Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Early Birthday Present

My birthday is over a week away, but tonight Chad surprised me with an early present. He yelled at me to come downstairs after dinner, where he had my present all hooked up and ready to go. Before I tell you what it is, let's see if you can guess. Here's a hint: I used it for a couple of hours tonight, and my arms now feel like jelly.

The correct answer? My husband got me a Wii!!! I've wanted one of these fun little game consoles ever since our friends James and Beth brought theirs over to our house back in early 2007. At the time Chad was very reluctant to consider a Wii at our house because he was terrified of someone throwing the controller through our plasma TV, which was relatively new at the time. As the technology of the controller slip-proof jacket and wrist strap has improved over the last couple of years (because so many people did actually throw the controllers through their TV--check out, Chad has started to come around. We began shopping casually for a Wii a couple of months ago, but of course most stores still sell out of the consoles as soon as they come in. Chad finally found one earlier this week by calling Holton, Kansas, and apparently drove up there on Tuesday to pick it up. My very thoughtful hubby drove over 30 miles to get me exactly what I wanted for my b-day!

So tonight we played the Wii for over two hours. We bowled, played tennis and golfed (Chad won all three, by the way), and then we both did the Wii fit age test to see what our fitness age was. Uh, I'm a little embarrassed to say that mine was 48. FORTY-EIGHT?????? I thought I did better than that--I even hit two home runs in batting practice!! I felt only slightly better when Chad's fitness age was 46. Clearly we need to get into better shape--or at least learn to play Wii games better!

After we did the fitness test Chad went upstairs and I started Wii boxing. Holy moly. I was seriously terrible at it, but I worked up such a crazy insane sweat while playing! It was such an awesome workout! I really like tennis a lot, but I think boxing is my favorite just because it gets both arms and your entire body involved. That's definitely my kind of video game!!! Unfortunately my back was killing me by the time I was finished, so I may need to learn to control my punches a little better if I'm going to incorporate this into my regular workout! :)

Chad thought my boxing "technique" was pretty hilarious and suggested that we should have some video of it. Try not to fall out of your chair laughing.

Can you see why I was so exhausted??

Thanks to my awesome husband for an awesome birthday present! It's just what I've always (for the last 20 months) wanted! :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

So Sad to Say So Long

Tonight we said our final goodbyes to our friends Jake and Amber before they move to Virginia tomorrow. We laughed our tails off with them at dinner first, which was a blast, but that made me even more sad because it was just a reminder of why I'll miss them so much! We've just had so much fun with them over the last few years, and I am so very thankful that they've been such a special part of our lives. God has blessed us immensely with their friendship!

Good luck, Jamber! We miss you already!!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Recovery in Pictures

Thanks to everyone who asked about Fresco yesterday and today! He definitely started feeling better this evening, so hopefully that medicine is starting to work. Here is his recovery in pictures.

Yesterday he was doped up on medicine:

Today at lunch he seemed a little more normal:
This evening he was ready to eat, wrestle and walk--all the things he normally loves to do!
His guts are still clearly not completely straightened out, but hopefully that will all get back to normal soon!

Since Fresco got so much face time tonight and since my blog's been a little light on the pictures in the last few posts, I thought I'd better also share some great pictures I took of Fresco's siblings today!

How cute are they??! :)

In Denial

The day I've been dreading for months is right around the corner. Our friends Jake and Amber are moving to the DC area next Wednesday. Ever since they found out where they were moving back in April I've been in denial about them actually leaving. Last night the move started sinking in a little more when we had the last gathering of our Journey Group before Jake and Amber are gone. It's finally starting to hit home.

I of course took a bunch a pictures of everyone, including the traditional group picture we've done the last few times someone from our group has moved on. We're dwindling and it's getting very sad. Hopefully we'll be blessed with another couple to join our group in the near future!

I haven't put any captions with the pics (which I may or may not actually get around to), but please feel to enjoy the slideshow. You can watch a little larger version by visiting our Picasa page directly.

The only part of Jake and Amber's move that I'm excited about it is the new blog they've started to keep in touch with everyone! Hooray for my blogging friends! Check out Visit Us in Virginia.

Even though last night was out official goodbye party, I refused to say goodbye to our dear friends. I went and saw them briefly tonight and Chad and I made arrangements to see them again on Tuesday before they leave. I'm putting off the sadness until the last second!!

DiGiorno For One

So that's what I had for dinner--a pizza for one. My dear hubby is out of town this weekend, playing golf in a tournament in Salina with his dad. I'm trying to stay busy so that I won't miss him as much, so since I've been home tonight I've pooped scooped the yard, done laundry, talked to my brother, run over to a friend's house, walked the dogs and loaded pictures onto the computer (which I'll post a slideshow of soon). Tomorrow my mom is coming to walk and hang out for the day, so that will be a nice distraction as well. I hope to get lots done this weekend, including some long overdue blogs!

And by the way, the Grilled Chicken & Vegetable Pizza I had for dinner wasn't half bad. :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What IS It With Our Dogs???

If you're not a dog person and/or don't have a strong stomach, I'd highly recommend not reading this post. It could get a little gruesome. Dog poop and dog vomit really aren't the most pleasant topics of conversation.

I'm sitting here waiting for the vet to call me back. Between Chad and I, we've talked to 4 different vets today in two different clinics, all about problems our poor baby Fresco is having. His issues actually started on Saturday, when I came home in the afternoon and let him outside, only to see him eating grass and making himself barf. Having seen a lot of barfing dogs in our day, we didn't think too much about it. When he threw up again on Sunday and then wouldn't eat, we started to get worried. Then Monday came and he ate just fine and seemed completely normal. On Tuesday, he refused breakfast and was barfing again at lunch, so Chad took him to our vet, who thought he'd just eaten something that didn't agree with him (like something in the yard that maybe he wasn't supposed to eat). The vet gave him a shot for nausea and some special dog food (oh, and expressed his anal glands just for fun [okay that's not really fun but Fresco's have been getting clogged a lot and I'm certainly not going to stick my finger in his rear to do it]) and sent him on his merry way.

Here's where the story gets really gross (as if talking about expressing anal glands wasn't gross enough for you). After getting home from the vet Fresco went poop, and let's just say that it wasn't normal. I won't go into the details of what Chad said it looked like, but it was red and extremely disgusting looking. Chad called the vet back, who for some reason wasn't alarmed--he thought maybe it was just mucus left over from his clogged anal glands. Maybe the vet tech didn't really relay to the vet what Chad described--we aren't sure--but they told him not to bring in a stool sample (can you still call it a stool sample when they don't use the stool?).

Fresco seemed to feel fine yesterday, and even though he was still having abnormal bowel issues (which thankfully all happened outside where they were supposed to), we didn't worry because he ate fine and was his normal, happy self. Then this morning when the alarm went out at 6 a.m. he rushed outside before eating and tried to poop, but was clearly having a difficult time doing so. After several attempts (some successful) he came inside and I tried to give him the special sick tummy canned food from the vet, and he wouldn't even eat it. He sat down on the floor for a minute and then got up, and low and behold (as my mom would say) there was blood all over the carpet. I just about panicked. I grabbed the phone and reached for the vet's number as he sat down and made a second spot all over the floor. As I sent him outside while trying to call the vet he dripped all over the kitchen, then all over the patio. I tried not to freak out as I got the vet's answering service and asked them to page one of our vets. This is the response I got, "Well Dr. Coles and Dr. Bayouth aren't on call, and there is a vet on call, but she's referring patients to the emergency clinic in Overland Park." WHAT??? Can someone please explain to me what the point is of having a vet ON CALL who isn't taking any CALLS? What is with this town and their lazy veterinarians!!! How can a town of 80,000 people not have a 24-hour vet!! It is so frustrating!!

Okay, Dr. Coles just called me back, just so you know. Even though I have other things I should be doing, I guess since I'm here I will go ahead and finish the story.

Upon learning that I needed to leave town in order to take my dog to the vet, I went and woke Chad, who made the quickest exit from bed that I've ever seen in 14 years of marriage when I told him Fresco was bleeding out his rear. We gathered towels and leashes and a poop sample and I headed out the door to Topeka, because it's a tiny bit closer and we loved the Stone House Animal Hospital there, where we took Steeler the night he passed away. Anyway, Chad called them and let them know I was on the way, and while I drove a little faster than normal, I didn't go too crazy since the bleeding had really slowed and Fresco didn't really seem to be in distress.

I was so happy that we saw Dr. Carder, who is the wonderful man who tried to save our baby Steeler almost two years ago. Fresco was so funny--he loved Dr. Carder so much and was laying in his lap within seconds. After an examanation of Fresco and a an examination of the fecal sample, Dr. Carder diagnosed Fresco has having colitis and gave him a shot of some sort of crazy painkiller for his cramps and pain. He said the bloody poops we were seeing were from the infection in his colon. He gave me some more meds for his pain and infection, and I headed home.

Unfortunately, I took Fresco back to our vet here in town again just a few hours ago because he was still pooping gross stuff and was so doped up from the painkiller that I couldn't tell if he was even breathing every time I turned around to look at him. Dr. Coles gave him a injection of fluids (which they can just give subcutaneously and don't have to do through an IV) because he was dehydrated, but then sent us home, thinking that the medicines would start taking effect relatively quickly.

Of course, since there always has to be dog drama at our house, I had to call Dr. Coles back a few minutes later because Fresco proceeded to walk outside and barf up a whole bunch of water, even though he didn't drink much at all! The vet told me not to worry too much because sometimes drinking water on an empty upset stomach can do that, but I have to say I'm still pretty stressed out and worried. This poor guy is having a terribly rough time of it!

I need to run to the store and start cleaning house for the gathering we're having tonight, so I guess I just need to get brave and leave him alone for a few minutes. I'm just so worried about him. Can you say overprotective?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Movie Night

On Monday night Chad and I went with our friends Heather and Grant to a small film festival at Liberty Hall. Heather and Grant's friend Ryan (who is the boyfriend of one of Heather's good friends from grade school) who we met at What Floats Your Boat (a fundraiser for Van Go Mobile Arts) a few weeks ago (which was such a fun event that I totally meant to blog about but just never seemed to have the time) is a producer/sound editor/special effects guy for a local movie production company called SenoReality Pictures. This small but very active company has put together around 15 short films in just the last several years. We watched nine of them on Monday night.

Overall, I have to say I was very impressed with the overall quality of the film productions. The cinematography was always well done and the effects were also great for small budget films. Some of the actors were really good, and while the dialog wasn't stellar, it was much better than a lot of the garbage that you see coming out of Hollywood these days. Almost all of the films were shot in and around Lawrence, so it was really fun to see area landmarks pop up on screen from time to time. If I had one complaint, it would be that because the writer/director was the same person on all 9 of these films, the pictures were...not surprisingly...remarkably similar.

That's not to say that all the stories had the same plot, because they didn't at all, but they were all the exact same genre--suspense/horror. I'm kind of a fan of the suspense type movies (not so much the horror), but seeing 9 of them in a row is just a bit much for me. There were lots of aliens, vampires and other creatures, and oddly enough, some subtle anti-hunter themes that Chad didn't find very amusing. Thankfully, only one movie was gory enough to make my stomach turn, and all of them had interesting enough plot lines and plot twists to keep my attention throughout. They maybe could have cut out a few minutes here and there on a few (at one point Chad leaned over and said "Isn't this supposed to be a short film?"), but I still always found myself very excited to see what was going to happen in the end.

I can't really decide which one was my favorite of the evening. They were almost all interesting and well-done--one of the films even recently one a regional Emmy (despite the fact that I think one of the performances in this particular short was pretty awful). The film is called Woman's Intuition and you can actually watch the entire thing on YouTube! Check it out!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The World Needs Ditch Diggers Too

Over the weekend my very handy husband took on a big home improvement project right on top of our current bathroom redecoration project. Last year our neighbors installed their own automatic sprinkler system in the main section of their front yard, and on Saturday morning our neighbor Mike mentioned that he was preparing to finish the installation on the small section of yard that hooked onto ours. He explained how it would be pretty easy to install a sprinkler in our yard as well and instructed Chad on all the materials he would need. The next thing I knew, Chad was at Lowe's in KC buying supplies!

He started this project right as I left for the shelter on Sunday--right about 1:30. When I got home at 4:30, there were already three working sprinklers in our yard! I was shocked at how quickly he'd gotten it done, especially since he was digging the trenches by hand and it was around 100 degrees outside with absolutely no breeze. It was absolutely miserable!

Chad took another hour or so to fill in the ditches before calling it a day. He'll go back on another weekend and add a couple more sprinkler lines and a few more sprinkler heads to complete the job. It was quite an amazing project in my opinion, especially since all the materials cost only a few hundred dollars, while estimates that Mike had received the year before were as high as $5K to have a sprinkler system installed!

So here are just a few shots of my hubby and the results of his hard work!

Pretty cool, huh? And by the way--we don't normally use yard signs to endorse politicians, but our good friend Grant is running for County Commission and asked us to show him some love. Hopefully he's happy now that I gave him a shout out on the old blog too. :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Hillbilly Look

This evening when Chad and I got ready to paint in the bathroom, I grabbed some old overalls off the works clothes shelf in our closet because I thought they'd be the perfect painting clothes. When I put them on and looked in the mirror, I had to laugh because I looked absolutely ridiculous. Chad captured my stylish outfit a couple of hours later outside after we were finished.

What makes this outfit so funny to me is that I used to wear these overalls. Out. In public. A LOT. When I was in college these overalls were probably my favorite article of clothing (although back then I at least wore them over a t-shirt and not a tank). I bought them at a thrift store, cut off the legs and wore those suckers out. I thought they were adorable.

Now I can't believe how completely absurd I look in those things. They are humongous! Was I trying to look pregnant? Maybe I was going for the hillbilly look? I really don't know, but it kind of scares me. Really.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bathroom Beautification

I know everyone will be jealous that Chad and I spent a riveting Saturday evening working on our bathroom redecoration project. Sometimes I think we must be the slowest people in the world when it comes to home improvements. We purchased the paint and fixtures for the project two weeks ago, but we still haven't started the actual painting yet! I'm so abnormally obsessive about the preparation process it's a little frightening. I've spackled, sanded, vacuumed, scrubbed, spackled some more, sanded some more, vacuumed some more, and finally masked. Chad of course helped with all of these tasks, but with only an hour or so to work on the project each evening, it's been pretty slow going, to say the least. Tomorrow we will finally be ready to paint!

The painting should be an adventure, partially because I became very unsure about the copperish color we chose once we got home and realized our floor is green. Hmmmm. How we didn't remember that our bathroom floor had green slate tile is beyond me--especially since Chad and our friend Grant actually laid said slate tile in our bathroom about 7 years ago. We thought about just pitching the paint completely or trying to find some other place for it in the house, but there really isn't any other room that it will work and we really like the color. We're just going to go for it and hope for the best.

You might have already guessed this based on my inability to choose the right color of paint, but home decorating is not my strong suit. Really, that's an understatment. I am so terrible at decorating our home. First of all, I have no eye for color and design and space. Secondly, I'm not creative at all when it comes to decorating. Third, I take forever to find the perfect pieces of furniture or decor once I actually get an idea in my mind of what I might want. Finally, if and when I do find some things I like for our home, I have a terrible time trying to decide between different items I might like! It's like a neverending battle with decisions I am not at all good at making!

With that said, we are still attempting to do some redecorating in our guest bathroom. At this point, I'm not expecting the results to be anything spectacular--I'll be satisified with any amount of improvement! I'll post some pictures once the project is complete!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cute Overload

I don't have much time for blogging tonight, so I just wanted to share a link to another blog that my friend Beth introduced me to several months ago. It's called Cute Overload, and it's a very goofy collection of super cute animal pictures and videos with silly captions. Not exactly informative or thought-provoking, but good for a laugh none the less.

I don't really check Cute Overload regularly, but there was one post that included a video that made me laugh so freaking hard--I think because hit so close to home. This is totally our dog Hope:

Am I the only one who found this hilarious? It just kills me because Hope is just like that--she will try to take a bite of anything you hand her because she thinks it's food. A piece of wood, a piece of plastic, a piece of metal--whatever. Unlike the kitty in the video, however, she'll also eat paper. We're pretty sure she has pica. She's so adorable, but so bizarre!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

California: The Donatello

After taking the BART back from Berkeley, we headed straight towards Union Square, which is a terrific shopping area just west of the main part of downtown San Francisco. We dropped our car off at the Union Square rental location and pulled our bags the 2 blocks to our hotel, The Donatello. I just can't explain how much we loved this hotel! It was kind of the opposite of the Sofitel, in that the lobby was nothing spectacular and quite small, but the room itself was fantastic. While doing research on San Francisco hotels we'd read over and over how small all the rooms in the city are, but this room was extremely spacious and comfortable. It was so much bigger than our room at the Sofitel it wasn't even funny!

The hotel also had free Internet access, a free continental breakfast in the penthouse lounge, and a small kitchenette and nice sized flat screen t.v. in our room--none of which seems that unusual for a nice hotel, but none of which our first hotel had. We didn't try the Donatello's restaurant or fitness center, so we can't vouch for those amenities, but the staff was always ultra helpful and super polite. Overall we just loved our stay there. We later heard that some of the units at the Donatello are timeshares, but that it's very difficult to buy into because the demand is so high. I can totally understand why! The location is so perfect and the rooms are just so livable!

This perfect location was just a couple of blocks off of Union Square, which is one of the best shopping areas in the city, so after checking in and relaxing for a while we headed down to the square and walked in and out of several shops and stores. There's a Macy's just off the square that's like 8 floors--and that's not counting the men's store across the street. I was so overwhelmed in that place there was no way I could find anything that I might want to buy! Where do you even begin? There were shoes alone on like three different floors!

After a couple hours of shopping we still weren't hungry for dinner since we'd had such a big lunch in Berkeley. We stopped by a Borders and grabbed big pretzels at their cafe, and then headed back to the hotel to call it an evening. We needed a good night's rest to prepare for the next day's adventure!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Training While It's Raining

There’s something super exciting going on in my life that I’ve totally failed to blog about until now. I’ve kind of put it off blogging about it on purpose, because I haven’t been entirely sure that it was going to happen. I’m getting more and more confident about it every week, so it’s finally time to reveal what I’m so excited about!

Last November I walked in my second Breast Cancer 3-Day, and the San Diego event was an absolutely amazing experience. So amazing, in fact, that I wanted to share the experience with my mom, Sherry, who battled breast cancer in 2006. I immediately started talking to her about walking with me in the next 3-Day, but since Mom wasn’t really in shape at all at the time, neither of us were really sure that the 60 miles would even be doable for her.

So back in February or March, I started a sort of feasibility study with my mom. I created a 16-week training schedule for her, to build up her walking endurance so that she would be able to walk 3 miles, 4 times a week by the time the recommended 24-week training period began. She started with just a mile of walking at a time, and slowly built her way up to walking 4 times a week. Then she began increasing her mileage, until by the beginning of June, she could pretty easily walk 3 miles at a time. She wasn't as consistent with her walking as I wanted her to be, but she got to the point where she could start the official training schedule none the less.

Since Mom still had a long way to go before she was walking 20 miles in a day, we still didn't officially register for the walk, just in case her mild arthritis or an injury got in the way of our lofty goal. We decided that we'd keep following (a slightly modified version of) the suggested training schedule for a few more weeks to see how the mileage increases went before making a final decision about registering. Our plan was to wait until mid July or so before deciding if we would for sure make the trip to San Diego.

Last week, I started feeling very confident that Mom was going to stick it out through the training and make to the event in November. She seemed to have a renewed excitement and energy regarding her walks, and she was consistently getting up super early every morning to get her scheduled miles in. Yesterday morning, she came to Lawrence for our 6 mile walk and got up at 5:30 to do so! Not only was she here bright-eyed at 6:30 a.m., but she also powered on through the end of our walk even though we got caught in a pretty heavy rain shower! Chad drove around the neighborhood and came to find us to see if we wanted to call it quits, but Mom wanted to finish even though we were both soaking wet! I was so impressed with her determination!

I can't even express how proud I am of her for taking on this challenge. She has come so far in the last few months, with regard to her fitness level and also her motivation and dedication. We still haven't officially registered, but I'm so excited that we will most likely be walking together in San Diego come November!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Photographer Friends

A super observant reader might notice that I put some new links on my friends’ blog list earlier this morning. My friend Jen (who I know because we used to go to church together) just got her blog up and running the other day, and it already looks great! Last year, Jen started taking pictures with a “real” SLR camera, and she’s fast becoming a terrific photographer. Her new blog highlights some of her great pictures as well as her prices for a professional sitting. You should definitely check it out!

While I was adding Jen’s link to my blog, I also decided to add a link to my friend Kelly’s (I know Kelly from high school) blog too. If you’ve been reading for a while you might remember that I mentioned Kelly’s blog last year when she temporarily adopted our boy Fresco. I don’t know why I haven’t linked to her blog earlier, because I absolutely love looking at her pictures. They are freakin’ fantastic. I could definitely use some photography lessons from Kelly and Jen too! I love taking pictures so much, but I just have so much to learn!

If you happen to be in the market for a great photographer, I’m privileged to know a couple if you want to check them out!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

California: Berkeley

I'm on a quest--a quest for fun. Okay, not really. My quest is actually just to reach the end of our vacation stories! It's like a crazy goal far off in the distance with which I'm completely obsessed. Regular life keeps getting in my way, but I'm determined to finish one of these days!!

On the Saturday morning of our vacation, after watching Hot Fuzz the night before, Chad and I got up and checked out of our hotel in Redwood City. We consulted our public transportation maps and headed north to the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) Glen Park station on the south side of San Francisco. We parked our rental car in the parking lot (and prayed that it was a safe neighborhood since all of our luggage was inside) and headed into the station to take our first ride on San Francisco's public transportation system. We missed our train by just a few minutes, so we wandered around in the subway for almost 20 minutes before the train headed to Berkeley finally arrived.

When we got on the train, which was underground at this station, we sort of expected that it would come up to the surface at some point and that we'd get to see some of the sites of the city while traveling. We assumed that the tracks came up onto the Bay Bridge and that we'd go across the bay with all the cars and trucks. Little did we know that the train goes underwater to the Oakland area. Seriously, had we done any research on this at all before boarding, I'm not sure we would have traveled on the BART! Chad is not a fan of enclosed places, and you don't get much more enclosed that being in the Transbay Tube, which is supposedly the longest underwater tube for rapid transit in the world! It's 3.6 miles long and goes to a maximum depth of 135 feet!

While we did survive the underwater tunnel to Berkeley, I'm not sure we'd choose the BART for our future travel. It just didn't seem very rapid for rapid transit. It took us over 30 minutes to get there with all of the stops, and yet Google Maps claims it's only about a 30 minute drive by car. It cost us $7.40 each round trip, which is more than we probably would have spent in gas, but I guess we didn't have to fight traffic or pay for parking. It was better for the environment too!

Anyway, once we arrived at the Downtown Berkeley station, we hoofed it over to the U.C. Berkeley campus and gave ourselves the tour. I have to say, I wasn't hugely impressed with their campus. There were a few buildings that were really pretty, but it seemed like there was no general architectural style--no cohesiveness. The buildings all seemed mismatched and disjointed to me. There were several buildings that were just downright ugly--they had multiple equivalents of our Wescoe. I would take the beautiful K.U. campus over Berkeley on any day!

After our self-guided tour we walked back downtown to find a good place for lunch, and we settled on the Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse, which turned out to be pretty darn good! We had great sandwiches that were huge, so we were completely stuffed by the time we left. They even had some mustard that was similar (but certainly not superior) to Chad's homemade mustard!

We wandered around downtown for a little while after eating, but we really didn't do any shopping. There just weren't any stores that really interested us on the main street, and we thought about jogging over a few blocks to find some different shops, but we were pretty hot and tired and ready to head back to the city. That's another thing that I like better about Lawrence--all the downtown shopping is on one street so you can see all the available shops in one straight shot. You walk down Mass Street and you know you haven't missed anything in Downtown Lawrence!

We took the BART back to San Fran, and thankfully our rental car was still in the parking lot with all the luggage inside. We headed north towards Union Square, to check in to the final hotel of our vacation.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Mi Hermano, Mon Frere

Today is my big brother's birthday. The bummer about this is that not only did I not get to see Eric on this special day--I didn't even get to talk to him! Today I sent him an email, a Facebook gift and a Hallmark e-card. I gave him a shout out on my Facebook status, called him three times and left him two voicemail messages. I'm trying to wish him happy birthday in every way possible since I didn't get to talk to him in person. I miss him tons and wish I could give him a big birthday hug. I guess for now this will have to do.

I love you, brother!!! Hope you had a wonderful day!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


For any of you who actually clicked the link to my new blog this morning, you might have been completely confused if you were using Internet Explorer and not Firefox. When I got to work this morning I tested out my new blog in IE (6.0) and couldn't see any of it!!! ARGH!!!! I'm not sure how to fix this problem, so be patient--hopefully I'll get it figured out soon. Maybe I just need to upgrade to 7.0.

If you don't have Firefox and can't see what the new blog looks like, here's a screenshot. You might have to click on it to actually be able to read anything!

While the screenshot isn't exactly the same thing as visiting the blog itself, at least you can see that there is something there and I'm not completely insane! :)

Save A Dog Blog

Thanks to the almost 20 of my loyal readers who voted to help me decide on a name for my new blog. It's still under construction, but I've at least made it available for the world to see now! You can check it out at There isn't really any content yet, but my goal is to post once a week eventually. Hopefully, unlike this blog, it will actually serve a purpose within the blogging community! :)

Let me know what you think!!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Momentous Occasion

In the interest of a) posting something not related to our California trip, and b) posting one more time so that the KU Football video I posted earlier this week gets bumped off the front page, I'm posting a record 3 times today!

Something happened yesterday that is most definitely a noteworthy event in our family. This particular event hasn't happened in about 30 years. I took some pictures to document the occasion--see if you can tell what happened.

In case you can't tell, Chad ate a tomato!!! While this might not seem like a big deal to most people, Chad hadn't purposely eaten a fresh tomato since he was about 6 years old. At that age, he tried a cherry tomato for the first time and had a severe allergic reaction. A few years later he tried another tomato, and again his tongue swelled up and broke out in a rash. He has avoided them like the plague ever since.

In the last few months, however, Chad has become interested in trying fresh tomatoes once again. He almost tried one while we were on vacation, but we decided that just in case he did have a reaction, it would probably be best if we were close to home when he made the attempt. Yesterday turned out to be the perfect day for his first tomato bite, partially because it was a long weekend and partially because Grandma had just purchased some fresh tomatoes at Pendleton's Country Market earlier in the day. Chad was feeling super brave and plopped some fresh tomato right onto his Quizno's sandwich!

The good news is that although Chad's tongue got a tiny bit irritated and itchy, nothing really terrible happened at all! It would appear that Chad has outgrown the tomato allergy of his youth! I'm excited that we can start enjoying more fresh tomatoes around here. :)

California Pictures, Take Two

I finally finished putting the descriptions with my second set of pictures from our California trip. If you haven't already and you're actually interested, feel free to check them out!

California: Sausalito

After we left Muir Woods on Friday, we headed back towards the south, stopping in the cute little community of Sausalito, which is just on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge. After replenishing with some Gatorade, we stopped by a small winery called Bacchus & Venus for a little wine tasting. Although Chad is not a fan of wine at all, I was really excited to stop and do some sampling since we were so close to wine country. I cannot even begin to explain what a good sport Chad was about going there! Not only did he wait patiently while I sampled a flight of 4 different wines, but he even agreed to sample a flight for himself! He wasn't really a fan of any of them, but I was just so proud that he tried everything--and did it without complaining! As most of our friends know, Chad isn't normally very interested in trying anything new or unusual when it comes to food and drink, so this was a pretty big deal to me. I was a tad disappointed that he didn't find anything that he liked (not that I really expected him to), but I sampled several wines that were really great (now I'm wishing I would have written some of them down). The staff was very friendly and helpful and the shop was really cute. There was even an art gallery upstairs.

After our wine tasting we walked down the street to Horizons, a restaurant recommended by the staff at Bacchus & Venus. I had left my good camera in the car when we headed in to Sausalito, since I didn't think there would be a need for pictures at dinner, but I was completely wrong! The restaurant sat right on the bay, and our outside table had amazing views of the water, Alcatraz, Angel Island and downtown San Francisco. The food was incredibly good and beautifully presented, although Chad wasn't especially impressed with the smallish portion size. I had an awesome portobello mushroom "tower" that was significantly better than the meal we'd had at the restaurant in Carmel, and it wasn't even quite as expensive! This was probably my favorite meal while we were on vacation. The food and views were great, although I will say that the service left a little to be desired. Our server disappeared a few too many times during dinner and then sat by while this huge group of businesspeople sat down beside us and then started taking over our table right before we left. It was incredibly bizarre!

We were pretty pooped by the time we got back to the hotel, and although we contemplated going to an Oakland A's game (the Giants weren't in town while we were there), we decided to just relax in our room for the evening. We flipped on the TV right as the movie Hot Fuzz was starting, and I was so excited since we hadn't seen it and I was such a fan of their first movie Shaun of the Dead. It wasn't quite what I expected, but I loved it none the less! It was a perfect fun and relaxing ending to a rather exhausting day!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Birthday, America!

Chad's Grandma made her annual 4th of July visit to Lawrence this weekend, and for the second year in a row we drove down to the booming metropolis of Baldwin City to see the fireworks show there. I've never been a huge fan of watching or shooting off fireworks, but let me just say I love this small town show. You park right in the parking lot of the high school, and the fireworks go off right in the ball fields, so they're practically exploding right on top of you! It's so much fun!

It was so great topping off our super-relaxing day with super-fun fireworks! I had a blast playing with my camera, adjusting the shutter speed and trying to capture some of the action. Of course I took way too many pictures and the fireworks don't look nearly as cool as they did in person, but it was still tons of fun!

Happy 4th of July, friends!!!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

California: Muir Woods

Welcome to the next installment in the continuing saga about our trip to California. :)

As I mentioned in my last California-related post, after sleeping in the Sofitel feather bed, we woke up a little grossed out and with terrible backaches on the Friday of our vacation. Despite the lack of a good night's sleep, we left the hotel fairly early in the morning and headed north towards Muir Woods National Monument. Muir Woods is basically a forest of gigantic Coastal Redwoods just north of San Francisco in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It was named after John Muir, an author/scientist who was widely considered one of the first people to promote the preservation of nature in the U.S.

While Muir Woods was only about 40 miles away from our hotel, it seemed like it took forever to get there. I think part of it was just the anticipation of getting to see and drive over the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time! We saw signs for the bridge as soon as we hit downtown, but actually getting through downtown was kind of a nightmare with all of the crazy city traffic. When we finally got our first glimpse of the bridge we were both just astounded at is sheer size. No pictures or television news stories (like GMA's recent feature on the bridge as their 6th Wonder of America) could prepare us for this magnificent architectural marvel. It was completely astounding. Although Chad was a little nervous about driving across, he didn't freak out like many of his scared-of-heights relatives would have done, so I was very proud of him.

After crossing the bridge and winding through some crazy hairpin turns for about another 20+ minutes, we arrived at Muir Woods, only to find that the place was already completely packed with people. We drove through three full parking lots before parking on the road almost a mile from the entrance. When we finally made it back to the main gate into the park, I was a little overwhelmed by the crowds--especially by the many groups of small children who were on school field trips. It was so chaotic I was a little worried that the forest wouldn't even be enjoyable! We bought our tickets and a map and rushed through the gates to escape the crowds, and after leaving the masses behind things were a lot more peaceful.

Muir woods itself might be the only place on our vacation that I didn't take way too many pictures. When I uploaded that second set of pictures last night, I found that I was actually a little disappointed that I didn't have more shots that reflected how massive these trees really are! I think I captured the towering height of the trees pretty well, but many of them are not nearly as skinny as they look in this picture! Walking amidst these incredibly gigantic and incredibly old specimens of nature was fascinating. If it weren't for the plethora of tourists (which thankfully thinned out a lot once we walked a little way from the entrance), I think that Muir Woods would be one of the most serene and peaceful places on the planet.

Since Chad and I are all about activity on our vacations, we made our way towards the trail heads and started hiking up a path that lead away from Muir Woods and into Mt. Tamalpais State Park. It was a beautiful hike up the mountain, and because the trail was a "moderate to difficult" one, we didn't pass many people going either way, which was nice. It was challenging enough that we got really hot going uphill, even in the shade of the tall trees! The weather was so much warmer than we anticipated. We took about an hour and a half to hike about 3 miles up the Bootjack Trail to a parking/picnic area, and then after a snack and a short break we started back down the mountain on a different path. We stopped by a ranger station on the way down, and Mr. Ranger recommended taking a old fire road back to the trail we were looking for, which Chad was guessing would eventually run right into the road where our car was parked. We were kind of disappointed in Mr. Ranger's directions at first, since walking on the old road wasn't nearly as scenic as walking on the wooded trails. However, when we came to the clearing where the road and trail met, we happened upon this gorgeous view of the ocean and the city--the most beautiful view we'd seen all day. For the second time on our trip, getting slightly off our intended path turned out to be a good thing in the end!

We hiked through a few other beautifully wooded areas on the way down, but much of the path we took was completely exposed to the abnormally hot sun. Since we hadn't anticipated the heat and the lack of shade, we ended up being hot, exhausted and a little sunburned by the time our hike was over. According to the trail map, we went about 8 miles total. Thankfully, Chad's excellent map reading skills led us back to the exact spot on the road where our car was parked! He was quite the impressive navigator!