Friday, December 19, 2008

More Change!

Ah, so much change in my life!

I started to really struggle to get myself into work these last few months. My job long stopped being fun and started getting stressful. Then, Starbucks started cutting jobs. Before it was my turn, I began a job search and polished my resume.

Before too long, Andrew's mom found me a job with Rocky Mountain Gastroenterology. I'm so excited! I got the official word last week. I put my notice into work on Saturday, and my boss explained to me that managers with access codes to people's personal information and money are paid out their two weeks. So, I am currently being paid to not work! Hurray!

The new job starts Monday, January 5, so in the meantime, I've been getting into the holiday spirit by making cookies, buying everyone's Christmas gifts. Also, it's helped clear out my calendar to make sure I can runnnn to prepare for the half marathon!

In other, more somber news, yesterday was the day that Grandma Jo passed last year. My mom took the day off work and went to the hair dresser, then I went with her out to Target. I love remembering Grandma and thinking about her laugh, but yesterday was definitely tough. It reminded me too much of her death.

I love family, and I love that we get to spend more time with family around this time of year. And, yes, it makes it easier to do so w/no job to go to! This weekend, Uncle Matt is coming into town with Beth and Ben, so hopefully I'll get to see them. Then, on Christmas Eve, Julie and Andy are both coming into town. I'm so happy!

A few days ago, I sent out my Christmas cards. It was neat to see how many states they were all going out to! Let's see; I sent cards to Washington state, Washington, D.C., Oregon, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Texas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Massachussetts, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. So many people in so many places! I hope they all have a great Christmas.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Call Me Back; I Have Good News

So went the message left on my answering machine my Dr. Marie, Bailey's oncologist.

I called her back and learned that most of Bailey's tumors were benign, and so was the 1 lymph node that she worried about. Because they removed everything, she said that this surgery most likely "cured" her.

I'm so happy! So excited! And so's Bailey (as she chews on her new snowman chewtoy).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Trees and Ice Cream Cake

Although today is my birthday, I celebrated it yesterday with my family while my brother and his fiance were in town.

Andrew and I set up the Christmas tree (it was my birthday present from him last year), and he put the lights out on the balcony. I love our tree. We both have our "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments. I have my "Puppy Love" ornaments that I've collected throughout the years, and he has ornaments from preschool and high school. We also have the Peanuts ornaments we painted together last year, as well as engagement ornaments and "Our First Christmas" ornaments. The tree definitely has "us" hung all over it.

Finally, I topped the tree with my Grandma's Christmas point.

Andrew ran out to Cold Stone to pick out an ice cream cake for me, and my dad arrived at 5 with pizza and pop. Soon, my mom, Andy and Erin came, and we had fun talking and eating for a few hours. I had a few gifts to open, and I received a cookie and brownie recipe book, a new beater attachment for my Kitchenaid that scrapes the sides of the bowl, the movie "Polar Express," and some new running pants. Good stuff!

I definitely had a great birthday celebration. Today, Andrew and I are going to kick back and relax and play some games for day 2 of my birthday festivities.

Update on Bailey: Bailey's doing well! She almost slept through the night and is even napping now. Her incision still appears to be healing nicely, and she's starting to walk and act like her normal self. She's still on pain medication, though, and still isn't allowed to jump up or down or use stairs.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm Sorry They Took You Away

Handing Bailey over to the vet was the hardest thing, ever. She was upset and scared, but I knew it was for her own good. Still, so hard.

I heard updates throughout Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Everyone told me she was doing so well but was definitely suffering from separation anxiety. Her oncologist, Dr. Marie, ran with me for half a mile of the Turkey Trot and told me she went to check on Bailey Wednesday evening, and Bailey leaped into her arms as soon as she opened her cage.

I thought about her all the time, and I couldn't wait to pick her up. When the moment finally came, I could hear her jingle bells ringing as she got closer to my waiting room. She really did look great. Drowsy, doped up, and scared, but otherwise really great.

Every hour, she shows improvement. At first, she did nothing but whimper (don't worry, she's on lots of pain medication!). After a few hours, she was willing and able to lay down. Finally, she was able to sleep and get some rest. Last night, she started eating a bit, and by this morning, her hunger had returned and she was able to eat. Later this morning, she started drinking and pooped, and now she's even showing interest in her toys.

It's definitely going to be a slow recovery. On Monday, she gets some staples removed. Next weekend, they'll remove her stitches.

I'm attaching a picture of her from about an hour ago. It was the first time she laid on her back, so I seized the opportunity to take a picture of her incision.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Longest Days

I've spent the last few days at the animal hospital again. Sunday, I came home to a dog whimpering. She couldn't lay down or go down the stairs. I couldn't take her into the vet since it was the weekend, but I also knew I couldn't wait until the next day to take her in. So we went to the animal hospital.

It took a while for them to see us. There were a few major cases, including one zealous puppy who swallowed a stick his owner threw for him and got it stuck in his throat (we found out later he was going to be just fine, although he'd need a lot of pain medication!). When it was Bailey's turn, I told the vet about the arthritis in her paws and the history of mammory tumors. She played with Bailey's joints and her neck and back. None bothered Bailey, but when the vet touched her stomach, she freaked out. They had to muzzle her! It looked like the cancer was back.

They doped up Bailey with pain meds and gave me some to take home until she could see the oncologist today (Tuesday). I had to beg and plead with a man at work to cover my shift so I could get in for the appointment, and my mom was able to take half of a day off of work to go with me.

After hours of testing and waiting for results, we heard some semi-good news. Yes, her tumors were back, and yes, they were causing her pain, but they hadn't metastisized and could be removed with surgery. All her other organs were in excellent condition and she's in otherwise great health, leading them to determine that surgery was a really good option for her.

So Bailey goes back to the hospital first thing tomorrow. They're going to remove all her lower breast tissue and do a lumpectomy for the two smaller lumps up higher. It's going to be a pretty major surgery, and she's going to have a long recovery, but they think she will completely recover from this.

I feel so much better than I did yesterday and Sunday night. I'm scared for tomorrow, but I feel so grateful that the rest of her body is healthy and that I have the rest of the week off to care for her (what an amazing coincidence! Sometimes, those things just work out). So much to be grateful for! Happy thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

She Didn't Poop

Throughout our first year at the apartment complex, Andrew and I were frequently grossed out by the doggy poop surprises left around the courtyard. Winter made it easy (at least we could see it and not step in it!), but it was still gross.

Andrew and I always clean up after Bailey. Always. Well, there was the one time she had diarrhea, and it couldn't be done. So I suppose I should say always minus one.

One day, about two months ago or so, I was out in the courtyard, and Bailey squatted to pee. She's old and a bit arthritic, so her back is a little hunched, and it takes her longer than all the younger dogs. As she got up, and we headed inside, I thought I heard a woman yell, "Clean up after it!" But I couldn't see anyone, and thought it might have been something else.

Well, yesterday, we were out in the courtyard again, and again, Bailey peed. We moved on to another grassy area, when a woman stepped out onto her balcony and yelled to me, "Aren't you going to clean it up?"

I looked up at her, perplexed, and said, "Uh, she peed."

"It looked like she pooped."

I held up the green poop bag I was carrying in my hand and said, "No, sorry, she's old and arthritic. That's how she pees. Don't worry, I have a poop bag."

The woman looked at me, said, "Well, I thought she'd pooped," and turned and went inside.

On the one hand, I admire her for having the courage to confront someone who doesn't clean up after a pet. On the other hand, I thought she could have been nicer to me after I cleared up the issue and maybe (perhaps) even apologized.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes, We Did!

Too early to call? I don't think so!

Let's get ready to make some positive change!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Chatfield Reservoir

Yesterday afternoon was the perfect time for a run. It was about 60 degrees out, but the sun was covered by clouds and there was no wind.

My mom and I went to the Chatfield Reservoir for a little run, just to check out the trails for our big 10 mile race taking place on the 15th. It's a beautiful place to jog (although I wouldn't want to go by myself, ever. It's very forested, and there are very few people out in the wooded trails). Some parts were wide enough for two people, but mostly, the trails were meant for one person.

We ran, single file, over leaves and around fallen trees. At one point, when the sun just dipped below the mountains, we saw a doe about 15 feet from us. It's the closest I've ever come to a deer before! It watched us as we ran, and then I looked over in the other direction. There, a deer with long, elegant antlers was hoping away! Literally, prancing. It was so beautiful!

Mom and I only ran about two and a half miles or so (she had already run 6 that morning, and the sun was starting to set), but I had a grand time. I'm starting to get a little more excited than nervous about our upcoming run.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Trick-or-Treat? I don't think so.

Yesterday was the warmest Halloween in my memory. I can remember trick-or-treating as a kid and coming back with fingers numb from the cold. I figured, with the warm weather (the high 60s all evening!), we'd be slammed with trick-or-treaters.

I was excited because it was to be my first year giving out candy in my own place. Last year, Andrew and I house-sat over Halloween. This year, I had my bowl full of candy, and I waited...

...for nothing, apparently. Andrew and I didn't get any trick-or-treaters. Zero.

When I called my mom at 7:30pm, she hadn't gotten any trick-or-treaters, either. How weird is that? Since moving here, I've met a lot of people who claim that they don't "believe" in Halloween because it's Pagan, evil, or anti-Christian. I'm sorry, but I think that's radical and stupid. While Halloween might have some Pagan roots, so do many of our other traditions, from Christmas trees to Easter eggs to wishing wells. Why get caught up in past meanings when you can look for your own meanings in things? Why can't it just be about people having a chance to break social norms, dress up funky, and let kids trick-or-treat for candy? I feel bad that some kids have to miss out on Halloween, which was one of the days I looked forward to most as a kid.

Some people worry about the "dangers" of trick-or-treating. I'm not saying there aren't bad people in the world or that you shouldn't be careful, but there have been no (absolutely zero) cases where a stranger has poisoned candy and given it out
to trick-or-treaters. Zero. Let's face it: having a swimming pool is more dangerous than trick-or-treating. I think it's a positive thing to let kids band together, have fun, be kids, and get to know the neighbors and create those community bonds rather than to shy away from it.

So come on people: next year, let your kids dress up and have some fun.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thinking of Grandma

I woke up and started a pot of coffee. I really appreciate having mornings to myself, even if it's only for a few minutes. As I scooped my beans, I started to hum pretty sporatically and pretty low. Immediately, I was reminded of Grandma Jo. Grandma loved spending time alone, and even when people were around, there were times she just wanted to observe and have things quiet. In those moments, you could often hear her let out a few, low hums.

I love that I "inherited" that from her. It's quite soothing :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Yes, I voted!

Andrew and I went to the Tamarac Square Mall (right across the street from our apartment) today for early voting. We were given paper ballots! I've never used a paper ballot before, but all the elderly volunteers were eager to assist me, and pretty soon, I was using paper ballots like a pro.

I went in with a list of all my choices checked, so I was in and out in no time. What fun! And now I have an "I voted" sticker to don.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Such a Slacker!


I had a 10am dental appointment today to pick up my next three invisalign braces. I woke up early, made myself some breakfast, took Bailey out, and had a pretty uneventful day. Soon, I was on the computer on Pogo playing canasta for my badge. I didn't even pay attention to the time...

...until it was 9:40. Oh crap. I hadn't brushed my teeth or done my hair, and it's about a 20 minute drive to the dentist. I ditched the person I was playing against on Pogo and ran to brush my teeth. At 9:45, I decided to quick call the dentist to let them know I'd be 5 to 10 minutes late.

They told me that didn't work for them. Wha? They couldn't get me in again until Tuesday. Darn you, Pogo Canasta! That's what I get for not paying attention to the time, I guess.

Let this be a lesson for all you slackers out there.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Cold Snap and Pumpkin Pancakes

For 24 consecutive days this summer, Denver's temperature climbed above 90 degrees. Those 24 days set a record for our city, though it was one I would have been happy to have missed out on. Indeed, the summer was a scorcher...

...which is why I couldn't have been more thrilled to have this break in the heat. Today our high was 59 degrees, and it felt fantastically cool. We were able to break out the long sleeved shirts and put real socks and shoes on our feet. Absolutely delightful.

Aminta and I went to the mall. After browsing a few clothing shops, we stopped at Williams-Sonoma. I was thrilled to discover that Williams-Sonoma had their pumpkin display out, and I beelined it for the table. The focus was on pecan-pumpkin butter filled pancakes. During our last visit there in spring (Aminta's my shopping partner), I'd bought a pan for making filled pancakes. So, I had the pan. Now I just needed the fixings. I grabbed a recipe card and loaded up on pumpkin pancake/waffle mix and pecan pumpkin butter. It sounded positively scrumptious, and I was in the mood to pretend it was fall--pumpkin season!

After visiting with Aminta and Nicole for a while, I headed home to my beloved. I was so excited to show him my prizes. At first, he was a little skeptical. It's also quite possible he winced at the $15 price tag on the pancake mix. But once I showed him the recipe card with the picture of the filled pancakes, I knew he'd forgive me. For extra emphasis, I pointed out the fact that the filling was the pecan pumpkin butter blended with cream cheese.

Next thing I know, we're in the kitchen cooking up pancakes (at 11pm). The kitchen filled with the fragrant smells of pumpkin and spices as well as the sound of a begging dog. Scrumptious!

Tomorrow's back up in the 70s. I'm a little disappointed, but I sure am glad I got to enjoy the start of the season change. Just a few more weeks until the aspens begin to change colors. I can't wait!

Monday, September 1, 2008

What Did You Do to My Bed?

It used to be soft and white in the middle, and pink and fuzzy every where else. It was the perfect thing to dive into, to cuddle into. It's Bailey's bed.

When Bailey was going in for her first surgery to remove her breast cancer lumps, I busied myself by going to Target and buying everything a dog could possibly want and need. I bought Neosporin for her incision. I bought baby pain killers to help with her pain (as suggested by her vet). I bought soft biscuits. I bought comfy puppy jammies because she needed something to cover her so she wouldn't lick and infect her surgical site. And I bought the softest bed I could find.

See, when Bailey was a tiny puppy, my mom bought her a bed that's meant for 100 lb dogs. It had gotten bleached by the sun, so the pet shop offered it to her for $20. Bailey loved that damn bed. Its diameter alone was at least three times her length. She lept into it and played with it and lived it up. That is, until she learned how to unzip the bed. She unzipped its outer sheath and had a ball exhuming all the styrofoam-type pieces inside. It looked like Christmas with all the tufts strewn about. She had fun, but that was the end of her bed.

In subsequent years, I purchased a handful of beds for her, but none of them would do. They went unused and took up space. I did one hell of a job picking out a bed for after her surgery, though. Bailey found a new beloved bed. I placed her in there after her surgery, while she was still drugged up. She snoozed and snoozed. Afterwards, when we should try to limp around, she'd examine the room and her food and water, and then go back to her bed. It's been her place ever since.

It's three years later now. Her white and pink bed is now brown and kind of pink. It has dog hair all over it. There are mysterious stains that are likely from past chew sticks. I'm sure there's Neosporin smears in there, as well as streaks of food she was able to beg from the table.

In short, her bed needed a washing. I took on the task today by filling the sink with some laundry soap and hand washing it. Then, when I was semi-satisfied that the bed was clean, I took an armful of towels and tossed the whole kit and caboodle in the dryer. During the entire process, Bailey sat at the entrance of the kitchen, as still as a statue, watching my every move. I felt so bad for her, but my words could do little reassurance. After a while, it struck me as a bit on the funny side.

After hauling the bed and towels downstairs to the dryer via the laundry basket, Bailey decided to spend a good five minutes examining the basket, searching it for clues to the whereabouts of her bed. My heart goes out to her. I know, though, with as much as she loves to roll and play with dryer sheets, she'll be thrilled with the new smell of her bed.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Oil Drilling in Our Protected Lands

I wonder why the subject of opening up our protected wildlife refuges for oil drilling has so much public support. For me, it seems simple: Drilling for oil in these protected areas is a temporary fix, but the environmental effects have the potential to be devestating and long lasting. In order to open up these areas for oil drilling, we'd need to install roads and landfills and long miles of pipelines. We'd risk oil spills, and we'd make this land unsightly, and we'd impact the wildlife of these areas.

I'd rather us focus on developing alternative sources of energy than just bide our time and devestate the protected lands. Why, then, is this such a costly issue for Democrats? Why, during this time when our country seems to be more environmentally friendly, do the majority of people seem to be in favor of this drilling? I really don't understand why so many people support the Republicans on this issue and support drilling in our wildlife refuges.

Please, enlighten me. I'm so confused.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Still No Tickets to the Convention

I'm a little disappointed. As an Obama supporter, I've been on the list of emails for all of the important information in his campaign. A little more than a week ago, when they opened up their site for people to sign up for tickets, I was one of the first on and entered. I crossed my fingers, and...

...I made it onto the waiting list. I knew approximately half of all the tickets were going to people from Colorado, and since I was so early with registration, I thought I'd have a good chance. They must have some sort of selection process, though, because I told a girl I work with about the website. She signed up one day later than me, and she managed to score tickets to the event of the decade.

I suppose there's still a chance I'll make it. When people don't pick up their tickets, they're redistributed to others on the waiting list. Still, with less than a week to go, I'm less hopeful than I was earlier.

On the positive side, Andrew wasn't looking forward to the crowd and chaos, anyway. He simply agreed to go with me because he didn't want me going by myself. If we don't get tickets, I suppose we can pop some corn and watch it from the comfort of our living room. Not quite as good, but still memorable.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I love watching the Olympics!

Yes, I'm hooked on the Olympics. Every summer, I make sure to catch as much of the women's gymnastics as possible (winter games, I love figure skating!).

Before the individual uneven bars today, I got the chance to watch some of the track and field events. I discovered the pole vaulting is an incredible sport to watch. Thankfully, I also had the opportunity to watch the American men sweep the 400 meter hurdles event.

There's one aspect of the games this year that's bugging me, though. Every single women's gymnastics finals, the announcers seem to accuse the Chinese women of not being 16. It really hits a nerve with me, maybe because I was always so young looking at that age. These women clearly look 16 to me. Their passports say their 16. The Olympic committee says their 16. Drop it already. I'm not sure why, but it really, really bugs me. They're all at least 15. Let's get over that issue and enjoy the gymnastic games already!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Me, a Home Owner?

Andrew and I have recently been discussing buying a home summer 2009 or 2010. I've heard a lot of people mention a grant for first time home buyers, but it's very difficult to find anything on the web.

I found the government's website from many websites that offer help to find federal and state grants. However, no matter how hard I search, I can't find any information at that site for grants for first time home buyers. HUD had a website that had step by step instructions on how to apply, but they didn't explain which grant to search for (they simply said to search by the number of the grant without offering any example numbers). Additionally, I couldn't find much information on Colorado's assistance for first time home buyers, except to learn that this state doesn't offer grants.

I was wondering if any of my readers knew any specific information. What grant do I search for? Is it easy to apply? Does a person apply before they find a house or after?


Monday, August 4, 2008

Smells Like Burning Plastic

There's a wildfire at Green Mountain! For my family who were in Denver for Grandma's memorial, we drove through that area on the way up to the mountains. It wasn't too far from where we pulled over to check on the rental car.

There are quite a few homes in the area of the wildfire; none have been damaged, but there are a lot of evacuations just in case.

Living in Colorado, we've had our share of forest fires. However, this one is so close that it makes it a bit difficult to breathe outside. That, and instead of smelling like a campfire, it stinks like burning plastic.

Hurray to the firefighters who already have it 85% contained. Hopefully, everything will go as best as possible.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Last night, I experimented and made a vegetarian version of chicken and dumplings. I found a good base recipe from PETA: and tweaked it a bit with some recipes at (allrecipes is basically my favorite site on the web).

It was delicious! I rarely cook with celery, so the smells of it sizzling on the stove top reminded me of my mom's cooking. The meal itself reminded me of Grandma Jo; back in my younger, meat-eating days, she'd take me to the Cracker Barrel for chicken and dumplings (which was the only time I ever ate that meal). So, anyway, the meal was also good for warming my heart. Yummmm.

The soup recipe I used was almost exactly the PETA recipe, but here's what I did:

2 stalks of celery, sliced up

1/2 of an onion, diced (honestly, a whole onion wouldn't hurt)
1/2 stick of butter
healthy pinch of celery salt

salt & pepper
1/2 cup flour (all purpose, whole wheat, whatever)
8 cups vegetable broth
2 carrots, chopped
1 bay leaf
8 oz. firm tofu, diced
8 oz. Morning Star Farms chik'n strips, thawed and torn into smaller pieces
12 oz package of biscuit dough (I used Pillsbury. Make sure it doesn't have lard!)

On medium-low heat, melt the butter in a big pot. Once melted, toss in the celery and onion, giving it a stir. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until veggies are soft. Add a healthy pinch of celery salt and add some salt and pepper to taste (I've never been one to add salt to my food, but my blood pressure is a little too low, so I'm trying to add it to more dishes!). Add in the flour (I used whole wheat because that's all I had. I worried it would ruin the soup, but it worked out just fine). Stir until it's a paste. Slowly add in vegetable broth, stirring thoroughly with each addition. Turn heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil (this takes approximately 30 minutes, but it allows the soup to thicken).
Once boiling, add in the chopped carrots, the bay leaf, the tofu and chik'n strips (you can use a full pound of chik'n strips instead of the tofu, or vice-versa). Allow to cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pop open your package of biscuits. Tear the biscuits into pieces that are approximately 1 inch wide. Drop the pieces in, one at a time, stirring after each piece so they don't stick together. Once all the pieces are in the soup, simmer on the stove top for 10 to 15 minutes more. Stir once more and serve hot.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Kushy Weekend

For my Grandma Jo's memorial weekend, we had aunts, uncles, cousins, and so many others here in town. Aunt Gerry and Wayne flew in from Maine, Tina and Aunt Linda flew in from Boston, Uncle Mark came from Ohio, Uncle Matt came from Missouri, Julie came from Nebraska, Aunt Jackie came from California, Jana and Ian (who I met for the first time) came from Portland, and Aunt Carol, Uncle Mike, Missy, Mia, Glen, Jo and Jack all drove in from Iowa.

Tina stayed at my apartment. I was so stoked to have my first house guest! Andrew and I totally bleached the shower and toilets and vacuumed and had fun grocery shopping. I'm telling you, we're ready to be a regular bed & breakfast now. Tina was the best house guest, ever (and I'm not just saying that because she's my only house guest). She totally let me give her a tour and just generally showed an interest in everything, right down to the bagels. Hurray for her! Next time, I'll make her try Rock Band. Also next time, we won't be so exhausted from socializing so we can go for runs!

Having Julie in town was a hoot, too. I spent a lot of my time with her and Tina, just generally laughing it up and throwing our opinions out about everyone and every thing. Good times.

Uncle Mark and I talked a lot about the Disney World Half Marathon we're running in January. Turns out, in addition to us and my mom, his daughters Dina and Amber are planning on running in it. This'll be too much fun!

Andrew enjoyed meeting people and demonstrating his magic skills. At some point, he even had Jana and Ian practicing the disappearing coin trick. Too cute.

The most difficult part of the weekend was, of course, the memorial itself. We went up to Andrew's parents' land near Fairplay and sang and talked of our memories. I started to get upset about scattering Grandma's ashes. Not that I thought it was a bad idea; I knew it's what she'd wanted. It just is hard to say goodbye, I guess. I felt angry about not having her with us, and I hated thinking about everything she doesn't get to see. I know I'll move past those feelings and be able to enjoy her memories, but it's just so hard sometimes, and I feel so mad that I don't get to have her around anymore. I wish I could say more, but I'm so emotionally drained! It was a toughie, for sure.

And now... now things have quieted down. Some family is leaving already tomorrow morning. This means I'll sleep in, wake up slowly, and then reach out and connect with those that are still hanging out in town. I'm wiped, and I think it's time to cuddle up with a book and then head to sleep.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Frames and a Clean Pad

Today has been a busy one! I'm trying to make sure the apartment's clean. Tina arrives tomorrow, and she's staying with us! I'm so excited. SoooOoo, I washed some sheets and towels today, and I vacuumed everywhere.

Unfortunately for me, Bailey loves the smell of dryer sheets. I probably should have done laundry yesterday because now she's rubbing herself on the dryer sheets and depositing more hair into the carpet...

....oh well!

I also went and picked up my new specs today! I'm talking glasses, not computers :-P

Here's a picture I just snapped of the new frames!

My eyes!

Here's to my eye balls!

On a follow up appointment with my eye doctor, she assured me that, while retina degeneration can be related to nerve degeneration, it is not the first nerve problem that would appear with a condition like that. She said, "Most likely, you'd see something in the eye lids first."

But to be safe, she checked out my eyes and looked at my nerves and told me they look "healthy." Hurray!

Furthermore, I was finally able to contact Aunt Jackie, and my mom got a hold of Uncle Matt. Both said they don't think they've had problems with their retinas.

I feel good.

Today, I pick up my new spectacles!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Nerve degeneration?

Today was very challenging for me!

I'm struggling with what little information I have on our family's genetic disease as well as what little information I have about my own health problems. It's amazing how not knowing about these problems has really gotten me afraid.

I wrote my last post in a hurry and without much thought. I was stressing about what could be, and Andrew reassured me not to freak out because retinas deal with nerves and not muscles.

I went to work feeling more assured, until, out of nowhere, I suddenly recalled my mom once telling me that Aunt Jackie and Uncle Matt had a neurological disease. My fears piqued again.

Before leaving for work, I had called my mom just to tell her I was a bit freaked out over something the eye doctor said. She called me at work, and she knew exactly what I was freaked out about.

I told her what I'm about to write here.

At the eye doctor, I had to fill out a new patient history form. It had a lot of health issues to go through and circle. I had to circle any health concerns that were in my family, so I circled "cataracts," "high blood pressure," "diabetes," and "cancer." I saw muscle degeneration on there, and I thought of Aunt Jackie and Uncle Matt, so I circled that, too.

In the exam room, my eye doctor went over all my circled family problems with me. "Who had cataracts?" My mom's mom. "Who had high blood pressure?" Both of my grandmas. Etc., etc. At muscle degeneration, I didn't have much to say because I didn't know a lot. I told her I had an aunt and an uncle who had a rare, genetic condition of which I didn't know the name. I told her it affected the muscles of their eyes, and that they had to have muscles from the leg put into their eye lids. That's pretty much all I knew. It didn't seem like a big deal at the time.

She did all the basic exams on me. She checked the pressure of my eyes, she dilated them, looked inside. All that good stuff. When she was all done, she made a comment that was Innocent enough, but it completely has me freaked out. She said, "It's interesting your family has a history of muscle degeneration because that's what I'm seeing in your retinas. You have some thinning around the edges. Don't worry too much about it, though. It's just something for me to keep an eye on. Your actual risk of retina detachment is very low."

My mom definitely felt my concern. She'd confided in me before that there are times she really examines her eyes in the mirror to see if her eye lids are droopy. On a few occasions, I've done the same thing!

I then worked up the courage to ask her if Aunt Jackie and Uncle Matt had muscle degeneration or nerve degeneration. She said, "It's in the nerves." That hit me so hard. I broke down crying immediately. Thankfully, my boss let me go home.

I went out with my mom and dad earlier this evening for dinner and got to talk and hear more about it. I told them my eye doctor really didn't seem that worried about the retinal thinning, and that I'd read online it's a fairly common issue (approximately 8% of people experience it). However, it definitely involved the nerves, and any issues with eyes and nerves is unnerving with the family history.

She explained to me that they're still not exactly sure what the family suffers from. She said Aunt Jackie was diagnosed with Mitochondrial Myopathy, while Uncle Matt was diagnosed with Kearns-Sayre, which is a type of Mitochondrial Myopathy.

I got home and tried to read a bit about both. There's actually not much information on either, although there are some resources online for people diagnosed with rare disorders!

Kearns-Sayre was the most unnerving for me to read about because it did list retinal degeneration as a symptom. As freaky as that was, it also said it almost always appears in people before the age of 20, which is definitely consistent with my Aunt Jackie and Uncle Matt. That's a bit comforting for me (I'm 25). It had a lot of specifics on the eyes, which is definitely a problem for them both, but little information on the skeletal muscles. The degeneration they've both experienced has effected their use of their muscles to varying degrees (I know my aunt Jackie has told me she can't really feel the ground with her feet, including when she's stepping down or on cracks and such).

I couldn't find much about mitochondrial myopathy, and what I did read was more general. Basically, when your mitochondrias are messed up, you can have a lot of ugly and diverse side effects.

I'm not sure what to think. I know I'm freaked out. I know there's not much I can do, whether I have the disease or not. It's just scary to think of having to deal with a degenerative disease.

My grandma started showing signs of muscle weakness around the eyes around the age of 80. My mom told me she was given an eye lift for medial reasons because her dropping eye lids made it so much of her vision was blocked. If it was really the same thing as what her kids have, does that mean it's not Kearns-Sayre? She obviously had her onset much later than the age of 20. Or, if it was, does that mean there can be slow onsets to the disease? There's just not that information available.

My next move is to go back to the eye doctor and ask more about it. I need to find out if it's consistent with a nerve degeneration disease. If it possibly can be, my next step is to go to my general doctor and find out if there can be genetic testing done, and, if so, can I be referred to someone who can test me.

Hopefully, it's nothing. Hopefully, I'm just one of the 8% of the general population who deals with retinal thinning. Still, I can't help worrying over the possibilities...

Muscle Degeneration

Hurray for genetics!


After the eye doctor quizzed me on my family's history of muscle degeneration for a while, she finally let me know that I have thinned retinas. I wanted to tell her that the people in my family who suffer from the muscle degeneration have problems with their eye lid muscles, their legs, not things like retinas.

Her exact words were, "Yes, it's interesting that you have some family with muscle degeneration, because your retina muscles are thinning, especially around the edges. We're going to keep our eye on it, but don't worry too much. Your actual risk for retina detachment is low."

Gee, thanks, I'll try not to worry too much! And now I'm totally freaking out about our genetic disorder...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Big Sur Fires

With family all across the country, it seems that I always have a news connection. Floods in Iowa? Let's call Andy. Or Missy. Or Mia. Or Aunt Carol. Or Amanda. With family in Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Maine, Massachussetts, South Carolina and Washington, DC, there's always someone to contact somewhere.

Aunt Jackie (San Jose) was kind enough to email me about the Big Sur fires. Andrew and I have a vacation planned for our anniversary, where we're flying into LA and renting a convertible. The plan was (and hopefully still is) to drive up Highway 1 through Big Sur. We were going to spend a day in San Simeone and a few days in Monterey. With a few hours in San Francisco (where we were hoping to be able to visit with my cousin Christopher and maybe even my cousin Jerry), we were then planning on camping in the redwoods. Our flight home is going to be out of San Francisco, so no matter what, we have to find a non-fire effected way to get from LA to San Francisco!

So far, the state park department hasn't gotten back to me to let me know if the Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park has been effected by the thousands of wildfires in California. Aunt Jackie, however, has sent me maps of central and northern California, showing me where the fires have effected and where the highways are closed. She had a lot of information on the Basin Complex fire, which is the fire that's effecting Big Sur and Highway 1 and has burned the most acres. Thirty-one miles of Highway 1 had been closed!

I was definitely disappointed. Aunt Bette had told me how beautiful the drive was through the California coast line (she'd done the same drive, only north to south, with Grandma Jo and Aunt Jackie a few years back), and I was really looking forward to it. I'm willing to adjust my plans if need be, but I'm hoping, hoping that the fire will be contained by the time of our trip (August 8).

The news reports say it won't be contained until at least July 31, but there's been good news over the last few days. The fire is actually a whopping 23% contained, when only a few days ago it was at 8%. As of yesterday, they've officially reopened a lot of Highway 1, but only to residents and fire crews. It's still closed a bit further north, though...

So, here's to our fire fighters. May they stay safe and have the luck of the weather on their side. I hope the forests and historic sites will be saved, and I hope everything works out so I can have the chance to see the beauty of the coast (and hopefully not too much smoke!).

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Rocking Out with the Wii

I have a new addiction!

Wii Rock Band.

Specifically, the drums.

Alright, we don't even own the guitar (yet). The singing is OK. It's essentially the same thing as the American Idol Karaoke I'd bought, but most of the songs are sung by men on Rock Band. It's difficult for it to register my low notes. I've learned to just groan as low as I can into the microphone, and sometimes it gets almost low enough.

I'll still use American Idol for the singing, but I'm all about the drums on Rock Band! I had a learning curve at first. I think I might have rythm up in me, but I didn't know how to express it through drum sticks at first. And stepping on peddles? It was almost too much.

I think I can say I've found my groove though. I played on medium difficulty for the very first time today, and right off the bat, I scored 46,000 on a Weezer song (Say It Ain't So)! It's no five stars, but it beat the pants off of Andrew's 31k score.

When I grow up, I want to be a drummer.

Maybe when Andrew's home, I'll have him take a photo of me on the drums, and I'll add it to this blog.

What about you all? Have you tried Rock Band or Guitar Hero yet?

Ooh, that just reminded me. I should attach that video of Ellen playing Guitar Hero. It's awesome.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I can't believe I ran the whole thing!

Early yesterday morning, I ran in the Slacker Half Marathon Relay! I went into it expecting to run 4.4 miles, and with good reason. I read about the second leg of the race, which is 4.4 miles of paved road. I figured, OK, one other person runs 4.4 miles, and the other teammate runs 4.3.

Only that's not how it worked. I learned from some of my mom's coworkers that the first leg of the race (my leg!) had "rolling hills" and was 5.0 miles long. Holy crap! Sure enough, there were hills. And lots of little rocks to slip on. I took it really slow (and I'm so glad I did. Apparently, a lot of people twisted their ankles on the first 5 miles!). I stayed near the back of the pack for the most part and just kept going. I didn't know if my body would be able to stick it out for 5 miles. Gulp!

Before the first mile marker, I got a sharp pain in my side and my knees started to hurt. Not a good sign. I tried to breathe out longer than in (that sometimes helps me with that pain) but to no avail. Then I tried the opposite and tried to take long, deep breaths in. Still no worky. I ran with my arms bent above my head. Still, it didn't help! I told myself to run through the pain, and I kept moving. At the water station at mile two, I grabbed my water and decided to walk while drinking it. I walked probably a quarter mile, and my side felt better, so I ran again.

The run always seemed to be going uphill or down hill; it was very rare for it to be flat. It kept things interesting, and the views were amazing. I looked at the mountains ahead of me with their snow peaks, and I listed to the little waterfalls around me. It definitely kept me distracted and the run pretty much flew by. I eventually made it to mile 5. I sprinted when I saw the 5.0 mile marker sign. I did it! Only... my mom wasn't waiting there to take my timing chip. Holy crap, I had to keep going!

I freaked out that I'd passed her by. I decided to start walking again to save my stamina in case I had a lot farther to go. I walked about two tenths of a mile when I heard in the distance, "Beccckyyyy!" I took off running. I started to sprint (rather, as much of a sprint as I could muster after 5 miles), and I kept sprinting until I reached my mom. I'd just run 5.3 miles, my longest run ever! She took our timing chip and headed off to do her 4.4 miles. I felt great and didn't feel very tired at all. Hurray!

My 5.3 miles were completed in 1 hour 8 minutes, but it took me a full minute to arrive at the starting line once the clock started, so I'm claiming 1 hour 7 minutes. That's a 12.6 minute miles. While it's no 8 minute mile (like my mom's friend Kathy did for our last leg of the race!), I felt really good I could maintain that pace for such a long distance. I also now feel confident I could run a 10k!

...and even the full half marathon this January. Hurray!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cherry Creek Arts Festival

A few weeks ago, I signed up to sit at the Starbucks Coffee Master table at the annual Cherry Creek Arts Festival. It runs all of Fourth of July weekend, and it's my job to work the tables and do coffee tastings and be open to questions about our coffees. I was certified as a Coffee Master in 2006, so I thought it would be a fun opportunity.

Today, during our district meeting, I learned from a man that Howard Schultz (our CEO) is going to be in town and stopping by our table! I'm nervous, and now I'm worried my coffee knowledge isn't extensive enough. Eek! Time to read up.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Slacker Half-Marathon Relay

Saturday morning is the Slacker Half Marathon relay in Georgetown! I'm pumped, but I'm also hoping I can make adequate time. My longest run is 4 miles, and this one will be 4.4 miles. Thankfully, it's downhill (hence the title, "Slacker"), but I'm also worried it'll cause more pain in my knees to run downhill. I guess we'll see!

Last week, I ran another 5k with my mom, the Summer Solstice run. I didn't do so well (just over 40 minutes). I knew after work that I'd be too tired to make good time, but it still felt discouraging.

Today, I was determined to run 3 miles. I went to the gym and hopped on the treadmill. Right before I started it up, the maintenance man from the apartment came by and told me he had a complaint earlier that the treadmill was acting funny. He said to let him know if it did anything weird.

I started it up and walked .05 miles to get my heartrate up, and then I started to run. After running a quarter mile at a good pace, it stopped. It went back to the main screen, saying, "Press start to begin."

Crappy. I went and let the maintenance guy know, and he's going to have to call it in.
I definitely need to get a good run in before Saturday, though! I guess I'll call my mom and see if she wants to run with me tomorrow.

I can't wait for Saturday! My dad, Andrew and Aminta are coming to cheer us on. I might bring Cactus (Phuong's fiance from Hong Kong) with, too, if he's up for it. He arrives today!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hurray for Braces!

I have my first invisalign tray in! I put it in last night before bed, as recommended by my dentist. He suggested that putting it in at night can help with the pain. I'm not sure if that's what helped or not, but my teeth don't hurt at all! I actually worried for a bit that it wasn't working somehow because my mouth feels just fine.

The trays are surprisingly thin and completely clear, but they still feel a bit weird in the mouth. I can't bite down all the way with them in, so I've been keeping my mouth parted and open most of the time so it doesn't look like I have a mouth guard in. When I say words with the letter "S," there's a slight lisp, but other than that, you can't tell they're there at all.

The only downside so far is what a pain it is to take them out! They have to be removed for eating and drinking (except water). My weak little nails aren't strong enough to remove the liner (I bent them back three times and yelped in pain and began to worry I'd never get to eat again), so I had to resort to using tweezers. I also have to brush and floss before putting the trays back in, so I think I'm going to have to go out and get a travel toothbrush as well.

All in all, I'm very happy with my invisalign braces. They're completely clear, they don't hurt my mouth, and they're going to give me straight teeth by Christmas! Hurray.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fun with Teeth

Today, I went to the dentist and got my first invisalign tray! I am so, so excited.

He put on three button "attachments" to my teeth. Basically, this means he glued on a button like piece to three of my teeth. This gives the invisalign trays something to push on for the teeth that need to be rotated. Plus, it helps hold the trays on.

The trays are surprisingly thin and extremely clear. They don't feel too tight, and they don't scratch my gums. Perfect!

My dentist recommended I wait until this evening to put my first trays in permanently. He said if I put them in after dinner & brushing and take an ibuprofin, my teeth pain should be minimal in the morning. We'll see!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summer Solstice Run

My mom and I are running in the Summer Solstice Run at City Park tomorrow! It's an evening 5k run, and I'm nervous about running after standing on my feet for 8 hours at work. Well, worst case scenerio, I'll walk it! I'll just wait and see how my leg muscles feel.

Less than two weeks until our slacker half marathon relay!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Morning with Bailey

This morning, Andrew got up with the sun. I pretended it was still dark and burrowed under the pillows. Bailey stuck with me, and we snuggled for hours. When I finally stirred and made my way out of bed, she followed me into the computer room, where she proceded to replace me with her log.

It's quite cute, really.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Weekend at Mom & Dad's

Andrew spent the weekend camping and canoeing in Moab with his buddies. As of this moment, I'm sitting at my computer, waiting for him to come home (I can't wait! Thirty more minutes...).

While he was in Moab, I spent the weekend with Bailey at my parents' house. I did everything from run with my mom to shop to watching a movie with Aminta (The Strangers, uber creepy!) to playing Wii golf to teaching my dad how to play Mariokart. It was so much fun; the weekend went by in a blur. I can't believe 3 days off can go by so quickly!

My mom and dad bought me a cute little patio set for the balcony, and they also spoiled me by buying me a new pair of shoes, a dress, and a new wallet. So, yes, I was pampered and spoiled for the weekend.

As much fun as I had, I cannot wait for Andrew to get home. I decided to make breakfast burritos for dinner at the suggestion of some coworkers, which I've never had before. I think he'll like them! Only, I realize now, I never did buy salsa or anything. I wonder if that's OK? It'll be fake bacon, scrambled eggs, cheese, and potatoes & onion. Good, yes? And I have Mariokart all set up and waiting. It'll be such a fun night! Mostly, I can't wait for the snuggling and hearing about his trip.

Why isn't it 8 o'clock yet?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


It's official; I'm getting the invisalign braces!

Today, I went in to learn about how well they'll work on me, specifically. There were computer images to see how my teeth are now, how they'll look like in the end, and how they'll look like step by step, with each tray.

I'm very excited. I need a total of 14 trays on both my top teeth and my bottom; each tray, I'm to wear for 2 weeks. This means 28 weeks (or just 6 months!) of braces, and then I'll have straight teeth!

There's enough space in my mouth where I won't need my teeth filed in the gaps. Also, it sounds like my insurance is going to cover half the cost! I couldn't be happier with that.

Woohoo! I'm excited not to have my one front tooth in my way all the time (one of my incisors has dropped so low and so far back, when I bite down, it touches my bottom teeth before any of the others, so that's the only non-molar tooth I can touch to my bottom teeth). I'm just... excited!


My first tray should arrive in 2 weeks :)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Peace Corps

Yesterday, Andrew and I talked about the Peace Corps. We're basically tossing around the idea of applying to volunteer for next year. To be honest, I really love the idea, and the possibility of learning a language to live and help out people in another country is extremely appealing.

There are some really good benefits for working with the Peace Corps. First, you spend three months training on a language and culture, and then you are placed (usually with a family) in another country to live and work for two years. It's mostly volunteer work. The government pays you a stipend to live off of, based on the cost of living in the country you're sent. Then, after completing the full two years of service, each volunteer is given $6,000.

Also, if you complete your two years in the Peace Corps, it's supposed to be really easy to get a job with the federal government. As long as you meet the qualifications of a position (degree, experience, whatever), you won't have to go through the competitive process for the job for a full year.

Furthermore, Andrew and I would be guaranteed to be placed together if we were accepted. We wouldn't have to worry about being alone. About 9% of Peace Corps volunteers are married, and (apparently) there are some projects in countries they only send married couples to. Hmm.

Of course, there would be a few concerns with leaving. One, I'm used to seeing my parents weekly. Not seeing my family whenever I want to will be very challenging. Two, Bailey's health is always a concern. I couldn't possibly leave her this late in her life. It would kill me to have her get really sick when I'm gone. Perhaps Andrew and I should wait a few more years when we don't have a pet? Also, career/jobs could be a problem. I don't think my company would give me two years leave for the Peace Corps (although I can definitely call on Tuesday and look into it). I've always touched on the idea of working for the federal government because of the benefits, so I could have a job opportunity upon returning. However, it would be a bit intimidating to come back home after 2+ years of being away, and then having to deal with the issue of finding a job.

I'm not sure. A lot of possibilities and worthwhile reasons to join the Peace Corps. A lot of emotional concerns to deal with, too, if we were to apply.

Do any of you know someone who's joined the Peace Corps? What were their experiences like?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mountain Camping

Last night, Andrew and I drove up to his parents' land near Fairplay, Colorado to camp. It was to be my first time camping outside of a campground with a toilet, so I was a bit nervous.

Because of the holiday traffic, the trip took longer than usual. We stopped off in Breckenridge and didn't actually make it to the land until just after 8pm. With the mountains to the west, the sun was already almost set up there.

Andrew's parents were there checking out spots to build a cabin, and they helped us set up our tent before heading on their way. I felt sleepy and wanted to crash out just as Andrew got the fire going. It took a lot of work and time, so I didn't want to hurry away to bed. Instead, I did my best to stay awake and checked out the stars.

Maybe I made it to about 10pm. I'm not sure. At some point, I had to tell him I couldn't stay awake any more. I crawled into the tent and into my new (good to 20 degrees) sleeping bag. I was a bit too short for it, so I took a blanket and shoved it down to the foot of the bag and buried my feet in their to keep them warm. I slept and slept and slept...

...for about 3 hours. My cold, numb face woke me up. Using my warm hands, I was able to help my face, but I couldn't find a position to keep my face warm. I thought about burying my head in the sleeping bag, but the oxygen wasn't good in there. Plus, I didn't know if sleeping bags are made with plastic (are they?), and I worried I'd suffocate. My nose was freezing again, so I gently shook Andrew to let him know I was uber cold.

He let me crawl into his bag. He has a fabric lining near the top, which helped keep my face warm. However, with two of us zipped into his one-man bag, it was difficult to breathe and move. He decided to try out my bag. I think he did OK in there, but once he left the bag I was sleeping in, my feet started to get cold.

I felt pretty miserable. I didn't want to fail at my first non-campgroud camping experience, so I tried to fall asleep again. At the time, I didn't know what time it was (1am), and I assumed it was close to dawn (wrong!). I figured, if I can just fall asleep for another hour, the sun will rise and start to warm us up! Time ticked by slowly, and I think Andrew knew I wasn't sleeping. He offered to pack up the camp site and take me home. At first, I resisted. After another 20 minutes (or maybe it was only a couple), I gave in and agreed.

He started the car and had me sit in there while he quickly packed everything up. Dogs or coyotes or maybe the yetis that reportedly live up in the area were howling, so I didn't fight him too much on staying in the car. I glanced over and saw the temperature read out read 25 degrees. My sleeping bag should have worked at that temperature, but, then again, it was probably too big for me as there was lots of extra space on top to let the cold air in.

We made it home by 3:30am. Typically, I hate the temperature in our apartment. No matter what we do, it's stuck at a miserable 78 degrees inside. At 3:30am, however, it felt nice to be usually warm, and I fell straight asleep and didn't wake up again until 11.

So maybe I didn't make it through a full night of mountain camping. That's OK. I'll give it a try again this summer, when the temperature won't drop so low. For now, it's enough to say, I peed in the forest. Good for me.

What did you all do this holiday weekend?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Canoe Dog Continued

With my back a bit burned (I missed a spot with sunscreen!), I've been napping on and off all day, and Andrew's been applying lotion on my burns. Bailey's just as tired as I am. I've been browsing through our pictures, and it struck me as funny that she's the one using the seat pad in all the canoeing pictures (she pretty much stayed on that pad and laid down on the life vests).

I feel so lucky that she's still healthy enough to go canoeing with us. I really hope we'll be able to take her camping next weekend!

Canoe Dog

Bailey's completely wiped out after a fun day at Chatfield Reservoir. We got up early and went over to Andrew's mom and dad's to pick up the canoe. I wasn't sure what to expect from Bailey, but she did pretty well!

She loved the smells. We canoed to a little "island" and let Bailey run around off leash. After a little persuasion, she even pranced at the edge of the water and loved it. Andrew beckoned her to follow him further into the water, and she actually did. She swam a little bit, but ultimately decided the land was more fun. Good choice; she had a blast smelling everything in "nature."

After about an hour or so, she seemed a little exhausted and started to cry. She doesn't spend much time outdoors, so I figured she'd had her fill and was probably a bit overwhelmed. Do we headed back, really satisfied with our day outdoors with the dog. I'm really glad we took her there; I'm so happy she had fun.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Art of Taking Bailey's Temperature

In the wee hours of the morning, Andrew and I grabbed Bailey, her leash, and headed to the pet hospital.

She started acting a bit off earlier this week, though it took me a while to really notice a pattern. My parents watched Bailey for the weekend, and my mom told me that Bailey woke her up around midnight Monday morning to go pee.

On Tuesday, I picked her up and brought her home. Around midnight, she started crying, but I was so tired, I fell right back asleep. At two, I woke up again and noticed her cries sounded desperate. I told her, "OK," and I got up and went to the bathroom to find my pants and shoes. She jumped out of bed and was ready to rock. Evidently, I took too long, because she squatted and peed as I was putting on my shoes. I felt so, so bad for her and didn't say anything to her because I knew it wasn't her fault. I took her out anyway, and she peed again for a long, long time.

Again, I didn't think too much of it. I chalked that one up to being my fault because I didn't wake up when she cried to me at midnight. Still, I felt some worry. She's never, ever had an accident in the house since she was house broken as a puppy.

I monitored her closely Wednesday and Thursday, and I took her out every few hours. She did just fine and made it through those nights. On Friday (yesterday), I took her out at noon and then went to work. Andrew came home at 4:45pm and found a little pee puddle by the door. He took her out right away and she peed again.

I didn't get home from work until 11pm. After I got in, Andrew told me about her accident. I knew something, something had to be wrong. But it was late on a Friday night, and my vet wouldn't be open until Monday. I wondered, "Is it OK to wait until Monday?" Then I thought of Homie, and I thought about how his symptoms hadn't been that severe, and how he died suddenly, anyway.

So I called my vet's number, knowing that, after hours, it connects to the pet hospital. I explained to the tech her pee problems, and I asked if I needed to worry about bladder infection or kidney infection or what. She said it could be something minor, it could be an infection, or it could be old age (simply that Bailey can't hold it any more). She told me I could certainly bring Bailey in; it was up to me if I wanted to wait until Monday.

I woke Andrew up, and we took her to the pet hospital at County Line & Holly. They were so sweet to her. At some point, the vet tech took Bailey to the back to "take her temperature." I could hear the bells of her collar jingling as she led her away down the hall. That's when Andrew leaned over and said, "You know how they take her temperature, right?"

I laughed a bit at the expense of Bailey, thinking of my little Sweety prancing down the hallway completely unaware of what awaited her... the anal thermometer. Poor girl.

The vet came in and talked to us. I asked a million questions. Essentially, he thought the most likely cause of Bailey's problem was a urinary tract infection (I guess they're common in older females). He said it's less likely to be something like a kidney infection because she'd be in a lot of pain, especially when she peed (which she wasn't). He said he also didn't think it was diabetes because I would have noticed a drastic increase in her drinking (which I hadn't), and he said she would have been peeing a lot more in quantity, not just frequency.

I swallowed my fear and asked him if it could be her cancer (Bailey has breast cancer). He told me that cancer can present itself in basically any way it wants to, so it could be, but it's not as likely. He told me that if everything else is excluded, only then would we worry about that, and then we would do ultrasounds and scans and such to see her organs.

He tried to do a somethingcentesis... a procedure where he'd stick a needle in her bladder and extract some urine to test. But Bailey's bladder was empty, and he couldn't. He recommended that we put her on antibiotics to see if it helps. If it doesn't or she gets worse, I should bring her to my vet on Monday for more testing and comprehensive blood work. If it does solve the problem, we can chalk it up to an infection and call it good.

I feel better knowing that the most likely problems are the ones with the lower health risk. She can fight off a urinary infection, if that's the problem, and she's on antibiotics before it is a big problem. The next most likely problem is her old age. If that's it, hell, we can buy doggy diapers for night time and when we're going to be out of the house for more than 4 hours.

I'm relieved to know it's not likely something life threatening. I'll tell you what, though; it sure made me very appreciative to wake up and find my little furry bundle snuggled up between Andrew and me this morning. I sure love that girl.

Do any of you feel like your dog/cat/pet is a part of your family? I'm sorry for everyone who's had to lose their buddy. It's not easy watching someone you're supposed to take care of get sick, is it?

(Attached are two photos: one of Homer chilling on the deck with us a week or two before he died unexpectedly, and one of Bailey on Easter nibbling on her Easter egg).

Friday, May 16, 2008

Automated Phone Systems

Andrew and I have been really looking forward to our stimulus payment. I'm getting braces, so we thought it would cover a good chunk of the cost on those!

The deadline for our stimulus payment to arrive in our direct deposit was today. It finally arrived... half the amount it should have.

We received $600. I mean, that's great. But we were really hoping for the full $1200 that's supposed to go to married couples who make under $75k a year.

I spent an hour on the phones trying to talk to somebody. They have a wonderful automated system that gives you two options: Do I Qualify? and When Will I Receive My Stimulus Payment? If you don't answer one of those options, they disconnect you. If you do, it's more automated crap that doesn't answer any of my questions.

I called my local office. Their automated system said they don't have agents to talk with us, either.

I called the business line and couldn't get through. I called the individual tax line, and there was no one to talk to either. Finally, through that line, by not answering any of their options through five cycles, they finally connected me to an agent...

....who connected me back to the automated system.

It was great.

So I went through the whole process again, and when an agent answered and said she were going to connect me to the automated system, I cried out, "PLEASE, please wait!"

And in one breath, I said, "Pleasewedidgetourstimulus. Wegotitbutitwasn'ttherightamount. Please,please,theautomatedsystemonlyhastwooptions. Noneofthoseoptionsapplytous. Please,it'sonlyaboutifyouqualifyorwhentoexpectthepayment. We'vealreadygottenours,it'sjustforthewrongamount. Please,Idon'tknowwhototalktoaboutthis problem."

And she said?

We have a really high number of calls. I can only redirect you to this number. You probably won't be able to talk to any agent today. You might want to call back tomorrow, and maybe you'll get to talk to someone then.

I'm glad she answered me, but they might as well have added that to their automated system. Something like
If these options don't apply to you, please call back at a less busy time to talk directly to an agent.

Then I wouldn't have manned the phone for an hour to get that tidbit of info.

How did all your stimulus stuff work out? Did you all get what you expected and when you expected it?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Everything is Beautiful

I check in on my cousin Missy's blog regularly ( It helps me stay connected to some of my extended family (Thanks to for that, too!). That's not always an easy thing when you have a family as big as ours!

Today, I read about her thoughts on staying positive and grateful. It motivated me a bit to reflect on the positive things I have in my life.

For starters, I'm so happy to have our parents live close by. I get homesick sometimes, and it's nice to go see my parents whenever I want and get some Wii Golf time in. Furthermore, I'm glad to have Andrew as my husband. Today, for example, he came home for lunch, and we ate a delicious meal and snuggled with Bailey until he had to go. Having to go to work isn't the greatest feeling in the world, but I'm really glad we both have jobs during this recession. There are many families who have to worry about money and food and their homes every day, and I'm so, so grateful that Andrew and I aren't one of them. I'm also very glad that I have today off. I'm grateful to have these hours to myself to read, do the dishes, catch up on laundry, and add to my blog.

Today, I also felt really content when I took Bailey for a little stroll. She seemed to be doing much better after a few days of acting sick. It drizzled a bit on us, and we walked by two ducks sleeping in the pond under a tree. I love that feeling being out in "nature" causes in me; the feeling that everything is OK, and everything is beautiful.

Monday, May 12, 2008

American Idol and Digital Receivers

Andrew and I don't have cable; we don't watch all that much TV, so we've been sticking with broadcast and saving a bit of money there. A few months ago, we started hearing about digital receivers and such, so Andrew sent in for our free coupon thing from the government.

Yesterday, we finally hit up Best Buy to get our receiver. While we were there, I picked up a copy of Wii American Idol karaoke.

I might not be a fan of the show, but American Idol for the Wii is too fun. They have a selection of maybe 4 dozen songs or so, everything from that song, "It's Beautiful" (Or is it "You're Beautiful"?) to "Bohemian Rhapsody." You sing along with the song, and the judges from American Idol (Randy, Paula and Simon; see, I know my pop culture trivia!) critique you based on keeping with the rhythm of the song and keeping the right pitch. Based on how well you do, you might bomb out or else go gold or platinum (I have yet to get a diamond). The more platinum songs you get, the more songs you unlock (5 more until I unlock "Somewhere Over the Rainbow!").

Anyway, I wasn't sure what to expect from the game, but it's a lot of fun. Andrew said it's exactly like Rock Band, only it's without all the other instruments. I guess that means I might like Rock Band... or that Rock Band fans might like American Idol!

So far, my best song is "Tiny Dancer." I did surprisingly well on Aerosmith's "Don't Want to Miss a Thing," too. I'm really bad at the low pitch songs; the pitch mic has a hard time recognizing my low notes (no matter how low I go, I can't seem to get low enough for some parts of "Knocking on Heaven's Door").

I'm thinking about bringing the karaoke game over to my parents' house. There's a chance my mom'll get a kick out of it. That or Guitar Hero. I wonder if you can rent that along with the guitar from Blockbuster? Hmm.

Anyway, back to our Best Buy purchases. The digital receiver works *really* well. A few of our channels came in really static-y, but with the receiver, it's just as clear as having a cable connection. Andrew commented, "If I'd known it worked this well, I wo uld have sent for hte coupon a long time ago!" We have a second coupon, so we're planning on picking up another for our other TV. The digital picture is widescreen, too (I didn't know TV shows were filmed in widescreen; did you?). I'm excited to catch "House" tonight!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Hurray for our Stimulus!

Huzzah, Andrew and I have officially paid off one of our student loans! One down, one to go. Our finances seem to be in such good order, we've started to talk about looking for a house!

Our lease ends soon, so we'll renew it for another year, but we're hoping (hoping!) that we'll be able to find something and afford something the following year. Hurray!

Strangely, once we starting talking about it, my thoughts went immediately to Bailey. She's starting to show signs of getting older, and walks with a definite limp. I wondered if she'll make it through next year to be able to see our house and play in the yard. Thinking that it's a possibility she won't be there made me cry.

It's weird, I guess. In some ways, she's really an attachment to my childhood. My parents gave her to me a week before my 14th birthday, so I got to train her in Chicago and raise her here in Denver. She got to be with me for the end of my childhood and throughout the years of teenage angst. She was with me throughout college and still here now that I'm married.

Don't get me wrong. She's not on her death bed or anything. It just scares me to think that one day she won't be here in another stage of my life. It's hard getting used to the idea of not having someone around who's always been there. Sadly, that's something I've had to learn time and again over these last few years.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Pitter Patter

We barely made it through the first rain of the season.

So Bailey thinks, anyway.

Andrew and I fell asleep around 6:30 last night, we were so tired. Some time after that, it started to rain. I'm assuming the rain kept me asleep all night, until Bailey woke us up at 1am from her fear of the thunder. When it storms, she shakes violently, and no amount of cuddling or petting or playing will help. When she'd settle down enough, we'd fall back asleep, only to be reawoken later.

Her strategy to wake us up? Sit on our faces. I kid you not. She focused particularly on Andrew, which I find pretty funny. I'd wake up every couple of hours to hear, "Get off my face." Poor Andrew. Poor dog.

Andrew took her to the bathroom in the middle of the night, which allowed me to sleep in. I slept until 9:30am! Sleeping 15 hours was the greatest feeling, ever. When I finally woke up completely, I put on a light jacket and took Bailey out into the rain. There's nothing like listening to raindrops on my hood or watching the rain hit the pond.

Bailey has taught me to hate the thunder (whenever I see lightening flash, I immediately think, "Oh crap, I've got to get home to the dog!"), but nothing will teach me to hate the rain! I'm a bit disappointed it's stopped, but it's nice to have all the ducks and birds out again.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Spring Time at Tamarac

Ode to spring.

While perhaps not always a fan of warm weather, sometimes even I appreciate stepping outside and feeling the sun on my skin.

Yes, indeedy, once again our lively planet is tipping toward the sun. I'll probably be cranky and overheated come July, but, for now, I feel quite pleased listening to the ducks in the morning and watching the trees bud.

I'm excited to plant some flowers in some pots that I don't have yet for the balcony. I've helped my mom with her planters and Grandma's planters in the past, but I've never had my own (I've never had any reason to!). I'm going to have such a good time picking out bright, colorful flowers!

I'm hoping to take my mom out to Lowe's Mother's Day weekend. She and I can both go nuts, and we can plant together (preferably at her house so she can have the mess ;-) ).

Attached to this post is a picture of the courtyard below my balcony. It's where I take Bailey to pee every day. As a matter of fact, I snapped this exact picture when she stopped to do her doody. The cherry trees are so pretty! Check out the geese, too. We're fortunate to have lots of geese and even more (typically dozens) of ducks!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I can see the finish line

Today, I ran the Cherry Creek Sneak 5k with my mom. Portapotties were nowhere to be found, and the bathroom line at Safeway wrapped around the produce aisle. Twelve minutes to start time, and I would certainly pee my pants before the finish line if I didn't go. So I went in the men's room. It didn't smell as nice as women's washrooms, but it did the job. We were off!

My mom and I got separated within 100 yards from the starting line. I decided not to worry too much about it and pressed on. I loved running by the creek, and after about a half mile, I finally passed most of the people who ran at a slower pace than me. I got in sync with a mob of people that ran at a pace I was comfortable with.

I passed the mile mark, and I thought I could certainly keep going. A volunteer at the mile marker announced that we were at 11 minutes 18 seconds, and I felt so proud because I knew it had taken me about a minute to reach the start line. That meant I was doing 10-minute miles! After a mile and a half or so, I thought about taking a walk break. I heard a woman near me tell her daughter, "We're at the half way point." I decided, hell, I could keep going!

Then came the two mile point. We were at 22 minutes! Insane. I was pretty much keeping pace. I blew past the 2-mile marker, and I knew that that was officially the furthest I'd ever run without taking a walk break. With that accomplished, I thought about walking. Then I thought, "Wouldn't it be amazing if I could run the whole thing?"

All around me, people started to walk. After almost 2 and a half miles, my knees started to hurt so, so bad. That's when I knew I *could* use a walk break, but I thought I could keep pressing it. I figured, the faster I go, the sooner it'll be over. I wanted to run the whole thing.

At one sharp bend, I was psyching myself up to running the last section. I knew I'd feel so good if I could run the whole 5k, and I kept telling myself, "Andrew will be so proud." Then some volunteer announced we had half a mile to go. I think he thought that was a good thing, but I could have punched him. I thought about walking, but decided to ignore the half mile in front of me and keep pace.

I turned another bend, and way down the street, I could see the Finish Line. I could do this! I started to cry, actually, because I was so happy I could do it. I think I even said it out loud, "You can do this." I pushed and pushed. My pace definitely slowed because people started to pass me. I kept at it. Kept running. When there was about 50 yards left, I started to pick up my heavy feet and tried to sprint. I crossed the finish when the time read almost exactly 35 minutes. 35 minutes!

Andrew and my dad were standing off to the left. My smile couldn't have been bigger. I knew my timing chip would put me in more like 34 minutes. I ran a 34-minute 5k! I ran 11-minute miles the entire time.

I hugged Andrew and my dad, I pet Bailey, and I was still teary. I don't think they quite understood the accomplishment. I'd decided on the way to the Sneak that there'd be no way I could hit the 40-minute mark, because that would involve keeping up with 13 minute miles. Here I was with a 34 minute finish time!

When I finally found my mom (who finished in 41 minutes; not bad for our first 5k of the season!) a half hour later, she understood what my time meant to me. I got a big hug from her. It felt so good to make her so proud.

At that point, my dad and Andrew were watching people trot in at 50 minutes and even an hour and more. I think they started to realize that my 34 minute 5k was very, very good for a beginner. I got a great hug from Andrew, and, later, a knee rub.

I think I'll be walking funny the next couple of days. But it's worth it. It's so worth it.