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?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Diet and Detox

Originally I had wanted this post to be a Lil' Tidbits post since I haven't done one in a while.  I had a whole slew of things to comment on, but now that I'm at a computer I've completely forgotten what they are.  Anyway, there is another topic I'm more than willing to talk I felt yesterday.

I've posted previously that I've been trying to remove processed sugar from my diet.  I recognized that I was somewhat addicted to it, and I knew I wouldn't start feeling better until it was greatly reduced or eliminated.  So, I started cutting foods from my diet.  They weren't off limits, but I did start taking extra time to think about things before I reached to eat them.  Things were going really well.

Then this weekend happened.  It actually started with Thursday, our anniversary.  I made the monumental mistake of skipping breakfast.  I hadn't meant to skip it, but somehow it happened.  So, when lunch time came around, I was HUNGRY.  I wanted something big, so on the way out of town Hans and I stopped at Arby's.  I usually love Arby's, but this time, while my stomach was rejoicing for food, my mouth was repulsed.  It wasn't nearly as good as I remembered.  Cody got a few bites from it.  After I ate, I almost immediately fell asleep.  I awoke just in time for us to get to the coffee shop I know and love.  That probably wasn't too good for me, but it was good tasting.  I love that place.

Friday night was dinner with friends.  Oh, the burger I got was sooooooo delicious, but as soon as the happily full from a tasty dinner feeling passed, I felt awful.  I was hot and clammy, and I felt like vomiting.  It wasn't much fun.

Saturday passed without incident, but Sunday was another meal out with friends.  I got a salmon eggs benedict with fruit.  Again, super tasty, but I didn't feel so great afterward.  Then, the rest of the day I was craving something sweet.  I wanted cake or cookies or something like that.

I noticed a few things about myself after eating all these things.

1) My mentality changed.  I was much more down on myself.  I had this feeling that I couldn't do anything right.  Basically, negative voices were there and they were loud.  Of course, this didn't help me in my workouts.  I just couldn't get there mentally.

2) I was TIRED.  Yesterday, I did nothing except sleep all day.  I'm usually awake between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m., but yesterday I didn't wake up until 7:30.  Then, I was still tired.  I took at least two naps, and I could have slept more.

3) I felt icky.  I was bloated and greasy and felt gross all over.  It's not a good feeling.

4) I was cranky!  Just ask Hans.  I became snippy and short.  I felt terrible, so I really didn't want to be around anyone.

Anyway, all these things got me to thinking.  I really do need to cut all that processed food from my diet, but how realistic is it to do so?  Do I really want to be one of those people who declares that she cannot eat out because they serve "poison?"  Do I really want to be the person changing a perfectly tasty meal just so it fits all my standards?  Can I imagine myself going to MN and not having cheese curds or Culver's?  NO!  I cannot.

However, I also can no longer see myself as the sort of person who will indulge in these things willy-nilly.  I can see myself as the person who will pack groceries on a trip to the beach just so I know I'll have things that I like to eat (I'm already planning a menu).  I can see myself as the person who will pass up a free cookie.  I can see myself as the person who eats tons of fruits and veggies, and who is happy, and who feels good.  I can definitely see myself as that person.

I can see myself as the person who may occasionally indulge in a little processed sugar, but who may limit her consumption.  I can see myself as the person who understands that the processed sugar is going to make her feel bad, and who chooses to not indulge.

These changes, so far, are working too well for me to give up on.  I like how I feel now.  I like the energy and the attitude.  Yes, I still crave chocolate pie, but I don't have to have it all the time.  And if worse comes to worse, I'll simply make my own healthy version!

Monday, July 18, 2011


I was hoping to get this post out sooner, but time flies. 

As many of you may already know, last Thursday was Hans' and my anniversary.  We didn't really have much planned (just dinner and a movie), but we were excited to spend some time together.  On Wednesday, though. Hans discovered that I was taking the entire day off (I'd wanted to clean up and make him a special dinner), and he decided to take the day off too.  So, what were we to do?  A trip to the mountains was in order!! 

The morning wasn't anything special.  I still had some stuff around the house to do, so we didn't leave town until about 1:00 pm.  Off we went!  We stopped once at this AMAZING coffee shop that's almost halfway between here and our destination.  It's become a bit of a tradition to stop there, and I always forget how much I love it.  Now I'm trying to plan trips just to that coffee shop.

Anyway, so we got to the mountains around 3:30 or 4:00.  Hans and I love this one hiking trail.  It's a fairly easy hike and it's usually not too crowded.  It's perfect for an anniversary. 

I can't even begin to tell you how much fun we had.  Of course, we took Cody, and watching him have fun was an added bonus.  Honestly, I think the mountain trip was just what I needed.  I had almost forgotten how much I love the noise in the mountains.  A lot of people comment on how quiet the country is, but really it's anything but.  The sounds are just different.  I didn't hear cars or sirens or air conditioning units or people.  Instead, I heard birds and crickets and squirrels and rushing water from the river.  I relished the sounds.  I drank everything in, and I loved it.  Before the day was up, I felt relaxed and peaceful...untroubled.  I was tired from the hike, but I was so very happy.

The ride home was lit by a beautiful full moon, which added to the joy of the day.  I have to say, it was the perfect anniversary. 

I always love it when Cody swims.  Cody loves fetching anything from water.

Just starting the hike.  Cody is still on leash.

Looking out over a waterfall.

Hans and Cody in the same place.

View from waterfall.

Camouflage Cody

Look at those smiles!!

This is at the base of the waterfall.  We were all the way at the top.

One very sleepy boy.

The perfect ending to the perfect day.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Four Years

It is 6:48 EST, which means it is 5:48 in MN.  At this time four years ago, I was running.  I had just woken up from a very pleasant, memorable dream, and I couldn't get back to sleep.  I had a big day ahead of me, I was nervous, and I was running.  In less than an hour, I would be meeting Hans for breakfast and to gather food for our guests.  By the end of the day, we would officially begin a new family.

Four years have past, and what a whirlwind of excitement they have been.  I couldn't ask for a better husband.  Hans is patient and kind and always willing to help out.  He's put up with a lot, too, dealing with everything from crabby moods to barking dogs.  I can't say he's always done things with a smile, but he's been there.

In four years time, Hans and I have:

Moved to VA.
Lived with my dad.
Added to our family with Cody.
Separated for dog school.
Moved to an apartment.
Started a dog training business.
Bought a house.
Fostered countless dogs.
Weathered a tornado.
Fallen in love with countless dogs, only to love them enough to give them up to their forever home.
Built up a the business with beds, toys, soaps, and treats.
Cried a lot.
Laughed even more.

And those are just the major points.  We've been through many ups and downs in our four short years.  Things most certainly have not been easy.  Hans has been there every step of the way.  He's my best friend, my confidante, my companion.  He's always there, whether I need him or not.

In years to come, I know we'll face many more things.  Some day we will expand our family (more dogs??), some day life will change (hopefully for the better).  If there's one thing I've learned over the past four years, it's this: There's no one I'd rather spend the next 80 years with than Hans.  Here's to 8 years of being together, and 4 years of making it official!  Happy Anniversary, Sweetie!

Here's the church.  I love this church.  We spent four years studying here, so it was only appropriate that we get married here.

What you don't know is that we're actually both saying, "Bring us some food!"

The laughter has already begun.

I love this picture.  I love the way he looks at me.  I never see this face in person...but it's always captured on a camera.

The wedding party and some family...aka our emotional support group.

Run through the bubbles!!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Things Are Going Well

Well, it's been over a month since I've made some pretty big changes, and things are going better than expected.  I'm feeling great, and I think I'm looking better too.  I feel stronger and more confident.  Little things aren't stressing me out the way they used to.  Anyway, I figured I'd give you an update on each change.

Up & Running
I am now in my 4th week of the Up & Running online course, and I couldn't be happier.  I may not be quite as enthusiastic about posting and following others' posts as what some of my course-mates are, but I am loving every moment of the work outs, and I very much love the support I am getting from the community.  I am so happy I signed up for this course.  Just four more weeks, and I'll be done.  I'm pretty sure I'll be signing up for future courses.

Cut the Meds
This, too, has worked out well.  My emotions aren't swinging the way they used to.  Sure, I have my ups and downs like all people, but my ups are more often than they used to be, and my downs are nearly as low.  I am not overwhelmed nearly as easily, and that makes life better.  Plus, I find I'm listening to my body more.  If I'm having a particularly bad day, I'm not sulking.  Generally those bad days just mean that I'm really tired.  I'll take a quick nap and feel better.  The other day I felt week and tired, but I could tell immediately that it wasn't the same kind of tired...sleep wouldn't fix it.  I stopped, listened to what my body was telling me, and decided that I needed a good hearty meal.  I felt better right away.  I couldn't do that before.  I couldn't listen to my body.  I just felt bad all the time, and I couldn't figure out how to feel better.

Diet Change
Yep, this is still good.  I'm not perfect, and I could probably do a little better, but I'm eating a lot more fruits and veggies than I was.  I'm still in love with watermelon, and it's my current go-to snack.  I have no idea what I'll do in the fall and winter, but I'll figure something out.

Keeping Clean
This one probably needs the most work.  I am doing better than I was, but I would love things to be spic and span, and they're just not there yet.  For the most part, though, the kitchen is staying clean, and the floors are staying vacuumed.  It's not perfect but it's better than it was.

On top of all those changes, I'm also doing a Sunday morning work out with a trainer.  Last week's was awful, but yesterday's was much better.  My legs are definitely stronger than my arms.  Hans is doing these workouts with me, and it's fun to compare how we feel afterward.  Like I said, last week was awful for me, but Hans seemed to do better.  This week was great for me (with minimal soreness), but Hans is exhausted.  Apparently his arms are stronger.

There are, however, a few other changes I'd like to make.  I'm working on them, but I haven't figured out the magical formula to make it all work.  So, here's my list of some desired changes.  Let me know if you can help!

1) Less internet time.  I spend way too much time on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites.  Stupid social networking is very distracting!

2) More sleep.  Sometimes I work late and less sleep is unavoidable.  More often, though, I stay up too late on the computer or reading.  Hmm, do you think if I cut back on internet time I'd also gain more sleep?  It's a possibility.

3) Less T.V.  I'm not a huge t.v. person, and I've certainly cut back on what I was watching, but I'd like to watch less.  I need to find other ways to relax than just watching t.v.  I also need to listen to my body a little more.  If I'm truly too tired to read, I should probably go to bed.  Watching t.v. won't help recharge me, and I certainly won't get any work done.

Alright, that's where I stand.  Any tips?  Any help?  Thanks for listening!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I am currently sitting at my desk, and Cody is sleeping behind me.  In less than 10 minutes, the clock will strike midnight, and Cody will officially be another year older.  Cody is turning four.

This has not been an easy year for Cody.  With fosters coming in and out his space has been invaded.  My business has grown, but fun time for Cody has not.  Each new client, for Cody, is just another dog he can play with only briefly.  Still, this sweet boy has handled things like a champ.

Cody has been wonderful.  He's older now, and often that has given him authority over the younger dogs.  He helps me with the fosters by teaching them proper ways to behave.  He jogs with me in the mornings.  He lets me cry into his fur when I am upset.  He gives me kisses every morning and snuggles every night.

He has forgotten a few commands, such as turn around, but he has learned new, better commands, such as "Find Daddy!  Find Mommy!"  He still impresses the people at the dog park with his Frisbee catching abilities, but he prefers to catch his Frisbee in the river.

Over the past year, Cody had his first (and hopefully not last) experience with dock diving.  He took a trip to Minnesota, and he discovered a new dog park (new to him) in D.C.

Cody has welcomed countless visitors and guests, and he's scared off less-savory characters.

Trying to put into words what this little ball of fluff means to me is impossible.  Knowing he is next to me brings me such joy.

I honestly do not know where my life would be now if I had not gotten Cody.  He makes me happy on a daily basis, and I don't know how I would have gotten along without that extra joy.

Yes, he's also brought stress.  I worry about him constantly.  Is he happy?  Is he healthy?  Is he eating enough?  Does he like his food?  Even the stress, however, is somewhat joyful because it means Cody is here with me.

Cody has slowed down a little over the past year.  He finally reached adulthood, and he no longer has all the puppy energy he once had.  Still, though, he's eager to go for a run or hike or bike ride or even simply a walk.  He is happy to just be with me and Hans...his people.

Happy Birthday, Cody!  I cannot wait to see what the next year brings.

Cody is a wonderful assistant.

And an even better snuggler.

He's kind to small animals.

And he fits right under my desk.

And he looks really cool in goggles!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

I Am Not...

I am not a baby-sitter.

I do not have a degree in elementary education.

I never had any desire to be a nanny.

I like children, and someday hope to become a mother, but I will not mother your children.

I AM a dog trainer.  I am hired to teach you how to train your dog.  I am brought into the home to help the dog.  Occasionally, yes, that means teaching children.  It does not, however, mean baby-sitting children.

As an in-home dog trainer, many people hire me so that they can more-easily handle training their dog along with the day-to-day functions of the house.  I save them time and energy that might otherwise be wasted on finding baby-sitters, loading kids into the car, fussy car rides, and wrangling everyone in a training facility.  Some people, though, take advantage of this.  They see this as a fun experience for their kids, and they treat me as a school teacher.

I can understand a lot of things.  I understand that a dog is a family pet, and as such the children should learn how to care for their new friend.  I understand that finding someone to watch your child every week for at least an hour can be difficult.  I understand that having children at a lesson is sometimes unavoidable.  I am even more understanding of mothers with young children (2 and younger) who try their hardest to fit training in during their child's nap...relinquishing sleep or cleaning time, and I very much appreciate that.

I do not mind children being in a lesson.  What I mind is having a lesson take twice as long as it should because a parent has to keep stopping to tell their seven year old, ten year old, or even teenager to behave and pay attention.  I mind being interrupted by a child who finds the training boring and who simply wants to play.  My time is precious to me, and I mind having it wasted.

Many companies do not allow children in the lessons at all, and I don't think that's fair.  It makes life so much harder on families.  What I generally explain to families is that training can sometimes be boring for young kids.  I've found it's often helpful if the actual lessons are just adults and then the adults can teach their children.  I explain that, while children are allowed, it's sometimes best to give them something else to do.  Still, though, I have parents who are including their extremely-bored children in my hour+ lessons.

I have had children who are genuinely interested.  Occasionally they'll interrupt, but it's generally with real, honest questions.  Heck, I've even had a two-year-old learn how to tell his dog to sit (it was really quite amazing).  I have no problem taking extra time to teach kids like that.  They want to learn, and I'm more than willing to do my best to teach them.  I just don't know what to do about the majority of families...the ones who think that this is simply a "fun activity" and not a crucial learning experience.

So, I one question:  To any parent, teacher, or trainer, what would you do?  Would you ignore the situation and let it continue?  Would you place a no-child order?  Would you have serious conversations with the parents of said children (a very dangerous thing to do)?  What would you do??  Any advice will be greatly appreciated.