Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tough times

Things around here are bleh. For one, I think my "winter blues" (yes, I'm technically diagnosed with SAD but I hate saying it) are worse this year than they've been in the past.

Secondly, both dogs are having health issues that are scary and unpredictable and I hate that. They're my babies, I want to protect them!

Third, I'm having anxiety about every. little. thing. Everything feels like this huge weight on my shoulders and I'm stressing about everything and nothing. It sucks. I'm guessing it's a byproduct of items 1 and 2.

So - puppy health. First, Jacko has what's called a 3rd degree heart block or complete heart block. The two parts of his heart (atria and ventricles) don't talk and his heart rate is incredibly low. There is no cure. The options are to do nothing or do a very pricey pacemaker surgery and hope it helps. After hearing the cost of the surgery and doing some research on the risks, we've decided against it. So now we just wait for him to die. I know that sounds awful, but it's true. He is going to die, sooner rather than later, and all we can do is wait and watch and love on him a lot while he's still here. It's a fairly rare condition so there's not a ton of information on it, but the research there is tells us we have anywhere from a week to 6 months or so with our beloved pup.

While that's all happening, Cody decided it'd be cool to be epileptic. He had a grand mal seizure at 3 am on Black Friday, scaring Ricky and I half to death. He's fine now, and the current treatment is "watch and wait." The medication to prevent seizures has enough side effects, and serious enough side effects, that the vet advised we not use them unless he's having more than one seizure every 3 months. As far as we know, the seizure he had on Friday was his first, so for now we're just waiting and hoping it doesn't happen again.

Add all that to the crappy weather and you can understand why every little thing is stressing me out. I need a vacation from my life.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Shellac Experience

A few weeks ago, I decided to give the new shellac nail polish a chance. I'm a lifetime nail biter and I thought this might be just the thing to help me stop, since I don't bite when I have polish on my nails. Unfortunately, traditional polish lasts approximately 7.6 seconds outside the salon before I screw it up, whereas the shellac is said to last for 2 weeks without chipping or peeling and it's dry before you walk out the door.

The process begins the same as a normal manicure. You soak, you get your cuticles pushed back and trimmed, your nails are filed and buffed. It's when the basecoat comes out that things change. Between each coat of base coat, polish, and topcoat, your hands are put into a small UV dryer. I lovingly refer to it as the nail tanning bed. Without the UV dryer, the polish will never dry! It's essentially baking the polish onto your nails. The dry time for each coat is about 4 minutes.

How do I like it? I tell you what - this stuff is amazing! It does not last a full two weeks for me, not because the polish looks bad but because my nails grow so fast that by the two week mark I have a full 1/4 to 1/2 inch of new growth, and that just looks silly. I love that I can walk out of the salon with dry nails - no smudging it when I open the car door, yay! I love that I can be rough on my hands, as usual, and the polish holds up to the challenge. I love that I appear to have quit biting my nails!

Now, about those nasty rumors that shellac will ruin your nails: according to the nail tech I've been seeing, there are two kinds of "long lasting" polish, the shellac and another called gel nails or Gelife. She said they tried switched to the gel because it was a lot cheaper and significantly faster, with a UV dry time of only 30 seconds for each coat. She said that at first they loved it, but then they realized that on a client's 2nd or 3rd time with the gel, their nails were completely ruined. She beliefs it's because the gel isn't as high quality as the shellac. While the shellac is more expensive and takes more time, the salon I patronize prefers it because they believe strongly that it's much healthier for the nails - so much so that they threw away all the gel polish and switched back solely to the shellac!

After about 10 days, I notice that the edges of the polish are starting to lift. This also happens to coincide with the noticeable growout, so I've been attributing the lifting with the fact that the polish is no longer butted up to the nail bed. If I'm good and don't pick, it's fine and not noticeable unless you get really close. When I'm bad and can't leave it alone, I notice that peeling the polish off is not great for my nails as it seems to take some of the top layer of the nail with it. I do not notice that it significantly weakens my nails if I have the shellac removed the proper way, however.

Speaking of the proper way, to have the shellac removed, the nails are soaked in acetone and then the shellac is easy to push off the nail. This is not something I've ever tried at home, and I don't intend to. The salon will remove it free of charge, no appointment or new manicure necessary.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Adjusting, one day at a time

About a month ago, Ricky switched positions within his company and is now working nights. This is a big switch for us. He worked nights when we were first married, so I figured it would be no big deal, but apparently years of him working the same basic schedule as me made me forget how hard it can be.

As I said, it's been just over a month and I feel like we're finally hitting our stride in how all of this works. Of course, it will all change again in a month when I go back to school, but for now we seem to be adjusting and adapting - finally. It was hard on all of us, dogs included.

Right now our schedule tends to be that I get up around 6 to let the dogs out - if it's light outside they think they need to be out there. I go back to bed until 8 or 9 when I get up for the day, feed the dogs, and get started on whatever projects I have (during NISE, I just got up at 6, let the dogs out, then let them back in and fed them before I left at 7:15).

Around noon, Ricky rolls out of bed. If I'm home, we hang out, but more often than not I'm not home. He lets the dogs out again and then does whatever he needs to around the house until it's time for him to leave for work.

When I get home, I let the dogs out, then let them back in for their dinner. While they're eating, I make my own dinner and eat. Sometime in the evening, after it's cooled off outside, the three of us head out to the backyard where I read my book and the pups play. I'm usually in bed by the time Ricky gets home, at which point Jacko stays in the bedroom with me and Cody joins Ricky wherever he is.

Our poor dogs went from going out and coming back in once in the morning and once in the evening to this weird, seemingly random in and out routine. Jacko especially wasn't adjusting well, especially since it took Ricky and me several weeks to figure out what the new routine was. Now that we've figured it out, he's doing a lot better, but for a while we were dealing with a pouty, whiny dog who just wanted to chew up all the paper in the house.

I will say, I'm enjoying my evening reading time. It's nice to be outside in the cool air, and even though I'm not an active participant in the dogs' playtime, it seems to be enough for them that I'm just there, which goes a long way to reduce the neediness they exude once we're back inside. How all this will play out in the school year, especially in the winter, I don't know. For now, we're just taking it a day at a time.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A song in my heart and a tear in my eye

Show time = stress time, and for me stress time = dredging up old emotions and feeling all kinds of sad and melancholy.

It stands to reason, since we just had the anniversaries of all 3 grandparents' passing, that I'd be missing them tonight. This song kept coming up for me as I sat here working on variousAlice projects. So I listened, had a good cry, and then decided to share.


Well, so much for "blog-a-day" in April. Perhaps may will be a better month. Besides, that rhymes - Blog-a-day in May.

For now, here's a quick recap on where we are:

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland opens on Thursday closes Saturday.
  • We still have stuff to finish - yikes!
  • But the kids are doing really well and I think we have a show!
  • The doggies are great
  • Jacko is still crazy smart
  • We've discovered Cody's pretty dumb. Good news, he's learning. Bad news, he's a really, really slow learner
  • We are taking some of the blame for Cody's slow learning. We haven't had the time to work with him like we did Jacko. As soon as the show is over he'll get more of my time and attention.
  • 42 student school days left.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Growing friendships

When Ricky and I were planning our wedding, I came across TheKnot.com and joined the message boards there. It was a great community at the time, and many of us stuck together but moved off the boards after our weddings. You see, we were the first wave of brides to use The Knot and they hadn't yet developed a place for newlyweds, so we made our own (The Knot has since developed both The Nest and The Bump, for expectant mothers). We moved to an MSN board...and then another MSN board...and then another. Then MSN shut down so we moved to Lefora. We got a lot of viruses from Lefora so we ended up buying our own domain, which is hosted by one of our members. It's a great community most of the time.

Anyway, a year or so ago I discovered that one of the members lives about 15 minutes from us. We started chatting and becoming friendly. We became Facebook friends, and then last summer she and her other half bought our dresser from us. It was the first time we'd met them, and we all stood in the driveway and talked for at least an hour.

Since then we've developed a great friendship with them. They are such a blessing in our lives, and I hope that we are to them as well. We enjoy many of the same things, have many of the same opinions and outlooks on life, but have vastly different backgrounds and experiences. It has been so fun getting to know them. I look forward to so many more game nights, dinners out, and great conversations.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sprouting Hair

No, this isn't about filling in a bald spot or growing hair in places we shouldn't. It's about, of all things, our dogs.

Cody and Jacko are both black, medium length haired dogs. They both shed like crazy. Not just in the spring, but all. the. time. Which means we have insane amounts of hair in our house. We sweep and vacuum, vacuum and sweep, but it just never seems to go away. And it sprouts up everywhere. I find furballs in the most random places, like in a dresser drawer.

We've been trying to keep up on it. Those who know us well know we are not the world' best house keepers...not by a long shot. But we are trying. It's hard though, when you sweep it all up and it all looks great...and then not 10 seconds later you see a little doggie tumbleweed blowin' down the hall.

Perhaps a razor would be best?

Friday, April 1, 2011

NaBloPoMo for April

I probably shouldn't, but I'm going to try writing once a day every day for the month of April. With a show opening April 21, this should be interesting. The NaBloPoMo theme for April is "Sprouts," so I may try to stay loosely to that theme...or not. We'll see!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Catching up

I'm not going to write a lot because I'm tired and it's late and Ricky's in bed and I really just want to crawl in and cuddle, but I feel the need to make a quick list of things on which I need to blog. So, here goes.
  • We got a second dog
  • I'm working on show #2 for the year at school
  • I got new glasses
  • IKEA is cool
I guess that's it. I feel like there are a lot more things. I really need to commit to blogging daily; perhaps I'll make that commitment for April. I do promise to at least come back and update you on Cody-Bear, our new pup.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Leisurely Swim

I am crazy. My coworkers are crazy. We are middle school teachers, we are certifiably insane. So insane that we voluntarily jumped in a river today.

That's right. We jumped in the Columbia river by choice, in the middle of February. The water was a balmy 39 degrees. We went for a short swim, then ran to change, and promised we'd do it again next year.

Let's start at the beginning. A couple months ago, I got a note from my coworker asking if I'd join her Polar Plunge team. The thing with Barb is no one can say no to her. She's not intimidating, but she's our work mommy, and we just can't say no. So when she asked, I suddenly forgot how much I hate to be cold, how being wet and cold is about the worst possible thing in my world, and said I'd do it.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. Suddenly I realized the month of the plunge had arrived. Until that point, I'd been blissfully in denial of what I'd committed to. I quickly did my fundraising and thanks to my generous friends and family raised over $250 in donations for Special Olympics Oregon. I got my gear together and made plans with my coworkers. And suddenly, Feb 12 was upon us and there was no turning back.

There was an early registration the evening of Feb 11, but I had an improv night at school so I couldn't go. One of my dear friends and coworkers offered to go to the morning registration with me, even though she had done the early registration and it meant getting up early. What a great friend! So this morning I got up and drove to her house, bearing coffee. We packed all our stuff into her car and took off for Broughton Beach on the Oregon side of the Columbia River.

Registration started at 8:30 and we got there at 8:45 as we'd been warned of long lines. Apparently we were the only ones concerned about the wait because we walked right up to the registration table. I was signed in and ready to go by 9 am! The plunge didn't start until 11, so we had a couple of hours to kill.

We spent the first half hour playing the Wii game "Rabbids" in the Game Truck. How cool, and what a fun idea! We killed a lot of time and had a blast doing it. About the time we realized there was a line starting to form for entrance to the truck, we got a text from Barb, our fearless leader, saying she and her husband, also a coworker, had arrived. We met them and then made the rounds of food. We had clam chowder provided by Salty's restaurant, macaroni and cheese provided by Noodles and Co., hot chocolate provided by Clear Wireless. There was also ribs from Dave's Famous BBQ and pizza from Papa Murphy's, but we skipped out on those - we were too full from the other stuff! After the food we played rock band, provided by 98.7 KUPL. After one song we realized it was time to line up, so we headed for the plunge.

I don't really know how to describe the plunge. It's terrifying and awesome, amazing and difficult all at once. The anticipation was definitely worse than the plunge itself. I had that "oh crap" feeling in my stomach, the same one I get before big roller coaster rides. When our team name was called, we ran down to the beach, arranged our towels and coats so we could immediately warm ourselves upon getting out of the water, and lined up to plunge.


Suddenly I was in near-freezing water. The next thing I knew, my shoes came off my feet (darn crocs!) but I knew I had to just keep moving forward. I swam out to the divers, and about the time I got to them (the turn around point), I started having trouble breathing. I turned and swam as hard as I could for the shore, knowing that getting out of the water was the only thing that would make my breathing return to normal. On the way back in I managed to snag my shoes. I got out of the water and ran for my towel, wrapping it and my robe around my shoulders. It sounds crazy, but getting that on provided instant relief. We grabbed our things and headed for the changing tents. On our way, one of my coworkers got stopped for an interview by a TV station!

Once we were changed the adrenaline started to wear off and we all headed for home. It was exhausting and incredible, thrilling, bone chilling, and something that I am so proud of. I still can't believe I did it. I hate the cold, I hate being wet and cold even more, and yet I managed it. We're already planning for next year!

Monday, January 31, 2011


Brinner, also known as breakfast for dinner, is one of my favorite things to make when I don't have any clue what to have for dinner. It's fast, and easy, and hey - who doesn't love breakfast?! So tonight when I realized we had chicken but nothing to go with it, I decided pancakes sounded a lot better than a hunk of chicken with no sides. I've always preferred pancakes from scratch, and sometime last year I found Jamie Oliver's "one cup pancakes." It's all we've used since. Best part? It's the easiest recipe I've ever made!

One Cup Pancakes
One egg
12 oz mug of flour
12 oz mug of milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbs sugar

Heat butter in frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. While that's heating, mix the egg, flour, milk, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. When the pan is hot and butter is fully melted, pour batter into pan using 1/2c measuring cup. Cook until edges are dry and bubbles form in the center, then flip. Yields about 8 pancakes.

I serve these with homemade syrup. I can't really give you a recipe; it's melted butter, brown sugar, and a smidge of water, but I have no idea of the measurements or even the ratios. I learned it from my mom and it's one of her famous "till it looks/tastes right" recipes.