Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Miracle Mile and The Marvelous Mile

This is actually kind of a long story, but I'll try to make it as brief as possible. Almost two years ago, Chad and his friends Dante and Bill were sitting around chatting after a game of basketball when Dante mentioned having to run a timed mile when he was training at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center, which he did in 6 minutes. Now if you know anything about Chad and Dante's relationship, you know that they are as close as brothers, but also as competitive as brothers, so apparently Dante mentioned that he didn't think Chad could ever run a mile in 6 minutes, at least not any more. Of course, Chad bet Dante that he could do it with some training, even though he hadn't run or even jogged any distance since his senior year of high school (for those keeping track, that was 1990), and hadn't raced competitively since somewhere closer to his freshman year.

So in the months after the bet was made, Chad talked about preparing for his 6 minute mile, but never really got much done in the way of training. I told him he should do what we did in Red Dog's Dog Days, and run a baseline mile first, just to see how much training he would need to reach his 6 minute goal. He finally agreed to do so, and in the fall of 2005 we went to the Lawrence High School track to time Chad in this feat. Although he hadn't run in 15 years, he ran his first half mile in way under 3 minutes, despite the fact that I was telling him he needed to slow down. Of course, with absolutely no training, he lost steam in the third lap and thought he was going to collapse. However, even though he pooped out way too early, he still managed to run a miraculous and amazing 6:14 mile. Needless to say, our friends (especially those who run and understand how difficult a 6 minute mile is) were astounded and thoroughly impressed. Chad, on the other hand, was worried that he'd exerted himself so much that he had permanently damaged his lungs, since he ended up feeling sick for at least 3 days following his amazing feat.

So several months after the miraculous mile, Chad began running off and on. For the last year, he has trained for a 5K here and there, but mostly he has run with the eventual 6 minute mile as his goal. Dante was still egging him on by telling him he couldn't do it, but Chad knew otherwise since he'd been so close with no training at all. He just wanted to wait until he was 100% sure the goal was achievable, so that he wouldn't kill himself trying before he was actually ready. He told Dante and I he was going to make his attempt next Wednesday, and I was excited to go and be a witness to this monumental event. However, yesterday evening he came home from doing his speed work at the track, and when he pulled into the driveway, he stuck his arm out the window and showed me this:

This, my friends, is our Garmin Forerunner, which is GPS designed for runners that measures distance, time, pace, route, etc. This was his proof that he had reached his lofty goal!

I was slightly disappointed that I hadn't been there to witness my dear husband's achievement, but I understand his reasons for not wanting anyone to be there. This day had been built up in his mind for almost two years, and he didn't want to psych himself out by having to perform for his number one fan. Plus, if he wasn't feeling up to par once he got to the track and started running, he decided he would just do his regular speed work and try the mile another week.

Even though I wasn't able to be there, I'm super proud of his diligence, determination, and ultimate accomplishment--even if it was just to spite his best friend! ;)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Much Needed Improvement

Hopefully this is something that most home owners will understand, but honestly, I'm kind of embarrassed about it. Over the long weekend, we made a particular home improvement that was certainly way overdue. I'm embarrassed because for the last 9 years, we'd been looking at a ceiling fan in our living room that looked just like this:

Holy cow, it's just so hideous. I guess it was just one of those things that just blended into the background of our lives because we were so used to looking at it. Most of the time we didn't even notice it at all. Every once in a while we'd talk about needing to change it, but it wasn't until the beginning of this year that we started to seriously shop for a replacement. After a few months of off and on searching, we finally found the fan we wanted on Friday. On Sunday evening, we spent several hours installing the new fixture, which wouldn't have taken so ridiculously long if it weren't for the vaulted ceiling and the fact that we were doing it at night by the light of a single lamp and a flashlight. In addition, after putting the motor and casing onto the down rod we discovered that the special outlet box that held the old fan into place on the ceiling was installed incorrectly, so Chad had to unscrew it from the 2 X 4 in the ceiling, straighten it out and then screw it back in before the fan would hang straight!

Of course, my dear husband did 90% of the work, and I'm so very thankful he is capable of such feats of strength and diligence, because I would have certainly hired someone to do the job if it were left up to me! When he was all finished, not only did he still have a smile on his face, but our fan also functioned properly and looked wonderful:

I can't believe it took us so many years to get this minor renovation completed, but I guess baby steps are better than no steps at all. Sometimes I think it would be nice to take an entire month off of work just to complete all the home improvement projects on our list all at once. Then we could get rid of the 3 other hideous ceiling fans in our house as well! Unfortunately, the one pictured above is still in our bedroom!!! ACK!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Bouncing Babies

Many months ago, I blogged about my friend Tracy's quest to raise money for an orphanage where she volunteers in Shanghai. She was working with an organization called Angel Covers, started by one of her high school classmates, to bring baby bouncers to the facility so that the infants could get out of their cribs during the day and have some stimulation. Her goal had been to raise enough money for about 50 bouncers, but she ended up with so many donations, Angel Covers was able to buy bouncers for Tracy's orphanage AND several others! They ended up getting 75 bouncers for the Shanghai Children's Home alone, and another 235 bouncers for other orphanages in China!

A few weeks ago, the bouncers were finally delivered, and Tracy went to take some pictures of the babies in their new bouncy seats!!

Although some of these little ones look slightly confused, I think they also look very content with their new activity! Before the bouncers arrived, they would just lay in their cribs most of the day and stare at the ceiling. Now they are up and watching what is going on around them, and Tracy says it's really cool to see them interacting with the world!

After Tracy took these pictures, the remaining bouncers were set up so that most infant rooms now have 15-25 bouncers. How fun would it be to see 20 babies all bouncing around at the same time! Hopefully Tracy will get some pictures of that and send them along soon.

Check out more of the wonderful projects for children in orphanages around the world at Angel Covers!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Grade Six Grad

A few months ago, my 12-year-old friend Quillen called to ask if I'd speak on her behalf at her 6th grade graduation. I had no idea what that would entail since I'd never been to a Raintree graduation before, but I of course said yes. A few weeks ago, my friend Heather (Quillen's mom) asked me if I was all ready to speak for Quillen (I wasn't), but I still really had no idea what I was supposed to say. A few days before the ceremony, Heather called to let me know what time to be there, but she still didn't give me many tips on what the speakers usually share. She said I was supposed to just talk for 2-3 minutes about Quillen and how she'd grown up to be the person she is today.

So early last week, I started planning out what I would say about my young friend, trying to keep it fairly short, knowing that there were many other kids in her class who would all have people speaking on their behalf as well. I am a terribly inexperienced public speaker who gets extremely nervous in front of people, so I wanted to make sure I had everything I wanted to say carefully written out. I compiled about a one page "speech" about Quillen, and then arrived at Raintree on the evening of the 17th to find that there were way more people there than I imagined, and I had to sit up on the stage with Quillen, which made me even more nervous!

Unfortunately, I was the second "special guest" to speak, and the first person didn't really give me a very good example of what people normally talked about! I went up with my notes, but tried hard not to just read the speech word for word. It probably would have been a lot more coherent if I had, but Chad tells me that it wasn't obvious that I was so incredibly nervous! This is what I was supposed to say, for what it's worth:


I’m very honored that Quillen asked me to speak on her behalf tonight, because she’s become a very important person in my life over the last 12+ years. I actually distinctly remember my first knowledge of Quillen’s existence. It was 13 summers ago, I was in that building right there, and Saasha told several of the other summer camp counselors that Heather was expecting. I barely knew Heather at the time, but during Quillen’s first year or two of life, I had the pleasure of becoming good friends with her parents. I remember the first time I visited their home and was disappointed that Quillen had already gone to bed, because as many of you remember, she was such an amazingly adorable baby and toddler, you couldn’t help but want to play with her! She had a way of wrapping everyone around her finger, and as a toddler had inadvertently convinced many people she was hearing impaired because didn’t talk much. All she had to do was walk up to any staff person, hold out her arms, and get picked up—she simply had no need to speak!

When she was 2 ½ she moved into the Lower West classroom where I was the assistant, and it was about this time that I began to notice in Quillen what I believe to be one of her most wonderful qualities—her amazing compassion for creatures more helpless than herself. We have a wonderful picture of Quillen as a small preschooler, sitting on the floor with both arms gently wrapped around our dog Celtic, who still loves her dearly to this day. It was when she was 5 or 6 that I realized how deep her compassion for animals was, when she told us she wanted to be a vegetarian because it made her so sad to eat animals—but that she was worried she couldn’t do it because she really liked hot dogs. Over the years, Quillen has nurtured dogs, mice, fish, hamsters and even children smaller than herself. Just last month, she spent a day with me at the Humane Society, playing with puppies and serving as my assistant photographer as I took pictures of adoptable dogs.

In the times like these that we’ve spent together over the years, I’ve noticed something else very remarkable about Quillen. She has always been very content with just hanging out and spending time with people. She wasn’t a kid who insisted that someone needed to constantly entertain her. That’s not to say we haven’t played a lot of games together over the years, but if we were just hanging out and talking over dinner or over cards with her parents, she was always content to just be with us. Even if what we were doing seemed excruciatingly boring to a child, she would generally stay with us until she got tired enough to put herself to bed. Quillen has always understood the importance of spending quality time with people you care about, which is why I think we’ve developed a bond over the years.

I’m very proud of the young lady Quillen has become. She has grown from being the daughter of my good friends to being my good friend. Congratulations, Quilley!


Since I was ridiculously nervous and trying hard not to read my script verbatim, I know I missed a couple of sentences here and there, but hopefully I conveyed what I was attempting to! I think Quillen's a wonderful person and I'm proud to call her my friend! :)

Chad was very supportive and told me I did a good job, even though I'm pretty sure he would have said that no matter how I did! I had to laugh, because he said his "internal clock" told him that I was almost starting to talk too long right when I started to wrap things up, so he felt like it ended up being the perfect length. However, I felt kind of bad because some of the guest speakers (many of whom were parents talking about their own children) talked forever (like 10-15 minutes), and while that was certainly entirely too long considering there were 17 kids in the class, it did make me feel a little bad that I hadn't used more of the opportunity to say glowing things about Quillen! I could have talked for far longer if I'd thought it was appropriate! She's a terrific kid!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

(Bitter)Sweet Success

I got a good news/bad news kind of phone call from a certain relative (who shall go unnamed) yesterday. The good news is that he is going to a callback for a low-budget movie on Sunday; the bad news is that Sunday was the day he was supposed to leave for a trip that would bring him to Kansas for a visit. I'm sad that I'll have to wait longer to see him, but excited that he has a callback for a cool project. While the callback certainly isn't a guarantee that he'll get cast in the film, it's definitely a guarantee that he's doing something right in his auditions!

The funny thing is, there was more good news/bad news to our conversation. The other good news: this relative booked a new national commercial yesterday--an ad for a very big company that has the potential to run a lot. So here's the bad news: it's for a company that he loathes with every fiber of his being. I mean like he seriously despises and detests them. I mean like more than normal people. I mean like he was planning on telling his agent never to send him out to auditions for this particular corporation. I mean like if he calls me and I happen to be in this particular store (which isn't very often, I might add), I am embarrassed to tell him because I know he'll be disappointed. You guessed it: my relative is making a commercial for Wal-Mart.

I have to admit that I laughed pretty hard when he told me the bad news. The irony is just too much. This relative has always disliked Wal-Mart for their unfair wages and unethical practices in business, but after watching the documentary about Wal-Mart released in 2005, he became even more vehemently opposed to the largest company on earth than most normal people. I mean we try really hard not to shop there for a variety of reasons, but if my beloved Target doesn't have something we need, we've been known to hop across the street to Wally World. My relative would do no such thing. If you look at the facts behind the film, you might feel the same way.

Unfortunately, in the cut-throat world of professional acting, gigs are sometimes few and far between, and contacts are extremely important. The casting director for this commercial is someone with whom this relative had always wanted to work, so he couldn't very well back out after they'd offered him the job. It would have pretty much guaranteed that he'd never work for that casting director again! I know it was a hard decision for him, but taking the job was really the only logical choice, given the competitiveness of the industry.

It could be worse--he could be doing a commercial for valtrex or something! ;)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Super (but not so social) Social Suppers

Earlier this month, I blogged about our upcoming trip to the new Social Suppers store here in Lawrence. A couple of people have asked me how we're enjoying the meals so far, so I thought I'd better give our report.

First, the actual visit to Social Suppers was great. The staff was super friendly and helpful, and things were so convenient. Together, we were able to make 10 dinners in about 45 minutes, primarily because we were the only people in the store! We got totally personal attention, but it certainly wasn't very social!

So at this point, we've eaten 5 of our 10 dinners, and we've been extremely pleased with all of them! The KC Strip was fantastic, and I'm not even a steak eater. We've enjoyed White Fish Vera Cruz, Balsamic BBQ Chicken, Bacon Wrapped Turkey Breasts in Blueberry Sauce, and Lone Star Steak & Penne Pasta. Chad wasn't so much a fan of the steak and pasta that we had tonight because it had kind of a tangy salsa sauce that had a lot of black beans, and he's not a big bean fan in general, but I loved it and am excited to eat the leftovers tomorrow!

So clearly, we're big fans of the Social Suppers! The next time we go, we're definitely taking friends along, because we want this place to stay in business! :)

Monday, May 21, 2007

All Dressed Up With Someplace To Go

I didn't have much time for blogging over the weekend because we had such a busy one! The most exciting event of the weekend was my cousin Bri's wedding on Saturday in Kansas City. She and her new husband Daniel met in New York (where they both live) a few years ago through a mutual friend, although Daniel is originally from Austin. We knew it was going to be a cool wedding weekend, just based on the cool website they'd put together to inform their family and friends of the festivities!

They were married in a beautiful ceremony at Central United Methodist, with many of Bri's family and friends in attendance, but probably even more of Daniel's family there who'd traveled from Texas! One of the neatest things about the ceremony was that they incorporated several Latino wedding traditions in honor of Daniel's Latino heritage. Las arras is a tradition that originates in Spain, where thirteen gold coins are given from the groom to the bride to symbolize the trust and confidence they place in one another. In the ceremony of the lazo, a married couple to whom the bride and groom look as examples lasso them with a large loop of satin rope, to symbolize the unity of the new couple and the strength of the bond between them. These traditions were certainly very special, but I found the most endearing moment to be the vows, which the minister read in English, but that Bri and Daniel repeated back in Spanish. It was so neat! Bri actually learned Spanish several years ago when she took an intensive course in Central America after finishing med school, so that she would be better able to communicate with the patients she would have during her residency. Little did she know that knowing Spanish would come in handy in her love life as well!

After the wedding, the party moved to Union Station, where a wonderful dinner was served at the Union Cafe in the Grand Hall. A five piece ensemble playing Latin music serenaded us during the meal, and then another large band played great music to dance to for the rest of the evening. It was a wonderful celebration, and even more wonderful because we were able to see so many of my relatives at the same time! My Aunt Kally was cutting a rug on the dance floor and was the second most entertaining dancer of the night. The first place dancing award had to go to my cousin David's 4-year-old boy Zachary, who was "gettin' down" while standing on a bar with his dad's help. I wish I had a picture, but unfortunately I didn't remember my camera. He was absolutely adorable!

While the dancing was certainly entertaining, props go to my dad for having the funniest quote of the night. When a particular relative showing some excessive cleavage asked if anyone had a safety pin that Bri could use for her dress, as she walked off, Dad piped in with "She could use a safety pin!" I'm sure me retelling the story doesn't sound nearly as funny, but believe me, we could not stop laughing! I had to make sure I recorded the story somewhere because I think it was one of the funniest things my dad ever said!

Although we did forget to take the camera with us to the wedding, upon our arrival home at midnight, we were able to capture a rare moment of Chad and I all cleaned up!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Most Expensive Dog in the World

I think Hope is currently in contention for this title. She's only been in our family for 21 months, and so far we've paid for her heartworm treatment, spay surgery, teeth cleaning, biopsy, chemotherapy, and surgery on her tumor, not to mention the regular dog expenses such as shots and heartworm prevention. Today, we forked out another 75 dollars for our dear doggy daughter, as we visited the vet for laundry list of ailments that Hope had been experiencing in the last few weeks since her surgery. First, she's been doing a ton more sneezing than normal, like her hayfever is out of control. Second, she's had this weird wheezing cough, which almost kind of sounded like she picked up kennel cough from the animal hospital. Third, a few weeks ago we noticed a weird rash on her abdomen. Finally, about two weeks ago, Chad came home to find one of Hope's teeth lying on the floor!! It had broken off right at the gum line! As you can imagine, we were horrified, and when we called the vet they confirmed that it was the same tooth that was cracked prior to her teeth cleaning--the one that the vet thought maybe he would need to pull but then decided not to after cleaning it off a little. They told us not to worry too much about the broken tooth unless it seemed to cause her pain. She didn't seem to have any difficulty eating, so we assumed she must not feel too badly.

So last night, we thought we'd give her a little rawhide chip, just to see if she could comfortably chew on her missing tooth side. She finished it excitedly, and she didn't seem to have any discomfort, but when I went to make sure her gums weren't bleeding after she was done, I found another tooth lying on the floor!! AAACCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKK!! We were even more horrified! This one had come out with most of the root in tact, with just a tiny bit of the root broken off and still in her gum!

Obviously, we took her to the vet today, and we did feel a little better that most of Hope's symptoms (the sneezing, wheezing and rash) are likely all allergy related, with the flare up of allergies being common after chemo messes with the immune system. However, the teeth thing is still a major bummer. The vet didn't have a good explanation for her multiple broken teeth except that she is an aggressive chewer who didn't have good dental care in the first 5-7 years of her life. She may have to eventually have the parts of those teeth that are still there pulled out, which would obviously mean another general anesthetic for her, and another big expense for us. At least for the time being, all chew treats in our house are definitely off limits!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Little Iron Men

This is so exciting! I feel like my brother is practically famous now--he's on YouTube!

Some of you may remember almost two years ago when I sent out a link to a movie trailer that Eric shot. It was a trailer for a movie which hadn't yet been made, but that would be sent to potential producers along with the script in order to secure financing, and sent to potential big-name actors hoping to convince them to sign on to the film. Before Eric worked on this project, I had no idea this was common practice in Hollywood!

Anyway, over the weekend I found out from Eric that there is a possibility that this WWII movie, called Little Iron Men, is going to be funded. It's not like Eric will star in it like he did in the trailer (they are looking for a big name like Matt Damon, Heath Ledger or Ryan Gosling), but because he knows the director, there's a good chance he could land a small role in the film, which would be totally cool!

So while Eric and I were talking about this, it suddenly dawned on me that I'd never checked YouTube for the trailer before! I was thrilled to find it there, which means I can post it here!! Check it out!

Isn't that awesome?! I seriously get chills every time I watch it! It looks like it will be a great movie--even better if Eric gets to be in it! :)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Strutting the Mutts

Saturday's Mutt 'n' Strut charity walk was fun, but it was also SUPER hot for the middle of May! I knew it would be warm, but there's something about getting a couple hundred dogs together in a blacktop parking lot that makes it even steamier! It was around 75 and sunny when the walk started, and even though we took water breaks every half mile, Hope completely pooped out about 400 yards into the second mile! She saw a shady, grassy spot next to the sidewalk, so she took it upon herself to end our walk there. I don't know if she's still feeling the effects of her chemo and surgery, or if she just isn't accustomed to the heat, but she was a little short on the endurance!

She wasn't the only canine who was feeling like a hot dog. After the walk, a dog decided that the tub of ice which held the bottled water and soda made a good wading pool once some of the ice had melted. Every year this happens, but it never ceases to be entertaining.

A few years ago it was a huge Great Pyrenees who did this and took up the whole tub! I can understand why they were all so hot--the bank clock said it was 82 when we got home at like 10:30.

We didn't stay and enjoy many of the contests because it was so warm (I contend the parking lot has to be like 10 degrees hotter), but we checked out a few of the booths and the bake sale, and we hung out and talked to lots of our other dog friends and people friends. Overall it was a fun morning, and there was no McGruff the Crime Dog to cause an uproar!

For more pictures, check out our Picasa page.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Smile and A Tile

When our precious boy Steeler passed away in September, we had several people make donations in his memory to the Lawrence Humane Society. We used one of those donations to purchase a memorial tile for the lobby of the building, decorated by an aspiring artist who happens to work there. It took me several weeks to get a picture of Steeler selected and then several more weeks for me to remember to take the picture to the shelter, so a few months after his death, my friend Yaslyn got started painting his tile. A couple of months later, she showed me the final product before it had been fired, which I thought was absolutely amazing. It took several more weeks for the woman who ran the kiln to get it finished, but when someone from the shelter went to pick it up, they were horrified to find that the lady had burned it! Yaslyn felt terrible, and insisted that she wanted to do another one to put on the wall. I felt terrible, because I know how many hours she put into it and can't imagine having the talent to create such a perfect likeness! The good news is, since Yaslyn is painting a new tile, she gave us the old one to keep. You can see what an amazing job she did!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Help for Doggies

Speaking of raising money, the second largest fundraiser for the organization closest to my heart--the Lawrence Humane Society--is this weekend! Saturday is the 12th Annual Mutt 'n' Strut, which is a very fun charity walk with tons and tons of dogs. Participants raise or pledge at least $30 for each dog entered, and there are usually hundreds of dogs who join in the fun! It's really a very funny sight to see a huge mass of dogs walking down the street together.

We participated in this walk with Steeler and Celtic for at least 7 or 8 years, and then last year we had all three dogs entered, so it's very much a family event for us. The dogs seem to enjoy it, except that every year the boys would have a huge cow when they saw a human dressed in a McGruff the Crime Dog suit. I could never figure it out--there would be hundreds of dogs of every shape and size standing around, none of whom seemed to be bothered by this costume. Then suddenly our dogs would let out this ear-piercing bay, startling every person and dog in a two block radius. It was so bizarre. People would laugh hysterically because it was so comical, but I have to say it was a little embarrassing. Although some people thought our dogs were just big chickens, I try to tell myself that they're just smarter than the average dog who doesn't know that it's not normal for a grown person to be running around in a dog suit!

I'm sure we'll have fun Saturday morning, but I'm a little bit sad because it will be the first year we will be there without Steeler. We have so many family pictures from past Mutt 'n' Strut's that include both boys, it's hard not to feel like something is missing. Thankfully, Hope will be there to support her brother! :)

For more information about Mutt 'N' Strut, you can check out the online flyer here! Also, if you're so inclined, I'm still accepting pledges! ;)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Help for Greensburg

Unless you live under a rock, by now you've probably heard about the devastating tornado that destroyed 95% of the town of Greensburg, Kansas, last Friday night. It's so hard to imagine that an entire community could get wiped off the map in a matter of minutes. Looking at the pictures, it's hard to imagine people surviving at all. It seems like a miracle that only 11 or 12 people were killed. Praise God for basements.

In the wake of tragedies such as this, it's hard to know how to help the families in need. Especially in this era of email hoaxes and Internet scams, it seems naive to trust that every organization claiming to help is truly helping. An email circulated this week claiming that tomorrow, May 10th, Pizza Hut restaurants across the state of Kansas are donating 20% of profits to the United Way Greensburg Disaster Fund. One of my coworkers called the Pizza Hut Franchise Holders Association and confirmed that this was not a hoax. He talked to the woman who wrote the original email that's been floating around. She said that there might be a few select franchises not participating, but in most restaurants, you only had to request a donation be made to the Greensburg fund when you placed your order. I called our nearest Pizza Hut and confirmed the story as well. There was even a blurb about this special relief effort in the Topeka paper. So get Pizza Hut tomorrow night, everybody!!

There are lots of other ways you can help, but here are a few that don't involve buying pizza:

1) There is an organization called Heart to Heart which is accepting monetary gifts and care kits for the people of Greensburg, and they also have a good online guide to appropriate giving after a disaster. A local church in Lawrence (First Christian) is a collection site for these care kits, so you don't even have to mail them.

2) The KU Alumni Association is collecting "Green for Greensburg" all week out in front of the Adams Alumni Center. I'll be manning the booth there tomorrow from 1-2 p.m., so come by and see me if you're on campus!

3) The American Red Cross has a disaster relief fund for situations just like this one, and they'll accept donations at any time.

I'm sure all of those people who have lost everything in this tornado are hugely appreciative of the help from organizations such as Heart to Heart, the Red Cross and Pizza Hut, as well as hugely appreciative of our prayers!

Scary Wildfire

Yesterday afternoon, I was talking on the phone to my brother as he was driving over to a friend's house in their hometown of Los Angeles. In the middle of our conversation, he noticed smoke and flames coming from a nearby hillside. He shared his obvious concern about the size and proximity of the fire and did his best to describe the magnitude of this blaze.

Very late last night (what were you doing up at 2:00 a.m., dear brother?), Eric emailed me this picture and some videos he took with his camera phone near his friend's house. I can certainly see why he was alarmed, especially because his friend lives so nearby!

This wildfire has apparently burned over 800 acres of the 4,000 acre Griffith Park, which is near the Los Angeles Zoo. The zoo animals have all had to be moved inside because the flames are so close. The news from this morning was that the wildfire is only about 40% contained. Scary stuff for all those people who live in the area!

I uploaded the videos Eric sent to YouTube so I could post them here. Keep in mind that the only camera he had was on his cell phone, so the quality isn't great. As Eric put it, "Little did I know the image quality becomes really horrible if you zoom in. Lesson learned." I thought these were amazing, none the less!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

It's Official!!

California, here we come! Last night I officially registered the Jayhawks for Jugs for the San Diego 3-Day!! Thanks to those of you who helped us decide on a team name by voting. Although the event is still 6 months away, I'm already very excited. The good news is, we have lots of time to prepare and fundraise. The bad news is, November will take forever to get here!

I probably don't really need to start fundraising this early, but since I also need to secure some donations for the Relay for Life in the next couple of months, I'm thinking I'll just send out one email to handle both solicitations. That way, people can either give towards my 3-Day adventure, or they can honor/memorialize a loved one who has battled a different kind of cancer through the Relay. Plus, I'll be bothering my friends and family with one annoying "ask for money" email instead of two, which I know will make my husband very happy. He's convinced that people will start running the other way when they see me coming, since I'm almost always looking for donations for one cause or another. I can't help it--there are a few causes in this world (homeless dogs and cancer being two of them) that I'm really passionate about!

My friend and teammate Vikkie certainly hasn't wasted any time getting started with her fundraising. She registered this morning at about 9:00 a.m. This evening at 5:30 p.m., she had already raised $695!! She's a fundraising rock star! I'll definitely be sending out emails soon so she quits making me look bad! :)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Punctured for the Last Time

Last Friday, I went to my sixth and what I believe will be my final acupuncture treatment. I had very high hopes for this potential solution to my back pain, but unfortunately, there haven't been any notable improvements. I had originally decided to try at least a month of treatment before making a decision on whether to continue, and I ended up extending my trial period to six weeks just for good measure. For a couple of weeks during treatment, the sciatic pain in my legs intensified somewhat, and at first this seemed like a sign that maybe the nerve inflammation was pushing its way down and hopefully out of my body. Now I think that maybe it wasn't the acupuncture at all, but rather some extra nerve aggravation related to softball or some other activity. Either way, I'm totally bummed.

I really liked the naturopathic doctor who did my treatment, Dr. Khosh, who tried everything he could think of to improve my condition. He prescribed an all natural anti-inflammatory to take, and when that didn't have any effect, he gave me a free 2 week sample of another natural anti-inflammatory (bromelain, curcumin and quercitin mixed together) that was brand new. He and his brother create these homeopathic medicines under their own label through a friend's company in Wichita. Dr. Khosh said his friend told him that this brand new mixture of ingredients would be way too strong for most people and should only be used in hard to treat cases, but so far, I haven't noticed any change. I've only been taking it for a few days though, so there's definitely still potential for it to work!

The other new and crazy thing he tried on Friday was auricular therapy (ear acupuncture), which he tries when patients aren't responding to anything else. "Normal" ear acupuncture is kind of like reflexology of the ear, where the therapist inserts smaller acupuncture needles into different spots of the ear which correspond to different areas of the body. However, what Dr. Khosh did was a little unusual (as if ear acupuncture isn't unusual enough) because he used ear tacks instead of needles, which actually stay in for a few days. One of them has yet to come out! The idea is that the same spot that you would stimulate during regular ear acupuncture just gets stimulated for a longer period, since it takes anywhere from 1-4 days for the tack to be sort of rejected from your body (kind of like a splinter works its way out). Dr. Khosh said he was sticking the spot related to the thalamus, which apparently was supposed to prevent the relay of pain related information to other parts of my brain. The mere fact that I agreed to this rather freaky treatment without asking many questions gives you an idea of how desperate I am for relief!

Unfortunately, I haven't noticed a difference from the ear tacks either. They were merely slightly annoying, since every time I went to scratch my ear it was like stabbing myself! Okay, it wasn't really quite that bad, but it certainly didn't feel good. Here's a picture of the one that's still in my ear and the one that has already fallen out (which I found on my pillow this morning). Totally bizarre, I know. What can I say except that it was the act of a desperate woman!

So the next step in my journey towards back healing (once I'm finished with these anti- inflammatories) is to go see a different chiropractor in town who has been highly recommended by at least 5 different people. His name is Rob Jones, and he specializes in helping athletes to stay active. I like the idea that his goal is to keep you in the game, whereas both my medical doctor and my other chiropractor told me I just needed to cease and desist all sporting activity (which I actually did for six months, which didn't seem to help me at all). Dr. Jones uses a new and different method of chiropractic called Active Release. I'm looking forward to seeing him within the next couple of weeks!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Rain Out

Usually a rain out sounds like a bad thing, but I have to admit that today I'm kind of enjoying it. We had planned to get up and go to Equip (Sunday School) and the late service at church, but the thunderstorm was so severe at the time I was supposed to be getting into the shower, I decided it might be wise to refrain from getting clean, just in case the urban legends are correct and you can get struck by lightning while showering (actually, I've since read that because most houses use PVC instead of metal for plumbing, this isn't nearly as likely as it used to be). Instead of showering, I surrendered to my heathen instincts and crawled back in to bed, where we slept WAY in. While I definitely missed the worship. teaching, and fellowship at church, I have to admit that the extra sleep was really nice!

So the continuing thunderstorm has completely changed the schedule of our day. After church, I was supposed to take a shelter dog to the LHS booth at Lawrence's 46th annual Art in the Park, an event the shelter refers to as Bark in the Park. Unfortunately, Art in the Park has been canceled, which is a bummer because it's always a fun event (kind of like a mini-Smoky Hill River Festival) where the dogs get tons of exposure.

This evening we were supposed to have a co-ed softball game at 7:00, but considering that our backyard looks like a small pond and it still hasn't stopped raining, I'm guessing that all softball games will be canceled today as well. This means that I'll likely lay around in bed most of the day, reading and blogging and working on uploading the dog pictures that I took yesterday at the shelter. Listening to Hope snoring on the floor below is actually very relaxing, and combine that with the darkness filling our bedroom at the moment, I'm thinking maybe an afternoon nap might be in order as well! Hooray for rain outs! :)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Streak (Has Ended With Social Suppers)

I'll bet you didn't even know I had a streak going, did you? If you are super duper observant you may have noticed that the last several (12 to be exact, if you count this one) posts have shared titles with songs. Pretty sneaky, huh? I really have no idea how that started. I guess after a couple of song titles in a row came to mind kind of by accident, I started deliberately trying to think of them. Sometimes I even went as far as to search the Internet for a related song. The point is, tonight I wanted to share that yesterday we signed up to go to Social Suppers, which is much like Menu Makers that I attended last fall. While I might have been able to find a song title related to food or eating, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have found one that mention the words social and supper, which means that in 6 months when Chad asks me when it was that we went to Social Suppers, I won't be saying "I have no idea...I can't seem to find the post on my blog!" But really, that's more explanation than you actually needed!

While the Menu Makers food got mixed reviews, we couldn't deny that it was crazy convenient and very economical. When the very similar Social Suppers opened up here in Lawrence recently, we decided it was worth another try, especially since we don't have to drive to Topeka to do it! The menu looked good this month, and quite frankly, things are so busy right now it will be really nice to have dinners already prepared in advance, with bonus leftovers! If you feel like joining us for Social Suppers next Wednesday, just let us know and we'll help you get registered!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Going To California

My friend Vikkie and I have been talking about it since my last post on the subject, and although we haven't registered yet, we're pretty sure we're going to walk in the Breast Cancer 3-Day in San Diego this November. We were originally leaning towards going to Chicago in August, but since Vikkie is the event planner extraordinaire at our Med Center office and her biggest event of the year is that month, Chicago wouldn't really fit into the schedule. We briefly kicked around the idea of going to Dallas/Fort Worth, since it's close and we have friends there to stay with, but we decided that DFW wasn't quite exciting enough for us. So at this point, we're planning on going to California, but we can't register until we think of a good name for our duo. There are over 600 teams already registered for the San Diego walk, and with each team having 2 to 10 people on it, that's already a LOT of walkers!

Most of the teams have names related to breasts or cancer or cures or walking or where they're from or who they're walking for, and many of the team names are quite hysterical. This year's S.D. walk has "3-Day Street Walkers", "Hoofin' for Hooters", "Babes for Boobs", "Girls Goin' Miles" and about 625 other teams! There is even a team called " 'Hawks for Hooters" (some of whom are from Kansas) that we could join if we wanted to, but we thought it would be more fun to think of a team of our own. So, here are some of the names I've come up with so far:

*Jayhawks for Jugs
*Jayhawks on a Journey
*Journeying Jayhawks for Jugs
*Kansans for a Cure
*KU Kansans for a Cure
*KU Kansans for Curing Kazongas
*Crazy KU Kansans for Cure

You get the drift. I could probably come up with a few more permutations of the same few words (or maybe replace Kazongas for Coconuts or something), but I'll spare you any more ridiculousness. I would, however, appreciate your input, so vote for your favorite below, or leave me a suggestion for something entirely different. If you need more ideas, you can check the complete list of already registered San Diego teams. Thanks for voting!