had a vague knowledge of what the event was about. Soon after her passing, my mom and I participated in the Washburn Relay in Topeka when Mom's neighbor invited us to walk with her team. We really enjoyed the experience and I wanted to become more involved.

After doing a little research, I suggested to the KUEA Social Committee (of which I was a member at the time) that we put together a team in Terri's honor. They all agreed that it was a great idea, and although no one on the committee actually offered to help, I still organized a team of about 12 people to participate in the all night walk-a-thon.

Last year, I didn't want to be team captain again because I had already committed to walk and raise money for The Breast Cancer 3-Day, so I asked if one of the previous year's participants would be our fearless leader. My friend Kerry agreed to be the co-captain, which was nice because it took a little bit of the weight off my shoulders! This year, I asked again for volunteer captains, not necessarily because I didn't want to do it, but just because I didn't want to hog the title if someone else was actually dying to be captain! No one was--big surprise! :)

So during the last couple of weeks I've been recruiting coworkers to participate, and as of today, we have 12 people registered with only 3 more slots to fill! Everyone is really excited about participating again, and we have about 4 new members on our team this year.

If you're not familiar with this event, I'll give you the standard blurb from the RFL website:

Relay For Life is a fun-filled overnight event designed to celebrate survivorship and raise money for research and programs of your American Cancer Society. During the event, teams of people gather at schools, fairgrounds, or parks and take turns walking or running laps. Each team tries to keep at least one team member on the track at all times.

For each team member, the fundraising commitment is only $100 and the walking commitment is an hour or less (although some of those hours do happen to be in the middle of the night), so it's not really that big of a commitment at all. The hardest part is not getting to sleep at all that night, but generally only a couple of us from the team actually stay from dusk until dawn. That part is definitely not a requirement.

One of the most inspirational parts of the Relay, I think, is the Survivor Lap at the end of the opening ceremonies. Last year I walked with my mom and my friend JoAnna who were both in the middle of chemotherapy for breast cancer. There must have been about 100 cancer survivors walking that lap--children as young as five and adults as old as 95. It really puts into perspective how many people have been directly affected by cancer, and makes you all the more determined to continue battling this horrible disease!

Probably the most moving part of the Relay is the Luminaria Ceremony. At about 10:00 at night, thousands of luminary bags decorated in honor or in memory of loved ones who have battled cancer are lit around the track and grounds. It's beautiful and overwhelming at the same time.

The Douglas County Relay is June 8-9 this year, so there's plenty of time to get involved if you're interested! Just go to the RFL website or check out more pictures from 2005 and 2006 to get a better feel for the event. If you're interested in supporting the American Cancer Society through RFL, you can make a donation on our team page or my personal fundraising page, or you can just wait for me to hit you up for money via email in a couple of months! ;)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Babbling About Brackets

Today was a super quiet day at work. My theory: everyone in the office is consumed with filling out their NCAA Tournament bracket! As usual, our office has a "fun and completely voluntary" contest to see who can make the most correct picks in the tourney. I always enter, but I have yet to win. In fact, I have yet to come even close to winning--last year I was in the running for dead last. I feel like I should be better at this practice considering I really am a college basketball fan. It galls me when people who are not into sports at all do better than me in the pool! UGH...idiots!

Clearly I'm competitive. I'm pretty sure I've filled out at least one bracket every year since 1992. That was the year I lived in the Jayhawk Towers, on a floor consisting entirely of my pledge sisters. We had an entire wall of one apartment covered with brackets from all 40 or so of us (cut out of the newspaper and filled in by hand, since very few of us actually had printers at that time). There was also an envelope stuck to the wall where we each put our $2 entry fee into the pool. Of course 99% of us probably picked KU to win it all, so when we lost in the second round of the tourney to UTEP, we were all completely crushed. In all seriousness, I laid on my bed and sobbed uncontrollably until my roommate Kelly came in and yelled at me to pull myself together. In our depressed state, we all wandered back to the bracket wall, took down our picks and took back our two dollars, because we just didn't care anymore.

For the next 10 years, I picked KU to win the Big Dance. Each year, I was terribly disappointed when they lost. Although I never broke down and sobbed like in 1992, I will admit that I shed tears for my beloved Jayhawks each time they got knocked out of the tourney. In 2003, I finally decided that I would quit getting my hopes up, and for the first time ever I decided not to pick KU to win. As you may remember, Roy's Boys made it all the way to the finals that year, which of course made me think that my disloyalty had actually helped them in the end. Despite my crazy theory, I couldn't continue the practice of not picking them because I felt so horrible and guilty for being a doubter--I'm not generally a "glass half empty" kind of person! So for the last three years I've done two brackets: one that's my dream of what I want to happen, and one that's my reality of what I think is slightly more likely. I can't decide if my dream this year is for KU to beat North Carolina in the finals, or if I should be hoping for UNC to embarrassingly get knocked out before the Final Four. Hmmmm...what would be the most humiliating for them...

Along with our respective office pools, Chad and I usually enter another pool organized every year by our friend Mike. We all pledge to send the winner $10 and then hardly anyone actually does, which I know because 7 or 8 years ago I actually did win the pool (don't be impressed, there were probably less than 10 people) and only got one check in the mail. This year we decided to go ahead and create our own pool so even more of our friends can get in on the action! If you want to join, create your bracket on and then add it to the group named 'Hawk Hopefuls. You don't even have to be a Jayhawk to participate, nor to you have to fork out any money--this one is only for bragging rights!

As you can see, I take my March Madness quite seriously, and I believe my seriousness is proof that I am quite mad. :)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Golfing For Good

My friend Danae emailed me today with information about a benefit golf tournament that sounds like a lot of fun! She volunteers with an organization called Pathways Animal Assisted Therapy, Inc., whose main purpose is to offer therapeutic horseback riding for people with physical, mental and emotional disorders. The horse serves as a therapy partner for the student, who learns trust, respect, communication, responsibility and many other life lessons, facilitated by the human-animal bond. You can read more about all the services they offer on their website, and see lots of pictures of their horses in action. It sounds like a wonderful organization!

So if you like to play golf and would like to help them out, here's the info on their golf tournament. You can also find this information, as well as the registration form, on their website.

When: Saturday, April 21st, 1:30 p.m., shotgun start

Where: Village Greens Golf Course in Ozawkie, KS

Team: 4-person scramble

Entry fee: $60 per person and include green fees, cart rental, dinner catered by Texas Roadhouse, place awards, closest to the pin award and longest drive award

Deadline to enter: April 12th

I would join a team if it didn't involve me making a complete fool of myself, so I'm trying to talk Chad and his friends into playing instead. Pass the information along if you know anyone who is interested! :)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Basketball Basketball Basketball

If you're wondering what we were up to this weekend, the title of this post pretty much sums it up! What a great weekend for KU Basketball! Our Big 12 tournament action started on Friday morning, but because my office is way into KU sports, I didn't have to miss a single minute of the game, because it was showing on big screens in our training room and in our break room. My coworkers and I had lunch together, had tons of snacks, and watched the Jayhawks comfortably defeat the Sooners.

Saturday's game against K-State was a little more competitive, and although we only won by 6 points (67-61), we felt like the boys in blue had the game pretty much under control the entire time. We enjoyed lunch at Jack's and cheered on the 'Hawks with a few hundred other patrons. Watching it there meant that I could quickly get to the shelter (which is only a few blocks away) for pictures as soon as the game was over.

Today's championship game against UT was absolutely amazing. It started much like our first game against them last Saturday, with Texas jumping out to a huge lead after making amazing shot after amazing shot during the first 15 minutes. KU was down by more than 20 points, and yet somehow we knew they could still pull out the win, because we knew Texas couldn't go on shooting so well! The Longhorns started to get colder toward the end of the half, and KU started making some 3-pointers and going to the line, until we were down by only 5 at the half!

The second half was a battle, with Jayhawks getting into some foul trouble thanks to some questionable calls by the refs, and injury trouble thanks to some really rough play! We took the lead with a few minutes left in the game, only to give them back a 4-point lead with 1:01 remaining. After Sherron made a jump-shot and Texas made only one free-throw at the other end, Mario saved the day with a 3-pointer to tie the game and send it to overtime!

Overtime was a nail biter, but KU managed to keep Kevin Durant at bay and hit free-throws down the stretch, to come away with the win, 88-84. It was so very exciting! Our win solidified our #1 seed in the NCAA Tourney--I'm already nervous for next weekend! Let the bracket building begin!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Like Our Self

Most of you have probably already seen this by now, but a coworker just sent this to me yesterday after seeing a link to it in the Lawrence Journal-World. It won't be that funny if you haven't heard Coach Self talk before, but for those of you who are KU basketball (or Duke or Creighton) fans, you will probably find this hilarious. It's a video of a couple of Creighton's players interviewing each other for a halftime show. One of the kids, Nick Bahe, walked on at Kansas a few years ago before transferring to Dana Altman's team. Nick does an amazing impression of Coach Self, which actually starts just over half way through the video. It is so dead on!

I think if Nick doesn't succeed in his Journalism career, he could always fall back on a career as a stand-up comic!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Lesson For All

Something happened last week that I wanted to share because I think it's a good lesson for everyone. Okay, maybe it's just a good lesson for a certain member of my family who shall remain nameless. Either way, I thought it was kind of a funny story.

Chad received a forwarded email from a friend of ours, and while he is generally the first one (or maybe the second one, next to me) to delete all of those pleas for help, warnings, chain letters, and other emails that we all receive on a weekly basis, this one he forwarded just to me because it related to dogs in need. While I'm sure he didn't actually think I would forward it on, he knew that I would do my best to check out the veracity of the story. Call me a skeptic, but it's what I've become accustomed to doing whenever I receive an email of any sort which tells me to forward on "important" information. I'm a big fan of and encourage all my friends and family to use it as well.

The body of the particular email in question looked like this:

RE: 2 Black Labs need a home ASAP

The owner of these 2 beautiful labs has terminal cancer and can't care
for them anymore. He is heartbroken and hopes to find a family for
them while he is still able. These boys are 4 years old and have been
raised together and he would like very much to find a home who can take
them both so they can stay together.

Details: Two beautiful 4 year old purebred male Black Labs, Hunter and
Fame, both neutered. They are truly wonderful dogs. The owner's
Grandchildren can crawl all over them and like a typical lab, they just
lay there and love it. Both are up to date on their shots, housebroken
and very well behaved. He would love to keep these two boys together
if possible as they were raised together and are the best of friends.


Jim Wolf
Office: 314-962-9400
Mobile: 314-322-5903

The attached picture (which I forgot to save) was adorable, so the message obviously tugged at everyone's heartstrings, but I wanted to check out the email's "truthiness" before sending it on. Instead of looking on for the story, I decided to do my own Nancy Drew detective work. I could have just called the number listed at the bottom of the email, but that would have been long distance, and the phone isn't my preferred method of communication anyway.

So I took the work phone number from the email message above, and did a reverse phone number search through It came up with the name of a business in St. Louis, called Human Resource Management Corporation, which I then Googled. The company's website popped up, so I clicked on the staff page and found that the Jim Wolf of the email was none other than the President of the company! His email address was published on their site, so I sat down and composed the following note:

Mr. Wolf,

I just received this email forwarded from a friend, and I thought that
before sending it on, I would make sure that these dogs were, in fact,
still looking for a home. Your name and phone number were listed at the
bottom of the email. Do the dogs belong to you or someone in your

Thank you,
Kim Luce
Lawrence, KS

Now this isn't the first time I've done something like this trying to verify a forwarded email that I suspected was a hoax. However, in previous cases the email has either bounced back because it was bogus to begin with (hey, that was some pretty good alliteration), or I've just never received a response at all, which tells me it was probably not really as important as it was made out to be!

This time, however, I had to laugh at the response I received, just a couple of hours later:


Thanks so much for checking before forwarding this message on. The dogs
were adopted, actually the day after I forwarded this message to ONE

Since Valentine's Day, I've received only 7 email messages about the
dogs...and ONLY this one that wanted to check on the status before
forwarding it any further. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

It is the phone calls that I am trying to stop!! I have now received
more than 500 calls to either of my phones, covering 18 states (from
California to New York)!

Please help me "Call off the Dogs" by replying to everyone that was on
the email to you, and letting them know of the status. I appreciate the
outpouring of support from everyone.

Thanks very much!

Best regards,
Jim Wolf

I can't believe this poor guy received hundreds of phone calls in just a few weeks time after sending the email to ONE person! I know people just want to feel like they're doing something to help, but how much more helpful (and less annoying) would it have been to actually take the 10 minutes necessary to check this story out instead of just emailing it to everyone in their address book! Although this story happened to be true and just slightly outdated, you'll find that the vast majority of the crap that's swimming around the Internets is either completely fictitious or just blown way out of proportion once you actually check it out.

While I do understand why compassionate and caring people try to help by forwarding things on, I will never understand why other people (who I think must be slightly deranged) make up stuff to add to such emails. After doing the research, I often find that what started out to be a true story has been so distorted and embellished it's become completed unbelievable and unrecognizable. What is that all about? What possesses someone to do that?

Regardless of the psychology behind the email forwarding phenomenon, the next time someone sends you an email pleading for you to send it on, check out the story on If you doubt it's veracity and still want to do something helpful through email, pick a dog on Petfinder and send a link to his picture all over the web instead! Those dogs are always always in need and their pictures are always kept current! :)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Last week I was blogging about the ridiculously strong wind here in Lawrence. Little did I know, on that same afternoon a tornado touched down in Enterprise, Alabama, killing eight students at the local high school. Clearly, I should be very thankful that our weather wasn't as bad as theirs.

When I heard this news, nothing about the name of the town seemed familiar to me. Later in the evening, my dad called to inform me that Enterprise was right next to Ft. Rucker, which is the Army base where my cousin Brian was recently stationed with his family. Brian's daughter Johanna is a sophomore at Enterprise High School, and apparently as the threat of bad weather loomed, Brian and many other parents went there to pick up their children. As Brian was standing in the office trying to find out where Johanna was in the building, the tornado struck.

Thankfully, neither Brian or Johanna was hurt. Our family was extremely lucky, as there were apparently many serious injuries in addition to the eight deaths. I can't even imagine how frightening it must have been to have the building you're in come crashing down all around you, or how horrifying it must have been to be a parent there helping with the rescue efforts not knowing where your own child was. I know it was horrifically painful for the students whose friends were killed in the destruction, but I can't fathom how devastating it must have been to lose a child in such a disaster. Just reading about these kids whose lives ended far too soon is heartbreaking. It's just a reminder of how much we all have to be thankful for.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Formatting Frenzy

Today at work, while I was waiting for my reports to run, I started messing around with different templates for my blog. I was dissatisfied with the way the archives were listed on the previous format, because I could never seem to find the previous posts for which I was looking. I'd seen several new formats that had an archive hierarchy, so you could see the name of each post month by month, without looking through an entire month's worth of posts to find a particular subject. Half the reason I blog in the first place is to help remember the important details (times, dates, places) of our life, so I was frustrated that I couldn't easily access those details!

Unfortunately, many of the templates that Blogger provides don't really work well with my picture-happy posts, because the space where your text goes is so darn narrow. With the last template I used, I modified some of the graphics and changed the HTML so that the space would be wider, but I just don't feel like going to all of that trouble again right now. Maybe on another day I'll get motivated, but for now I think this will have to do.

So I apologize if any of you, my loyal readers, had problems viewing any posts today while I was goofing around with them today. For now, I think I'm done, so let me know what you think of the new format!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Scissors and Celebrations

I've established that yesterday was a great day. Not only did we watch a great game at a great place with some great friends, but we also enjoyed a couple of other important events later in the afternoon. If you read my blog back on February 15, you might remember that our friend Quillen turned 12 on Valentine's Day, but got sick on her birthday and was unable to get her long-awaited haircut for Locks of Love. Well yesterday, the ponytail finally got chopped! Chad and I popped in to take a few pictures of Quillen's big moment. We have been so impressed by her dedication to this hair-growing project and we were very proud of her!

Soon after Quillen's big moment, her dad Grant had a big moment of his own. Our dear friend is celebrating a very big birthday today, and yesterday many of his friends and colleagues gathered to help him enjoy this major milestone! Happy birthday, Grant! Don't worry, 40 is the new 30! :)

For more pictures of both big events from yesterday, check out our Picasa picture page!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

We Are The Champions!!

Today was a terrific day. Our Kansas Jayhawks played an amazing game today against the University of Texas. This one was for all the marbles--a win would give us the outright Big 12 regular season title...a loss would leave us with only a share of the championship. I was nervous for 2 days prior to the game!

Since we don't have KU basketball season tickets, we went to the next best place in town to watch--our favorite restaurant, Set'em Up Jack's. I love watching games there! They have at least 7 big screen TVs, including a 22 foot HD screen that covers an entire wall, so there's not a bad seat in the house. The food and service are always good, and the place is always packed with tons of rowdy fans. Patrons clap, cheer, whistle and scream with reckless abandon, decked out in their KU gear in support of Bill's Boys. I call it Allen Fieldhouse East--it's just the most fun place to be if you can't actually be at the game!

So today we met friends at Jack's for the 11:00 a.m. tipoff, and it was so much fun! The 'Hawks started strong, but the Longhorn's incredible 3-point shooting quickly led to a KU deficit. Kansas was behind by 16 points late in the first half, even though they weren't really playing that badly! If you don't count their last second "Hail Mary," Texas shot 11 for 13 from 3-point range in the first half! It was crazy! Even though we were still down by 12 points at halftime, we weren't too terribly worried, because we knew that UT couldn't keep that pace up forever!

In the second half, the 'Hawks came out hot, and scored like 22 points in the first five minutes. The crowd at Jack's was going nuts, so I decided to pull out the camera, and I started recording just as KU took it's first lead since early in the game. You can see how great the TV setup is, as well as how fun the crowd is!

Our Jayhawks kept up their intense play for almost the entire second half, with very impressive performances by Julian Wright and Mario Chalmers. Sasha Kaun was the only one of our starters that didn't score in double figures, and he had 9 points and 5 rebounds, so he was still a big contributor. We were up by as many as 10 or 12 points in the second half, and even when Texas cut it to 3 in the final seconds, the 'Hawks held on to win, 90-86, in a nail biter. Jack's was rocking almost as much as Allen Fieldhouse and was so much fun!

Check out the complete synopsis of the game from the Lawrence Journal-World. What a great way to start March Madness!!

Thursday, March 01, 2007


If you live in Kansas, or have ever lived in Kansas, you'll know what I'm talking about when I say that it was WINDY today. Really windy. Yesterday, however, was gorgeous and sunny with highs in the 60s. Then early yesterday evening, this amazing lightning rolled into the area, but with hardly any rain. Overnight, we had thunderstorms. This morning the temperature had dropped, and at about 8 a.m. it began snowing even though the sun was shining (which, by the way, is one of Chad's pet peeves--he can't stand precipitation and sun at the same time). It was blustery and cold at lunchtime, but then the sun came out this afternoon. Although the sun made it look deceivingly nice outside, the wind was absolutely crazy!

I probably wouldn't have felt the need to report to you the weird but very typical weather in Lawrence today, but then something kind of funny happened. I walked into the ladies restroom down the hall from my office at KUAA, and someone had left the window open, apparently all night. It was like 50 degrees in there, and let me tell you, that is one toilet seat that you do NOT want to sit on! Even after I closed the window, the wind was howling so loud you wouldn't even believe it! So I decide to go back to my office and get my Palm Pilot, so that I could take some video, so that you would believe it! Check this out!

Okay, so maybe the wind isn't quite as impressive when you're not standing there catching pneumonia in the restroom. The camera on my Palm leaves a lot to be desired, I know. Hopefully though, you got the idea. It was wicked windy. If that wind wasn't enough for you, check out this other video of the flagpole outside my office.

So I guess I've made it clear that it was windy today. I'm sure those of you who no longer live here will be nostalgic after watching those videos. Speaking of nostalgic, do any of you native Kansans remember the promos from our childhood that inspired the title of this post? For those of you too young (or too old) to remember, the old promotional campaign for our state (much like today's "Kansas, As Big As You Think") was "Kansas, The Land of Ahhs" (a play on the Wizard of Oz, for those of you who are a little slow). So cheesy, but even cheesier was an entire song that someone wrote to go along with the slogan. The chorus went something like this: "AAAAAAHHHHHHH KANSAS!! Kansas!!" I can still hear it so clearly, it must have been a good campaign!