Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Six items checked off

I've checked six items off of my 101 list in the past week.

Go see my update here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

An Adventurous Weekend

Tomorrow I'll be knocking out something on my 101 list... and a few things on my summer bucket list.

Summer Bucket List:

  • Do the adult ropes challenge course at Tuckahoe
  • Go kayaking

    And this is on my 101 List:
  • Climb a rock wall

  • This is what I'll be doing tomorrow:

    An Adults Only Adventure will be held at Tuckahoe State Park on Saturday, July 27 at 6 p.m. at Tuckahoe State Park. Don’t miss this chance for adults to enjoy Tuckahoe’s Challenge Course! Join park staff for an evening of fun on the course’s high elements: a 40-foot rock wall, 50-foot giant swing, 25-foot pamper pole and the zip line. 

    Also possibly on the agenda for the weekend:

    From the 101 list:

    • Send Aunt Nancy thank you gift 
    • Send Chris and Sally thank you gift
    • Eat a rooster that wakes me up too early

    From my seasonal bucket list:

  • Find frames for koala and lorikeet photos – then hang them
  • Clean up front garden and plant perennials
  • Make marshmallows from scratch

    On the garden clean-up... I kind of cheated. It was such a nice and unseasonably cool day yesterday that Jay did a bunch of weeding while I was at work. So really all I need to do now is track down some perennials and plant them. 

  • In other news, we are beside ourselves about our puppy - we want it now now NOW!! 

    We won't know for another month or two when we can expect to take our new friend home. Once Bilana or Leila have been bred, it will take a little over a month to confirm if there are puppies. 

    Despite our impatience, Jay and I have come to the realization that we need to be fully prepared for this dog. We want to make sure that we have a solid plan for socialization and obedience training, as well as the shutzhund training that we're planning. I'm hoping to meet up with Bart and his owner in the next few months to see if he has any pointers. Apparently Bart gives hugs. That's the kind of dog I want. The kind that gives hugs on command and will also attack a threat on command. Maybe a dog who is a little too smart for his own good. Maybe we can even teach him to fetch a beer from the fridge. 

    So we'll be keeping ourselves busy over the next few months puppy-proofing the house, fencing in the yard, and buying necessities. We're also going to have to take our cats in to get vaccinated. I'm hesitant to do it because they're indoor cats and they haven't been to the vet in years. The last time I took them to the vet was when I lived in Odenton. It required several return trips because they kept getting sick. They've been completely healthy for over 5 years now and I haven't had any problems. But since our dog might bring in some beasties from outside, we're going to have to start having them vaccinated each year. 

    Oh, and Ideal Event Management was doing a special sale yesterday for their 2014 VIP passes. 2 for 1 plus a private investigation with Dustin Pari AND a private tour and lecture with John Zaffis at his Museum of the Paranormal? That's a no-brainer.

    Jay doesn't want to do the Fort Mifflin event again next year, but I would love to meet Josh Gates and Erin Ryder

    I hope to get out the camera this weekend and take some pictures. Since I've been back from vacation, I've been kind of slacking with the photography. I need to get back into it.

    That's all for today. Hoping to get some things done this weekend!

    Tuesday, July 23, 2013

    A new addition

    After a lot of soul-searching and many weeks on Petfinder, Jay and I decided to go the route of a breeder instead of getting a rescue dog. Rescues seem to have so many hoops to jump through (i.e. home visits, questions about children, etc.) that we just decided that it wasn't worth it. We also had to be honest with ourselves: Did we want to spend the time and energy in caring for a dog that might have been abused? My cats are both rescues and I do give money to our local rescue group. Maybe we'll even be doggie fosters at some point.

    The other issue is that most of the local rescues have an overabundance of pit bulls for adoption. I know that the breed is unfairly demonized, but I also didn't want to take the chance with one. And call me shallow, but I think they're kind of ugly. My sister in law has a wonderful pit-lab mix who is a great dog. However, I just really don't want anything that could be mixed with pit. 

    But I digress. Growing up, we had a wonderful Vizsla named Arrow. Jay and I discussed the qualities that we wanted in a dog. Something with a low-maintenance coat, intelligent and obedient, a larger size, good with kids, and with strong protection qualities. The latter mattered to Jay more than me, but apparently he is worried about me staying home by myself while he is at work. 

    We used a breed selector tool and the Belgian Malinois turned out to be one of our top matches. 

    This type of breed is commonly used in the police and military. We were also familiar with it because one of our favorite shows, Person of Interest  has a regular cast member who happens to be a Malinois. His name is Bear.

    They also have a strong herding instinct, so we can use him to round up our chickens when they get out. :)

    Anyway, over the weekend I found some breeders in Maryland. After submitting a request for information to Triple E Kennels, I received an immediate call from the owner, Ernie. He grilled me for half an hour about what kind of dog we were looking for, did I have any experience with dog training, what did I know about the breed, etc. I was starting to think that maybe getting a dog from a breeder was a bad idea after all of his questions!

    However, Ernie just loves his dogs and is passionate about what he does. He wants to make sure he is giving his pups a great home. 

    So we went out to Meet the Mutts (as Ernie put it) on Sunday.

    Ernie breeds his dogs for primarily for protection, police and military use. He showed us the skills tests that the dogs are put through. These are shutzhund  (German for protection dog) tests. The dogs are highly trained and obedient. The photo above is Jay with the bite sleeve on getting ready to be bitten by Tim, who will be the father of our future pup. Tim was the only dog there that we weren't able to pet. Mostly because we didn't want to bleed. That said, we were able to pet the other five dogs there... the only thing I was worried about with them was licking me to death. And that was even after doing the bite sleeve test with Bilana (below).

    This is Jay with Bilana (she was imported from Belgium), preparing to participate in a suspect apprehension drill. She nearly pulled me off of my feet during my turn. Despite Bilana weighing a third of my weight, she is crazy STRONG.

    This is one of the pups from a recent litter that we were able to meet. This little guy was 9 weeks old. We won't be getting our pup until the end of the year, which will give us time to get the fence up, get a crate or two, and puppy-proof the house. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he will be ready to be picked up on or shortly after December 14th, so that we won't have to waive the first litter or find someone to watch him while we're in the Dominican Republic. I don't want to miss any fun cute puppy time with our new family member!

    So it looks like we are going to have a legitimate guard dog. Not to worry, because we are going to take our pup to train with Ernie. Jay is overjoyed and can't wait to get into this kind of thing. The thing is, the training isn't something that we can half-ass or do on our own. So on top of the obedience, we'll be doing shutzhund. We might even start taking our dog to competitions. We'll see. I did teach my Vizsla to jump through a hoop. It's been a few years, but I'm sure that I've retained some of that knowledge. Biting a sleeve and jumping through hoops has to be the same kind of thing, right?

    If I say Stellen, you might want to run. 

    Friday, July 19, 2013

    Another week down

    Well I can finally cross something off of my summer bucket list. Sunday I start on week 3 of couch25k. I planned to give it a shot, but not to push it if things started to hurt. The last thing I want is an injury that causes me to not be able to exercise at all.

    I also signed up for my first 5k this week, on September 14th. I hope that I can get back into running. The truth is that I have a love/hate relationship with running. If I'm going through something, pissed off, need to think, whatever... I enjoy it. It's a good way to clear your mind.

    Although I'm still trying to do a somewhat low-carb diet, it just isn't feasible for running. My body needs something it can easily convert into energy. So while I'm not carbo-loading, I'm trying to incorporate more natural and complex carbs into my diet (fruit, veggies and whole grain cereals like muesli). Now I just try to avoid bread and sweets whenever I can. However, I do have a stash of Sea Salt Soiree squares hidden for emergencies. Or Mondays. Or any day of the week ending in Y.

    I haven't been keeping good track of my weight lately and obviously have missed weeks here and there. I'm up about 5 pounds from my pre-vacation weight, but I'll lose those 5 pounds eventually. Progress not perfection.

    Jay and I took our second scuba class this week. We learned how to put the gear together and did some underwater skills. Mostly, we learned the ones that we already knew how to do from our trips with Cooly Dive and Poseidon. It's a lot easier mastering skills in a pool on your knees than when you're miles out to sea with an intense drill sergeant divemaster making you nervous! Not to mention possible large pelagic fish underneath the water waiting to have a nibble. Oh, and the somewhat rough seas we were diving in. Doing our certification dives in the quarry will be a piece of cake!

    It really has me scratching my head over the girl in this photo:

    This was on our dive to Cook Island to hang out with the sea turtles. This girl was supposed to be doing her first two open water certification dives. She had no clue what she was doing! The instructor had to ask her to set up her gear and then show her how to put it all together. Pretty much everyone in our class assembled their gear correctly the first time (after watching the instructor assemble his once). 

    So I would hope that by the time we're ready for our check-out dives that we'll know how to assemble our equipment!

    So here are a few things from my 101 list that I could do without much effort... I may even try to swim 1000 yards before book club. Which will be at Clay Bakers, where I am planning to make Jay a new mug. So yeah. I could totally knock out two things today!
    • Complete the Couch 25K program
    • Sign up for a 5K race - then do it
    • Swim 1000 yards
    • PADI Open Water SCUBA diver certification
    • Send Aunt Nancy thank you gift
    • Send Chris and Sally thank you gift
    • Find a cool glass bottle to display my Whitehaven Beach sand
    • Spread some of Dad at Martinak State Park
    • Buy a brick for the FACES building
    • Eat a rooster that wakes me up too early
    • Make Jay a new mug
    • Send Renee and Joanne souvenirs from vacation
    • Make lemonade from scratch
    • Spend an entire afternoon reading in the hammock
    Make that I could knock out THREE things. I just bought a brick for the FACES building in memory of my dad.

    My girlfriend JT is spending the night tonight. Maybe I can drag her to some antique stores to find a cool glass bottle for my Whitehaven Beach sand. And maybe one to throw my seashells in too?

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013

    The problem with planning group vacations

    At the beginning of the year, I was at Harry’s with my girlfriends sipping cocktails and having a great time. Since Australia was looming on the horizon, we were talking about vacations and wouldn’t it be fun if we could all go somewhere together!?

    I have that timeshare in the Dominican Republic.

    We all squealed with excitement. Let’s do it! December!

    In the following weeks, lists were made. There had to be the perfect mix of people… we wanted no-drama, fun people. Folks were blacklisted. If you fought publicly with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse, you were out. Like a wedding, there were more friends we wanted to invite than we could accommodate. Even worse, we had to divide the list between us – Jay and I could only invite at most 5 people each. So we narrowed the list to those most likely to say yes. For me, that ended up being only the girlfriends (and their intended guests) present at Harry’s.

    I made arrangements with a Shareholder Lifestyle Vacation Club friend to use one of her weeks to get a better deal (saving $180 a person on the all-inclusive fee). The $1200 all-inclusive price (including airfare) made this trip a no-brainer. Cheaper than a week in Ocean City. Seriously, who could say no?

    After careful planning, an email was sent to the chosen few.

    There was a lot of initial enthusiasm with the first responses.

    Can’t wait!

    The wheels fell off the cart a few weeks ago. People who had given us verbal confirmations were now turning down the invitation. Initially, we weren’t concerned… there were others that we’d love to have. But those were also the folks we thought wouldn’t be able to make it for one reason or another.

    I think - Maybe we’ll cancel it altogether, save our vacation time and go somewhere we really want to go next year, like Europe. Or maybe get back to Australia to see Nancy and Darryl. Get to see Uluru and maybe even Perth.

    Then our friends found a good airfare. They asked me if it was still happening. We had six people (us, the other couple and two of my girlfriends) at that point, so I said go ahead and book it.

    Four days later, I got an email from my girlfriends. They were really sorry, but they had an awesome opportunity come up for another vacation in September. Basically the kind of thing that was much more exciting than the Dominican Republic. 

    Having done much of the planning with them, I was majorly bummed. However, my husband was seriously pissed off. This was their idea to begin with! 

    Then there was a message from an invited couple who weren't able to make it because of a new job. They had a suggestion:  Ryan and Kristy LOVE to travel! We mentioned it to them and they would be interested.

    Umm, okay but we didn’t invite them. They’re a lot of fun, but I’ve only hung out with them a handful of times. And of course we’re friends on Facebook. Could they be a secret disaster on vacation? Hopefully not. I sent Kristy a message on Facebook about the trip.

    Count us in, this place looks amazing.

    And then…

    Please let me know when you guys get the airfare, I am not an experienced traveler. This would be my first trip out of the US. Thanks.

    I know that I’m a travel snob. Especially compared to most Americans. I acknowledge this. But how can someone say that they love to travel when they’ve never been out of the good old USA?

    Anyone want to go to Puerto Plata December 7th-14th? (I'm serious, we need at least two more people or it will be an extra $67 a person)

    We'll save you a drink!

    Or will we? 

    Thursday, July 11, 2013

    Couch 25k First Week

    Tonight I did my third run of Couch 25k. I'm so glad that I have two days to rest... I pushed myself a little too hard tonight and am pretty sore. 

    But you know what? I'm not dead yet!

    Sunday I'll start week two. Hopefully I'll be more patient next week and not push myself so hard.

    This is my first day. Actually wasn't too bad.

    My second day was awful... it was hot, I felt like crap and I was exhausted. I was just happy to survive.

    Today felt like the best day and obviously it was based on my average speed and everything. However, my body is paying for it. I stupidly threw in a few intervals of higher intensity running when I shouldn't have. Consequently, my knees and feet aren't very happy with me at the moment. Progress not perfection. I need to remember this. I'm not going to be able to run a 5k tomorrow or even next week. I have to build up to it or I'm going to hurt myself (as usual). 

    Last night was our first SCUBA class and as luck would have it, we had our swim test. In order to get your open water certification, you're required to swim 200 yards (untimed and any style) and float/tread water for ten minutes. Thinking of my previous exercises of death in the pool, I thought "no problem." Hell, I was swimming 100 yards using just my arms and not kicking. I neglected to remember that the last time that I did exercises of death in the pool was two months ago. Yeah. Oops. So my bad-ass self decides to go into the locker room and grab my goggles so that I can show my 15 classmates (who have already started) what an awesome swimmer I am. 

    Did I mention that all 15 of us were also confined to two lanes because the college wasn't prepared for us? Talk about a total clusterf*ck.

    By the time I re-entered the pool area, everyone had already completed about 100 yards of their swim. No big deal, right? I dove in. The water was as warm as bathwater. Gross. Right after I dove in, my band-aid started flopping around. Great. I'd just had blood drawn at the doctor's office before class, so I ripped off the band-aid and started swimming with the latex-cotton-mess in my fist. Not sure if you've ever swam with a closed fist before, but it's not too easy. I passed a few of my classmates, trying to make up for my time out of the pool and catch up... but not so easily done with my closed fist. On the start of my 3rd lap, I saw Jay coming towards me in the next lane (finishing his swim). I begged him to take my soggy blood-soaked band-aid. It took some convincing, but he's a pretty awesome husband. 

    I was finally free to use both my hands effectively.

    About 100 yards into my swim, I started to suck air. The pool was too warm, I'd just eaten Chipotle, and I'd had an awful run the day before. I stopped trying to impress everyone and flipped on to my back. By this time, everyone was out of the water and watching the stragglers finish. Swimming on my back was too easy. I was trying so hard to get it over with that I wasn't paying attention and whacked myself in the head at the end of the pool. After that fiasco, I decided to watch where I was going so that I didn't run into any more walls. The problem is that I'm not very good at the crawl and am much better at the breast stroke. Which of course is slower and requires more energy. So everyone watched as I took my sweet ass time on the last 50 yards. But I refused to doggy paddle. And I passed the test. 

    So this week I've had two wins. I'll take them.

    No big plans for this weekend, which is just what I need.

    Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

    Sunday, July 7, 2013

    101 List

    My new 101 list has been posted... check it out!

    It's been a busy few days... I need a weekend to recover from my weekend. I started Couch 25k yesterday and ended up doing about 2 miles in the time allotted. Not too shabby. Unfortunately I overdid it last night dancing... my legs are killing me today. My fitbit says that I had 18,000 steps for the day. No wonder I'm sore.

    Friday, July 5, 2013

    July 4th Fun

    Jay's friend Brian came down from New York on Wednesday night.

    Yesterday we celebrated with our friends Laura and Jared (and their adorable munchkin Lincoln) on Assateague Island. We met up with some of Jared's family for the fireworks and generally had an awesome time.

    I think I want a boat.

    Great people, cute babies, tasty food, cold beer, a cozy fire on the beach, fireworks.

    Life doesn't get much better than this. 

    Tuesday, July 2, 2013

    Lots of Lists!

    So I'm back into making lists... long-term and short term lists. A few years ago, I started doing the 101 in 1001. That list was started in 2007, which seems like an entire lifetime ago.

    Well, I'm bringing it back. Go check it out. I've also created a link at the top of the blog for easy access so that you can shame me into doing things.

    I'm working on my new 101 list that I hope to have up on Sunday. I arbitrarily chose Sunday July 7th as my start date. It seemed as good a time as any.

    Here's how the Summer Bucket List is going:
    • Send Aunt Nancy & Uncle Darryl a Thank You basket
    I've bought all of the things for their basket... now I just need to assemble it and get to the post office. I also had a wonderful Skype with her tonight... it was so cool to see the background and know where she was in her house. I know that sounds weird. But seeing her sitting at the desk and thinking that I was sitting there less than two months ago is kind of cool. And sad. But cool. We are talking about meeting up in Europe next year, probably in September. Fingers crossed that it all works out!
    • Send Sally & Chris (our NZ people) a Thank You basket
    Ditto on this one... although I need to find my recipe for shrimp and grits. I'm sending them some grits as part of their thank you basket and thought it'd be cool to include my recipe.
    • Find frames for koala and lorikeet photos – then hang them
    Done! Well, kind of. They're now framed and on display, but I have to check with Jay on where he wants to hang them. I'm thinking of putting them in the hallway/up the stairs.
    • Have rooster for dinner
    We were supposed to do this on Sunday, but Jay had a rough day/night at work and slept for most of the day.
    • Do the adult ropes challenge course at Tuckahoe
    I need to sign up for this - it's on the 27th of this month I think.
    • Go fishing
    I was supposed to do this on Saturday, but apparently it created an uproar amongst other women and then all of the ladies wanted to go fishing with their men. So now I'm not going. C'est la vie. D'accord, pas vraiment. C'est le poisson! 
    • Complete two weeks of Couch25K (I’m aiming low)
    I was thinking of starting tonight. That has to count for something, right?