Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections, a Pictorial Essay

2011 was a wonderful year.  As it draws to an end, unlike other years when I am craving that first chime of midnight to ring in new changes, I am actually a little sad to see 2011 go.

2011 was a fun year.

It was the first full year in our home.

Where we started with many empty rooms in our house, we got to add some things... this $6,000 desk that we got for a few bucks when the furniture store across from work closed.
(note: picture from google.  the safari and rocks look is so not my style.)

In 2011, we also bought our first computer in over 6 years.  You should see has the internet and everything!

Of course, 2011 was more than just buying things and turning our house into a home.

We reconnected with friends and met new people.

We enjoyed a visit from Roxy at our Virginia homestead, and had a blast hanging out in DC.  7 months later we reconnected again at our old stomping grounds at Lake George.  It was great to finally meet her husband.

We also met our little niece for the first time.  I had the privledge and honor of becoming her godmother.
There is nothing more beautiful on this earth than a baby in a Christening gown.

In April, we attended our first "Monte Carlo Night" in Culpeper.  It was surprisingly fun for a Vegas-meets-central-Virginia themed fundraiser.  We met a couple there who quickly became our closest "Culpeper" friends.  I am so grateful that we decided to go to that party that night.

(another google gem).

Also during the past year, Jim and I decided to take up a part-time weekend job together, selling buffalo and pork meat for a local farm at a market in DC.
We have thousands of stories after working there for less than a year.
One of the perks is, we get to meet several people who we recognzied from TV:

like Kal Penn from House.

Also met:
Nate Appleman

Mary Beth from Next Food Network Star 

And a personal hero...Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle.

Yet, of course I was only brave enough to capture a picture with...

(my first ever "fat" pic)

Some things that I learned in 2011:

It is so much easier to cut the grass with one of these bad boys.

 Just because I have a tripod doesn't mean I know how to use
the self-timer.

Sadie spends her free time contemplating the meaning of life by staring
out the back window.

 Strolling through greenhouses makes for very fun date.

 Springtime makes any house shine.

 "Cake pops" were a success.

 We can teach our dogs just about anything.

 ...Including how to properly groom and care for oneself.

 A clean kitchen makes for a happy marriage. (!!!)

My husband's cooking just gets better each year.

Our dogs are such kiss-ups.

Virginia signed up for that whole "earthquake" thing.

Some of the accomplishments this year...

Winning $10 at the horse races...woo hoo!

Sadie learned to dive.

The whole family made it up the Gazebo Mountain.

Building and planting a garden...

...that yielded fruit for 4 months and saved us mucho money
on groceries.
Our first EVER watermelon!  (trust me, been trying to grow these things
for years.)

A delicious fresh-off-the farm turkey for Thanksgiving.

Christmas decorations a success.

A few of my favorite photos from 2011:

My 29th, my niece's 1st.

A very grumpy niece who would sooo much prefer to be on
Uncle Jimmy's lap.

The view from my backyard at dawn.

The view from my backyard at dusk.

2011, you were a great year.  I will miss you and will always remember you fondly.
Please pass your secrets on to 2012!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

One of the Best Nights of the Year

This morning my husband started the day out by asking me, "What are you excited for today?"

Normally, my answer would have been simple:

"Hump day!" or "My ham sandwich!" or "Election signs being removed!"

But no. Today my answer was much more anticipated.

"The CMA's!!!!"

I could write an entire multi-volume series on the history of my obsession of country music: Of how I passed (barely) college english classes with my persuasive essays about how "No Shoes No Shirt No Problem" should have won an award over "Man of Constant Sorrow". About how I had to take up parttime jobs just to pay my parents' phone bill the night after any CMA or ACM awards show in the early 2000's. Or of how I'd go to almost any extreme to put myself at a country concert.

But alas, the awards show is starting in 5 minutes.

So instead, I'll leave you with this. The wall of my bedroom in the house that I rented in college:

No time to edit this now,my apologies to my 7 followers.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Story of George, the Bestest Buddy Ever!

This is the story of George, also known as the best dog ever.

As most people who ever knew me pre-age 22, I was not a dog lover. In fact, I was scared to death of dogs. Then I met my husband-to-be, an absolute dog lover, and I had to change my mind.

I bought Jim a puppy for his graduation present. He was in heaven.

Unfortunately, Molly died at 9 months old. :(

rest in peace, Molly.

I took Molly's death so hard that I vowed that I would never own another dog.

Two months after Molly's death, Jim suggested that we go *just take a look* at puppies at a local adoption event. I said fine, but only to look at how none will ever live up to how awesome Molly was.

About three and a half minutes into the event, I was hooked. I wanted another puppy. Jim's plan had worked! We met and fell in love with a litter of 10 puppies and their mom, "First Lady". She was found abandoned in another state, pregnant, and in need of love. Her puppies were named after presidents and first ladies. There were three that I absolutely loved:


and George.

We quickly filled out the paperwork and decided that Franklin was our dog. A few days later, we had learned that he was taken. It was a phone call from Jim's sister..."you have to pick George"...that was the deciding factor. We brought George home two weeks later, and kept his name.

It was love at first sight.

Look at those eyes.

Jim headed back to grad school, and I brought puppy George home, completely by myself in my endevor. I knew nothing about raising a puppy. I was in for an adventure, one that would lead to a lifetime of closeness and bonding.

 George had *one* accident inside, ever.

Matching floors in George's honor.

 A pasttime he has loved since the beginning.

Even the smallest size collar does not fit baby G!!!

Anxious to get out of his little yard when I got home from work one evening.

Our first walk together. Although he hated being out of the house at the time, today this is his favorite activity.

I knew from the look of George's mom combined with his gigantic paws, that he was going to be a big boy. Before he got too large, I signed him up for puppy class. This was a lifesaver and has definitely paid off.

My little over-achiever.

Smart like his daddy.

As George started to grow, we became more and more attached at the hip.

Probably staring at a bug.

We <3 bridges.

George has been by my side through everything. I became very sick and bedridden twice since I've had him, and each time, he would not leave my bedside. Food even had to be brought to him, and usually, he'd refuse it.

Then came the time that George himself got sick. George needed surgery at 4 years old to remove a melanoma that had grown on his skin. The poor buddy was in so much pain and was having delusions after the surgery. He needed drugs to be painfree during the healing, but it would make him so loopy. The vet insisted on keeping him overnight for observations after the surgery, however, as I had predicted, when he woke up from his anesthesia, he would not stop crying. The vet called me only hours after the surgery. "He will do much better at home and with you, he is much too stressed here to recover properly." That's George for you: too concerned for Jim and me to leave us alone one night.

Hiking in the Shenandoah, and look, a bridge!

Never more than a few steps behind me.
(Does the shirt look familiar?)

Enjoying a spring afternoon.

In May, 2010. we decided to expand our fur-family and give George a friend. We gave him a sister named Sadie.

It was love at first sight, part II.

She fit into our family perfectly...

We thought for sure that George would just love and accept Sadie with open paws, like any other sibling would do....

"....AND STAY OUT!!!!"

...but George had something else in mind. He was not thrilled about sharing his home and parents with another puppy. But his heart is infact bigger than his stubborness, and he soon welcomed baby Sadie:


Here is a list of 10 little-known facts about George:

1. He loves sitting for hours and hours, taking in mother nature, and never moving other than to sniff the fresh air.

2. He is the fastest runner that I know.

3. He has a house with his name on it.

4. He allows me to practice my photography, by doing impromtu "picture days", complete with awkward senior photo poses.

5. George LOVES hikes. and walks. and nature.

6. He smiles his biggest while in the Adirondacks.

7. Only while on vacation, George sleeps/lounges on picnic tables.

8. George makes friends faster than anyone that I know. He's also not embarassed by any form of P.D.A.


9. He once defied all odds and jumped up onto his hind legs to catch a snowball in his mouth, thrown by one of several BFF's, Sean.

10. He has a star-burst in each eye.

In addition to that list, I'd like to share with you just how much George puts up with.

Here is a list of the top 5 forms of abuse George puts up with from my brother Robert (pre-Army, I'm sure the list will be updated post-Army):

1. Self-explanatory.

2. Also self-explanatory.

3. George chasing a laser beam, controlled by Robert up the wall.

4. Self-explanatory.

5. Robert titled this one on the facebook album: "Why Uncle Bob?" Enough said.

6. least after a hard day of abuse, George is rewarded with a warm bed, pillow, and monogrammed blanket.

To be completely fair, I have to include the following photos. George does put up with a lot from me, as well:

Easier than brushing?

That laser pointer provided hours of entertainment, as George pulled me around the house, horse and carriage style.

George has so much character. He's constantly doing new things to make us laugh. Just last week, he started a new habit of winking at us every chance he gets:

take one.

and two.

three. (always the left eye.)

While George has only been in my life for 4 1/2 years so far, he has certainly changed more than I ever could have imagined. He greets me with a smile each day when I arrive home. He insists on snuggling up to me at night, which sometimes includes sleeping partially mostly on top of me. He's extremely protective of me, of my emotions, and of our family.

Sadie has joined him on his extra-long list of best friends. If George had things his way, the world would be made of peanut butter, squirrels would run a *tiny* bit slower, and Robert, Julia, Morgan, Sean, etcccc... would all live next door to us.

I love you little buddy! Thank you for being my best friend!