Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Farewell to a beloved pet, Sir Vincent of Whent

I was in my freshman year at the University of Oregon when my parents had to put Shiner, our family dog of 14 years, down. He’d had arthritis in his hind legs for a while and one night, he lost all feeling in his back end. My parents made the decision to put him down quickly, and also chose to shelter me from the knowledge that they had done so until I came home for a visit a couple weeks later. As soon as I walked in the door to the back porch, I noticed Shiner’s food and water dish were missing. I remember thinking it odd, and maybe Mom had moved them elsewhere. Only after I set my stuff down and walked into the living room did it become apparent that the dog was no longer there. Dad quickly told me, “Linds, we have some bad news. We had to put Shiner down.” I listened to their story of what happened with sadness, but I don’t remember crying right away. My tears came later-- the next few nights in bed when I was alone with my thoughts.

My heart is still pained to this day when I think of how my parents and younger brother must have suffered so without me knowing. I don’t remember what I had going on in the weeks surrounding, but Mom insists that it was something important enough (midterms, finals?) that she didn’t want me to be away from home, grieving by myself, and worrying about them. Instead, they had to hold everything in during those weeks when I was no doubt calling them often to vent about my own struggles. I honestly still can’t say now what I would have preferred. I’m thankful my family is strong and so considerate of my feelings.

Fast forward about five months or so to the summer of 2004. I had only been home from college for a few weeks when I hear my Dad and brother’s mumblings about getting a new dog. Mom, I think, was pretty decidedly against getting another one so soon. I’m sure she had finally just finished cleaning up the very last black hair that Shiner had left behind. I’m sure Shiner’s death was still a bit raw for her as well, and she knew that new puppies are, in fact, a lot of work. However, that did not deter my father from searching the classifieds one morning and stumbling upon an ad for purebred Golden Retriever puppies being sold near Redmond. They wanted $300 for one, which I thought at the time, was insanely expensive for a dog. We got Shiner out of a cardboard box at a fair for free. I questioned Dad, with raised eyebrows, if Mom was really ready for another dog. His eyes shining, I knew what was coming next,

“Your mother doesn’t know what she really wants.”

It was an inside joke that had been carried on as long as I could remember, but in this case, Mom had actually always wanted a Golden Retriever. She, perhaps, just was going to have to compromise on the timeframe.

And so, that very same day, my Dad, brother and I found ourselves barreling down the highway in search of the farmhouse with the Golden puppies. When we arrived, the mother dog, a slim, petite, beautiful Golden Retriever, greeted us. We made our way into the garage, hailed the owners, and set our eyes on the six or so little puppies playing in a pen. They were all very pretty dogs, with cute faces and shiny yellow coats. The owners rolled some of them over for us, asking if we were looking for a male or female. The gender of our choice required little discussion—we all knew we wanted another male dog. There were only two left males left, a third having been claimed by the owners of the sire. They pointed to the huskier one of the group, the first-born, and then to another, the runt, who was the same size as his sisters. We played around with them a little bit to try to get a feel for their personalities, as much as you can a new puppy, and then Dad looked to Jared to make the decision. I remember being hesitant about both choices. The oldest one looked big—I thought he’d grow to be a really big dog and Mom might not like that so much. I also had reservations about the runt, merely because he was just that—the runt of the litter. I can’t say what my brother thought of as I was mulling this over in my own head, but I think he connected with the littlest one, perhaps from being the youngest himself, and chose the runt.

Back in the car on the way home, I remember being filled with nervous anticipation for showing Mom our newest find. The puppy whimpered a bit on the way, as Dad urged my brother to keep the puppy in his lap and keep talking to him, reminding him that the puppy had never been away from his mother or his siblings like this before. Jared soothed him as much as possible until we reached the church where my Mom worked. I can’t recall what was going on that day, but I remember that she wasn’t in her normal office. There was some kind of get-together at the student center across the campus, and she was helping with food and setup. There were a few other families we knew from the church there as well.

I’d be lying if I said that it was love at first sight for Mom and the puppy. We got out of the car, plopped the puppy down outside, and when Mom saw us, it took a half second for her to register what was going on. I remember her turning sharply back to the kitchen, not saying a word. I can only imagine what must have gone through her head as we showed the puppy off to the group, allowing him to make his first debut as part of our family. I don’t think Mom ever seriously considered taking him back to the farmhouse, but I don’t think it wouldn’t have mattered if she did, because the puppy won her heart quickly anyway. As we brought him home that night, it was clear-- he was ours, and we were his.

Jared and I busied ourselves for the rest of that week playing with our new dog, training him, making sure he didn’t pee in the house, and a few times, searching for him because we were sure he was lost. We finally discovered that he liked to sleep smashed between things—the deck, Jared’s stuffed animals under his bed, etc. No doubt, he missed the closeness of sleeping with his brothers and sisters in the pen. It took us the better part of that week to come up with a name as well. I took to calling him “little dog” and “boof” because he didn’t bark, he just kind of let out a small woof, or grunt instead. That name stuck for me, even after he developed a rather mean-sounding warning bark when he got older. Finally, one day, Jared and I were in the middle of a heated game of NBA Street on the Playstation. Jared turned to me, “What about, Vince?”

Vince. I looked over at the dog. “Yeah, I think that would be okay.”

We told Mom and Dad when they got home, and Mom mentioned that she’d probably just call him Vincent. We thought that sounded better. But, later that day when I looked over his “family tree,” which was registered on some national pet registry, I noticed that his ancestors’ names read like a Downtown Abbey cast book-- “Lord this” and “Lady that”. I guess it’s a thing for purebreds. So, NOT to be outdone, I suggested an amendment to our puppy’s name. We needed something regal for our noble dog, especially if he was going to be registered too. And so, our dog’s full name, “Sir Vincent of Whent” was chosen.

I still marvel at the difference between our two dogs. Shiner had mostly lab in him, but was also mixed with healer and collie. This made him a true “dog’s dog” and he probably would have played fetch until he toppled over from exhaustion. Vincent was completely different. He had the most personality of any dog I’ve ever know. He never played fetch on land, which was shocking to us all after Shiner. The only time Vincent was interested in bringing back something that we threw was when we tossed a stick in the water. He’d jump in, time after time, to chase the stick into the middle of a lake, but not ever could you convince him to do it more than once while on dry land. He’d look at you like you were wasting his time. He loved the water, and always enjoyed our trips to the lake, never tiring of swimming and fetching.

I’m not sure how he did it, but Vincent knew exactly how to push buttons and get us riled up. It started with him stealing our socks or other items that were on the floor, refusing to give them back until we traded him for a treat. On occasion, he’d leave them outside, freezing them solid in the winter. He knew he wasn’t supposed to bring pine cones in the house, but every time we opened the garage door, he snagged one, brought it inside, and taunted us with it, his whole backside wiggling away. We always knew he had something he wasn’t supposed to when he wiggled like that. When he was older, and you weren’t paying him enough attention, he’d walk right up and snatch something out of your hand as you were walking away. I chased him around several times trying to retrieve my clothes, boxes, and even my water bottle. One time, he was so mad at us for leaving him to go on Christmas vacation that he actually took a whole VCR tape in his mouth off the right coffee table and tried to dart outside with it through his doggy door before Mom yelled at him. He’d purposely “lose” his leash on walks and have us hunting around for it until we had just about given up, and then he’d race right to the spot where he left it.  He'd chew up Mom's flowers and tulip bulbs if he got upset at her for something.  His games were played by his rules, and he’d make it known if you weren’t playing correctly. His antics quickly earned him the endearing nickname of “Brat.”

Oh, how Vincent loved to go on walks and runs. We took him on walks from a very early age and discovered quickly that he was not an obedient walker. He had his own ideas of where we should go. I’ll never forget the first time I saw him pick up a stick on his way back home from a walk. I don’t know how he knew we were heading home after only a few times walking with him, but as soon as we did, he immediately searched the ground for a stick. No. Searched the ground for a log-- huge pieces of wood, almost bigger than he was, and heavy. He had to have one to take home at the end of every walk. It’s like the Retriever in him just took over, and was amazing and hilarious to watch. We had many laughs over the monstrous pile of wood he left at the end of the driveway over the years. I remember too that it didn’t take him long to know where home was. One time, not long after we started the walks, Dad dropped the leash long before the entrance to our cul-de-sac, and we watched as he pranced, with the stick tight in his mouth, all the way up to our garage door, leaving us a football field’s length behind. When he got older, Mom took him for nightly walks along the fire road, which borders a forest for as far as you can see. Mom told me that the first time she took him out, she panicked because he just took off, running full speed to the edge of the tree line, without warning. He’d never done anything like that before. After getting a long ways off in the distance, he stopped and looked at Mom. She called him, and he came racing back, running full speed again, right to her side. It was like an unleashed freedom, and the walks were from then on something that he and Mom shared and enjoyed for all of his days. Vincent loved fighting with the leash and chasing after squirrels on those walks.

Another of Vincent’s greatest joys was car rides. I don’t care if he’d gone with you in the car 20 times already that day, he’d be just as excited to go the 21st time. When Dad was home from work, he took Vincent everywhere. Vincent would sit on his shoes and often positioned himself within a few feet of the door, so not to be left behind. The summer that we got him was also the summer that I got the first car that was truly mine, my 1998 Mustang. I used to take Vincent to the park in it, first plopping him down on the passenger’s seat, but he’d always end up in my lap instead, head hanging out the window, smiling at everyone who drove by. He considered his true place with us, curled up in the back of the Durango, or sticking his head out the window to see what was going on. He had the saddest face you’ve ever seen whenever we told him he couldn’t go with us.

Vincent absolutely refused to let any of us walk down the driveway without him. He’d cry and bark and carry on, and even escape out of the fence if he could find a loose spot in the wire. Jared and I tried to go Rollerblading without him one day in the summer when he was older, and did not even get halfway down the cul-de-sac before he had somehow escaped from the fence and joined us on our skate around the Lasso loop, running full speed behind, panting, as we laughed all the way. Neighbors reported he’d sometimes use his escape techniques to go and visit other dogs in the neighborhood when he got “bored” while Mom was at work for the day, but he’d always be waiting for her on the front step.

 Like most Goldens, he was a routine dog, and our lifestyle fit that nicely. Vincent would get up every morning with Mom, “help” her get and read the paper, and wait faithfully for his walk when she came home. Dad would see squirrels and birds in the yard and send Vincent after them because he liked to watch the chase. Dad always told Vincent he was a “good boy” when he returned inside, and I swear that Vincent always had a look of great satisfaction after. He barked, low and strong, when someone was at the door, but then was quick to show them that he was happy they were there. He loved to play with his stuffed animals, Simba and his bear, and with his rope, but never growled when playing tug-of-war with you. He enjoyed bones, and people food, and the special treats Mom made for him. My brother worked with him to train some basic skills, and even taught him to rollover, which was silly to watch. When my brother moved out a few years later, it made me feel better to know that Mom wasn’t truly ever by herself. She had her great friend there to keep her company. I loved coming to visit and spending time with Vincent, getting my “pet” fix, and even though I never lived a full year at home while we had him, I still considered him my dog as well. I have fond memories of just sitting on the floor, singing to him and petting him. He was such a happy dog, and always got excited to see us when we came home.

As some purebreds do, Vincent had his share of health problems. The sheer amount of medical bills was another great difference between our two animals. Vincent had allergies and growths on him from young age and was regularly at the vet, where Shiner hardly had any major issues. However, it was still a shock when Dad called me on Thursday to tell me that he had sad news. Vincent wasn’t doing well, and the doctor was sure he had spleen cancer that had likely spread. Dad, who does not tolerate the suffering of animals well, was ready to put him down that day. Vincent hadn’t eaten well in a week, and was slow and tired. My brother convinced my parents to wait for him to come up from California for the weekend to see Vincent again, and Vincent did rebound for a short time while on some medication that Friday. My brother was able to make it home, and spend the last few days with our dog, taking him to one of his favorite places, Camp Sherman, so he could put his head out the window and see the river and one more time.

I had considered home going as well, but the selfish part of me wanted to remember my dog as I had seen him a month ago when I visited home-- happy, healthy and full of personality. At my parents’ insistence, it was okay, I chose to stay home, once again apart from my family while they said goodbye to our beloved family dog. I’m okay with my choice. I know that my family loved on Vincent and each other for me.

I know that the bible doesn’t give us a very straight answer on if we’ll ever see our animals again in heaven. My heart was so very much to believe that we do. It’s impossible for me to imagine eternal happiness without being able to pet my dogs and or take them on walks. I do know that God answers prayers about our animals. While I prayed for healing or help with acceptance that Sunday, my Mom had the good sense to also pray that He make it clear and obvious if putting Vincent down on Monday was the only option. He did. He allowed my family to make the right choice, without doubts, and be there together. I hope that God has a special place for dogs somewhere in His kingdom.

Although my heart aches for my Mom, Dad and brother, I try to remember all the fun times and great memories that we had together with Vincent, as a family. Farewell to a very beloved friend. Forever, you are ours, and we are yours.


Friday, June 7, 2013

I seem to have misplaced May!

Aaaaaand, so it's been a month since I last blogged!  Obviously, I didn't take much time to do it up in Oregon for my Mother's Day trip.  This is about the time of the year, too, when resolutions are long forgotten.  It's hard to believe we're at the halfway point for 2013 already.  I want to take time by the neck and shake it so that it will SLOW DOWN.  I'm sure before I look up again, we'll be almost through summer!  But, let's not think of that now.  I'll start off with a hard look at my resolutions, only slightly curious of other who might have met or are keeping theirs.

1.  I have slowly let my blogging sag to where I update now only once or twice a month.  I really want to get on this and change it.  Sometimes after sitting at the computer for the whole day, it's hard to get back on.  But, I really want to make myself do it!
2. I feel like being active at lunch is something that's kind of stuck into a semi-habit.  I'm usually able to guilt-trip myself enough to at the very least take a walk around the block.  I've started running on Thursday's now, and hopefully that will keep up through summer.
3. May was not the best month to judge my most-activeness.  I did work out in Oregon, and continued to go to Bootcamp, but Memorial day and the teacher's vacay allowed for me to miss almost two weeks straight.  I made up for it with walks or jogs, but I don't feel like I was as active as I should have been.  Softball season has started up for my husband's law firm, and our games are on Wednesday nights now, which kills my bootcamp nights.  I really want to slim down a bit for summer, so I'm brainstorming fun ways to get tough workouts in.
4. I  honestly don't think much has changed on the junk food habits.  Maybe I've passed up on a few things, but I still feel the need to treat myself way too often.  I need healthier choices on the horizon!
5. Flossing every other night is a full-blown habit that I hope to carry with me from this day out.  Yay for healthy teeth and at least one kept resolution!
6. I haven't Yelped in a while, but I plan to head over there tonight to review the Golden Tee in Monterey.
7. I'm SO bad about these backblogs.  I need to set myself reminders, or something!

Let's take May week-by-week and I'm pressure myself into updating next week as well!  :)

May 9-15 was my trip back up to Oregon, where mom and I got to spend some quality time for a full week.  It was a really relaxing and super fun vacation.  We had a mother-daughter tea at the church where my mom works, went out to eat and shopping for Mother's day, and I got to hang out with my old crew from high school and enjoy the simple way of life in Sisters, Oregon.  I had a donut at the bakery, walked my dog behind the house, and was a tourist around Sisters for a while.  It really is amazing what you can get used to.  I go back now and am like, "wow!  I lived like that!  I went to that school and waived at those people.  I swam there and rollerbladed there and grew up with all this!"  It's so nice to have a relaxing spot as beautiful as Sisters to go and visit and call your home.  I can't believe it's been ten years since my high school graduation.  It's going to be a trip to see everyone in August!

The middle of May I don't really remember much of.  :)  Likely it was spent resting and running errands and working.  I don't think that we really even went on any trips until the end of May.  Sometimes it's really good just to have time like that, too.  My cousin did graduate from the master's program as CSULB and we're so proud to have a Master's graduate in the family!   I wish I could have been down there with her to watch, but with all the time that I took off to go to Oregon, I didn't want to miss much more work.  Hopefully, we'll have time to have a big family party for her when she comes to visit at the end of June.

The end of May was pretty jam-packed.  We went down to Monterey on the Friday before Memorial Day to hang out with my family.  Steve also had a law school friend in town from LA and invited him to play golf on Laguna Seca-- the place we got married!  We also barbequed, played some tennis, walked around the wharf and had some drinks at the Golden Tee!  We didn't get much of a break after returning to Fremont.  Tuesday, we went to Steve's law firm event at the Oakland A's game and watched the A's take on the Giants from box seats.  Wednesday I skipped out on bootcamp to join a friend from Chicago at dinner in SF with Steve and one of our friends from Steve's firm.  It was great to hang out in the city!

So, that brings us to June, which looks fairly uneventful so far, until the later portion of the month when my cousin and her husband come to visit.  It's our mission to keep June clear and cheap, though, because our last half of the summer is going to be jam-packed.  We have a wedding in Detroit (which is costing us a small fortune to attend thanks to insane plan tix from here to that part of the country!), my ten-year SHS reuinion on Labor day (Aug 3) back in Sisters (that I'm also helping to coordinate), and then a wedding in Seattle that Steven is actually in the weekend right after that.  It's going to be insane!  Luckily, September is going to be rounded off really nicely by a weekend trip to Yosemite with the whole family.  My parents and two uncles all have their birthdays within one week (almost), so we rented a few houses and are celebrating my youngest uncle's 50th in style!  Can't wait!

But we're so lucky that we live in the Bay Area.  There are honestly endless activities that we can do on the cheap side and still feel excited about them.  We have mapped out several more hikes, been invited to take advantage of a friend's cabin in Tahoe, explore more of SF (which we sadly never do), hit the beaches, and even thrown in a Trail Ride on horseback!  More on that later-- hopefully!

For this weekend, we are kicking back again and just seeing where the road takes us.  I'm into it, as I've been trying to find ways to take my mind of stress and worry, and not be anxious about more than is necessary is a nice change.  Good thing is--  the weather is impossibly nice and I'm looking forward to working on a golden, California girl tan.  :)

Here are some pics from May!


Sunday, May 5, 2013

April Adventure Recap!

April was a pretty busy month, which kept me from blogging but also gives me a lot to catch up on.   Let's do a week-by-week recap.  :)

The weekend of April 13th took Steve and I on our next hiking adventure.  This time, we went east to Danville, CA and the mass regional park that Mt. Diablo calls home.  I had no idea there was a 3,000 foot hill in the middle of the Danville, but there as we drove up it to the summit, it's awesome views that were touted on bahiker.com presented themselves.  We went early, so as not to repeat the problem that we had in Muir Woods and found it kind of odd that you could drive all the way to the summit.  In fact, the actual highest point itself was housed under a man-made roof in the park building, which Steve thought was kind of odd.  He likes to feel a sense of accomplishment when he hikes up something and stands on the highest rock.  But, as I pointed out, we hadn't done any hiking yet.  So, we set out for our first trail, the Mary Bowerman, which was a really easy walk around the summit.  It was nice, because we could get our bearings and take some great shots of the views.  Then came our more strenuous work-- we were already at the top, which means we'd have to hike down and then back up. But, we found a great route down the Summit Trial, and back up the Juniper trail.  It was strenuous going to back up, to be sure, but the views and the wildlife (we saw a coyote!) were amazing.  It took us around three hours and really made us feel like true hikers (even though we did almost give up when we saw a misleading sign saying we had 20 miles to go to get back to our car!).  We finished our day with a sandwich and yogurt in the ritzy downtown area.  I can't wait to see where we head to next to hike!

With our Lawyer's League softball season right around the corner, Steve wanted to get some practice in with me, my dad, my brother and my grandfather.  So, we headed down to Monterey and spent the Sunday immersed in sports.  We took some batting practice and grounders at the field, and then headed up to the tennis courts at MPC to hit the ball around a bit.  The weather was perfect and it was great to get out and get moving.

Last weekend was my grandmother's 75th birthday, so we celebrated in style.  I headed down to Monterey on Friday night to join my grandmother, grandfather, uncle and great aunt on a trip to San Francisco to see Jersey Boys, which is one of my most favorite plays of all time.  It was really fun to hang out with my family in the city.  I hope we can all get back there for a baseball game again.  The show was amazing and the bus ride home was made that much more fun with wine and snacks (although-- because I was the youngest on the bus by at least 20 years, I almost didn't get any!  The lady thought I was under age!).  We had my grandmother's actual birthday at Laguna Seca Golf Ranch-- the same place as our wedding.  It was fun to do a birthday outside of the usual houses and bring our family shenanigans elsewhere.  A family trip to Yosemite is in the works for September, and I really hope that we can get everyone to head up and hang out.

This last Wednesday, we had our first softball game with the lawyers league.  Our team won 17-6 despite having only 8 players.  I didn't field the greatest, but I hit well, and Steve had a good game too.  It's really great to see everyone again-- I love the social aspect of softball and hanging out with Steve's co-workers in a casual environment.  We have a great time after the games hanging out upstairs in the bar and having beers.

In a general sense, things have been going pretty well.  Work moral was boosted considerably with our Cinco de Mayo party that I helped plan last Friday.  There have been a lot of changes in the company recently, and it was nice to see everyone take a break from worrying and hang out with friends.  Uncle Mike, his mother Trudy, and my great aunt Alice are all healing well from their respective procedures, and it was good to see them up and around and visiting last weekend.  Lastly, I'm SO looking forward to my relaxing week-long vacation coming up in this Thursday.  I'm heading back to Sisters to hang out with mom for Mother's Day and recharge my proverbial batteries a bit.  I'm also on the planning committee for our 10-year high school reunion coming up this August, so I'm hoping to get some things sorted out with that as well.  It doesn't look like Steve will be able to join, but I still fully intend to enjoy my time off.

Resolution Update:
1. I'm hoping to catch up on my blogging during my vacation next week!
2. I've still only been averagely active at lunch.  This week was busy, so I didn't get a lunch break a lot of the time.  I'm hoping to work out every day while I'm on vacation, just to get back on track.
3. This week, I did go to bootcamp on Monday, but Wednesday was softball, and while it's some exercise, it's not enough.  I hope to get outside today for even just a bit today to make up for it, since this will be the norm for the softball season.
4. I'm kind of falling off the wagon on junk food, so I need to start really trying to make healthier choices with my eating habits.
5. Flossing is still solid!
6. I still haven't really eaten anywhere to blog about, as Steve and I are trying to cook more at home.
7. I'm hoping to catch up on back-blogs while I'm on vacation!

I'll end with some pics of Mt Diablo hiking and my grandmother's birthday:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Green Household's Latest Obession: Game of Thrones

Husband and I don't often agree on things of an "entertainment" nature.  Our tastes in movies, TV and music are pretty different as far as couples go.  For me, this is the norm, and not something I put a lot of thought into growing up.  My dad's TV tastes swing to the Science Fiction persuasion, and I'm pretty sure all of his favorite movies boast someone dying in the first fifteen minutes.  My mom, when she does watch movies or TV, leans toward RomComs or mystery dramas.  They have lived in entertainment compromise since before I was born.  But, husband was a little taken aback at first, and even worried, when he discovered a few years into our coupledom that there were very few TV shows that we could agree to watch together, and perhaps even less music to listen to.  We, like my parents, have learned to compromise and on occasion, even find ourselves enjoying the others genre preferences.

I don't even remember what we were doing two weeks ago when I looked at the TV and said, "why don't I watch Game of Thrones?  It looks right up my ally."  If you don't know me well, I love period pieces, and feel that a bit of epic-ness thrown in never hurt anyone (Lord of the Rings ranks atop my all time favorite movies).  Husband, also being more of the SciFi persuasion like my dad, agreed that he had heard good things about Game of Thrones.  And so, thanks to those hit-it-and-quit-it execs at Comcast, we were able to get thoroughly addicted to the happenings of the Starks, Lanisters, and Dothraki.  This was due to Comcast's "Watch-a-thon" week, which slings HBO episodes for free, and then, after not giving you nearly enough time to watch all of them, makes you pay for your "fixes".  UNluckily, for our friends at Comcast, my dad owns both seasons of our newly beloved show.  And now, Husband and I are enjoying some quality time in front of the Tube (can you CALL it that, now that it's a flat screen?), losing ourselves in a simpler, albeit more brutal, time.  It feels good to have a show that we can both agree on, for a change.

Aside from our new addiction, there have been some happenings: 

Easter weekend was spent in Monterey, hanging out with my family with the added bonus of my two So-Cal cousins coming up for a visit.  It was a jam-packed weekend, complete with a Buffalo Wild Wings trip, Tennis, egg coloring, an Easter egg hunt, celebrating two belated Birthdays, a crazy game of Bump, a sunrise church service attempt, breakfast for 12 at Black Bear diner, Frisbee golf, enough sugar to last me for the month of April (if only), and the usual shenanigans.  SO fun. 

On a melancholy note, last week, my company decided to close it's LA office branch, and let go about 20 people, which sunk moral lower than the Titanic and put everyone on edge.  I enjoy my job and the people I work with very much, and it's hard to see people I've worked with for years have to start over.  It's even more frightening to think that one day, it could happen to me.

Last weekend, Steven and I took a hiking hiatus and went to the Tartan Day Celebration down the road at Ardenwood farms.  It was fantastic (pictures to prove it).  There was Scottish music, dancing and games.  We had a blast.

This week is just more of the same ole'-- swimming through the day's challenges and putting out (figurative) fires.  I do have a five day trip to Oregon planned for the beginning of May, which I am very much looking forward to.  No better place to relax then back home.

As for my resolutions:

1. Weekly blog is falling to a bi-monthly blog, but at least it's something! 
2. I've been averagely active at lunch.  I have trouble getting motivated when it rains, or when I'm in a bad mood-- which is honestly when I should go outside the most.
3. Last week, my instruction cancelled class both Monday and Wednesday, and it was frighteningly liberating to not have to go after work.  I did make up for it by working out in other ways, and I did just complete my second class tonight for the week!
4. Less junk food when down the drain with Easter, but I'm trying to will myself into self control.
5. Flossing has been solid-- I'd even say it's become a habit now!
6. We haven't been "out out" in a while, so no Yelp reviews, but I know I do have some to catch up on.
7. No back blogs, and this is SO bad, because summer is here, which likely means more adventures.

Until next time-- enjoy some pics of the Tartan Day Festival.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Twenty-eight has proved to be an odd and confusing age so far.  More than any other time that I can remember in the second-half of my 20s, I feel like I’ve been asked how old I was more THIS year.  When I answer, I get a really odd mix of responses.  Most people, especially strangers (dentist, hair dresser, lady at my gym), remark on how “young” I am, or that I’m still a “baby.”  That response is SO odd to me, because, I don’t really consider myself either of those two things.  The remainder of the people (co-workers, my family), usually want to know how long I’ve been married, and when I’m planning on having kids, because that’s what’s normal or expected to them.  A remark from my gym instructor really got me the other day—she was talking to someone else about this girl who did Cross Fit at another gym and was really good.  When asked how old the cross fit girl was, my instructor said, “She’s not young.  I think she’s like, 28, or 30.  She’s not like those young girls who can just rip out a workout.”

Okay, so WHICH is it, then?  Am I young?  Am I bordering on too old?  Maybe the reason that I get a bit edgy about it is not because people ask me more about my age now, but more because I feel conflicted about it.  Comparatively, I think that 28 is still young-ish.  But not just “young” by itself, you know?  I felt “young” in college.  Now, I’ve been paying my own way for a long while, and have become a fairly accomplished adult.  I’ve been out of college for 5 years now, I JUST got married a year and a half ago.  I’ve been doing stuff, enjoying my life, seeing the sites and having adventures.  I feel good about all of it.  I don’t (often) look at my friends who got married and had kids younger and wish I could go back for a re-do to be more like them.  I’m not even close to the oldest person in my office who doesn’t have kids.  

But, it still nags at me, because 28 seems so very close to 30, and with that age comes a bunch of expectations and judgments.  Not to mention, concerning stats.  One minute I feel so free to just be able to pick up and leave and travel for work with no qualms.  Another minute, I am consumed with worry of what people will think if I don’t produce offspring in the near future, and the consequences to MY future if I don’t.  It. Is. Exhausting.  For once, I’d like someone to say “Oh, 28… that’s a fun age.”  Or, even better—don’t ask at all!  I know how old I am, I am well informed of the expectations and stats of being 28, and I’m handling it.  I got this.  Trust me.

I digress from my moody rant.  It’s been a very busy March around these parts.  We were hit with the news that Steven’s grandma had passed away (peacefully) in the second week of March.  We made the trip back to Malta to be at her funeral.  I was glad to be there for Steve and help out the family during the hard time.  I feel comforted that she had a long, full life and was loved by so many people.  I know it will be hard for the Greens not to have her to talk to anymore.  She will be very missed.

The week after we got back from Montana, I was off again for a work trip to Chicago.  It turned out to be a nice visit, aside from the FREEZING cold weather, and the massive issues that our software’s build created the weekend before.  The office was "tense" to say the least.  But, I got to visit and bond with my team, as well as see a lot of other people I usually only email, so it was a pretty productive time.  There was also a product training during that time that some other people from the remote offices flew in for, and hanging out with them in a different city was pretty cool.  I always like going back to Chicago.  The streets and way of life are so fresh in my mind and it’s easy to get swept up in the city lifestyle after being submerged in suburbia for almost three years now.  But, I SO do not miss the cold.  I’ll take my 60 degree March days over anything else.  Caligurl4eva.  ;)

As always, I’ll end this blog with a resolution update:
  1. I fell behind on blogging for reasons mentioned above, but I’m completing mine for this week!
  2. I’ve been doing pretty well with being active during lunch.  This week it’s been rainy and hard to get outside, but I did go for a nice walk on Tuesday and cleaned up the house Wednesday.
  3. I’ve kept up with bootcamp pretty well and really only fell off the wagon in Chicago, where it's pretty tough to work out in a hotel—but I walked so much that I feel like I MUST have got some calories burnt off that I normally would not have.  Steve and I also hiked at Sunol two weekends ago, so I hope that we can keep it up.  Exploring new hiking areas around the Bay is so fun!
  4. I’m trying to get back on the wagon for eating less junk food.  I’ve done pretty well this week—as long as you don’t count the frozen strawberry lemonades at McDonalds as Junk.  :)
  5. I’ve still flossed pretty regularly every other night, and my dentist check up went pretty well a few weeks ago.  I only have one cavity and I think it has been there for a bit, because the dentist said it was right beside a filling they had already done last year.  I think when that happens, they should re-do your filling for free.  It must be their fault if the filling didn’t do it’s job, right? ;)
  6. I’ve been to a few places that I need to Yelp about, so I’ll try to get on that next week.
  7. No back-blogs yet! 
I will leave you with some pictures from our most recent hike in Sunol.  I’m really enjoying getting outside and seeing the sites of the bay at new heights!  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

First Road Adventure of 2013: Muir Woods

As random as it sounds, my husband chatted up his eye doctor about great places to go hiking in the Bay Area.  The doctor had, at some point, mentioned Muir Woods as a great, but touristy, place to check out.  Steve and I usually go on a walk around our very local park -- Coyote Hills, on the weekends, so tromping though the wilderness elsewhere seemed appealing for an otherwise open and plan-free weekend.

So, we made the 1 1/12ish drive up the windy and woody roads above San Fran to Muir Woods, part of the HUGE California Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  And unlike a lot of our other trips to scenic places around the pay area, this trip had a TON of ups and downs.

Aside from the winding roads, the first thing that we noticed was there were bicyclers, everywhere.  Seriously-- the windy, narrow roads were barely big enough for two cars to fit on, but we were constantly on the lookout for the tons of hardcore bike riders traveling up and down the same hill-littered terrain that we were in our Passat.  At about noon, we arrived at the mouth of the Muir Woods trail, and when we sailed passed the entrance, we noticed that the parking lot was full.  We traveled down the road to the overflow lot, which was also totally full.  The sign said that parking on the road was permitted, so we continued down it, thinking we'd for sure find something along the side.  To our astonishment, the road was absolutely packed.  We drove for about a mile before there was finally parking on a precarious hill behind the long line of cars we had just driven by.  It was a nice weekend, but still winter!  We couldn't believe that there were this many people on the hike today.  It seemed insane-- the hike to the entrance would probably take us longer than the actual trek through the woods.

So, we rolled with it and decided to explore other areas of the park, maybe to come back later when people had already had their hike.  We saw a sign for Stinson Beach and shrugged at it.  I'm still not sure why it sounded familiar; I thought maybe I had heard my friends at work talk about it, or something.  So, we followed the sign direction, and after about 40 mins of weaving, watching out for bikers, and seriously questioning if we were on the right road, we arrived at the small and compact town.  It's crazy to think that people live there-- it's so very secluded, and pretty much the only way in and out is a windy road through thick, hilly forest.  I don't know how the 500 residents must do it.  I guess it's a good way to get away from it all.  I might go insane.

We drove through the town and found that aside from the beach and some shops, there wasn't much to it.  We pulled up to the beach parking and sat in the car for a bit, wondering what to do from here.  We had no internet to speak of, so any chance at forming a backup plan for our day was shot.  We decided to check out the views on the beach, so we made our way through the lot to the water.  It was probably 60 or so degrees, but the wind was blowing so hard and right off the ocean that it made the day chilly.  We packed on our sweatpants and sweatshirts and took in the sights.  It was nice, and there were a considerable amount of people on the beach that day, but the wind was blowing so much that sitting and enjoying it for long was not something we were interested in.  It was also at this time that I unsheathed my camera from its case and tried to take a picture.  The screen blinked back at me-- "No Memory Card!"  WHAT?  Ugh, come to find out later that I left it in my computer.  So, any great shots for Facebook, or even memory's sake, would have to be taken from my less than amazing camera phone.  Ashton Kutcher would NOT be pleased.  And neither was I.

We left the beach and decided that since it was now about 2, we might as well find out what Stinson Beach had to offer for lunch.  We found a deli called The Lunch Box right off the main drag and bought some sandwiches, which we pretty solid, and ate them on a the sunny park outside.  We laughed that this trip was not exactly what we had planned for it to be, and vowed to create backup plans if we were to ever go anywhere with no internet access again.  What did people DO before 3G?  :)

Feeling like we had accomplished Stinson Beach, we set out for Muir Woods again, and found the entrance, much as we had left it-- packed.  Eh, we had come to hike, so we pulled behind the last car in the masses-- about a mile, or 16 min walk from the actual mouth of the trail.  We threw in our reserves-- water, my cell phone camera, and a bit of money, in case we had to pay to get in, and made our walk down the narrow road.

When we finally got to the ranger station at the trailhead, we looked in utter disbelief at the entrance fee sign--- $7 a person.  A Person!  We know that California was broke and I shook my head in agony at being so naive and thoughtless that a beautiful park like this wouldn't charge that kind of rate to get into a famous hike.  That didn't change the fact that we hadn't brought enough cash to get us both in.  Defeated and in a bad mood despite the calming nature around us, we walked the 16 minutes back to our car.  We did notice on our way back, that there were a lot of people leaving-- since it was about 4:00 now.  I shook my head and laughed and agreed with Steve to drive back toward the entrance, and see if there were any spots closer now.  If there wasn't something we both deemed a reasonable distance-- we'd head home.

As our luck (HA!) would have it, we DID find a spot a mere three minute walk from the entrance.  We collected our provisions + an extra $20 and finally, made it to the actual trailhead.  To be sure, the journey to this point proved to be more enthralling than the hike itself, but I will say that Muir Woods is something to see.  The redwoods are so old and tall and beautiful, that it's like walking back in time-- before cities and roads and all the things that show human touch.  During the first part of the trail, it was a bit noisy, as there were a ton of families with small children who took the opportunity of being outside to scream and yell and run.  But, as we walked along we finally separated ourselves and began to take in the serene surroundings and amazing resilience of the redwoods we were walking through.  It was peaceful and calming and allow me to reflect on the tumultuous year we'd had so far, but also be hopeful for the future.  We stopped for a few pictures along the way-- all of them blurrier that the last thanks to my camera phone.  We weaved through the trail and made a circle back to where we started at the ranger station.

Laughing to ourselves as we trekked the comparably small distance to the car, we packed up and headed for home sweet home.  Sometimes it really isn't about the destination.  It's about being together on the whole journey.  I couldn't ask for a better adventure partner, than my husband.

Welcome March!

February is over.  When I lived in Oregon and Chicago, that sentence would carry more weight than it does now, but since I lived in cold weather places most of my life, I still feel the significance of it.

February was always my least favorite month.  It’s the shortest, but when you live it a place where it’s been freezing cold and snowing for the last four months, it starts to grind on you.  I was always SO ready for the snow to be gone and the weather to change—well, let’s be real, I’m ready for snow and cold to be gone after Christmas, but February just always seems to drag on.  Here in The Bay, it’s not such a big change, as we are graced with 60 degree days frequently throughout the winter, but I think just with all the mess that’s been going on I’m ready for March and Spring to bring some change.

This week, my dad had some work in Berkeley, so he came to stay with us for a few days.  It was pretty fun having him here—cooking dinner and watching movies.  Unfortunately, some sad news also came during this time from Montana.  Steve’s grandma had taken very ill and was in the hospital.  The prognosis was not good, when we heard of this on Monday.  Through what I truly believe is the work of God, she is doing a bit better now, and we pray to hear more of the same good news in the days to come.  I know how hard it must be on Steve to be so far away during these times.  Although my heart has been heavy these last weeks for a myriad of reasons—I feel that I am in a better place to practice the Peace and Patience that I so desperately want.  When I feel worry creep up, I also feel better prepared to let it go, knowing that God is here, He is in control and He is able to lift the worry that sometimes seems too heavy for me to even drag along.  And I mean to let Him carry it.

Steve and I had an…interesting trip to Muir Woods last weekend that I hope to have time to write about soon, before it took becomes a backblog.  We all know how good I am with THOSE. :)

Quick Resolution update!
  1. Weekly blog almost complete!
  2. I walked or did something active at lunch every day except Wednesday.
  3. Bootcamp twice and Rollerblading today.  Hopefully we’ll do something this weekend too.
  4. Eh-- not so good with the junk food.  I had ice cream and a lot of those darn Girl Scout cookies!
  5. Flossing teeth is still going great!
  6. I actually have TWO Yelp reviews that are ready to be posted!
  7. Blackblog-- this is bad, because now I’ll have another one if I don’t post again soon!