Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Status

Have you heard of those "Black" American Express cards? The ones that only the rich and famous have; with no limits or denials? I'll never have that kind of status. Nor do I really want it. Really, the only status I have been working towards finally came in the mail yesterday.


Ladies and Gentlemen, I have reached Gold status and in the mail today came my very own gold card packaged in such a neat way that you would have thought it was an Apple product.

This is no credit card. It isn't used for clothes. Or groceries. It doesn't get me into concerts or exclusive restaurants. And it isn't my airline mileage account.It's better than that.

I'm a gold-level customer at Starbucks, thank you very much.


Not only is our local Starbucks the place were everyone knows my name. No, tomorrow when they say good morning, I will whip out my gold card. I'm sure the entire store will break out in applause as I get showered in confetti and handed a bouquet of roses.

Okay, maybe that's a little too much. But, I do get some pretty neat perks.


Not only that, but when I lifted up my shiny new card, underneath was a coupon for a free drink of my choice!

What can I say...that's what you get when you are at Gold Status like me.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What should we do in Chicago?



Hubs and I are headed to Chicago later this month. I went years ago on a girl's trip and thought it was fun. But, I am so excited to go with Hubs this time. Besides San Diego earlier this year, it may be our only vacation (I know, shocker for traveling fiends like us).

Anyway, we only have 2 days to spend there and want to make the most of our time. We have a few things on our list, but we want to know what YOU like and what YOU think we should do.

Where should we eat? What should we see? What fun things do you like to do in Chicago? Where should we stay?

After Chicago we are actually headed to Wisconsin - which will be a new state for me to check off my list! And, we are driving the whole trip! Another shocker since we are usually the flying-type. It's not Hawai'i, but I think we are going to have some fun!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Adoption Process

I don't know how I did it. We moved to Kansas and Hubs said, "No dog." Our landlord said dogs were okay, but Hubs still said, "No dog." Four weeks later we were looking at the local shelters and rescues for an older dog. One Sunday we found ourselves torn between a lab mix only known as Brandon and a lab/husky named Riley.



"Brandon" had a crooked tail and looked a little mangy; Riley was huge and very hairy. Brandon seemed calm; Riley was full of excitement.

We went home and thought about it. We weighed the pros and cons. Four days later, we were approved to adopt Brandon so we decided to go see him one more time.


This time, when Brandon walked into the room I knew I was not going to be able to leave him. This time, we connected and I knew he was mine. Hubs knew too, and we took him home.

The first month was trying. Brandon, now named Ransom, was adjusting to living in our home. And after being abandoned, he had issues. He ate through his crate, not to mention that he devoured a library book and much more. When we left, he would literally go crazy. We would find him soaked with drool, panting furiously, and a crazed look in his eye. He had "separation anxiety."

Hubs was done with him. It caused us problems and I, yes even I the lover of floppy-eared dogs, said that it wasn't worth having him. We could never leave without fearing what we would return home to. As a last resort, we bought a giant metal crate. This time we introduced him slowly to the crate with treats, instead of shoving him in and locking it. This time, we put it in our living area, instead of out in the sunroom. This time, we taught him that when he enters his crate it is a promise that we are coming back for him. There is no need for him to freak out because his crate is a security.

And we had a changed dog. In a year, he has learned many commands. He plays so well with other dogs, he barks only when someone comes to the door or is commanded to. He is calm when we have friends and family over. He doesn't jump on people. He has become a great dog, a running companion, and a true part of our family (read stories here, here and here). Some days I look at him walking into a room and am amazed that we have a 70-pound animal living in our house and that is okay. 


Hubs said yesterday, "I wish we knew if he was happy here." We decided that a dog's sense of happiness is not like ours. Ransom is happy because he is fed each day, because he gets ample exercise, because he is taken care of, and because he has a home. 


Not everyone understands or want to live with a dog, but for Hubs and I, it is a blast. We get exercise, we get to play with him, we get to clean up after him, we get to snuggle with him, we get to laugh at his antics, and of course we get to train him how we want him to behave. But the best is when we come home and that crooked tail just starts a-waggin back and forth. It's been a fun year; and I can't wait for more!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Whirlwind of a Day results in a Lesson Learned

Tuesday was just another day. I got home from work and, just like any normal day, let Ransom outside while I got the mail. There was just one letter in the box. From our landlord. I open it absent-mindedly and freeze when I read the words, "...as of July 1, we are giving you 30 days notice..."

After a minor freak-out, I calmly get online and check out rental properties available. I load the dog in the car and we spend the rest of the afternoon looking at possible new homes.

From the moment we began looking for a rental home 1.5 years ago, we were struck at the grossness of the rentals in our city. Everyone we have met since has affirmed that our town just doesn't have good rental options. We. Lucked. Out. And after a year of life here, we had forgotten just how lucky we were.

That night Hubs and I drove around looking for "FOR RENT" signs and calling landlords. We found two very nice places, but they declined Ransom. The stereotype of large dogs and of renters in general is not us or Ransom, but if I were a landlord I would probably have reservations about a 70-pound dog. When we got home I sat in our office and just looked around at all our stuff. Moving is bad enough. But moving across town seems like such a waste of time.

The next morning Hubs and I called on more places and made plans to visit a couple of places over lunch. Hubs stopped and talked to our landlord to see if there was anything that could be done for us to stay just one more year.

Over lunch we picked the better of two options and agreed that it was livable. I had no idea how blessed we were to have our home. Little things, like two giant bathrooms with clean showers and drawers around the sink, we had taken for granted. A programable thermostat. A giant garage. The last few months I had actually been complaining about our home. I'm not going to pretend I know the mind of God, but perhaps He had enough of my complaining over the amazing blessing he had given us. In any case, walking through these two homes made me realize my ungrateful heart.

Before Hubs called our landlord to tell them our choice, they called us. If we were willing to pay a little more rent, they would let us sign another year lease. PRAISE! The small amount is worth not moving and staying in a home that we love. (As of now, papers are not signed so it isn't final.)

This morning I woke up and immediately thanked God for proving such a wonderful home for us to live in. I pray that this little lesson sticks in my life in all the abundant blessings God has given.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Why Kansas Summers make me go, "bleh."

I moved to Kansas (the first time) in July 1995. From that first day of life in Kansas, I began switching from loving summer to hating summer. Why?

Because it has become pointless to shower. Spending more than 60 seconds outside results in the sweat glands turned on high. Clothes now are gross, hair is disastrous, and body stink-age has begun.

Because my car cannot cool off on my drive home from work. Thus, the sweat gland effect as described above.

Because there is no other word than miserable to describe what being outside is like. As a body who loves to be outside, it is frustrating to be closed up in the house with artificial light all day.

Because I do not have a pool. If I had a pool in my backyard I am convinced summer would be slightly more bearable.

Because of the headaches. I spend 2 hours at the pool yesterday to come home and sleep for 2 hours due to a severe headache. Gotta love the heat and wind combo of Kansas.

I could continue, but then it might seem like I'm complaining...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Paradise, I mean Kansas

So I bought this song off of itunes. It is a reggae hit that we heard all the time during our second Hawai'i trip. It's called "Gimmie Love" and it just makes me smile. When I walk in the morning, it almost makes me feel like I am back on the island....

I begin to see tall palm trees waving in the breeze. Oh wait, that's just an electric pole.

I start to smell the salty ocean air. Nope, that's just the dog poop I picked up.

I close my eyes to hear the waves and feel the ocean mist. Then I open them becuase I trip over my feet and get sprayed by a sprinkler.

I look up into the trees to see the beautiful flowers. Instead, I see the cotton that hasn't yet fallen.

I anticipate a cool breeze to offset the hot sun. I nearly get blown off my feet with hot wind.

So the song can't transform my surroundings; at least it relives the memories.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Still Learning


Around the time I got married, a sweet friend of mine shared this verse with me:

"You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because He trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength."
Isaiah 26:3-4 (NKJ)

During the first three years of marriage, my Bible flipped open to this verse on its own. I clung to it. When my mind wandered, when I wanted to trust in myself, I said this verse in my head. PEACE, perfect peace, was for the one whose mind was fixed on the Lord. The one who trusted in Him.

I assumed that when dental school was over, peace would come more naturally. I would find a new verse to get me through.

WRONG.

Those first months in Kansas were long. The days dragged on and were completely focused on me. I swung from one mood to the next, fighting off tears, anger, and even happiness. I longed for attention, friendship, and direction, but I would not allow myself to take control of my emotions to return to a normal state of mind. Instead, I gave into the feelings that were wrong and ungodly. I would wake up in the morning determined to change and start anew, only to hit 2:00 and launch back into depressive thoughts. I even tried getting a dog to make me happy and bring me companionship. It didn't work. Nothing did.

And the verse was still there in my mind, in the very back of my mind. Promising peace if I would only trust in God; if I would only keep my mind on Him. Finally, I did. After fighting God for weeks, I gave over my plans to Him and trusted that His way was better than mine. For me, that meant not going to school right now, which was so hard. It meant letting God have my heart so that He could mold it for His plan.

And there was peace.

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

I thought I was past the emotion game. I thought I had them in control again. As I was preparing for a book study this week, I was silently "amening" the fact that I have all these issues with my emotions in order. Pride comes before the fall.

This very weekend, I again struggled. I pulled myself into my own world and erected a wall so that nobody Hubs could not get through. Everything was suddenly his fault, and in less than 24 hours I already knew I was sinning horribly.

But, I kept doing it anyway.

When I finally humbled myself and repented to God and Hubs, I felt peace. The peace I know is there for me when my mind is on God. So many things distract me - books, tv, daydreams, emotions, myself, others - but I can overcome them and when I do, I see how incredibly rotten my sinfulness is and how completely sweet my fellowship with God is.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Treadmill Trouble

Caesar Milan (aka The Dog Whisperer) says that a treadmill is a good way to exercise an energetic and active dog. I've always wanted to try it. I've not only read about it in his books, but I've watched him put it into action on TV.

This weekend, I found Hubs attempting to do just this. (Man, I wish I would have thought to take pictures.) I happened upon him standing on the treadmill with his feet spread apart so that he was on the panels that don't move. He held Ransom by the collar, between his legs. Ransom was a trooper. It started off slow and Hubs would make it faster every little while. Soon Ransom was up to a 8:30 mile-pace and still just trotting along.

Our goal: 1 mile before we left for dinner.

At one-half mile, something went wrong. It happened too quickly at the time to understand fully, but after a couple attempts of trying to veer off the treadmill, Ransom had stopped running completely. Hubs stopped the treadmill, and then realization hit us.

(Side note: Ransom's poop schedule is very consistent. He poops on our morning walks. He poops immediately when he gets to the dog part in the northeast corner. He circles 2.5 times before squatting. He cannot run for very long if he hasn't pooped.)

After the treadmill stopped, we discovered that there was a reason Ransom was trying to get off the treadmill. He had to poop. And since his owners were forcing him to continue running, he had no option but to squat right there. Unfortunately, when he squatted he also starting riding backwards on the belt, so then he had to squat/run for the next 5 seconds until the treadmill stopped. By that time, the damage was done. The poop had ridden the treadmill and flown off the back onto the floor. Soon, the smell was enough to send us all out of the room.

Verdict: The treadmill works. Ransom seemed to enjoy it.
Lessons Learned: Take Ransom outside BEFORE the workout.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Prizes

Prizes are the best! I love to provide them for events; and I love trying to get them. Any of you who have witnessed me trying to win a prize knows exactly what I mean.

There are 2 concerts coming to town that I would love to attend. Michael Buble and The Eagles. So, I have started stalking the radio stations to find how I can win some tix!!!

Today, on the way to the dog park, I was listening, listening, but nothing. All they were giving away was a $25 gift card to a pretty nice shopping mall. So, I reach for my phone, slowly... this isn't the prize I want. But, I decide to have some fun and at least try.

I dial the long distance number...busy. I waste about 10 seconds trying to figure out how to get my phone to redail and I wait while it takes forever to connect...then, it rings. And rings. And rings. I almost hang up and then I hear those words...

"You're the 10th caller!"

I won. People ask me how I do it. All I can tell you is that I try. I actually pick up my phone and dial the number. Somebody has to win...why not me?!

I've already decided what I am putting my $25 towards!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It works!

There are just some things that you buy, hoping that they work. You never actually know, though, until you have to use it. Like a fire extinguisher. Or medicines.

That's how it is with the flea and tick goop that we put between Ransom's shoulder blades each month. We shovel out the dough, we put it on, and we hope that it protects him (and us) from fleas. This weekend, we really put the medicine to the test by hiking in the tick-infested Kansas countryside.

Yesterday, I was grossed out when I felt, yet another tick on my dog. When I investigated further I found a DEAD tick! The medicine works! That nasty insect bit my dog and then died. Now I can put money into that medicine knowing it is doing some good!

Yesterday Hubs also found a tick, but it was on him! Unfortunately it was attached and engorged with Hubs's blood. Hmmm,  I wonder why they haven't made a "Frontline" for humans...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Home away from home

For three nights, this was our bedroom:

Not too shabby for a 7x7 area. We had an air mattress and a 2-foot wide entry area for our bags and Ransom, of course.

The first night, Hubs and I laid down on our brand new bed (purchased not even a week earlier). We were drifting off to sleep when we heard a loud noise and I felt a punch to my face from the bed. I sat up and we heard a hiss. The mattress had popped! The next morning, after sleeping on the hard ground, Hubs drove back to town to exchange the broken mattress for a new one. The next two nights were much more comfortable.

This was our kitchen:

And our dining room was screened in once we moved the table in:

This was our living room:

And our back yard:

But most importantly, for three days, this was our family:

92...93...94...

When you think of hiking, you probably think of the mountains. This weekend, we took a hike in Kansas, though, and found it to be quite nice.

The group included 8 adults and 4 dogs. Something very exciting must have distracted the dogs while the picture was snapped.


It was a warm hike at the beginning...muggy. But we climbed up some rocks and even into a cave.


The views were actually quite nice at certain spots.

The dogs were troopers. They climbed rocks. They forged rivers. And Ransom pulled me along the entire time, up and down hills. Two of the dogs were even carrying backpacks with water!



Jazz loved the river because it meant she could sink her whole body down into the water and cool off.


What we didn't realize until halfway through, was the number of ticks attaching themselves to the dogs and us. We pulled off many during the hike and then many more after the hike was over. When we got back to camp, I went off to take a shower. I returned to hear Hubs counting "62...63...". He was counting the number of ticks he had pulled off Ransom since I went to the shower. I sat down and helped him and we got to well over 100 ticks before we lost count. I guess we put that flea and tick medicine to the test!

video

(Yes, that background noise is Ransom breathing!)

When we arrived home, I found another tick on ME! Those things have to be one of the nastiest insects alive!