Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Things I Love

Here recently, I've really been thinking about the things I really like. So, I thought I would share. It's my "Top 10" list. Very random.

10. Surprising people at the airport by going inside instead of just doing curb-side pickup.

9. Baby Laughter. We have a number of friends who have infants at that really fun stage--not quite walking/talking, but full of fun energy. I just love it when they get laughing. So cute.

8. Fall. As in Autumn. There is something about this season that is so different from the rest. I love the way the temperature cools down slowly. I love jeans & t-shirt weather. I love the leaves changing color. It's so amazing. I love having to use a blanket while I watch TV or read a book. (although I am known for using one in the summer, too).

7. After writing what I did about fall, I have to include blankets at number 7. I'm a freak. Blame it on my mom, I guess. I always had a blanket when I was little and I've never gotten over the need for one. When I was younger, the blanket had to be a particular one. Now, any one will do. And I have a ton. I love that feeling of being a little chilled and grabbing a blanket to wrap up.

6. Coming in at number 6 would have to be the water. Yes, water. For a number of reasons. One being, it's about all I drink. I'm a freak that way. I don't really drink juice and I gave up most soda right before we got married. I'm kind of boring that way.

Another reason water has to be on my list is that I like almost all things water-related. I'm not a big fan of the old swimsuit, but I can deal with that. Water parks, pools, lakes, hot tubs, etc...I'm not a huge beach person--sand can be highly annoying, but a few days here and there at the beach are fun. We don't have too much ocean-front land here in Colorado. I love boats (with motors) and enjoy water skiing and swimming. And, after our trip to Alaska this summer, I love traveling on the water. Cruises are a great vacation. After a long day of skiing or being in the outdoors in winter, a hot tub is a refreshing, relaxing treat. Anyone looking to off-load a hot tub can bring it right to our backyard. We have a great spot and it would get put to good use.

5. School spirit. This last week was D'Evelyn's homecoming week. (The high school where Joel works). I was able to attend the Teacher Comedy Show (which Joel participated in and won--but that's another whole blog) and the school pep assembly. I love it. I love it when kids come together and unite around their school. (It was fun to attend the Air Force Homecoming game back in September, too--everyone was so excited to be there.)

Last Friday, after the pep assembly we attended the Cross Country meet at D'Evelyn. I can't say I've ever attended one before. But, it was really fun. Most of the Varsity Football players were there to cheer on their fellow athletes. We also attended the football game for D'Evelyn on Friday night. We won, by the way, 63-3. I love the cheerleaders, the school traditions, the marching band, all of it. You don't get a lot of school spirit anymore.

4. Listening to a new CD from start to finish in one sitting, the way the artist intended it to be. (very few artists seem to put much thought into a record from start to finish, it seems.) My new favorite CD is by our good friend, Jason Stocker & his CD was well thought-out in this way. You can listen to his CD (or even buy one) by clicking on that link.

3. Funnel Cakes. Yum. I could go for one right now. Hot, crisp, topped with powdered sugar. Yum. I love the way they taste, but I also love them because we're usually at some fun, unusual event when we eat them. I've enjoyed one in the past few years at the Celtic Festival in Estes Park (we attended with some friends), at Lakeside Amusement Park, and I'm sure a few other places I just can't remember right now...

For those of you who don't know, Lakeside is a small amusement park close to our house. We don't usually make a habit of going there--we attended in May when my school had a family night there. The rides are so old the thrill is in not knowing if you'll make it off the ride alive or not. The funny part about that night was that I really wanted a funnel cake, but we didn't have any cash and there was no ATM, so we began looking around for someone we could borrow $4 from. We ran into another teacher we knew and bummed some money of of her. We felt like little kids asking mom for our allowance. It was great.

2. WWII Documentaries. So, I'm kind of a nerd that way. There's just something about the era that we don't have anymore--a sense of community and pride and a reason for fighting--freedom. I've really enjoyed the new series, The War, on PBS. I loved Band of Brothers, too. Both of my grandfather's participated in WWII and I am so proud of that heritage.

1. And coming in at number one...Awesome fly-overs at sporting events or firework shows. We got to see 2 on the fourth of July in Boston and another one at the Homecoming game at the Air Force Academy. Even higher on my Top 10 list is when they coincide with the cool part of the Star Spangled Banner. (...and the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air...)

So, that's my list. Obviously there are lots more things I love like spending time with friends and family, the holidays and all those other important ones. This was just my list of random things I love! I'd love to know the things you like. I'm always looking for new things to enjoy!

Friday, October 12, 2007

A New "Leash" on Life

Recently Joel and I have been receiving some "harassment" and "criticism" about our dog. Ironically, mostly from non-dog owners.

I can't say I'm a "dog-lover" myself. One of my friends from work picked up a stray dog on her way to work last year. It wasn't like a pit bull or anything, but it was a stray dog, on a very busy street. It did not have any tags, so she kept it until she could take it to the pound. She said to me "you'd do the same thing". I thought to myself "not in a million years". Stra(y)nge dogs do not make my heart strings begin to play. They don't really bring a tear to my eye, either.

When Joel & I were first married there were many a discussion about dogs--if we would get one. I said "if", Joel said "when". Semantics, right? I had not grown up with dogs and while I was never mean to animals, I just don't have that all out-animal-lover heart. I did grow to like some of our friends animals--the Hope's dogs, Glacier and Arya helped warm my heart a little towards dogs and the Smith's lab-mix Libby endeared my to black dogs and I will say, even the Stocker's two cats, Lucy and Lily, are pretty darn cute. I can't touch them because I'm allergic, but they do make me smile. Can't forget Haiku's boyfriend, Fozzy, either. The Eastman's have helped me out a lot, too. Call it dog-therapy.

I'm still not an "animal" person. I don't run up to dogs in the park and ask "Can I pet it?" I don't gush over dogs while waiting in line at Pet Smart. I still chuckle when people get dogs to replace their kids when they move out. And dogs that wear clothes (or better yet, their owners make clothes for them) make me all- out laugh. A bandanna is about all I can handle. Today, preferably a purple & black one. Go Rockies.

But, I do love my dog. For the full story on how we got her, you can read my article, Haiku Surprise (it's at the bottom of the page when you click on the link). She really was a surprise, both to me (I still can't believe I did it) and to Joel.

So, here comes the criticism (implied and stated).

1. You had a birthday party for your DOG? Yes. And I'm proud of it. When was the last time you had a bunch of friends and neighbors over? It just so happened we had ours over on Sunday, September 30. It just so happened it was our dog's birthday. And, we don't have kids so birthday parties for our dog make up for it for now.

2. They make a mess. Yes, she does. But who doesn't? I mean, the trees make a mess in our yard and you don't see us cutting down all of our trees. (Just a few from this summer). It just so happens our dog is smart enough and kind enough to remind me I need to vacuum by pulling out all the stuffing of her stuffed animals and leaving it all over the house. She also is so smart, she helps us know when the season changes by shedding all of her hair all over the house, including in all the nooks and crannies of the basement. I would have never noticed it was fall if she hadn't started shedding her summer coat.

3. Dogs get sick and cost money. Yes, they do. And it's gross. I can testify to this because Haiku has been seriously ill this week. So much so, I spent most of the day yesterday at the vet getting her taken care of. It did cost money and we did have pay for medication she will take every 12 hours for the next 7 days. I think it really is God's way of preparing us for kids. We were pretty used to spending our money on things we enjoyed. Now we know it's not all fun and games.

Also, anyone who knows me in the teaching world knows I don't do vomit. My rule of thumb is "run away as quickly as possible, ignoring the dignity of everyone involved". OK, so I'm not that bad, but pretty close. I'm known for saying "It's time for recess" immediately after someone vomits. I also had the janitor's number on speed dial. The beauty of dog vomit is it's never a lot of vomit and miraculously, it doesn't smell. Poop does smell, but I won't get started on that.

4. They need exercise. Yeah, but who doesn't these days? Walking around the block at 6:45am isn't necessarily my idea of fun, but it does get me off my bottom and walking. When was the last time you did that?

So my point is, we do give a lot of time and attention to our dog. But she brings us great joy and lower blood pressure. Studies show that owning an animal can add 7 years to your life. I don't know about that, but I do know she's changed ours. For the better. Some of our best conversations this summer were while walking Haiku through the park late in the evening. A couple of the times we smiled and enjoyed ourselves the most were with Haiku walking or swimming in a lake. One memory, caught on video, was when we returned home from a week long vacation to Alaska. You can't beat a happy dog to welcome you home. We have to manage our time better to get home from work earlier. And we all need help working less and enjoying our family more. She makes us work on our yard because we have to pick up the poop. A disgusting job, yes, but at least we get outside and enjoy the beautiful Colorado weather. She helps us remember that life is about serving others and not ourselves.

And in some small way, she reminds me of what Jesus did for us. This week I came home after a long day of work to find her in her crate (where we keep her when we're gone) covered in poop--both her and the crate. I know this will just confirm to some of you that you'll never own a dog. But, for me, it was a clear picture of what Jesus has done for us. He's cleaned us up and washed us off even though we were filthy dirty and disgusting. He gently loves us and forgives us and cares for us, because he knows we're sick. He heals us and gives us a crown in heaven. What more could you ask for?

So, I accept it, we spoil our dog. We love her. But, she loves us, too. And that's the real lesson. She loves us no matter when. When we've had a long day, when we're sad, when we're angry (even at her), when we take her to the vet, she still loves us. So, bring on the harassment and criticism. We can take it. And when you come to visit, maybe Haiku will soften your heart towards animals. We can only hope.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Dog Advice

Dear Libby,
I am very concerned about the happenings of last evening. My mom came home with some very starteling news and I just can't believe that it would be true. She said that you had run away. Is that possible? Why, sista-girl? Why?

Don't you know the rules of K-9 ownership? Law 36B, part 2: Dogs owned by loving and caring humans must not and shall not run away from home, causing unnecessary duress to said owners. Do you know what the consequences could be? I won't even go into that, we'll talk the next time we get together.

Think about it before you do anything rash again. Your parents love you. You get free food and water, a great backyard, and don't even get me started about the free baby-food crumbs. You're in heaven. Heaven, I tell you.

I am also concerned that you were found at a neighbors house. Do you think they will take care of you any better? You've already got the best. What could be better? Stay home. Keep your eyes focused on what you've got. Nothing on the other side of that fence is better than what you already have. Take it from me, sista-girl, you've got it good.

Keep your chin up. Let's get together and chat over a rawhide soon.


Monday, October 08, 2007

3 hole punch

I don't hate very many things. There are a lot of things I dislike, but not really a lot that I actually hate. Not even spinach. It's not my first choice, but I don't hate it. Some hate going to the doctor. Unpleasant, yes, but I don't hate it. Many teachers hate it when students lie to them. While I don't like it, I know we all make mistakes. Learn and go forth, I say.

Today I finally made a rash decision: I hate 3 hole punches. I mean really hate. They make me crazy. Road rage is often the cause of multi-car pile ups on the highway. You might call this hole punch rage. I have never had a quality 3 hole punch. And I mean never.

I still have the first one I ever bought. I remember buying it. It was a big day--I love office supplies. I took it home and lovingly took it out of the box. I thought "this is the beginning of a great relationship." Alas, it was not meant to be. It was over before it began. It couldn't punch through more than 2 sheets of paper at a time and the lever stuck so you had to pull the papers out forcefully--ripping the paper, rendering it useless in a 3 ring binder. It has sat on the shelf ever since. And that was like 10 years ago. This is an actual photo of my first 3 hole punch. If you look closely, you can see the dust. It got what it deserves if you ask me.

As a teacher, a 3 hole punch is a must. Students are constantly putting worksheets and handouts in notebooks and I am a 3 ring binder lover. I think I went through about 3 hole punches a year. They break, they don't punch properly, the levers break. But I digress.

I am usually a fairly level-headed person. Sometimes my temper does get the better of me and I'm working on that. I count to 10, I keep my mouth shut--I've got lots of strategies. But where were those cool-down strategies today at about 10:03am? In the trash, just like my current 3 hole punch.

I had just printed a few reports--only 3 pages long--at the most, I promise. In went the papers to that tiny slot, down when the lever and BOOM! it was like the skies ripped open and the greatest storm of the century had arrived--the papers stuck. There was much ripping, anger and not so kind thoughts directed at the 3 hole punch. The papers went in the trash--I was so mad they didn't even make it into the the recycle bin. I am so ashamed.

It is just not meant to be. 3 hole punches and I do not get along. My life will be much smoother now that the 3 hole punches and I have a new understanding--you stay out of my way, and I'll stay out of yours.

What do you hate?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I Like Baseball!

So, maybe that statement is a little strong. A more true statement might be I tolerate baseball.

My husband is a big baseball and football fan and loves watching games both live and on TV (he'll settle for a radio broadcast if forced). He also enjoys basketball and hockey, but here in Denver you have to have cable to get the "Altitude" network to see those games, so he sacrifices being able to watch those. I sacrifice, too, you know.

Since we've been married I have learned much about the world of sports. Like most married women my age, I've been introduced to the likes of "SportsCenter" and "PTI". I know what "K" stands for in baseball and why some guys have stickers on their helmets in football. I know there is a difference between the American League and the National League, although I can't tell you what teams are in what League. I now know that when the sports commentators are talking about the "Tight End" in football they are referring to an actual player and not something else.

I have been to more sporting events than I can count over the last few years--baseball, football, lacrosse...and I can tell you my favorite snack at Coors Field can only be purchased on the third level or in the outfield stands (thank you, Krista). You better plan ahead because Tornadoughs are only served through the 7th inning.

I haven't had a hard time getting into football--I understand the basic strategy and positions. There is a lot of action and the game keeps moving. The season is short--16 games or so.

Baseball, on the other hand, has its slow moments, to say the least. I don't understand the positions, except pitcher, that's pretty easy. But I honestly thought up until a few years ago that each team had one pitcher who pitched the whole game. I mean, how hard can it be to throw a ball? Games tend to bore me--I could be doing dishes or something more exciting. Plus, they play like 200 games! I can't keep track of that! I've got a life here people!

But now that the weather has turned cooler and the leaves have changed into pretty shades of yellow and red, the Rockies have heated up! We're playing the Philadel- phia Phillies at home tonight (we'll watch it at a friends house because it's on cable) and I am actually excited. Call me a bandwagon fan--but who isn't these days? If the season were only like a month long, I could really get into this.

Go Rockies! You can be sure I'll be a loyal and faithful fan every year (at least for the month of October).

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Flight of Terror

While driving to school this morning, I heard a report about a young boy who survived a two hour flight from a small Russian town to Moscow today. No big deal, right--except that he was riding on the wing of the plane! No one knows how he got there--or how he survived. It reaches up to -58 degrees on the wing of an airplane in flight and travels at speeds up to 560 mph. Can you imagine the terror? You can read the full article on CNN.

I got to thinking that this young boy's flight is similar to our walk with God--we don't really know how we got there, we hold on for dear life and when we're done, we're not sure how we surivived. Only by the grace of God.