Monday, March 31, 2008

No News

For those of you checking in on Hope, we unfortunately didn't hear from her doctor today, so we're still waiting to get the pathology report on her tumor. Dr. Layton thought that the results would be back in the early part of this week, so we're hoping to get some good news tomorrow. In the meantime, Hope is feeling good (based on the fact that she's still trying to beat up her foster brother) and her incision is healing nicely. She's even getting a little more tolerant of her cone. Only about 8 more days of being a conehead and those stitches will be coming out!

Thanks for checking in! We're praying for good news tomorrow and hoping that this dog drama will be over for good!!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

So Happy I Could Cry

Words cannot express how excited, elated and exhausted I was after tonight's game. I was so nervous before the game I thought I would throw up. I was so stressed during the game I thought I would pass out. I was so ecstatic after the game I thought I would pee my pants. It was pretty much the ugliest win ever, but Bill's Boys did it. After making history (all four #1 seeds winning their regions) the monkey is off KU's back and they're headed to the Final Four. After shedding many tears of sorrow during the tournament over the last few years, today I was finally able to cry tears of joy! Rock Chalk, Jayhawks!!! :)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sweet (Sixteen)

Okay, now that the dog drama at our house has died down, I have time to talk/type about something else that has occupied quite a bit of my time for the last couple of weeks--basketball, basketball, basketball!!! Have I mentioned that I love March Madness?? As you might have noticed, last week there were several nights in a row that I didn't blog at all because the NCAA Tournament took up every minute of my free time. My favorite games of the tournament so far have obviously been the first and second round wins by our Jayhawks by which they advanced into the Sweet Sixteen. Our first round game against Portland State was fun for Jayhawk fans because we completely dominated the Vikings, but it probably wasn't much fun for other basketball fans looking for close, exciting games. From an objective non-Jayhawk point of view, it probably wasn't much of a game at all!

Last Saturday night's game against UNLV was definitely more exciting, since KU didn't play nearly as well and UNLV was a much better team than our first opponent. It was actually a pretty close game until the middle of the second half. Although KU pulled away and ended up winning by almost 20 points, I never really felt completely confident about the win until those last few minutes ticked off the clock. There have been some crazy comebacks and upsets so far in the tourney (as usual), and I just didn't want us to be the victim of one of those crazy comeback upsets! Thankfully, we're onto Detroit this weekend and will be taking on the Villanova Willdcats tonight! Hopefully I'll still feel like talking about college basketball tomorrow!

Speaking of amazing upsets and crazy comebacks, one of the most amazing game endings of the tourney had to be the Western Kentucky last second 3-pointer against Drake. This shot gave me goosebumps and brought a tear to my eye when I watched it live (thanks to March Madness on Demand on CBS) and it still does today. It's freakin' incredible. If you didn't see it when it happened or all over the news after the game, you should totally check it out now.

While I obviously love watching basketball, one of the best parts of March is the friendly competition of all the tournament bracket pools. As I mentioned last week, I love bracketology. I love trying to figure out the upsets and then cheering on the underdogs. I love highlighting my paper brackets and checking my online pools to see where I stand. I love it all! I especially love it when I'm doing well in my office pool, like I happen to be today. After picking all four games last night correctly, both of my brackets (yes, I ended up entering a dream bracket and a reality bracket again this year) are in 4th place (yes, Emily, I know I'm still behind you!) out of like 52 entries. It's like a roller coaster of emotions though, because before last night's games I was in like 34th place because I picked so many games wrong in the 2nd round. Before that I was tied for 2nd after picking so many games right in the first round. I'm sitting pretty comfortably right now though, so maybe all my research is actually going to pay off this year! Then again, maybe it won't. Anything can happen, and that's the beauty of the NCAA tourney!

The funny thing is, before the tourney started last Thursday I stayed up way too late Wednesday night finishing my research before finalizing my brackets. Then I woke up way too early because I was so excited for the first games to start. I was like a little kid who can't sleep the night before going on vacation. As a result, I fell asleep Thursday night on the living room floor at about 9:00, right about the time the last group of games were starting. All that excitement and I didn't even get to see some of those games I was so darn excited about! :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Happy Hope, Sad Hope

Hope is doing well after yesterday's surgery--perhaps a little too well! When I came home at lunch today she came sprinting down the hall and sprinted out the door like a maniac. I had to tell her to settle down several times while she was outside because she was bouncing and running all over the yard. When Chad got home tonight he said that she was actually trying to instigate a wrestling match with Fresco, so maybe her pain medication is doing too good of a job!

Last night when she finally arrived home at about 11 p.m., she was still a little out of it and was clearly in quite a bit of pain. We put her up in the bed right in between us (where she doesn't normally get to sleep) so that we would be able to better monitor her and prevent the licking of stitches. Initially she just laid there and groaned and whined and fidgeted, so we knew she must really be hurting. The funny thing is, while Celtic was sacked out and sleeping through Hope's misery, Fresco was pretty much inconsolable. Normally we put him in his bed at night and he doesn't get up until the alarm goes off the next morning. Last night when it was time for bed he was pacing around the room panting and acting bizarre. He kept trying to jump on the bed with us, and when that wasn't accepted he would just lay his head down on the edge of the bed and stare at us or crane his neck around to try and sniff Hope. Fresco's typically oversensitive nature would clearly not allow him to relax while someone else was hurting! Although it was annoying because we were trying to sleep, at the same time I couldn't help but think it was really very sweet of him! Thankfully, once Hope stopped her groaning and went to sleep, Fresco soon followed!

So Hope is feeling much better than she was last night and seems very happy despite the fact that her bum is full of stitches. Speaking of her bum, although I won't gross you out with a picture of her actual incision, I have to share this picture of her shaved backside. The way the vet cut her hair is totally hilarious. It looks like eyes and a nose to me.

Although Hope seemed pretty happy today under the circumstances, she had a few sad moments as well. When she was left home alone she had to endure the humiliation of being a conehead, which transformed our happy little dog into this!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hope's Coming Home!

Until just a few minutes ago we thought Hope was going to have to stay the night at the hospital in Overland Park, but we just found out that she's stable enough to come home! Chad is on his way to KC to pick her up as I type.

Earlier this evening when I talked to Dr. Layton, she said that our little one was still very wobbly and was unwilling or unable to stand up. She thought it would be better to keep her for the night, but she told us to call back in a couple of hours to check on her just in case. At that point I was trying to think of a clever title for this post that somehow conveyed that we were without Hope this evening, but not without hope. I was afraid that someone would become alarmed and think that we were hopeless about Hope's situation and not just Hope-less for the night. Now I don't have to worry about my clever post title or confusing anyone because Hope's on her way!

Overall, it seems that Hope's surgery today went pretty well. Dr. Layton called this morning to let us know that the pre-operative ultrasound didn't show any cancer in her liver or spleen, so that was a huge blessing. Hope did have some lymph nodes that were slightly swollen, but unfortunately it was too risky to biopsy them because they were dangerously close to some major arteries or something. The vet said they weren't alarmingly large, so for now we're just going to hope that those nodes aren't affected with any cancerous cells. Next week we'll find out the grade of her tumor (which basically measures how aggressive it is) and whether the margins around the tumor were clear of any cancerous cells. We're praying for a grade one tumor with a low potential for metastasis along with clear tumor margins!!

Thanks to everyone for the emails and phone calls offering well wishes and prayers for our goofy girl. We really, really appreciate it!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Graduate

The bad news of yesterday morning was thankfully followed by a more joyful evening. I'm proud to announce that our foster dog Fresco graduated from his basic obedience class last night. For the last 6 weeks, Fresco and I have been attending this course at Petco every Monday, and I must say we both learned so much during our training!

When I signed us up a few months ago, I wasn't actually very confident that a Petco class would teach either of us anything we didn't already know. Fresco could already sit, shake, stay and lay down on command. He knew what come meant too, although he was fairly selective about when he chose to do respond, depending on his level of distraction (clearly he is part hound). I wasn't sure he would learn anything new, but the trainer at the shelter insisted that he could not be adopted unless he received training from a professional, so I decided to give in to her demands. Since the only real problem we were having with Fresco was his excitability when he saw other dogs on our walks, my goal going into the training was to get him some experience being around other dogs while on a leash.

Clearly my expectations of the class weren't very high, but I'm the first to admit that I completely underestimated the quality of our training! The instructor, Colleen, was an amazingly knowledgeable, helpful and patient teacher. She had all sorts of tricks to help teach the dogs various commands, all using positive reinforcement with lots of treats. It was certainly different than what you'd see on the Dog Whisperer, but effective none the less!

On our first day of class, Fresco was excited to meet all of his classmates, but did so in a fairly calm manner. Colleen couldn't understand what I was talking about when I said he would flip out with excitement when he saw a strange dog since he'd initially met up with everyone so politely. Then a large black lab named Benji came into class a few minutes late, and Benji was clearly nervous about approaching all of the already gathered strange dogs. Fresco then demonstrated his excited mode perfectly for Colleen, jumping up and down and barking hysterically as Benji came into the training area. Colleen said she thought Fresco's behavior was more of a reaction--that he was reacting to the stress Benji was obviously feeling, which was why certain dogs made him crazy while calmer dogs didn't. Her diagnosis was basically that he was just overly sensitive to other dogs' emotions, but in all six weeks of class she never saw any aggressive behavior in him at all. In fact, he would completely submit to his friends Havoc and Benji in their playtime after class, which Colleen always found very admirable and impressive! It always made me laugh since the LHS trainer had given him all sorts of labels like dominant/aggressive and possessive/aggressive. He is nothing of the sort at home or in class, and now I have Colleen's expert opinion to back me up on it!

So last night at graduation I invited Chad to come watch Fresco in action and also take a few pictures of the event. Each dog had to do a series of six commands: sit/stay, down/stay, close (heel), come, leave it, and wait. Fresco did so awesome! I thought he was definitely the most obedient in the class and an objective observer (okay, maybe Chad isn't so objective) agreed! Many of the "parents" had to try multiple times to complete one of tests or had to give the command multiple times, but there was only one time I had to do a quick do-over. That was because I didn't give the wait command quite quickly enough, so it wasn't even Fresco's fault at all. Even Colleen said he was extremely focused last night!

Here's him performing his down/stay.

Here's the baby of the class, Nikita, getting treats after one of her tests. I love the looks on everyone else's faces...everyone looks so proud!

After we all completed the 6 commands we learned in class, we each had to do a "stupid pet trick" that we'd worked on during the six week period, to show Colleen that we could train our dog without her help as well. Three of the five dogs in the class shook hands, which was cute but kind of predictable, so I practiced something more unique and exciting with Fresco. I was a little nervous since we'd been practicing on carpet and Petco only has a slick tile floor, but he performed like a champ! Check him out!

I love the looks on the faces of the other parents behind me in this picture!! I think everyone was impressed!

I was so proud of our big baby Fresco last night, and I think Chad was too. He proved to everyone what a smart, well-behaved and adoptable dog he is!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Emotionally Drained

Today has been an emotionally draining day. The day started so normally and then took such a bizarre turn it's almost not believable. This morning, I took Celtic to see a veterinary specialist in Kansas City. We'd made the appointment a few weeks ago, when our regular vet decided that he didn't want to try and remove the fatty (benign) tumor in Celtic's armpit because it was so extensive. This is the same lipoma that Celtic had removed last year--it just grew back already and is larger than it was before! Since we loved the surgeon who did Hope's surgery last year (Dr. Layton at VSEC), we made an appointment for a consultation with her to see what she would recommend with regard to Celtic's growth.

So here's where the story gets almost unbelievable. When I left for KC this morning I decided that it would be fun to take Hope along for a visit, so that Dr. Layton could see her and see how amazingly Hope's very delicate area (her tumor was right smack in her "privates") had healed. We got to Overland Park and got out of the car, and as I'm trying to make Hope potty before going inside, I'm thinking about how Dr. Layton was our hero for saving Hope's life and how the doctor will be so pleased to see Hope and how wonderful her slightly deformed posterior looks when I glance down at her backside--only to have my jaw literally drop open. There was a dime-sized, blistery-looking bump on Hope's rear end, just a couple of inches away from where her first one had been. My heart immediately sank because it looked exactly like her previous mast cell tumor.

About the only good news here is that we were already at the veterinary hospital and Dr. Layton was absolutely wonderful. After examining Celtic and his lump she examined Hope, took a needle aspirate of her growth, and walked straight back to the microscope to examine the sample. A few minutes later, she came back with the grim news that it was, in fact, another cancerous tumor. With such a small sample she was unable to tell the stage of tumor, but she still recommended that we remove it immediately without trying the chemotherapy that failed to shrink last year's lesion. She is such an amazingly kind and caring doctor, she did all of this without even charging us for Hope's visit.

Needless to say, Celtic's possible surgery has been put on the back burner for now. Instead, on Wednesday morning we'll take our sweet girl back to Overland Park where she'll first undergo some testing to see if there's any cancer that has spread internally. Those tests will be followed by another delicate surgery, in an area of her backside where Dr. Layton knows she can't get the desired large margins around the edges of the tumor. We're just hoping and praying that Dr. Layton can perform another miracle for Hope.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!!

I hope everyone is having a magnificent Easter! While you're enjoying your chocolate bunnies and egg hunts I hope that you're also able to celebrate the glorious miracle of the holiday!

Our Easter isn't turning out to be quite as wonderful as I imagined because it's pretty darn cold outside! I had dreamed of a relaxing day with a long walk in the beautiful sunshine that was forecast yesterday. Right now it's cloudy with a wind chill of 34. I'm snuggled up in bed with the puppies watching basketball, kind of dreading going outside at all!

Despite the chilly weather, this happy daffodil and its little bug friend were enjoying this lovely Easter in our flower garden when we got home from church this morning. At least I can enjoy the sights of spring while we wait for it to actually start feeling like spring around here!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Basketball on the Brain

This afternoon I started making my picks for my NCAA Tourney bracket. As usual, I'll be entering our annual office pool along with that of a couple of our other friends. Our office pool is rather large, and although I was darn close to winning last year, I have yet to come away with any winnings from that particular competition in the 9 years I've been entered. It certainly isn't from lack of trying, since I generally always do a ridiculous amount of research before selecting my winners. I really don't know why--it doesn't really ever seem to help me. I just can't seem to help myself.

This year I'm considering only filling out one bracket, as opposed to doing the "Kim's Dream" and "Kim's Reality" bracket. In previous years, my theory has been that my Jayhawks generally do better when I don't pressure them by picking them to go all the way. However, if I don't pick them to go all the way, then I feel terribly guilty about it. My solution has always been to do two brackets. I'm thinking maybe that this year I shouldn't continue the two bracket tradition, since clearly it hasn't resulted in a win for me, and more importantly, hasn't resulted in a win for the Jayhawks!

Speaking of the Jayhawks, the other day when I was babbling about the article in the KUAA newsletter that had so much great trivia about our players, my friend Amber pointed out to me that there was a much larger wealth of information about Bill's Boys (and Bill himself) in the online media guide. How is it that I never knew that the media guide was available on the web? What kind of fan am I?

Actually, despite my ignorance about the KU Athletics website, my love of the Jayhawks evidently runs pretty deep. I'm already nervous about the game on Thursday!! The Big Dance starts in less than two days!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Belated Birthdays

Yesterday, my mom and I celebrated her belated birthday with some shopping, lunch, and basketball watching. I'll admit that maybe watching basketball isn't exactly normal "girl stuff" and probably wouldn't have been my mom's first choice of activities, but thankfully it turned out to be one of the most amazing games of the season, so I was very glad we were able to enjoy it together! We ended the day with a brisk but cold 2 mile walk and some lessons on Mom's first digital camera that was a hand-me-down from yours truly.

So while I was busy celebrating my mom's birthday belatedly, I was also busy missing my friend Beth's birthday! Happy Birthday, Beth!! Sorry I missed your b-day yesterday!! Although I've neglected to blog about a lot of birthdays this year, I didn't want to neglect Beth completely since she's very far away and I can't give her a birthday hug in person. As you may remember, Beth and her husband James moved to Guatemala last summer (this picture of us is from their going away party) so that Beth could take a job at the American School of Guatemala in Guatemala City. They are super brave and adventurous people who have been having some amazing experiences in Central America! If you haven't already, you should really check out their blog. There are some terrific pictures and stories about the area in which they're living and all the places to which they've been traveling. I love living vicariously through their blog since I'm confident that I'd never seek out such an opportunity! I think Beth's super strong to be taking on this incredible challenge, and I'm very proud to call her my friend! Happy Birthday, Beth! :)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Birthday and Basketball

Today is my Dear Mother's birthday. To celebrate her important day, I was supposed to go to visit her in Topeka, where we were going to hang out and do girl stuff together. Being the wonderfully understanding and accommodating mom that she is, she was totally agreeable when I called her last night and asked if I could reschedule our date for Sunday. My kind and compassionate mother completely understood that today I had an opportunity that I just couldn't pass up! Last night, our friend Terry called and offered to sell us his tickets to the Big 12 tournament because he wasn't feeling well. This afternoon we went to K.C. and watched the Jayhawks' victory over the A&M Aggies! We'd never been to the conference tournament before, nor had we been to the new Sprint Center, so we were very excited about both!

The game itself was fun, albeit a little too close for comfort, as we only ended up winning by 6 points. We didn't play terribly, but we weren't terrific either. Brandon (my friend Paula's favorite;) thankfully had a great game and came away with a career high 28 points. My favorite player Darnell had a solid 14 points, while Sherron contributed 9. One of the issues that made the game less enjoyable was the ridiculous number of timeouts because of all the TV commercials. It just seemed like every time we'd get on a roll and the crowd would get loud, the game would stop. Along with all the timeouts, the refs also had to stop a couple of times to review the tape or fix the clock, which made it such a disjointed game. The other issue that made the game not as exciting was actually the crowd itself. Although the KU fans clearly made up 80% of the fans in the arena, you wouldn't really have known it most of the game. The place was really fairly quiet unless the 'Hawks made a big play or went on a run or something. I usually felt like my voice was echoing throughout the Sprint Center because hardly anyone in the place was cheering or clapping. It was way too calm for a KU Basketball game!

Speaking of the Sprint Center, the building itself is pretty cool. I took a bunch of pictures (big shock), so you can check them out if you're interested. The coolest thing was that there was a QuikTrip inside the building--I love QuikTrip! The video board seemed a little small, but then again we were in the 3rd row from the top, so we were actually looking down on the screen! The top sections like ours had very little leg room and that scary steep pitch that made you feel like you'd tumble to your death if you made one wrong move. As you were walking down the aisle, you had to step over the cup holders from the row in front of you, which were attached to the back of the seats, which made it especially treacherous!

The downtown area around the Sprint Center was pretty cool too. A lot of the stuff has always been there, but it seemed like there were some new restaurants and shops that I hadn't seen before (not that I've ever spent a lot of time in downtown KC). It would have been a fun place to hang out for the whole day if we'd had the time!

So back to the original point of this post: my mom is so awesome that she wasn't even upset that I postponed her birthday celebration to go watch basketball today. She's the best, and I'm so lucky to have a wonderful mom like her! Happy Birthday, Momma! I'll see you tomorrow!!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Jayhawk Junk

For all of you KU basketball fans out there, I wanted to share some fun info about our hardwood heroes that I found interesting and thought maybe everyone else would also enjoy. The KU Alumni Association recently sent out a special basketball edition of their email newsletter, and there was one article in particular from which I learned a great deal! It was a compilation of silly facts about each of the players, and as a die-hard Jayhawk fan, I was embarrassed to say that I didn't know a lot of these things! So get to know your Jayhawks! I had never heard the nicknames Ron Ron and D-Block, didn't know Kaun's first name wasn't really Sasha, had no idea so many of the kids came from basketball families, and was pleased to find out that a couple of the boys read scripture as a pre-game ritual!

On a related note, I have another link that I received from a couple of different friends that is kind of fun for us college sports junkies. Apparently EA Sports is having a "Mascot Challenge" to determine which college mascot should go on the front cover of the Wii version of their NCAA Football 2009 game. Although the website doesn't actually mention the winner of the challenge being featured on the Wii game (at least that I could find), the KU website verified that this is the ultimate purpose of the contest. Tomorrow (Friday) is the last day to vote, so check out this page and then click on the "vote now" button to the right. That will take you to the page where you can pick the Big 12 conference and vote for our own adorable Big Jay, unless you're one of my Husker or Wildcat friends who'll undoubtedly be voting for someone else. :P

No matter who you vote for, you have to admit that the Jayhawk (especially the Wii version) is the cutest of all the Big 12 mascots. Colorado's mascot Chip has the face of a bumblebee, Iowa State's Cy has an evil looking sneer, and let's face it: the blank stare on Truman the Tiger's face makes him look mentally challenged, which of course, he is. Herbie the Husker and Pistol Pete both have creepy huge human heads, while Hook'em from Texas is creepy because he has a scrawny body with people clothes when animals should go naked. Of course the ultimate in creepiness is Willie the Wildcat, who somehow gets away with being half man, half beast. His scary cat face deliberately placed on a human body completely creeps me out. Clearly, you should place your vote for the happy, friendly Jayhawk, who is currently in 6th place in the polls. At least help him jump over Herbie in the standings!

By the way, why are Texas Tech, Baylor, OU and A&M not represented in this poll? Do they not have costumed mascots or something? How is it that I've never noticed this before?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Puppy Love

I just had to share a few of the adorable puppy pictures that I took on Sunday when I was at the shelter. There have been so many litters of tiny babies there this winter it's just unbelievable. They are so amazingly cute.

This is little Ray taking a nap. He was born at the shelter and his mom was a Beagle mix.

Ray is looking a little disoriented because I woke him up to take his picture.

This Ray's brother Chug.

This is Ray and Chug's brother Smooch, who was just too tired to wake up for pictures!

And the holy grail of puppy cuteness...

This precious little Pit Bull mix pup isn't even available for adoption yet. His whole litter got very sick and now he's fighting pneumonia. He was outside for a little fresh air on Sunday, but of course he needed his little sweater to protect his little baby body from any chills! That sweater is about the cutest thing I've ever seen!

How stinkin' adorable are they? Their ridiculous cuteness doesn't change the fact that I wish they'd never been born. There are just too too too many of them and not enough good homes. Why don't people just get their dogs spayed and neutered?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Shamrock Shuffle

I have to admit that I wasn't a very supportive wife over the weekend. On Saturday morning, my husband ran in the Shamrock Shuffle, a 5K race right here in Lawrence, and I didn't even go to cheer him on. In my defense, I had a wedding shower to go to in Kansas City for my friend Kristin, and it would have been difficult to go to the 8 a.m. race and still make it back home in time to get ready for my engagement in KC. I wasn't exactly dying to go watch since the temperature was 8 degrees at start time, but I certainly would have done so had I not had other important plans.

Because of the crazy cold temperature, I was extra proud that my hubby got up early for the race, which is an annual event here in Lawrence that raises money for the charities of our St. Patrick's Day parade. There were actually 386 other people who braved the frozen tundra of the levee in North Lawrence, seen here in a photo from the Shuffle slideshow. Although Chad hasn't been training for a short race like this one (he's only been running long distances and not doing any speed work), he still had a very good showing on Saturday, coming in 26th overall and 5th in his age division. The age divisions were broken into 10 year increments for this race, but if they had used 5 year increments like many races do, Chad actually would have been 2nd! There was only 1 person in the 35-39 age range that was faster than he was, so I think he did pretty well! You can see all of the race results on their website or check out the Journal-World's article if you're interested.

Chad wasn't especially satisfied with his official 5K time of 22:16, only because he ran just around 1 minute faster last summer in his previous 5K. Obviously the course conditions of last summer's race were a million times better than the conditions on Saturday. Plus, at that time he was training specifically for a 5K, doing shorter runs with weekly speed work. I think under the circumstances, he should be very proud of his 5th/2nd place finish!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Are You Kidding Me Right Now?

You have to be flipping kidding me. I really can't even believe this. This morning, the weather guy said it would be cold today with a chance for a few flurries. A chance. It started snowing today at 8:00 a.m. and didn't stop until--oh wait...until never. It's still snowing. Granted, at this point there are only flurries coming down, but really it's just the point. Earlier today it was snowing really hard. You probably can't tell from my cell phone picture here, but outside my office building around the lunch hour there were tons of huge flakes coming down. Those streaks of white are big old flakes flying by!

I know the whole country is having bad weather, so I really shouldn't complain. I think our friends in the Dallas area even got snow this morning! Even so, I'm about to lose it with this cold. I'm definitely praying that spring gets here soon!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Pearly Whites

Today Hope and Celtic got their teeth cleaned. A teeth cleaning is always a big ordeal for dogs since they don't submit willingly to having a sharp object scraped around their gums. Since they have to be put under general anesthesia, it's hard on their little bodies (not to mention expensive)-- especially for old guys like Celtic.

Unfortunately, even though the dogs had their teeth cleaned just over a year ago, they were both due for another cleaning already. Celtic's teeth just tend to form plaque really quickly, while Hope has lots of damaged teeth (we guess from lack of dental care and good nutrition) from the first 5+ years of her life, before she came to live with us. I can't imagine that her neglectful owners actually gave her any chew toys, and since she's an aggressive chewer who loves rawhides, cow hooves, tennis balls, rope toys, acorns and anything else she can chew on, I picture her chewing on any rocks within reach while chained up in their yard.

Anyway, today poor little Hope had to have one of her damaged teeth pulled, as the root was exposed and was starting to get infected. She came home with stitches in her mouth and loopy from the anesthetic, but thankfully she doesn't feel too bad because she's doped up on painkillers. She's just been staggering around like a drunk most of the evening, acting slightly weirder than her normally weird self. Here are a few funny pictures from this evening for a good laugh.

Huh? What are you saying to me?

My mouth ith a littthle numth.

I can't seem to keep my eyes open.

Oh hello, Mr. Wall. How are you today?

Celtic didn't have anything so exciting as an extraction today, but his dental visit was still a little rough on him. He has been so darn lethargic this evening, I think he's having a really hard time shaking off the anesthetic. He wasn't even interested in watching us eat our dinner, so I know he must be feeling really crummy! His pictures aren't funny--just a little sad!

I'm glad to be home so I can get some sleep!

I'm just going to crash out here before I even get to my bed!

Quit bothering me with that camera, Mom. I'm tired and cranky.

Just for good measure, I have to include Mr. Sad Eyes. Don't let him fool you--he's really a very happy dog. He's just not very good at smiling for pictures!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Blue Plate Dinners

A couple of weekends ago my friend Emily and I tried out the locally owned meal-assembly store called Blue Plate Dinners. You might remember that many months ago Chad and I tried out similar meal preparation places in and around Lawrence, one called Social Suppers here in town and one in Topeka called Menu Makers, now known as Chef Alli's. After our first trip to Social Suppers, we were really pleased with the meals, so we went back for a different menu a few months later. Our second month's meals were good, but they certainly weren't great, so we just hadn't had the urge to go back since. We liked the concept though, so when Emily wanted to try out Blue Plate, I was excited about going along.

In general, the experience at Blue Plate Dinners was very similar to that of Social Suppers. Both establishments are clean and organized and the staff at both stores is very friendly and helpful. Blue Plate got a couple of extra points from me for having O.J. and pastries on a Saturday morning, and for having a special shelf in the big fridge designated for each "cook" of the day, so that all of your meals stayed cold while you were preparing the rest of your food. The Blue Plate staff was maybe slightly better prepared than that of Social Suppers, and although it's a little hard to say for sure, the ingredients seemed just a little more fresh as well. The biggest difference, however, was just the recipes. Social Suppers is a franchise, with the same recipes in all of their stores throughout Kansas and Missouri. Since Blue Plate is locally owned, they created all of their own recipes, which were all very tasty and worth making again!

Our favorite BP meal in February was the calzones, which you can fill with your choice of about 20 different ingredients. I don't even usually like calzones since they're so "bready," but these were awesome! The great thing is that they're on the menu for March as well, so we're definitely going back this month. We also enjoyed the Pork Chops with Cherry Pan Sauce and the Pecan-Crusted Tilapia. The BBQ Pork Sandwiches were really good and one of the easiest things to cook since they just went into the slow cooker. We have yet to eat the Popeye Pasta, but I'm looking forward to that this week since it looked delicious while I was making it!

Obviously, we're big fans of Blue Plate and are looking forward to going back. It's definitely more expensive than cooking at home, but the convenience of having everything purchased, cleaned and chopped (and even prepared for you if you want to spend a couple extra dollars) is so worth it. Plus, it's way healthier and way less expensive than eating out! You can check out the March menu on their website if you're interested!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Basketball Fever

It's that time of year again. March is here, and March Madness is right around the corner. I've been in full out basketball mode for quite a few weeks now, although I haven't actually developed basketball fever as of yet. That ailment won't be officially diagnosed until brackets begin to bust and tears begin to flow during the tournament. I can tell the fever is coming on though. Last weekend, when we lost in the finals seconds of the game in Stillwater, I despondently laid face first on the basement floor groaning in agony until my husband prodded me out of my misery by insisting that I pull myself together. He's much more immune to the fever than I am.

I almost blogged about that loss right after it happened, but I was afraid that me venting with such fresh emotion would probably just come off as just a whiny Jayhawk fan. It probably still will, but let me just say that there were a ridiculous number of fouls called in that game, which definitely hurt the Jayhawks' offensive rhythm. The Cowboys' pathetically boring (but clearly effective) offense consisted of dribbling out the clock and driving into the lane like a bull in a china closet to pick up the foul, which they usually did. I insisted immediately following the game that there must have been a record number of fouls called, which there weren't, but there definitely were a higher than average number called. Regardless, it was painful to watch and painful to lose to a clearly inferior team.

Thankfully, since that loss we've pulled it together and come back with three solid wins, the most satisfying of which came on Saturday against K-State. We played well against the Cats and won without too much difficulty, despite the fact that the refs called fouls on our players when they breathed in Michael Beasley's general direction. Okay, so I might be exaggerating just a little, but I still have to say that I think a completely objective person (which I am obviously not) could re-watch that game and tell that we did not have the home court advantage when it came to the officiating!

The most fun and exciting of our recent wins had to be tonight's game at Allen Fieldhouse against Texas Tech. In this Senior Night massacre, all five of our graduating players (only 2 of which are normal starters) were contributing scorers, as were about 10 other Jayhawks. Bill's boys looked liked they were playing a bunch of high school girls they were so dominant. Pat Knight pretty much admitted in the halftime interview that he was completely giving up. It would have been sad if it hadn't been so awesome. :)

I'm sure being at the Fieldhouse tonight would have been incredible. The Senior Night crowd is always amazing, but with such a huge win in the last home game of the year the fans looked like they were completely out of control. Allen is such an amazing place to be--and it's not just me who thinks so. Check out this great article by an Oklahoma Sooner about his first KU game at our hometown venue. His accomplice, who happened to be a grad of North Carolina, said that none of his experiences at the "Dean Dome" even could compare to Phog Allen Fieldhouse!

Obviously my basketball obsession is already a little out of control, and March has barely begun. If you need some help getting into the spirit of March Madness during these next couple of weeks, checking out this fun website. It's an unofficial page of KU related videos that my friend Brenda sent me a link to a couple of weeks ago. You can watch highlights of basketball and other sports, as well as a few classic games from years past. It will definitely get you fired up with some school spirit!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

No More Homeless Pets

This morning I'm getting ready to head over to the Lawrence Humane Society. I'm especially excited about going to exercise dogs and take their pictures today because it's actually supposed to be warm outside--around 60 degrees!! With that said, there are definitely weekends that I don't feel like volunteering: when the weather is bad, when I don't feel good, when there's stuff around my house that needs to be done, when I feel bad about leaving my own dogs to spend time with other dogs, when I'm tired from a long training walk (during the 3-Day season), when I haven't spent enough time with my husband during the week--the list goes on and on. For the most part, I generally go anyway.

A lot of people don't really understand why I spend so many weekend hours at the shelter. I can't tell you the number of times people ask me if I still "work" there, as if it's my second job for which I'm actually paid. When we're talking about weekend plans, my friends frequently ask if I "have" to go to the shelter. I never have to go. The shelter won't close down if I'm not there, although I will catch some good-natured flack from the staff if I don't show. It's more like I need to go. I need to go because the dogs need me. They need exercise, they need companionship, they need training and they need socialization if they're ever going to get out of that place. While many of them will meet their forever families just by hanging out at the shelter and being cute, many, many others will first be introduced to a family through their Petfinder ad. I want every dog to have that opportunity. That's the main reason I need to be there--to take their pictures for Petfinder. My short-term goal is to have every available dog and puppy have their own little space on the web so that their forever family will find them.

My long-term goal is much different. Eventually, I'd like to have my weekends back. My goal is to not go to the shelter every weekend. My dream is that there won't be hundreds and hundreds of homeless animals who've been discarded by their original families living in tiny cages. My hope is that our society will become better educated about spaying and neutering their pets, so that there won't be 10 litters of adorable yet unwanted puppies growing up at the Lawrence Humane Society at any given time. My desire is that families who are thinking of adding a four-legged member would think first of rescuing a homeless animal instead of buying a puppy from a breeder. My wish is that people would become educated about how many purebred, well-behaved, well-adjusted dogs there are available from breed-specific rescues around the country. My dream is that our society would start thinking first about saving a life instead of thinking about their own selfish wants when it comes to owning a pet. My hope is that people would someday realize that somewhere around 7 million animals are euthanized in U.S. shelters every year. To me, this is heartbreaking. To me, these animals are worth saving and worth being memorialized. To me, it's a cause worth giving up one day of my weekend.

There are other people who share my hopes and dreams. Hundreds of shelters and rescue organizations exist in our area alone, and each organization has its own list of dedicated volunteers. One such organization which is new to the KC area is No More Homeless Pets KC. This coalition of vets, shelters, rescues and individuals is working towards the goal of (you guessed it) no more homeless pets in the KC metro area. They are leading a cooperative effort to end pet overpopulation in Kansas City. It's a big job and a big dream, but the goal is achievable. There are other areas of the country that don't have the overpopulation problem that we have here in the Midwest, because their communities have become educated about spaying, neutering and adoption.

So check out the No More Homeless Pets website. There is tons of good information about spaying and neutering and about pet overpopulation. You can make a donation or find a place to volunteer in the KC area. You can pass along this great information to your family and friends, some of whom might need to get their pets spayed or neutered. You can help educate our communities and be a part of the solution. You can dream of a day when maybe, just maybe, I won't feel the need to get on my soapbox and deliver ridiculously long lectures on my blog. :)