Friday, September 26, 2008

Bite Me -- or Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow

I admit to a weakness for vampire and, more recently, werewolf fiction. I especially love the Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris (first book: Dead Until Dark) and the Betsy books by Mary Janice Davidson (first book: Undead and Unwed).

A new title caught my eye at the library last week. Sharp Teeth, by Toby Barlow. I loved the cover, red with a black snarling dog silhouette. Nick Hornby had a quote on the back -- love his books, so was likely to like this one. Until I started reading it, I didn't realize it was written in Free Verse. Yikes! this took me back to High School and all those ancient Greek stories and plays. I was stuck on the plane with no other book in sight, so I dove in. It was amazing.

The free verse gave it a cadence that matched the momentum of the story. It's lyrical and the form allows Barlow to use his words to almost paint pictures. I often 'see' a book when I'm reading it. This one felt like a full blown movie -- with a sound track. It's essentially well written suspense/crime novel that focuses on men (and a few women) who can change into werewolves at will. When in wolf form they can pass as dogs. They recruit other people who are "strong and lost" to join their packs. For fun, they blow off steam out in the desert in wolf form, munching on steak they bring in coolers.

Anthony is a down on his luck LA native who ends up with a job as a dog catcher. He falls in love with a female werewolf who's left her pack and determined to keep the other wolves from outing her. The packs in LA range from one run by a lawyer to one run by thugs and a third by surfers. The dogs and men play cards, break up meth labs, run scams and take over the dog pound. One is adopted in dog form and uses his new home as a safe-house to hide from the other dogs. A dedicated cop gets drawn in and has a hard time believing what he's seeing, even after it's clear what these people actually are. No matter how I try to describe it, I can't do this justice.

There is a great New York Times Book Review by Sam Anderson here: Let me know if you read the book and what you think!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Rain rain go away

We had 11 inches of rain in the Kalamazoo area over the weekend. Remnants of two hurricanes came north and dumped on us.
The Kalamazoo River is at it's highest flood stage in 20 years and parts of downtown Kalamazoo are blocked off due to water over the road.
The above picture is looking out my employers front lobby at where there are normally cars parked in the parking lot. We are about 1/2 mile away from the river but still at flooding water level. My office is at the northern end of this complex and away from all of this mess so luckily I'm high and dry.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bea Joins the Family

Henry has a new friend, and regardless of what he may think, she's joined the family. We officially adopted Bea (short for Beatrice) today from the SPCA. Henry came from the SPCA with the name Prince Henry, so we thought it was only fitting to add Princess Beatrice to the family. (Of course, we don't use the Prince or Princess.) Bea's name at the foster was Beanie . . . and since she's not a football player for Ohio State, and we don't want to be taken for OSU fans, Bea she is. She is also a Pit-mix and between 6-7 months old. We've had her for the last 2 weeks on a trial basis and she's been a fun addition, adding all kinds of shenanigans to the mix. Right now, we're working on breaking her of litter-box snacking (ugh!) and of cat wrangling. She hasn't actually really seen a cat, but she's poked her nose under all the beds trying to see what they are. They protest violently, and sooner or later she'll get a swipe on the nose. That may not stop her, though!

In other news, glamping was great fun (see previous post) and both more and less rustic than I thought it might be. We were in a lovely spot north of Santa Barbara, CA in a canyon between some very rugged hills full of chaparral and poison oak. I managed to see both a bobcat (racing away from us as fast as it could go) and the fattest skunk I've ever seen. We were also bedeviled by very tame raccoons who wanted our s'mores fixings. We also got a lot of work done and finished 30+ new product concepts that will go for testing in a few weeks. Sometime after the beginning of next year our team will get to see some of the ideas we'll be working on for 2010 and 2011. We do work that far in advance! What I didn't have, however, was reliable Internet access. Very frustrating, because now I have to spend time this weekend catching up on my email and other work stuff.

Next week I'm off to CA again. Lucky me! (Can't quite figure out how to convey sarcasm in a blog post. . . anyone have an idea to share?) It's a bit late in the game, but suddenly we need to find a different co-manufacturer for the new product that I'm working on for 2009. I'll be gone the majority of the week, so Tim has full dog duty again, bless that man!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Labor Day and other goins' on

Check out Mom, me and Katie kayaking during Labor Day weekend. Mom had never been kayaking before and did great . . . I'm sure we can convince her to go with us again. Katie's been out on a kayak a couple of times and looked like a pro. We saw some awesome turtles, including a pretty big snapper and some blue herons, but not much else on this trip.
Both Katie and Mom visited over the holiday weekend and we had such fun. Katie came out first and we went camping at Yankee Springs State Park on Thursday. We took Jake (her dog) to see if he was up for camping. It was busy at the park and there were lots of people and other dogs, but Jake did great. He didn't like the rain at 4 am on Friday, but settled down after a while. Yankee Springs is on a Gun Lake, a beautiful and pretty big lake so we wandered along the shore line with Jake and hiked in the wood for a couple of hours. We all had fun and it started the weekend off right.
Mom joined us Friday evening and the famous kayak trip on the Kalamazoo river was Saturday. We made sure to get some good ice cream at the end of the trip too! Mom went to church with us on Sunday and Katie got on the road for home later that afternoon. She hung out for a while because we were waiting for a special delivery. Yes, we are trying a second dog again. She's a cute 6 month old pit-mix and we're pretty sure this one is going to fit our family. We are having fun so far and can deal with any of the challenges she brings. It's always an adjustment when someone new joins the family, so we expected to have to make some changes. I'll let you know more when we decide to officially welcome her.
Now I'm off on another fairly heavy travel schedule over the next few months. Of course, some of the travel will be fun, like Joshy's wedding (only 5 more weekends!). I'm off to Santa Barbara, CA all next week for work. My flight tomorrow is at 6:50 am -- way too early and I get back Friday evening. We're staying at a cool resort -- where they specialize in Glamour Camping, or Glamping as my co-workers are calling it. We'll do creative ideation for new ideas for Kashi for 2011 and beyond. If you have any good ideas, be sure to let me know!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Vacation! Vacation!

Our vacation week started with 2 days of VBS. We do an evening VBS for families, with classes for everyone from babies to adults. The evening starts with a dinner and fellowship before moving to the opening ceremony and classes. Tim and I made the dinner for the first 2 nights and then another woman and her daughter made them for the last 2 nights. Everyone loves it when Tim cooks and he did a great job this year. It's a tough job to estimate the food and cook for 100+ people, while keeping costs down. We fed everyone for about $2.00 per person, per meal -- and there was food left over that went to Ministry with Community (local group that cooks for the homeless).

Right after we were done we went home and started getting ready for our camping/kayaking/mountain biking trip. We were only gone for 4 days, but it was fabulous to get away. We kayaked the Au Sable river on the east side of the state. It took us 6 hours to get there (MI is a BIG state). We camped at an awesome rustic campground the first night -- we were the only people there. The stars were amazing and it was so relaxing to sit around the fire pit with no other lights.

Our kayak trip was about 5 hours long on the river and we paddled approximately 15-17 miles. A portion of the trip went through national forest land and it was completely undeveloped. We saw a mink (looks kinda like a ferret -- only wild), 2 bald eagles (one that was immature and didn't have it's white head yet) and lots of blue herons and fish galore. We wished we'd worn our bathing suits because the water was clear and the bottom rocky. It would have been great for swimming. After that we camped at a State Forest campground that had nice hot showers and clean bathrooms. It was great to get clean, but I like the atmosphere at the rustic sites better.

The next day we mountain biked trails that were challenging work out for Tim and a challenge for my bike handling skills. I still can't quite get the hang of running into sand -- I tend to lose control and have to stop. I had a great time and felt amazing at the end of the 10 mile bike ride. I may have found an activity that gives me the runner's high I so dearly miss without messing up my knee. We ended that day by finding another rustic site on the map that was on the way home. This one was on a dammed up portion of the Muskegon River. Tim fished while I got the fire going and we had another beautiful night under the stars.

Sigh . . . . . . . . . it was lovely and so much fun, but way too short!

Finally, a few updates from Sarah & Tim!

Apparently we've been having so much fun, I didn't have time to post our adventures. So what have we been doing?

Well, I've been traveling for work. In August I traveled for two solid weeks back to back -- with a stop at home in between. First I went to Ohio and did a test at a bakery. Wow, it is hot next to those ovens! Then I went to NJ and did a test at a 3rd party blender. They will make a raw material for my new cereal for us. Then I went to Lancaster, PA where Kellogg has a cereal plant and worked on a new Organic shredded wheat project for Kashi. If you live near me or come to visit, I'll try to have a box for you to try -- but the rest of you might have to wait a bit before I can let you in on the secret! The sales samples (samples of the food the sales force takes out to it's customers to pitch the new product) are typically made 4 months before the launch. This new cereal will be shipped to stores in January 2009. It's surprising to most people that new products are complete so far in advance of getting them to the consumer.

This new cereal has been the craziest project I've ever been on. The biz decided in June they needed the new product and we've developed it and gotten it to launchable state in about 10 weeks. This is amazing because we should have started this project in January -- 6 months earlier! I had such great support from other team members and from our suppliers, but it was (and continues to be) crazy. More stuff to do, of course, but we managed to get it done and to meet (most) of the cost hurdles.

The only real fly in the ointment was that coming back from the NJ trip, I had some really scary side affects from the D&C. I was so sick by the time I got back to the Detroit airport, I couldn't drive myself home. I ended up getting a car service to drive me the 2 hours back to Portage. Thank goodness this was a work trip -- the ride cost $370!

Tim finished his second summer session class in mid August. Yeah! The summer sessions were hard, as anyone who's taken them knows. They are intense and condensed with very little down time. These past 2 weeks with no classes have been wonderful because he has time for some fun stuff and projects around the house. School starts again right after Labor Day, so the break didn't last long.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Henry is microchiped X2

Henry has been with us almost a year! I took him to our awesome vets last week for his shots and check-up. While there, we had him microchipped. Only problem, he was already chipped! When they scanned to check the chip placement, they found a second chip. The new one is on the right side and the old one is on the left, or vice versa. None of the adoption info talked about a chip, nor was there any transfer info for us to use to change his chip registration. All we can figure is that the first adopter chipped him and didn't tell the SPCA when she returned him. Why they didn't check, I'll never know. They have to have a chip reader for their dogs . . . All their dogs are now chipped when adopted, but that is new for this year. The vet's office will make sure that both numbers are registered under our name for Henry -- if he's ever lost they will only scan until they hit the first number and we need both of them to link to us. The vet said she'd never encountered this and was a bit embarrassed that they didn't think to scan him before chipping. I'm sure they'll do that for all the dogs they do now, no matter what!

We've been talking with the SPCA about another dog and have even visited to talk to foster parents of other dogs. Some time later in August we'll foster another for a week to see if she gets along better with Henry and doesn't cause such a mess in the house. This one is crate trained, very low key and seems to be very nice.

I'm excited about getting a second dog, but glad we're giving ourselves time to recover from the last fiasco!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Broke Scooter

Well I was getting ready to post I now have 1600 miles on the scooter now and have save 1/3 of the cost of the scooter in gas so by the time the snow blows I'll have two thirds of the thing paid off.

That was before I was coasting to a stop the other day and some unhealthy clattering/clunking was going on down by the engine. The engine died and wouldn't start. Luckily I was right at the corner near my office so I had to run it accross the street and then walk it to my office.

Also lucky there's a back room where I can work on it.

I've contacted the place I purchased it from and they said it's still under warranty but labor isn't included in the warranty. I was on my own to get work done to it. Now if it was a Honda or other namebrand scooter, no problem. But since it's a Chinese import, local mechanics are hard to come by. I've posted to some discussion boards ( and figured out how to tear the rear drive and motor assembly off the scooter so now I just have to find a local mechanic that knows how to tear apart an engine. General guesses are broken piston and/or rings so that's beyond my comfort level of tear apart and putting back together.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

IVF/Pregnancy Update

To recap: the fetus had stopped growing at the 8 week mark and we were waiting for me to naturally miscarry. That didn't seem like it was going to happen, so my doctor decided I needed a D&C. I'm lucky that they do this procedure in their Grand Rapids office, so it was much less trauma than if I had to be admitted to the hospital.

I had the D&C on Friday and it all went well. I had the same kind of anesthesia as I did for the egg retrieval, so my recovery wasn't too bad. No nausea or anything like that. I also had to have a Rogam shot as Tim is RH + and I'm RH -. I don't remember much about the procedure (thank God!) but we had requested an ultrasound before hand, just to be certain that the fetus hadn't changed any.

So, we have a couple of weeks for recovery and then we'll talk with Dr. Young to understand the procedure for a frozen embryo transfer. We have 10 lovely frozen embryos to take us through the next steps. I'm actually looking forward to spending the rest of the summer having some fun and enjoying focusing on things not related to getting pregnant or staying pregnant. Time for Tim and me to relax, reconnect and have an adventure or two. It'll be fall before we know it!

One Dog Family -- for now

Sadly, Jack (AKA Trapper) went back to live with his foster family. His destructiveness just got to be too much for us. He was definitely unhappy here, and showed it by acting out. In his foster family, there are 11 dogs and he is much happier, not showing any of the behaviors that he did here. If you watch the Dog Whisper, you know the power of the pack! I think, also, that some people have a much higher tolerance for doggy misbehavior and may even encourage some things. When the foster family came to pick him up, he at first barked at them and was very suspicious. When he finally recognized them he ran and jumped up on his foster mom and peed on the floor in excitement. She didn't seem to notice and encouraged him to jump up on her. (These were all things we had tried to curb, although not the worst of his misbehavior).

We've talked to the SPCA folks and they are fine with the situation . . . they want us to have the right dog for the family. They'll help us pick out a dog that might fit our situation better, and we'll take them home for a trial run. Basically we'll foster for a week or two and if the dog fits in, then we'll adopt. We still think it will be better in the long run with 2 dogs and hopefully easier on the dogs when we have kids.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Were we crazy?

This week with the new dog -- now officially named Jack -- has been rough. Tim's nickname for him "Lil' Shitter" says it all. I had to go to Target and spend $180 on a carpet cleaner and pet mess cleaning solution to get the lower level cleaned up. Since then, however, things have started to improve. No more accidents and he's starting to feel more comfortable.

Our timing was terrible . . . why we thought it would be a good idea to adopt a new dog when Tim would be gone Tue. - Sat. for a work is is not very clear. I guess we wanted the adventure and weren't willing to wait 2 more weeks until Tim would be here on a Saturday again. We were definitely on a high and very excited about getting a second dog.

Jack is definitely a sweet dog, a bit shy, but full of energy and a good playmate for Henry. I had forgotten, though, how much we worked with Henry in the beginning. H is so mellow and friendly now that even though he is a big dog and can look intimidating people love him. All the training and bonding and the CGC work was really worth it. We'll do the same with Jack and I'm sure that a few months from now, we'll have a harmonious household again! (After we buy more speaker wire to replace the chewed bits and Jack proof the house so there is nothing he can get a hold of and chew to pieces.) I'm looking forward to when he feels like he's at home and will chew on toys and bones, not stuff he can get and destroy.

The dogs play off of each other, of course, and are more barky and rambunctious than H is alone. I think that will lessen as Jack is here longer and Henry is less protective of his space and the newcomer. There is a new puppy at our side neighbor (we share a fence) and 2 dogs behind us, so there is a lot going on when they are out in the yard. Rick next door warned us that with 2 dogs, it will feel like the poop in the yard multiplies by 10X and he is so right! We'll have to be vigilant so that the yard isn't a minefield.

I'm finding myself amused by how different the two dogs are in personality and temperament. I (silly me) didn't expect them to be so different. Jack will be fun as he is very light on his feet and can jump like a rabbit. I think he'll be very good at agility type work. I'm thinking of buying a hula hoop, because I bet we can train him to leap through it. He is gentle and follows me around the house. Where H is a leaner, and shows his loooove by leaning on you, I think Jack could be a snuggler, but right now he's too shy.

Nephew Jeremy is here for the next week or so because he has Air Nat'l Guard duty, so he's been a big help in getting Jack on a schedule and acclimated. H loves him and gets very excited when he's here. Jack is warming up to him and Jer is gentle with him. I couldn't have done this without him!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

New Doggy!

News: Some good, some sad

I'll start with the sad news. The visit to the doctor didn't go very well. The embryo is not growing the way it should, so we've stopped the injections and medications. Dr. Young thinks that I should naturally miscarry in the next two weeks. Tim and I are sad and disappointed, and have the attitude that if the pregnancy isn't healthy, then maybe it is for the best. It will be several months before this is resolved and we can try again with our frozen embryos. I'm worried about what the next few weeks will bring -- if I don't miscarry, we'll have to do a D&C -- a much more invasive procedure. Thank you to everyone who's been praying for us, we'll continue to need your prayers as we go through the next several months.

Now, the good news. We have a new family member! For about 6 weeks, we've been discussing getting a second dog. The idea is to get one that Henry likes and that will play with him and become a companion. Henry is so bonded to us that he doesn't know how to play by himself. When we do have a baby, we'll have less time for the dog(s). It'll be good for them to have each other. Plus we need time to do training with a new dog and get him acclimated to the family.

We haven't decided on his name yet -- Tim is leaning toward Lance (short for Lancelot) and I'd like Jack. (I have the idea that Tim will get to prevail on this one. . . but we'll wait and see.) We adopted him from the SPCA (the same place we got Henry). He's a mix again -- about 50 lbs, black and white with a curly tail. Smaller than H, but they were playing together very well in the back yard today. So far, the cats have all gone to ground. I think they are mad at us. Oh well, they'll have to get used to the new doggy.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?

Henry was helping Tim mow the grass and ended up with green feet. He must be a Michigan State fan.

Fourth of July Family Fun!

The extended Kirk and Quick families spent the 4th of July holiday at the beach in Saugatuck, MI. We had a blast! We biked -- here we are on the beach waiting for the sun set. We took the chain ferry across the river (hand cranked boat that uses a chain stretched across the river to move from one side to the other) and biked up and over the hilly road to the beach. Beach sunsets are so relaxing. We walked, everywhere, through the town and around. We kayaked on the Kalamazoo river and across lakes that are connected to the channel that goes out to Lake Michigan. We didn't brave the whole channel to go to the lake -- thank goodness -- later we took a paddle wheel boat ride and realized it was a long way out to the lake.
Saugatuck has been called the Key West of Michigan. It's a really hip and cool town that is filled with art galleries, gorgeous B&Bs, it has easy access to the beach and so many amazing boats. There is a yacht club there, so the best time is to walk the board walk from one end of River Street to another just to look at all the cool boats. Tim was just drooling, and dreaming of what we could have one day.
We stayed at a motel right on River Street that is also a Boatel. The boats pull up on the river side of the motel and dock for the night. For their fee they get a mooring, access to facilities and contential breakfast. The boaters and families sure looked like they were having fun. We enjoyed the gardens and tables and chairs that were river side. Much time was spent just watching boats go by. The town was very crowded on the 4th (everyone coming in for great fireworks) and the 5th (for a artisian craft fair), so it was nice to have a quiet spot to hang out.
While there we celebrated Teri's (Tim's sister) and Steffanie's (niece) birthdays. No cake, but presents and plenty of ice cream for all. Teri and her husband Mike also celebrated their 23rd anniversary on the 6th.
We came back very relaxed and refreshed. Exactly what you want from a few vacation days. Now Tim has a big week studying for the business/technology teacher certification exam and staying on top of his summer session 2 class.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

No fetal pole, yet

At my doctor's office on Thursday, I had my first post positive beta ultrasound. Tim wasn't able to be with me because of his trip. He'll be there next time, though! We saw the implanted embryo. Dr. Young thought he should be able to see the fetal pole (central nervous system -- I think) but wasn't able to find it. We also saw the other embryo, it had implanted, but not grown very much. That one will most likely just be reabsorbed back into the uterine lining. Dr. Young was pretty calm about no fetal pole, just said that all pregnancies were different, and we'd be able to know for sure in 2 weeks. In 2 weeks, if we see the fetal pole and the embryo has grown the way it should, then we're back on track. If it hasn't, then the pregnancy won't be viable.

Of course, I'm worried. But -- our take on this is we don't really have any control over whether it will turn out to be viable or not. It helped that I talked to a friend who had twins via IVF and at her first ultrasound, one fetal pole was visible and the other was not. The second one showed up 2 weeks later and now he's a rambunctious 4 year old. Plus, if the fetus isn't developing like it should, it's better to know now.

So please just keep thinking about us and praying for us. I'll let you know the outcome of ultrasound #2 in 2 weeks!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Where in the world are Tim and Sarah?

Really, the title should be, Where in the United States are Tim and Sarah? Sorry for not posting in so long, but we've both been gone, and not at the same time.

I traveled for work earlier this week and managed to be in 3 states in 3 days. We went to Ohio and North Carolina and back to Michigan to look at potential places to manufacture a new product I'm working on. I hadn't traveled in a while, so it wore me out. Not to mention that I had to do my own shot each day. The travel times didn't always fit well with the shot times. One night I even gave it in the bathroom of a nice restaurant. I only got a few stares from other patrons! I got back late Wednesday night, just in time to high-five Tim as he was on his way out the door early Thursday morning.

I had a note from the doctor's office to carry the needles and syringes on in my carry on. I thought it might be difficult to get 1.5 in long needles through security, but they never even called it out for checking. I checked the TSA website and it doesn't mention needles on their lists. The airline had said to make sure the Rx info was on the medicine and needles and that they were sure I'd have to explain it. I don't know whether to think the screeners missed them, or if they are considered OK.

Tim is now gone -- off to Fort Meyers, FL for a trade show. He won't be back until Saturday night. (So I'm continuing to give my own shot -- sound a bit obsessed here, don't I?). The nice thing is that he'll be able to catch up with his Stepdad, Stan and Stan's wife Karen. They are great folks who live on a river East of Fort Meyers, on the way to Lake Okeechobee.

So Henry and I will have a nice weekend to ourselves. Let's see what kind of trouble we can get into without Tim around!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I can do this . . .

I did it! I gave myself the PIO shot tonight. 1.5 in needle right into the outer, upper quadrant of the buttocks. I tried last night with Tim standing by and totally freaked out. He had to do it in the end because I was almost hyperventilating. Of course, when we are in the same place, I will have him do it. Now, though, I have the confidence that I can do this and traveling won't be quite so worrisome. This means that the shots won't start to rule my life. Whew! big sigh of relief. I now feel the need to take a nap.

Friday, June 13, 2008


We are (barely 2 weeks) pregnant! My Beta HCG tests on Wednesday and today showed the right and increasing levels of the hormone. The nurses did not say, but my research seems to point out that the level and the fact it doubled for the second test (as it was supposed to) points to one baby.

I'm to continue the shots and estrace until my OB appointment with Dr. Young on 6/26. If all is as it should be, sometime after that they will release me to my regular OB/GYN. I hear tell that the shots could continue for a while -- 6-8 weeks total is not uncommon. The injected progesterone, however, is a good thing for supporting the pregnancy. The issue I face, and will have to figure out as soon as tomorrow, is how to give the shot to myself. All the sub-cue shots were fine. In fact, they became no big deal. This is a 1.5 in needle that has to go in at a 90 degree angle. I tried tonight, but just couldn't watch it going in. I close my eyes when I swing a bat -- how can I actually look at a needle going into my flesh?

Tim is gone tomorrow and won't be back in time for the shot. I could get someone else to help me, but in another week I will travel for work 3 days. As soon as I come back, Tim leaves and is gone for 4 days. I'll have to do the shot for 7 days straight . . . No one said being a mom was going to be easy!

An IVF pregnancy, outside of the progesterone shots, is not any different than an early pregnancy gained in the more conventional way. So, we are announcing it on the blog, but not making any big announcement until we get through the first trimester danger zone.

The other issue right now is that I actually look 4 months pregnant. I've got abdominal fluid build up due to hyper stimulated ovaries. It's totally unfair that I've lost my waist already! We're monitoring it -- it should slowly subside on it's own. Which I really do hope is the case. If it doesn't, they have to aspirate the fluid build up out of the abdomen.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, we've made it this far, and have much more road to travel.

We Doo-Dahed all day long

Last weekend we went to the Doo-Dah parade! I love a parade (don't you?) and this one is especially fun. No reason for it, other than to be silly and do a bit of parody. Basically, community groups sign up and have a silly theme. Like the Kalamazoo Pug Meet Up group -- their pugs were members of Pug Scout Troop 101. Their motto "Pugs, not drugs." All the pugs had cub scout like bandannas on as they walked in the parade. There must have been 30 pugs -- what a sight! Every animal rescue group in Kazoo was in the parade too. Turns out there are at least 4. So sad that there are so many unwanted cats and dogs. The picture is of the "Tribal Revival Samba Band" as they marched past. No idea who they were, but everyone was dancing as they went by.

Later we hit the juried art fair and some other artisans and got good birthday and Christmas gifts. Tim did great through the parade and the first part of the art fair. But, I really think art fairs rank up there with torture for him! Poor guy. He had a shorter shelf-life than the 4 year olds we were with. Or maybe it was because of the 4 year olds?

Tuesday, Henry had a great adventure. At least he thought so. Tim was mowing the yard and I was in the house resting after my shot when the phone rang. I let it go to the answering machine and checked it about 10 minutes later. It was a friend saying he thought Henry was over at his house -- trying to visit with his dog, Pilot. Henry had just been over to Pilot's house the night before and they played together for almost 2 hours. He jumped the fence in our back yard, avoided Tim in the front and then found his way to Pilot's house -- this is at least a 10 minute walk from our house. He must know the way as we walk a loop that takes us past there a couple times a week, but what a shocker! It was a good thing they were home and Pilot was in the yard, or where would he have gone next?

Still waiting on test results today. Will post when I have an answer!

Friday, June 6, 2008


BIG band of Spring/Summer T-storms drove in from Lake Michigan this afternoon. Look at the size of the hail we got! 3, count'em, 3 Tornado Warnings. No confirmed touch downs, though.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Here are the twins...embryos anyway.
50% chance one of them grows into a bambino, 25% chance they both do.
I tried to offer the Doc some Elmers Glue while he was putting the "kids" back in Sarah but he didn't go for it. Now we'll just have to rely on them liking where they are and wanting to stick around and grow. (Sarah won't drink any glue either, even mixed with milk.) Actually, I'm giving Sarah a progesterone shot every night in the keister so that's supposed to help the embryos stick around.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Embryo Transfer

We transferred 2 excellent embryos and have a picture of them, in all their 4 cell glory! We went with 2 on the advice of the doctor. Since my problem is not ovulating, the thought is more than two embryos really ups the chances of multiples. Of course, it would also up the chances of getting pregnant, but not by much. If none implant, I'll wish we had put back more, but that's something to think about a few weeks from now. Two days of bed rest and limited activity and then back to normal. Or as normal with the addition of every other minute thinking "am I pregnant, or not?"

I thought I'd be going stir crazy toward the end of my two days of no activity. The first day of bed rest on Saturday was no problem, I just kept sleeping. Somehow when I lie down, my body thinks it's supposed to sleep. Probably good anyway. I'm still sleepy today and have slept in between reading Barbara Kingsolver's newest book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I've read all her books, except this one and it's been waiting on my shelf for some down time. The book is about the year her family spent growing most of their own food and eating locally. Very cool, and something that we've talked about in vague terms. I'm feeling very unworthy, though, as Tim goes to the grocery to get a roasted chicken for dinner, but I'm sure that will pass!

I'm also reading another book -- this one for a book study/small group at church. It's Irresistible Revolution- living as an ordinary radical, by Shane Claiborne. Very difficult to summarize as I'm only in the middle of chapter 5. I'll write more about it as we go and about the group of people that are reading and talking about it together.

On one final note, the radishes are up in the garden! Haven't seen it since Wednesday, so hope all is OK. I'll be able to water it tomorrow.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Egg Retrieval

I'm still feeling a bit loopy (apparently pain meds/anesthesia and I don't get along) but the egg retrieval was a success! The Doctor collected 16 eggs, 2 were immature, one had a broken shell (yes, that's exactly how the nurse described it) so we had 13 to start. 12 were successfully fertilized through ICSI (inter cytoplasmic sperm injection) and we now have 12 embryos growing.

I was very much out of it for the procedure, so I didn't get to watch on the ultrasound. Bummer. Tim says it looked like the needle piercing a dark, fluid filled area that then shrunk as the fluid was aspirated into the test tube. I had anesthesia of a sort by an IV connected to a filled syringe. I also took a Valium that morning (looovely stuff, makes me very relaxed and sleepy). Once I'd confirmed my stats to the Embryologist, they gave me the real stuff. The procedure did hurt, so I remember the doctor telling me to breathe a couple of times. Tim says he asked me if this hurt more or the tattoo, and when I replied, "definitely this!" the nurse ran over to give me more meds. I vaguely remember being transferred to a hospital bed and the next thing I knew, Tim and I were in the recovery room. Apparently he'd done his part just fine and we'd been there for about 45 minutes. They wheeled me out to the car and we went home.

No idea what time we got home, I passed out in bed wearing my clothes and slept until about 4:45. I had some difficulty trying to decipher the instructions for medications I was supposed to take so called the on-call number for the doctor. I'm pretty sure I gave them the wrong phone number to call back, mixing up my two cell numbers. Anyway, finally figured it out. Tim gave me the Progesterone in Oil shot in the butt and I went to bed (this time in my PJs). Except for taking Tylenol a few times last night, I didn't get up until 7:30 this morning. I've also slept on and off most of today.

The Embryo transfer will be tomorrow at 8:30 am. After that I need to spend the whole day lying down. I'm allowed to get up to go to the bathroom, but nothing else. Sunday I'm allowed up, but no lifting, and really nothing else. Monday, back to work and normal schedule. It will be almost 2 weeks after the retrieval before we know for sure if it all worked . . . so keep praying for us like crazy!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Community Garden

I've used time this weekend to plant our plot in the PCHUM (Portage Chapel Hill UMC) community garden. When we first started thinking about creating a community garden in the area where an old house had been torn down, I wasn't sure we'd actually be able to pull it off. Now with most plots planted and green things poking up all over, it's pretty thrilling!

I did most of this the easy way and bought plants. So far, I spent about $45 on all that I put into the garden. This includes 4 Roma tomato bushes (to make sauce) and 3 other tomatoes. I also have 5 different pepper plants. Lots of herbs ( two types of basil, tarragon, rosemary), green beans (bush type), 2 kinds of radishes, 2 kinds of carrots and green onions. The plot is only about 10x18 feet and the soil is very sandy with lots of rocks. Our plot is where the old house stood, so I'll have to work to get the soil up to snuff. It doesn't get as much direct sun as I'd like, but it's better than my shady back yard. I'm going to be looking into Organic fertilizers and soil modification, as I'd like to grow this garden as organically as possible.

We spread aged horse manure over the entire garden before plowing -- compliments of my friend Jana. That stuff is so good, it could be rich soil on it's own. I'll have to get more from her for areas around the house. We also have some leaf compost that I'll haul over to the church plot and use for composing around the plants. That'll cut down on weeds and add nutrients over time.

I'm planting a bit more at the house too. We have room for one hill of Cantaloupe in the back yard (Tim's request) and I'm doing a few herbs in pots here too. I still have much work to do on the front flower bed (currently in transition) and we're going to make a raised bed next to the lower deck in the back. That one hasn't even been started. It may take all summer -- then I can plant perennials bought on the cheap at the end of season sales.

I've started a spread sheet with all the garden info (and hopefully the perennial info for home) to keep track of what plants and seeds do well. It's my more modern version of keeping a garden journal. Not as pretty, but since it's faster, I might actually take the time to put the info in!

Friday, May 23, 2008

$4/gallon for gas? So What

Here's my new mode of transportation. It gets 75 miles to the gallon and it's really fun to ride!
I've been putting about 40 miles a day on my truck just going back and forth to work and going home for lunch to let Henry out of his den so the gas costs were rising fast. The scooter will pay for itself in one and a half summers but that figure was for $3.50/gal so it may pay for itself sooner.
Another interesting thing is since the time we bought the scooter in April, the price has gone up 20% on them. Demand is increasing so, as Sarah pointed out, if we have to sell it next year because my teaching job is past scooterability distance, we might be able to sell it for the same price we bought it for even being "broken in".
I have 600 miles on it and have had one older lady pull out in front of me where I had to slam on the brakes and lock up the rear wheel.
The scooter will go up to 50 mph so no highway driving but it works great to keep up with traffic around town.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Henry makes a new friend

Henry has finally made friends with our back yard neighbors, Marty and Mrs. Marty (don't actually know her name). He used to bark at them a lot, so we gave them treats and introduced them to H over the back fence. They had a Golden that died early this winter, so they are doggie people and miss having a dog around.

Now Henry hangs out in the back corner waiting for them to come out and give him a treat. If he senses any movement in their backyard, he's out the door like a shot and begging for food. I caught him this morning barking at Marty to get his attention. It's better than him barking because he thinks they shouldn't be in the yard, but not too much different!

In other news -- the Kirk homestead will soon have new deck furniture! We spent some $ at Sears today and got a table with 6 chairs and umbrella for the deck off the patio and a bistro set in the same design for the deck off the screen porch. Check the link for pictures of what we bought.

Tim took 2 trips to bring all the big boxes home. Next, we have to put it all together. We'll do that early next week as Tim is busy preparing a spot in the yard for our new shed. We'll need somewhere to store all that deck furniture over the winter . . . Actually we're accumulating enought kayaks, bikes, snow blowers, grills, etc. that we needed the storage space. Not exactly sure who we'll have do the building -- it won't be us for sure -- or when we'll get started on it.

Tomorrow after church we'll be busy preparing for the Youth Small Group that we've been leading. Tomorrow I teach them how to make a Chocolate Brownie Puddle Torte. It will be the dessert for the dinner they'll make to honor the graduating seniors. It's been a lot of fun so far, and everyone is excited to make and eat dessert!

More IVF

So I have about 30+ eggs on each ovary, but they are still small -- about 6 mm. 30 eggs is a bit too many, but Julie (nurse) said that they'll manage the meds so that not all of them grow. She didn't seem concerned that they hadn't grown anymore b/c I'd only had 2 days of medication. My follicles on Clomid only went to 8-9mm and I don't know how large the follicles were before any of the meds. They need to get much larger 18-20 mm (I think).

No more Menopur, but I'll keep the Lupron and Follistim. Back to the office on Monday for more blood work and another ultrasound. This time they should have grown some more, so keep your fingers crossed!

I've been reading quite a few fertility blogs and have noticed a few things about how others are seeing the assisted reproduction therapy (ART) journey. Most seem quite obsessed with their "numbers." Hormone levels, sperm count, sperm morphology, blood test results and lot of other measures. We've been told all those things, but haven't been tracking them too closely. Others have all kinds of ways of tracking where they are in a cycle, what hasn't worked and how long they've been TTC (trying to conceive). This obsession worries me. First, I wonder why I'm not quite as obsessed. Normally, I would think I'm the type that would be like this, but I'm not. Second, am I supposed to be obsessed like that? If I'm not, does it mean I'm not as invested and not as likely to get the outcome we want? Frankly, I find the tracking every move, mood and blood test to be very tiring. I had 3 blood tests last week. I'd have to do an Excel spread sheet to keep it all straight, and then I wouldn't know what the numbers actually meant.

My biggest worry is that the follicles are not going to respond to the meds, not grow at all due to some other strange issue. And, if I had only been more demanding of my doctor or compulsive with the data, that this could have been avoided. Oh well, I'm not really up for monitoring all the data. That's what we're paying Michigan Reproductive to do after all!

I've had some crazy headaches the last few days. Today I actually felt like I was going to be sick (as in throw up). I couldn't stand it when Tim took a curve with the car in the parking lot. What a wimp. I'm beginning to see how debilitating migraines can be.

Other side effects: my stomach has little needle tracks in it and a couple of spectacular bruises. Apparently my needle technique could stand some improvement. Up to now, the shots have not been as difficult as I thought they might be.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Weekend Update (last weekend!)

Some Pictures from last weekend: First all the girls (Katie, Mom and me) went to the spa. (See results of pedicures above.) Ahhhhh, relaxation. Second, we helped Katie pick up her new car! If you can't tell from the picture, the car is the new Mini Clubman. We all had an excellent time. Tim enjoyed spending his economic stimulus check (new PS3 and Grand Theft Auto 4) and thought Katie's car was pretty sweet.
We also got to hang out with our friends Jen & John and baby Anna. It was great just hanging out, eating take-out and drinking good beer. We sure wish we lived closer to them because they are such good fun. Plus, Anna is too cute and very entertaining.

IVF, Stage 2

We're moving on to the second stage in the IVF. (Stage designations are my own). On Tuesday, I met with Julie, the RN in charge of our case. She looked at my ovaries and measured the lining of my uterus. After a blood pregnancy test, we were cleared to start stimulating the follicles.

Tonight I injected myself with three drugs. A lower dose of the Lupron (to keep my ovaries shielded from any hormones my body might make), Menopur (a mix of LH and FSH) and Follistim (FSH). I do the same amounts tomorrow night and then go in Friday morning for another ultrasound. This time we'll see if the meds are causing any changes to the follicles. Since they have been quite stubborn up to this point, I'm sending them positive thoughts about starting to grow. BUT, they need to all grow at the same rate. We need quite a few to harvest and they need to all be ready at the same time.

I'm glad to drop down on the Lupron dose. I didn't think I was feeling any side affects until about Sunday afternoon. Since then I've been tired, having trouble sleeping and my brain has been fuzzy at work. This isn't my stress insomnia, just more like I keep waking up and can tell I'm not sleeping very deeply. Some pretty good headaches, too, but difficult to tell it those are the drug or allergies. I'm also pretty emotional. I won't let the radio stop on a country stations because, invariably I find my self welling up at some tear-jerker of a song. I've been listening to CDs because even NPR is sometime too much -- I don't want to cry all the way to work!

After meeting with Julie, I had emotions that ranged all over the scale -- excitement to finally be moving on to this point, fear that it won't work, fear that it will and, of course, fear of needles. I'm still dreading the big ones that will have to go in my butt.

The only fly in the ointment is that we don't know exactly when we'll get to the egg retrieval stage, but it will be sometime right around Memorial Day weekend. The nurse said not to plan on going anywhere that weekend, which screws up plans to go to Ohio for the shower/picnic we're throwing for Josh and Allison. Bummer! I'm not counting it out yet, we'll have to see how it looks in the ultrasounds on Friday and next week.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Jucing -- the end

Day 3 update: It was good! Lots of energy and I felt great. No issues with digestive system and the fog from day 2 was gone. I wasn't even all that hungry. Actually, I was kinda tired of the juice. The novelty had worn off.

I ate brown rice cooked in broth and Activia yogurt for dinner that night (Wed. night) and then oat meal for breakfast. You have to ease back into solid food -- nothing that will make your tummy upset. All was good and it was great to eat real food again!

My oberservations about all this . . . I'm now much more intentional about eating. The juicing helped me pay attention to how my body felt when I was hungry. I also get full more easily. My stomach probably shrunk a bit, but I think it's more that I notice when I'm full. And, I lost three pounds during the week. However, I think that will go away as my digestive track fills up again. We certainly proved that everyone really is full of s**t!

Katie and I are going to buy a juicer together and every couple of months we'll take turns juicing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Juicing, Day 2

Grumpy, headache, fuzzy brain -- it's difficult to be articulate. Great team building activity and we're having lots of good conversations about intentional eating and awareness of how food affects our bodies. More than half-way through! AND pretty sure that I don't really want to do this again any time soon. :-)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Veggies are good for you, right?

The Kashi group is detoxing! After one work trip that involved a lot of toxifying, a couple of people I work with decided that we should give our bodies a rest. This has evolved into letting our digestive systems have a break from processing lots of rich or fibrous food. (And you know us Kashi folk, we do love our fiber!) So, a group of us at work has embarked on a 3 day juice detox.

Now, this isn't your standard orange juice or V8 splash. We are making our own juice using a juicer and focusing heavily on vegetables. My dinner included one stalk of broccoli, half a large cucumber, 4 organic carrots, organic baby spinach, and one organic orange for sweetness. This made a dark green concoction that I diluted with water to make about 3 cups. Yummy! Actually, it was pretty tasty. Take my advice, though, don't use raw eggplant. It makes things taste pretty bitter.

I'm actually doing quite well. I'd like to eat some real food, but I'm not hungry or calorie deprived. I've had at least 3 big glasses of veggie juice and one glass of a nice fruit blend for a snack. Caffeine and alcohol are out. I've been cutting back on the caffeine dramatically for the IVF, so that wasn't so bad. We are allowed green tea and I've had that hot and cold today. Since I've almost eliminated Diet Coke, I'm not craving that either.

It is early, though so I'll be sure to post on day 2 and 3. I think tomorrow morning is going to be very hard.

Friday, May 2, 2008

See Deer, WILL run....will run fast and far.....

I have some time at work as Friday winds down in the last hour of the workday so I'll share the story behind this picture.
Last Saturday evening the weather warmed to the 50s from the 30s earlier in the week so I had a good reason to take Henry out for a run in our favorite location. It's a nature preserve that's open to the public and it's only about a 10 minute drive from the house. The front part of the area has mountain bike/hiking trails meandering through it and the back part has some less traveled trails. I keep Henry on the leash in the front part and once we get to the back section I let him off leash and boy does he enjoy running....and running....coming back to check on me....more running.....checking the swamp area for critters....checking back with me (I give him treats every time he comes back so he knows good things happen when he comes back) and oh, yeah, he runs some more.
The area is well wooded with hills and wetlands so wildlife is abundant but in the other 20 or so times we've taken Henry to run, the wildlife has seemed to keep far away (except for a woodchuck that was in the swamp...former woodchuck). This particular evening (note: first time taking Henry to the area at dusk, normally it is mid afternoon) we went through our normal routine of walking on the leash until we reached the back section. I let Henry off the leash and was keeping him within 10 feet of me with treats but after about 5 minutes of this I looked up in front of us and saw a couple of white tails bouncing through the woods, up the hill and away from us. Just as I was trying to persuade Henry back to me so I could leash him his ears perked up, the nose went in the air and he caught the scent of the deer. He took a quick glance at me and TOOK OFF RUNNING!!! Up the hill, through the woods and in two seconds I lost sight of him.
Heart dropping...stomach far will he run and how long before he comes back???
I followed his trail up to the top of the hill and started calling for him and whistling (his cue to come back to check on me). This time the cues didn't work.
20 minutes gone sign or sound of Henry.
I make the call to Sarah that our dog has gone chasing deer. She grabs our spotlight (I at least thought ahead and put some super reflective bands around Henry's neck that I usually wrap around my ankles when riding my bike) jumps in the car and heads over to help.
She calls when she gets to the woods and gets directions to my whereabouts. I told her my general location and to listen for my calls and whistles for Henry.
45 minutes have gone by (seemed like hours) and I'm on top of a hill at the intersection of two paths and I can look down the hill to see the usual path of our travels in case Henry decided to go back to where he knows to look for me.
Starting to loose my voice and whistling ability, I decide to climb a pine tree for a better look and hoping my voice will carry farther for Henry to hone in on where I am. I get about 10 feet off the ground and happen to look down one of the trails....
I see some movement that looks like a dog trotting!!
I holler HHHEEENNNRRRYYY!! I see the dog's head pick up at the call. Our Henry has returned!!!!
He must have been well worn out from chasing the deer that are much faster than him (hopefully he figured this out and won't chase them again, but not likely) because his tongue was hanging out the side of his mouth and he just trotted the 1/4 mile back to me.
After I got him back on the leash I called Sarah and told her "I have our dog" and both of us sighed a big relief.
I didn't really worry about Henry not coming back, the question was will I have to stay the night in the woods waiting for him to come back.
I did hear some gunshots shortly after Henry took off running so I had a small fear that a drunken redneck with three teeth wearing a dirty flannel shirt over top of his BBQ rib stained wife beater tank top decided to shoot at Henry for chasing deer. Luckily my elaborate imagination was incorrect.

I'll still take Henry to the preserve, actually took him back the next day, but I WON'T go back at dusk when the deer are most active.
I did see deer on the next day but luckily Henry was still rather tired from his exploits the day before and was keeping close to me. I leashed him and walked the opposite way the deer was heading. For good measure, I picked up a big stick and started hitting it on the trees as we walked so the wildlife was well aware of our presence.
It's time to invest in a small cow bell for Henry to wear from his collar.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I think I'm addicted

Along with a whole group of friends from work, I took a half-day vacation on Wednesday and went to the Vera Bradley outlet sale in Fort Wayne, IN. We went a little bit crazy . . . I haven't always been a fan of VB stuff -- but somehow it has grown on me over the past few years. The stuff isn't cheap, so getting stuff at 30-40% off retail was too cool.
(Katie -- that's your wristlet on top in the pink and black and white)
I am embarrassed to show you the picture I took of everything I bought. It looks a bit excessive. Still, half of it is gifts for various people over the next year. (I guess that means the other half is for me . . . I am getting a little giddy thinking of all my new stuff!)
The sale is held in a coliseum and the entry is timed on your tickets. You only have 3 hours and it goes fast. The $10 ticket purchase price goes to the VB breast cancer research fund. The place was mobbed and much of the stock was wiped out. We went out to a great dinner afterward, where I shot up in the bathroom stall for Day 2 of Lupron. I think I still have a little bit of a shopping high.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks...

Tim here; since Sarah has challenged me to post on here now that school is out I'm up for it.

My first semester of my Master's program in Career and Technical Education at Western Michigan University is complete! I actually managed to get through with all of my sanity but the last few weeks were pretty intense with projects due in all three classes and final exams in two of the three classes.
Since my current job, selling cardboard boxes, isn't very challenging and I actually have about an hour or two a day without much to do I was able to work on homework during that time. I'm in a remote office, by myself, so management didn't have any issues with my homework at work.

I have two classes to take this summer, three more in the fall and then I'll be
ready to student teach starting the second semester of the 08-09 school year.
One of the couples we've met through our church are both high school teachers here in Portage so they will help me get into one of their classes to student teach if I choose to go that route.
I may decide to student teach for another teacher in Schoolcraft who comes highly reccomended by my student teaching placement counselor at WMU who has a pretty good line on who's a good mentor type and who's not worth student teaching for.

My goal is to teach at the high school level and share my vast and varied knowledge of business and technology that I've learned throughout the years in the business.
Schools really like the idea of professionals coming from industry to teach since students have a better chance understanding things if real-world ideas can be associated with what's being taught.

I'll sign off for now on this post but check back in a week or so to see what the summer semester of school will be like.

The First Step . . . one of many

We've taken our first big step on the IVF cycle path. Tonight was my first shot. And, it actually went OK. I did flinch a little bit when it came time to stick myself in the stomach, but Tim was there to cheer me on, and it didn't really hurt. Just a little sting. The needle is really small, it's an insulin needle. I have an awesome husband, he did a couple of cheers for me to get me revved up as I got the paraphernalia out. We are incredibly silly at times (well, mostly I'm incredibly silly) and it works for us.

The Lupron that I shot up tonight -- I love saying that -- goes for 14 days. I'll probably be on it a few days longer than that because I think I need to have a period before we move onto the next drug. Since I don't have periods on my own, I'll have to take a drug to induce one. I'm sure the nurse coordinator will let me know what I have to do. She seems pretty good at that.

I had to stop reading about the side affects of Lupron on line. They sound pretty horrific -- mostly things that are like going through menopause and some weird bone pain. What exactly is bone pain? I hope I don't get to find out! Basically, Lupron is supposed to suppress any hormonal signals I actually do have. This is so we can isolate the ovaries and stimulate them with later medications.

Now, I get to take the show on the road. I am going to an event tomorrow night and will have to do my shot at the same time tomorrow evening. I can just imagine someone coming into the bathroom at the restaurant when I'm sticking a needle in my stomach. Should be interesting!

Butterflies are a sign of Spring?

This weekend I went with some of the 'ladies' (a pretty diverse group of women from work) to Meijer Gardens to see the butterfly exhibit. This was the last weekend for it, so I was excited to see it. It was also the start of our cold snap. (Freeze warning for tonight with lows in the low 20s!). Meijer gardens is known for its outdoor gardens and sculpture gardens, but this was a blast. Lots of beautiful tropical plants, with name plates and sometimes other information. And really fabulous butterflies. Unfortunately, the pictures don't do them justice -- they move too fast for my little camera. The cool brown spotted butterfly in the picture actually has brilliant blue wings when flying.

After the butterflies we tried to walk to see some of the sculptures, but it was too darn cold. So we lunched instead. Lunch at the Blue Water Grill had great views of a nice lake and good, interesting food. Interesting is always important when a bunch of food scientists go out to eat! Apparently, it is difficult to get in for dinner without reservations, but lunch was easy. Tim later told me that the lovely blue lake is an old gravel pit. We were quite close to where Tim's sister and Dad live, so I could impress my friend Connie by knowing a new route to drive home.
We've done several "days out" with this group with the most recent being a trip to Ann Arbor to shop at a couple of great stores (food oriented, of course). I work with some pretty accomplished folks, so it is a lot of fun to get to know them outside of work on trips like these.

More Free Sports

After the Chicago weekend, Tim took one of his vendors up on an offer to go to the Red Wings playoff game. I am not a huge sports fan, but definitely watch more now that Tim is in the picture. But, I have loved hockey since grad school. Cornell had a great hockey team when I was there and we had much fun going to the games and behaving badly. I even went to a lot of Lumberjacks games in Cleveland when I worked there after college and before grad school. (Interesting aside: The Lumbarjacks are a farm team for the Pittsburgh Penguins and used to be in Muskegon, MI, near where T grew up. He was miffed that they left Muskegon to go to Cleveland). Plus, I actually know some of the rules and can follow the game. Still, I don't watch on TV because it is difficult to follow. (That may change, of course, with the gigantic TV now in our basement. It's pretty easy to follow the puck in HD.)

It was an amazing game. They were playing the Nashville Predators and scored early in the first period. They out performed the Predators in most measures and had a huge number shots-on-goal by the end. Still, the Predators goalie was having a good game and didn't allow any more goals. With something like 40 seconds to go, the Predators scored a goal to tie it. They have sudden death overtime in the NHL. Still we were prepared for a long game when 18 minutes of OT went on the clock. In under 1:45, the Wings scored another great goal and it was all over. They won that series and are now winning the second series. Go Wings!

The following weekend we almost didn't know what to do with ourselves -- no free sports in executive suites.

Chicago, I love Chicago!

A few weekends ago, Tim and I went to Chicago. This was about 10 days before our 1st anniversary (4/21) and since Tim had a final on our anniversary, we were going to have some fun! We stayed at the Conrad just off of Michigan Ave. This is the high end Hilton. Of course I used points -- somehow all that traveling has to pay off! Loved the hotel. It wasn't boutique like, but just very understated and very high end finishes. Marble floors. The reception was on the 4th floor. We had free breakfast certificates (as benefits a Diamond Hilton member). They hand wrote them and delivered them to our room. Our room had a flat screen TV (ours still is bigger!) and marble and granite in the bathroom. A separate soaking tub, and so on. You get the picture.

The best part was going to the Bulls/Cavs game in the executive lounge sponsored by one of my suppliers. Gretchen, the sales rep, is a really awesome person in general and she has great ideas for entertainment. After the game (which, sadly, the Cavs lost) they took us out in limos to a local bar and kept feeding us and supplying the drinks. A great time was had by all.

The next day, we slept in. The fact that we did not hear street noise and the curtains blacked out the light completely -- another sign of a really top notch hotel. Unfortunately, it was a cold and rainy weekend so we opted to go to the Aquarium and spend some time with the fishes. What an awesome place. The fish were amazing and we saw a lot of ones similar to what we saw snorkeling in Tahiti. Great frogs and some really fun lizards. We finished Saturday off with some awesome Chicago style pizza. Yummy:-)

The only jarring thing the whole weekend was our breakfast service on Sunday. I won't bore you with the details, suffice to say the food served in no way matched the description on the menu. We had to work to get the waitress to come by and when she did, she didn't handle the situation well. They ended up taking off our bill (the free part of the breakfast only covered so much) but I was shocked that such a high end place would stumble so badly. The hotel did redeem itself -- I filled out a survey online they sent asking about our stay. I was fair, but did tell them about the restaurant situation. 3 hours after submitting the survey, I received a call from the restaurant manager apologizing. He didn't offer any excuses, but said that this was not acceptable and invited us to be his guest at a meal the next time we stayed at the hotel. Wow! that's responsive customer service. (Of course, it would have been better to not have had the incident in the first place . . . ).

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Henry is a good citizen!

Our excitement last week was Henry's Canine Good Citizenship (CGC) test. We've been taking him to classes at the Kalamzoo Kennel Club for the last 8 weeks or so. He had 10 things he had to do on command to achieve the certification. This is an AKC designation. Check the link to see what Henry had to do:

Basically, this now means that Henry will be OK when we take him out in public. He has definitely improved, and so have we! (We need the training as much as he does :-) Don't think that CGC means he's now a mellow and completely trained dog. He's still a little bit house possessive. A leftover, we think, from the long, long, long winter. Yesterday, he was sure our back yard neighbor, Marty, was a threat, and let him know it. All Marty was doing was yard work in his own yard. Apparently, owning a dog is always an adventure!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Choose your own adventure . . .

Remember those cool books you had as a kid where you were in control of how the story turned out? I loved them and read lots. Sometimes I think that life should be more like that. If I'm not doing the choosing, somebody or something else is going to do it for me -- right? Well, Tim and I are embarking on our own adventure and choosing something really exciting and a bit scary.

Our families and friends know that we've been trying to become parents (since before the wedding, even!). Clearly, not a whole lot has happened. It seems that I actually need to ovulate in order to become pregnant. It doesn't matter how much "practicing" we do, not much is gonna happen if there isn't an egg for the sperm to meet. We've been working with a great Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) since a few months after the wedding. Tried a several rounds of drugs, and drug combos. We finally have decided to start a round of IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization). Starting, well, right now! It's about a 2 month protocol and has many, many steps and lots and lots of needles. (I'm really not too sure how I'm going to handle those needles. Apparently I will start out with small ones and by the time I get to the large ones that go in my butt, someone else will have to wield the syringe.)

One big worry for me is how I will manage the travel in my job. I travel a lot, and some of it is not very predictable. I love my career, and we do need it to pay the bills, so balancing is going to be key. I have gotten incredible support from my team at work and from my manager. They've offered to fill in for me and help out however they can. So, thanks to them, I can put that worry aside and focus on other things. We'll keep you posted and Tim can give you his perspective on what it's like to live with a woman taking massive does of injectable hormones!