Friday, December 30, 2011

Yes, I Am Still Alive


Yes, I am still alive.  I am sorry I have been M.I.A. lately, but things have been rough.  Nothing really bad has happened, in fact, quite a few good things have happened, but I have been struggling.  I've been lonely, but at the same time I really only want to be left alone.  I've been tired and lethargic.  I've been cranky. All I've wanted to do is hide under the covers and snuggle with the dogs.  Frankly, I've been depressed.

Hans and I have pretty much decided that I have a case of S.A.D. or Seasonal Affective Disorder.  This makes sense, seeing as I started going downhill as soon as cold weather set in, and this seems to be the case every year.  I thrive on the heat.  While living in a tropical climate year round would be difficult (I love having 4 seasons), anything below 80 degrees is hard for me.  This was not always the case.  I used to love winter as much as summer, but Minnesota cured me of that.  Minnesota is a beautiful state, and it has a lot going for it, but its winters are brutal and long.  I haven't viewed winter the same since my 4 years there (even though VA is about 50+ degrees warmer).  Anyway, winter has been difficult.  Let me fill you in.

Back in October (only a few posts ago), I mentioned I was sick.  Just before then I had trouble with my neck.  I haven't run since then.  In fact, I really haven't done much exercise of any kind since then.  As a result of that and the extra food I've been eating (I'm a sad eater), my clothes are tighter (or not fitting at all) and my self-esteem has kind of taken a nose-dive.  This is the worst for me.  I really enjoyed running, and I really want to get back into it.

Of course, with the cold and self-esteem stuff going on, re-motivating myself has been hard.  I say, "Just go out and do it" but then my body comes up with some excuse as to why I shouldn't.  I really need to work on that.

This post, however, is not meant to be a complete downer, though.  Plenty of good things have happened.

The biggest and best thing that has happened has been the recent addition to our family, Lollie!  Lollie is our newest dog.  She's a boxer / bulldog mix, she's quiet, and she gets along wonderfully with Cody.  I was not planning to get a new dog at all, but after training her for 2.5 months it was determined that she just was not a good fit for her owner, and I couldn't bear to give her up.  She's a timid creature, and she needs a stable environment, something her owner couldn't provide.  My life can be crazy, but at least she has a few constants.  I think she'll be a perfect fit here. (I'll have to post a picture some other time, though, because I don't have my camera with me right now).

I also accomplished one BIG goal.  I sewed my first article of clothing.  Hans knows the basics of sewing, and he taught me how to sew my own pajama pants.  It's something I've always wanted to do, and I'm thrilled that I did it.  Now I have a lot of projects to do.

Lastly, Hans and I are moving!!  Don't get too excited, we're only changing rooms.  We recently bought a larger bed (to accommodate for the extra dog), and we need to sleep in a larger room.  We should have it all set up by Saturday night, which means we'll get to ring in the New Year in a new bed.  Woo hoo!

Honestly, I'd love to share more, but I'm exhausted.  I promise I'll be back, and I hope it doesn't take me another month to get back here.  Thank you for being patient. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holiday Confusion

Alright, so I know just about everyone has commented on this, but I'm going to throw my voice in too.

Halloween just passed, and Thanksgiving is just a week away.  However, Christmas has already come in.  If you watch any t.v. you will see commercials promoting different Christmas sales.  If you pass any store you will see Christmas displays in the window.  In fact, just last week some stores near our neighborhood had a Holly Open House and decked the halls with lots of things to sell.  Amidst all this Christmas hoopla, I find that I am having trouble remembering which holiday is coming up.

I know that next Thursday is Thanksgiving, but I keep panicking.  I don't have all my gifts!  Will I be able to get them all by next week?  There are some ads that I've seen, and I've wondered why they're showing them so late.  Shouldn't they show them more than a week before Christmas? 

It's extremely frustrating.  Has the world forgotten about Thanksgiving?  I haven't.  My house is still decorated for autumn, and that won't change until after Thanksgiving.  I'm not going to buy anything special just because it's Christmas oriented.  I hope the retail world understands this.  If not, TOO BAD!  I'm going to celebrate one holiday at a time, and that's all there is too it.

In other news: One year ago today, it was raining and a car rear ended me.  It's raining today too.  Do I have to leave the house?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Getting Back In The Groove

Good morning!  How has everyone been since I last wrote?  I've been, well, mediocre.  Things haven't been bad, per se, but they haven't been great either.  Let me explain.

If you look back over my most recent blog posts, you'll see I had a rough few weeks.  First, I threw my neck out, which pretty much put me out of commission for a week.  Almost as soon as that healed, I got sick, and that put me out of commission for another week.  Some people, after having two weeks on the couch, are ready to GO once they start feeling better.  I'm not one of those people.  My butt got used to the couch.

I've been so very tired, and moving has been exhausting.  Admittedly, since I'm still coughing a bit from that cold from Hell, I wonder if that doesn't have something to do with it, but I know another part is sheer laziness.  My diet has been atrocious at best, and I've been grabbing my meals at what ever fast food joint sounds best (also hurting my wallet).  My bike has been out for one 5 minute ride to a neighbor's house, and I haven't run in a month.  This is not good.

Over the past few weeks, a few events have occurred to make me feel kind of down on myself too.  First, the Up & Running course ended.  I had already accepted the fact that I would not finish on time, but I was still disappointed that I wasn't running a 10k that weekend.  Then, this past Saturday was the Richmond Marathon.  I had planned to run an 8k that's part of that marathon, but I passed on that too.  I was REALLY disappointed in myself for that one.  Finally, Hans and I went shopping yesterday.

We went to Williamsburg with the sole purpose of buying a pair of fleece-lined athletic pants I'd seen on my birthday (exactly one month ago yesterday).  This, luckily, wasn't as depressing as I'd expected it to be, or else I may have had more trouble recovering.  Still, though, the pants that looked and felt great one month ago, were a little snug this time.  I was happy that any larger still would have been too large, but I didn't like that they were snug.  So, I made a decision.

November 25th is the Richmond Turkey Trot (a 10k race).  I've heard dogs are allowed in this race too, though I haven't confirmed it.   I want to run this race.  I don't need to go fast or win a medal.  I just want to run that 10k.

I have less that two weeks to get back in shape.  My run this morning was less than stellar, but I'm happy that I ran.  I'll be running more this week, and Cody will run with me.  I'm also going to work on getting back into my gym routine (3 days a week- 1 day swimming, 1 day strength, 1 day yoga).  I really want this to happen.

Wish me luck!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Skipping Halloween

Well, I'm off my sick bed.  Finally!  There's still a cough and sniffles, but things are much better.  So, I have a little rant in my head.

Today is Halloween.  Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, but this year I'm just not feeling it.  Halloween, like many other holidays has lost its meaning.  I am going to jump past its meaning as a Pagan ritual and instead go into the more recent meaning. 

When I was a kid, Halloween was about having fun.  My first costume was a cheap mask from the dollar store.

One of the people in my neighborhood transformed his house into a haunted house and dressed up as a vampire.  I think I was four the first time I went out.  That house TERRIFIED me (I learned later that same man was also my dentist which then made me slightly afraid of my dentist).

As I grew older, trick-or-treating was a treat, but the bigger treat was the haunted hay ride and the time with friends.  I NEVER went out with just my family.  It was always a big group activity. 

I think my most elaborate costume was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (although I could be completely wrong and making this up). 

By the time I entered middle school (I was 11) I was done trick or treating.  Sure, I probably could have pulled off a couple more years, but really the trick or treating has always been for the younger kids.

Halloween through middle and high school was about reinventing yourself.  For one day you could be whomever or whatever you wanted to be.  Magic was real and everything was special.

Over the past few years, though, I've become disenchanted.  For most older kids and adults, Halloween is just about dressing trashy or cross-dressing.  There's no originality.

I'm sick of seeing age-inappropriate kids trick or treating.  If you're old enough to not need an adult escort, you're too old.  If you're too young to say, "Trick or Treat" or eat half the candy you acquire, you're too young. 

If your parties are about getting hammered and dancing then maybe you shouldn't call it a Halloween party.  Maybe it's just a well-timed costume party.

If you think Halloween is about the candy, then maybe you should just celebrate Halloween on Easter or Christmas since lots of candy is given out then too.

I know I'm probably pissing a few people off, but I'm kind of in a crabby mood.  Some people out there really remember what Halloween is about, but so many more seem to have forgotten.  Maybe next year I'll be more excited.  Maybe next year, I'll have the haunted house.  Maybe next year I'll throw on some elaborate costume and portray myself as some grand historical figure (Anne Boleyn would be fun.  You could do pre-beheading for just a fun costume or post-beheading for something scary).  This year, though, I'm just not feeling it.  Sorry.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Pros and Cons of Being Sick

Pro: You get to sleep a lot.

Con: You feel like crap.

Pro: People take care of you.

Con: You feel like crap.

Pro: You can eat anything you want.

Con: Anything you eat makes you feel like crap or tastes like crap.

Pro: You don't have to worry about going to work.

Con: Missing work makes you feel like crap.

Obviously my body wanted me to take a rest.  Last week I had a terrible crick in my neck which put me out of commission for a day and a half.  This week, I felt out of sorts Monday and Tuesday, and I've been full out sick for the past 3 days.  Today, my fever is way down, but any sort of exertion makes me want to sleep.  I do have things that I can't miss tomorrow, so hopefully I feel much better.  Anyway, wish me luck!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Paleo Diet

Hi everyone!

Today is day 4 of our Paleo diet...sort of.  I'll explain in a minute.  So far, I've loved it!!!  I've been eager to make the foods, and I've gotten loads of veggies.  Surprisingly, I haven't even missed the bread that would normally go with my food, but I am grateful that Paleo is not the same as no carbs.  I do love my fruit.  I've also enjoyed discovering new foods like almond butter, and Hans has discovered the joys of mango.  Oh, and my favorite part is that coconut is a big part of EVERYTHING.  Being a huge coconut lover, this is definitely the lifestyle for me...although Hans is having second thoughts.  :)

So let me tell you where the "sort of" comes in.  On Monday, I started feeling sick.  Nothing much, just really tired and a scratchy throat.  I thought it was bad allergies.  On Tuesday, I really didn't feel good.  On one of my breaks between lessons, instead of walking the dogs or getting caught up on paperwork, I just slept...and slept and slept.  Yesterday, I felt like death warmed over.  I went to two appointments, and then decided I couldn't do anymore.  I called and cancelled my remaining lessons, and I went straight home.  I changed into my pajamas and curled up on the couch with a box of tissues.

Around 4:00, my tummy alerted me it was hungry, but I still felt awful.  I wanted ants on a log (celery sticks with almond butter, raisins and coconut), but I couldn't muster the energy to make them.  When Hans got home around 6:00, I was still hungry, so he brought me some raisins to hold me over until he let dogs out.  (Side note: God bless my husband.  He's a saint.)  Raisins have always been something I could eat when nothing else sounded good, so that was a good choice.  By the time he finished letting dogs out, I had spiked a fever.  It was only 99.5, but my normal is 97.2, so 99s are fairly high for me.  Hans asked me if I'd like ants on a log.  My belly answered yes, but my jaw and head decided that celery was too crunchy.  I thought of everything we had in the house, and aside from a box of raisin (hello fruit-induced bowel movement), nothing sounded good.  Nothing, that is, except for ice cream.

I fought it off as long as I could, but when it got to the point where raisins and ice cream were the only things I could think of without wanting to vomit, I gave in.  It was a small bowl, but it was ice cream all the same.  I had more for breakfast this morning, and I don't feel bad about it.  If I'd had the ingredients, I may have asked Hans to make some Paleo ice cream (which just sounds delicious, by the way), but I didn't, and I didn't want to ask Hans to do more than he already was.  (I'm telling you, that man is a saint.)  I allowed myself to have ice cream, and I'm OK with it.

This morning, my fever is down, but I still feel like poop (which is better than death).  I have a stuffy nose, and a horrible cough.  It's 70 degrees out, but I'm wrapped up in blankets.  I'm thinking about lunch, and right now the thought of eating anything is sickening.  Maybe I'll be able to handle some avocado.  I could put some tuna in it, but the thought of that much flavor is sickening.  I suppose my stomach will decide later.  For now, I'm going to curl back under the covers and take a nap.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Long Time No See

Hello everyone!  How is life?  I know, I know.  It's been a very long time since I last posted.  So, let me fill you in. 

-Last Thursday (the 13th) was my birthday.  I love the timing of my birthday.  The fall leaves are in full color and I feel like there's a celebration just for me.  This year there were thunderstorms, so I figure God was playing on the drums as part of my party.

-There are MAJOR things happening with the business.  I'm doing some mild restructuring of things, and I'm looking for a kennel to work out of.  Still, though, there are other more exciting things.  Which reminds me, I need to call some family members!

-Running is still going really well.  I've had a couple of setbacks, though.  The biggest one happened this past Monday.  I suppose I slept funny, but when I woke up I couldn't even turn my head to the side my neck hurt so bad.  I ended up canceling all my appointments, putting on the neck brace, and popping some Valium in an attempt to make the pain go away.  Still, though, I was in tears.  Five days, a chiropractic adjustment, and a massage later I'm feeling much better.  I'm still icing in the evenings just to keep inflammation down, but I will probably resume running in full by next Monday.

-Speaking of health issues, Hans and I have decided to try something new.  One of the blogs I read, Skinny Emmie, has mentioned that she is doing the Paleo diet.  At first I just wondered what on Earth the Paleo diet was, so I did some research.  The basic rules are no gluten, no processed sugars, and no dairy.  In other words, NO PROCESSED SUGARS.  After reading up some more and searching through the book store, I found a book that I really like: Everyday Paleo.  Anyway, there's a whole 30 day meal plan in there.  I'm worried, because I'm pretty sure that Hans won't like most of it, but he's a trooper and he's willing to give it a shot.  After 30 days, if we don't like it, we'll stop, but for now I'm excited.  We're going shopping and preparing food on Saturday.  Monday is the big start day.  Woot!

Well, that's pretty much all the big news for now.  I'll keep y'all updated as things progress!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Running Makes Everything Better

Hello all!  Wow, it's been a bit of time since I last posted.  After last weekend, I was so tired I couldn't think straight.  It took me until Thursday to even start feeling like my old self.  I was just kind of coping through the week.  I couldn't seem to get up early, I wasn't going for runs, I barely made it to the gym for one of my favorite classes, I skipped yoga, and I was inexplicably tired.  By Thursday, I knew something had to change or I'd get stuck in that groove.  As I was getting ready to meet Hans for lunch, a thought struck me.  Hans' work is 3.1 mi (a 5k) away from the house.  I had some free time.  Why not run it?  So, I threw on my running clothes, put a leash and collar on Cody, and headed out.  That was beginning of my feeling better.

Friday was a busy day of appointments, so no running happened, but I still felt good.

Saturday started a lot of busyness.  Saturday was Henrico Humane's Bark in the Park, and I was a vendor.  So, Hans and I woke up at 4:30 in the morning, loaded up the truck (in the rain), and headed out to set up.  For the first time ever, Bark in the Park included a 5k, and I decided I'd also like to be a part of that.  At 8:45 I left Hans to finish setting up, and I headed over to the starting line.  Off I went!  Half an hour later, I was crossing the finish line, then a quick change, and then time to run a booth.  By the time I was back at my booth, they were announcing the results of the race, and I was in for a surprise.  I placed FIRST in my age group!!!  Yay!!!!  The rest of the day was just wonderful.  There was time with the dogs, lots of new people to meet, and a cool, sunny day.

It's not the best picture, but I'm crossing the finish line.

Kyla and Alex are tired...and enjoying the Adirondog beds.
After Bark in the Park ended, Hans and I dropped everything off at the house, and then we headed out again.  Off to the Italian Festival!!!  We didn't stay long...we were kind of tired, but we had fun.  Once we got home, we promptly fell 6:30 pm.  A quiet evening at home was exactly what the doctor called for.

Sunday was another busy day.  We were lucky because our trainer called on Saturday to say he wouldn't be able to make it on Sunday morning.  YAY!  Sleep!  We had a relaxing Sunday morning, and then it was time for church.  After church, we had a lovely lunch out, and then we had big plans.  Hans and I wanted to plant bulbs and organize our flower beds in the front yard.  We gathered our bulbs and headed out.  It was cold, it was threatening to rain, and we were still tired from the day before, but somehow we worked perfectly together.  It was almost like we were doing a dance.  He'd ready the soil, I'd plant the seeds.  I'd split some of the plants that were already there, he'd spread more topsoil.  It was great.

After we finished, Mom wanted to go to the state fair, so were were off again.  I'll say this about the VA State Fair: Its new location means it's a lot bigger and better than it used to be, but it's not NEARLY as good as the MN State Fair.  Still, though, we had a good time.  All in all, we had a blast.

Yesterday, I took it fairly easy and went to bed early, but this morning I was up early again.  Cody and I headed out for a nice, long run, and Hans took Rocky B (our foster) for a nice, long bike ride.  Both dogs are now tired, and I'm feeling great.  Now, I have to get back to work.  Off to work I go!

Monday, September 26, 2011

What A Weekend!

Boy, was this weekend fun-filled!  I can't believe how busy Hans and I stayed, and today I'm trying to recoup and catch up on everything else that needs to be done.

Saturday started off with a bit of work with Gracie's Guardians.  Gracie's Guardians is a new pit bull rescue in the area.  Gracie was a Michael Vick dog who was rescued here in VA and whose owners decided to do a little more.  They want to help pit bulls and teach people all about them.  Anyway, they've started an End Dog Fighting program where they target low-income neighborhoods and try to teach people about their dogs.  In this program, they invite people to attend a brief training session, receive vaccinations, dog food, leashes, and collars.  It's quite fun really.  Guess who's the trainer for these sessions?  That's right!  It's yours truly!  This past session was especially fun.  Apparently, a few local news stations got a hold of the story, and we had some camera crews filming / interviewing us.  This means I've now been on the news 4 times in the past year...3 of those times for dog training.  Woot!  I highly recommend watching the segment.

After Gracie's Guardians there was plenty more fun to be had.  One of my fellow volunteers with Henrico Humane works for Phillip Morris and Saturday was their Employee Appreciation Day.  To show their employees how much they love them, they decided to give each employee a bunch of free tickets to Kings Dominion.  Guess who was invited to enjoy some of those free tickets?  Hans, Mom, and I all got to spend a lovely day at KD with Cloresa and her husband Mike.  Thanks guys!

Yesterday, Sunday, was super busy!  We started the day out with an amazing training session with Absolute Sports Performance.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Next was church.  As always, it was church like and relaxing.  After that, Hans and I went to pick up a dog from a kennel.  Rocky B needed a home to live in until he was adopted, and we're providing him with one. 

After we'd dropped Rocky B back home, we had a show to get to.  Hans had gotten us tickets to see the latest show at Barksdale Theatre, 'Lend Me A Tenor.'  If you have the chance to see this show, I highly recommend going to it.  It's hilarious!  I definitely enjoyed it.

When the show was over, Hans and I had just a little bit of down time, so we grabbed some hot chocolate and picked up a few things from Petsmart.  Then, it was another trip back home and then back out again.  One of our fosters, Erick, had a home visit scheduled, so we were off to meet a potential adopter.  Things went well, but by the time we were done it was getting pretty late.  So, back home we went.  Rocky B got a bath (he was a stinky, stinky boy), Hans and I ate dinner and relaxed, and then we folded some laundry and went to bed. 

Phew!  No wonder I'm so tired today.  Hopefully I get my energy back by tomorrow!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Valerie's Alphabet

So, one of my blogger friends did this, and I thought it was a cool idea.  If you want to do it too, let me know.  I'd love to read all about you!

A. Age: 25, but I'll be 26 in less than 1 month.
B. Bed size: Queen.  Really, though, if we had the space for a King I'd get one.  Hans, me, two cats, and a dog crowd our little bed.
C. Chore that you hate: Just one?  Ok, I hate folding laundry.  It's a never-ending task and you can't even really move around that much to count it as a work out.
D. Dogs: Cody is my baby boy, but there are also lots of foster.  Today, I have Merlin, Matt, Erik, and Rocky B.
E. Essential start to your day: A shower.  I can't shower at night or else I feel off-kilter the next day.
F. Favorite color: Turquoise and blue.  I used to love red, but as my personality has mellowed, so have my color preferences.
G. Gold or Silver: I like both, but all my favorite jewelry is gold.  Even my wedding band is white gold.
H. Height: 5'7".  I'm average.
I. Instruments you play: I can play a few pieces on the piano.  Otherwise, I'm a vocalist.
J. Job title: President, Impawsible Pups.  In other words, I own a dog training business.
K. Kids: Not yet, not tomorrow, but some day.
L. Live: Richmond, VA.  Home.
M. Mother’s name: Juanita.  She's named after her aunt and for years she hated it.
N. Nicknames: Val, Val-pal.  One person called me Val-Pak for a while, and my college roommate had a not-very-nice nickname she used lovingly.
O. Overnight hospital stays: Thank goodness I haven't had any.
P. Pet peeves: When people leave cabinet doors open after getting something out.  Are they really that hard to shut?
Q. Quote from a movie: "I'm your huckleberry." -Doc Holliday in 'Tombstone'  It must be said in a western drawl.
R. Right or left handed: Right.
S. Siblings: I'm an only child which means I'm spoiled rotten.  :)  Of course, that's if you don't count the dogs I grew up with.
T. Time you wake up: 7:00 or earlier.  The dogs like to get up early.
U. Underwear: I like simplicity.  Simple cotton briefs.  Full coverage, but not granny panties.  I refuse to wear thongs (ick!).
V. Vegetable you hate: Asparagus.  Nasty!
W. What makes you run late: Over-sleeping, chatting for too long, blogging.
X. X-Rays you’ve had: Dental, neck, neck, chest, wrist.
Y. Yummy food that you make: Pierogies and Holubsti.  Yummy!  I'm great on the Ukrainian ethnic foods.  I'm also pretty awesome at baking.
Z. Zoo animal: Wolves.  I love wolves.  Otherwise, I'd have to go for the lions.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Here's the deal.  I love going to the gym.  I never thought I'd say that.  I never thought I'd be the gym-going sort of person, but I am, and I love it.  Frankly, I don't love the ellipticals or the treadmills or the stationary bikes (if I'm going to run or bike I can do that outside).  I love the pool and the sauna and the yoga and any other class that seems interesting to me.  I love doing things in that group setting that I wouldn't necessarily do on my own.  With winter just around the corner, I foresee that I'll be going to the gym more and more...if anything just to sit in the sauna and warm up.  I love that sauna!

There is, however, one problem with my gym excursions.  I feel horribly guilty.  I feel like there are a thousand other things I should be doing.  I should be cleaning.  I should be working.  I should be walking Cody.  I should, I should, I should.  It's funny.  Even as I type this, I keep thinking of what my voice teacher in college used to always say, "Don't should on yourself."  Still, though, I feel guilty for taking that time out of the day for myself.

I don't feel guilty on my runs.  I have Cody with me, and they're early enough in the morning that I know that if I weren't running I'd be sleeping, so I feel proud for choosing the healthier route.  The gym, though, usually comes mid-morning because that's when all the classes I like are held.  So, I leave the house thinking, "I should be doing something else right now." 

The thing is, I really love my gym time.  I love that time spent on me.  I love the quiet of the sauna and the rhythm of the water in the pool.  I love the flow of yoga and pace of BodyPump.  I love leaving the gym and feeling like some fit and cool gym-goer.  I love all of it, so I'm not willing to give it up. 

I guess I'll just have to start getting things more done when I'm not at the gym. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It's Not That We Don't Love You

Let me start my describing my day yesterday:

5:00 am: Wake up, feed the dogs, shower.
6:15 am: Meet at Aunt Sarah's for a breakfast / planning meeting
8:00 am: Head out to my dad's / accountant's to do sales tax and payroll
9:00 am: Drive to my first lesson of the day
11:00 am: Leave lesson and drive home.
11:45 am: Lunch
12:00 pm: Begin office work
1:15 pm: Hans comes home for lunch and we let the dogs out and play with them.
1:45 pm: Hans leaves for work, I get back to office work
3:00 pm: Stop what I am working on and leave for appointments
8:30 pm: Return home, work in-board dogs
9:00 pm: Dinner
10:00 pm: Bed

Needless to say, I was exhausted when I got home last night.  While this schedule isn't what I follow 24/7 it's not too far off the mark.  Some times I let myself sleep in and don't get up until 7:00 am.  Sometimes I take some me time and go for a run or to the gym for a swim or yoga (and I always feel guilty).  Sometimes I pack a dinner so I can eat earlier.  One thing holds true, though.  My days are long and filled with things to do.  Right now, with things really being all over the place, I am especially grateful for my mom who has been providing the dogs with extra time and attention.

Because of these long, crazy schedules, I miss out on some very important time with friends.  It's not that we don't love you.  We just don't have time for ourselves, much less for anything extra.  Between work, working out, volunteering, and sleep, we're just filled to the brim.  We can have dinner with you if you'll eat at 8:00 pm or later.  We can watch a movie with you if you don't mind the dogs playing in the background.  Occasionally we will tell you we just can't do it simply because we want to spend some time alone...just the two of us with Cody.  It's not that I don't want to.  It's that I need a break.

If you call me and ask if I can have lunch with you, and I say yes, know that I am giving up 1-2 hours of working time and that I will have to make that up by missing out on sleep.  Also know that if I say yes it's because I love you tremendously.  If you call me and simply want to talk, and I casually mention that I was doing something for work but I'm so happy you called, know that this means that I love talking to you and I'll talk through the night, but there is a pile of work a mile high that I should be taking care of.

Know that the last time Hans and I had a day off together...with nothing to do, was a month ago when we took a vacation.  The summer gives us lots of time off.  We take off for our anniversary, for Hans' birthday, for the 4th of July, and this summer offered a vacation.  Before that, I think the last time we had off was Easter.

Know that we are working extremely hard, at both keeping the house in order and at keeping the business in order.

Know that we spend time with you because we value your friendship.

Know that we may skip time at the bar because, while we value your friendship, we just can't muster the energy to spend time in a bar when there are 1,000 other things to do at home.

Know that, while this lifestyle may not be what you would choose, there are hundreds of reasons why we love it.  Sure, there are things we would change, but we do love our life.

Oh, one more thing.  With winter around the corner, know that I would love it if all you wanted to do was spend some time in a sauna.  I like the heat.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Mailman

Question: Why don't they train mailmen on how to handle dogs?  If they do train them, they need to do a better job.

Ok, let me tell you what just happened.

Cody is a spoiled rotten brat.  It's true.  However, he serves one wonderful service, and that's guard dog.  I live in the city.  I drive all over town to houses I've never been to before.  Sometimes things can get nervous.  Cody is praised for barking as people approach (the more ferocious the better) and for barking when I give a command.  He is also praised when he stops barking when I tell him to.  Cody knows his job and takes it seriously.  He knows not to bite, and he's never tried.  The most I've seen him do is sniff.

Our mailman is scared of dogs, and Cody terrifies him.  I would probably be nervous of growling, barking, 60 lb dog too, but this guy has actually jumped a fence as we were walking down the sidewalk (Cody was happy and wagging his tail in a beautiful heel). 

Today, everything happened as normal.  The mailman approached, Cody barked and growled.  One thing was different, though.  I had forgotten to shut the storm door when I came in.  Usually, this wouldn't be a problem because there's another door.  I don't know if Cody somehow opened the door or if it wasn't latched all the way, but he got out today.  Imagine my surprise when I heard the mailman yell, "Get your dog!  Get your dog!"  I ran to the door, and the mailman was running down the sidewalk with Cody behind him.  When the mailman turned to look behind him, he tripped and fell.  Cody bumped him with his nose, ran to pee on a bush, and then came to me.  No teeth contact was made.

Some people would say that this means I have a bad dog.  The truth is, though, Cody is doing exactly what I trained him to do: Act ferocious, but be a big baby at heart.  The problem is, the mailman RAN AWAY!

Rule number 1: If a dog is chasing you, stop running.  You have no chance of outrunning the dog (unless you're an ultra-marathoner and had a head start), and by running, you are merely encouraging the dog to chase you.  In fact, in training, I encourage people to run from their dogs as a game to help teach the come command.

Rule number 2: If you are, in fact, worried about being bitten, use what you have for defense.  Most people have some additional layer of clothing (jacket, shoe, etc.) Take it off and throw it at the dog.  At the least, this may distract him long enough for you to get away.  At the best, it will actually scare him off.  The mailman carries a SACK of letters.  When I was little, I would use a similar sack (aka a backpack) and swing it around my front to protect me from jumping dogs.  He should have done the same.

Rule number 3: Once you know that help has arrived, stop hollering.  This will only feed the dog's excitement.  Cesar Milan says it best.  "Calm, Assertive."  If you can't just be quiet, say chant over and over.  This could be, "One, two, three four, I declare a thumb war. " or "Little Miss Muffet..."  Basically, take your mind off of screaming.  The same goes for horses.

These are 3 simple rules.  Everyone should know them, but the mailman should have studied them profusely.  This mailman was lucky this time.  Cody could have been the dog who likes to bite.  He could have been much more aggressive.  Instead, he's really just a big baby who's been taught to bark.  For the mailman's sake, though, I think I'll be double checking the doors from here on out.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's Been A Long Weekend

I'm exhausted.  I'm tired.  I just want to go back to bed and sleep for about 3 days.  However, I'm also happy.

This weekend was a very busy one.  For the first time, I decided to set up a booth at Mathews Market Days.  This meant things had to be ordered, priced, built, loaded onto a truck, and set up.

Going into the event
Nothing went smoothly prior to the event.

First, Irene took our power away.  This meant it was that much more difficult to finish building our dog beds.  Of course, this meant that Hans ended up working some very late nights right before the show, trying to catch up.

Second, Irene delayed my orders.  The show was Friday and Saturday.  By Thursday evening, my orders still were not in.  I was panicked.  Thank goodness for my mom.  She was kind enough to pick up my order from the UPS store on Friday and drive 1.5 hours just to deliver it.  I can't thank her enough for that.

Third, I was sick.  Very sick.  I had a fever, I was coughing, I was losing sleep.  Of course, this was while Hans was working late, so I was also trying to take care of dogs and keep the house in order, but I wasn't doing a great job of it.  I was just soooooo tired.

Fourth, it rained ALL WEEK LONG.  We weren't even sure if Mathews Market Days would happen.  Heck, even Friday morning there was a terrible downpour which caused half the location to flood out.  Luckily, the rest of the weekend was fairly clear.

The Show
So, going into the show, I was not happy.  I repeated over and over, "THIS IS NOT WORTH IT!"  I thought about simply forfeiting my $35 booth fee and staying home to rest.  I just wanted to cry.

However, I did go to the show.  Guess what.  It wasn't too bad at all.  I learned that I really didn't need to stress out the way I had.  I learned that Hans is wonderful at helping me set up and at organizing a booth.  I learned that I do enjoy doing shows, and that I should try to do a few more throughout the year.  All in all, it was a fun time.  Still, though, after setting up from 12:00 to 4:00 on Thursday, working the booth from 10:00-5:00 on Friday and 9:00-5:00 on Saturday, plus an hour each day for daily preparations and booth take down from 5:00-6:30 on Saturday, I'm exhausted!!

In other news...
My cold is slowly going away.  I'm back to working out, and that seems to really be helping.  I particularly enjoyed my swimming session yesterday.

Today marks the first day of my 10k training.  I ran this morning, and I'm super excited about my next one.  This week I'll run Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, but I'm hoping to keep it on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule for the most part.  I am really happy that I did get out there today, because I was starting to forget how much I loved running and how much I loved this course.  With one work out, I've already been bitten by the running bug, and I can't wait until Thursday.  In the interim, I'll do yoga and possibly some swimming.

Monday, September 5, 2011

If You Can Read This...

First off, let me say that I HATE being sick.  This is one of those weird colds too.  I don't feel particularly snotty or stuffy, and my coughing is at a minimum.  However, I can't seem to get enough sleep.  I wake up with a sore throat, and the rest of the day all I can think of is getting back in bed.  My brain can barely handle reading, meaning the 50 pages left of my 700 page book are going to have to wait and the t.v. is on way more than I'd like it to be.  I'm having trouble getting work done, and doing something as simple as washing dishes leaves me utterly exhausted.

That said, I am more of a look-on-the-bright-side type of person, and while there's a lot that I do not like about being sick, there's one thing that isn't so bad.  I've been tired, I've spiked fevers, and everything I do feels like I'm doing it with 20 pound weights attached.  This also means that I've been sweating...a lot.  Basically, even though I've been eating terribly because it's too difficult to prepare a proper meal, and I have barely done a thing, I've lost two pounds this week.  Not that I feel this is the healthiest way to lose weight.  I'd much rather be running or swimming.  However, it's nice to know that's one thing I don't have to worry about.  Phew!

If You Can Read This...

Hans and I saw this bumper sticker the other day
 I have to say, I get really annoyed with this bumper sticker.  Before you get angry, let me explain.  First off, disregard the first part.  If you can read that, then, yes, you should thank a teacher.  The second part, though, irks me because it's not exactly historically accurate.

Back in the beginning
If you're really interested in history, here's a bit of info you might not have known.  The United States' national language was almost German.  Back in the days when the U.S.A. was just a baby, many people HATED the British.  They wanted nothing to do with the Brits.  They didn't even want to speak the same language.  Many people in that time also spoke French and/or German (if they were truly civilized), but our relationship with France was just budding, and for a long time it hadn't been so great either.  Germany didn't seem like such a bad place, and I guess some people really liked the German language.  It came down to a vote, and English one out.  So, one could argue that "If you can read this in English, thank a founding father."  Of course, we're forgetting something very important here as well.

 Who spoke English before we did?  The people in England, of course!  It was the British who colonized America, and the British who colonized India, and the British who colonized Hong Kong and Canada and Australia and all sorts of other places throughout the world.  If they hadn't gone to every continent and made their mark, English never would have become so common.  Don't believe me?  Travel to Asia.  

On a trip that Hans and I made to Asia back in '05, we traveled to Tokyo, Okinawa, Seoul, Beijing, and Hong Kong.  In Tokyo, we stayed at Camp Zama, a U.S. Army base, and in Seoul we stayed at a YMCA.  At Camp Zama, unless the person was American, they didn't speak English.  In other words, the employees (cleaning crew, food service, etc.) spoke limited to no English.  At the YMCA...forget about it.  No English speakers there.  However, when we traveled to Hong Kong, a place that Britain ruled until 1998, over 50% of the people spoke English.  Oh, and there were a lot of familiar companies such as Starbucks, McDonald's, and KFC.  

Not to Disregard the Soldiers
Now then, all that said, I don't want to make light of a soldier's work.  I could very easily argue that if it hadn't been for soldiers during WWII, we could be speaking German or Japanese or Italian.  I could argue that soldiers have kept their countries safe and, because of both American and British soldiers, English is STILL spoken.  Of course, if we were currently speaking Italian, I'd probably be reading this bumper sticker as "If you can read this in Italian thank a soldier" or "Se lei può leggere questo in inglese, ringrazia un soldato."  (If you do speak Italian, and this translation is wrong, please forgive me.)  

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that there are a lot of reasons why we speak and read in English, and a soldier certainly isn't the only one.  Oh, and as for the thanking a teacher part, you could also thank your eye doctor for your glasses, God for the ability to see, your parents for encouraging your ability to read.  The list goes on and on.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Stages of Sick

We've all been through it.  We've all been sick.  We've all had the runny nose, the sore throat, and the achy body.  One thing I've found is true for me, though, is that I often have a difficult time recognizing when I'm getting sick.  I tend to miss the first few signs and then when it hits full force I wonder how I missed it.  So, I thought I'd help us all out by sharing some of the signs of  getting sick.  Keep in mind these are the stages that I go through.  It might not be the same for you...or maybe it is.

Stage 1: I don't get sick!  Everyone around you is sick.  Every place you go you hear coughing or sniffling.  Everyone you meet is telling you about their cold.  You, however, do not get sick.  You will be fine.  You will defy the laws of germs.

Stage 2: Why am I so tired?  That gym class wiped you out.  Things have been stressful.  These must be the reasons why you feel utterly exhausted.  You don't quite understand why, after 9 full hours of sleep, you wake up wanting a nap.  Sleep is your best friend. 

Stage 3: I need more food! This generally happens around the same time (maybe a day or two after) the tired feeling hits.  You figure that your so hungry simply because your body is looking for fuel to fight the tired feeling, and that's probably true.  The trouble is that you just can't seem to stop eating.  Pizza? Great!  Ice cream?  Bring it on!  Crackers, cookies, pretzels?  Yes please.  It should be noted that, while fruit can be tasty during this time, vegetable are not craved or satisfying at all.  Good luck on keeping things healthy.

Stage 4: There's a tickle in my throat.  This is where everything is just starting to drain, and your just beginning to cough.  Generally, this feeling will be strongest when you're lying down trying to sleep.  This is also the point that a well-meaning person will offer you some sinus medicine, but you will continue to declare that YOU ARE NOT SICK!

Stage 5: Death would be preferable.  That's it.  It's official.  You're sick.  You're not just sick, though.  You're dying.  Your body aches, your throat hurts, you can't move without wanting to lie down.  You will take anything that makes you feel better and allows you to move a little.  You pray for the world to stop turning for a bit so you don't miss anything...and because the turning of the world is making you dizzy.

Stage 6: The worst is over.  Yes, you are on the mend, but you're not over it yet.  You're still tired and sore, but the end is in sight.  I recommend taking things slowly for a bit and trying to rest as much as possible lest you have a relapse.

Currently, I'm somewhere between stages 5 and 6.  Last night was a definite stage 5 with a mild fever and the shivers from hell.  I even had trouble greeting the dogs because the feel of them against my skin hurt and sound of their tails wagging felt like a hammer inside my head.  After a very long night of sleep, I'm feeling a bit better.  The fever's gone, but moving is not fun.  All I really want to do is go back to bed.  I have the feeling bed time will come early tonight. 

I hope you're all staying healthy.  Make sure you take your echinacea and your garlic.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Our Home

When you come to our home, the first thing you will see will be Cody (and possibly another dog).  He will be barking, and he's allowed to continue barking until I tell him otherwise.  When you come in, you will get a very excited greeting.  This means he may lick your hands or jump up (this is my bad trainer moment where I let him).  If there is another dog with him, they will both compete to show you who's the most affectionate.  Brace yourself.

You will hear before you see the other dogs.  There may be anywhere between 1 and 6 extra dogs.  They will bark...a lot.  You will see before you hear the cats.  There will be 2.  The cats may be nervous and hiss.  Just leave them alone.  You'll be fine.  At some point, those dogs that you haven't seen yet will need to go outside, and you will get to meet every single one of them.  They will be very excited and very happy, and they may decide it's time to play.  This will probably look like they're fighting, but they're not, so don't worry.

When you sit down, you may encounter some dog / cat hair.  It will brush off.  A dog may slobber on you.  It will wash out.  The barking may be loud.  The dogs will go outside.

A lot of people would not be able to handle our home.  To them, it would seem noisy and messy and overall overwhelming.  These people do not understand why we live the way we do...why I live the way I do.

I love our dogs.  I love the fosters who come through, the clients I'm training, the boarders, and most especially Cody.  I love Mo and Stolte.  I love their kisses and their warmth.  I love their excitement and their energy.  I love their attitudes.

Sure, things can be overwhelming sometimes.  The mornings are the hardest because I have to wake up and feed all of them, and most don't sleep in the way Cody does.  Vacuuming is a daily chore, and I feel like I can never keep up.  At some point soon, I will need to wash the walls, the floors will need to be sanded, and the back door will need a new coat of paint.  Somehow, though, this all seems worth it.

If I had to choose between the dogs and a quiet life, I'd have to choose the dogs.  Someday, I may have a facility separate from the home, and then I could have a quiet life AND the dogs, but that's not the case right now, and that's OK.  For now, I'd rather have the wagging tails and the wet tongues.  I'd rather have the dogs who need a little extra love and who will return it in spades.  I'd rather have the fur and the barking.

I don't expect everyone to get it.  I don't expect everyone to agree, and I'm not asking that you do.  If you can't handle our home, then don't come here.  No one is forcing you.  If it's too hard, meet me at a coffee shop.  The one thing I do ask is that you simply let us live our lives.  Don't try to change things to suit your needs.  Don't complain to me.  Don't freak out or go stiff as a board when you see all the dogs.  Just let things be.  Oh, and know that I'm the one house where your dogs are ALWAYS welcome.  You don't need to leave your dog behind on my account.  Bring him/her along and be happy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Things to Be Grateful For When the Power is ON

Power returned to our house at some point yesterday afternoon.  This means we went 5 days without power.  Five days without hot water or lights or a refrigerator.  There was a lot we enjoyed about not having power (even Hans said it was like a little adventure), but there are also a lot of things provided by electricity that I'm very happy to have back.

  • Hot Water They gym worked for a shower, but I am very happy to be able to shower in the comfort of my own home.
  • Refrigerator / Microwave I'm grouping these two together because it really all boils down to one thing...leftovers.  Sure, cooking in the first place was difficult, but it was doable.  If it seemed too hard at any point, we'd just eat out.  What was almost impossible, though, were left overs.  We couldn't store them in a fridge, so we couldn't guarantee that they'd be good to eat the next day.  Even if they wouldn't spoil, we didn't have a microwave to heat them up in.  Have you ever eaten a cold brat?  I don't recommend it.
  • Vacuum Oh my gosh!  I think I missed this one the most.  I like to vacuum at least once a day.  With 7 dogs in the house, it's kind of a necessity.  At one point, we swept the floor with a broom, but it's just not quite the same.  I'll be doing a lot of vacuuming today.
  • Hot Pot I like tea.  I've really been craving some tea.  I had no way of heating water for tea, but now I do.  I didn't think it would be nice to go to a coffee shop and merely ask for a mug of hot water so I could make MY tea, and I wasn't about to pay $2 just so I could have their tea.  Yay for tea!
  • Lights This one is kind of a no brainer.  Who doesn't like lights?  For the most part, not having lights wasn't a big deal, but having an overhead light certainly makes caring for the dogs A  LOT easier.  This is especially true for Merlin who was often startled by / scared of the shadows that the flashlight cast.  Poor guy!
So, like I said, not having power was fun, but having power is quite nice too.  I'm certainly not complaining!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Things I Am Grateful For When The Power Goes Out

Yeah, there's still not any power, and it doesn't look like we'll have it today either.  There's no reason to be glum, though.  There are a lot of things to be grateful for.

  • No TV, computers, cell phones, ect.   Yeah, I know a lot of you wouldn't initially agree with this, but bear with me.  I whole-heartedly feel that all those electronics can be a huge distraction from the more important things in life, and that we use them to hide way too much.  While I still need my cell phone to stay in touch with family and my computer for work, I can easily plug them in to charge at the theater or at a coffee shop.  When I get home, I can whole-heartedly devote myself to being home.  I like that.
  • No A/C.  Yeah, that's another one plenty would disagree with.  I, however, did not grow up with a/c.  I was able to teach myself how to relax and stay cool (something I could never master in reverse when I was in MN).  Instead of making me feel comfortable, the a/c often makes me feel dried-out and sometimes even too cold while others are still hot.  Sure, I wish the ice maker worked or that I had a fan, but I'm perfectly comfortable without those too.  Oh, and I'm grateful it's only in the 80s this week.
  • Good books and the ability to read.  Need I say more?  Those books are helping me get through this week.
  • Long conversations.  This ties back in to the no tv/computers thing, but I think it should be stated separately too.  Hans and I have been spending time simply enjoying each other's company.  We're playing board games, talking, and heading outdoors for some recreation.  Usually we'd just be planted in front of the tv.
  • Good neighbors Our neighbors have a generator, and they've been great.  We're storing some milk and jam at their place (breakfast essentials in my book), and they keep checking to see if there's anything we need.  It makes me happy to know they're so great.
  • Good employment.  Hans works in a theater.  That means there's a refrigerator, a washer/dryer, and lots of outlets.  So far, we've utilized all of those.  Without that, I think this power outage would be much more inconvenient.  Also, without his income or the meager income I provide, we would not be able to afford eating out when we want a hot meal and don't have time for the grill.
  • The gym.  We have water, but we don't have hot water.  Thank you Gold's Gym for your warm showers.  Oh, and thanks too for the pool and work-out equipment, but I was using that before the power outage.
See?  There's loads to be grateful for.  I refuse to complain about the few inconveniences, but would rather see how much good is coming from this.  Hurrah!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene 2011

Today, the sun is shining and it's beautiful.  This is a far cry different from how things looked yesterday.  Yesterday, it was rainy and windy, birds stayed in their nests, and the dogs stayed inside.  Yesterday, Hurricane Irene hit. 

I posted before that I really wasn't too concerned about things.  I'm definitely a take-things-as-they-come type of person when it comes to some things, and I just wasn't concerned about Irene.  The only thing I was really worried about was losing power, and I knew that we could make things work with that.

I was right about worrying about power.  We lost power around 11:00 am yesterday, and we were some of the first in the city without power.  Of course, we'd just started a load of laundry with the hopes of finishing it before power went out, so now we have a nasty, wet load of laundry sitting in a washing machine, waiting for power.  I'm pretty sure that load will be washed two or three times...or we'll go to a laundromat. 

You know what's nice about not living on a well, though?  WATER!!!  Growing up, whenever the power went out, we also lost water because the pump for the well required electricity.  It was so nice to still be able to wash dishes and use the bathroom and even shower (even if it was cold).  I know, what I'm thankful for today, and that's water!

The other thing I'm somewhat thankful for today is that the tornado last October took out all the trees we would have had to worry about during this storm.  We were not concerned about trees falling on our house or our cars because there just wasn't one close enough.  In fact, while this may not have been the smartest thing to do, at one point Hans and I sat on the front porch and watched the storm.  It was quite relaxing.  Other than that, we spend the day and evening reading, sleeping, and playing Jenga by candle light (with a small break for dinner with the neighbors provided by Chinese delivery).  It was very peaceful.

With light this morning, though, we can see all the damage the storm did.  Many trees lost branches, and plenty were simply uprooted.  At least three people lost their lives when trees fell on them, including on 11 year old boy.  Power is out throughout the city, but I've seen a few crews working hard to get them back up (and I've cheered them on).  While most houses were fine, some have simply been destroyed.

I feel really sorry for this family.
 Most of the damage, though, looks like this:

With all the rain, trees were simply uprooted.

My favorite road to run down has a green carpet.

For a while, some of these trees will be fun for kids to play on.

I'm not sure how it started, but this building actually caught fire yesterday, and apparently crews had a hard time putting it out.  It used to be a dry cleaners, so we're wondering if there were still chemicals inside.

All in all, we're happy and safe, and happy to be safe.  We're praying for families who weren't as fortunate, but we're also yelling at our mothers to stop worrying.  Really, we're just settling in for a few quiet nights.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparing for Irene

Have you heard?  It's big news.  Apparently, the world is ending!

On Tuesday, the east coast suffered a 5.8 magnitude earthquake.  Two nights ago there was an aftershock of 4.5 magnitude.  I felt the 5.8, but that's about it.  Damage was mild, and no one was injured.  This earthquake was almost a record breaker and was the largest since the 1800s.  Yes, it was the earthquake of the century.  Could we also call it a bicentennial earthquake?

Image via here.

Now, we're supposed to be hit by Hurricane Irene.  I'm have mixed emotions as to how I feel about this.  Plenty of people are panicking.  They have tubs of water and plenty of kerosene and they're securing anything that's not tied down.  I'm getting phone calls from my mom and texts from the in-laws telling us to be prepared.  However, as far as I can tell, the most we'll get here in RIC is a tropical storm.  Serious? Yes.  Stay home weather?  Yes.  Design a bunker?  No.

Anyway, I'm left feeling slightly anxious and under-prepared.  Oh, and I'm more than a little annoyed.  I mean, we go through hurricane season every year.  I've lived through plenty of hurricanes and tropical storms, and there's never been a problem.  However, the last BIG hurricane that came through here was Isabel, and she was quite a doozy.  I think people are thinking of her and are preparing for the absolute worst.  So, just to make all the parents happy, here's my emergency plan:

  • Know where all the flashlights and candles are, and have matches/lighter to light them.  I do expect we'll lose power at some point.
  • Have a book to read since I know the dogs will be freaking out over the storm and I won't get any sleep.
  • Have plenty of foods for grilling in case we're out of power for a while.  If we don't lose power, we'll still enjoy the grilled foods.
  • Shower at the gym.  We can also get a bit of water from here if necessary.  I doubt we'll lose water, but at least there's a plan.
  • If worse comes to worse, we can always stay at Dad's house or at friends' houses.  I really doubt it will come to that, so I'm not at all concerned about packing a bag.
Alright, I hope you're all happy.  Now watch.  It will probably be nothing.  Of course, I could just be like the proverbial grasshopper and y'all are the ants, in which case I'll be mooching off you shortly.  :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I love food.  I really love food.  My idea of the perfect day is the ability to eat whatever I wanted all day long and not have to think about my body or my wallet.  Ahhh, that would be beautiful.  However, as I've gotten older, I've also started to notice how food affects me, and that has given me reason to think about every bite I take.

Like most people, I'm attracted to certain foods, and like most people, if I eat a lot I'll gain weight.  That, however, is not all there is.  As I've mentioned before on my blog, I recently decided to cut a lot of processed sugar from my diet.  I had really noticed some HUGE changes there, but I don't think I realized just how huge they were until last week.

Before my diet changed, I often felt the following symptoms:

  • Bloating/gas or abdominal pain (TMI?)
  • Itchy skin rash
  • Joint pain
  • Tingling or numbness in hands / feet
  • Canker sores
  • Irritability or changes in behavior
  • Anxiety attacks
  • And many more...
I was also borderline hypoglycemic.  I had gone to the doctor to be checked out for multiple things, including but not limited to thyroid issues, sarcoidosis, and heart defects (that numb hands and feet thing got to me).  I went to the dermatologist twice for what she called eczema, but it seemed odd to me and steroids were only a temporary fix.  The one thing that consistently listed a lot of my symptoms was Celiac disease, but something told me it wasn't that.  Anyway, I did change my diet, but instead of cutting gluten, I cut processed sugar. 

This took a huge change in attitude, because I could no longer think, "Oh, I've earned these calories, I can have those M&Ms."  Instead, I had to think, "My body does not need, nor does it want those M&Ms."  I went through a bit of a detox, and I ate about two metric tons of watermelon to get through it (thank God for summer).  Then, all of a sudden, I started feeling better.

My anxiety attacks all but went away, the joint pain lessened, my mood swings completely diminished, and everything else slowly started to fade away (yes, even the bloating/gas).  If I did have something processed, I'd start to feel sick and my stomach would not be nice to me.

Last week, though, I had a different mindset.  The thought was, "I'm on vacation!  Let's enjoy it!"  Hello lovely Klondike bars and frozen custard!  By Tuesday (or maybe Monday) my tummy was already protesting.  It was like my early warning system, but I didn't listen to it.  Next to go was my energy.  Workouts were harder and my motivation to do them was lacking.  By the end, there were some small mood swings, but that could have also been simply the end of vacation getting to me.  Still, though, all these things weren't enough to stop me from having another Klondike bar (yes, ice cream is my weakness).

This week is what shocked me, though.  As my tummy readjusts and everything processes through, I get to suffer through more belly aches.  My fingers have been a little tingly and my anxiety levels are heightened.  Oh, and that skin rash that was fading away came back in full new places.

Looking back now, I'm asking myself, "Was that Klondike bar worth it?"  Ummm, NO!  It definitely was not.  Admittedly, my eating could have been a lot worse, but it also could have been better.  Why would I want to put my body through all that?  What good did those Klondike bars do me? 

I think the next time I'm craving something so sugary, I'll go for a run!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My Summer Vacation

This past week, Hans and I have been on vacation.  Oh what a lovely vacation it has been!  Ideally, Hans and I would escape off to some remote location and have the whole week to just ourselves and Cody.  This vacation, though, was not that.  This vacation was with Hans' whole family.

Of course, this meant there was a lot of anxiety going into the vacation.  When we left Friday morning, I was worried about so many things.  How would my race go? (Well, we know the answer to that one.)  Would I get along with everyone, or would tensions be high?  How annoyed would I get over things that never would have even come close to affecting my family on vacations?  Would my nephew, whom I haven't seen in a year, like me?  What about food?  Is it possible to vacation with people whose food choices are completely different from yours and still eat the way you want to?  What about exercise?  Would I get enough?  These are some pretty serious questions, and I'm happy to report I have some pretty decent answers.

The Family
I am relaxed and happy to report that things went surprisingly well on this trip.  Hans family and my family are somewhat...different (from each other, not from the world).  In the past, this has caused many a tense moments and, dare I say, resentment towards each other.  Over the past few years, though, I've noticed that my relationship with his family has slowly improved.  Still, though, I was nervous that a whole week with the whole family could be problematic.  Maybe it's just that I was super-relaxed and I really had not a care in the world, but I enjoyed the family.  I didn't just tolerate, I didn't vent behind peoples' backs.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with everyone.  In fact, I even miss that time spent with them now.  Sure, there were tense moments (it was a whole family in one house for a week), but all in all things were great!

Oh, and my nephew was absolutely adorable.  He does like me, and I have the slobbery, food-stained kisses on my shirt to prove it.  I love that little guy.  Cody loved the little guy too.

I'd say we're happy.
Cody's even sharing his bed.

The Food and Fitness
Well, I can give myself a C.  Things started off really well.  After my 5k, I was so elated that I made sure I kept going like that.  I ate as healthy as I could, and on less-healthy things I'd take small portions...large enough to not be rude (or hungry), but small enough to work quickly through my system.  About half-way through the week, though, I think I said, "Aww, screw it!"  I had a lot of custard, and I felt free to help myself to the desserts.  It was always the desserts.  My stomach seriously rebelled, and my workouts became a lot harder.  I did, however, do all my planned workouts in their entirety, and I had a lot of running on the beach.  I missed going to the gym, though, and I'm looking forward to going back tomorrow.

The Boys
Cody and Hans LOVED their beach trip.  I know Hans loved the time off from the dogs, and Cody loved having us all to himself.  There was definitely some joy over being in the ocean, too.  Hans, unfortunately, caught a head cold in the latter half of the trip, so he's feeling like crud now, but Cody is just plain old worn out.  Lots of sleep is needed for this boy!

That's some special guy love.  Yes, I love my boys.

Someone's exhausted after having just chased all the seagulls off the beach.

All in all, I've returned feeling happy and refreshed.  I don't think I realized just how much I needed that break until I had that break.  I'd be more than happy to do it again!  For now, though, it's back to the daily grind...which luckily I enjoy!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My First 5k

All throughout my Up and Running 5k course, Julia Jones, our coach, told us we would not die.  No matter how we felt, we would not die.  Well, this is only partially true.  It is true, of course, that physically I am still very much alive.  But to say that part of me didn't die would be a lie.  Today, the part of me who said I could not do this, the part of me that saw me as ugly or not-good-enough, was squashed.  That part of me is very much dead.  In its place is a loud voice that is cheering me on, screaming YOU CAN DO THIS!!!  And guess what.  I did.

I had my alarm set for 6:00 am, but I was up at 5:30.  I wanted to go!  A few months ago, I would have been doing this:

Instead, I was getting dressed, eating my banana, and letting myself get super worked up.  Would I be the last one to finish?  Would I meet my goal(s)?  My main goal was to finish without walking, but I was also really hoping to be under 40 minutes, preferably closer to 35 minutes.

Hans and I arrived at the site at 7:20, and I spent the next 35 minutes warming up and chatting with other runners.  We'd found out the night before that Cody was allowed to run with me, so Cody was there attracting attention from everyone (and keeping me sane). 

At 7:58 I was on the starting line.

See Cody?

At 8:00 a.m. the race started.  I tried as hard as I could to start out slow.  I'd seen some massive hills the night before, and in fact one of the roads was named Hillside Dr. 

As people passed me, I had this overwhelming fear that I'd finish last.  I couldn't hear people behind me.  Are there any people there??

At one point, I saw Hans cheering me on.  Cody saw Hans too.  Actually, that was the only snafu.  He wanted to get to Daddy!

Then the rains came.  There was thunder and big, fat rain drops.  It was very cold and sent shivers through my body.  I continued on.

Finally, I saw the finish line.  I ran as hard as I could.  As I entered the chute, I saw Hans ready to take a picture.  Unfortunately, the camera didn't click, so I don't have the wonderful picture of me going through the finish line.  There was probably too much water on the lens. 

At that point, the heavens opens up.  I like to say that God was raining his praises on me.  :P  I was planning on leaving just to get out of the rain, but Hans said I should stay for the awards.  I thought, "Well, maybe they'll have a little something for all of the participants."

I was wet and cold by this point, but I was happy to be supporting all of the super-fast runners who placed first, second, and third.  Imagine my surprise when we got to the Women age 24-29 category and they called my name for the 3rd place ribbon!!!!  My first-ever 5k, and I won a ribbon!!!!!!

I am very, very happy!!!

I ran the whole way.  Goal #1 complete.  My time was 35:25.  Goal #2 complete.  I completely rocked it!  Goal #3...Yay!!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Alright, bare with me for a completely random post.

Have you ever been shoe shopping?  I'm sure you have.  Do you have the same problem I have?  You know, the one where one shoe fits but the other one is just a little too big?  That is always a problem for me!  If it fits my right foot, it's too big for my left.  If it fits my left foot, it's too small for my right.

So, I must ask myself this: Why are shoes sold in pairs that HAVE to be the same size?  As soon as a shoe retailer realizes that peoples feet are not the same size even though they're on the same body, then that shoe retailer will earn millions!

Personally, I think it's a conspiracy between the shoe makers and the insert makers.  If our shoes were fitted perfectly, there would be no (or at least little) need for inserts.  GRRRR!

Thank you for reading my completely random post.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Feeling Better

Saturday was a very long day...a very, very long day.  I can't tell you exactly what I did (or else I'd have to kill you), but let's just say it involved me waking at 2:00 am, driving for 2.5 hours, waiting, cheering, and waiting some more, and then driving another 5 hours thanks to traffic.  I came home absolutely exhausted, and I knew long before I got home that I'd be feeling Saturday for a while. 

I always joke that I'm an 80 year old stuck in a 25 year old's body.  I prefer crocheting to partying, reading to t.v., and sleep to not sleep.  My body has trouble recuperating from a day like Saturday, and this time was no different.  I thought yesterday's work out with Absolute Sports Performance would kill me, and for the first time in my life I was extremely close to vomiting.  Hans and I did go to the Watermelon Festival, but that left me done for the day.  Lots and lots of sleep was to be had after that. 

My plan for today was to clean in the morning and then go to a Master Swim class at the gym.  I just couldn't muster the energy.  At 9:30 this morning, I was still lying on the couch trying to muster the energy to take care of the laundry.  The class started in 1 hour.  I thought, "There's no way I'll make it through a gym class.  I'm sleeping in and I'll go swimming later today."  Luckily, at 9:45 something else kicked in.  I had written this class on my schedule.  It was actually important enough for me to put in writing.  This is the only class of its kind all week, and I'd really been wanting to try it.  So, I hurried upstairs, moved some clothes to the dryer (they'd already been washed), threw on my swimsuit, packed my gym bag, and away I went.

Boy am I glad I went!  At first I was slightly mortified because I was the only one under 70 in the pool.  But then, some younger people started to show up.  One girl was even at my skill level, so that was very helpful.  Most importantly, though, I'm no longer so tired.  I mean, yes, the work out killed.  I swam for an hour!  However, I can work through this mild physical exhaustion.  The mental exhaustion is what has passed.  I'm feeling happy and rejuvenated.  Heck, I'm even going to bike to some local shops just because I feel like moving some more.  That is really good!

Well, it's not my prettiest picture, but here I am feeling much better after a swim...and a shower.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Hans and I have decided to join a gym.  We have a lot of equipment in our home already, but the one thing we don't have (and certainly can't afford) is a pool.  So, we've joined Gold's Gym. 

One thing I hate about the gym is actually having to use the machines.  Unless it's one I'm extremely familiar with, I feel like all eyes are on me as I figure out how the machine works.  I need to schedule an appointment with one of the trainers so I can be shown, but until then I'm working out in the Cinema room (a fantastic room that shows movies and is dark so no one can see you).  I'm actually really proud of myself for how secure I am in the pool.  I still don't LOVE walking around in my swimsuit, but I'm not terrified to remove my towel either.

ANYWAY, I was shocked when we signed up for the gym because Hans did not react the way I'd expected.  I was talking about using ellipticals and doing different classes, and Hans said he really only wanted the pool, and he wasn't sure he'd keep it up, and he may just forfeit his membership at the end of his trial period.  I kind of understood this, but I wanted to give the gym a fair shot, so I devised a plan to get us there at least 4 times in the week.  Yesterday, the plan was to go to a class.

Hans  He was going to do it for me, but he was visibly nervous, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong.  Then, it hit me.  He was insecure.  He didn't want to stick out, and he was afraid of looking like a fool.  I was amazed.  Here was Hans, my personal Buddha, worrying about what other people thought. He's never been worried about things like that (or so I thought), but here he was...worrying.  That's when I realized that we're all worried about what others think, but most of us are too busy worrying about ourselves to look at others.  That's something I'm going to be thinking a lot about when I'm feeling not-so-confident.

Oh, and just so you know, we were late getting to the class, so we went to the Cinema Room instead (Insecurities Be Gone!), and then to the pool. 

Speaking of insecurities, less than a month ago, I signed up to run my first ever 5k.  The date is next Saturday.  For some people, a 5k is nothing, but for me it's HUGE.  It's the first step to attaining some large goals of mine.  Part of me is super excited.  I've really been enjoying running with my Up & Running plan (seriously, if any of you are considering it, you should do it.  It's amazing), and I think I'll be able to run the whole thing, even if I run it slow.

But then I think, "What if I can't?"  What if there are more hills than what I'm used to?  What if it's hot and really sunny?  What if I come in dead last?  While I know that it's fine if I walk a portion, I really want to run the whole thing.  What if I can't?

Basically, there's this constant battle in my head, becoming more vicious and much bloodier as the days pass, between my positive attitude and my insecurities.  So, I'm asking all of you.  What do you do when you're feeling not-so-confident?  How do you overcome the evil mind demons?  Any tips are greatly appreciated!

Monday, August 1, 2011


Can I just share with you how unbelievably happy I've been?  I'm not sure what it is, but life is good.  Alright, so I have a clue as to what it might be.  Those changes have been working.  I'm starting to feel good about everything, and I love it (hurray for endorphins).

Up & Running
The course is almost over.  I only have 5 more runs left (including a 5k), and I don't want it to end.  The group of women I've been running with is wonderful, and their encouragement is superb.  I'm planning on moving on to the 10k course.  Part of me is torn about this (it's extra money), but I've loved the group too much to give it up.  Here we go!

New Clothes
I don't spend a lot of money on clothes.  A lot of my clothes are torn or worn or just plain cheap.  This may change some day, but for now I don't see the reason is spending a fortune on a pair of jeans that a dog could just bite through.  Yes, I often search for quality, but sometimes price comes first.

This weekend, I changed that a bit.  I'm not a fan of my running clothes.  I mean, they get the job done, but they could be better...a lot better.  So, after transporting a dog to VA Beach, Hans and I decided to stop in the outlet mall in Williamsburg.  There's a Nike Outlet there, and I thought it might be a good idea to check it out.

I am now a Nike convert.  I'd always thought their stuff was overpriced, but now I love it.  First, I love the way they organize their store (by sport so there's no guesswork as to what you're getting).  Second, I love their products.  I fell in love with just about everything I touched, and it all fit well.  I left the store on Saturday having spent way more than what I should have, but after wearing some of them to my workouts, I don't regret it one bit.  Sometimes comfort is worth the price.

Well, you know that last January I bought a new bike.  It's a glorious, most magnificent, blue bike.  I love it.  With the warmer weather, I've also been trying to use it more.  Hans and I have ridden our bikes to a few places...the grocery store, out to dinner, etc, but I really want to ride more.  Last night, we were itching to get out, so we hopped on our bikes, rode to an ice cream parlor, skipped the ice cream, and rode back.  We only went about 4 mi, but it was just enough to satisfy our craving.  I firmly believe we'll be going for another ride tonight...maybe to an ice cream shop that's farther away.  :)

Anyway, I'm also trying to get more involved.  I'm seriously considering joining a riding group just to get more experience with more guidance.  I admittedly know nothing about cycling, and I'd like a tutor!

Well, with all this running and all this cycling, I got to thinking about combining the two, adding swimming, and going for a triathlon.  I looked at some local sprint tris in the area, and I realized that if I work on my swimming I'd could definitely do a tri.  So, my two questions are: 1) Where's the best (re: Cheapest) place in the area to go swimming?  2) When should I do it?  There's one in October, but I'm really hesitant to sign up for that.  What do you think?

Monday, July 25, 2011


Last week, a terrible thing happened in Norway.  My heart goes out to anyone and everyone affected by this horrible act of violence.  That, however, is not what this post is about.  One thing that really concerned me about this tragedy was how the news covered it.  The articles and stories were fine, but what got to me were the pictures (and one interview).

As I reading article after article, trying to find some meaning in all this madness, one thing I noticed were the photos.  I saw a picture of a woman running and crying, blood covering her face and hands.  I saw a picture of a street in chaos, a building in pieces.  By far, the worst picture I saw, though, was one of the island where the teenagers were.  The picture was taken from an opposing shore line, and bodies of victims lay on the island...bodies of people who were trying to escape.  There's another one that was similar, but the bodies were covered.  In this photo they were not, and I was horrified.

With pictures such as these, I have to ask, "What are we trying to do to the world?"  What is our fascination with death?  Why is almost mandatory that newspapers and journalists show us these grotesque images?

Let me first say, that I have no problem with gore on t.v.  I've watched enough shoot-em-up, guy films to no that it's just a movie.  In response to people who argue that all this gore on t.v. is desensitizing our children, I say that it's actually creating a great opportunity for parents to teach their kids.  It's an opportunity to point out real from fake and right from wrong.  So, why does it make such a difference when it's in the newspaper?

Well, for one, it is NOT fake.  The images that people are seeing are very much real.  We ARE desensitizing ourselves to gore.  Seeing it in a movie starring Nicholas Cage or Keanu Reeves is very different from seeing it in the New York Times.  How can anyone proclaim the horrors of such an incident, when it is apparently OK for a newspaper to print up photos?  I fear that in many people's minds, the thought may be "if it's really so terrible, why are there pictures?" 

Two, what about the victims?  These are pictures that family members, mothers, and fathers, are going to have to see for years.  These images will haunt the families for the rest of their lives.  Is it not bad enough to lose your child / best friend / cousin without having to see their body strewn on a beach?  It's not fair to them.  They will already have to hear the interviews, read the stories, and listen to the news reports.  Why must they be bombarded with such horrendous photos?

Lastly, I'm going to go slightly off-topic.  When Osama Bin Laden was killed, many people called for a photo.  They said, "How do we know he is dead?  We want proof!"  Personally, I do not wish to see a man who was killed by a bullet.  Why would you?  I fear that by showing these pictures of death, we are only creating a desire to see more death.  How can that be healthy?