Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Article I found about where Lyna came from

Note:  I did not write this article, this was written by Sandra Emerson, and all credit goes to her for telling the story about where my dog came from.

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, CA)
December 1, 2011
Section: News
Beagles rescued from puppy mill up for adoption
Sandra Emerson, Staff Writer 

UPLAND - Beagles, beagles, beagles. More than a dozen beagles are available for adoption at the Upland Animal Shelter after Chino Hills-based animal rescue charity Priceless Pets rescued more than 130 beagles from a puppy mill in Victorville.

The dogs still waiting to find that perfect family range in age from 2 years old to about 8.

"It's these ones that really, really have to have that good home because of the conditions they've been living in up to now. It's really sad," said Jon Knowlton, animal services supervisor. "It'll be nice for them to get into nice caring homes for life."

Priceless Pets, founded by Charles and Lisa Price, has been rescuing dogs from shelters and homes over the last decade.

When they heard about the puppy mill in Victorville they knew they needed to step in.

A neighboring property owner discovered the beagles when watching the owner's horse when they were out of town.

"Basically (animal control) knew of him for several years," Price said. "A call had been made out of that facility, but due to politics unfortunately they weren't able to get the proper warrants and things to get in and inspect the facility."

When the Prices heard about the situation they tried to help the property owner with the dogs. He eventually agreed to sell them the 20-acre property, dogs included.

"This gentleman had a typical hoarder mentality," Price said. "No one was good enough for his animals. We found out doing this for 17 years. No telling how many animals he's done this to."

The dogs were kept in chicken coops. There were only a few male dogs that would go from coop to coop mating with the females.

Some of the dogs were suffering from a range of medical conditions including mammary tumors, dental disease and intestinal parasites.

"They were so full of illness. They were breeding the heck out of them still," Price said. "There was no rhyme or reason to what they were doing."

The medical conditions for a few of the beagles was so bad they had to be euthanized, but the rest were given treatment and a clean bill of health.

The Upland Animal Shelter's partnership with Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona also came into play during the massive rescue.

They were able to provide spay and neuter services to the rescue.

"We would do it again," Knowlton said. "It's a matter of helping the animals in need, and these pets really did need some extra help at this time."

Beagles - perhaps the most popular beagle being Snoopy from the Peanuts comic by Charles Schulz - are great family dogs, Price said.

"If you've never owned a hound, they're very sent driven," Price said. "They love to keep their nose on the ground."

Beagles have a tendency to get bored, so Price recommends owners make sure their hounds have plenty of exercise.

Healthwise, beagles are notorious for having dirty ears and some are susceptible to eye infections.

"All in all they're not a very high maintenance dog provided you do the daily hygiene," Price said. "They're just a wonderful family pet."

The adoptable beagles can be viewed on the Upland Animal Services website as well as Priceless Pets' website at www.pricelesspetrescue.org
These are pictures from Priceless Pet Rescue's facebook page:
Almost half a dozen puppies (4-7 mos) were found living like this

Many are thin

Damage to paws from the chicken wire boxes they were living in!
The medical conditions of the seniors is HEARTBREAKING!

Her tumor is almost the size of a grapefruit

These are the adult living quarters

This is where the momma and puppies live

Very thin adult female

Ready for new homes

Injuries found on puppies
First adoption for Operation a Better Life!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I've got the Sew-ies!

I got a new sewing machine a couple days ago!  It's so exciting that I can call it my own.  I've of course been searching the house for things to make or mend.

My most recent, exciting project is a doggy raincoat made from a broken umbrella.  I didn't need much material to cover my dog, so the small red umbrella that was nothing more than a risk to eyeballs was the perfect thing.

First thing you have to do is find a broken umbrella lying around your house.  I had a small umbrella which worked well for my medium sized 24 pound beagle.  You could probably have made it with my small umbrella for a dog up to 40 pounds.  Any bigger than that and you'll need a bigger broken umbrella.
Before:  Broken umbrella
 Next, using a seam ripper I undid all the small stitches holding the umbrella to the wire frame to remove the material.  Careful not to poke holes in it!
 The tricky part is getting the top center piece off.  I tried popping it off with a screw driver only to realize all I had to do was just turn this piece counterclockwise to unscrew it!  Who knew?

Next you'll want to measure your doggy.  Now my dog, Lyna had a little bit of Benadryl today so she is a rather willing client.  You'll need to measure the length from the base of their neck down to their rump where their tail meets, the circumference of their neck, and their chest.   If your dog is overweight, now is not the time to insult them.  I added about an inch to each of those measurements because you want to leave room for hemming.
 Next, before you do the hard work, you want to make sure you've got enough material.
 This looks like it should do it.....
Then you want to either draw out your pattern or print it off.  I free-handed my pattern, but used this one as a guide:  Canine Coat.  I didn't really see the use in having that extra chest plate, so I left it out.  After cutting out my pattern and testing it around my dog before cutting the umbrella material, I had to make a few minor adjustments hence the extra material.
 This is what it will look like if you are laying it on top of your dog with its head at the top of the picture and tail at the base.  The top two points wrap around his or her neck, and the bottom two points wrap around his or her chest.
 The next part is the most difficult in my opinion.  I did a 1/2" hem all the way around the edges.  Since I'm still getting used to this sewing machine, I felt like I was driving a car for the first time.

Then you'll want to use either Velcro or a button (or even those nice hooks that they use for horse blankets) and add it to the "arms that wrap around the neck and tummy.  Here I used a spare button that I saved from a pair of pants that were being thrown out.  For the arms that wrap around the tummy, I used the Velcro from the part of the umbrella that when it is closed you wrap it around the umbrella to hold it together.  If your umbrella had a loop handle made from string or something, you could cut that off and use it as a tie also.

 Here we have the finished product:

  I tried getting her to sit up to show off her new coat, but she was still feeling the effects of the Benadryl.
I am also planning on adding a button on hood with the extra material, but haven't had the chance to do that yet.  Perhaps I can get it too loop over her ears or something so it stays on.  She'll let me do anything to her, so we'll see!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pooch to 5K

My sisters are amazing.  I have always been the "athletic" one of us girls, which by that I mean I'm the only one who did a sport that wasn't music-related.  Both of them have never really enjoyed exercise, especially Amy.  Ashley would at least do crunches and stuff, but Amy hated running and the sort.

Amy just finished her first 5K!!   And Ashley is training for her first 5K run as well!  Both of them have 2 kids also, which makes the fact that they even started training in the first place even more amazing.  They both asked for my input on training plans, which I shared with them.  One was called the "Couch to 5K."  I wasn't trying to offend them, but it is a great starter program for any first timer. I am so proud of them for doing this.

I have been wanting to get back into training (not just random runs, but actual training for a while).  When I adopted Lyna, I was hoping for a running partner.  But with all her anxiety issues, the medicine we put her on made her less energetic and our walks became very short.  And I couldn't leave her alone in the house to go running on my own either.  Now I've decided that the medicine is not working like I had hoped, so she's been off it for a while and her energy is returning.  That fact combined with my inspiring sisters turned runners have led me to decide that Lyna & I WILL be training partners.  We are going to do the "Pooch to 5K" training program.  In 12 weeks, Lyna will be able to run a 5K.

Since I have been running since I was 12(wow!), running comes back to me pretty naturally to me even if I haven't ran in a while.  However, Lyna spent the first 3 years of her life in a cage birthing puppies.  We did a test run just to see how she would handle it a couple days ago, and we only ended up jog-walking 1 mile.  I figured she would make me feel out of shape, but honestly...she's kinda slow, haha.  I'm hoping that dogs get faster just like humans, but we'll see.

This is what I picture Lyna's reflection of our run today (60 second run-90 second walk:  8 times for a total of 20 minutes) sounding like:
"I was so excited to wear my pink harness.  It started off just like a normal walk, sniffing the ground, marking my territory, training my human, getting scared by those cats (no wonder they call them scaredy cats!).  Then out of the blue, she started going fast.  Here I had been trying to drag her around for months but she taught me otherwise, and now she finally wants to listen to me and get going.  But then she kept going fast.  Finally she walked, but she wanted to do it again and again and again.  She kept telling me how we were going to do a 5K.  I hope K is for cookie, because I don't think I can do 5 of anything.  By the end, I was pooped.  I found my favorite patch of grass close to home and lay down for a nap.  She carried me to the sidewalk and made me walk the rest of the way home.  When we got inside, I wouldn't leave the doorway until she gave me a cookie.  Then I went back to my nap that got interrupted.  It was ruff ruff ruff."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Living with Allergies

It was sometime around 5th grade that I remember first experiencing seasonal allergies.  We were learning how to type, and I was having trouble because my nose was running, so I kept wanting to (disgusting, I know) wipe my nose with the back of my hand/sleeve, but I couldn't because we had to keep our hands on the keyboard.  I remember going to cheer leading tryouts at the end of 6th grade, and having a box of tissues in the car on the way there because I couldn't stop sneezing.  I've tried just about every allergy medicine known to man.  Claritin is my least favorite, and Zyrtec followed by Allegra are my favorite.  Unfortunately, now insurances don't cover these because they are now over-the-counter medicines.  So instead of paying a measly $5 co-pay for a whole month's supply, you have to pay $25 for half a month or less.  They do however still cover Flonase which is a nasal steroid that reduces the swelling in your nose so you can breathe. This has continued all the way until I moved to California, where I have much less issues than in Illinois.

When I was about 13 or 14, I sprained my ankle running.  I wore one of those latex ankle braces.  I remember waking up before my oldest sister and parents had gone to bed and feeling like my ankle was suffocating and itching all at the same time.  I got out of bed and went into the hallway to where I could see my leg in the light, and it was swollen and covered in hives.  It took us days to figure out that it was the latex in the ankle brace causing me so many problems.  My mom had just kept feeding me Benadryl to keep everything in check until it finally donned on us what the problem was.

When I was 15, the doctors wanted to try putting me on a medicine called Inderal.  About a day or two after I started taking the medicine, my lips swelled up, I got hives on my face and then they my throat started to close because the hives got in my throat.  My mom got back from the dollar store with Benadryl just in time.

When I started college, I soon realized that I was allergic to bananas when my mouth and throat would swell and itch.  Then I discovered the same for kiwis.  I would eat something that I used to be able to eat, leave the dining hall, go to my room, grab my Benadryl, and take a nap while the itching and swelling would go down.  One late night, I went to the late night across campus for some things.  I saw a package of sunflower seeds and thought how good those always are, and I hadn't had them in a while so I figured, why not?  Later, back in my dorm room, I was dumping the seeds into my left hand and popping them into my mouth.  Lets just say I was eating them rather quickly and not paying attention to anything other than my notes to study.  Suddenly I realized, my left hand wouldn't stop itching.  My lips, tongue, and throat were swelling up quickly, and it was all itchy.  My eyes got so big from shock when I looked at myself in the mirror.  I quickly found my Benadryl which I had learned to carry with me in my purse.

That was when I decided that I should probably go see an allergist to find out what else I was allergic to.  I made the appointment the next day.  They did a skin prick test on my back.  They would take a small needle, prick my skin and then put a drop of a solution of a possible allergen on that spot.  I remember halfway through, the nurse kept saying, "Oh my!  Oh my!"  They ended up reading the results of the test early because I was having such a bad reaction to so many things, that they wanted to give me allergy medicine as soon as possible.  They also sent me to have blood work done to test me for some other allergies.

This is what the results of the skin prick test looked like for the most part (though this is not me).

The results came back very positive or negative depending on how you look at it.  I am allergic to all 15 of the tree types they test for, all 10 of the weed types, 7 of the mold types, dust, mites, cockroaches, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, apples, bananas, carrots, kiwi, oats, peas, peanuts, potatoes, strawberries, walnuts, green bell peppers, sunflower, chestnut, and a few other things.  The severity of them varied.  I can still eat apples for example, I just have to be aware that in the future my body could develop an increased intolerance for them.  But eating a raw potato or a raw carrot will cause my mouth and throat to itch, known as oral allergy syndrome.  There are also more complicated components to some of them, such as the molds.  Molds are everywhere--mushrooms, wine, and down comforters for example.  Some of them are related to the latex-fruit syndrome or the pollen-fruit syndrome.  Bananas for example, have the same protein in them that causes the allergic reaction to latex....hence why I am allergic to both.  And carrot proteins are similar in structure to mugwort weed....hence why I am allergic to carrots and mugwort.

Getting tested was definitely a necessary step in helping figure things out.  I have to choice to completely cut out at least all of the foods that came back with a positive result, but I don't really want to give up apples, peas, and peanut butter just yet.  Doing so would help clear up my skin and keep me from having a running nose quite so often, but it also would make it more difficult to eat a balanced diet.  The doctor also trained me on how to use an Epi-Pen in case I show signs of going into anaphylactic shock.  I usually carry my Epi-Pen and a bottle of Benadryl with me wherever I go.

I try to find humor in it most of the time.  For example, trying to convince my niece that eating carrots is yummy, I popped a bite of carrot in my mouth only to remember after that, "Oh hey, that makes me not feel so great," is a laughable moment.  Sometimes it is frustrating, like when I really want to have a peanut butter and banana sandwich, but can't because eating everything I'm allergic to at once probably isn't a good idea at all.  It can also make me nervous sometimes.  Like the other day, I went hiking with a group of women, and one of them offered me an extra snack bar (Clif bar type thing), but I turned it down.  I didn't want to have to go through explaining that I have food allergies, and chances are there are sunflower seeds or something in that little bar that could potentially kill me since I was 3 miles of mountainous terrain away from my Epi-Pen and Benadryl.

Right now, I really want a strawberry-banana smoothie, which is what promted me to write this.  But there you have it....my allergies explained somewhat.

I forgot...

I had a really great idea for what I should blog about.  And just like walking into a different room to get something, I forgot what it was that I wanted to post about.  Something with the bathroom maybe...or church?

Let it be known that I got all the way to the part where you type in your new post and forgot.  I was going to blog today.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Whirley Popcorn

Sometime during Jr. High, I started eating a bag of popcorn on an almost daily basis.  My popcorn eating habits decreased tremendously because for some reason, I could never figure out how to pop a good bag of popcorn in my microwave.  I tried more during the summers if there was a different microwave, but it usually proved unsuccessful.  On occasion, things would end up with the apartment smelling like smoke, and I would toss the bag out on the porch:

Then I got engaged, and one of our presents from Peter's brother and sister in-law was a Whirley Pop.  I had only a vague idea of how to make popcorn on the stove, but I gave it a shot.  That is when my life was forever changed.
I'd like to say that in our 8 short months of marriage, I have mastered the popping technique, and I have also gotten rather creative, too.  It's all about timing.  You put just a couple tablespoons of oil into the popper (more if you're adding a lot of seasonings that need to stick to the kernels) over medium heat.  Then you put about 3 kernels of popcorn in.  Once those 3 have popped, it is time to add your popcorn. and stir.

As I have previously stated, I'm starting to get creative with the popcorn, more so than just butter and salt.  Whirley Pop's website has  a whole "recipe book" of popcorn.  I've tried a few, and I feel that it is my duty to report back to you (whoever you are) how they turned out.

Kettle Corn
This is my go-to popcorn.  If I don't feel like putting together some sort of fancy popcorn, and I want more than butter, then I make kettle corn.  You just add some sugar when you add popcorn.  The problem I have found is that if you don't keep stirring the popcorn until it has cooled, you ended up with a popcorn ball in the shape of your bowl instead of separate pieces of popcorn.

Game Day Chili-Cheese Popcorn
 This one is pretty darn good, a combination of popcorn, chili powder, garlic salt, and cheese.  I could definitely see myself watching a Cardinals game or the NHRA races with a bowl of this popcorn in my hand.  Whatever you do, don't add the cheese while the popcorn is still in the popper.  I still haven't figured out how to keep all of the cheese from falling to the bottom of the bowl.  It's sort of like bagglers, though.  (Bagglers=French fries at the bottom of your happy meal bag.)  While it is annoying to have to pick out the cheese from the bottom of the bowl, you still get excited knowing that there is more leftover.

Bacon Flavored Whirley Popcorn
This one requires the substitution of leftover bacon grease instead of olive oil/veggie oil to pop the popcorn.  I was surprisingly disappointed with this one.  The directions clearly stated that it is good without butter or salt because of the mild bacon flavor.  Wrong.  Perhaps the problem was that I went directly from eating delicious, flavorful, crunchy bacon to eating popcorn with nothing on it but bacon grease.   Perhaps if you saved the bacon and crumbled it up to mix in with the popcorn, it might taste better.  If I'm being honest though, the bacon wouldn't last long enough for the popcorn to pop because it would be eaten before then.

Cinnamon Crunch Popcorn
Cinnamon, sugar, and popcorn--a pleasant combination.  If Kettle corn is too boring for you, then add a dash of cinnamon.  The directions say to pour the spice mixture into the popper right after you take it off the heat.  However, that just burnt the cinnamon.  If you wait just a little bit, then it won't burn.  Remember, a little bit goes a long way when it comes to cinnamon.

Garlic-Parmesan Popcorn
I've only made this once, and I don't remember too much about it.  That tells me it wasn't the best, and it wasn't the worst.

Southwestern Popcorn
This was the popcorn that inspired me to write this post.  I made it last night after I got off work.  It is a whole heap of southwestern-flavored spices and some popcorn.   The southwestern  popcorn is probably the only popcorn that was so good, I couldn't finish the bowl.  It was just too much deliciousness to handle.  I recommend having a glass of water to go with this bowl, because between the slight kick and all the spices, you're going to need something to wash it all down.  I probably won't make this too frequently just for the fact that I don't want to go through all my spices in one week.  It is also the first recipe that I have used my coriander for, so that was a milestone moment in marriage.

There are about a thousand other popcorn recipes that I am just dying to try, including mastering the art of caramel corn.  However, this is a pretty darn good start.  Friends, be warned.  If I can't find anything good on your wedding registry if/when you decide to get married, I just might buy you a Whirley Pop.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Tortoise Neubert

We added a new member to our family yesterday!  It is a Russian tortoise named Herschel!  It is an early birthday present from Peter.  The best part is that nothing is wrong with him (that I know of)!  My mom enjoys making fun of my animals (three legged hamster, separation anxiety dog, former hamster that spun in circles for all but the first two months of its life).  This one is normal, active and has all body parts.

He seems to enjoy the greens that I got for him to eat.

He's got a pretty nice little set-up if I do say so myself.  Aquariums often confuse tortoises, so I just up-cycled Lyna's former dog kennels and put the bottom half of the plastic one inside the metal one.  Keeps the dirt in and the dog out!  However, Lyna is TERRIFIED of the tortoise.  I was worried she'd want to eat it, but she honestly starts shaking if she notices it moving.  She'll get over it.

In other animal-related news, Lyna has graduated from her Intermediate training class which focused on the 3 D's--Distance, Duration, and Distraction.  Next she will complete the Advanced class and become a Canine Good Citizen certified dog.  I've quite enjoyed going to the training classes with Lyna.  It's something I enjoy, and I get to meet other people with similar interests.  Lyna is currently snuggled up next to me sleeping with her head on my shoulder, such a sweetheart.

I also recently got back from a trip to Illinois to visit my family!  I went all by my big girl self, too!  Peter drove me to the airport.   Then I took a plane to Houston, plane to Chicago, the "L" to downtown Chicago, navigated the streets to Union Station where I took a train to Bloomington, and then my mom drove me home!  Then I did it all in reverse except my old (ha!) sister Amy drove me to Bloomington and not my mom.

I really enjoyed getting to hang out with all of my sisters together again.  In a perfect world we could all live in the same area, but even if I moved back to Illinois, Ashley would still be in Michigan and vice versa.  Not to mention that I'd have to go back to awful allergies again.  I got to meet my newest niece, Addison.  She was so much fun for me!  Her sister Chloe has become quite the active little girl!!  She was also fun, but she did wear me out.  I don't know how Ashley does it!  Praise to her!  

I also got to catch up with Megan, Rachel, and Laura--my other three bridesmaids.  I've decided that my bridesmaids are super important in my life.  They're all from different parts of my life.  Amy is my oldest sister, so we weren't close until later.  Ashley was stuck with me since I was born, and had to deal with me when the principal would come to her saying, "Your sister is crying again."  Rachel and I have been best friends since kindergarten.  Megan and I were friends first in our freshman year in college and then roomies.  Laura was a friend first via Peter connection, and now she is a sister in-law.  Our relationships all have different connections, which is what makes the story so great.  I'm so glad I picked them to share my special day with.  I will always look back and know that they are very important in my life.

And that's about all the updating I have for now.  I can't believe it is already June!  Wasn't it just New Year's Day?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I'm sorry, that leaf doesn't belong there

I have spent a large amount of time watching the large staff of groundskeepers and landscapers here at our apartment complex.  There are lots of trees, plants, bushes, and grass here.  Very beautiful, perfectly manicured.

I can understand mowing the lawn and trimming the hedges on occasion, but what really gets me are the leaf blowers.  I thought leaf blowers were for October when all the leaves fall off the trees.  When I got here in October, there were a select few trees that did lose their leaves, so it made a little sense to me that they were using them.  But it is May, and they are still using them.

There are people whose job is to move all the leaves around all day.  They blow them off the sidewalks.  They blow them off the tops of bushes.  They blow them out from under bushes.  They blow them out of the parking lots.  They blow them around the pools.  They blow them off the grass.  Some of it just doesn't make sense.

What is so wrong about having a leaf under a bush or sitting in the grass?  I bet my rent would be at least $50 cheaper if we just let nature do its thing.  You know...decomposition and stuff.  Some things like moving your leaves around just doesn't seem to be of any importance to me.

The other thing that bugs me a lot is, they wait until the grass gets too high before they mow it.  It's not like they are waiting for a day when it isn't raining to mow it, either.  Then, when they finally get around to mowing it, they mow it first thing in the morning after the sprinklers have been running all night long instead of waiting until the afternoon or evening when the grass is dry to mow.  So all they did was cut some grass, while laying most of it down and not cutting it.

On another note, the lawn mowers look really fun here.  They are the kind that you ride behind, but you stand on this little platform that swings around when it turns.  They go a little faster on them than I would thing.

I think this is just a reminder to take a look at some of the things I do, and see what I am wasting my time on.

Dispelling the myth: You can teach an old dog new tricks!

So we just had our week 4 Intermediate training class at PetSmart today.  So far, my three year old beagle Lyna has only had training classes with puppies.  She was put in the puppy class because there weren't any other dogs signed up for the beginner class with her.  There were about 6 other puppies in that class.  Now in her intermediate class, there are 4 other puppies in this class.

While all of the dogs are successful on some level, Lyna seems to learn things faster and performs them better overall.  (Aside from the trick "spin.")  While instilling good behavior is important from a young age in all dogs, that doesn't mean that old dogs can't learn good behaviors and should not be a disqualification for not adopting an older dog.

From my personal observations, having a dog that isn't a puppy means that it is easier to keep her attention.  She does not get distracted as easily.  At the end of training class, she isn't asleep on the floor from too much stimulation, like the puppies are.  Even one of the pet parents of 2 golden retrievers commented to me, "She is so well trained."  We've both been through all the same training classes, the only difference is breed and age.  Typically, golden retrievers are known for being intelligent, fast learners.  Beagles are known for being food motivated yet very stubborn.  So I don't believe that breed is a main factor.

If you are considering getting a puppy, first of all, DO NOT buy one from a pet store.  Most of those puppies come from puppy mills, much like the one where Lyna and all the other beagles she was with were rescued from.  For more information about why puppy mills are so terrible visit the Humane Society of the United States' Website.  There are plenty of puppies turned over to animal shelters that you can adopt if you really want a puppy.  However, I would also urge you to consider adopting a dog that is a few years old or older.  These dogs often have a more difficult time finding homes, so you will be doing them a favor.  Senior dogs (7 years+) especially have a difficult time, and with them you don't have to go through any of the bad "puppy" behaviors (chewing, barking, jumping, etc).  They are just wanting a family to live out the rest of their lives with in a happy environment.

So, can you teach an old dog new tricks?  My experience says absolutely, and it may be even easier!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I Want to Run

Everyone knows by now how obsessed I am with my dog.  She's perfect in every way.  Except of course for a few things.  Like how she destroys the house if we leave her alone.  And how she is SO incredibly lazy.  I've started calling her Lazy Lyna more frequently.  This laziness is the root of one of my current problems.

I picked her thinking that the beagle stamina would make for a good running partner.  Boy was I ever wrong.  We go for a half mile walk and she lays down part-way through to take a nap in the grass, and then I am forced to carry her the rest of the way home.  And it's not like I can just leave her at home like a normal dog to go running for a little while.

I've been working on this desensitization/counter-conditioning training for about 6 weeks now.  They say that most dogs are "cured" in about 6-8 weeks if you really stick with it.  I have really stuck with it, and so far we are only up to 15 minutes (barely).  That is enough to go for a jog around the building, I suppose, but not enough to do the distance running that I enjoy.

To make matters worse, a couple days ago while trying to do tote my laundry to and from the laundry room with a dog on the leash, Lyna managed to try chasing a cat with me and the laundry attached resulting in twisting my knee.  It's not bad, but it feels like it is back to how it felt while I was training for the marathon.  Stairs especially hurt all over again.

That was a bunch of complaining.  On a happier note, I cleaned the house this evening!  I even did a load of dishes.  Pretty impressive, right?  :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What to do when you just don't know the truth

As a Christian or someone trying to figure out if God is real, etc. there are often things that we just don't know what is right and what is wrong.  I had a great conversation with a friend today on one of these topics.  What are you supposed to do when you are stuck in limbo trying to figure out what is the truth?  What do you do when you ask God, but you aren't hearing any clear answers?

God created gay/lesbian/bisexual/heterosexual people, right?  Some heterosexual people might say that gay people choose their orientation.  I have a really hard time believing that just because if that were the case, it would be a whole lot easier to choose to be heterosexual over being gay.  I think God did create people to have different sexual orientations because God is a pretty creative God.

Christians always say that this "being gay is a sin."  "Love the sinner not the sin." And so on and so forth.  But what if you are gay and a Christian?  The only seemingly plausible option for such a person is to be a gay Christian who remains celibate for the rest of their life.  That seems simple enough until you take into account that real people have real emotions.  Emotions that God gave them for a reason.  You steal a cookie from the cookie jar, and you feel guilty about it.  You see a cute kitten or puppy, and you want to cuddle with it.  God gave us emotions for a reason.

So that brings about the question, what purpose does a gay Christian have in regards to their sexuality?  Why did God make them gay?  If I take everything that I've been taught about homosexuality, throw it away,  and start from scratch, here is what I come up with:

God loves love.  God wants us to love him.  But we can't actually love God like we do with our brothers, sisters, friends, husbands, and wives.  The only way we can truly love God is by loving others.  Now that I am married, I've thought about this a lot more.  I can love God by loving my husband.  I can do laundry for him when he has to work late.  I can talk with him, listen to him, cook dinner, clean the house, have sex(!), and so many other things that I can do to love God by showing love to my husband.

But if I am a lesbian, I can't do any of those things?  I can do them, but I can only do it to a certain extent.  I couldn't have a girlfriend?  I couldn't get married?  I would be forced to deny the feelings deep inside me that are pulling me closer to someone else.  I couldn't love God by loving someone else in the way that a marriage/dating relationship allows us to love another. 
Now I am forced to consider, well why would God not want that?  Why couldn't I love someone else like a husband and wife/boyfriend and girlfriend do, just because they are the same gender as me?

Leviticus 20:13 clearly says, “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."  But one chapter before that it says, "‘Keep my decrees. Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material."  Zonkeys are a pretty big deal.  Corn and soybeans; and so many other seed mixes.  My shorts are made of cotton & spandex.  Does this mean I need to go through my wardrobe and throw away half my clothes?  I think someone might have to explain why we can pick and choose which parts of the Bible still apply today because I honestly don't know the answer to that one.

If I remember correctly, there were some pretty important church people in the Bible who got smacked down when they were paying more attention to all the little "rules" of the Bible over what really mattered.  

What really did matter?  People loving God by loving people.

So is being gay wrong?  No.  God made gay people just like he made heterosexual people.  Is being gay and acting on those feelings wrong?  I don't know.  Having sex outside of marriage is wrong, but that's not what everything is about in a gay relationship kind of like sex is not the basis of a heterosexual relationship.  Could I potentially date someone who is the same gender as me, without having sex, and still be honoring God because I am loving someone else like he has asked us to do?  What if gay marriage is legalized?  Then what does that mean?

Take what you have been taught all along about homosexuality, throw it out the window, start from scratch, and see what you come up with.  Cause what I came up with honestly shocked me a little bit. I don't know if I'm right or wrong, but it's just my thoughts. I have many years of Bible studying ahead of me, and I am sure that something I said may not be accurate, so correct me if I am wrong.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lyna, our adorable dog.

We bought a car!

Meet my yet-to-be-named, new-to-me car!

Two weeks and two days ago, my first car "Mallyboo," met her death-tree on the side of the road.  My husband, Peter, was taking a friend to the airport early in the morning, and on his way back, fell asleep for a split second, and missed a turn, but hit a curb and side swiped a tree while driving my car.  Thus, we were forced to find a replacement car as soon as possible.  I can't believe it has only been two weeks and two days since then because the car buying process was NO FUN at all.  We managed to find all the bad cars and bad dealers in Southern California.  (*cough* California Auto Liquidators in Ontario, CA*cough*).  We finally found a seemingly nice auto dealer in Rosemead, CA, and there we found my 1996 Toyota Corolla with only 73K miles (old lady's car).  We bought it for about $800 less than the KBB value, and were smart about it too.  (Carfax report, vehicle inspection all completed.)

It's a big step buying a car without my dad by my side.  It is especially big when buying it with my husband by my side!  He did his best to keep me calm during the whole process, and I did my best to convince him not to tell the dealers that we liked it until after they accepted our offer.  I used to be proud of my Mallyboo because I had worked hard at McDonald's in high school to pay for her.  Now I can be proud of this car, because my husband and I worked together to purchase her.

Quick Update

This is an email I sent to some of my fellow 2011 graduates just recently.  It should catch everyone up on what's been happening since October 8, 2011.

I'll tell you what I'm up to since a lot has changed in the past "year."

Shortened version:  So I got murried.  That was cool.  And is cool.  I moved to CA.  Also cool.  I worked at Bass Pro Shops as an elf for Santa Claus for about a month.  Not so cool.  I got a job at a pet store in January and have been working there since.  Pretty cool.  Started going to a Bible study:  Not as cool as IV.  I got a dog.  Way cool.  Peter totaled my Mallyboo.  Definitely NOT cool.

Expanded version: 

Marriage:  Some of you seem to be at the stage where marriage might be an option to consider so I guess I can make a few comments on it now that I'm almost 7 months (!!) into it.  Well, it is work, but a lot of fun.  You can't love God unless you are loving others is something I've learned recently.  And marriage is a great way to practice loving God by loving another.  It's really hard to love God like he deserves when you ask your husband, "Hey, what do you want for dinner?   I've got ground beef thawing out," and he responds, "I don't know.  Pork chops or something."  But it's good practice to keep loving like God wants you to.  That's a silly example, but you get the idea.

Jobs:  Unemployment was rough for me.  I had to keep reminding myself of all the ways God has provided for me in the past and how He was still providing for me even then.  Being an elf as a temporary position was a good way to buy me time to find a job that I actually wanted.  I applied at a pet store (I am not allowed to say the name of the store because of a contract I signed) several times, and finally got a position there again.  I'm not sure that I'll make a career out of working here, but we'll find out.  My manager is going to work on a plan with me this week on what we can do to make me management material and hopefully I'll be promoted within a year.  I do love my job and the people I work with though.  I'm still trying to figure out how to be Jesus to them, but it will come....

Bible Study:  So the church that Peter & I go to is VERY different than what I am used to.  My church at home was Baptist, and this one is Free Methodist.  I'm not sure if every free Methodist church is crazy, but this one is.  They dance sometimes and stuff.  It has been a nice challenge though.  Bible study, too.  I've realized my image of God is WAY smaller than He actually is.  Someone said they would pray for my allergies to go away completely when they found out I was allergic to lots of things.  And you know what, right now, I just realized...my allergies haven't been a problem since then.  I don't know if I want to go eat sunflower seeds to test it out, but plants & animals haven't bothered me much.  Also, after that woman said she'd pray that prayer for me, I kept thinking about it.  And one day, not long after, I was driving in my Mallyboo, and my stinking blinker wasn't working again after a year of it not really working.  I was so frustrated with it.  Then it hit me, why don't I bring my blinker problem to God?  My image of God was so small that I didn't even think He could fix my blinker!!  So I prayed, "Dear God, Will you fix my blinker?  I've tried, and I can't."  And guess what?!  It worked ever since then!!!  I shouldn't have been so surprised.  I'm still not completely comfortable at such a wiggly church, but I am learning and growing.  (I'm peanut butter, they're jelly.  They wiggle, I don't.  Get it?)

Dog:  She's freakin' adorable!  Kevin & Christine can vouch for that.  I've wanted a dog FOREVER, but my parents never wanted one.  So this is my first real dog (except for that one dog that we had for a little bit).  Her name is Lyna (Lie na).  She's more expensive than we planned because of her separation anxiety issues, but it is very much worth it.  Very smart, but hates to be alone.  So we now have her on anti-depressants and take her to doggy day camp when we go to work for the time being.

Peter & My Mallyboo:  Most recently, on Saturday morning, Peter was on his way back from dropping Kevin off at the LAX airport, when he fell asleep at the wheel 1/2 mile from home and hopped a curb and side swiped a tree.  He was completely fine.  The dog was in the backseat and got a cut on her nose from the glass, but that is it other than being traumatized.  My Mallyboo's tire rim was bent, the front passenger window and mirror were shattered, and both passenger side doors were damaged.  The insurance let us know that my car is a "Total Loss."  They are paying us more than I paid for my car 5.5 years and 40,000 miles ago....so I guess that part isn't so bad other than all the hassle.
Currently, I have a rental car until the 8th, and we are looking for a used car for me to use.  When I first got my Mallyboo, I told God that I would use it for Him by taking people to church, etc.  I ended up doing that in a much bigger way than I pictured.  Taking people to retreats, Wal-mart trips, trips to &/or from the airport and train station, long conversations, and so much more.  There were times when I said, no, and I regret that, but I can only hope that whatever car comes into my life next will still be able to be used for God even though I'm not in college anymore.  Y'all know how much I loved my Mallyboo.  I cannot get mad though, because I am so unbelievably thankful that it wasn't any worse than it could have been.  Why God let the side of the car hit the tree as opposed to head on, I am not sure, but forever grateful.