Thursday, January 28, 2010

We Should Call Him Stinker

Our little puppy is approximately seven and a half pounds.  He's just a little fella.  But oh my gosh!!  Sometimes, he really stinks!

We first discovered this on Sunday.  When we met the woman from the rescue, both this pup and his brother smelled a bit.  She explained that they had both pooped in the crate on her way to meet us, but she had cleaned them up as best she could.  After picking up the puppy, we started the drive home.  Going up I-5, I had him on my lap, but he was getting a bit restless.  Shawn was driving, but he said he didn't mind if the puppy came over to him for a bit.  After a couple minutes, I looked over to see the pup standing with his front paws on the door, his back paws on Shawn's arm....and poop landing on Shawn.  And it just kept coming!  Neither of us could really believe that a dog this small could possibly have that much poop!  We got off at the next exit and got a bunch of napkins from McDonald's to clean it up as best we could.....but the smell in the car for the rest of the day was nasty!

We've also discovered that this little pooch farts.  A lot.  Often in his sleep.  We've talked about the possibility of keeping candles nearby or getting heavy-duty air freshener.  If nothing else, I seriously may need to start keeping a book of matches around.  It's almost impressive how strong his bodily odors are.

We still haven't 100% decided on a name.  Maybe we should call him Stinker.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Our New Addition!

On Sunday, Shawn and I drove down to Tacoma.  Our final destination was actually a McDonald's parking lot...where we met a young woman who runs a dog rescue organization!

I'll back up a bit.  Two weekends ago, Shawn and I had thought about going to an "adoption event" in Seattle, but he ended up having to work so we couldn't go.  I knew that this organization was bringing a litter of black lab puppies to the event, but I figured that all the puppies would get snatched up at that event.  I checked PetFinder on Sunday night, and it turned out that they still had two puppies available!  After talking it over, Shawn and I decided to go ahead and fill out an application for one of them.  We found out on Tuesday that they liked our application!

So we drove to Tacoma on Sunday to meet the pups.  I have to admit that we were a bit tempted to take both of them (it was so sad to watch the other little guy go back in his crate without his brother!), but we ended up with this one!  We're guessing, based on the markings on his face/chest, he's probably a black lab/border collie mix, and he's currently 11 weeks old.

As I'm writing this....we still haven't decided on a name.  We're stuck between Satchel and Crash.  Satchel is the name of the dog in the Get Fuzzy comic strip (which we love), and it's also a nod to Satchel Paige (the first African-American pitcher in the majors, who just happened to start his MLB career with the Cleveland Indians).  Crash is just super fitting for this pup, who tends to lumber around, knocking into things.

I'm hoping that this will give me more to blog about.  :)  But truthfully, he's also taking up quite a bit of my time!  So I may have less time to actually do the blogging. 

He eats a LOT!!  Seriously, I'm amazed at how much food this tiny boy can put away in a given day.

This is his Kong chew toy.  A couple people told me about these, so we picked one up at PetSmart on our way home on Sunday.  I've since learned that they're actually made in Denver!

This has very quickly become his absolute favorite place to take a nap!  We may never be able to put Shawn's carry-on away.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories, by Elizabeth Strout, 270 pages (2008).

I don't think that I've ever really read a book quite like this. I had heard that it was a collection of short stories, but I like the description given here on Goodreads..."A Novel in Stories." Basically, although each story could stand on its own, when they're put together in the book like this, it actually tells a much more complete story. The only character who is in every story is Olive Kitteridge. In some stories, she is the focus. In others, she's a very minor character, such as someone who happens to be eating in the restaurant where a particular story is taking place.

I really enjoyed this book. It was definitely something different, and I liked the fact that this style of the book kept the reader trying to fill in the gaps and discover the truth of the characters. Some of the individual stories were excellent, and others were just okay, but they all worked together in an intriguing way.

With this book, I seem to have broken my streak!  This book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009, yet I actually rather liked it.  :-)
Number of books read in 2010:  1
Number of pages read in 2010:  270

An Update

I realize that I haven't blogged most of the week, but part of the reason for that is that I've been having some technical issues. I've attempted twice now to blog about a book I finished reading last week, but apparently I can no longer copy and paste onto my blog from another site. Considering that I write my book reviews on Goodreads and then normally copy and paste them here, that's annoying.

Anyways...I'll take care of the book review later.

I have to say that this has been a strange week for me. After receiving our news on Monday, I was feeling okay on Tuesday (which I believe I mentioned in my last post). I definitely had a sense of peace about everything. On Wednesday, I found myself feeling pretty emotionally drained. I ended up taking a break from work and walking over to Starbucks in the middle of the afternoon, which was actually pretty nice.

Over this week, I've had a number of opportunities to talk with my family and some friends, some of whom have been in my shoes, and it's been comforting.

Today, I've had a strange set of emotions. If I'm being honest, I'm questioning how I've been handling the entire situation. Maybe I shouldn't have been so open about it all...maybe we should've kept it more to ourselves. It's not that I don't want people to know; I can't help but wonder if I've unintentionally made people feel uncomfortable about it. I also feel like perhaps I've made people feel more sorry for me than they should. Yes, I'm sad. Yes, I'll probably be terrified the next time I get pregnant, always wondering if this will happen again. But in the grand scheme of things, if this had to happen, I think I got the best case scenario. I was never really in any pain, other than some mild cramping and a bit of nausea. We'll confirm on Monday that it all happened naturally, and at this point, I have no reason to believe that I'll need any medical procedures in the near future. I know that many, many woman who suffer a miscarriage experience quite a bit of physical pain. I know that I'm very lucky that I've really only experienced emotional pain.

So...all that being said, I'm hoping to get some questions answered on Monday. I'm looking forward to some time with friends over the weekend...hiking tomorrow with a couple girlfriends (while poor Shawn is stuck at work...he's very jealous), and then a group of us are getting together for a girls' night while the boys have a poker night. We're also taking a drive down to Tacoma on Sunday, which should be interesting! (And yes...I'll blog about that on Sunday night or Monday.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy to Sad in 5 Days

I'm not really sure how to write about this, but I feel like I should put this out there. It's something that Shawn and I have experienced, and truthfully, I want people to know about it. I don't think that it's something we should hide, and so far, everyone who knows has been incredibly supportive. So here we go.
Last Thursday, I got a positive pregnancy test. We were pretty much shocked to see it. (TMI alert...if you don't want to know icky details, skip down past the picture.) It's not that we haven't been trying to get pregnant, it's just I thought I had gotten my period the week before. I won't explain what eventually led me to test, but once I did, I seriously couldn't believe it. But 3 tests later (with 3 different brands, no less), and it was pretty hard to deny it...I was pregnant!!
Once we finally realized that I was actually pregnant, we were thrilled! Shawn and I told our families and some of our closest friends, but given the fact that I mentioned in the above paragraph, I had a nagging feeling that something wasn't right. After making my first couple OB appointments, I spoke with the clinic nurse and explained my concerns. She told me that what I experienced was relatively normal, but to be on the safe side, she wanted me to have blood tests taken to check for hormone levels. I went in for one blood draw on Friday night and a second one on Monday morning.

To explain briefly, when a woman is pregnant, the hormone hcG appears. This is what a home pregnancy test looks for, and most tests register as positive when the levels are at 20 or 25. This number continues to grow throughout the pregnancy, and this is what my blood was being screened for. The hcG levels between my two tests should have basically doubled.

However, my hcG level on Friday was in the 200's (I think around 250). On Monday, it was only 92. In other words, this was no longer considered a viable pregnancy...I was having (or had already had) a miscarriage. We were very saddened to hear this.

I did a lot of crying on Monday after getting my test results. We've gotten a lot of support from our friends and family, which has been so comforting. Today, I feel pretty good physically. Emotionally, I'm pretty drained. But in general, I feel a sense of peace about the situation, which I attribute completely to the huge amount of prayer that has been going out for us over the last 36 hours. A wonderful friend reminded me that our baby, despite being only a few weeks old, has a soul (yes...we're pro-life, and I wholeheartedly believe that life begins at conception). So I like to think of our little guy up there in Heaven, running around and driving God and the angels nuts. I've also decided to believe that his Grandpa Rick is keeping an eye on him. :) These thoughts make me smile.

I think the main reason I wanted to post this is because I don't think a miscarriage is something that should necessarily be hidden. Sadly, I know that it's relatively common. That's why a lot of women choose not to tell anyone about their pregnancy until they hear the heartbeat or see the first ultrasound or make it past the first trimester. They don't want to have to deal with telling people about a miscarriage. In my mind, though, I prefer to let people know what's happening so that we get their prayers and their support instead of trying to pretend that everything's happy.

So...the last few days have pretty much been a whirlwind. Within five days, we had incredibly exciting, wonderful news, only to have it taken away by incredible sadness. But I know that God has a wonderful plan for our lives. And hopefully, we'll have wonderful news to share again before too long.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Lights Out!

Yesterday afternoon, around 4:00, I was sitting on the couch with my laptop, working. Suddenly, the lights went out, the furnace turned off, and I lost my internet connection. It was actually pretty bad timing, considering I had lots of work I needed to get done...but who am I to argue with a power outage? There's only so much work I can do in my job without internet access. So I called my dad and had a lovely little conversation with him.

By 4:30, I was beginning to wonder why on earth we still had no power. I also noticed, as it was getting darker outside, that most of our neighbors seemed to have lights! However, the house across the street had no lights on, and the street light in front of our house was out. I finally called Shawn to get the number for the electric company (we don't have a phone book here...we just use google to get numbers we need...usually). Once I reported the outage, I figured it wouldn't take long for them to figure out what was happening.

The first truck showed up outside our house a little after 5:00, but he left relatively quickly. By the time Shawn got home from work around 6:20, we still had no power, so we decided to go to the gym right away. We got home from the gym around 8:00...and still no power! Since I couldn't cook (and I didn't feel like eating PB&J for dinner), we went out to eat. When we got home from Applebee's around 9:30...there were 3 electric company trucks parked outside our house, including one with a crane! They had bright "construction site" lights set up, and we soon noticed that there was a large hole in our front yard!

Once we found a place to park on the street, we got a closer look at the activity. Turns out, that hole was just where they took the cover off of the hole where the transformer is located (so there was absolutely no damage done to our yard). Shawn spoke with the crew, and they let us know that the transformer had blown and needed to be replaced!

We watched them work a bit, and took some pictures. :-) The lights came back on around 10:20! We were pretty impressed by the whole situation, actually. Once I reported the outage, they got right on it and did what they needed to do, despite the fact that it was after "business hours," and despite the fact that so few houses were even affected by it (two of the four houses affected are actually vacant at the moment). It was an interesting experience for us!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer, 2010!

Some of you may remember that last year, I went to Colorado for a weekend to participate in the Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer, which is a snowshoe event that raises money for Susan G. Komen For the Cure. Since its inception in 2003, this event series has raised nearly one million dollars! This year, the Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer is coming to Washington, and I've gotten together a team to participate!

I'm sure you know that cancer is something that affects nearly every one of us. A friend of mine lost her battle with a rare form of cancer in September of 2008; she was only 25. Shawn's father lost his battle against cancer in March of 2005. My grandmother lost her battle with breast cancer when my mom was only 27. Fortunately, I also know lots of people who have fought cancer and won. My father defeated cancer when I was a very young child, and he has dealt with skin cancer recently as well. I have friends, family, and family of friends who have faced breast cancer and beaten it. As pessimistic as this may sound, I believe that if you have not yet been personally touched in some way by cancer, it's not a matter of "if" this may's a matter of when.

Those of us who are healthy have two main things we can do in the fight against cancer: we can raise awareness, and we can raise funds that will go towards research and towards helping people who are battling the disease. This is what the Tubbs Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer accomplishes. On February 20, 2010, I will be participating in the event on Snoqualmie Peak, in Washington, along with a group of awesome friends. I'm excited to get out into the snow of the Cascade Mountains and to raise awareness for this great cause. I'm also excited to raise funds that will go to help women in Washington get the support they need to fight breast cancer, and I'm excited to raise funds that will help continue important breast cancer research.

And that's where you come in. If you would like to donate to this cause, please click the link to be taken to my fundraising page. Every little bit helps! If you are in the Seattle/Western Washington area and are interested in joining us, there's actually a link on my fundraising page to join our team.

Thank you very much in advance!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Book Summary and Goals

Now that I've caught up on all the reviews from the books I read in 2009, I thought I'd give a little summary.

I didn't really set any specific reading goals for myself in 2009, although I knew I wanted to do more reading. I did, however, want to keep track of the number of books that I read, so you probably saw that I kept track of my stats at the end of each blog post that reviewed a book. I finished the year having read 44 books (I'm counting that last one, even though I technically didn't finish it until January 1st). After reading The Stand as my third book in 2009, I decided I should also keep track of the number of pages I read, since there's a pretty big difference between reading a book that's 180 pages and one that's over 1200 pages! I finished the year having read 15,668 pages! That gives me an average of 356 pages per book. (Granted, every book has different sized pages and different font sizes...but I'm willing to ignore that for the sake of my sanity.)

I do keep track of all of my books on Goodreads, where I can give books up to 5 stars. I realized that I only gave 5 star ratings to four books this year: The Stand by Stephen King, and Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, and Voyager by Diana Gabaldon (the first three books in the Outlander series). Those were also by far the longest books I read this year. I wonder if that says something about the books I like...

My least favorite book this year was On the Road by Jack Kerouac. It's the only book I gave a one-star rating. I noticed that I gave out lots of 3 star ratings...which is a little disappointing. Of the books I gave 4 stars, my favorites were Moloka'i by Alan Brennert, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

I've been thinking about setting some reading goals for 2010. I want to set a goal of 48 books for the year (4 books a month sounds doable to me), but I do need to remember that I won't have nearly as much down-time this year (since I'll be working full-time all more "stay at home wife" time for me!). So...we'll see what happens.

I've also been trying to come up with a list of books that I'd really like to read this year. I have my "to read" list on Goodreads, and I do already have 140 books on there! So within the next week or so, I think I'll go through and prioritize that list. Right now, a book goes to the top of the list whenever I add it. I know that I want to re-read Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but I might try to do that closer to the end of the year (since The Hobbit movie will be coming out next year). I also definitely want to read more of the classics that I have somehow missed over the Middlemarch by George Eliot, The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, and Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

If you have any book recommendations for me, please feel free to leave a comment!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Twenties Girl

Twenties Girl, by Sophie Kinsella, 2009 (435 pages)

I generally enjoy Sophie Kinsella's books. I really didn't know anything about this one before I got it from the library (other than the fact that it was her new book that came out this summer). I certainly wasn't expecting it to be a ghost story!

Towards the beginning of the book, Lara Lington goes with her family to the funeral of her great-aunt Sadie, who she had never met before. Sadie had lived to the age of 105, but she'd spent the last 20+ years of her life in a nursing home, where she almost never had visitors. However, at the funeral, Lara discovers that she can hear and see the ghost of Sadie (as a girl in her mid-20's). Sadie is frantic about her necklace, which she insists that someone has taken, and she begs Lara to stop the funeral and help her find it.

The book is quite entertaining, even though it certainly fits into the "chick lit/fluff" category. There were a few places in the book where the character of Lara irritated me, but if I'm being honest, that's probably because she reminded me of a younger, more immature version of myself. :-)
Total number of books read in 2009: 44
Total number of pages read in 2009: 15668

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Recap of 2009

Thinking back over the last year, Shawn and I have realized that 2009 was a huge year for us!! We've been truly blessed in so many ways! I thought I'd do a quick month-by-month recap of some of the things that happened in our lives.

January: I read my first Stephen King book, The Stand. We wrecked Shawn's car and became a one-car family.

February: Pretty low-key month for us. Shawn played some rugby. I read 8 books. I crocheted a bit. We went to a yummy restaurant and Alki Beach for Valentine's Day.

March: I went to Colorado for the Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer. Some of our best friends, Jarid and Sarah, came to visit us for a week. I started my long-term sub job.

April: Our church's young adults' group got started and we met some people who have become very good friends. I went to Ohio for a long weekend with my family (and was finally able to meet my soon-to-be-sister-in-law). I kept reading and subbing.

May: I was still subbing! We watched our peas sprout. We spent Memorial Day weekend in Cannon Beach, Oregon.

June: My sub job finally came to an end. We went to a fun auction where we spent way too much money (but at least it all went to a good charity, and we got awesome stuff out of it). We went to North Carolina for my brother's wedding on the beach. I drove up to Ohio with my parents to hang out for a few days. Then Shawn and I met up in St. Louis for my friend Shannon's wedding (and college girlfriends' reunion). Yep...June was busy!

July: We started the month in Denver! I got my online teaching job. We went to all 3 Cleveland Indians games at Safeco Field. We survived a heat-wave of 100+ temps with no air conditioning. We began the process of buying a home.

August: I began my new job. We had our offer on a house accepted. My parents came to visit us for a week.

September: We went to Maui for a week! (It took a couple blog posts to write about the trip.) We went snorkeling while in Hawaii. We closed on our house and became homeowners! We spent lots of time painting.

October: We moved into our house! We got settled in (with unpacking, doing yard work, more painting, steaming the carpets, etc.). My job became full-time. We joined a gym. I turned 31. We threw a housewarming/birthday(s) party.

November: Shawn turned 32. We locked ourselves out of the house. We bought a lawnmower. Shawn's family came to spend Thanksgiving with us, so we had seven people in the house for almost a week. We also had some friends over for Thanksgiving dinner, so the total for the meal was 12! We bought new chairs.

December: I did more reading. We decorated the house for Christmas. We celebrated our 2nd anniversary. We hosted a game night with some friends. We flew to Ohio to spend the last week of 2009 with my family.

All in all, we were pretty impressed with 2009!! New friends, a new house, a new job for me, fun travels, spending time with family....there's not much more we could've asked for! God has been very good to us. We're excited to see what 2010 will bring!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, 2000 (375 pages)

I think that maybe I should stop reading Pulitzer Prize winning books. I don't seem to have very good luck with them. Maybe I'm just not cool enough or intellectual enough to truly appreciate them.

I had heard some decent things about A Heartbreaking Work, and after seeing it on some list of the "Top 100 Books of the Decade," I bumped it up on my "to read" list. However...I had so much trouble getting into this book! It literally took me a month to read. I did consider putting it down and not finishing it, but by the time I'd thought about doing that, I was already more than 100 pages in, and I felt like I should just plow through.

This book is based on true stories from the author's life, and although he had some interesting stories to tell, the book as a whole pretty much drove me nuts. Much of the book has a stream-of-consciousness narrative style, which I don't tend to enjoy. Some of the stories in the book were okay, which is why I gave it two stars (out of five) on Goodreads.
Total number of books read in 2009: 43
Total number of pages read in 2009: 15233

A Not-So-Silent Night

A Not-So-Silent Night: the Unheard Story of Christmas and Why It Matters
by Verlyn D. Verbrugge, 2009 (98 pages)

I won this book through Goodreads's "First Reads" program. As the title implies, the author goes through the Biblical telling of the Christmas story, but he goes into further detail. He uses cultural, Biblical, and linguistic research to explain elements of the story that most of us never think about.

Many of the things that the author points out are things that I had heard before (like the fact that the "Wise Men" came a few years after the birth; that "the manger" probably wasn't some sweet, sanitary place like all the nativity scenes make it out to be). However, he did bring up a few things that I had never heard before. For example, based on other stories in the Bible, the town of Bethlehem probably wasn't very sweet or "still" like the song implies, but rather had a pretty tough reputation.

I like the fact that the book was a very quick read, and even though it was research-based, it read more like a narrative. There were a few places where I'm not sure I agree with the point that the author made (as it seems to contradict some things I've heard before), but I thought that the majority of the author's points were interesting.
Total number of books read in 2009: 42
Total number of pages read in 2009: 14858

New Year's Eve Recap

We were planning on flying back to Seattle on New Year's Eve. Although flying on Christmas Eve and NYE wasn't ideal for our plans...we were able to use reward tickets, so our flights were free! Can't beat that. :-)

I checked us in online on the evening of the 30th, and our flight was scheduled to depart at 6:00am on the 31st. My poor parents got up super early with us and dropped us off just before 5:00. When we eventually made it to the ticket counter to drop off our luggage, we were told that the flight was oversold. If we were willing to take a later flight, we'd get to two ticket vouchers for up to $400. Since we didn't really have any big plans for the 31st, we agreed we'd take the ticket vouchers and take the later flight.

We called my parents, and they came back to pick us up. (Did I mention it was snowing that morning, and that the roads hadn't been plowed yet?) We hung out at home until about 12:30, when we were taken back to the airport. We went through security...only to discover that our 1:23 flight was delayed until 3:36. We eventually flew to Atlanta, where we were able to make our connection. Turns out, that flight from Atlanta to Seattle wasn't direct...we stopped over in Milwaukee first. (We didn't have to deplane, though.)

We finally made it to Seattle at 10:45pm. Once we got our bags, we headed to the Shuttle pick-up area, since we had made reservations to be taken home. However, we learned that our reservation didn't mean that we'd get a ride at a certain time; it simply meant that we'd get a ride on some van at some point. So when the clock struck twelve and we entered a new decade, Shawn and I were hanging out in the parking garage at SeaTac airport, still waiting for a ride. Shawn took this picture with his cell phone:
We eventually got onto a van, which dropped off two other groups first (getting lost in the U-District on the way) before dropping us off at our car (which we had left at a friends' house). Then we got to drive the rest of the way home...and arrived a bit before 2:00am.

So...that was a our New Year's Eve. Thrilling, eh? I'm hoping to get caught up with some posts over the next few days...a 2009 recap, 3 book reviews, and probably a "goals/resolutions" post. I'm sure you'll be waiting on the edge of your seat, anticipating these updates from me. :)