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Monday, December 14, 2009

Preparing for Christmas

Well, it's that time of year again.  It's time for Christmas.  People are putting up decorations, cleaning the house, buying gifts and trying to remember the true meaning of the season.  And while Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, it also has multiple different meanings for different people, and it's important that we remember that what might be important for us isn't important for everyone. 

For me, Christmas is all about tradition.  When I was younger, every year my family had a tree.  Often obtained last minute (once we cut it down from our back yard on Christmas Eve), it was nonetheless filled with a hodgepodge of ornaments and lights.  It would fill the house with the scent of pine, and would light up the living room in the evenings.  A few ornaments I remember specifically (and still have); like the Ukrainian spider web and baby's first Christmas.  Others are lost somewhere in the recess of my memory, but they all come together to form a beautiful tree.

Then, every Christmas Eve after Mass my mom, my dad, and I would head over to Baba's (my grandmother) and enjoy a small feast.  Sometimes we'd share this feast with many other people, sometimes with just a few, but the priest was always there.  We'd enjoy a wonderful cucumber, tomato and onion salad, followed by Borscht and finished with Pierogies.  You see, Catholics don't eat meat on Christmas Eve, so we had a potato dinner.  Sometimes I opened a present or two at Baba's house, but typically I'd just sit and admire her small, potted tree.  At the end of the evening Mom and I would go back home while Dad would go to Midnight Mass (something I always wanted to do). 


Christmas morning would find me just like any other kid, awake at dawn and ready to open presents.  I'd tear open gifts from Santa, Mom, Dad, and grandparents and feel like I'd just hit the jackpot.  There are a few gifts that really stick in my mind (mini gardening set, a certain stuffed animal, etc.) but really I just remember the excitement.  At some point after the gift opening, while Mom and Meemaw (my other grandmother) cooked, Dad would pick up Baba, and the priests would arrive (one from the Ukrainian church, one from the Roman church).  Oddly enough, even with my love of food, I can't for the life of me remember what we ate.  I'm sure there was stuffing and sweet potatoes (a lot like Thanksgiving), but I don't remember the main course.  Discussion over different cultures and foods and Christmas in general would ensue and we'd all have a lovely meal.  At some point after dinner, everyone would go home and the family would relax.  After that my memory's foggy, but I do remember being tired and satisfied...and extraordinarily happy.


Around the time I turned 10, however, that all changed.  Like any divorce, this one ruined all the traditions.  I'd still go to Baba's on Christmas Eve, but Mom wasn't always there.  Only a few short years later, Baba decided she couldn't cook for Christmas anymore and that tradition died too.  I'm fuzzy on when the big Christmas meal stopped happening, but I'm sure it was around the same time.  With less money, we couldn't afford a Christmas tree (and we'd already cut down the one in the back yard).  Everything was different, and with a world already torn apart I was looking for things that were the same.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not trying to blame my parents.  They tried as hard as they could, but things were still extremely different.  Eventually, I decided to spend Christmas with my friend Jessica, because she still had her family traditions.  If I couldn't have mine, I'd at least adopt hers for a while (something which I still do for Thanksgiving).


Now, it's my turn for Christmas.  I get to plan it and see it goes off without a hitch.  I'm blessed by the fact that Hans has very similar traditions to mine.  It really helps things out.  I've also started to realize that Christmas doesn't have to be celebrated on December 25th.  Yes, I'm doing something special that day, but the real celebration will be on the 28th.  And yes, I'm still having a pierogie dinner on the 27th. 


Sometimes I wonder why my parents aren't as eager to keep things exactly the same (and why I have to remind my dad that ribs on Christmas Eve is a no-no), but I suppose the change in traditions wasn't as big for them.  Sure, I'm certain they felt the difference, but they were adults when things changed.  Plus, I'm sure their Christmases had changed before.  I'm just happy that after fourteen years of fighting and struggling to get back my Christmas it looks like it may actually happen.  Yes things will be different.  I mean, I'm married and have in-laws.  That's a huge change right there.  However, it will be the closest thing to a Christmas that I've had in years, and I can't wait.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Merlin- A Photo Essay


Yes?  Are you taking a picture of me?
 
Is this for an adoption thing?


Please will you adopt me?


I will love you forever! Pretty please??

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Joy of the Theater

As you hand off your ticket you see the sign reading, "No Food or Drink Allowed in Theater" and you think, "We're not in the movies anymore Toto."   You pass through the glass double doors and see and hear the rows of people.  Some people are hugging, others blowing kisses.  You laugh at the children trying to read the program upside down.  If you're lucky, you see someone you know, and you walk over to them and tell them how wonderful it is to see them.  You mean it.  It IS wonderful to see them.  You look at your watch (or phone as the case may be) and realize there are only 5 minutes left, so you bid farewell to your friend and go find your seat.  Five minutes later you sit there as the lights go dim.  The music swells, the curtains open, and the show has begun.


Having a husband who works in the theater means we go to the live-action theater much more than we go to the movies.  Yet, somehow, I always forget the magic of seeing a show.  Sure, movies are a great escape, but there's something to be said for dressing up for a night on the town and sitting in a 100 year old theater and watching live people act out shows that numerous other actors have done in numerous other ways. 

You can watch a movie a hundred times and see the exact same thing every single time.  A live-action show, however, changes with every single performance.  Sometimes an actor just says something slightly differently, other times there's a "mistake."  It doesn't really matter, the material stays fresh no matter how many different times it's performed.  If you're lucky enough to know someone working on the show you'll be told where each of the differences are.  If not, you'll just have to think, "Wow!  That was different from the last time I saw it."  Either way you'll enjoy the night out.


For those of you who go to the theater on a regular basis, Yay!  For those of you who don't, I highly encourage you to get involved.  Find a local, community theater.  Shell out the money for a big show.  Actually audition and perform in one.  It's up to you.  You can go to an opera, a ballet, a musical or a plain ole' play.  Just, please, try to see something other than a movie for once.  Oh, and for those of you in the Richmond area,  I highly recommend A Christmas Carol at Theatre IV or Putnam County Spelling Bee  at Barksdale Theatre.  Both are wonderful shows.

Enjoy your night out!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Merlin

I do not need another dog.  Cody is all I have ever wanted in a dog.  I do not have space for another dog.  I'd be lying if I said I don't have time.  I'm a dog trainer.  I always have time for the dogs.  That being said, there are plenty of reasons that I shouldn't want to keep Merlin, yet every time I look in the big, hazel eyes (yes, they're hazel) I can't help but think how hard changing homes might be for him.

Merlin is slowly adjusting to life here, and I wonder if he'd do well somewhere else.  I know how he was at his old home, and while he wasn't unhappy, I don't think he was particularly happy either.  Don't get me wrong.  His foster mom was wonderful.  I just think he needs a lot of structure in his life.  Not all dogs need so much (Cody gets away with a lot), but he definitely needs it.  And the more I work with him, the more affectionate he becomes.  Will his new owner treat him the same?  Will they be able to recognize the signs when he's sick?  Will they be able to notice when his hips hurt a little?  Will they be able to walk him and keep him on a good heel? 

I keep hoping that a friend or family member or even a client will adopt him.  I mention him to everyone I see, but part of me is kind of hoping I can keep him.  The other part of me feels like I'm cheating on Cody.  Of course, if it came down to Cody or Merlin there wouldn't be any question.  Cody is here forever and ever, no matter what happens.  I am, however, growing quite attached to Merlin.  Oh, and Cody seems to be enjoying him too.  Every evening the two of them will play and play and play.  Merlin doesn't play as long as Cody wants him too, but he does seem to enjoy the play time.  Plus, I watched yesterday as Cody briefly licked Merlin's face.  It wasn't long, nor was it overly affectionate, but it was cute. 

Over the past few days, I've watched Cody transform from stressed and hyper to jealous over another dog to just down right relaxed.  That makes me happy.  Would that transition have happened if Merlin hadn't been here?  So here it is blogland:  I need help!  Please adopt Merlin or buy me a house so I can keep him.  Actually, scratch the adopting part.  A house would be great for everyone.  :P

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Perry Cox

Many of you may know who Perry Cox is.  Perry Cox is awesome, House-like doctor on Scrubs who's infamous for his constant harassment towards J.D. and anyone else who annoyed him (which was practically everyone).  Well, this post has nothing to do with Dr. Perry Cox, but it does have everything to do with a dog who I will call Perry from here on out (you know, for the whole protecting the innocent thing).

Perry, by all rights, should have been a sweet dog.  Breeding-wise he was not predisposed to aggressive behaviors.  He lived with a family who loved him and anything he ever could have wanted or needed was there for him.  Perry, however, was not a sweet dog.  He would bite anyone who approached his food, he lunged over being crated.  Worst of all, he often turned over seemingly random events.  You never knew what would set him off.  I've been working with Perry for the past month, and we finally ended on Friday.

Just like the doctor on Scrubs, Perry had a pretty sweet life.  Also like Dr. Cox, however, Perry's life wasn't always so great.  While he'd been with his owner from a pup, he'd suffered some pretty serious illnesses during his life, and his thought processes had been affected by his time in medical care.  For instance, he was extremely sensitive with his paws because he'd had so many IVs in him.  As his aggression started to escalate, certain people in the household thought that physical punishment would be the best way to deal with it.  When I say physical punishment, I don't just mean a bop on the butt or a rolled up newspaper.  I mean severe, disturbing punishment.  On top of all of that, no one was there to give his owner any really good advice on how to stop his behaviors before they got worse, even though she searched and searched for help (something I fault the dog-training world for and hope we can overcome).    Needless to say, I had a lot to work with.

Perry presented symptoms of dominance aggression, territorial aggression, stimulus aggression, displaced aggression, and many others.  In fact, surprisingly enough, the only thing he wasn't aggressive towards was other dogs.  Still, though, I felt with time and work we could make some progress with him.  I won't even begin to go over what we did for him.  We did give him Prozac, but everything else is too long and detailed to follow.  All I can say is that we did a lot of work.  A LOT OF WORK. 

Here's what I will tell you.  The past four weeks have been hard.  I doubt I'll bring another aggressive dog in to live with me.  I like having a home that is separate from my work.  I learned a lot about myself and about dog training, though, and I think that makes the whole experience worthwhile.  I also think I've done a lot to help this dog, and I pray that his owners are able to continue working with him and follow the plan I laid out.  I definitely learned a lot about Hans, and while I knew that he was a wonderful man, I never expected him to help me to the extent he did.  He wasn't just there for moral support, he stood with me every single step of the way.  If I did it, he did it.  I don't think I'll ever be able to express my gratitude to him for that.  So, thanks Hans.

Now, life is back to normal...kind of.  We're getting ready for Christmas and shows are opening, so life is crazy.  Oh, and there is another dog in the house.  We're fostering / training a hound mix named Merlin.  He's not aggressive at all, and it's taking all my will power to not adopt him.  Lord, help me!  He does need some structure in his life, but that's what we're giving him and he's taking to it quite well.  That being said, anyone want a dog???

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Little Things

Life is hectic.  I mean, it's crazy all the time.  It's very rare that I'm able to take an actual break, some me time, and just process the world around me.  Blogging really helps, but even that can often be rushed and put off.  There have even been times where it's felt more like an obligation than a joy.  And, of course, all those obligations and chores can really be a downer.  That's why I so enjoyed this evening.

I had just gotten home after running around all day and was folding laundry.  The entire time I was folding laundry, all I could think about was how much I hate folding laundry.  It's one of those never-ending chores.  You have to fold laundry every week, often multiple times a week.  And then I got to the socks.  I reeeeeaaaally hate folding socks.  At least in my family, they're all white!  You can't distinguish by color and each one is supposed to have a match.  Of course, there's almost always at least one pair that's missing its match.  You can search through the socks again, look through the colors to see if it was misplaced, or even check the washer and dryer.  You're never going to find that sock.   Well, that is until it mysteriously reappears months later at your friend's house just after you tossed its match.  Well, I had all the matches!!!  Every single pair had a match.  It made me smile, and it got me to thinking about the little things in life.  Sure, I love it when something big and wonderful happens, but maybe I should be looking at all the tiny little things that happen every single day.  So, here's a list of a "few of my favorite things."

* Finding all the matches when folding socks

* Making even the smallest progress with the hardest dogs

* Dragonflies landing on a fishing pole

* Fall leaves

* A clean room

* Freshly baked anything

* The smell of dryer sheets and the feel of warm, dry clothes

* Super hot showers

* Morning jogs with Cody

* That brief moment between sleep and awake when the world seems just right

* Cody kisses (well, dog kisses in general, but Cody's make me the happiest)

* Snuggle kitties

* A good book and a lot of free time

Ok, the list is fairly long now, and I'm sure I'm forgetting quite a few things.  But, as you can see, I have a lot to enjoy.  Oh, and I'd normally add rainy days to the list, but after 2 weeks of a VA "monsoon" I'm kind of tired of the rain and want some blue sky.  Maybe that will change in 2 more weeks.  :P

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lil' Tidbits

So, I wasn't quite sure what to post about.  There's nothing really big happening right now that I'm quite ready to post about.  Heck, there aren't even any small things to post about.  However, I do enjoy posting on a regular basis and what to keep it a habit.  Hence, I'm giving you all tiny little updates.

* Thanksgiving is less than a week away.  As a matter of fact, it's this week!  I can tell you right now that I'm thankful I'm not holding Thanksgiving dinner.  I'm also thankful for quite a few other things, but that will come later.

* Black Friday (aka the day after Thanksgiving) is going to be a wonderful day.  I'm not into shopping, so I'm steering clear of the malls, but it's still going to be great.  Again, I'll explain later.

* This week leading up to Thanksgiving is going to be hectic.  The only problem with holidays is that there's still just as much work to do in the week.  You just have a shorter week to do it in.  Of course, I'll take the short, rushed week with a nice relaxing vacation over the long, no breaks week any day.

*Hans and I are anxiously awaiting Christmas.  We are holding a Christmas dinner and Hans' family is flying in from Minnesota.  I think the total count at this point is 15.  Luckily, I have easy dishes prepared.  They're fantastic dishes, but they take less time than a turkey (Liz, my dinner will be poultry free).  Also, due to lack of kitchen space, I've enlisted friends and family to help.  Yay, friends and family!

*In the rush towards Christmas, I've realized I should probably get started on Christmas cards.  I'd like to include a Christmas letter, and I'm just now realizing how much has happened this year.  It's a great year to have a letter, but I'm a little worried that next year will seem drab.  Oh well, I guess I just have to take my chances.

*Cody and the cats have been quite well.  It's been super-rainy here lately which makes for some great cuddle time (they enjoy cuddling).  Cody will probably enjoy the sunshine again, though, since that will mean we can resuming running on a daily basis. 

*Speaking of rain, rain equal humidity.  Humidity equals moisture.  Moisture plus cool and dark equals mold.  Mold in my closet is NOT appreciated.  Now, I have to figure out how all that moisture got in my closet.  The placement of my closet does not match up with the build up of mold.  So, I figure I'll talk to the the rental company about maybe checking for some leaks (the placement of the mold makes me believe there may be a small leak in the roof).  Anyway, the closet has been cleaned and a fan has been placed in there to keep air circulating.  We'll either keep the mold away, or we'll spread it through the rest of the apartment.  Ahh, dilemmas!

Well, that's pretty much my list of updates.  Oh, one other thing, though.  I know there were a couple of places that I mentioned exciting news and things I'm not ready to talk about yet.  Let me make this clear now, before it comes up.  I am NOT pregnant.  Let me say this again.  I am NOT pregnant.  I'm not ready for kids, and kids certainly aren't ready for me.  So, for those of you who let that nasty little thought enter your head, cut it out!  Alright, enough of my diatribe.  I will talk about the exciting news on Friday.  And, I should mention that it's really only exciting for Hans, Cody and myself, and the rest of you may wonder what the big deal is.  Like I said, though, I'll go into detail later.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

National...Month

What I'm about to blog about may sound a bit callous, but I'm starting to get a little fed up.  I'm kind of tired of all the National (fill in the blank) Months.  I'm sick of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and National Diabetes Month.  I'm tired of National COPD Month and National Dental Hygiene Month.  It's getting old.  Oh, and those four awarenesses fall in just two months and there are plenty more to accompany them.  So, why am I fed up?  Let me list the reasons.

1) They tend to instill fear in the general public.  Yes, it's healthy to know the basics of breast cancer or the warning signs of diabetes.  However, do you really have to push the fact that millions of people have the disease and don't even know it?  Can't we just give the warning signs, describe the tests, and send people on their way?  I read a blog today that stated that 18 million people have diabetes but don't know it.  Of course, I have to wonder how they got that figure, but I also start wondering if I'm one of those people.  I mean, I'm tired and thirsty and have cold hands and feet.  Of course, I also stay up late, suck on hot dogs all day (for the dog training) and spend most of my days outside in the chilly weather.  But, hey, those are diabetes signs so I must have it and not know it.  Basically, the point I'm getting at is that they don't really encourage people to think rationally.  They encourage them to live in fear.

2) These months are almost always used for marketing ploys.  Take Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  You can't enter a store in October without being accosted by pink.  That's fine if you like pink, but I'm not so much a fan.  Besides a lot of these pink items don't even benefit breast cancer.  Companies just want consumers to think they do.  So, I'm tired of being accosted by pushy "salesmen."

3) One event always overshadows others.  November is the awareness month for approximately 30 different illnesses and events.  October (aside from being my birthday month) also celebrates Halloween, National Liver Awareness, Better Speech and Hearing, and National German Heritage.  Let me put it this way, my father-in-law is 100% German, my father was born in Germany, my husband is your quintessential blond-haired, blue-eyed German boy, and I didn't even KNOW it was German Heritage Month.  Of course there's Oktoberfest, but that's pretty much just become an excuse to drink.  Besides, do you know how confusing it is to go into Target and be hit with pink and then all-of-a-sudden be thrown into black and orange and purple?  Are we celebrating Easter or Halloween?  I'm confused.

4) The people who fight for these causes and issues of awareness fight every day, not just for one month.  People who have had breast cancer or who know someone with breast cancer don't stop fighting breast cancer on November 1.  They don't say, "Ok.  People are aware.  We can go home and give up the fight."  No, the keep making people aware.  And that's great.  We should be educating people every day, not just one month out of the year.  I'll never forget when my aunt first taught me how to find a lump.  She had one of those rubbery things you can get from the doctor for educational purposes.  She didn't wait until October to talk to me.  I think we actually had that discussion in August (or maybe over Christmas).  The point is, education was a daily thing.  Awareness was a daily thing, not just something that lasted a month.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't mind the awareness part.  I don't mind the walks, or the fundraising (to a certain extent), or the personal stories.  I just don't like being forced to celebrate or support something I wouldn't normally support.  For instance, while Breast Cancer is a big deal, I'm more personally connected to Animal Safety and Protection.  And, while I wish I had the money to support both, if it came down to it I'd go for the animals.  Again, please don't hate me.  I just haven't had the personal experience with Breast Cancer (thank God) that I have with animals.

Alright, I know this post is long enough, and I'm sure I've upset enough people.  I just wanted to lay it on the line.  You can agree or disagree.  That's the joy of it.  It's your choice!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dog Trainer...Exposed

This blog may seem a bit odd at first, but I think it's a great idea.  I'm copying an idea I found on another blog I read.

Here's the thing, people today (women especially) tend to have horrible body image.  Instead of seeing how well their bodies work for them, they look at the fat and the cellulite and the dimples (yes, I'm guilty).  We all beat our bodies, trying to force them into submission.  That doesn't really work, though, does it?  After all the beatings we're typically just exhausted and still not happy with how we look. 

But you know what?  I love my body.  My body has carried me through a lot, from simple walking to riding horses to swimming.  I ask a lot of my body EVERY SINGLE DAY and somehow it keeps giving me more.  Yes, I'm guilty of beating my body.  Yes, I try to force it into submission.  However, it works best for me when I just accept it.  I know my body is strong enough to run, so I run.  I know it's strong enough to hold a leash and train dogs, so it does.  I know it tells me what it needs, and I do my best to listen.  So, here I am...fully exposed.


*Obviously that's supposed to say "Rides Bikes..."

I encourage all my fellow bloggers out there to follow suit.  I don't care if you're 90 lb or 390 lb, take the time to tell your body you love it.  Work for your body and your body will work for you.

Need more ideas?  Visit Mizfit, or any of the other amazing   blogger   bodies   out   there.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Doggie Expressions

One thing I've learned as a dog trainer is that dogs have the ability to express themselves in ways that people just can't do.  For instance, a dog doesn't just smile when he's happy; he wags his tail.  He doesn't just clap when something's really exciting he jumps and spins and says, "I'm so excited!" with his whole body.  He doesn't just grimace when he doesn't like someone or something; he growls, the hair stands on his back, and he sends the whole message of, "Back the F*** away!" that no one can misinterpret.  Today Cody communicated my feelings precisely.

Out of all of my clients, most of whom I love (or at least tolerate), there's one guy who just really bugs me.  He's a little odd, but he's also slow.  S-L-O-W.  I don't mean mentally, I mean physically.  He just can't keep up with his little energy-blaster simply because he doesn't really try.  Cody met him today.  Can you guess what he did?

I brought Cody in on leash.  Cody looked at the guy.  I told Cody to sit.  Cody sat and continued to look at the guy.  Then I heard, "Toot."  Cody jumped a bit and turned around.  I kind of giggled and told Cody to sit again.  Cody sat and looked at the guy again.  I then heard, "Toot.  Toooooooot!"  That's right!  Cody FARTED!!!! 

I know it may sound kind of childish, but in that moment Cody expressed my feelings in a way I never could.  He may not have done it intentionally, but that's not how I'm going to choose to see it.  That's why I love my dog.  He gets me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why Hire a Trainer?

Alright, so this post isn't so much about why you should hire a trainer.  Everyone has their own personal reasons for that.  My question is, why would you hire a trainer if you're then going to tell the trainer she's wrong about every little thing?

Let me clarify.  I have no problem with questions.  As a matter of fact, I love the people who do their research and want to pick my brain and maybe even give me a few ideas.  I love working with that person to find a solution that works for both me and them.  I want my clients to be happy and I want their dogs to be happier. 

Do NOT, however, take your own personal opinion, which has no basis and tell me I'm wrong because you haven't tried it before.  Mind you, I'm not even so much talking about preferred methods among trainers.  I'm talking about something that 99.9% of trainers will agree on that a dog likes.  Oh, and definitely don't tell me I'm wrong right after you've told me you spent a whole week without even trying.  Basically, "It's not working.  She's not better.  We haven't had time to work with her."

Sorry, I don't mean to rant, and what happened today was more of a relief than a frustration.  It's just that I feel sorry for the dog.  The dog deserves better than owners who aren't willing to put the time or effort into her.  A dog deserves better than owners who won't even get up to take her outside.  I thought these people were ok because they at least cared enough to hire a trainer.  I realized, however, they hired a trainer expecting an instant fix.  They didn't want to put in the time or effort.  They just wanted a quick solution.  The funny thing?  The solution I gave them was probably the easiest for them (which is why I gave it to them).  However, they didn't try it, so it didn't work.  Go figure!

Ok, that's enough bitching for now.  I have actually had a pretty great day.  A visiting dog hasn't been aggressive all week (more to come later), while we've been having a monsoon here in RVA, it's really helping the water levels and that makes me happy, I've had some great times with Cody, Hans, and wonderful friends, and the business is doing great.  I guess I was just a little frustrated.  Thanks for letting me get it out!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Running With Dimples

Let me start off by proclaiming I HATE DIMPLES!  "What?!" you may ask.  How can anyone hate dimples?  Let me clarify.  I'm sure that most of you, at the mention of dimples, pictured a cute, curly-haired, blond, Shirley Temple-esque kid who brightens the room when she smiles with those little puckers in her cheeks making her that much cuter.  That's not what I'm talking about.

When I think of dimples I only imagine the product of the arch-nemesis of women everywhere, Captain Cellulite.  These dimples can occur anywhere on the body, and aren't half as cute as the kind on your face (I almost said cheeks but this kind of dimple can appear there too, just a different kind of cheek).  Oh, and once they're there getting rid of them is like trying to kill a werewolf.  I mean, really, where does one find silver bullets anyway?

Of course, there are certain places on the body that it's more acceptable to see dimples, but I don't like them anywhere.  That's why I'm nearly overcome with the urge to shatter the bathroom mirror whenever I step out of the shower.  As I lift my leg to step onto the floor, there they are.  Yes, my legs and bottom are riddled with dimples.  Admittedly, I'm not as dimpled as I was a few years ago, or even a few months ago for that matter, but I have my dimples.  I wonder, if I drew a smiley face on my arse and walked around pant-less, would it be any cuter?  I doubt it.  I suppose I just have to keep trying to get rid of them.  Time for another lap around the block!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tid Bits

*Cody and Mo are much improved since their last vet visit.  Mo is almost done with his medication and Cody just needs a bath (with medicated shampoo).  Otherwise, the itching is practically gone and the breathing is back to normal.  What a relief!  Now, let's just hope it stays that way.

* As part of my business, I'm currently boarding a somewhat aggressive dog.  He's pretty mild by my standards, though I didn't think he would be.  So far, he really reminds me of Sam and I wonder if he started out in a similar way.

*  Speaking of business, everything's going really well.  I definitely think I made the right move by getting car magnets seeing as I've been accosted at Target twice (just today!) and asked for a card.  I'm really, really hoping this trend continues.  Things should stay going well until awhile after St. Valentine's Day (people love to give puppies as presents), but I'm wondering what April and May will be like.  That being said, I'm constantly wondering what the next month will bring.  Oh, how I dream of the day when I'll have my own kennel and can do doggie day care with regular clients!

* I'm quite sad that October is over.  As usual, October was a fantastic month for me all around.  Maybe it's just because it's my birthday month and all (so I'm already in a good mood), but October has always been good to me.   Work seems to be easier in October.  Leaves change colors in October (my special birthday gift from God).  The weather is warm but not hot, and everyone seems to be in a good mood.  November's nice too, but I miss me some October.

* Halloween was extremely uneventful this year.  Normally this is my favorite holiday, but I found that this year I felt it was too commercialized.  Maybe I was just too busy to care about greedy kids coming and begging for candy on my day off (I'm a Scrooge, I know), but I was really relieved when we didn't have a single trick-or-treater.  That being said, we were prepared with candy and we kept a candle lit by the front door (we were at least welcoming) but, as I said, not takers.  I suppose it doesn't help that we live on the third floor of a semi-retirement community!  Oh, and yes, Cody did dress up for Halloween.  He was a ghost, just like last year!

So, as you can see, life has been going well although not extremely exciting.  It's definitely not boring.  Well, not for me anyway.  I have lots to keep me busy and I'm happy.  And, really, isn't that all anyone can ever ask for?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Listen With Your Heart- You Will UNderstand

Ok, so first let me apologize for the corny Disney reference.  I've recently been in a Pocahontas mood for some reason, and this song kept popping into my head.  Anyway, what I really want to talk about is listening to your body.  Basically, it's important (who knew?). 

For the past couple of days I've been really tired.  I felt lethargic, worn down and a little sick.  I kept trying to come up with reasons (my body must be fighting the piggy flu, I've been working too hard, etc.), but nothing really seemed to fit.  I was also really hungry, but I just figured that tied into me being tired and maybe even being a little bored.  So, I ignored the signs and just decided keep working through it and hope that I actually got sick enough to warrant a long rest or that I'd magically get better.

Here's the thing, though, I wasn't just hungry.  I was hungry for all the wrong things.  Usually when I'm hungry a banana, or an apple, or even a yogurt would suffice.  Recently, however, I've been craving fried foods and cookies.  Oooh, I really wanted a burger and frosty with fries from Wendy's.  Again, though, I didn't listen to my body.  I thought I'd maybe eaten too much junk recently and just wasn't feeling that great because of it.  I also figured that if I had anymore junk that I'd just crash.  That is, until last night.

I was on my home, trying to figure out what might be healthy and still satisfy my cravings when I got a call from a friend who wanted to eat out.  Everything told me I should go out.  I mean, it's expensive and it's not that healthy, but I thought, "Screw it.  Let's go out!"  So out we went.  The plan was to have a baked potato and soup, and maybe some hot chocolate or something fun like that.

By the end of the night I'd eaten a cup of soup, a cheese burger (only 6 oz so smaller portioned), quite a few fries, 2 cookies, and a few fried cheese balls which I stole from Hans.  I didn't feel too bad until I looked in the mirror and saw a food baby the size of a four month old.  I went to bed feeling guilty and dreading the morning.  I figured after all that food that this morning would be difficult to say the least.

This morning was wonderful!  I felt awake and well rested.  I had a great jog and I've run errands all morning.  Aside from the fact that I got about 3 hours less sleep than usual, I feel completely awake and fantastic.  So, do you know what I figured?  I figured that's not just what my body wanted, it's what it needed.  My biggest guess is that my body really needed the iron in the burger (it's quite easy for women to be slightly anemic), but a little fat and grease is quite good for the body.  It's wonderful fuel.

Here's the thing, though.  I don't plan on doing that every night.  I have to make sure my body actually needs something (not just wanting it) before I give in.  Yes, burgers and fries may become a bit more routine, but my run is becoming a bit more routine as well.  So, I implore you to really take stock of your body.  Listen to what it's telling you (Listen with your heart, ha ha) and answer it.  Just make sure your body is talking more like a mature adult and not like a 5 year old in the candy aisle (GIMME!).  Then get the food/fuel (fool?) that you need.  Enjoy!

P.S. I'm not quite sure why this blog has recently transformed into a fitness/weight loss blog, and I apologize if that's not what you're into.  That being said, this blog is called "Journey of a Dog Trainer" and this is all part of my journey.  Right now, it's a big part as I'm taking time to refocus my life to find what's best for my health (and for the dogs).  That being said, if you're interested in a more dog-oriented blog, check out askadogtrainer.blogspot.com.  There you'll find answers to numerous dog questions.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Running Barefoot

As I progress further into the world of running, I hear more and more tips and tidbits.  Some are pretty straight forward, like make sure you take water.  Others are a bit more extreme, such as barefoot running.

Apparently barefoot running is a "new" fad, and comes from the idea that for centuries shoes did not exist, and man was never made to wear shoes.  I might agree with that if it weren't for the fact that man used to only live for 30 years.  Then again, who's to say that's because they didn't have shoes?  This video provides a little more info.  The interviewee is Chris McDougall, auther of Born to Run.


 

Even after watching the video, you'd be hard-pressed to convince me to run barefoot.  I like having soft feet, and I really do NOT want hard, scaly feet.  I'd also be less concerned with pebbles and glass, but more concerned with things like feces and worms.  You're feet could be tough enough to walk over coals, but you can still get worms.  Luckily, there are "barefoot shoes" out there for people like me.  Check out Vibram Five Fingers.


I might not be opposed to giving those a shot.  That being said, I really love my current sneakers (from Saucony).  Maybe once those shoes are dead and gone I'll consider going barefoot.  Lord knows it would save me money on shoes.  Until then, however, I'm going to lace up my sneakers every morning.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

RVA Rap

Losing Weight and Setting Goals

So, I've been thinking a bit about goals lately.  To be more specific, I've been thinking about weight-loss goals.  Everyone has weight-loss goals.  While some people's goals are to gain weight, most people, of course, want to lose weight.  Shows like The Biggest Loser show regular men and women dropping weight like there's no tomorrow.  There are numerous books, videos, CDs, and podcasts out there to promote weight loss.  What I, however, have been asking myself is Is weight loss a good goal? 

I don't mean to imply that people shouldn't try to lose weight.  Over 50% of Americans are obese, so, yes, people should try to lose weight.  What I'm saying, though, is that people should maybe set their goals as something related to weight loss and fitness, rather than focusing so much on a number. 

This will be extremely important as you hit plateaus in your weight loss.  For instance, I want to lose 20 pounds.  More than that I want to wear (and look great in) a bikini.  Neither one of those, however, is my real goal.  They're both just going to be results from my true goals.  Here's the thing, I don't want to be some wispy, weak woman.  I want to be strong and fit.  I want to look healthy. 

So what is my goal?  This is where it's important to be realistic too.  I have multiple goals, but they're all broken down into small, attainable pieces.  You know, stepping stones.  Right now, my goal is to simply run a 5k.  Seeing as I've never been a runner, this is a big deal for me.  I'm currently up to about a mile and am improving every day.  After the 5k I may shoot for a 10k.  After that, I'll see where life takes me.

The point is, all my goals are set on fitness, not on weight loss.  Yes, I'm happy when I see a lower number on the scale, but I'm much happier when I can run an extra block.  That extra block tells me that, while my body may not show a lower number on the scale, it is stronger, healthier, fitter.  And THAT, my friends, is what my weight-loss journey is all about..

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cuddle Monkeys

As a dog trainer I have to admit that most dog people (trainers, doctors, competitors, etc) are slightly crazy.  So, I've started to wonder how normal my everyday activities are.  Am I becoming crazy too?

Point 1
Now that the weather is cooler, I have to take Cody with me everywhere I go.  Do I think he'd miss me if I left him behind?  Probably a little, but I know he'd be fine.  It's more that I miss him.  He's great to have around when I get a little stressed, and he makes me feel safe when I'm in what could only be considered "unsavory" neighborhoods.  Most people are fine without their dogs.  I'm functional.  I'm just not happy.

Point 2
Very similar to point 1, if I'm traveling anywhere Cody had better be with me.  I'll admit I haven't even had the opportunity to travel out of the country since I got Cody, but I'm already looking at different laws in countries so I know where I can take Cody and where I can't.  The thing is, I've left him behind before, flown to MN to visit family, and realized what it's like for me.  Again, Cody's fine.  I'm the nervous wreck.  Forget the fact that flying / traveling freaks me out anyway, I then have to worry about Cody.  Is he sleeping/eating/feeling ok?  What if something happens?  How will I get back to him?  God forbid, what if something happens to us?  Who will take care of him?  It's much better to just have him with us.

Point 3
Off subject from Cody now, I'm happiest when all the animals are curled up on the bed with Hans and me.  I know this is a big no no as a trainer, but I like it.  I think it's the extra warmth.  Seeing as I'm always cold, having 2 cats, a dog, and a husband to snuggle with is a big help.  Besides, they're so friendly when I wake up; it starts my day off just right.

Point 4
While I run to keep myself healthy, my biggest reason for running is for Cody.  He needs the exercise.  Of course, I love running too, but seeing those big, brown eyes look longingly towards the door is enough to get me off my rump.

Point 5
I moniter (and get excited by) Cody's and the cat's poop.  Yes, I know each animal's pooping schedule.  This is actually good practice for all animal owners.  Poop can tell you a lot about your dog/cat/bird/horse/guinea pig and if your animal isn't pooping at all you've got serious problems.  My biggest issue, however, isn't that I monitor,  it's that I worry prematurely.  I mean, imagine if you were about to do a number two and someone forced you off the toilet.  Can you imagine the discomfort you'd feel all day?  I don't worry as much about the cats on this one, but what if I'm not giving Cody adequate time?  I've even been known to feel his belly to check if he feels "full."

Yes, I'm nuts.  However, to end on a more humorous note (and to stress the importance of poo) I thought I'd leave you with a bit of Scrubs. 


Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Hair Do


I know it's hard for a lot of you reading this to picture my hair.  If you are able to picture it, you're probably picturing some generic ponytail with a hint of curl or (if I'm lucky) a picture from an event where I may have had my hair styled (wedding comes to mind).  If you saw my hair at a styled event you saw it straight, or you saw it blow-dried, curled, spritzed, and sprayed to the point of near death.  Otherwise, as already stated, you saw it in a pony tail.  When left to its own devices, my hair frizzes, partially curls, and forms what can only be considered a pyramid of bad hair don'ts.

I was getting sick of that routine.  I have curly hair.  It's taken me a long time to embrace it, but it's true.  I have curly, corkscrew hair.  I also, however, have no hair work ethic and definitely do NOT want to spend hours making sure my hair is curlicious.  So, when I heard a commercial on the radio about a salon that specialized in curly hair, I thought it might be time to give it a try.

As a birthday gift, Mom hooked me up.  You can see the results to the right.  That do came from a special shampoo and conditioner and one (1) product.  I never saw a blow-drier nor did I see a curling iron (at least not near my head).  They gave me tips to help me keep it up and they were very friendly.  Trust me, I'll be going back.  That being said, I suppose the real test will come tomorrow morning when I try to replicate this style.  I can't promise anything, but I'm definitely hoping.  Considering the fact my hair has never looked that good, that short and without the aid of at least 2 different heat tools, I think I stand a chance.  Here goes nothing!

Oh, and for those of you who are wondering where you too can receive such a great hair style, check out Imago Salon (www.imagohair.com).  I highly recommend them.  If you don't want to try a new salon, at least amuse yourself with this commercial: http://www.imagohair.com/CurlyGirlVideo.html

Have fun!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Excuses

I was running this morning and I was thinking about how long it had been since I'd last gone for a run.  It's been about a month and, of course, most of the progress I'd made has flown the coop.  Then I started thinking about all the excuses I used as to why I wasn't running.

*I need new shoes.  These shoes make my feet hurt.
      While I did desperately need new shoes, my old shoes had been doing just fine.  I was using this as a lame excuse.

*Work is picking up and I don't have time to run.
      Yes, work has been picking up (Yay!), but that's still no excuse for not running.  I would always run in the morning anyway, long before I'd have to be at work.

*It's too cold.
     This is probably the closest to the truth.  I'd wake up, try to get out of bed, and jump back under the covers for warmth.  Then I'd invariably fall back asleep.  Of course, I lived through 4 Minnesota winters.  The lowest it's been this year so far is 35 degrees (and that was late at night).  I should definitely be able to handle a 40 degree morning.

The fact of the matter is, though, I didn't run because I just wasn't motivated to run.  I was tired and cranky.  I needed some rest, yes, but I took advantage of the time I had.  It's a shame too, because I really enjoy running.  It's my time in the morning to be myself.  It's bonding time with Cody.  It's fresh air, before all the cars are on the road time.  It's quite nice.

That being said, there's nothing to motivate you like a new pair of running shoes.  I couldn't wait to get them on.  Plus, they're so comfortable I'm thrilled to wear them again and again.  My old sneakers are being used for work (I need to be able to maneuver with the dogs too), but these sneakers are just for running.  Imagine how bad I'll feel if I don't use them.  Yay sneakers!  Yay running!  Yay me!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Staph, Worms and Vet Visits! Oh My!

What an exciting weekend/Monday I had.  I usually pride myself on everyone in my household being happy and healthy and well taken-care-of.  This is why this weekend was so hard.  Such was not the case.

Let me start off with Cody.  As I've posted before, he had a staph infection a couple of months ago.  Antibiotics and steroids helped him tremendously, and I thought all was well.  However, he recently started scratching again.  I'd feel so sorry for him as I'd watch him scratch and scratch and scratch and find absolutely no relief.  Then, as is common with staph, he started to smell.  Of course, all dogs smell at some point, but he smelled like rotten fish.  So, since I had a vet appointment scheduled anyway (he needed his annual shots) I thought I'd ask about it.  Sure enough, we have him back on antibiotics.  This stuff is stronger, so hopefully it will knock this thing out.

Then there's Mo, the cat.  He will occasionally have these bouts where he'll get sick to his stomach and then he's fine.  I was planning on asking the vet about that too and maybe have him tested for diabetes or thyroid issues.  Things changed Friday.  Hans and I came home after dinner with Jessica around 1:00 am.  About 30 minutes after we got home Mo vomited all of his dinner, and it had barely been digested at all.  He then spent the entire night and into the next morning being sick every two hours.  So, that was night of no sleep number 1.

Saturday he seemed to be doing better, so we decided to feed him a small amount.  A few hours passed and he was still fine, so we decided to proceed with our day.  When we came home around 6 he had gotten sick a few more times, but we just figured it was a stomach flu or something.  Saturday night, however, he started to vomit but when he was done he was wheezing.  His lungs were audibly congested, and he wasn't looking so good.  I decided, however, that it wasn't quite an emergency yet and we could wait until Sunday.  I still, however, wasn't taking any huge risks so I spent most of the night up with him making sure things didn't get worse.  That was the night of no sleep number 2.

Sunday he had a slight fever and was obviously feeling terrible.  I didn't want to put him at risk, but I still didn't think he needed the emergency center.  I suppose to be honest, I was afraid of the cost there too.  You can figure that just walking in the door will cost you $250, and I still figured it was just a cold.  You know, he may have aspirated some vomit, or he may have caught Cody's staph.  It could be pneumonia, but that could wait.  I still kept a close eye on him all day, though, and was actually relieved when I heard him cough (he was coughing up stuff, I thought it was good). 

Monday I took him to the vet first thing.  He was noticeably declining.  His energy was lower and his appetite was waning.  If you know Mo, the energy thing isn't such a big deal, but the lack of appetite is huge!  The vet's diagnoses?  Heartworms.  It's very rare for a cat to get heartworms, but it happened to him.  Now he's on steroids to kill the worms and antibiotics to boost his immune system and fight off the pneumonia the worms caused.

So how is he now?  He's surprisingly much better.  I figured it would take a few days for him to really improved, but after his first set of meds yesterday morning he seemed to be coughing less and eating more.  This morning he was purring and jumping on me just like his old self.  I'm excited by this improvement and can hardly imagine what he'll be like in 9 days when the treatment is over.  Not to get into too much detail, but I've noticed big differences in the litter box as well (even from before he was sick).  I'm wondering if, once the worms are gone, his body will actually receive more nutrients and he won't have to eat as much.  Maybe he'll lose weight!  Maybe he won't stink up the kitty "bathroom" so much.  This could be super exciting!  Wish him (and me) luck!

Friday, October 16, 2009

New Blog

Alright, so more posts will come soon, but I just wanted to let everyone know I now have a new blog.  Visit askadogtrainer.blogspot.com for dog training tips and answers to various dog questions.  The first post is about puppy-proofing your house.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Very Happy Birthday!

Today is my birthday. While this birthday has been a bit less eventful than others in the past, it has also been a wonderful birthday. Let me preface what I'm about to say by explaining that for the past week or so I haven't been feeling so great. I've been tired and sore. My nose has been slightly running, and I've just felt run down.

I'm also a big believer that everyone should have their birthdays and major holidays off from work. That's why I told all my clients that I would not be in today. A few clients I told weeks ago, and others I just made sure not to schedule for today, but either way I had today off. My thought was that I could take a relaxing day and deal with some odds and ends I might not otherwise have time for. Yeah, that didn't happen.

I slept. I slept a lot. I spent most of the day on the couch, under the blanket, curled up with the cats and Cody, watching reruns of The Office. I did go out for lunch with Mom, but I took a nice, long nap after. I feel much better now.

I also had a wonderful dinner with Mom, Dad, Sherry, and Hans. It was nice to spend some time with my family as a whole. I also received some wonderful, thought-felt gifts. It's obvious everyone knew exactly what I wanted.

So, yeah, thanks guys! Thanks to everyone who called / emailed to wish me a happy birthday. Thanks to everyone who respected my day off and let me sleep. Thanks to a wonderful husband who got up early to make me waffles for breakfast. Thanks to a great family for coming out to celebrate. Oh, and as always, thanks to a wonderful Cody (and I'll include the cats here too), Mo, and Stolte for being such great cuddle-bugs / foot warmers. I had a great day because of all of y'all!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tid-Bits

**Things have been going quite well on the sweets front. I had a little trouble about a week ago, and learned that if there are cookies at Dad's house then it might be best for me to steer clear. All other sweets (the ones that were in the apartment) were sent off to Hans' work where they were thoroughly enjoyed by all. I've been enjoying lots of fruit, though!

**Things on the exercise front aren't going quite as planned, but they are going. The one thing I'm not doing that I really want to be doing is running. I used to run every morning, but I've been sleeping in the past few weeks. I blame it on the fact I'm in desperate need for new sneakers. That being said, however, I am getting some exercise. Being a dog trainer, I'm constantly moving with the dogs. I've been taking a lot of dogs on walks, and that at least keeps me moving. I am also hoping to hit the gym sometime soon so I can work on weights. I need to strengthen my arms and legs.

**Business is doing quite well. August and September were a bit slower, but October seems to be making up for it. I think Bark in the Park helped a lot. Oh, and keep your eyes peeled. I'm starting a new blog for all those dog owners out there. It will basically be a series of posts on questions I'm commonly asked. Topics include (but are not limited to): Why does my dog eat grass? How can I get my dog to stop barking? My dog's very aggressive, what should I do? My dog is scared of everything! What can I do for separation anxiety? Plus, of course, I'll gladly answer any questions anyone may have. I'll let you know when it's actually up and running.

**Last Sunday, Hans and I moved Mom's old washer and dryer into our apartment. They're so much quieter, and they're energy efficient. We're doing loads and loads of laundry!

**My birthday is officially in FOUR DAYS! I'm pretty excited. I have a lot of stuff planned for the next week. October 13th is also my in-laws' anniversary. Everyone's celebrating!

**Events in and around Richmond over the next week include: The Richmond Folk Festival, Halloween Haunt, Italian Festival, Graves' Mountain Lodge Apple Harvest Festival, Knights of Columbus Octoberfest, Shocktoberfest, and many more. I know I'll definitely be going to at least 3 of those events. If I have time, I'll go to more.

Other than that, I suppose there isn't a whole lot going on. I'm doing my best to stay busy, which, I suppose, is all anyone can ask.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Twins Territory

Last night was an exciting night for Hans and me. While I read my the APDT Chronicle of the Dog, Hans searched the internet trying to find the Twins game against Detroit. He finally found it...in the bottom of the 9th. The score was tied 4-4, so I set my reading aside for what I thought would be a fairly quick win for the beloved Twins. Then we went into overtime.

At the top of the 10th the Tigers did something terrible. They scored! Hans and I moaned and moved to the edges of our seats to pray that the Twins tied things up again. In the bottom of the 10th, we hooted and howled as, first, Cuddyer hit a triple and then Tolbert hit a single and allowed Cuddyer to make the run. Things were still tied, 5-5, and I had learned this wasn't just going to be a short game.

It wasn't until the 12th inning that I'm sure we woke the entire apartment complex with our screams and howls and whistles. Casilla, during his only at bat the entire game, delivered the single most important hit of the game. His hit allowed Carlos Gomez to make the run, finally bringing the game to an end after 12 innings.

Why is this game so important? It means the Twins are now the American League Central Champions. It means the Metrodome, which will no longer be used for the Twins after this season, will live to see another day as the Twins play the Yankees. It means the team I was rooting for won! Hurray!!!!!

That being said, it was a great game played by all. Detroit wasn't going down without a fight, and, even though both teams were exhausted, they continued on for 3 extra innings. It takes a lot of heart and stamina to do that. As I mentioned before, Detroit kept us on the edges of our seats. Unfortunately for them (and lucky for us) the Twins were working just as hard. GO TWINS!

In other news: Vikings beat the Packers. Take that LunarGoat!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bedknobs and Bookcases

Today, Hans and I did something that he does all the time and that I've done maybe once in my life. We built something!
In an attempt to create even more order in our lives (and expand the kitchen and my office) we decided to put a bookcase in the hallway between the kitchen and my office. The problem is, it's hard to find a bookcase with the precise dimensions we needed. We needed the shelves to be just so high, and the entire unit could only be so tall and so wide. Plus, we're a little strapped financially, so we couldn't go spending a couple hundred on the perfect shelf. That's why we decided the build one.

Here's the thing: I know Hans can build a shelf in just a couple of hours. I also know he builds stuff all day everyday and the last thing he wants to do is spend his Saturday building something else. I also thought that maybe, just maybe, he'd enjoy building it if he were teaching me. That's why, for the most part, Hans didn't build. He (with Cody's assistance) instructed.
You're talking about someone who's never used a table saw. Heck, I have trouble with a hand saw. Yet somehow, I cut boards. I glued boards. I drilled holes and screws into boards. Yes, I made sure Hans (or Cody) was looking over my shoulder the entire time, and no, I probably couldn't build something again without his supervision. However, I could cut a board again. Plus, I know the basics of building a shelf. Yay!!!
See my masterpiece!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cody Day

It was two years ago today that Hans and I drove to NC to pick up our baby boy. I was so nervous. Well, nervous and excited. I just kept thinking how happy I was to finally have a dog again, but I was nervous because I had no idea what to expect. How big would he be? Would we develop a good bond? Would he be a chewer or a house-wetter or just a general terror? Lucky for me, he was none of those things (well past the puppy stage anyway). He was just a sweet, 11-weeks-old pup who wanted a lot of love and a comfortable lap to sleep on. He was perfect.

Now, two years later, he's no longer considered a puppy. He's 14 in people years, but acts much wiser. He's my companion and my friend. He's my blanket on cold nights and my cuddle-something when Hans has to work late. He gives me kisses in the morning and hugs to greet me in the evening. He makes a wonderful mascot for the business, but he makes a much better friend.

The thing is, I wish I could explain how much he means to me without sounding like a crazy person. Anyone can explain her love for her child and people will understand, but how do you explain that you love your dog the way most parents love their children? How do I explain that when he's upset I'm upset, or when he's sick I'm sick?How do I explain that, as much as I love, respect, and cherish all dogs, if another dog bites him I want nothing more than to hit it with a 2x4? The joy I feel just by seeing him smile brightens my whole day. It makes getting up in the morning worth it.

I've always been of the belief that anyone who wants a dog should have one, but it's not because I'm a dog trainer or just because I have a fondness for dogs. It's because there's no way to replicate the love you feel when you have a dog who loves you. My dogs have always made me a better person. They help me express my feelings. They make me happy. Yes, they can make me terribly sad too, but isn't that true for all creatures you love.

I guess what I'm saying is I hope you understand. Cody has been such a wonderful addition to my life. I'm so happy to have him. Thank you Hans for loving him with me. Thank you Dad for agreeing to me getting him. Thank you Cody for being such a wonderful friend / son / companion.
How could that NOT make you smile?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Anti-Chocolate Chip Cookie Land Update

Well, I did it. I had some cookies. I had chocolate chip cookies, and oatmeal raisin cookies, and white chocolate macadamia cookies. It was cookie galore. Oh, and today I had some ice cream (shh, don't tell Hans). So, how do I feel? To put it plainly: Like shit.

Of course, I'm exhausted from last week and the events of this weekend anyway, but I haven't felt this tired in a very long time. I fell asleep in the middle of a book. Running sounds hard even though I usually enjoy it, and Cody certainly isn't getting the exercise he got last week.

I am on a sugar crash. A major one. The one thing I'm really hoping for, though, is that I won't start craving things like cookies and ice cream again. Now that they're out of the house it should be fairly easy to avoid them, but the cravings are terrible (especially when there's nothing to satisfy them). I'm also hoping I can jump back on the exercise wagon without too much trouble. The cooler weather should help.

The thing is, a cookie here and there isn't that big of a deal. If I'd just had the 3 cookies at Bark in the Park (one of each flavor) I'd feel fine. Now, however, I just feel gluttonous. Oh well, back to work!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bark in the Park

Bark in the Park was yesterday, and while it was cloudy with the threat of rain, I still think it went fairly well. There were probably about 1500 people there yesterday, and our booth stayed busy the entire time.
Cookies and Cody both helped to bring people over. We were the ONLY ones giving away people treats.
My two boys are looking as handsom as ever in their new uniforms. Cody liked his so much he had to show it off.

There I am during a "slow" period. Check out the sign set up. Didn't Hans do a great job?


I really love this picture. Pick out my booth from the line of booths. Can you find it? I'll give you a hint: Mine's the one with the banner on it.

Yeah, the banner was pretty cool, and I have to thank Hans for figuring out a great way to hang it. I had a few former clients who showed up, and when people mentioned how well behaved their dogs were, they'd just point to my tent and say, "The tent with the banner. She's the one who trained my dog." Like I said, it was a good day.

Oh, and the best part? I have cookies and bones left over! The bones we're going to freeze and use again (I still have Ask a Trainer every weekend), but the cookies are being sent to Hans' work. Yes, I did have a chocolate chip cookie, and yes, I'll probably have another. But, it's like they say, "All in moderation."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Anti-Chocolate Chip Cookie Land- Update

Well, things have been going quite well in Anti-Chocolate Chip Cookie Land. Technically, my 2 weeks ended last Wednesday, but I'm making more of an effort to keep it going. I am allowing myself to have some fun (fried fish is too tasty to pass up), but I'm just not overdoing it. Basically, I'm keeping my meals smaller, and I'm passing up on the daily Starbucks. Also, I'm trying to keep up the exercise thing. What can I say? It makes me feel good. So, what have I noticed? Quite a bit actually.

The first thing that happened when I started was that I dropped a few pounds...fast. That was nice. However, as my body has adjusted, I've started to plateau. That's ok, though, because I can see my body becoming stronger. I may not be showing much change on the scale, but I can feel and see a difference in my clothes. Besides, I still haven't even added in weight training yet, so I definitely have something to step up my workout if I need to.

I've also noticed I've had tons more energy. I'm having a blast taking Cody for walks, and the house is staying cleaner. A few weeks ago it was an effort just to get out of bed. Hans and I are having a blast. We are still fairly pooped come evening, but instead of just vegging out and watching t.v. we'll often play RockBand or some other game on the Wii. Last night we even took Cody for a little mini-walk and then played with him outside some. Have I mentioned that Cody loves this too? Oh, and when I mention evenings, I typically mean 7:30 or later. Any time before that and I'm typically still at work.

Yes, I feel good right now. I'm hoping I can keep it up, because I'm still tempted by a lot of foods. Eventually, I know those foods won't even appeal to me, but until then I just have to keep a plan. Wish me luck!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Little Updates

This week has been fairly non-eventful. Not a lot has been going on. I've been preparing for Bark in the Park, and I believe it will come off without a hitch. There is still a lot to do, though, so I'm still freaking out a little. Mainly, I have to finish baking dog treats. The biggest thing is I'm not sure how many I should have. I want a minimum of 200 pairs, but I'm not sure that will be enough. Along with that, I'm buying cookies for people, and again, I'm not sure how many I should have. There may only be 200 people there, in which case I'm hope at least 100 stop by my booth. But what if there are 800 people there? I want to make sure I don't run out. Jess, Byron, and my mom are all coming over on Friday to help me make everything look nice, so I'll probably just bake as much as possible until then. Luckily the bones are easy to make, and it's just as easy to make a double batch as it is to make a single.

Other than that, Saturday was pretty fun. Hans and I went to the 43rd Street Festival with some friends of ours. We saw a lot of really nice art. There was one piece that was a picture of a dog, and I almost got it. It was really cute, but I decided to save my money for now and spend it on something better. The festival was also really good for networking. There were a lot of people with dogs there, so I stopped them and asked if Cody could meet there dogs. Once they mentioned how well behaved Cody was (and shock that he was only 2 years old) I would hand them a card. Hopefully I'll get some calls from that.

Oh, lastly, I'm trying to figure out some fun activities for Cody this week. I need him to be exhausted come this Saturday. I'm already planning to take him on long walks, take him to the dog park, and take him to the river. Along with that, I'm hoping some extended time at Mom's house will wear him out (he loves playing with her dogs). The plan is that, if I do these things every day, he'll be too tired to move on Saturday. However, if anyone has any other ideas, it would be very much appreciated.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What's Happenin'!

*I had yet another Ask a Trainer session this past Saturday. They seem to go well, and I think they're a great way to get my name out there. Now all I need is for the clients to give me a call!

*We're less than two weeks away from Bark in the Park, and I'm quite nervous. I'm just about ready, but I do have a few last-minutes touches to complete. This week, however, I got my banner and my car magnets. They look great! Plus, Hans set up my tent and rigged it so the sign can hang just above my tent. He did an amazing job. I'm so lucky to have such a talented husband. I know I wouldn't have even thought of doing that, and I certainly wouldn't have known how to do it even if I had thought of it.

*My birthday is just under a month away. I think I'm looking forward to it mostly because it signifies fall for me. Plus, it means I get to go up to Grave's Mountain Lodge and pick apples. And Cody will get to romp in the mountains. It's all a good thing. Yes, there are things on my wish list (some to do more with business and some not), but I really just want to have a good time with my friends and family.

*Anti-Chocolate Chip Cookie Land is still in progress. I had a bit of a fallback yesterday at Dad's house. I did turn down the ice cream. He told me I had to have it and I wasn't getting up until I did. Luckily, I was kind of expecting to have a sugary experience, so I ate less earlier in the day. Plus, I've already been for a jog this morning, and I'm hoping to work out again this afternoon to make up for it. I have a few somewhat easily attainable, short-term goals set for this week and for the next couple of months. Really, though, it's all been easier than I expected. Hans and I were cutting back anyway due to money issues, so there's really nothing around to tempt me, and even if there were, I can't afford to pay for it. Yay!

*Other than that, not much else is happening. I'm having fun keeping the apartment clean and doing as much for the business is possible. I just hope I continue having fun and can eventually share that fun with all of you!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I Am An American!

Maybe this is just a way of briefly procrastinating, but I thought I'd share some thoughts with you.

My mom stopped by this morning to drop off a book she's been meaning to give me. While she was here, she mentioned something about the bru-ha-ha surrounding a speech President Obama gave yesterday to school children across the nation. See as I have no t.v. and I rarely listen to the radio, I haven't been following the news much lately, so I asked her to explain. Apparently, President Obama gave a televised speech to children across the nation yesterday. The speech was focused on the importance of education and hard work. It was a cry to the children of today to work harder for tomorrow's future. Somewhere along the way, however, the purpose of the speech was misconstrued.

Florida Republican Party Chairman, Jim Greer, apparently started the rumor that the speech was only going to push socialism and "liberal ways" onto our school children. Just like any rumor, it spread like wild fire. So many parents raised their voices that many schools and school districts opted not to air the speech. After having watched the speech myself, I'm quite disappointed in these schools. While it may have been over many children's heads, it was, none-the-less, a very moving speech. It encouraged students to work through their family traumas, to use those life difficulties to make them stronger, and to become the next Bill Gates, the next Condoleeza Rice, or even the next Barack Obama. The only thing that could have even been construed as "health care reform" was when he told students to wash their hands to protect against illness.

I have to say I'm quite angry over the whole situation. I understand that people are scared of change, and that each person is entitled to his/her opinion, but do they have to be so cruel? I feel like we're back in middle school and there are rumors flying over who kissed whom. "Well, so and so heard from so and so, who heard from Jim Geer, who's a reliable source that Obama was spouting radical politics, and I don't want to be involved in that!" I want to encourage people to really do their homework.

Take the time to find out what the message really is before believing the rumors. If you disagree with the message, that's fine. That's what makes America great. You're allowed to disagree. Do not, however, disagree just because you heard it from a "reliable source." Then, if you don't support our president or the party, figure out why. Is it because you don't agree with the tax policies and the health-care reform or is it because your parents don't like them? Oh, and check your facts on those items too.

So, here's your homework (just like in high school): Decide whether or not you like our current administration. No matter what your position, decide if there are certain things you would change. Ask yourself why and how. Oh, and, as always, check your sources. Wikipedia and emails from your friends are NOT reliable.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tina Fey

Well, I was right. Day 3 of Anti-Chocolate Chip Cookie Land ended my feeling terrible. I never did get a headache that day, and the next day I felt much better. Granted, I was extremely tired, but I think that had more to do with the late night and early morning than with the sugar thing.

Now, however, the real cravings have set in. Pizza sounds like heaven, and it's taking everything in me to resist making cookies and eating them all. I'm trying to resist those cravings and eat fruit for a natural sugar high, but it's quite difficult. Milk has become a best friend of mine, because it seems to lesson my ice cream cravings. Oh, and if the ice cream craving is really bad, I'll eat some yogurt (not frozen, just Dannon). That's actually quite helpful.

Honestly, I feel like Liz Lemon (aka Tina Fey) from 30 Rock. I just recently started watching that show, and I'm living vicariously through her. She eats EVERYTHING, and with each little bite she takes, I find I'm cheering for joy. "Yes! Eat that pizza!!! Oh, and have the brownie too! It's beautiful!"

Actually, I finding that Tina Fey has kind of become my idol. She's a smart, sexy, brunette woman. She manages kids and a job. She's well respected in the comedy world, but she's not necessarily out of her realm when she speaks about other things either. She kind of has that sassy librarian thing going on, and I think that's extremely attractive in a woman. Basically, she makes smart look sexy, something so few actresses now can do.

Ok, before I start sounding like a creepy stalker, I'll stop. Maybe I've just been watching too much 30 Rock, and I've probably fallen for her character more than for her, but, then again, 30 Rock is her show. Who knows!?

Anyway, my question to you is: Who do you idolize? Do you want to be like someone living or someone from the past? Is this person someone you know personally or just someone who's spread some good ideas?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Anti-Chocolate Chip Cookie Land- Day 3

Anyone who knew my grandmother in her old age knows of Chocolate Chip Cookie Land. In reality, it was just a bit of confusion on my grandmother's part as she was writing an address. In my world, however, it's a land full of chocolate chip cookies, cake, pastries, and, of course, milk. Basically it's what my world has been like...until recently.

After the trip to Chicago I noticed how much I'd been craving sugar. It started with just a small bowl of ice cream after dinner, but then I wanted more. It turned into ice cream after lunch and after dinner. Then, ice cream as a snack. I baked a batch of cookies, but I had to have 3 or 4 for "quality control." It was really getting out of hand.

Not only did was I noticing how much more sugar I wanted, I was also noticing that I hadn't been feeling well. I was always tired (and wanting more sugar), and I felt depressed in general. I was depressed because I wasn't working out. I was depressed because I wasn't going out. I was depressed because I wasn't reading, or because I was reading too much. I didn't even want to clean the house. So, I decided it was time for ANTI-Chocolate Chip Cookie Land. I needed to cut out as much of the processed sugar as possible. My foods needed to be nutritious and maybe even a bit smaller.

Now, I'm on day 3. Honestly, I feel like sh**. My whole body is aching, and I'm ending every night with a migraine headache that brings me to the point of tears. I feel like vomiting 90% of the time, and some moments have passed where I feel I might murder someone for a brownie.

Here's the thing though. It's getting better. Today is much better than yesterday. Hans and I even went to Kings Dominion as a kind of kick-off. I was thrilled that I wasn't that tempted by the Funnel Cakes (although pizza sounded pretty good). While I'm tired today, I haven't gotten a head ache yet, and that's great news.

Oh, and last night was a huge turn-around I think. We turned the a/c on last night because it was fairly warmer than it's been the previous nights. Even though it was about 5 degrees cooler in the apartment than it has been, I woke up in a cold sweat. And I had the weirdest dream (too confusing to explain). I figure that all this feeling like crap is just my body going through detox (maybe I should drink some tea to help), and that when it's done in a week or two I'll feel better than I have in years. Yes, I'll probably hit another point where I don't think I'll be able to live without a bite of sugar. I may even be tempted to dip a spoon into the sugar jar. However, I know I'll be able to jump that hurdle too. I only have to worry about the next 11 days. After that, things should be easier. Well, until my birthday that is!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Weighting Game

Right now, anyone who reads this blog knows I'm a dog trainer. You know I'm married to a great man, that I love living below the Mason-Dixon line, that I abhor the cold, and that I thrive in humidity. I think it's time, however, that you all heard of my prolonged activity on the weighting game. How did it start? When will it end? What are my goals?

For those of you who haven't known me that long, you'd never know that I used to be overweight. However, you only need to know me for about 5 minutes to know I have an obsession with food. I live and breathe for a good meal. You'd might not know, however, that at my heaviest I was over 200 lb. You also may not know that I'm not at my goal yet. You may not know that I started working towards my goal years and years ago, but only recently was my goal in sight. So, here's my story so you can be filled in:

I wasn't always overweight. As a kid I was really active. I played soccer, I swam, I rode bikes with friends. I was supremely active. The joy of being that active, however, is that you can eat whatever you want. Plus, the joy of being a kid is that you never really think about weight. Sure, you may notice that some kids are larger than other but you never think, "That kid is FAT." My main activity was swimming. In the summer, I'd swim every morning for 1-2 hours, play tennis for an hour, and then hop back in the pool for the rest of the day. In the winter I swam Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays for 1-3 hours. To make up for lost swimming practices, I'd come in early for training (crunches, push-ups, extreme stretching). Trust me, I was one of the most toned ten years old you'd ever meet. That changed when I turned 12.

Of course, puberty will do a lot to a kid. Other than feeling awkward about myself (noticing how I looked in a swimsuit, etc) I really just got tired of it all. I had school and my interests had turned from sports to choir. If I'd known then what I know now, I would have stayed in shape just for choir, but, alas, I was not that wise. I quickly rose from a size 8 to a 12 and to a 14 within a few short years. While 14 isn't large at all, for a pubescent kid it's a nightmare. At 14 I was the second largest girl in my class (small, private school). I was too embarrassed to go shopping with my classmates because I often couldn't shop in the same stores (kids departments a.k.a. CURSE YOU AMERICAN EAGLE). So, I started weight loss plans.

I sent away for "magic formulas," I tried tons of diets (and I do NOT recommend Atkins). I responded well to Weight Watchers, but I couldn't make it last long. I just didn't have the will power. Somehow, I managed to almost maintain my weight all through high school. I'm sure I inched up a bit, but I really don't remember it. I gained a lot of confidence in high school and I think that helped. I actually gained so much confidence I felt I was ready for college...1200 miles away.

I was ready for college. College wasn't the problem. It was college in MN...in the cold...in the treacherous cold. I knew before I left I wasn't great in the cold, but I figured I'd throw on a few extra layers and be fine. The night my eyes froze is was made me realize I wasn't cut out. I ended up spending most of my time in either my or Hans' dorm. I'd barely even go outside for food. Pizza was the main part of my diet, and I figured I needed the extra energy to keep me warm. Yet, as badly as I wanted to be healthy, I wanted to stay inside more.

By my third year of school I'd gone from a size 14 to a very snug size 18. I probably would have looked better and been more comfortable in a 2o, but NY and Company didn't sell 20 and I really didn't want to have to leave that store. I knew my size, but I didn't know my weight. I knew it wouldn't be something I'd be happy with, but I also knew I'd have to face facts sooner or later.

I'll never forget the day I stepped on the scale. I'd expected 180, maybe even 190. Imagine how I felt when I saw 210. 210?? How did that happen? I ate salads for the next 2 weeks, and I really am not a fan of salads. I know that there are a lot of numbers worse than 210, but it certainly wasn't a number that was making me happy. I decided something had to be done. I spent the rest of the school year trying to get on track, but there weren't any real changes until the next summer.

Mom and I joined a gym. VLF was a great gym...women only and very friendly. There were weights, group classes, treadmills, and ellipticals...all favorites of mine. I'll never forget how at the beginning of the summer I could barely last for 2 minutes on the elliptical, but by the end I was going a whole 30 minutes on level 4, 5, or 6. It was so empowering. Plus, I started running. My goal, run a mile. I did succeed, but I haven't maintained.

As for diet, I can't say that really improved by choice. It would be more accurate to say that financial restraints limited my food intake. I tried to keep things nutritious and baked potatoes, yogurt, and oatmeal were staples of my diet. The weight melted off.

By senior year of college, I'd shed about 20 pounds (a lot for 3 months time, but I enjoyed it). I tried to keep losing during college, but work, stress, and a bit of depression limited that. Plus, I was still FREEZING. Whoever convinced me MN winters were easy was a big, fat liar! So, when I came home, I kept trying. Ten pounds later I hit a bit of a plateau. Actually, the plateau hit me.

Well, less plateau, more SUV. It was a minor fender bender, but I was taken off running for awhile (my preferred exercise). I ended up not exercising at all. So when I went back to working out, it ended up being much less enjoyable than I remember, and much more excruciating. Who knows, maybe I pinched my exercise nerve and just haven't gotten it back, but I just don't have the drive that I used to.

I did lose another ten pounds when my wisdom teeth were removed. A liquid diet will do that to you. At the start of this summer, I thought I may end up losing some more, but whatever was lost was quickly gained back when birthdays started cropping up.

So, where am I now you ask? I am about 25-30 lb away from goal. I'm trying to focus on my diet first this time. I figure if I'm well energized, I'll be able to work out more. I'm hoping I can lose the weight by next spring (in time to show off toned arms) but I'm not making any promises. I do have other goals, though, instead of just losing weight. I think that's healthy because it's not just a numbers game anymore. It's more of a health thing. I want to run a marathon (a full marathon). I also eventually want to do a triathalon, but that may take a better-fitted bike. At this point, I'd love to be able to run enough to wear out Cody. Woot! Either way, there's still a lot of work to be done.

Anyway, I know I've blabbered on for a while now. I hope I haven't bored you to tears. I just thought I should share with you what I've been thinking about for the past 10 years. I hope you enjoyed!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles...Well Really Just Automobiles

Geeze it seems like forever since I last blogged. Things have just been really hectic around here, so every time I think, "I'll write a blog today" I'm overwhelmed with ideas and thoughts and then I just decide to put it off for awhile. What I'm saying is, this blog may be fairly long or it may be fairly short. I'm just not sure where my brain will lead me today!

Well, my last blog was about Ask A Trainer in Southside. I did do another Ask A Trainer in the West End and it went even better than I could have imagined. I was able to meet plenty of people and I did have quite a few people ask me questions. I'll be back in Southside this Saturday, so we'll see how that goes. I'm expecting it to be fairly busy due to the Labor Day weekend, but I could be completely wrong.

Much more happened on Saturday than just Ask A Trainer, though. That evening we went to a cookout. When we got home (around 9:00 pm) we loaded up the car and drove to Chicago. I mentioned in the last blog that we may be going up for a funeral. The initial plan had been to leave Sunday morning, but we would then have to miss the wake. We both felt it was fairly important for us to be there, and it would mean a lot to Hans' family, so we left early. Hans was a trooper and drove for most of the trip. Yes, we did stop, but only briefly and only in a rest area in Ohio.

I have to say, while the reason for us being there wasn't the happiest, it really was a nice trip. Hans and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing his family. Plus, we were able to see a little more of where Hans' dad grew up. While I was a bit worried that the stress of the situation would cause us to drive each other nuts, I actually think it helped to mellow us out and bring us together. Really, while it's a somber occasion, it's one of the few occasions that will bring that much family together. Hans and I both met family members we'd never even heard of. I met some of Hans' family that I'd heard plenty about and just never seen. So, how can you not be somewhat happy? I think anything that brings that much family together has to be somewhat joyous.

Oh, and the day of the funeral was beautiful. My family has a belief (we're Ukrainian and extremely superstitious): If it's raining on the day of the funeral it means the deceased was sad to leave and is mourning the loss of his/her time on earth. However, if it's sunny, then the deceased is happy and at peace, and we should not mourn but be joyful because our beloved family member / friend is finally happy. The day of the funeral was bright and sunny. The temperature was warm but not too hot (well it was actually kind of chilly for me, but I'm odd like that). It was obvious that our aunt was extremely happy. I only hope that others can see it that way.

So, all in all, I had a pretty good time. I was able to see family that I'm not able to see that often. We actually had a great time visiting with them. I was able to try a great pizza place that Hans and his family have raved about for years (and it was delicious). Oh, plus I had a great meal at Culver's. There's no decent way to describe Culver's other than fast food deliciousness. Now I'm back home, Hans is at work, and there's unpacking to do. Life is going back to normal...I hope.