Saturday, April 30, 2011

Oratorio

Don and I flew to Chicago on Friday per Katherine's request. She wanted us to attend her final North Park University Choir concert. She picked us up at the airport, and we spent part of the day together before she had to attend dress rehearsal. At lunch, I asked Katherine what songs they would be singing. It was then that I found out all the songs would be sung in Latin, German or Hebrew. "I guess we won't understand a word you're saying," I said.

I was right. We didn't understand a word of it. Here's what the Oratorio consisted of:

Gloria in Excelsis Deo, BWV. 191 sung in Latin - Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Chicester Psalms (in three movements) sung in Hebrew - Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
The 42nd Psalm, opus 42 - Wie der Hirsch schreit sung in German - Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809-1847)

Don't get me wrong, it was a beautiful concert. I was amazed at the talent represented on stage. Since I can't read one note of music, I'm always impressed when listening to such complicated works performed.

Katherine was very happy to be a part of this advanced choir. All the students were music majors or minors, so this was their love, and you could tell.

Here we are with our lovely daughter. She's wearing her choir gown, which I affectionately dubbed the "Flying Nun" dress her freshman year. She rolls her eyes, but it reminds me of the "habits" worn by my elementary school teachers.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Procrastination

pro·cras·ti·nate [proh-kras-tuh-neyt],–verb:  to put off till another day or time; defer; delay.

Grand Cayman Island


 Oh, how I admire those individuals who get things done. They love to check items off their lists, sometimes completing tasks before they even write them down. They are super productive. I want to be like them, but at the same time, they drive me crazy. They make me feel guilty, lazy, slothful. I know, because I live with one.
I can't stand it when I ask Don to do something, and he has it done by the end of the day. He asked me to mend his shirt pocket over a month ago, and it still isn't finished. I did do it once, but Don rejected my work because I didn't change the thread on my sewing machine. White thread on an ecru shirt did not blend in.

I need to fix that shirt. Today. So why am I putting it off?

1. I have other things more pressing on my list? Not really.
2. I am a perfectionist, and I don't want to fail? Possibly, but if that were true, I would have changed the thread the first time.
3. I am lazy? Most likely. This involves setting up my sewing machine and changing the thread.

The actual task of fixing the shirt will take 30 seconds. It's not going to kill my whole day. OK. I'll do it today. I'll get it done.

If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it. ~Olin Miller

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stumble Upon

Daniel is always telling me he "stumbled upon" such and such. At first, I thought he just happened to find some interesting website while he was searching Google. Instead, there is an actual website called Stumble Upon that uses categories to help you find the most interesting websites on the internet.

After signing up (for free), you set your preferences, and Stumble Upon will let you keep stumbling through recommended websites until you find something you like. I set my preferences to Books and Photography for starters. After stumbling around for five minutes, I found two interesting items to share.

Here is a photograph of a most amazing library located in Stockholm, Sweden.


And a website I found useful: What Should I Read Next? which lets you enter a favorite book you have read. It will then come back with recommendations for you. I entered 84 Charing Cross Road, and the website returned 50 titles I might want to read. Overkill maybe, but I might find something of interest on the list.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dog Tired

The past seven weeks I have been training for a 5K following the "Couch to 5K" plan. I'm only on week five of my training instead of week seven because some of the weeks took two weeks to get through. I'm on Week 5 Day 2, which I've done three times. The regimen is a 5 minute warm-up walk, 8 minute run, 5 minute brisk walk, 8 minute run, 5 minute cool-down walk. The reason I am stuck here is because the next step is to run 20 minutes straight! I just can't wrap my mind around that yet.  

All this time, I've been running indoors on the treadmill. It wasn't raining this morning, so Don suggested I run outside. After all, if I enter a race, it is going to be outside, not on a treadmill. I didn't want to go out there. My neighbors might see me. They have never seen me run. They might fall over in shock. After stalling for a half hour, I decided I'd better give it a try.

Did you know it is a lot harder to run outside than on a treadmill? I should have sprayed a few puffs of my inhaler first. It was harder to breathe. And even though it looks like the road is relatively flat to the naked eye, there are some 2-5% grades out there.

I was thoroughly exhausted at the end, but I persevered. That's what it is all about: perseverance. You won't get very far without it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pita Bread

This weekend, I was in the mood to make something new. Then I thought about the pita bread recipe my fellow blogger, Debbie, posted some time ago. I vowed to give it a try because she said, "it is so stinkin’ easy that if you don’t make them you are even more of a Lazy McLazypants than I am." Those were her exact words.

I am here to tell you she was right. It was very stinkin' easy. I was successful on my first try, and the recipe even called for the dreaded ingredient: yeast.

If you want visual step-by-step instructions, go to her blog post for pita bread. But I wrote down the instructions from the link she gave, and here they are in a nutshell:

Pita Bread

Put a pizza stone in the oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. If you don't have a pizza stone, use foil when you bake the pitas.

Mix 2 1/2 cups bread flour, 2 t. salt, 1 T. sugar and 2 t. yeast in a mixer bowl.

Add 2 T. olive oil and 1 cup warm water. Mix some more.

Attach dough hook to mixer and knead for 6-8 minutes. If you don't have a dough hook, knead by hand.

Dump the dough out on the counter and knead one more minute by hand. Divide dough into 8 equal parts, and roll them into balls. Cover the balls with plastic wrap and let them sit for 10 minutes.

Roll out each pita with a rolling pin until they are 1/16" thick. You can see your hand through the dough, but they are not so thin that they rip.

Carefully place dough on pizza stone (2 at a time). Bake about 3-4 minutes per side. Turn with tongs after first side is slightly brown on the bottom.

As the pitas come out of the oven, stack them between two pieces of foil and cover them up. When all the pitas are cooked, let them sit covered 20 minutes.

These are the best pitas we have ever had. Yummy!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Silence of the Lamb

Some people ask why, if Jesus was all powerful, he did not stop his own crucifixion. He could have with just a word. But He didn't. He was silent. His love for you and me stopped him. That's what held him to the cross, not the nails.

A favorite author of mine, Adrian Rogers, said in his book, The Passion of Christ and the Purpose of Life, "The Bible teaches us that when Jesus Christ took our sin, He took all of the punishment that goes with that sin. A part of that punishment is shame. Had Jesus defended Himself and protested His innocence, He would have suffered no shame, and that would have left us guilty. Jesus could not prove Himself innocent and then die in our place the shameful death that we deserve. Thank God that Jesus was willing to be counted a sinner before God, that we might be counted as righteous before God!"

I am so thankful that Jesus was brave. He did not back down. He did what he came to do. And on this Easter morning I can celebrate the fact that He is risen.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter 1990

Here is Don with his little girl on Easter morning, 1990. They are walking back to the house after retrieving the newspaper. Katherine is wearing the dress I made for her. Don is a little preoccupied with the headlines. But Katherine doesn't seem to mind, because she's holding her daddy's hand. And she's wearing the dress her mom made, and she has her shiny white shoes on and her bright white tights on. All that is missing is her Easter bonnet.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chipotle Mexican Grill

Every couple months I get a huge craving for Chipotle. If you haven't tried one of their burritos, you just haven't lived. I'm glad I don't get these cravings more often, because a Chipotle burrito with all the fixings can run you 1300 calories or more.

Fortunately, my stomach cannot hold an entire burrito. I tried that once, and I almost exploded. Rather, I order the burrito bowl, which is a burrito without the tortilla. That saves you 330 calories right off the top. To save even more calories, I eat half the burrito bowl one day and the other half the next day...unless I feel extra gluttonous...then I finish the whole thing in one sitting. After doing that, someone needs to roll me out of my chair.

But as a special treat every once in awhile, you can't beat Chipotle. The flavors are just so stupendous. Here's what I order: burrito bowl with chicken, black beans, a little rice, tomatoes, green peppers, and a little cheese. Yummy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Seder

I studied the book of 1Kings at the Parkside Church Tuesday night women's Bible study this winter. I am in group "G", which consists of me and ten other women whom I grew to love. Lauren, Erika, Jen and Erica are in their 20's and working at their first jobs out of college. They brought a zest for life to the group. The rest of us are a little older and provided perspective.

When our winter session ended last Tuesday, we were all very sad to say good-bye, so we decided to have one last get together at Laura's house for a Jewish seder. We all brought something. I volunteered to cook a side dish called Carrots Zimmes. All the food was traditional seder, unleavened fare.

We read along in Haggadah booklets, commemorating the Jewish exodus from Egypt. Our booklets followed the Messianic Haggadah, which incorporates the Messiah. Part of the reading tells of the ten plagues of Egypt.

It must have been the librarian in me, but when I saw the Ten Plagues finger puppet set at Bed, Bath, and Beyond last week, I just had to buy it. I took my little finger puppets to the seder and they really brought the story to life.

I didn't realize how much food was involved in a seder dinner. I thought we would just be eating bitter herbs, matzah and apples. We ended up eating a dinner that rivaled any Thanksgiving feast.

The best part was just being with this lovely group of women. I hope to see all of my group "G" friends again in the fall, if not before.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Easter Eggs

I can't remember how I came upon this recipe (maybe Pam?), but it had peanut butter and chocolate mixed together, so I decided to try it. The eggs were very easy to make, just a little messy.

Here's what you need:

1/2 c. chocolate chips
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 t. vanilla
1 T. hot water
3 T. peanut butter
1/8 t. salt
1 container Baker's dipping chocolate
1/4 c. peanut butter chips (for drizzle)
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

Melt chocolate chips and pour into mixing bowl. Add cream cheese, vanilla, hot water, peanut butter, salt and 1 cup powdered sugar.

Mix together until well incorporated. Stop the mixer and add 1/2 c. more powdered sugar. Mix on low, scraping bowl. Check texture of candy: you want it to be firm enough to easily be shaped into an egg, but not too dry and stiff.

Using a spoon, scoop up a small amount of candy dough and roll between your hands into an egg shape. Place on baking sheet lined with waxed paper or foil. Repeat until you have approximately two dozen eggs.

Put eggs in refrigerator while you melt the dipping chocolate (follow directions on container). Once dipping chocolate is melted, dip eggs, then place on lined baking sheet.

Melt peanut butter chips in microwave, stirring after each 30 second interval until smooth. Pour melted chips into a ziploc bag. Cut a tiny hole in corner of ziploc. Pipe stripes, polka dots or other designs on the eggs. Refrigerate 30 minutes to set chocolate. Store up to a week in an airtight container in refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.

The stripes on my eggs look a little dark. That is because I couldn't find plain peanut butter chips at the store. I bought a package that was a mixture of chocolate and peanut butter chips.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Grammar Girl

All three of my children suffered under the tutelage of Mrs. Linda Bailey, a CVCA 7th grade English teacher, who was a grammar guru. She was also a stickler for many other things:  dress code, promptness, and being prepared. It was a miracle if a student could get through the year without getting a detention in her class. Daniel was one of those miracles, but he made it his personal goal to outwit her.

I told them that although it was painful at the time, learning grammar from Mrs. Bailey would serve them well in the future. They now agree it was a good thing to endure the class. Katherine landed a job in the North Park Writing Center, Daniel can whip out an essay in two seconds flat, and Peter can give me advice when I don't know if I should say "lay down or lie down".

I did not have the grammar education my offspring enjoyed. On the contrary, I had to learn the hard way by making mistakes and having well-meaning friends and family correct me. I know my grammar isn't perfect, but I am always willing to learn and improve. I found a free podcast dedicated to grammar improvement on iTunes, and I subscribed.

Grammar Girl is the moniker used by Mignon Fogarty, a modern Mrs. Bailey to be sure. She will set you straight on when to use "further vs. farther", "between vs. among", and "although vs. while". Her book, Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, was a New York Times best seller. What does that tell you? Lots of people need to brush up on their grammar. I don't feel so all alone in the world.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Photoshop

Whoever created Photoshop Elements software does not think on the same plane as the average human being. Usually, I can figure out software packages just by playing around with them, because they are user friendly and intuitive. I'm not one to read the owner's manual, but with Photoshop, even reading the manual didn't help. That's when I signed up for a Photoshop class. I was determined to master this complicated program.

On Friday, I earned my Photoshop certificate after attending an all-day class. When I left, I felt like I "got it". I came home and immediately went to work editing some photos so I wouldn't forget what I learned. It still wasn't easy.

Here is my first attempt at editing a photo. I cropped the picture, removed blemishes, made it look like a watercolor, and added text.

Original Image





Edited image


Friday, April 15, 2011

Plantain

Can you guess which is the banana and which is the plantain? The one on the top is the banana. Plantains are usually longer than bananas, but mine happened to be shorter. They have thick skins which are difficult to peel. The fruit starts out starchy, tasting like a potato, but it turns sweeter as it ripens. I had to hide the plantain from Peter so he didn't bite into it and gag. Plantains should not be eaten raw. I am glad I read about them before I chomped on the one I brought home from the grocery store.

Bananas are best eaten when they are yellow. Plantains are ripe when they are almost black. Although Plantains are considered a fruit, they are eaten like a vegetable in their native habitats (Africa, India and the Caribbean).

Most of the plantain recipes I found were for deep-fried plantains. Since I don't deep-fry anything, I went for the one oven-baked plantain recipe I found. It was very simple:

Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a nonstick cookie sheet with cooking spray. Cut the ends off  the plantains and peel. Cut each plantain on the diagonal into 1/2 inch slices. Arrange in single layer and coat tops with cooking spray. Bake, turning occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until plantains are golden brown and very tender.

I had some with my breakfast this morning. They tasted a little like sweet potato fries only with a banana kick at the end. Riley liked them too.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bad Hair Day

Have you ever had one of those days when you just aren't looking up to par? I have them all the time, but today was a particularly bad one. I wanted to stay home and hide all day.

I hadn't washed my hair for two days, and I woke up with bags under my eyes. I have a hair color/cut appointment this evening, so my roots are showing shiny gray and my split ends are flying.

I would have stayed home all day, but I needed something at Target. My logic was such that I would just go in, grab what I needed and get out. What were the chances of running into someone who would recognize me?

I pulled into the Target parking lot and was just about to turn off my car when I spotted my next door neighbor walking into the store. Drats. I decided to wait a few minutes to let her get a good head start. The minute I walked through the Target door, I ran into my good friend, Becky Peterson. Becky and I can talk. And talk we did, for over 30 minutes at the entrance to the Target store.

Before we were finished, an old friend of mine, Patsy Lapidus came by. She joined the conversation for a few minutes. Just as she left, I saw another friend, Katy Donohue coming through the checkout line. I just waved to her. She seemed like she was in a hurry, so I escaped that encounter.

Why is it that when you don't want to run into anyone, you do? Lesson learned...don't go to Target on a bad hair day!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Living Dangerously

My sister, Carolyn, thinks I live dangerously. I don't carry Purell in my purse, I leave my car unlocked at night in the garage, and I don't use the deadbolt on my door. I've been known to trust people I shouldn't trust, drive to Giant Eagle at midnight, and send cash in the mail.

Send cash in the mail? Yes, I've sent cash in the mail. I did it just last week. I knew I wouldn't see Daniel until May 6, and he needed some cash, so I sent it in the mail. Even Don, whose motto has always been, "we cannot live our lives in fear," was shocked I had done such a thing.

It didn't worry me at all until six days after I mailed the envelope, he still hadn't received it. I told him to look again. I double checked the address. I told him to check with the campus post office. He asked his R.A. to check other student's mail slots. No envelope.

Although it was a decent sum of cash, I thought it was well disguised in the envelope. Would some student in the mail room have felt how squishy the envelope was and open it to reveal the loot? "That's a felony, isn't it?" Don just shook his head.

Imagine my relief today when I got a text message from Daniel that said, "I got the envelope today." "Yay!" I responded. I knew it would get there. But what was the delay? It shouldn't take eleven days for a letter to get from Chagrin Falls to Oxford. It must have gone Pony Express.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Troopers

It looked like it might rain this morning, so Becky and I took umbrellas on our walk. I took the black Swaine, and like a good friend, I gave Becky my little broken umbrella. Riley was on his own.

Two women who arrived at the park when we did were about to chicken out on their walk. When they saw what troopers we were, they decided to stick it out.

Everything was fine and dandy until we were around the halfway point. There was no turning back when the sky opened up into a torrential downpour. It didn't matter that we had measly umbrellas. The rain was flying sideways. It was one of those rains where you wouldn't be able to see the car in front of you if you were driving.

Within minutes, we were soaked from head to toe. Riley was wondering what I'd gotten him into. I had to keep pulling him along. He wanted to stop.

Becky tried to look on the positive side when she said, "Just think, we are making memories here." I was worried Riley was going to be scarred for life. He'll never look at a rain storm in the same way again.

We got through it. The rain eventually slowed down and came to a stop by the time we finished. It smelled like wet dog on the ride home, but all was well after I dried off and had a cup of tea. Riley will be wet for a little while longer. He was soaked to the bone.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hold That Sneeze

I've had a cold this week. Just a few symptoms: sneezing, scratchy eyes, and a little sore throat. Since having Riley around, I have learned to control my sneezes. If at all possible, I don't even hint that I'm going to sneeze. This is probably not good for me, but it beats having a barking dog in my lap.

I know it's a bad habit I need to work on with him. It's next in line after I get him to sit while pouring his dog food in the bowl. He still can't do that!

Don has the loudest sneeze around here,  but Riley doesn't seem as bothered by it. When Peter sneezes, look out! He has to go in the bathroom and shut the door. Riley grabs hold of his leg and won't let go. With me, he jumps up and barks. Needless to say, with this cold, I've been sneezing more than usual. It hasn't been pretty.

I researched why a dog might do this, and I found that it is fairly common across breeds. Some theories are: 1) your dog thinks you are barking at him, so he barks back, 2) it's a sudden, loud noise and it frightens the dog, 3) the dog is saying "bless you" like other members of the family. I don't buy that last one.

Riley sneezes whenever he is on his back getting a belly rub. And I always say to him, "oh...it's OK for you to sneeze, huh?" He'll then flip over and sneeze again.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Mittens

The last thing I wanted to think about on a day like April 8 was mittens, but that was the day my friend Eileen was scheduled to come to my house and show me how to make them.

Eileen had given me and Katherine each a pair of adorable handmade mittens for Christmas, and I begged her to show me how she did it. By the time we got it scheduled, it was April.

These mittens are made from a combination of wool sweaters, sweatshirts and fleece fabric. When Don cleaned out his closet, I snatched up a couple of his sweaters. I also went to the Fabulous Find thrift store and purchased a few more. In order for these mittens to be washable, I had to wash the wool sweaters and dry them. This process is called "felting" wool. It isn't difficult, but boy does wet wool smell!

There are only four pattern pieces for the mittens. To make the mittens special, you are supposed to choose four different fabrics. These mittens are extremely warm because they also have a lining made from fleece.

I cut one of the sleeves from Don's sweater, used a striped sweatshirt and pink wool sweater from the thrift store, and gray fleece for the lining and cuff.

The only difficult thing about putting these mittens together is making sure the thumbs are  on the correct side of each mitten. If I can stand it, I'll be sewing mittens all summer long (with my sewing machine on the deck) and giving them away for Christmas gifts. I  could become addicted to this. They are soooo cute, and the possibilities are endless!

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Tree Grows in Bainbridge

When Peter was in 4th grade, he brought a sapling home from school. It must have been Arbor Day, and each student got a free tree. I am sure some of those trees were left on the bus or thrown in the garbage at home after school. But Peter's tree found it's way into a barrel outside our garage. The tree was very comfortable there for a couple of years. After that, Don suggested he transplant it somewhere in the yard so its roots could expand beyond the confines of the barrel.

The tree has been growing in the backyard for seven years, and it has flourished. It pretty much takes care of itself. About every two years, Peter will say, "I think I'll go see how my tree is doing."

Last weekend, Peter decided to grow some flowers from seed. We made a trip to the local nursery, and he purchased six seed packets, some starter mix and a container to put them in. While he was busy planting, I went to the grocery store. When I returned, he had planted seeds in all the little compartments of the container, but he had run out of room. So he went into the kitchen drawers for an expansion device. He decided on the one bowl/colander that I use almost every day to wash lettuce, berries, etc. I was aghast at the thought of potting soil contaminating my bowl, but Peter assured me I had other bowls to use. "But that's my favorite bowl," I insisted.

I didn't make him re-pot the seeds. His little garden is growing wild in the sun porch. I'll just have to wait a few more weeks until he can transplant outside to get my favorite bowl back!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Love My Sheltie

Before getting Riley, the only dog breeds I had experience with were Rhodesian Ridgeback (Sam), Mutt (Kelly), and Siberian Husky (Alex, Nicholas and Stoli). Sam was a guard dog my dad brought home. He bit the neighbors. Kelly was a rescue dog my aunt convinced my mom to take in, and the huskies were my original babies.

When researching a new breed after Stoli died, I consulted a couple of friends who already had Shelties. Both Becky and Dale said I would love this breed, and they were right.

While cleaning out my desk drawer yesterday, I came across a booklet called "The New Sheltie Puppy Owner's Manual", which the breeder gave us when we took Riley home. I couldn't help but read over the characteristics of the breed one last time before I threw out the booklet. I wanted to see how Riley measured up to the average Sheltie.

Common Characteristics of Shetland Sheepdogs:

Charming, Sweet and Lovable - just look at his photos, and you will see his charm. You can't help but love him.

Sensitive - he doesn't like to get into trouble, but let's just say that wouldn't stop him from jumping up to grab a chicken leg from the counter if the opportunity presented itself.

Openly Communicative - he talks to us with his eyes, nudges us with his nose, and whines when he wants something. Let's not forget the ringing of the bell (service please).

Enthusiastic and Playful - understatement of the year.

Intense Loyalty - very protective of us, but wouldn't harm a flea. He literally does not leave my side (unless Katherine is home). Yet, I think he would follow the UPS man out the door if he had a biscuit in his hand.

Never Sneaky - ummm... he once sneaked into Katherine's bedroom when her cousin was staying here, and he ate her entire bag of caramel corn.

Some Shelties grin. I've never seen him do that. Some Shelties use their hands extensively. Riley's more of a nose dog. Most Shelties have a distinct language of whines, groans, grumbles, and warbles. I've heard him do all of these. Shelties are easy to live with (most of the time). They love traveling (not Riley). And they are sometimes insistent of their rights (now we're talking).

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kamikaze Cardinals

Each spring, around bird nesting time, we can count on a few crazy birds smashing themselves into our windows. The birds are usually cardinals and robins.

This dive bombing results in some pretty messy windows, not to mention flattened beaks. We even have some feathers stuck to one window. They are red feathers from a male cardinal.

As you can imagine, this sets off our four-legged friend, Riley. The constant knock-knock on our living room window, where the robins live, and the garage window, where the cardinals live drives him and us nutty.

I did some research into why this happens. It made me feel sorry for the pea-brained creatures. Apparently, the reason they do this is because robins and cardinals are very territorial birds. When they see their reflection in the window, they think it is a predator trying to get at their nest. They fly at the reflection to keep the phantom bird at bay.

The only way to stop the birds from eventually knocking themselves out is to block the reflection by hanging something in the window. Some of the solutions are: install blinds and keep them down, apply owl decals, soap your windows, etc. One of my neighbors who works at the garden store nearby told me to hang reflective strips on the outside of the window to keep them away.

I must do something to help them. What little brain these birds have has got to be damaged by this contant banging.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Chloe

The Husk family (my sister's family) decided to keep the former Watson puppy. They searched high and low to find an owner, but no one came out of the woodwork.

Since Watson turned out to be a girl, they renamed him (her). After much deliberation, the new name was decided upon: Chloe. She even has a middle name: Olivia.

Isn't she cute? Isn't she adorable? Isn't she so velvety?

The Husk family has never owned a dog, but they have been my prime dog babysitters over the years. They love Riley. In fact, Carolyn took care of Riley for a week when he was only 12 weeks old. She was a trooper, taking him outside to potty every couple of hours and putting up with his annoying behaviors like chewing on everything in sight and wanting constant attention.

Fortunately, they have a large family (five kids), so there is a lot of help. I can't wait to see her again. And I am sure Riley will want to meet his cousin very soon :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Entertainment for Riley

I don't know what Riley would do without his four favorite balls. They keep him occupied and entertained throughout the day.

First, there is his tennis ball. He enjoys fetching it if someone will throw it, but the main thing he does with this ball is bat it underneath the coffee table in the guest room while I'm otherwise occupied on my computer or reading. The coffee table has a shelf at the bottom, allowing just enough room for the ball to roll under. Riley will hit it just hard enough to roll under and out the other side. Then he will go to the other side of the table and hit it back. He made up this game when he was a puppy, and he has played it ever since. I love it because he can entertain himself. Sometimes, he will purposely roll it under the dresser where he can't reach it. This makes me get up out of my chair or off the couch to retrieve it for him. When he does this one too many times, I take the ball away.

The second ball is his red and blue ball. This is the one he loves to use when playing fetch with Don. He can get the best grip on it for tug of war. Every morning when Don does his stretching routine, Riley knows it is time to play fetch. In between stretching his glutes and his quads, his triceps and biceps, Don throws the ball for Riley. As soon as Don bends over for the first stretch, Riley races through the house to find his red and blue ball.

Riley's third ball is a miniature soccer ball that used to belong to Daniel. The ball pictured here is a replacement for the original mini soccer ball that Riley destroyed when he was a puppy. This ball makes Riley growl because he can't get a good grip on it. Usually, his teeth get stuck in the ball and he has to use his paws to remove it. I often worry when Don grabs this ball from him that one of his teeth will come out with it.


Riley's last ball is the big exercise ball in the basement. This one causes unending frustration. He absolutely can't get it in his mouth. He will put his head up against it and growl at it, all the while rolling it across the room. Then he will get his front paws on top of it and move it until it hits a solid object and stops. Riley could join the circus doing tricks on this ball.

I've said before that Riley has never met a ball he didn't like. If it is round and it rolls, he's all over it.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

How I Planned Your Wedding

Since it is time to plan a wedding, I was drawn to this book when I saw it on the shelf at Borders. At first, I thought it was a novel, and it would be lighthearted reading. Then I realized it was a true story of how the authors Susan Wiggs (mother of the bride) and Elizabeth Wiggs Maas (bride) planned a wedding.

Elizabeth is Susan's only child, and the two of them have a very close relationship. They each had certain ideas in their minds of how the wedding should be planned. Susan, having a very intimate, simple wedding herself didn't understand the need for a wedding planner, for instance.

Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down. It was full of funny and heartwarming stories of how things did and didn't turn out the way they were supposed to. At times, Elizabeth got a little bratty, but she always recognized her errors and made up for them. Although her values didn't always line up with mine, she had a lot of good things to say about how to plan the big day. Susan Wiggs (the mother) did a good job of helping out, but letting her daughter make most of the decisions. In the end, they reminded me that through the whole process of planning a wedding, the most important thing is to keep your relationships with the people you love your number one priority.

I will definitely be passing this one on to Katherine to read. I think she will love it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Miami University Tour #3

In 2005, I took Katherine to see Miami U. In 2007, we toured with Daniel. Today, we toured again with Peter and his two friends (Daniel and TJ). A few things have changed since 2005 (they finished the parking garage, built a new ice rink and added the Farmer School of Business). But most of the campus is the same.

 
We arrived last night and dropped the three boys off at Scott Hall. They hung out with Daniel and several other CVCA alumni for the evening. They brought pillows and sleeping bags to sleep on the floor of these boys' dorm rooms. Don and I would have been more comfortable sleeping on the floor than we were in the king size bed at the Miami Inn. The bed had a big dip in the middle, so we kept rolling into each other. 

After sitting four hours in the car and looking forward to four more hours driving back, we didn't mind walking today. Between the organized tour and our personal tour of the Rec Center and Business School via Daniel, we covered about five miles. In hindsight, I should have skipped trying to look halfway decent and just worn my running shoes. My feet were killing me by the end of the day.

Midway through the day, we thought it would be good for the boys to sample the dining hall food, so we made a pit stop at Harris Hall for lunch. It was a big buffet, so they were all happy campers. I had a chicken taco salad that wasn't half bad.

We have a few more colleges to visit before next fall when Peter will have to begin his application process. Each school has a different feel and different advantages and disadvantages. Miami is a good bet. Each time I visit, I think that I would have loved to have gone there myself.