Friday, November 30, 2007

It's That Time...

I'm so excited because this weekend we're going to be pulling out the Christmas decorations and buying our tree! I love getting all the decorations out and making our house look all festive and cozy.

One of my favorite things about our house at Christmas time is that I get to have my own Christmas tree in our bedroom! I have a great little sitting area that has just enough room for a full size tree (we use a fake one in the bedroom and get a real one for the dining room). I love to fall asleep with the Christmas lights on. It kind of makes up for the fact that we have a tiny living room without enough space for a tree. We put it in the corner of our dining room. For the month of December I sit on my husband's side of our sectional couch just so I can see the tree in my peripheal vision.

We also will be painting our front door and apparently the guest bathroom too (my husband just brought this up today). We're getting ready for our annual Christmas party we'll be hosting next weekend. My husband and I both always hosted Christmas parties, even before we met each other, so now it's a big tradition. This is the 3rd one since we got married and moved into our house. I'm looking forward to it so much!

I'll have lots of pictures to share when the decorating is done!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Back to the C-I-T-Y

We're headed back to New York City for a visit in 2 weekends. We had such a great time in August and we decided that we really wanted to experience it at Christmas time. And we each had $200 vouchers from being giving up our seats last time we went! My husband's parents are also going with us. My sister-in-law (their daughter) works for an airline and her parents get to fly for free on standby. So it's become somewhat of a family trip, which should be a lot of fun.

I just booked tickets today to see The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee* on Broadway. It looks like a fun musical and we got great seats! They even pick people from the audience to be a part of the spelling bee. This show is right next the Gershwin Theater, where I've seen Wicked twice (my favorite musical EVER). Both times I went to see Wicked I noticed this show and thought that I wanted to see it.

I'm going to do some research now to find a couple of restaurants that I want to try out. I am such a planner and I have to research everything before making decisions. We ate at a great Mexican place in August and there's a Turkish restaurant that is outstanding. We take our food very seriously - that will no doubt be a big part of our trip!

And very importantly - I just got an email that there are 2 Garrett Popcorn locations in New York. They make the most amazing caramel popcorn. They are based in Chicago and my mom introduced me to them when I went with her to Chicago a few years ago (my mom grew up there). I've been back twice since then and had to make a stop at Garrett's both times. There are literally lines out onto the street of people buying popcorn. I joined their email list thinking someday I would order it online to surprise my family, but I haven't yet. But now, I get to go there in New York!

I don't know what our other plans will be, definitely taking in Rockefeller Center and some of the other sights. Maybe going ice skating? So many options!!

*I came in 4th in my school spelling bee in the 4th grade. I missed on the word scientist. I spelled it sciencist. Kind of ironic I ended up being an engineer (while at least got an engineering degree). Anyway, it's funny to me that I never forgot that. The top 2 kids from each class got to be in the spelling bee. We were all in the gym auditorium and there were parents there and everything. I think my parents were there, I'll have to see if they remember.

Giving Thanks

Last week I celebrated Thanksgiving together with the most important people in my life - my husband, my family and his family. We had a wonderful meal and a great time visiting with our loved ones. We're blessed in so many ways and I wanted to take a few minutes to give thanks for some of the important.

My husband: He's amazing. He makes me laugh all the time. He is smart and caring and understanding. He's a great cook. He's hot. He loves me.
My family
My husband's family, who have taken me in and made me a part of their family
My puppy
My friends
The health of myself and my loved ones
My career and working for a solid company with great people
Our country and those willing to serve and protect it, here and elsewhere

I'm a lucky girl and I have much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nervous Mom

Sage is at doggie day care and I could spend all day watching the doggie-cams to make sure she's okay and getting along with the other dogs. This is the 2nd time we've taken her to Recess for the day and we also boarded her there when we went to New York for the weekend. Sage is very timid around other dogs and also around people, so we thought it would be good for her. Last time they had to put her in a separate kennel towards the end of the day because she got scared.

I had a long talk with the owner this morning about how Sage is doing. He is like a dog psychologist, it was really interesting. He said bringing her up there was like throwing someone who's afraid of swimming into the deep end. That was not very reassuring to me. I'm now worried that we're traumatizing Sage. It doesn't help that she's probably the smallest one there. We did decide that we'll try it a couple more times and see how it goes. It may just be that she doesn't like it and that she actually would prefer being at home in her crate during the day. Actually, I'm sure she would prefer being at home laid out on our cushy comforter during the day, but we just can't leave her out like that yet.

There's a day care specifically for small dogs in Decatur, but that's way out of our way for normal days (Recess in on my way into work). We're going to leave Sage at the small dog daycare for the weekend when we go to New York next month. For now though, she's learning to play with the big dogs.

I can only imagine how nervous I'm going to be when I have to let my kids go out in the world on their own for the first time...

UPDATE: Sage did great today! She stayed out with the other dogs all day. When I got there I got to watch her through the window and she was just prancing around in the midst of a group of big dogs! I'm so happy, now I'm a proud mom!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Us On a Diet

Griff and I have been striving to be more healthy this year and while we've had some success throughout the year, it's really been more of a roller coaster and we're both back up at the top of the hill, in both diet and exercise. With the holidays approaching, we really wanted to get back in the swing of things and start eating healthily and working out again. We've both seen Dr. Oz on Oprah (I pretty much made Griff watch) and thought we would give his book, You On a Diet, a try. There's nothing shockingly new in the book - we both knew how to eat and what to do to get into shape, although there were lots of interesting tidbits in the book too. The 'diet' is all about whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and dairy. The 'workout' is about moving some each day, 30 minutes of walking and then some strength training and flexibility workouts. Nothing earth shattering and nothing that's not doable.

So, we started on Tuesday, following the two week plan that is laid out in the book. We've made some great food, Salmon with Brown Rice Pilaf, a Spicy Chili and Chicken Kabobs with Tabbouleh. Nothing about it's been hard so far and it seems like something that we could do 90% of the time. There's always going to be special events and dinners out, but I think if you make the healthy choice 90% of the time then we'd be in pretty good shape (literally and figuratively). I'll update in 2 weeks about how the plan went and my thoughts on maintaining it. It's really about the right lifestyle, not so much about a special diet. If nothing else, it should ward off the pounds we usually pack on during the holidays!

Monday, November 5, 2007

My Girl

Griff and I decided to get a puppy early this year. Okay, honestly I decided I wanted a puppy and Griff, being the loving and supportive husband that he is, went along with it. Truth be told, he offered that we could have a baby instead because he really didn't want a dog, but I convinced him the puppy should come first. I decided I wanted a rescue dog, since there are so many out there looking for the right owner. I literally looked for months on to find the right puppy. Petfinder is a wonderful website that brings together hundreds of adoption agencies to let potential owners search in one spot for the right rescue dog. We did not have a real preference for breed, only that we wanted a smaller dog and preferably a girl. After 3 months of looking and a bad experience with one adoption agency that told us we were not suitable pet owners for a variety of ridiculous reasons, we found our Sage, from Noah's bArk in Ellijay.

Sage's mom, Peanut, and her five puppies were saved from an animal shelter. I found them on Petfinder in April, thought Sage would be the right puppy for us from her description (she was the 'reserved' one of the group), and we met her the next weekend at the PetsMart in Alpharetta, where Noah's bArk goes each Saturday for adoptions. I knew she was the one when we saw her. This is Sage with two of her sisters. Sage is the one asleep, in the middle of all the excitement of people looking at them and playing. Sage and her siblings were all named after herbs (Rosemary, Parsley, Thyme), which suits us so well since we like to cook. We decided to keep her name, because it's so cute and it really just fits her.

We had to wait a week to bring Sage home, she needed to be 8 weeks old, so the next weekend we returned to PetsMart and came home with Sage. This picture is from the day she came home with a new puppy toy that we got for her. The toy was as big as she was. She has really been wonderful. We are so lucky to have a wonderful puppy with a great temperament. It's been frustrating at times, especially while we were trying to housebreak her, and it's caused more than a few arguments on the best way to train and raise her. I wouldn't trade it for anything though. I've grown to love her so much. It makes me so happy when she comes to cuddle with me. Griff is wonderful with her, he definitely found a spot for Sage in his heart and I know he loves her too.

Sage is full grown now, about 14 pounds with long legs and a very lithe body. We're pretty sure she has some chihuahua in her and probably terrier. We also think she might be part deer (seriously, her legs are really long). She is so cute, I must point out at least 10 times a day how cute she looks to Griff. She loves to cuddle and play, but she has not been a very rambunctious puppy. She's really timid around other dogs and people (especially men), so we're trying to socialize her more. We've taken her to doggie day care a few times and she has some other friends - our neighbor's hound Duke, my mom's jack russell Chester, and our niece's poodle Maggie. We completed a doggie training class at Jabula Academy, which I highly recommend - Kate Jackson is amazing. Sage knows sit, down, stay, spin and roll over and she's mostly house trained.

We're lucky to have such a wonderful animal as part of our family.

Friday, November 2, 2007

An Important Post

Griff and I have a new dentist. I got a new job last year and changed insurance and we didn't love the dentist we had, so I decided to try someone new. I am such a planner and researcher that I couldn't pick just anybody, I had to see if I could find any information about them or reviews from other patients (thank goodness for the internet). Well in doing that, I found out quite a bit of personal information that I wasn't really looking for, but has really touched my heart. My dentist's family has went through a lot of difficult times. Her parents had two daughters and two sons. One son died of cancer as a teenager, my dentist herself battled cancer many years ago, and her sister is still recovering from a bone marrow transplant she had last year to fight her own cancer. It's unbelievable to me that a family would have to face this terrible disease 3 times, that there parents would have to watch 3 children suffer.

I also came across my dentist sister's Christine's blog, documenting the months leading up to her bone marrow transplant as well as the months after. I have to admit I spent time reading all of her entries and became transfixed as I read about all that she been through. Christine is obviously a wonderful, vivacious woman and has come through an amazing fight and fought against the odds to even survive. She's only a few years older than me and I don't know how she had the courage to do what she did, with the grace and optimism that she had.

Most importantly, from reading her blog, I learned about the need for bone marrow donors. Christine never found a perfect match . She did all she could do to sign up donors, looking for her 'miracle match', but never found that person. Instead she underwent the transplant with a partial match, which made her journey even harder and her chances for survival even less. The amazing part is that her partial match was a man from China. Someone literally a world away gave her the chance for a second shot at life. Christine is Filipino and bone marrow is very dependant upon ethnicity for a match, so the odds were very small that Christine would find a donor. Christine made a PSA that explains about the need for more donors, especially people with different ethnic backgrounds.

Griff and I have both decided to join the National Marrow Donor Program. It's really easy to sign up to be a potential donor, all you have to do is swab your cheek and they're able to type your bone marrow. They also ask for $52 to pay for the cost of typing. IF they ever find that you're a match for someone in need, the procedure is relatively minor and literally can save a life. There's no additional cost.

I can't think of a more meaningful way to spend $52. I truly hope that I'm a match for one of the 6000 people currently desparately searching for a donor. I hope that if anyone I ever know is in need of a donor that there will be a match for them. What an extraordinary opportunity.

Oh, and our dentist is wonderful. I haven't been yet, but Griff (who hates dentists) really likes her. He had to have a root canal and crown and he still likes her!