Friday, July 31, 2009

News

Last night I finally heard the news that I had been anticipating for a few weeks. My brother proposed to his girlfriend, she said yes, and there will be a wedding!


As the big sister, and one who is slow to appreciate change, I wondered how I would feel when this happened. Well here's how I feel: I am completely excited and happy for the two of them. I am looking forward to getting to know his fiance better over the years. I will admit that it is hard for me to recognize that he is actually old enough to be getting married, but I will be praying for them as they begin a new, exciting phase of life.

Congratulations to my brother and future sister-in-law!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A New Home

In the past 3 days we have acquired not one, but two dog crates. We have placed one in the living room

and one in the sun room.

It would be absolutely amazing if Ransom chewed through these crates. They are made with super thick steel and weigh about 50-lbs each. They come apart super easily for traveling, and after a weekend in which we feared leaving our house and wondering what would be chewed next, we absolutely needed to get something for Ransom to live in. However, since we had so much trouble with the first crate, we are taking this process nice and slow.

Ransom has actually gone inside to explore and sniff around. We put treats in there and he even has laid down inside the crate without us asking him. Perhaps he likes these better since we haven't used physical force by shoving him inside like the first night we got him.


We have yet to close the door on him, we are trying to just let him explore and feel comfortable with it. Maybe tonight will be the first time we leave him in there while we go out. I have high hopes and good feelings about this.


He fits in there very nicely and looks comfortable. I went to K-Mart and purchased two blankets for $4 each to make it seem more homey. I know he could care less, but it makes me feel better.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dear Kansas

Dear Kansas,

On Monday we drove over a hill and really liked it. Could you please grow some more of those?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Most of you know by now that the midwest is not my favorite place on earth. For so long I have loathed the flatness, the yellowness, the nothingness. But as it seems to have me in its grasps, for now at least, I have had to make adjustments in my mind and actually have found things to appreciate about the prairie and the town in which we now reside.

The big sky. For years, Hubs has encouraged me to look up at the sky. I am an early riser and now take Ransom walking right as the sun is rising. The sky turns all sorts of beautiful colors. Now, during the day, during the night, and even during storms, I find myself gazing up at the sky and being amazed at its vastness. This is how I can see God's greatness in, what I consider, a boring land.

The sunflowers. Right now, there are fields of sunflowers along the highways. These huge happy flowers always make me smile and are very pretty against the bright blue sky.

The church. I do not think we would be happy here if we did not have a church where we are weekly fed the word of God. I have always felt as though church was an extended family and here we are with young couples our age, going through the same life experiences, learning to serve God through their marriage and actions.

Starbucks. I have to admit that Starbucks is a huge comfort. Laugh if you want, but I love taking Ransom with me and just sitting outside reading and studying while he lays by my feet. He strikes up great conversations with interesting people; it is one of my favorite things to do.

I will always prefer trees and hills to wide open spaces, but I am glad that I can now look up and appreciate the big sky. I am also glad that scenery does not make one feel at home, and instead, our friends, my Hubs, and our church make us feel at home.

I am also thankful that Hubs likes to travel.

What do you like most about where you live? I'd like to know, especially those of you who live in the midwest.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Views

And now, the views we experienced on our recent Colorado hiking trip.

I love it when the mountains look hazy in the distance.


Poor Hubs. He had a grand view of my backside for most of the hike.

I love flowers. Whether the gorgeous tropical ones from Hawai'i or the simple wildflowers in the mountains - I love them all.

These were pretty and blue and hung down just like bells.



This is probably my favorite view of the entire trip. Words like "grand" and "majestic" can only be used to describe these mountains. It reminds me of how much more majestic and awesome is the Creator God.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

How to get the skunk odor out of your house.


After Ransom was nice and shiny and odor-free, I had a larger problem. Everywhere I read online stated emphatically, Do not let your dog back into the house! If you have to, lock them up in one room that is away from most of your home. 

Not only did we let him into our house; we let him sleep in our bedroom for the rest of the night. Hey, it was 4:30am and we don't trust him anywhere else.

The worst area was the sun room because the skunk practically sprayed directly into that room. I held my breath and opened all the windows to start airing it out. It figures that the one day it was perfectly calm outside with not even a breeze, was the day I was doing this. I then continued opening all the windows in the house up. Even the garage smelled.

After a couple of hours, it was bearable to enter the sun room, so I dumped baking soda all over the carpet, let it sit, then vacuumed it up. Then I dumped that air freshener powder (the entire bottle) all over the floor, let it sit, then vacuumed. Now, I had a very concentrated smell of fresh linen. Of course, Ransom was traumatized by all this vacuuming and curled up into as small of a ball as possible on the couch.

In the rest of the house, I began burning all the smelly candles I own - one in each room. Since the only place besides the sun room that Ransom actually laid down was our bedroom, I mixed a vinegar and water solution and put it in a spray bottle. Then, I sprayed that on the areas where he slept. Then, I vacuumed the rest of the house. 

The last items that really smelled were my clothes that I was wearing when he got sprayed. I put them, and anything else that was exposed to the oil, in the washer and washed as normal. They came out smelling fine, although I worry what will happen when they get dirty again - if that will bring the smell out.

I started this process at 8:30am and was done at 12:30pm. By then, it was beginning to smell like all my candles and air fresheners, so I really couldn't tell what it was like. My aunt came over to smell for me and said she didn't smell any thing gross. Hubs could still smell it a little and I could still taste it whenever I ate.

The next morning, I opened up the house again until it got too warm. We haven't smelled skunk in our house since.

Friday, July 24, 2009

How to get the skunk odor out of your dog's fur.

I am happy to say I have a clean, beautiful, odor-free dog after yesterday's disaster. 

As we went on our morning walk yesterday, dogs that I never knew were even in the neighborhood, dogs that couldn't see us through their fences, were barking at us. I'm sure they were telling Ransom how horrible he smelled. Ransom's head was down as he, too, knew he was the source of the worst smell ever. While we walked, I was sure that this smell would be on him for weeks. Visions of a my beautiful dog's soft, shiny black coat being shaved off were entering my mind.

So, after reading a few articles online and a frantic call to the vet at 8:01am, I locked Ransom in the sunroom (which also got hit with the skunk's spray) and took off to Wal-Mart for some frantic shopping. As I now could be considered an expert in this field, here is the sure way to rid your dog and your house of skunk odor.



Step 1 - Take 1 quart Hydrogen Peroxide, 1/4 cup Baking Soda, and 1 Tbsp. Dish Soap and mix together in a bucket. I know you may be thinking can't I use shampoo instead of dish soap? The dish soap is important. Skunk odor is an oil and dish soap is made to break down oils and grease while you wash your pans, right? So, I used Dawn - it's supposed to be "tough on grease." Put this beside your shower or bathtub and put on clothes that you can be comfortable in while wet. Then, get your dog and coax use all of your might to lift him into the shower and shut the door so he can't get out.

Step 2 - Put on rubber gloves. This is important because you do not want to get the skunk oil on your body. It helps to know exactly where he was sprayed so you can make sure to really clean that area. Turn on the shower and get the dog wet.

Step 3 - Lather the peroxide mixture into the dog's fur. Let it sit for 3 minutes. I wouldn't let it sit for too much longer in case the peroxide starts to bleach the fur. Rinse the dog off. 

That was the extent of the vet's orders and Ransom had no odor from him after this. But, I wanted to be extra sure.

Step 4 - Wash the dog using the over-the-counter skunk odor remover shampoo. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Keep your mouth closed while your dog shakes for all 5 minutes. Rinse the dog off.

Step 5 - Wash the dog using your regular dog shampoo. I actually use horse shampoo to make his coat nice and pretty. By now, your dog is getting really sick of being locked in the shower so you will probably get really, really wet.

Step 6 - Dry your dog off, and let him out of the shower. Take a shower for yourself now.

I promise, your dog will smell better than he ever has. But, that doesn't end your skunk removal process. You still have your house, which reeks. 

To be continued...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Three.

Yesterday, Hubs and I celebrated our three-year anniversary. After three years, I am not really sure what my life would be like if he wasn't in it. We went out to dinner and Hubs brought me flowers. It was extremely low-key, but exactly what we needed.  The staff at our restaurant was taking guesses on how old we were. They guessed 22, and were very surprised to hear we were 25 and had been married three years. After three years, I still love my Hubs and am so thankful for him!

Three seconds too late. This morning I had to take Ransom out for a middle-of-the-night potty break. We walked out the sliding glass door and Ransom darted towards something right off of the patio. I noticed the skunk three seconds too late. I immediately pulled Ransom in the house and slammed the sliding glass door. I then pulled him out of the sunroom and slammed the other sliding glass door. I said, I think Ransom just got sprayed by a skunk. Richard, in the bedroom, could already smell the proof.

I guess you know what I will be doing today. HELP!!!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A proud owner



After a weekend of frustrations with Ransom, he has settled back into normal life and actually has made me a proud dog owner. From walking on the leash to obeying commands, he is on his way to being the dog we dreamed about.

Last night, we went to the dog park. It was a spur of the moment decision and I didn't bring the camera (these pictures are all just ones I had on the computer). It was so much fun for us, and for him. 



When we arrived, there were 10-15 dogs there. Panic immediately set in for both of us. Ransom still makes us nervous, since we aren't sure how he will act in new circumstances. As we walked in, all 10-15 dogs came to greet us. That was sort of intimidating even to me, who has no fear of dogs. Fortunately, we have learned that dogs must sniff each other in inappropriate areas before they can play together and have fun, so we did not panic. So, as the dogs all took their turns sniffing, we stood there with Ransom still on the leash. After the ritual was over, he wanted to play. We unhooked the leash and held our breath.

Ransom took off playing chase with all the other dogs. It was so much fun to watch. This dog park is so nice; they have benches all over for owners to just sit and chat while the dogs play. We met some nice people and even more nice dogs. The whole event went better than either of us could have imagined. I think Ransom learns from the older dogs while we are there, too. It is probably really good for him.



Today, I needed to get out of the house. So, I took a couple of books and Ransom and we headed to Starbucks. I hooked Ransom to a pole, got my coffee and sat outside to read. As we sat there, Ransom didn't try to attack everyone who walked by. He simply sat down beside me and watched what was going on. As people would walk by, they would comment, What a beautiful dog you have, and Awww, how cute. An older gentleman loved him so much that he came over to pet Ransom and we talked about labs. As he was waiting for his coffee to be made, he came out and asked if he could give Ransom some dog treats that he had in his car! Such a food-oriented dog, Ransom was in heaven.

I have come to some conclusions about our adopted dog.  1 - he is definitely a puppy, less than 2 years old.  2 - he needs a lot of exercise so that he doesn't use his energy for evil.  3 - It takes time and patience and money to own a dog.  4 - I love him and am so glad we added him to our family.

Now, if I could just get him to sleep in a more modest way...


Calmness



While we were in Colorado I felt calm and peaceful. At home, I already feel anxious and uptight. 

Can I go back, please?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Layers

I have this thing. I like to find the most obscure way for me to post about an event without just giving a ordinary recap. Two reasons: 1 - I can make one event into multiple blog posts, and 2 - I am forced to use my creative mind. I like this challenge.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Hubs and I love to hike. Our trip to Estes Park was extremely short, so we took our one free morning, woke up super early, picked out a long hike, and did it. Since my body's thermostat can fluctuate at the slightest wind or ray of sun, I knew I needed to dress in layers.


This is towards the beginning of the hike. It was pretty shady and very cool. I was wearing my first layer, a super-soft North Face fleece (which, by the way, I purchased the week before for a mere $19, aka 75% off). It was very warm and was perfect for this portion of the hike.


By the first stop, Alberta Falls (.9 miles), I had shed the fleece and was now comfortable in my long sleeve tee. My hands were cold, but at least my body was the right temperature.


I stayed in the long sleeve tee for the majority of the hike. Since it was early morning, the trail was mostly shady.


As we got closer to our final destination, we had gone higher in elevation. The moment we hit the sun, I shed the long sleeve tee for the short sleeve tee. It was cool, but much better than sweating. PS - my bleached pants worked GREAT for hiking!


Our final destination was Black Lake at 10,656 feet. The area we were at was shady, windy, and freezing! If you look closely, you can see my goose-bumps!


So, we put the fleeces back on as we worked to get a picture where we didn't look so dark. This is the best we could do. I think it looks like we are standing against a backdrop, but that is truly the real thing.


As we headed back, we were almost always in the sun. The layers came off and we were very comfortable for the rest of the hike.

Good think Hubs was carrying the back pack.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I just wanna see a bear!

Usually elk are everywhere in Estes Park. This year, however, there were none during the entire trip. Something about so much rain in June so there is still plenty of food up higher - whatever. We ended up driving higher into the mountains and, sure enough, they were up there eating away. Although they look the same as every other year, they are still fun to see.

Each year, however, all I really want to see is a bear. When I was really young, like 4, I saw a black bear in the Smoky Mountains. He ran off really fast and my parents, to this day, don't believe me. I guess I feel some need to vindicate myself and prove that I do know what a bear looks like. One year we saw a mama and 2 bear cubs run across the road. It happened so fast that it doesn't count.

So this year I again hoped to see a bear. My hopes were lowered when I heard that the wildlife was sparse this year. Figures.

---------------------------------------------------------------------


Hubs and I went on a long, early morning hike. We started off on the trailhead at 6am for a 10-mile round trip adventure. In this picture we are right at the trailhead. You can see the trail right between our heads.

We took about 3 steps when I put my arm on Richard and said, There's a bear!

Sure enough, 20 feet ahead of us (I verified the distance with Hubs since he is a better judge of those sorts of things and I don't want to exaggerate) was what I would call a teenage bear standing on our trail, looking right at us! Hubs immediately goes for the camera, and the bear starts sauntering away. Hubs was able to grab a picture, although the bear was pretty far away by this point.


What more excitement can you have than seeing a bear on your trail? Well, the hike was still beautiful and well worth the early morning alarm. At the top, we also ran across a very friendly marmot.


He loved to have his picture taken and got very close to us. 

The hike was a success. Not only did we get some great views, but we got to see some fun wildlife. And, more importantly, a picture of the bear!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Polly the Piggy

Recently we went on a very short vacation to Estes Park with Hubs's family. Hubs and I started at midnight and drove through the night arriving just as the day was starting for everyone else. We were able to drive through a huge storm. The lightening gave a constant strobe-light feel and I was sure that during one of the bright moments, we would see a tornado charging toward us. As we arrived in Estes, we had to chuckle at the temperature. It was 54 degrees...almost half of the temperature in Kansas the day before (106). Needless to say, the weather was perfect.

While we were there, Richard's mom purchased a toy for each of her granddogs. Ransom loves to rip and shred all his toys and that is why we picked out Polly the Piggy for him.



See, Polly the Piggy is a "Tuffy Pet Toy." These toys are rated based on how durable they are and Polly rated #7, #10 being the most indestructible. We foolishly figured this one would at least take a while for him to demolish and it would surely give him a challenge.





Ransom was more rambunctious than ever after we picked him up from the kennel (which we realized more so the next day when he ate our DVD remote). Maybe his hyper personality was a clue, warning us to wait and introduce Polly another day. But we brought Polly out immediately when we arrived. I can't describe what happened next, but I can definitely show you.

video

Mere seconds later, Ransom broke through Polly's indestructible nose and began pulling the stuffing out. Then, he used his scissor-like teeth and cut through her ear.


Working on the ear.


Polly can hear no more from this ear.


Polly the Piggy, after meeting Ransom.

I think he loves his Piggy in a destructive sorta way.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A new breakfast

I found something new. It was at Wally World. It's good for you. I think it is yummy too.



Bear Naked Granola - I like the vanilla almond crunch flavor. It tastes like whole grain oats and seeds, but it has a nice sweet flavor that compliments fresh fruit and/or yogurt perfectly. I also like to eat it plain!

Of course it is good for you because of the whole grain oats and the flax seed, but I really like it because it has no preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, and no hydrogenated oils. Those things are completely foreign to our digestive system and so I really like to find stuff that is the real-deal. Plus, I think adding something crunchy to yogurt or fruit makes breakfast more fun! 

Really, though. This stuff is yummy - I don't think it is too unreasonably priced, either. At my Wally World it costs $3.48 for 12oz, which lasts me a week or so.

What? Do I ever eat hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup? Do I let these foreign foods into my body? Ha! Let's just say we aren't going to discuss the mini chocolate donuts I also bought on my trip to the grocery store!

My motto: everything in moderation!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The changing pants

I have a pair of blue capri pants that I really liked due to their comfiness. At the beginning of the spring, I noticed they had a giant bleach spot on them. This was probably due to my lazy butt. I left the pants in the laundry room all winter because I didn't want to get out the step-stool, climb up in my closet, pull down the "summer clothes tote," and pack them away when I realized I forgot. So, in the midst of doing laundry, I accidently splattered some bleach in a very obvious spot.


The bleach spot is a nice gray shade. Here, take a closer look.


I couldn't bear to throw them away when I was packing. I thought, what if I bleach the whole pair of pants? Will they all be the gray color?

I didn't have anything to lose. Obviously, I am not going to wear the pants with the spot so I might as well experiment. And, today I finally conducted the experiment.

There were no methods, no steps, no hypotheses - I just filled the sink with water, added bleach, and tossed the pants in (actually I place them in gently so that I would not get more splatter spots on my clothes). In a few minutes, the water was black.


Wow, that's a really bad picture of my pants soaking in bleach water.

So, I emptied out the black water and started over again. Then, I totally forgot about my pants until an hour later! I laid them outside to dry and this is what they look like:


It isn't a completely even color, but I think they will work for hiking, wearing around the house, and walking Ransom (if it ever gets cool enough). Here's a side-by-side before and after:


Definitely more wearable sans obvious-spot-in-awkward-place.

Since I don't really have much success on home-projects, I am pretty happy that this actually worked.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Scaredy Dog

The first time this happened, I was shocked. He had never tried to get on any of the furniture before, yet I found him in the guest bedroom:


The guest bedroom door is permanently closed now. Unless you come to visit; then I'll open it.

The next time it was OUR bed and I noticed a similarity.


Yes, that is drool on my pillow sham. Three weeks ago, I would have freaked out. Today, drool is just another part of life. You should see him while we get his food...drool everywhere.

Now, I expect him to retreat to our bed each time I vacuum.



He burrows under all the pillows and tries to hide from it. The vacuum doesn't even have to be on, just out. And then, after it is over and the vacuum is put away, I use all my strength to drag our 60-pound dog off of our bed, hoping his nails do not snag my comforter. But he doesn't come out of the bedroom. No. He hides beside the bed for a long time - until he feels it is safe to come out. I even tried coaxing him out with treats...he came and ate the treat and ran right back to the bedroom.

He has no problem choking himself to try and run after the neighborhood skunk family, though.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Shopping Cart Woes

Since moving, I have frequented Wally World more than ever before. It's convenient, for one. Cheapest for another. It's the largest store in town, and I see no hope in fighting against shopping there when it has a better selection than the local grocery store at times.

However, almost every time I am there I get frustrated. I don't remember this being an issue in Nebraska, but I rarely went to Walmart since I had my beloved Hy-Vee across the street.

In the Wally World parking lot, there are plenty of cart corrals. They are located strategically throughout the lot for our convenience. The majority of Walmart shoppers, however, do not realize they exist. 

Now, I realize it is HOT outside. It's almost unbearable at times, but if you walked the 100 feet to you car, then you can walk the extra 10 feet to the nearest cart corral. But instead, and I have seen people do this, people put their items in their car, push the cart away just enough so they can back out without any problems and go on their merry way. Interestingly enough, it is usually the parking spots closest to the store (and the corrals) that are littered with carts. 

Why is this such a big deal? Not only is it HOT, but it is WINDY. Those carts just fly around the parking lot on a windy day hitting other cars. I just do not understand, nor believe, that people are that busy that they cannot take the extra minute it requires to walk their carts to where they belong. I unfortunately do believe people are just this lazy, for I see NO other excuse for not returning a cart.

This week, I parked in a stall with 3 carts surrounding my car. In my frustration, I gathered up the carts and pushed them the 20 feet to the store. While doing this, I noticed a woman leaving her cart beside her car and then proceeding to clean out the trash from her car into the cart. She got into her car and drove away.

Whew. That feels better.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Something different


I spend the majority of my days at home anymore. So when Hubs gets home, I am more than ready to do something or go somewhere. It doesn't have to be something big and fancy, just a change of scenery - something different than normal. Last night, we did just that.

When Hubs got home, I had a picnic basket packed with homemade store-bought fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, and some plums. We went to a nearby park to eat our dinner and throw the Frisbee. It was also a good way to socialize Ransom and teach him some manners. Like, how you do not chew through your leash while you are tied to the picnic table because you'll just get tied right back with a shorter leash. And, how you do not need to kill yourself (or us) in the process of trying to meet other dogs. 

Well, we have a long ways to go on the manners thing, but the picnic was a success and gave Hubs and I a nice outing. It is easy to spend dinner talking about our day's events and then go off and do our own thing for the rest of the evening. The harder part is being purposeful in making time to spend with each other.

What kind of things do you do to make sure you have quality time with your Hubs?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Homesick

Can you be homesick for a place that has never been your home? As a rule of thumb, I am not one to get homesick - it never happened at summer camp or when I visited grandparents as a kid. Even when I moved away to college, I wasn't really homesick. Now that Richard moves with me wherever we go, I know I will never actually be away from "home," but there is one place that I long to be.

I thought one trip would satisfy the odd desire I had to experience island life. Then, I thought the second trip would hit the spot. But there are just some days when I just miss Hawai'i. I've only been there a total of 20 days, but it has me in its grasp. I just want to go back.

Maybe it's the mountains, where at times it feels like Colorado and other times it feels like the Jungle.


Maybe it is the crystal clear water. Yes, that could very well be the reason - I never tire of seeing that beautiful ocean.


Or, perhaps it is the tropical flowers. How I wish I could grow a plumeria tree. Maybe then I would feel closer to the island.


It could also be the smells and sounds. The birds that chirp all day long, the sound of the breeze through the palm trees, and the smell of the salty ocean.

It could be the perpetual suntan, the beautiful home and neighborhood we stayed in, or the shaved ice; but I can't pinpoint what it is exactly. I am well aware that I may never return, but I am happy to know I can sift through my memories whenever I need my Hawai'i "fix."

Monday, July 6, 2009

A New Tradition

We had a great weekend. It started out with a visit from my parents. They brought us Colby Ridge popcorn from Lincoln and Krispy Kreme donuts from Kansas City! Though it was a short visit, we had a great time throwing the Frisbee, playing with Ransom, and just hanging out.

On the 4th, we had a cookout with some of our new friends. It was such a success that it is sure to be a tradition going forward.


Haha. They both have buzzed heads and sunglasses. Hubs just needs to get him a goatee!

It started out with some bocce ball and then we grilled and hung out. 




Look closely and you can find the dog-pals. Jazz and Ransom

The party was at Ransom's best friend, Jazz's, house. They loved playing in the backyard and searching for fallen pieces of food. 

Then we made a fire to roast s'mores and also churned some homemade ice cream. Oh my, it was so good.


Ransom, eyeing the ice cream.


We were able to see the big city fireworks in a baseball field a block away. Then, we set off some of our own fireworks in the front yard. There were some really great fireworks all around us. They were loud and booming, but Ransom didn't mind it a bit.

When we exhausted our fireworks, we gathered outside and played cranium until very late. There were lots of laughs and we all decided it was a great party, one to be repeated next year for sure!