Thursday, December 25, 2008

Aloha and Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas family and friends! Wow, there are really no words to say how spectacular Hawaii is! We have been here for 3 days now and have seen some spectacular sights. Last night, for Christmas Eve, we attended a Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The dinner was nice and the show was great. It was a nice way to spend Christmas Eve together.
We've been to the beach every day, at least for a little while. Unfortunately our first day at the beach while Amber was body surfing, she got caught by a fierce wave and it flipped her over and she re-injured her neck. She managed to find a Chiropractor who was open yesterday morning and got an adjustment but she's still in pain and not able to do all the things she wants to. Hopefully today with a little rest she will get better.
It's so nice having the whole family together again. I hear we are missing the snowy, cold weather back home but let me tell you, we don't miss it at all!!
Aloha and Mele Kalikimaka (that means goodbye/hello and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy First Day of Winter

We really got dumped on! I bet we had a foot of snow on Friday and here are my poor guys digging us out of it so we could get the cars out of the driveway. The roads were still pretty snow-covered that evening when we had to go bowling. It takes a while to get a foot of snow off the roads. The good thing was I had a snow day because of the snow so that was nice. Howard stayed home too as his boss told everyone to take their laptops home because if school was closed they could work from home. Yesterday we just worked on getting packed and trying to finish up last minute things because it looks like we might have to leave for the airport this afternoon, get a hotel close to the airport so that we can leave on time Monday morning (if the planes are leaving on time) because we are getting more snow tonight. It might be a difficult drive at 2:30 a.m., more difficult than at 4:00 p.m. We'll see how it goes. We just don't want to miss our plane! Hundreds of flights were cancelled Friday night but we aren't getting that much snow tonight so I don't thinnk we will have the same problems. It is supposed to be really cold though with a high of only 19 on Monday. Good thing we are heading for warmer climates!! Look at our little house! Sometimes I really wonder why we live here. It's so nasty and cold during the winter. Even the animals struggle. The poor birds were all huddled up while the snow was coming down. It was a good thing I filled the feeders the day before because they really were flocking around it yesterday during the storm. The pups were enjoying it though, at least Charlie. It was a little deep for Zoe. She was hopping around like a bunny. And while some of you might find this next part annoying, I found it very entertaining, though a bit loud! I was just trying to get their heads twisting but they really got into it and took over!!

This will probably be my last post for a while, unless "someone" lets me use their laptop while we are away.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Christmas and a healthy, Happy New Year too!
We'll be at the beach!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

So Far, So Good...

The good news is that Charlie seems to be ok. After getting the results of the bloodwork, the Vet feels that Charlie's organs are ok, no parasites and the only test where the results haven't come back yet are the urine test which we should get tomorrow. The Vet said to keep him on a bland diet for another couple days, keep giving him Prilosec (for the stomach upset) and in a few days I can add back the commercial dog food, a small amount, and he should be fine!

As for Zoe, the Vet said she should come in for a dental check-up when we get back as her teeth could get infected. They will probably have to be removed at some point. I'm sure that won't be cheap so hopefully we can wait for a little while. She doesn't seem to be bothered by them right now so we'll just see how it goes.

Tonight's after-work work party was fun. It didn't last long and I was home before 6:00. Right after I got home the snow started coming down. They are predicting 3-5 inches for tonight. Girls at work were hoping for a Snow Day but I doubt that will happen. It seems when you think there will be a Snow Day they don't come and when you least expect them, they do! We had about an inch last time I checked!

Only 3 more days of school. The kids are NUTS!

6 days and counting!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

7 Days and Counting...

Wow, just 7 days, one short week from today, and we'll be on our way to Hawaii! It seems impossible to imagine right now. It's 17 degrees here tonight. This morning (and last night) it was in the high 40's. I was actually hot in my flannel pajamas last night! Even when I left for work this morning I only had to wear a sweatshirt! Then when I came home at lunch I grabbed my heavy coat as the temperature had dropped more than 20 degrees! Most of the snow melted yesterday but the ground is frozen!
In other news, I've had some disturbing news about the pups. First Charlie was sick this weekend. He threw up Saturday and Sunday nights and hasn't had much of an appetite. Luckily I was taking him to the vet today for his yearly check-up anyway. Instead of that though the vet wanted to run some blood tests, check his stool and urine. He wants to rule out kidney and pancreas problems. I'm hoping and praying it's all my fault for changing his diet to try to fatten him up. The vet wanted me to put him on Prilosec (an antacid) and an anti-nausea pill. He's still running around playing and stuff so hopefully the test will all come back ok and his problems won't be serious.

Also this weekend I just happened to lift up Zoe's lip and discovered this!

How my little baby broke off two of her teeth (!) I don't know! They are pretty much broken down to the gum line. The vet suggested I get her in when we get back as they might have to be pulled or they could get infected! Of all the times to have these problems, a week before we leave for Hawaii! I will be leaving my favorite pup/house sitter permission/directions what to do if things get worse, so don't worry!

The rest of the weekend was spent baking these beauties.

I wasn't going to participate in the cookie exchange this year but then 4 of us decided we really liked each other's cookies and we would have a mini-exchange instead. I still had to bake two batches in order to get 3 dozen of these big cookies and then spend time icing them so I worked on them for about 8 hours while also making dog food and making dinner! Talk about your multi-tasking! So in exchange for these cookies I got a dozen peanut butter kisses (the ones with the Hershey kisses in them) and a dozen Buck-Eyes and some type of bar cookies that's just ok. I should have stuck with my first instinct and just passed on the exchange altogether!

Tomorrow night is our LRC party at a local sports bar. I will go for a little while but don't plan to stay long. Things will be crazy at school this week. The kids are already super hyped up, naturally. Thursday afternoon is the classroom parties and then Friday afternoon we will have our all-school sing-a-long. Then we will be out of that place for 2 weeks!! yeeeehawwwwww!!

You might have heard that Hawaii has had some terrible weather the past week or so. Something called a "Kona" has swept through there bring almost 12 inches of rain, flooding, etc. According to their weather reports it's supposed to clear up in the next couple days and be in the 80's when we are there next week! Next week!! I can't believe it's NEXT WEEK!!! That's so close!! Can you tell I'm excited? Not only is it wonderful to be going to some place like Hawaii, it's also going to be wonderful to see Tyler (who we haven't seen in almost a year) and spend time with Amber and Andy who we haven't seen (and that was only for a day) since September. Plus spending some quality time with Scott, who won't be attached to his computer 24/7 will be nice too!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's Still Fall, Really It Is...

But you would never know it from the weather we've had this past week and weekend. We hadn't seen the sun in days and even though it was under 20 degrees for a high today, we finally saw the sun! Obviously it was freezing but seeing the sun makes it feel, if only in the mind, so much warmer! These pictures were taken yesterday when it was snowy and oh so cold! And this is what things look like when the sun finally comes back out! These are also the first pictures that I took with my brand new camera!! That's right, it arrived last week. My old camera (which I loved dearly and hated to part with) just wasn't working right and I wanted to be sure we had a good camera to capture all those Christmas memories we are about to make, so I got us a new camera. So far it's pretty nice. It has some tricks that my old one didn't. This trick I find particularly amazing. Notice this picture of Howard, quite serious. Then you just view the picture in the "smile" setting and it automatically makes the person appear to be smiling! Amazing! I'm still learning but I snapped a few good pictures. Of course this blog wouldn't be complete without some pup pics. It was so cold this weekend that once when Zoe went outside to do her business, she just layed down. Her feet were so cold she didn't want to walk. Most of the time they were inside, doing this. Charlie was watching squirrels. So was Zoe. We bowled Friday night and even though we only had 3 bowlers, we took 3 points, 2 games and totals. It felt good! On Saturday, since the weather was so nasty, I spent the day working on the annual Christmas letter and then getting the Christmas cards ready to go. I also did a little internet shopping for the few, and I mean very few, gifts we are actually buying this year. I have to say, it feels good not to worry about decorating, shopping, wrapping, cooking, etc.! It's very liberating and so stress free! I had thought I might put up one of our smaller trees but now I'm thinking I won't. Why bother really? No one is going to see it except us so why go through the hassle? The only real shopping I have had to go out and do, I did today. I have talked 3 other girls at work into going in on a gift with me for a needy family at school. The Mom of the family really wanted a vacuum cleaner and even said she would forgo all her other gifts if she could just get a vacuum. I admire someone who wants to have a clean house so we bought her a beautiful Bissell vacuum. Not only was it on sale, I also had a 15% off coupon! Only two more weeks of work until Christmas vacation. The time has really flown by! Here's a fun little movie for your viewing enjoyment (it's only 2 minutes long, and cute!)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ain't No Sunshine...

Must be Michigan! When you hear that familiar "beep, beep, beep" and see the red banner at the bottom of the TV screen, you know something's up. We are having a "winter storm warning" here in lovely Michigan. This is what we looked at all day.

I ran a quick errand when it was just beginning to snow and by the time I came home the neighborhood roads were slick. I came to a corner going only about 15-20 mph and instead of curving around the corner, I went straight! Thankfully I only slid a short distance before the brakes caught. I had to back up to make the turn but I made it home.
I made it back from California with no problems. It was a miserable plane ride; crying babies, rude row-mates, but only 4-1/2 hours and it was over. It felt nice to sleep in my own bed again and I missed my guys and my fur kids. They were happy to see me but I was old news in no time. Apparently they were well taken care of in my absence.

People who live in California take so many things for granted. While it got chilly there at night and even some days were cool enough to wear a sweater, the beauty of California can't be beat.

These beautiful roses are growing in Ingrid's back yard.

This is a beautiful, tall Hibiscus bush.

And these beauties grow right in her back yard too! You just got out and pick one in the morning...

And then you have these for breakfast!

On the downside, you might run in to these guys in some sections. Thankfully not near where Ingrid lives. These guys were only one of several "teams" I saw as I drove through "Compton".

And I even managed to see one beautiful sunset.

And some long, lost relatives...

But it's always good to come back home again, if only for a few weeks! Because in just 3 short weeks we are on our way to HAWAII!!!!! WooooooHooooooo!

Some of us are not as happy as others about that news...

But not to worry; they'll be well taken care of by their favorite "house sitter and dog spoiler".
Have a good week!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving From (cloudy, cool) California

Ingrid believes I'm bringing this weather from Michigan with me. If it starts to snow I'll finally believe her! It's been rainy, cloudy and cool here for the past few days. Yes, I wish it were warmer but I can't really complain when it's snowing back home.

We didn't really have any plans for today. Yesterday I went to Trader Joe's to buy some fixings for a small Thanksgiving dinner. Then this morning my Great Aunt Shirley called and Ingrid agreed we would go over there for a while. I'm not quite sure she's up to it but I guess we will give it a try. I have mixed feelings. I would like to see my Aunt Shirley but the rest I haven't seen or heard from in probably 40+ years so it will seem a little odd. This may be the only chance I have to see them though so I guess I should.

I find it so amusing that I'm not cooking for Thanksgiving this year but my "men" are. Howard already texted me this morning with a beautiful picture of the turkey breast I bought a couple weeks ago, beautifully browned and ready to eat, along with a Thanksgiving greeting. Howard and Scott will be enjoying a feast together today.

Tyler called yesterday to get a few pointers as he and his roommates are preparing a feast also. He just needed a few tips on cooking mashed potatoes and how long to cook the turkey. Initially he had planned to spend the day at the beach but I guess the guys there in Hawaii got a little homesick and changed their minds and decided to cook instead.

Amber and Andy are joining some friends there in Virginia. They are still unpacking and organizing from their move last weekend. That's hard to do when you work the long hours they do. I know they will be excited tomorrow when their new couch is delivered as they sold their old couch several weeks ago and have been sitting in chairs since then.

I miss you guys and can't wait until we are all together again in just a short 25 days! That's just a little more than 3 weeks guys! Woo Hoo!!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Monday, November 24, 2008

At Least It's Warm Here...

Yep, warm though not hot. I arrived in Cali on Thursday afternoon. Sadly, after a long battle with cancer, my Dad passed away on Wednesday, November 19. I received the call while at school and went home that night and made arrangements to fly to California the next day. Ingrid had already handled probably the most difficult part (thanks to a friend of my Dad's who helped her make the arrangements), which was the decisions at the Mortuary. My Dad wanted to be cremated so that's what will be done.

I'm just trying to keep Ingrid company while she starts going through this process. At this point there's not much else to do. Of course she's not ready to dispose of anything or reorganize or anything like that so most of our time is just spent sitting with her reminiscing about their lives or her life as a child. Let's just say she needs to talk. I'm just trying to make sure she eats and gets some rest. Sounds simple, I know, but she does have a mind of her own and she's not afraid to use it!

Amber and Andy moved into their new place last weekend. I know they are going to love having a place to call their own and to decorate the way they choose. The floors and counter tops are in so that will feel fresh and new for them. I can't wait to take a road trip sometime soon and see it!

Tyler is busy finishing up his semester. It will be over in just a couple weeks and I told him he really should start cleaning now for our visit next month!! That's right, less than a month away now. We will all be headed for a warmer climate and 10 fabulous days in Hawaii!! Tyler said he hoped the weather then won't be like it has been the past few days. I guess there was some type of depression hanging over the islands and all it did was rain for 3 days! Yea, I'm hoping that doesn't happen too.

Howard and Scott are holding the fort down in Michigan and taking care of my little fur kids. Howard tells me he's not spoiling them like I do but that they are alive and well. I know they will survive. I do feel bad about leaving them all by themselves for Thanksgiving but I know they will survive that too. Howard will attempt to cook his first turkey breast!

This morning when I spoke to Howard he said he had just come in from shovelling the driveway! Snow, already! Compared to Michigan it is absolutely gorgeous here. In the evening you can sit outside in just a light sweater or sweatshirt. The best part of all though is seeing the sun. Every day. Warm and sunny, together. Not gray, just sunny. It really makes me think about packing up and moving somewhere warmer! And somewhere sunnier, let's not forget that!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another gray, cold, rainy, snowy weekend...

Brrrrr, it's been cold! Just take a look!

Here's the gray part.

We didn't do much this weekend. Saturday was spent doing chores, fun stuff like that. Then in the afternoon we went to see the new James Bond movie (don't waste your money, wait for the DVD) and then to Stir Crazy for dinner.
Today I went to Kohl's to try to find some clothes as I'm desperate. I didn't have much luck, a pair of jeans and a couple shirts. I made a loaf of rosemary/olive oil bread. I am now finally able to make a loaf that pretty much comes out the same each time. Late this afternoon we took the dogs up to the high school field. It was so cold because the wind was blowing! The dogs really needed to get out though and didn't want to stop playing. My fingers were frozen and H looked like he was going on an expedition to Alaska so it was time to go! Since it's rained most every day this past week they haven't gotten out to run much and they needed the exercise.
Charlie was being quite a stinker this morning. This is the spot he likes to survey his kingdom from on the weekends. He can see all the comings and goings from this spot.

He was enjoying chewing on his little fox toy this morning.

Just a big goofball.

Amber and Andy spent the weekend painting their new condo. They've been sending picture updates from time to time. The place is lookin' good and it's a good thing since they move in next weekend!

Scott went over to Michigan State to visit some friends Saturday so it was quieter than usual around here.

We haven't talked to Ty in a while. Every time I think of calling him it's too early. I'm sure he's very, very busy studying and going to school and in his spare time working whenever he can!

I spoke to Ingrid on Thursday. My Dad was still hanging in there. The Dr. has now prescribed pain medication every 4 hours, without him having to ask, and has said Ingrid may visit whenever she likes instead of having to follow the visiting hours the hospital posts. Ingrid also said the Dr. was talking about possibly releasing my Dad from the hospital tomorrow to go back home. Ingrid will definitely have to hire help as she can't possibly do all they do in the hospital by herself.

That's all the news worth reporting. I hope everyone has a great week!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray...

Gray, gray, go away already! What a dreary weekend. Howard said the sun came out for a few minutes yesterday but apparently I was in the basement and missed it! We had some rain yesterday and even a bit of snow today. Thankfully it was just flakes and they melted as they hit the ground. Here's a picture. Those streaks are the flakes.

It was cold and windy too! When I took the pups to the park yesterday we had to wear winter coats and gloves. They always enjoy the cold weather. I guess I would too if I had their lovely fur coats!

Not much else is going on. We had bowling Friday night but didn't do too hot. We only took one game. I missed out on high game by 1 pin (bowled a 181) and actually won the "mystery" pot on that one though I had to split it. I made a whole $12!

The rest of the weekend was spent around the house, doing chores, catching up on laundry, etc. I did speak to Ingrid yesterday and my Dad is still hanging in there. He is out of ICU but she said there isn't much improvement. They are discussing some type of after-care facility as he's not able to go back home yet and Ingrid doesn't want the help of Hospice at this time. That won't happen until later this week though, if then.

Amber and Andy close on their new place tomorrow. Exciting times! The next day the improvements will start and they will be going in all week to do the painting. Luckily they have the rest of the month to move in as they have their apartment until the end of November. So exciting!

This next week should be pretty calm. Last week after getting back from LA we had conferences on Tuesday and Thursday night. It made for a long week!

I saw this little guy at the feeder this morning. There wasn't much left after the raccoons have been at it all week! They are so brave. The other night it wasn't even dark yet and there was one hanging from the feeder! Aren't raccoons supposed to hibernate or something?

No pup pictures this week. Sorry Andy. I know how you look forward to them. I'll have to pull one (or three) out of the archives!

Have a good week everyone!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I'm Back

I'm back and must be suffering from jet lag! I'm so tired. It didn't help that the last morning in Cali, at the hotel, at 4:30 in the morning, the fire alarm jetted me out of bed from a sound sleep! Scary stuff, followed by an announcement that we must immediately evacuate the building! Thankfully it was all a false alarm but on top of everything else from the weekend it robbed me of a couple much needed hours of sleep.

The weekend was spent mostly at the hospital visiting with my Dad. His condition has worsened. When I got there on Friday I learned he had developed pneumonia. He spent the weekend getting breathing treatments between fits of coughing and pain medication. We said our good-bye's on Sunday evening as I had to leave Monday morning. When I called from the airport Monday to say I had arrived safely, Ingrid said she had received a call from the hospital at 7:30 a.m. saying they had to move my Dad to ICU except there were no beds available in ICU so instead they moved him down to emergency with his own ICU nurse. I wasn't sure he would survive that day. Apparently he now has a lung infection and possible kidney infection. At this point all I can hope for is a peaceful end to this suffering. He has fought so hard, as has Ingrid, to stay alive but I just don't believe he has much of a quality of life anymore. It was a tough visit but one that was needed, by all 3 of us I think.

Today was a busy day, first voting and then it was also conference day at school. We had a work day with no students this morning and then conferences this afternoon. Thursday night we have conferences again and then we can all breathe again.

Right now we are watching the election results. So far things are looking good for Barack Obama. I don't want to count my chickens but I am hopeful!

I took some amazing pictures of our beautiful country from the plane on the way to Cali and on the way back. Some of the places I could see from the plane looked like very interesting places to visit. Sometimes a road seemed to go on forever, through nothing but desert, not a building in sight. Amazing!

Flying into LA

The Rocky Mountains from above

The left coast

These clouds were amazing! They look so different when seen from above.

The flat lands and fields of the Midwest

My Dad's favorite rose

Have a happy rest of the week!