Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Nut House

I live in a nut house and I love it.

Last week I had huge plans for the next 17 days. They included a lot of time sitting in my chair watching countless, bordering on inappropriate, amounts of Olympic Coverage.

Then we up and did what we are best at.

We turn our lives over and brought new pup in our house.

Why? Well, I guess we just didn't have enough going on.

There are a few truths about me.
1. I need 4 animals to fulfill me.
2. If I am not operating at 120% I feel lazy and worry I will get fat again.
3. I love my family and friends more than anything and will do anything for any of them. And I want to spend as much time with them as possible.

With all that in mind it only makes sense that we would adopt another dog, bringing us back up to four pets.

I am adjusting to 5:40 am walks so I am a bit sleepy right now. I am going to stop talking and share a few pictures we have taken over the last few days.

All of the kids (the one reading is mine, the rest are our friends and family) and Siri taking a rare nap.

Cakes and Siri wrestling while I try to watch a few minutes of Olympic Beach Volleyball

Siri flying while playing with Cakes, they get a long so well!

Shawn aka Daddy having a little cuddle time with his girls.
Needless to say, I have watched a grand total of four minutes of the Olympics but that's okay because I have been having a blast with our two new pups!

Oh, and I got to see the girls take the All Around Gold in Gymnastics tonight so that was awesome too!!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Weekend Update and What A Weekend It Was!!

I started this post on Friday night but so much happened this weekend I just deleted it all and am starting over. I think bullet points will be needed!

  • I got home from work with time to hang out with the kids before they all went home for the day and had a blast watching them use Shawn as a jungle gym while Cakes slept in the rock bed.
  • Heidi went to Ryan's to play with Will and Emily
  • Shawn and I went for a 3 mile run with 8 hill sprints. It was killer but I was ecstatic when I synced the bodybugg and saw I had burned 600 calories!
  • I parked myself on the couch and watched the Open Ceremonies. I realize people didn't like them but I thought it was pretty good.
  • My new Transformer Tablet had arrived on Thursday night so I played with it while watching the ceremonies.
Piper climbing on Shawn's head

Sophia sitting on Shawn's feet, next he will launch her and she is suposed to land on her feet but she likes to land on her butt.

  • We went to Minnehaha Park to meet some dogs from Save A Bull, a Bully Breed rescue organization.  We specifically went to meet Siri, a small 30 pound girl. We talked to a lot of bully foster parents and pet a lot of bully dogs. My brother and his family joined us along with Shawn's Brother Tony and his family. It was a blast.
  • UNTIL, the parking meeter ran our of time and I was left driving in circles for 45 minutes while everyone else was down in the dog park!
  • My mother in laws birthday was last week so we all went over to her house with a cake and sang her happy birthday. Happy Birthday Renee!!
  • My parents swung by and picked up Heidi and Emily and took them out to Build A Bear for the evening. The Heidi spent the night with them.
  • Then we stopped at the booze store for a gift before we met some friends for dinner. We were looking in the beer cooler, not sure what to get but ended up with a sampler pack of Horney Goat and a 40 of Colt 45. (My bottle of water cost more than that bottle of Colt 45!!)
  • We meet up with our friend Paul and Erin for dinner to celebrate Paul's birthday. We dined at Ginger Hop in North East Minneapolis. It was fantastic, I will go back for sure! 
  • After a nice dinner and great conversation (and 2 glasses of wine) we headed back to the neighborhood to check out Boogie Wonderland at the Crystal Frolics. The best part of Crystal Frolics? People watching... Where the trash gets all dressed up to take their babies to the beer tent. We had a blast!
Pineapple Pork Fried Rice at Ginger Hop - LOVED IT!

  • I woke up at 6 am to excited to sleep! Why? Well, I needed to get the house picked up because we were having visitors...
  • Shawn and I took Cupcake to the dog park near our house. She loved it and wanted to be a part of a pack of very large Golden Labs. She was exhausted by the time we left and went home to pass out for a bit. I think she was exhausted by our little game - she needed to be walking in front of me at all times. We were walking single file, I would get in front of her, she would sprint to get in front of me and slow down, I would get in front of her, she would sprint to get in front of me and slow down... repeat 50 times.
  • Our visitors! Save A Bull brought Siri over to visit us, check out our house, and meet family! They were there for four hours just chatting while Siri and Cakes chased each other around the back yard. I will tell you all about the visit and Siri tomorrow. That deserves it's own post. But it went well and SIRI MOVED IN WITH US!
  • Heidi went to a birthday party during part of the visit and when she got home Ryan, Jess, and the kids came over and Erin brought Sophia and Piper over for a bit. Our house was crazy and Siri got a real taste of what our house, and her new life, will be like.
Siri Anna, our new Pit Bull!!

Sunday Night
  • Siri and Cakes slept in their crates, one or the other cried all night but that was expected.
Monday AM
  • I took Siri for our first walk while Shawn and Cakes had some cuddle time on the couch.
I am beyond ecstatic! We have TWO dogs now, I got my new Tablet and it's AWESOME, and it's Olympic season. I could not be happier!

Hasta Luego,


Friday, July 27, 2012

Happy Olympics!!

I don't have a lot of time for a well thought out post today and while I wanted to link up for Friday Letters like last week I have not had coffee yet and my brain is not firing on all cylinders yet. So, today will be some randomness!

This is been a pretty exciting week, here are a few of the highlights.

This picture has nothing to do with this post. I just love pictures of Peter sleeping on pillows.

Last night I went to Skyrobics with Erin and dare I say, we rocked it! The Bodybugg tells me I burned 475 calories over the 445 from my first time. I was also excited to see I had logged well over 10,000 steps for my day yesterday. Oh, and no injuries this time, just me not being able to get up after situps so I laid on my tramp causing the instructor to ask Erin if I was okay. When he realized I was dead and not broken he was happy. You can die in Skyrobics but you can't get hurt, injuries cause to much paper work.

I ordered and received my Asus Transformer Tablet! It arrived via Amazon yesterday and spent the night charging. I plan to play with it while I watch...

The Opening Ceremonies Tonight!! I am so excited!! After work I will sneak in a quick run then I will plan my butt in the purple chair with my new tablet and watch the Opening of the Olympic games and I will not feel guilty about it one bit because this happens once every 4 years (well, 2 really because I love winter Olympics too).

Last night in the car Heidi asked if we could go to open swim tonight. I said "Well, I really, really want to watch the Opening Ceremonies..."

Heidi said, "Mom! It sounds like watching the Olympics is more important than my showing you all I learned in swimming this week!!"

I replied, "hmmm.... Well, it only happens once every four years..."

She didn't talk to me for the rest of the drive. Sorry, Heidi! I have never told you I would not be active with you because I wanted to watch TV. Even when I was fat I didn't say that. So get over it kid!!

Other exciting news, Erin and I spent a day planning out the year for our Girl Scout Troop. I am so excited to have 1st year Brownies, I can't even stand it!

Um, and August? Is there anyway we can move August out by like three weeks? I think I totally missed July.

And finally, it was the first week of acting in my new job and it flew by. I am really excited about the new challenges it will bring.

A look ahead at the weekend - I plan to watch a lot of Olympics, swim with my dad on Saturday morning, trip to Minnehaha Falls Dog Park with Cupcake Saturday afternoon, birthday dinner for my friend Paul on Saturday evening, July release for work Saturday night, lazy day and more Olympics on Sunday. Somewhere in there I will clean my house, get in at least one more run, and hopefully read The Kite Runner (I know, I am 10 years behind the times on this one but what can I say?!)

Happy Friday everyone! And Happy Olympics!

Hasta Luego,


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Book Review: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

I read a brief write up of The Paris Wife by Paula McLain in Real Simple magazine one month and I thought it sounded interesting. This is the story of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, The Paris Wife, Hadley. I find Hemingway to be an interesting person and plan to read more about him in the future but I thought it would be nice to start with this novel about his relationship with Hadley.

Image from Amazon.com

I love the book; it was well written and felt like a memoir written by Hadley while it was actually a novel written by McLain.

While reading the book (or listening to it on my iPod via audible.com rather) my mind kept circling back to how real these character were. I often wondered how McLain could write such a book after both Hemingway and Hadley were deceased and therefore unavailable for interview.

With just a quick search on Amazon.com I learned that McLain used the numerous letters written between Hadley and Hemingway to learn the intimacy they shared and to develop her story. I assume the rest was rounded out with details McLain polished in her vision of this famous couple.

Hemingway and Hadley meet through a mutual friend one week in Chicago. Hadley has had a volatile life that McLain does a wonderful job piecing out to the reader in the first chapters of the book. As the reader, you may find yourself rooting for Hadley straight off.

Hadley has found herself to be a 28 year old woman in 1921’s Midwestern America. Almost a spinster, she is giving up on love and happiness when she meets Ernest and while very cautious she is intrigued by him. They spend months exchanging letters until she finally visits him again in Chicago. Within a short time they are engaged and then married and trying to figure out how to get to Paris where Hemingway is told he will meet people who will inspire him and mentor him.

The novel follows the years of their courtship, marriage, child, and eventual breakdown of their relationship after the Hadley learns of Hemingway’s affair (not his first but the first she knows of!)

I truly enjoyed this novel and will have to continue to remind myself that while this was well researched, it was in fact a novel which gives the author a lot of creative license. Ms. McLain, I believe you used that license very well. Very well indeed.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

So You Want A Cupcake...

Two Cupcake posts in two days?! I know, I know but she is consuming my life right now.

I bet you are asking yourself, what does it take to care for a Cupcake day to day? Is this something I could do?

Well, lucky you! I am here to tell you!

First it takes not one but two collars.

And it helps if one is pink with a zebra striped tag. One is for identification and is to be warn at all times. The other is for walking and easy lifting.

For sleeping you will need a large crate but to keep her from peeing in it every.single.night block it off with some old packing boxes. If your husband used to work for a moving company you probably have a ton of these laying around.

Any extra blankets you have laying around should promptly be claimed by the Cupcake as backup blankets in the event she poops in her crate and uses her blanket to cover it up.

She will need at least 3 nylon bones, a crinkle Spiderman, a kong, a Tupperware bowl, and a red ring chew toy for chewing. This is in no way enough entertainment to keep her from chewing on the cup holders or seat belts in the van or everything.Heidi.leaves.on.the.floor but it's a start.

She will need not one, not two, but four rope toys. If you count the red ring, it's 5. These are for playing tug and being drug around the house by the kids.

An Angry Bird Pig/Bird toy for chewing and cuddling in hopes your Cupcake does not decide to eat any of your 7 year old's stuffies. (I cannot even begin to explain how horrible it would be if Cupcake ate Heidi's stuffies... oh, the horror...)

You also need two leashes, as many poop bags as you can afford and store, a pooper scooper, lots and lots of puppy food and training treats, a food and water bowl for the house and another set for the camper, something for your water dog to dunk her head in, and many, many balls in a variety of different sizes.

It's best to have 6 adults, two teenagers, and as many 6 and 7 year olds as you can find to entertain this Cupcake. She will still have too much energy but it's a start.

Make sure to do your best not to let her nap to long during the day or she will have you up at 4 am for a potty and play party. It's best to take her every where you go to keep from leaving her in the crate where she will sleep to much and again, get you up for that 4 am play party.

But most of all, have a wonderful husband who has taken every.single.night shift since she moved in just over 4 weeks ago.

There you have it. All the information you need to decide if having a Cupcake is right for you!

Hasta Luego,


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

20 Pounds of Mocha Swirl

If I had to describe Cupcake in one phrase and it could not be naughty or bitty it would be People Dog. She just loves people which is good because people just love her.

When she sees someone new she does the bulldog full body wiggle which is just to stinking cute.

She is now approaching 14 weeks and boy has she grown since we brought her home at 9 weeks old.

At 9 weeks she weighed in at a whopping 11.5 pounds. At 10 weeks she was 14.3 pounds, 12 weeks she was 17 pounds, and at her vet appointment last night, 13.5 weeks she was 20 pounds!

Her feet are like dinner plates and she is growing faster than Daisy Mae (our old Bullmastif who topped the scales at 120) ever did.

I am not saying Cupcake will be as big as Daisy Mae. No way. But I am starting to think she is going to be closer to 60 pounds than 45!

For milestones, I would say she is about 99% house trained. She doesn't pee in the house, she goes to the door to be let out, she hasn't pooped in the house in over a week. We made her crate smaller so she will not have an accident in there and our nights are much better.

She does okay on her leash but she still doesn't like to walk long distances (anything more than a block is long to her) but it has been so hot we don't push it too much.

She changed up her puppy food and she is way less stinky.

She loves Pete, the big orange cat. Her favorite thing to do is lay on him and bark in his face.

She is terrified of Eddie, the old man cat. If Eddie is in the room Cupcake tenses up and will not go near him.

She is bitty and naughty and yesterday she grabbed a bowl of paint the girls left on the table in the playroom, got it on her foot and ran around the house. My brother in law Ryan and I proceeded to scrub pink paint off the hardwood floors for the next ten minutes while Shawn took her outside to get cleaned up.

Overall she is a good pup and everyone is happy to have her. And of course she already has a million names - Cupcake, The Cakes, Cakes, Cuppy, Big Dummy, and Mocha Swirl.

Hasta Luego,


Monday, July 23, 2012

A Little Work Week Family Time

Every year our office has a picnic in July at Minnehaha Falls. I work for a very large corporation but my office is made up of about 50 people so it's intimate and every one knows everyone.

And the food line is never long.

We all take about three hours out of our crazy busy schedules, ride the train a few miles over to the park, and enjoy lunch and a badminton tournament.

This year there was a scheduling conflict that arose at the last minute and caused half of the office to have to stay back. It was sad they would not be able to join us but the planning committee ended up inviting Shawn and his little daycare.  I think they just saw it as a way to meet Cupcake. But I got to spend a summer afternoon in the park with my family and that's awesome!

Shawn joined a badminton team and had a good time bonding with the people I spend 50 hours a week with.

The girls, Heidi, Sophia, and Piper (or H/S/P as I have started to call them) spent the afternoon playing on a stage near our picnic area, playing bean bags and ladder golf, and tossing the badminton birdies around.

Cupcake spent the day sleeping on my best friend Shannon's lap.

Before I had to head back to the office we took the girls over to see the falls.

When we are in a drought the falls can be down to a trickle. But we have had a high rainfall summer so they were rushing and are so beautiful.

Sophia and Piper have been here with their dad before but I think this was Heidi's first time. They liked leaning over the wall to see below. I was having a heart attach and kept pacing around behind them. It's amazing this photo is not blurry from all my shaking!

They were also looking at this awesome snapping turtle hanging out on the foot trail on the other side of the wall. And Shawn regaled them with his stories about two snappers they caught as kids and brought home to live in a bucket outside their house. I think they were Henry Hissinger 1 and 2.

The girls love hearing stories about Shawn's childhood and all the unsupervised adventures they went on!

We had a great time but after a bit I had to get back to work so we piled in the van and headed back downtown they dropped my off at my office. Let me tell you, it is extremely hard to go back to work after hanging out at this beautiful park with me awesome co-workers and my family all afternoon!

But on the bright side, I only had to work 2 more hours and then I was off for a 3 day weekend!

Hopefully I will post about our very wet weekend at The Swamp tomorrow.

Hasta Luego,


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Puppy Friday on a Saturday

Hello. You have reached a recorded message.

Kara, Shawn, Heidi, and Cupcake are not here right now. We are camping at The Swamp. Hopefully we are playing with the 4-wheeler and going to the beach to swim. And hopefully all the other people who live in our house but stayed home keep it clean and water the garden...

We hope the mosquito problem has been taken care of.

If you are looking for a little Cupcake love, please check out Martie over at Spunkyrella where she featured our little girl on her Puppy Friday post!

See you all next week.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Letters - My First One! And a Little About Skyrobics

I am trying to be all Bloggery and do all the things Bloggers do. So I am linking up with Ashley this week for Friday Letters! How fun!!


Dear Heidi - I love that you loved your week at Lacrosse camp and I am proud of you for not freaking out when you learned the team would be you plus four buck wild boys.

Dear Rain - Why do you not come until we put a free chair on the curb? Could you not have waited?

Dear Neighbors - that chair is free. I am sure it will be just fine when it drys out a bit...

Dear Skyrobics - You kick my ass and I love you for it. I will take you on again in the very, very near future.

Dear Erin - Thank you for taking my to Skyrobics! We totally rocked that class!!

Dear Public Library - Stop booting me from my reserved rooms with no notice. It's not cool and the kids are not going to tolerate it much longer!

Dear July - Where the heck did you go?!

Dear Cupcake - Please let me cuddle with you!

Dear New Job - Bring. It. On.

Dear Mosquitoes - Stay the heck out of my camper this weekend. A repeat of the last trip will not be tolerated.

Dear People Who Follow and Comment on My Blog - I love you! You make my day!!

Dear Shawn - Gobble. Gobble.

That was fun! I think I will participate in Friday Letters again!!

Ok, moving on. Have you ever heard of Skyrobics?

It is this amazing cardio work out, basically an aerobics class in a trampoline gym.

I heard about this last fall when Heidi went to a birthday party at SkyZone, an indoor trampoline gym in our area. Heidi, along with all the other kids at the party, spent over an hour jumping on the trampolines, then they ate pizza and cake, opened presents, and went home exhausted. It ranks up there in one of the best parties ever.

While I was hanging out waiting for the party to be over I looked over the flier for the Skyrobics class. It sounded intense! To be honest, it frightened me a bit.

Then a few weeks ago Erin goes to SkyZone with her kids. While there she sends me a text saying that we MUST GO TO SKYROBICS.

Um. No. Well. Maybe. Um. No.

That was my thought process.

But really, I was interested. It took us a few weeks to coordinate but we finally went on Tuesday.

And let me tell you it was a total blast!

I was worried I would fall down and break my face or something but I only fell once and didn't break anything!

I did end up with a bloody toe. I have no idea where the blood came from!

Please forgive my horrible pedi - I know I need one!
I was not prepared for what this does to the bladder of a woman who has had children! I honestly nearly peed my pants three times from all the jumping.

But it was all worth it. When I got home I synced my bodybugg and was excited to see that I had burned 445 calories! Awesomeness!!

Erin and me in our post workout glory!

We are already planning our next trip to Skyrobics and I am super excited to try out some of the exercises on Heidi's trampoline in the backyard!

Happy Friday everyone! Stay cool!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guest Blogger: Lover Awakened Book Review

Turn Me Gingerly
a book review by GingerSnap

The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series profile
Book 3: Lover Awakened
Theme Song:  “Cut” by Plumb
Lover Awakened is book #3 is the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  By far, the darkest, terrifying and ruined brother in the Brotherhood, this is the story of Zsadist.

If you know the song “Cut”, by Plumb, I think this is the best way I can sum up the make-up of Z and how he has managed to get through life thus far.  I don’t even know where to start with Lover Awakened. After the rush of the first two Brotherhood stories, Zsadist’s story took on a whole new direction. Abducted and sold into slavery as an infant, Zsadist grows up serving Kings and Queens of his time. Post transition, Zsadist is forced to be a blood slave (amongst other things) to the Queen. These are probably the darkest, most brutal parts of the story. The tale of abuse, humiliation and despair Zsadist suffers through is enough to clamp a vice around your chest. Rescued from the hell he was surviving in, Zsadist learns he has a twin, a family and is part of the most respected band of brothers in the vampire society. Free from the shackles the "mistress" kept him in, Zsadist has never escaped the nightmares, scars, memories and blackness that consume him. He lives in a prison with no walls.

Following up on a storyline from "Lover Eternal", we are reacquainted with Bella, a beautiful aristocrat vamp, who has been abducted by a member of the Lessening Society. After a run-in with Bella during a social gathering at the Brotherhood mansion, Zsadist is on a man-hunt to find Bella and bring her home. Bella's time at the hands of her abductor are eerily similar to those of "Silence of The Lambs"... very, "It puts the lotion on its skin, or it gets the hose again!".  Messed.  Up.  Unusual for a lesser to have any feelings for another being, let alone keep a "pet", the lesser known as David, aka "Mr. O", is consumed with madness as he obsesses over the striking resemblance Bella has to his lost love in his human life. After she is able to release another captive from the cabin she is being held in, Bella hopes the citizen vampire can survive long enough to notify the Brotherhood she is still alive. When David realizes what she has done, Bella suffers the beating of her life and she can only hope her attempt at survival was not in vain. 

It is Zsadist that finds her and rescues her from the brink of death. Upon her healing, is when the story of Zsadist and Lover Awakened truly unfolds. If anyone needed rescuing in this story it is Zsadist who carries the weight of centuries of abuse, rape, beatings and torture. Not even his twin, brother of brother Phury, can reach him at times. Sinister to the core, scarred, you can't help but wonder what Bella sees. Zsadist is not ruined, but absolutely broken.  How can one survive the depths of hell and come out the other side whole? Can one save themselves and be born again?

"I was dead until you found me, though I breathed. I was sightless, though I could see. And then you came... and I was awakened." 

Lover Awakened took my breath away. A story of evil blackness, despair, love & triumph has you reaching into the depths of Zsadist’s soul with him to discover what a life of hope, love and living could be like. In true JRW fashion, I laughed, cried, gasped and nearly fell off the bed on the last page of the book. If you haven't started yet, you must lose yourself into the Black Dagger Brotherhood.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Moment To Brag On Myself...

Here are two things you may not know about me.

First, I am slightly psychic. I have very strong intuition that I have been working to hone in lately. I think it's my mom sending my communications from Heaven. I wrote about this a few years ago. You can read it here.

Second, I have a professional, full time job. I am not a full time blogger. *gasp!* I know!!

For my real job, the one that deposits money in my account every two weeks, I am a Project Manager for a very large information and technology company.

I started with this company when there were about 20 of us. I was a data entry temp just trying to make ends meet. I came to work every day and busted my butt to prove I was worth the chance and they should hire me. After six months they finally did.

Over the next 14 years, I kept that same attitude. I busted my butt with every job they gave me proving I was promotable. 

I survived an acquisition where we went from about 100 people to a company with many thousands all over the country. Our parent company is based in London and we have sister companies all over the world now.

It is amazing how far the little company has come. But it is also amazing what this company as taught me about myself.

The Kara who started as a data entry clerk would never have thought that 14 years later she would be a project manager within the same company.  But with a lot of hard work and learning the ropes and never saying no to my boss, here I am.

Until this past Tuesday when my phone rang and everything changed.

It all started with a thought in the shower. "What ever happened to that promotion my boss mentioned a few months back..."

Then fast forward two hours. I am checking my email when I see a note from a peer that triggers that thought again. "What ever happened to that promotion. I should really call my boss about that when she gets back tomorrow..."

I am having this thought when my phone rings.

It's my bosses boss. The VP of the Program Office. I have had a good relationship with her since I called her out for being Canadian when we were at a team meeting in South Florida. She asked how I knew and I told her she sounded like home. After that she talked me into running my first 5k and is a big part of how I went on to become a runner and lose 40 pounds.

So, I wasn't surprised to hear from her. But not fully expecting it. This is where I need to further hone in my intuition skills.

She starts talking about how my boss should really be the one calling me but she didn't want me to find out from someone else and oh, you have been promoted!

AWESOME!! I was beyond excited and I started to think about my two psychic moments. So my response was "I was just thinking about that in the shower this morning."


But I quickly pulled it together and started listening to what she was saying. I will be getting a raise. I will be getting a new bonus package. I will be getting a great job title. And I will have direct reports.

Eeekkk!!!  This is exactly what I have been working so hard for. What I have been putting myself out there for. And it is finally happening.

An official announcement goes out shortly but my title has already been updated in our address book and I will begin my new job in the next few days.

Just goes to show, hard work really does get you places in this world. Thanks for teaching me that, Dad. I would not have gotten here with out that lesson or my families support.

Now I am off to figure out this new job and continue to hone those psychic moments!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

That's Some Hot Yoga

Every Wednesday night my sis-in-law Jess comes over for a little Yoga.  We started this a few years ago and picked it up again when she moved the fam back up from Kentucky this spring.

I call it the Kuykendall Yoga Studio.  We roll the rug in the living room back, spread out our mats, kick the kids outside, and pop Jillian Michael's yoga dvd.

Then we get our Yoga on.

We bitch thru the entire thing. That is why the kids get kicked out.

Oh, that and when they stay in the house we end up with Heidi on the back of the mat telling us how easy Yoga is as she does some crazy back bend and kick over.

Well, Heidi. I have news for you...

What works about this is that we hold each other accountable. Last week I did not want to do anything. But Jess showed up and made me do it. Other weeks it was her who wanted to back out but she knew I would walk over to her house and kick her butt if she stood me up. So we do it every week.

I asked Shawn to take some pictures of us. He thought I was silly for asking but really. He is going to have to get more used to me blogging regularly again and I am going to expect him to help me out with the pictures once in a while...

Here are the pictures we ended up with.

Hot Mama!

Look at that back extension!

It's not the Dolphins that suck, it's the elbow planks.

Butt's in the air!! (Shawn didn't want you to see this picture because it shows how messy our living room is)

We totally rocked this session - Almost done!

This is where I said - Let's nap instead.
Not really. I didn't say let's nap. Well, I did but not when that picture was taken. And Jess said no.

When Jess says no, the answer is no. Trust me on this.

We get thru this thirty minutes of yoga with a lot of cussing and swearing but also with some joking at Jillian's expense.

Such as when Jillian says "Shoot energy out of both ends of your body!"

Shawn's response? "No, you don't want to do that. That's what happens when you are really sick. You know, in the bathroom yelling, Hey! Bring me a bucket!"

And then we crack up laughing and we power through to the end. If you have never worked out with Jillian I suggest you give it a try. You will hate love her too.

Even on night like the one pictured here. The night it was 82 degrees in my living room because I had turned the air off the night before and Shawn refused to let me turn it back on. You have to wait until tomorrow morning now, he says. It's to hot now, he says.

Jerk, I say. To Shawn about the AC. To Jillian for once again kicking my ass.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Weekend In Review

Another weekend is in the books. I am always amazed by how quickly they fly by.  Probably because we pack so much into them.

I learned years ago that weekends do seem longer if we do something on Friday nights so we started to make Friday night Family Night and we make plans to do something fun.

This Friday we had big plans. Swimming at the outdoor pool, dinner, then a movie in the park.

But the rain had big plans too and they trumped anything I had in mind.

So we changed it up a bit and went out to dinner with Ryan, Jess, and the kids. Then back to our house to rent the movie we were planning to see in the park, Despicable Me.

Everyone piled into the living room and enjoyed the movie. If you have not seen Despicable Me yet, I highly suggest you do. The kids just loved it and so did the adults.

Saturday morning I met my parents at the community center for a quick morning swim. They have Adult Open swim for 50 minutes starting at 8 am.

I got there a few minutes before them so I snuck in a few laps. Turns out I can do 3.5 laps in an Olympic sized pool. Not great but okay. Then I spent the rest of the time following my dad with his water aerobic moves.

I wear glasses but not contacts so when I am swimming I can't see much more than the people in front of me. When my parents arrived they told me the local Cable News (Channel 12) was filming at the other end of the pool.

When we were done swimming I sat in the Sauna for 10 minutes and when I came out they had the light on the camera on. So, I might have been on the news in my cute red swim suit at 9 am on Saturday morning. That's kind of fun!

We met my parents at Fat Nats for a big breakfast and then we went home and spent the next few hours hanging out with the family, playing with the puppy, and cleaning up the house.

In the afternoon Jess and I took the kids to the outdoor pool in Crystal for a swim. Three hours later we were all exhausted so when the safety break was called we packed up our things and headed home.

Shawn grilled burgers for dinner and our friends Chris and Ashley came over for the evening.  We have so much fun hanging out with them and are beyond excited they will be back in Minnesota full time here in the next few weeks after spending about a year in New York for Ashley's job.

While the adults chatted Heidi put on an Art Show for us.

This is a duck and on the bottom is a horse. If Ashely is there, we have to have a horse!

Heidi took a class last week through a community education program. Someone there taught her how to draw an owl. This is my favorite board - Peter (Heidi's large orange tabby cat), Eddie (my jerk of an old man cat), Pig (our bulldog we lost this winter), Daisy (our bullmastif we lost this winter), a large owl (because I love owls), a baby owl, and Cupcake (the new bulldog puppy).

The board all the way on the right is a penguin, Kirby, and Hello Kitty. Who knew she could draw so well?

Sunday morning was a lazy morning. I woke up to discover (okay, not really, I knew on Saturday but didn't do anything about it) that I had left all of the coffee filters at the camper! After wandering around the kitchen, pouting in my chair, and venting on Facebook I finally ran to the store and picked up some filters. Thanks to all my friends who told me what to use in a pinch (paper towel, napkin) but I now have 300 filters so I think I am set!

Cupcake spent most of Sunday napping.
So did Peter.  This is his favorite chair. He is a strange cat.

These two girls sure do love each other!!

Sunday afternoon Heidi and I were in a parade with our Girl Scout Troop.

It was so good to see the girls. They all seem to be having a really fun summer!

Our service unit had built a float. I love the cookies on the wheels!

The girls did a really good job with all the waiting around for the parade to start. They were pretty good at entertaining themselves and the older Girl Scouts taught them a few new songs. I love having our girls around the older Girl Scouts. They are such good examples for our troop.

We walked the mile in the heat and the girls did a great job throwing out their candy even though they wanted to eat it all themselves...

My parents, Shawn, Ryan, Willy, and Cupcake were waiting for us at the end so when we were done we hung out with them until the parade was over. The girls were able to get a bit of candy and that made things much better.

It was hot but a lot of fun! I am proud of the girls for walking the entire thing and never complaining.

We ended the weekend with dinner at Broadway Pizza. The kids ordered a large 1/2 cheese, 1/2 bacon pizza and ate that thing like they were on a food challenge show. It was gone in minutes! Then they each had a huge sundae, again, gone in minutes. I guess walking in a parade makes 6 and 7 year olds hungry!!

This is a pretty typical weekend in our house. I would even call it a relaxing weekend!

Now, let see if we can make it to next weekend!  Happy Monday!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chasing Birdies...

It is Sunday which means I will spend the day clipping coupons, reading the paper, cleaning up the house, doing laundry, and hanging out with my super awesome family.

But I am also taking a giant step out of my comfort zone and working hard to get my blog out to readers outside of my inner circle. In turn I will be helping other bloggers meet my circle. It is all a very exciting win-win situation going on over here!
Today I am Guest Blogging over at Chasing Birdies. Stop by and check out her cute little site, I think you will end up liking Shelby as much as I do!

Chasing Birdies

Friday, July 13, 2012

Random (and Not So Random) Acts of Kindness

Happy Friday everyone! This week sure flew by. It started out with some wonderful news (which I will share with you on Monday) and the just kept sailing. And now here we are at Friday!

Yesterday I volunteered at Feed My Starving Children with a group from the office. We are given 16 hours a year to volunteer on company time so we used a few to pack food for starving people all over the world.

In the past we have packed the Manna Pack that is give to everyone so I was really excited when they told us we would be packing the Potato Pack W which is a pack of food for babies who are not getting breast milk any more but are to young for the Rice in the Manna Pack. W stand for Weaning.

They only pack this food for one day out of every 3 months so we were very lucky to be able to help these babies.

There were 7 of us from our office and 103 other people there. This is this difference we made!
Have you ever volunteered for an organization like this? If not, I highly suggest that you do. The feeling you get from helping in this way is amazing.

Volunteering at FMSC is an act of kindness but it is not at all random and random or anonymous acts are where it really at. 

Find Your Sparkle, a wonderfully delightful woman with an equally delightful blog has challenged her followers to commit a Random Acts of Kindness on the second Friday of each month. 

When I read this challenge, I knew right away that I wanted to participate, which is to complete an act of kindness for a complete stranger.

I wasn't sure what I would do so I checked out her link to KarmaCooler for ideas. I loved all 100 ideas and I am going to figure out how to do most of them but I didn't find many that applied to Complete Strangers. 

And I am entirely to introverted tell the person in line behind me at the coffee shop that I am buy their drink. Plus I like the anonymity of the act more than the word complete stranger.

So I am modifying every so slightly. I do hope Lucy understands!

I am delivering my act of kindness to the lot attendants where I park my car. For years they have been parking my car and now that I am a contract parker they are helping me when I have issues with the door (which happens more than I would like...). I consider them strangers because we do not say much more than "hey" or "what's up with that door?" to each other on any given day.

I snuck a container of bakery fresh cookies into their little room in the garage with a little note on them that says "Smile! You have just been tagged by an act of kindness. Pass it on!"

And they will never know it is me. That's the best part.

Now it is your turn! Complete an act if kindness for a (semi)-stranger! Make it anonymous but let them know it was an act of kindness by leaving a note of some kind.  When you are done you can comment below, I would love to hear your ideas. Or write your own blog post about it and link back here.

Have fun with it, I sure did!

Find your sparkle, bog site

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book Review: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

I was wondering one of my favorite places, Half Priced Books, on rainy afternoon browsing for nothing in particular at all when I came across a little paper back of The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.

I vaguely recalled this book as a movie I had never seen and it was only $2 so I added it to my stack.

It sat in my office for a few months until I finally picked it up.

I try very hard not to read the back cover of a book before I dive in so I really wasn’t sure what I was getting into. And to be honest I had thought that movie I had never saw was about a Spelling Bee.

I was wrong about the movie and extremely pleased with the book.

This is the story of Lily Owens. Teenaged white girl in 1964 South Carolina just as the Civil Rights Movement is underway and Blacks are given the right to vote.

Lily is being raised by her Peach Farm owning, angry, abusive father and a black woman, Rosaleen, who had been pulled out of the Peach Fields years ago after Lily’s mother was killed.

After a run in with a local group of white men Lily and Rosaleen found themselves in Jail.

Lily’s hatred of her father, fear for Rosaleen’s life, and her need to know how her mother really died drove Lily and Rosaleen to run away from home seeking freedom from both the police and her father.

This is a true coming of age story that spans a summer in a very hot and racially volatile part of the country. Stories of this era fascinate me with no end.

To think. My parents were pre-teens during this time.

Less than 50 years ago, this was our country. I look at how far we have come and I am given hope for the equal rights battle that is being fought right now.

I applaud Monk Kidd for sharing this story in a moving, emotional, well written way.

After finishing this book I learned that The Secret Life of Bees actually was made into a movie. A movie that is not about a Spelling Bee. The book has also spelt more than 100 week on the NY Best Seller List.

I am glad I picked up this book. It is one of my all-time favorites and though I do not typically read a book more than once, I think I will make an exception.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Traces of a Deep Feeling

It's Wednesday night. I am standing on the front steps watching TV through the front door, which is something we do a lot now that we have a puppy who gets bat shit crazy every night at 7:30 pm.

America's Got Talent is on and Nick Cannon is introducing a group known as the Hottest Show in New York right now.

I am stunned when he announces the cast from Traces. I watch of a second and realize this is, in fact, the Traces we saw when we were in New York this winter visiting friends.

I ran in the house, leaving the puppy behind, and perched on the couch to watch the show.

It was amazing. I gasped. I laughed. I clapped. I cheered.

I was back in Union Square Theater sitting next to Heidi watching this amazing show all over again.

As I sit here typing this I feel all the emotion of the show in my heart.

This trip took place just a few short days after we had to put our dog, Pig, to sleep.  We were so horribly sad and used the trip to put aside our feelings for a week.

The casts performance was so powerful and moving, it truly helped me deal with some of the emotions I was trying to avoid. I felt some of that again tonight while watching this short segment of the same show with the cast I had felt a deep connection to back in that theater.

Thank you Traces. For that night back in Union Square. And for tonight.

A Rite of Passage

Heidi has been asking for a BB gun for some time now.

For Christmas her friend Tessa got a Pink Daisy BB Gun and Heidi was super jealous.

But Tessa has a place to shoot the gun (that is not her back yard) and Heidi doesn't.

Or does she? Eventually it occurred to us that a Pink Daisy BB Gun would be perfect for The Swamp!

The next time Shawn was at Fleet Farm he picked on up and hid it in the garage.

And that's where it stayed for the next three months until our first trip of the summer to The Swamp where Shawn surprised her with it. She was so very happy and excited! It really made her weekend.

Try to tell me she does not look like a natural!

Shawn and his brothers have a shooting range on the property where they can safely shoot their guns (everyone is properly trained and licensed).

No worries, the kids are on the range in this shot but they are with two adults and the only gun out there is Heidi's BB gun. But this is the only shot of the range I could find that had mowed grass.

Shawn sat Heidi down and explained Gun Safety. He covered everything she would need to know to keep her self from shooting her eye out. Or her cousins eye for that matter.

 Then he repeated the process with Willy, our nephew.

After starting their lessons at the table, they moved on to using the 4-wheeler as a stabilizer.

Until they were finally good enough to shoot supporting the gun on their own.

Eventually she will be as good as her grandma!

Say hi to my in-laws! Thanks for sharing The Swamp with us!