Finding calm in the chaos

Finding calm in the chaos

Thursday, December 21, 2006

ready to go!

After a few days of being lazy and catching up on daytime television, I'm ready to go home for Christmas. Joe & I are planning to exchange our gifts on Saturday, December 23 and then hop in the car for the long 9-hour drive to Lewiston with Schatzi. In this spirit of readiness, I've wrapped all the presents and loaded them in the car, I'm doing laundry so we can pack, and tomorrow, I'm going to Hastings to pick up a few audio books to help the drive go by faster. Schatzi is even tired of being lazy. After a few days of sleeping around the house after her spay surgery, she's perked up and is back at her window, barking at neighborhood cats. We took a short walk yesterday (just 30 minutes instead of the usual hour plus) and she proved she was up to the task, pointing some sparrows in bushes and acting a little like her crazy self. Today, we took a short walk to mail some final Christmas cards...here she is, taking her afternoon nap. :)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Spay-day

Yesterday, Schatzi got spayed and her recovery has been okay. It's brought out the recovery (PACU) nurse in me. She had chills and I desperately wished for some demerol to give her (except I don't know the dog for a dose and, two, I don't have access to narcotics :(. And, despite what the post-op instructions said about "she'll be fine if you limit her water intake", she threw up all evening. So, after the 3rd time of cleaning up my kitchen floor, we stuck to ice cubes for her to crunch on. Poor dog...she was thirsty, but couldn't hold anything down. She kept going in and out, in and out, looking for her water dish to magically be full. This morning, though, she's been chugging down the chicken broth and her stomach seems to be doing better. She's pretty snoozy and just wants to sit down by me and be petted. Hopefully, Schatzi will start to feel more like her crazy self in the next few days.

On other fronts, Joe & I are going to his office Christmas party tonight, which should be fun. And, I got straight A's for the semester...no Bs in college or grad school yet! :)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas is coming!



Finals are done and we've finally started getting ready for Christmas. Our Advent wreath and stockings are up. Mom & I made those stockings together last year for Joe's Christmas present. I love putting up the tree and looking at all the ornaments. Last year, I decided to label each ornament with the year we got it and the name of the giver, so now I can easily pick up an ornament and know we got the little book ornament from the Steiners for our wedding or I got the purple and gold wreath in 1999 when I was on the Bengalette Dance team. Schatzi doesn't seem to mind the tree too much, other than the fact that it is in front of our main window, where she likes to spend her days surveying the neighborhood. The ornaments dangling from the bottom branches occassionally prove to be too much of a temptation and I'll find her bopping one with her nose, which quickly progresses to licking it and then biting it.

Here's a picture of Joe at his birthday party. He's holding up picture frames for his office. The poor guy was alone on his actual birthday, December 9, since I was in Seattle, babysitting Noah. So, we celebrated the night before I left. We had a dinner of Kaufman lasagna (a secret family recipe that takes so long to make, we only make it once a year) and "the best chocolate cake" birthday cake...our traditional Joe's birthday dinner.

Friday, December 08, 2006

At the airport....

Right now, I'm sitting in the Boise airport, sipping coffee and waiting for 9am to roll around so I can board my flight. I'm on my way to Seattle to babysit Fat Baby so his mom can study for finals and his dad can go to a swim meet. I'm sure it's all a ruse so they can get more sleep and work me to death like the last time I came for a visit, but I'm desparate for Noah time (and they bought my ticket), so I'll take what I can get. :)

Finals week is fast approaching and I'm looking forward to it with the weird excitment I always get at this time of the semester. I know I'm strange, but I love finals! I think it helps that I don't get test anxiety and generally do well on my midterms and finals, but I love the focus of my sole purpose for the week being studying and test taking. I love that excitement of knowing that after a few tests, I'll be on vacation. I love the ritual of staying in my pajamas and curling up on the couch with my laptop and books and snacks to study for most of the day. I love the satisfaction of taking the final and looking at my grade at the end, feeling that sense of accomplishment.

Granted, some of this excitement has been diminished now that finals are not my only obligation of finals' week. Married life, dog training, and (in the past) working take some of the sparkle out of my pristine week of studying and test taking. Also, test taking in graduate school isn't what it was as an undergrad. Most of my finals are open book or have an open book retake option since, apparently, the goal of grad school is for us students to become responsible for our own knowledge growth. I guess this can be somewhat justified knowing that in 5 more months, I will be taking the be-all, end-all nurse practitioner certification exam that is not open-book-whatsoever. (Whatever...I say open book exams cheapen the experience!). At least, I've already taken the clinical exams, where the professor watches the student treat a patient...that's an unnerving experience!

So, as I get ready for the week ahead (and my glorious weekend with Noah), here's to finals. Here's to days of flannel PJ's, brownies, and highlighters! Here's to hard-ass professors who stick to the old school rules of no curving, no notes, no books, multiple choice testing! Here's to good grades (hopefully) and suriving another semester of school! Six down and one more to go...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Happy Birthday, Aunt Becca!



Today is my Aunt Becca's birthday. Some of you readers have had the adventure of meeting my fun, quirky, stubborn aunt (life's never dull with her around, is it?). I tell her that she's my "favorite Aunt Becca...even if I had ten other Aunt Becca's". As a child, I remember her doing fun things, like setting up forts for all of us to have water balloon fights, or singing at the top of her lungs as she drove us on family vacations. These pictures were taken when she drove over to Seattle to be present for Noah's birth.

What's your favorite Aunt Becca story?

Cook for a day, eat for a month...

Have you heard of this great idea? You spend one day cooking meals for the whole month, freeze them, enclose directions on the last minute stuff to do before serving (like grate cheese, top with almonds...stuff that doesn't freeze so well), and then thaw when you are ready to eat them! A classmate of mine gave me this idea. He and his wife have 7 children, so they use it quite often. (Wow...7 kids! I have a hard enough time getting dinner on the table for Joe and myself!).

Yesterday, Joe and I spent the day cooking. We bought a cookbook called "Frozen Assets: Lite and Easy" since the original cookbook is mainly recipes based in cream soups and FAT. :) We made 7 meals (which are each 6 servings) and I'm not cooking again till Christmas! It was a long day and we both worked pretty steadily, chopping veggies and then assembling each meal, but in the end, I think it'll be worth it. I figure I usually spend one hour getting dinner ready and then twenty minutes cleaning up after dinner every day. Yesterday, we spent 7 hours cooking and cleaning up...thereby cutting my monthly time down by three-quarters!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving weekend recap

What a great Thanksgiving break! Here's a quick recap:

Thurs: Joe & I made complete Thanksgiving dinner. I was surprised at the amount of pride I felt welling up inside me as I looked at our kitchen table and the feast we'd made. It was a little challenging because, as renters, we are stuck with an oven whose temperature dial doesn't work and it's always a guessing game...but we made it! :) While our turkey cooked, Joe & I took Schatzi out bird hunting for a couple of hours and we got home just in time to take the turkey out of the oven. It was so tender, it fell right off the bones. After eating (and eating, and eating), we sacked out on the couch for an afternoon of movie watching: MI 3 (the best MI yet) and the Da Vinci Code (not as good as the book).

Fri: Joe had to work, so I decided to be industrious, too. I avoided the crazy shopping malls and wrote a paper. Schatzi is feeling better, so we went for a long walk around the neighborhood to burn some energy.

Sat: A lazy day with turkey sandwiches and an afternoon nap. Saturday evening, after Joe got back from taking Schatzi for a hike, I kicked his butt at Scrabble, which is always satisfying (especially since whenever we play Dominoes, I lose...badly).

Sun: After going to Mass, we loaded our bikes in the truck and took Schatzi for a bike ride/run in some grassy fields. Brr...it was cold and windy, but great to be outside. Man, I'm out of shape! It's hard enough riding a bike when you haven't done it for awhile; it's even harder riding one in dirt and grass! Schatzi ran and ran, bounding over the sagebrush. Then, we came home and used our leftover turkey to make turkey noodle soup with homemade noodles. It was great! After eating soup, we had a fun evening at our friends' Erica & Ryan, drinking rootbeer floats and playing pinochle.

And now, we're back to the regular grind of school and work. Good thing Christmas break is only 2 weeks away.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving dinner

Joe and I are having our first Thanksgiving away from home and we decided to cook a whole turkey dinner to help us stay in the holiday spirit.

The Menu
Roasted turkey with a brown sugar dry rub and stuffing
Cranberry sauce
Spicy hot mustard (a traditional Kaufman condiment)
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Carrots with a brown sugar glaze
Homemade bread with butter and Karen Eddy's homemade jam
Riesling
Dessert
Spice cake (from scratch!)
Coffee ice cream
Egg nog
So, as a first time Thanksgiving chef, I've immersed myself in numerous planning guides with schedules and recipes. They all make it sound like quite the ordeal! Following Betty Crocker's orders, I've cooked the carrots, made the cranberry sauce, and Joe has rubbed the turkey down.
I'm looking forward to tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sick puppy


There are two types of nurses in the world in regard to their attitudes about sick people. The first type believes people aren't really that sick; after all, they've seen worse. The second type believes people are that sick; after all, they've seen it get worse. As much as I would like to belong to the first group of nurses, I tend to fall into the second and think the worst about every common ailment that comes along.

So, when Schatzi started settling down early this weekend and napping all day, I hoped it was a sign that she was growing up, but feared she was deathly sick (my crazy Brittany NOT want to play? She must be sick). Sunday, she started having diarrhea, trying to go to the bathroom, but couldn't and wanting to sleep outside (in addition to being eerily well-behaved). I whipped out my stethoscope and did an abdominal exam, finding nothing really wrong, but I was still worried that she might have a little bit of a bowel obstruction or something. Feeling confident (mostly) that she would be okay overnight, I decided to wait till Monday to take her in.

Turns out, Schatzi wasn't growing into the good dog we hoped she would be...she was actually sick. She was running a fever and didn't want to lick the vet's face off like she usually does. The vet said she had colitis and a urinary tract infection and put her on 2 antibiotics. So, now our daily challenge is trying to talk Schatzi into swallowing her pills and only eating rice and chicken until she gets better.

Today, though, she's starting to look like her old self. She slept inside for most of the night before having to go out for the early morning hours and she found her squeaky toy and is playing with gusto as I write this. She's easily distractible, barks at the neighbors, and is looking for new things to chew on. So, there's hope. :)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Shoot 'em up!


So, my Kaufman brothers are here and we've been having a blast. They got here Saturday night after a long day of driving and we had dinner with their college friend, Emma...who is currently a physical therapist student at ISU and is a great girl. We had a great time at dinner and later playing Mexican Train dominoes.

Today, we went to Mass this morning after a great breakfast of elk steak, biscuits and gravy (so long diet!) and then went out shooting for the afternoon. Schatzi joined us and enjoyed running through the grass and sagebrush, but soon tired (I think she's still exhausted after a week of daycare) and took a nap in the truck. We shot pistols, had mock shooting competitions and then the boys shot some clay pigeons. A good time was had by all...and I'm getting better at not flinching when I shoot. :)

Then, we did a little shopping and came home for some soup and freshly baked bread. The boys are heading home tomorrow, but I'm really glad they came for the visit (too bad it is so short)...it makes the week seem more like a holiday week than it otherwise would have (since we are staying here in Idaho Falls for Thanksgiving).

Friday, November 17, 2006

skinny jeans



Have you tried skinny jeans? It's a flash from the 80s and I've been trying to figure out how to wear them for a LONG time. Everyone was wearing them in Europe and I must have tried on 50 pairs. But, unlike those slender tall Europeans, this short, bootylicious girl just couldn't make them look good. (A classmate of mine calls them "womanly thighs", a phrase I like better than heavy thighs). So, I gave up.

But, now the trend has hit Idaho Falls (hardly the fashion capital of the world...a whole year behind the trend, but hey, if it hits Idaho Falls, then I really do have to embrace the fashion). I've found a lot of skinny high school girls wearing the trend with ballet flats, which looked awful on me, so I looked at some blogs online for tips. Tons of self-proclaimed short, heavy girls said they loved their skinny jeans...it was just a matter of finding the right pair and balancing the line with boots to make the ankle look wider.

So, with my wonderful husband in tow, I hit the mall and tried on every pair of skinny jeans I could find. Too many low, low rise expensive pairs at Gap and American Eagle. I was about to give up, but found this pair of skinny Levis at Dillars...for only thirty bucks! And, I got the ankle boots at Old Navy for a mere thirty bucks as well!

I look a little wider in the picture than I do in the mirror, but I attribute that to the fact that I'm not a fashion model nor is my husband a fashion photographer. This jeans are really comfortable and actually help suck some extra flab in, too. It also looks good with a white button down shirt and structured jacket.

So, that's my new fashion find. Being around all these cute young Mormon moms has been pushing me to take more effort in my cuteness...which means doing my hair and make up every day...and buying skinny jeans. :)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Bird hunting


Joe and Schatzi had the adventure of their first bird hunt together today. Joe and his friend, Ryan, took Schatzi out to Deer Park, an old farm, and scouted for pheasants. The grass was much taller than Schatzi (and, in some cases, taller than Joe!), so she had quite the work out, bounding through the grass and occasionally standing on her hind feet to see what was going on.

They got one pheasant. Schatzi wasn't quite sure about the bird. After all, when it stands up, it's as tall as she is. She went to check it out after it was down, but got scared after it had a few dying wing beats. Once Ryan picked up the bird, though, she got close enough to smell it. Joe says she has really good instincts and was good at tracking birds, although they flew away before she was anywhere close to them. She needs practice, but there is hope! We're proud of our little bird dog. :)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Getting ready...


...for some fun Kaufman brother time! I have to say, I have been missing my two Kaufman brothers--Phil and Steve--for a little while now. It's been awhile since I've seen them and a longer while since we did anything fun together (I think since our Europe trip!). But all that is about to change because they are coming to visit us next weekend...whoo hoo! I'm not sure what we'll do, but I'm sure there will be plenty of beer drinking involved...and eating massive amounts of food. After living with Steve and Phil for the better part of a year, I coined the phrase "eating like a Kaufman"...so I'd better stock up.

Other than that, I'm doing homework (as usual). I'm glad the semester is winding down, but why does it have to be so busy all at once? Next week, my major project of the semester is due (is it done? well, no...), I have an intensive clinical workshop, a standardized patient exam, and 3 days of clinicals. It's times like these when I wonder why I haven't learned that procrastinating is BAD.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to my dear old roomie, Deanna! She's 26 today. Tell her happy birthday on her blog (http://deannag.typepad.com).

In other birthday news, Joe got his birthday present this weekend, even though he doesn't turn 26 until December 9th. (I'm a pushover). He's been shooting with a marksmanship group here in Idaho Falls and didn't really have a pistol to compete with, so he got a Glock 9mm to practice with. I told him it was his birthday, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwaanza, Valentine's...(you get the idea) present. :)

So, today, of course, we had to go try out the new pistol. I shot a little with my backpacking pistol, but thought Joe's 9mm kicked more than I liked. We tried to get Schatzi used to gun shots, so every time a shot was fired, we fed her a treat. She did okay, preferring to be inside the truck rather than outside. To the left is a picture of me with one of my targets, shot with my Smith and Wesson model 60 5-shot revolver. Joe wanted me to post this picture since he loves the dichotomy of his liberal wife shooting a gun. :) Can you see my 3 shots? I put a white piece of paper behind the plate so you can see the contrast. The taped holes are Joe's...he's still needs some practice. :)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Stitchin' 'em up!

Ok, I really do have to take a break from my homework and tell you all the big news: I sutured yesterday! On a real live person! And nothing bad happened!

I've been simultaneously dreading and anxiously awaiting the day that I would be faced with the challenge of suturing on a real person. Last year, I went to a suturing workshop, where we learned how to do various stitches and biopsies, and then practiced those newly acquired skills on pigs feet. I struggled, but it was okay. I mean, you can move the pigs foot into whatever position best suits you, the pig's foot can't scream, it doesn't look up at you with tearful eyes, it doesn't jerk away when you inject it with local anesthetic. But, I knew it would be quite a feat (pun intended) to practice those skills on a living, breathing, concious person.

Yesterday, my preceptor came and got me from my little makeshift office at the clinic. We'd had a busy day and I just wanted to chart, but she said, "I know you're busy, but you don't want to miss this." A girl with 2 blue moles (one on her cheek and one on her arm) came in and needed them removed. So, I watched my preceptor punch-biopsy and suture the one on her face and then she watched (and encouraged!) while I did the one on her arm. Two stitches! Whoo hoo!

It's great getting that first experience behind me. Now, I feel like I could suture without any problems (even though, I have to admit, those two stitches were probably the easiest anyone would ever have to do). Watch out world...I'm ready for any lacerations that come my way.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Research assistanceship

Everyone knows that it is the plight of grad students to be penniless and drowning in coursework. However, most grad students are somewhat compensated through research or teaching assistanceships; in fact, many students won't go to a program that won't pay their way.

Not so for graduate nursing students...at least at the master's level. Maybe the school thinks that you'll make so much, it won't matter that you've spent two years in poverty! My school does offer a few assistanceships, but being a distance student, I haven't been able to take advantage of them and have subsisted on loans, loans, loans (and a grant here and there).

Well, all that is about to change. Today, I had an interview at ISU for a research assistant position. It's actually an RA assigned to the whole department, to help faculty members complete literature reviews, apply for grants, and do preliminary data analyses. The interview went well and the professor I interviewed with said she'd recommend me for the position. Whoo hoo! Free tuition and a stipend...funny how that can make one feel like she is rolling in the dough. :) So...the only thing I'm waiting on is to hear if there is funding available for the position. Wish me luck!

In other news, it is 7 degrees tonight in Idaho Falls, but the trick-or-treaters are out in full force and Schatzi is getting some practice at not acting like a maniac when we answer the door. We'll see if the lesson lasts.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Secret revealed...

I know you, dear readers, have been waiting in suspense about my previous post. Well, the surprise can be revealed...I flew to Seattle yesterday to surprise Amy! Mom had a friend who had a free ticket that needed to be used before the 1st of November, so Mom set it up for me to fly to Seattle after finishing clinicals for the week. Unfortunately, it wasn't really the surprise I envisioned because Amy figured it out the day before I arrived, but it's still been a great trip. I'm getting to spend a lot of time with that fat baby, Noah, who is growing up so quickly. He's been babbling a lot and pulling himself up to stand.

Today, Noah and I drove to Bellingham to visit my favorite Gemmers: Deanna, Darin and their bunny, TJ. (Visit Deanna's blog at http://deannag.typepad.com ). It was a lazy day, but I got to see their new kitchen and enjoy a great burger and good conversation. Then, Deanna, Noah, and I ran some errands and that was the end of our short visit.

Tomorrow, we're heading to down to Tacoma to visit our "Seattle parents", Elton and Mercy. Elton is actually my dad's cousin, but we adopted them as our Seattle parents after we started at SU...their home became our home away from home. We're so lucky to have them...and they always feed us so well!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Secrets, secrets...

Ask anyone who knows me...I'm no good at keeping secrets. And, sometimes, I don't even tell them on purpose. One year at Christmas, I volunteered to wrap all the Christmas gifts from our family. Wanting to be original, I wrote on the gift tags more than just your usual "merry Christmas" and wrote (for example) "Dear Grandma, Hope you like your earrings. Love, Jen". I think I'll be eighty before I live that one down.

Other times, I WANT to keep the secret, but then my conscience gets the better of me. Like, when Joe first told Amy he liked me. And, Amy told me but swore I couldn't tell Joe. Well, I kept that secret for about a year, but then I felt bad keeping a secret from Joe, so I told him that I already knew he liked me before he told me. Amy says she won't tell me any secrets any more.

These are but a few examples of how I've spilled the beans many a time in my life. And, while I feel a sense of relief in general after telling my secrets, usually the other people involved aren't too happy with me. But, I'm going on a new record, folks! I've been keeping a secret for almost a week now and haven't told...whoo hoo! Just a few more short days before I can tell it...and this posting is one way for me to let off a little pressure. (Don't worry...I promise I'll post what the secret is by the week's end).

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

pig-phobia?

Just a short post today about my wacky dog. I never gave her credit for being very smart (and I'm not sure that she actually is). Anyway, she generally watches TV and looks interested, but I always assumed it was the voices. A couple of weeks ago, though, we were watching a commercial and a pig came on...and Schatzi went nuts! She ran right up to the TV and started barking away. I didn't even realize she knew what a pig was, but then I remembered she'd seen Jeff's 4-h hog and buddy pig and didn't take too well to those. Well, we had a good laugh at our nutty dog and didn't think about it again.

Tonight, though, on our evening walk, Schatzi suddenly stood stalk still and started stalking some random resin pig that was sitting on someone's front porch. She even crouched down and tried to sneak up on it, flattening herself on the lower step so she could peek up at the pig. She ran around the side to bark at it through the stair rail, but wouldn't get any closer. I started patting the pig, trying to show her there was nothing to be afraid of, but she didn't believe me and started barking wildly (warning me away? Who knows!). Well, it was fun while it lasted, but then I thought the homeowners (whom we don't know) might think this little game of "bark at the pig" was odd and we went on our way, with Schatzi throwing a few more barks over her shoulder at the little resin pig.

So, I guess only time will tell if she ever gets over her pig-phobia.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Spontaneous road trip...

So, this week, I finished a clinical rotation, a midterm, and my homework a bit earlier than expected and I was faced with the glorious possibility of getting ahead on the next week's homework, studying for another midterm, and working on some embroidery projects. The thought of having so much free time to work and the thought of the potentially less stressful week was appealing, but in the end, I didn't take the opportunity.

Instead, I called up Amy, who was planning to be just a mere 7 hour drive away (versus 12+ hrs to Seattle) in Spokane to celebrate Whitworth's homecoming (that's Kevin's alma mater). With some quick scheming and a wonderful, flexible husband, I finished up some last minute things, walked Schatzi so she'd sleep until Joe got home, and jumped in the car for a road trip on a sunny Thursday afternoon. I got to my Aunt Becca's house at 11pm PST on Thursday night and visited with Tancie and A. Becs (and, of course, Priscilla) until Team Eddy arrived at midnight with a sleepy Noah (he woke up quickly and gave us each a smile and slobbery kiss).

It was a short night (we were up till 2am) and Noah came to wake me up at 7am, but we had great time snuggling in bed. It was a great day in all...hanging out with Amy, Noah, Tance, A. Becs and Kevin for a little while. We ate too much at a chinese buffet for lunch and then went to visit my Aunt Choly afterwards. I had to be back home for a study group in Pocatello on Saturday, so after my wonderful day (it was well worth all the driving and tiredness to follow!), I was back on the road for a late night trip to Idaho Falls.

The drive home was not as great as the drive over (is it ever?). I was pretty tired and I kept seeing dead deer on the road, which made me jumpy...scared that another would jump out and I'd be dull and tired enough to hit it. I stopped around 11pm and got a Diet Coke and bought an audiobook from the thin selection at the gas station. "Summer Island"...the only one that wasn't a crime story or horror (who wants to be scared while driving in the dark alone?). Turned out to be a romance set in the San Juan Islands...in fact, Lopez Island played a major part in the story! That made me smile.

I made it home safely early that morning (one-ish) to my wonderful husband and our excited puppy. Poor Schatzi didn't understand it was time to go to bed, even though I'd just gotten there and it took some convincing (and ignoring her pleas) to get her to bed. But, alls well that ends well. I was exhausted, but so glad I took the trip. I was getting a little homesick for my family and Noah is growing up so fast...it makes me a little sad to be so far away. So, I have to take the opportunities I have, even if it means I'm still behind and unprepared for the upcoming midterm. :)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Getting ready for midterms...

How you might ask? Well, not by studying! :) I have a midterm this week and another next week and I promised myself I'd get some studying in, but so far, this weekend, I've done NOTHING productive school-wise.

But, I have been productive in other arenas. Saturday, Joe and I helped load up a U-Haul for a friend, Mandy Chase. Mandy was flying to Alabama with her 2 little boys, so her brothers volunteered to drive her U-Haul down there. So, Joe and I headed over to her storage unit and it brought back such moments of deja-vu...when I moved last June, I was by myself (since Joe was already in Idaho Falls) and desperately needed help. I was so grateful when my wonderful mom, my wonderful Kaufman parents and brothers, Steve and Jeff, my wonderful neighbors (DJ and Melissa Newman), and my wonderful church friends (Earl Stroschein and gang) worked so hard to get my truck loaded and packed. And, then my wonderful friend, Deanna came down with me and helped me unpack. Anyway, I was so glad that Joe and I could help "pay it forward" a little and help load Mandy's U-Haul. Then, I also had some great (much-appreciated) phone visits with Deanna and my sis, Amy on Saturday. I did get some homework in while Joe made a casserole (what a husband!).

Sunday, Joe and I slept in and missed Mass since our dog decided she needed to get up 3 times the night before. This morning, Joe got up first and took his dog downstairs and made a great breakfast. After an extra half hour of laziness, I got up and made up with Schatzi, so we took our dog for a hike on different trail in the Targhee National Forest. We were all looking forward to this new adventure, but it turned into more of an adventure than any of us thought.

At first glance, the trail seemed pretty easy, hiking up a ridge and gradually gaining elevation. Well, about half a mile into the hike, we were surprised with a creek crossing...it was wider and deeper than I felt comfortable with, so we walked around looking for a better place to cross. Eventually, we found a rocky sort of dam, which Joe & I were able to cross, but it was too much for Schatzi. She refused to follow and sat on the bank, howling until I came back to get her. So, Schatzi and I went back to the original crossing, I took off my shoes and rolled up my pant legs and plunged in. Well, it was deeper than I thought, so I ended up with wet pant legs (brr!) and Schatzi had to swim across (which made both of us a little nervous).

Then, as we were going to meet up with Joe, we discovered him on the other side of yet ANOTHER creek crossing. We found a better place to cross, but it took about half an hour and a firm hand on the leash to convince Schatzi she really had to get in the water. After all that, we were a little discouraged. But, the afternoon got better. Schatzi came off her leash as we took a stab at blazing our own trail to find a return route without creek crossings. Joe spotted a grouse, which he didn't get a shot at. And, we set up our new tent (just for kicks), which is way roomier than our old one.

So, now we're home. Joe & I have had hot showers so I'm no longer chilled. Schatzi is exhausted and snuggled down her bed. And I"m blogging instead of studying...maybe I'll start tomorrow. :)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Targhee National Forest

School has been crazy and I have been remiss in posting...sorry. I was going to do it last night, but got all caught up in a "Project Runway" marathon, trying to catch the episodes I'd missed from Season 3, only to discover I hadn't missed any at all. Oh, well. Got to procrastinate somehow.

Anyway, last weekend, Joe and I decided to go on our annual fall backpacking trip. I love backpacking in early fall and mid-spring, even if it means you have to carry more stuff to keep warm. One summer, we decided it would be great to go in the summer since it meant we could take a little tarp and theoretically less weight. Well, that one trip turned me off to summer backpacking forever...our packs were weighted down (not with warm clothes) but with tons of water as we hiked in the heat (I sweated so much that I felt grains of salt on my forehead!)...and were slowed because I had to scratch all the bug bites I got whilst sleeping under our open tarp. So, no more summer trips.

This fall trip was especially fun. It was the first time I'd been to the Targhee National Forest and saw these beautiful aspens changing colors among the evergreens. It was so beautiful! In the picture below, that's Joe and me, 8000+ feet, with the Tetons in the distance (and our dog, distracted by something shiny). And, it was Schatzi's first time hiking. She did so well, which made the trip even more fun. We were able to let her off leash and she roamed a little distance away and came back. After 6 miles of hiking up a couple of thousand feet, she was pretty tired that night and ended up sleeping for 13 hours straight! Even though I packed her sleeping bag and Joe packed a sleeping mat, we should have left them at home, since Schatzi ended up snuggled inside my sleeping bag early in the morning. :) I told Joe, "I bet Schatzi thinks our little tent is her crate and she's like, 'Oh, my people are sleeping in my crate with me! Sleep over!'". (Joe hates it when I anthropomorphize our dog...so he just rolled his eyes.)

Other firsts: we forded some creeks (pretty cold!) and I fell off a log while trying to prove my legs were just as long as Joe's (they weren't), but just got a few bumps and scrapes (and a wet butt!). Schatzi discovered that being in the water wouldn't actually kill her (after all), so she began fording the creeks without any cajoling after awhile. (The picture to the left is of Schatzi and me, warming ourselves in the morning over the nice fire Joe built for his girls).

And, since then, we've been recovering. (We also discovered that going backpacking only twice a year leads to some sore bodies!). Schatzi's a little tired, too, which is a blessing. :) But, there's another hike on the horizon for this weekend, so maybe it won't be quite as painful this time.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Jordan, Montana

Joe and I attended our last wedding of the season last weekend. Theresa, a friend of Anne (the bride), drove from Boise to pick us up in Idaho Falls and the three of us braved the 8 hours across the state of Montana to the little town of Jordan (population about 5oo). Even though it was the first day of fall, the weather felt more like early winter! It was about 45 degrees, rainy, muddy, windy...not the weather Anne and her fiance Eric expected. So, with a few last minute changes, the wedding was moved inside a barn on the fair grounds and a great barn dance was held in the same space for the reception.

It was such a fun weekend. We spent time with old friends, met some new ones, and Joe and I really enjoyed getting away for the weekend. Anne and Eric looked so happy and we loved being a part of the wedding. Theresa was the official photographer, so Joe and I helped with that. I got to hold the reflector since I don't actually have any photography skills. After the wedding, we ate some great roasted pork (Anne works for the Montana pork board), went back to the motel to nap briefly and change into some jeans, and then came back for the barn dance, where we danced the night away (it was either that or freeze!). Our evening was capped off with a spectacular view of the Northern lights.

We're so happy for Anne and Eric. They looked so happy together...we're just sorry they're so far away. :(

Here are some pictures: Anne and Eric, exchanging vows (above); A.T., the ringbearer, taking advantage of the mud (near left); Joe, setting up some pictures...what a great backdrop!(far left); and, Anne, the beautiful bride, trying not to freeze or lose her veil in the wind (below).



Monday, September 18, 2006

I hate computers!

Okay, maybe HATE is a strong word, but I am extremely frustrated right now and wondering why I didn't do something useful with my life, like study computer science so I could fix my own stupid laptop (instead of nursing!).

My life revolves around my computer so much right now since it's a busy time for school and Delmer (my laptop) decides to go ahead and die. It all started Friday when I tried to give him some preventative healthcare by upgrading his Norton Antivirus 2005 to Norton Internet Security 2007. Boy, he didn't like that. Wouldn't install. Couldn't uninstall the 2005. I finally got so frustrated, I put Joe on the project...motivating him with the promise of a batch of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies by the end of the weekend if he could fix it.

Well, it's Monday and there are no cookies in this house. Joe tells me I'm lucky he stuck around after all the frustrating things I made him work on (just kidding...he would never say that, but he had that look about him). So, today, we both called it quits. We are taking Delmer to a professional and hopefully, this guy can fix it so I can just get on with my life. (Interestingly, when I called the computer repair place, they said they'd had a history of problems with Norton before...hhhmmm.).

Until then, I am tied to my desktop (Della II) and not making much progress because she is a bit of a dinosaur computer. (Sigh). Just had to vent.

Friday, September 15, 2006

No longer newlyweds


So, after 3 years of marriage, I think that Joe and I no longer qualify as newlyweds. Good thing we celebrated our anniversary on Sunday because when the big day finally rolled around on Wednesday...we both forgot! Granted, we had a few issues to distract us: Joe's truck's power steering went out the night before and we were scrambling to get me to clinicals (I had to round at the hospital at 6:30am!) and Joe to work and get Schatzi squared away in the midst of it all. It was hardly a romantic morning! In fact, I only realized it was our anniversary AFTER looking at my palm pilot. (Joe only realized after his wonderful family called to wish us a happy anniversary).

After work/clinicals (a 13 hour day for both of us), we decided to celebrate a little by both of us walking Schatzi, so we could get some together time in on our anniversary. Then, Joe made dinner and I crashed on the couch. A few years ago, I would have been horrified to learn this was how we'd spend an anniversary, but now I'm okay with it. Marriage occurs in the context of real life and we have to celebrate our committment in the midst of it...power steering, exhausting days, and dog walking. :)

Here's to a great 4th year!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Montana wedding

I'm having issues posting pictures and have sent off a plea for help to Blogger, so until then, no pictures, just text for my adoring readers. :)

Joe and I went to Paradise, MT this weekend to attend Larenda (my first cousin once removed) Altmiller and Kelly Bennett's wedding. We met up with my grandparents, Amy, Noah, and my mom and rented a cabin together. (Schatzi had her first boarding experience at the Ameripet Hotel in Idaho Falls, which went okay). Larenda & Kelly got married in a field overlooking the Clark Fork River. Their wedding was beautiful (although no mention of God), thoughtful, and personal...it was a nice way to kick off the celebration of OUR third wedding anniversary (which is this Wednesday).

After driving home on Sunday, Joe & I decided to take advantage of Schatzi still being boarded and went out for our anniversary date. We got dressed up and ate a delicious dinner at Johnny Carino's, reminiscing over how far we've come since we were truly newlyweds and discussing where we saw our life going in the next few years. Then, home for some relaxing and movie-watching (and a good foot rub from Joe!) and off to bed for some much needed sleep after a full weekend.

I'll try to add pictures of our date and that beautiful bride if I ever get this figured out.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Overworked, underpaid...

That's how I'm feeling these days...so much to do and so little time! And so little money to have fun with. I guess that is the life of a grad student, huh? This week, I started my clinical rotations at the cardiology clinic, have a presentation due Friday, started helping one of my professors with a research project that looks like it will take more time than I committed to, and need to get ready to go to my cousin, Larenda's wedding on Saturday. All that on top of the usual homework, housework, married life, and puppy training. And, I have a cold. What's a girl to do? (Well, whine and moan on her blog, of course!).

On the upside, my clinicals have been great (sure, I've only done one day, butI have a great feeling). My preceptor is very encouraging and empowering. I've gotten to see patients independently and then tell her what I think we should do...and she even told one of the cardiologists that I'm a very smart student! :). So, I feel a bit like a fish out of water when it comes to heart stuff, but more comfortable with myself in the NP role. I felt really good when I caught something important in one particular patient..something that had been missed on TWO previous visits. So, there is hope!

No pictures today, but I'll post a link to the clinical site so you can all see where I'm working these days. http://easternidahocardiology.com/

Monday, September 04, 2006

Birthday girls!


So, we're twenty-five...no longer two girls in our early twenties. It's quite a milestone, don't you think? Amy, Kevin, Noah, and my mom came down to Idaho Falls so that Amy & I could celebrate our birthday together. It's a pact we made a while ago: we always have to celebrate our birthday together, no matter what. We also made the caveat that whoever had the youngest kids got to stay home while the other twin came to her, but that didn't happen this year because Mom & Kevin wanted an excuse to visit us fun Kaufmans in Idaho Falls.

It was a great week together filled with fun times: putting together childhood photo albums; watching reruns of Project Runway; eating, eating, eating; taking Schatzi and Noah to the park. The week was capped off with a great birthday dinner of grilled chicken with mango salsa, a roasted pepper with carmelized onion salad, and, of course, chocolate birthday cake (no eggs, no milk per Noah's request) garnished with chocolate sauce and bananas. Now, I think I gained at least 5 lbs after that dinner, but it was oh-so-good. How often does one turn 25 anyway?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Agility dog



Schatzi and I have been in an intermediate obedience class for the past couple of weeks and it’s been so much fun. In the puppy class, we worked on things like “sit”, “stay”, “down”, “come”, and “heel”. In this class, we’re more fast paced, working on heeling in a pattern, heeling at different speeds, jumps, bridges, and turns. And, it’s in this fast paced, sort of agility class that Schatzi’s potential has been realized: as an agility dog.

Let’s face it: in her puppy class, Schatzi was a slow learner. She was that kid in the class who was always staring off into space, daydreaming about chasing birds…except that she really would chase them. It was so hard to get her to do what I wanted her to do because she couldn’t really focus. I had resigned myself to having a sweet, yet dumb dog. Here's a picture of Schatzi getting distracted by her favorite toy, Noah.

The instructor of our puppy class recommended we take the intermediate class because she thought that Schatzi, as a sporting dog, would have a much better experience. And Schatzi has! When we run and heel at a pattern, she heels beautifully, watching me for direction, rather than pouncing fuzzy dandelions in the grass. She leapt over jumps perfectly on the first time and we were even able to raise them a little. I think now that we’ve finally found something interesting for Schatzi to do, she might be a little easier to train.

Here’s some pictures of this growing agility dog! She’s up to 20 pounds and no longer fits perfectly in my lap (although she tries!). She's becoming a better retriever every day...and a better pet with better housemanners...there is hope!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Much ado about...nursing

I've been a little remiss about posting because I still can't find my darn camera...and I'm scared of Joe's digital camera...guess I'll have to get over that and just post some pictures. But, until then, I'll just write some text and you'll have to bear with me.

So, ever since my BSN program, I've had an interest in nursing research. At one point, I contemplated entering UW's BSN to PhD program, but married life, Joe's grad school, and the subsequent moves have changed that plan a bit. Being a rural nurse and somewhat frustrated at the lack of autonomy and collegiality with physicians, I decided to join the most feasible graduate program in nursing: family nurse practitioner. While I love clinical practice, I'm not sure that it will hold my interest forever (although, unlike some graduate nursing degrees, it will hold a JOB forever!). So, I've been thinking more about additional graduate tracks to gain research experience, such as UW's distance Doctorate of Nursing Practice program and various distance PhD programs.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Missing college...


Today, while procrastinating on all the cardiology literature I need to go through (and all of my other homework!), I was checking my email and found a little surprise from my friend (and fellow Motherpucker...that's our IM Floor Hockey team from Bellarmine!), Tony. He sent me this picture with a little reflection on how OLD we are getting and what a long time ago this sophomore year pumpkin patch trip seemed like.

Ah, I miss college. Maybe grad school was a subconcious effort to recapture that undergraduate feeling, but I certainly missed the mark! My undergrad experience at Seattle U was wonderful and I'm not sure I really appreciated it at the time. I remember feeling stressed and overworked a lot...not partaking in the unique college joys of partying, streaking, and other eyebrow-raising activities because I felt too busy. But, SU was the one time in my life that I had friends all around me just across the street, who were always up to something fun...the time I had a fairly flexible schedule...the time when I had time to reflect and grow, serve through Campus Ministry, OAs, NSNA, Belize. It was a rich, fun time and I am a bit nostalgic for that.

I guess it's always a challenge to grow up and get out into the real world. I remember making fun of those recent college graduates who still hung around SU, not being able to let go and move on. But, now, I can better understand their dilemma...grow up and leave this amazing community OR just hang around, enjoy the richness of my environment, and let people think I'm a slacker? It's hard to make your own niche in the big wide world after you've carved one so nicely after 4 years at SU. So many facets of your life have to change: who will I hang out with? what job will I love as much as my coursework? what church will I go to? how will I express my faith in my daily living?

But, to paraphrase a wise Engaged Encounter minister, there is sacredness in tough things. And so, myself and my wonderful community of SU friends are moving out into the world, trying to carve out our own paths and trying to carve them in a manner that reflects the people we have grown to be. We have community through email, rare visits, phone calls, and silly blogs like these. And, we are finding community in the places we have landed.

But, wouldn't you give anything to just have one week back in good old Bellarmine without any responsibilities? We should create a retreat like that!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Conquering the french knot! (Do not read this entry if you are getting married this Sept.)

So, September is the new June when it comes to weddings. We've been invited to 3 weddings on 3 consecutive Saturdays, each a 5 hour or more drive away from Idaho Falls. Sadly, we've had to weasle out of the middle wedding of our good friends, Toby & Carmella. Gas, hotel, kennel costs...all on a grad student budget! So, that leaves my cousin Larenda (and her fiance' Kelly)'s wedding on September 9 and our good friend, Anne, and her fiance' Eric's, wedding on September 23.

Normally, I'm strictly a wedding registry shopper. I mean, Joe and I appreciated all of our wedding gifts, but the registry gifts were SOOO convenient. First of all, we loved them (we already picked them out...duh!). Second, we had a use for them (see previous sentence). Third, if we had duplicates, we could return them easily. The non-registry gifts were more challenging and we got some WAY out there gifts...like a plastic Coke lamp and a leopard print blanket (I have to ask...were these regifts?!?). So, following the golden rule, I generally buy off the registry.

But, now I'm deviating from my normal plan. I really wanted to get these 3 awesome couples something special...something they never even knew they wanted. But, time being limited and my skills also being limited, I couldn't think of anything. Suddenly, yesterday, it came to me. One of my favorite wedding gifts was an "Our first Christmas" ornament. I loved opening it and thinking of the memories we would make together. So, I decided I would embroider such ornaments.

I picked out a cute pattern and all was going well until...I read the directions. The stupid pattern requires French knots. Well, I avoid these suckers at all costs because I don't really know how to do them and it's really difficult to learn stitches from a diagram. But, today, I finally figured it out...without help...off the stupid diagram. Whoo hoo! I feel like a rockstar.

That is all. I will post pictures when the ornaments are done. On the back burner, school started this week and so did Schatzi's intermediate puppy class. More on those topics later....

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fun, fun, fun in the sun...

Since we had to return Noah and Amy to Kevin in Coeur d'Alene on Friday, we decided we would spend the weekend up there with the Jacksons and Cleto-Doruths. The rest of the family was there to celebrate Priscilla (A. Becca's Yorkie)'s birthday (I know how it sounds...crazy, but true), so we got to enjoy everyone. After a late, tiring road trip to CDA on Friday, we slept in a bit on Saturday and then U. Mark took Amy, Joe, Sydney and me out on Lake CDA for some tubing. None of us were wearing swimsuits, but we decided to get in anyway. Joe & Amy joined Sydney on separate tubes and they looked like they were having so much fun, I decided I wanted a turn...jeans and all. However, as soon as Sydney was safely back in the boat, U. Mark took a devilish turn. I should have known something was up because as soon as I got on the tube with Amy, she started yammering away, "Ok, you and me, we're on a team...a team against U. Mark. So do what I tell you to so we don't fall off!". It was an exhilarating ride and no one fell off until Joe joined the two of us...then Amy got dumped over backwards. I had so much fun! I never realized how much work tubing was, though...my arms and hands were so tired from holding on and my back and abs were stiff the next day from trying to obey Amy's "lean this way NOW!" commands. What a workout!

Below, is a picture of Sydney on her separate tube with Amy & Joe in theirs. And then, there is a picture of the water falls that we went over....just kidding! I just threw that one in there. Joe took a picture of this diversion while he was on his pump route at work.

We finished off the day by catching a matinee of "Talladaga Nights" (funny, funny, funny if you like dumb movies!) with our favorite curly-haired friend, Kevin Eddy. Go see dumb movies with him...he's a riot! Joe says he loves having Kevin with him because Kevin laughs so loud at the movie that Joe doesn't feel self-concious.

We capped off the weekend with a leisurely drive home on Sunday, taking the scenic route through Salmon, ID. In Salmon, we stopped at Bertram's Brewery and ate outside, so Schatzi could join us. Best beer, brats and sauerkraut EVER (okay, except for maybe Berlin, but how often do we get to go there?). When we got home, my college buddy, Tony Pehanich, called and we had a nice phone visit (give a shout out if you are reading, chief!), which we hadn't done in too long. Nice way to end a great weekend.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Houseguests and fish smell after 3 days...

...except when it's your godson and sister! :) After a LONG, LONG road trip (the trip from Lewiston to Idaho Falls is already testing, let alone with a 3 month old baby and a 3 month old puppy!), Amy, Noah, Schatzi, and I arrived in Idaho Falls Monday night. Between the busyness of a baby and the busyness of a puppy, there has been little time to post, but here I am finally. I wish I could post pictures, but my camera is MIA again. I hope that it will turn up somewhere soon!

It's so wonderful to have Amy & Noah here. I miss them both so much and our road trip has reinforced the fact that, yes, we do live quite a distance apart, which is a little hard on everyone. But, I've been trying to enjoy my Noah time while I can. We'll take mom and baby back to Coeur d'Alene, where they'll stay for a week. Then, they (with Mom and Kevin) will drive back to Idaho Falls to celebrate Amy and my birthday.

I've loved getting to know Noah better. He's a fat, fat baby! At 16+ pounds, he's the size of most 6month olds. He's smiling, laughing, and reaching for things. During a late night diaper change, he suddenly realized he could grab my hair AND suck his toes...that made him laugh! Amy's been avoiding milk products like the plague because she and her doctor think maybe Noah has some allergy to milk that is causing his rectum to be inflamed (protein-induced proctitis). We've seen some progress with Amy's new diet, but his ice-cream-loving mama hopes he'll outgrow this soon.

In other news, Schatzi has graduated from puppy class (not exactly with honors, but we'll take it!). She starts her intermediate obedience class on August 22nd. She's growing like a weed. It's pretty incredible. Joe, Schatzi and I were running in the park last night and Joe and I both realized that our dog can finally outrun us...it makes me glad we've been diligently working on "come" and other commands so hard while she was little and we could still physically enforce most of them. Now, her nose is coffeetable height and she's trying to jump to reach counter and tabletops...another challenge! These newfound traits test our patience, but we really are enjoying her more now that she's grown a little. At 13 weeks, she's learned to settle down a bit more and rest in her special spots around the house, so we can all be together more. It won't be long before she can jump the baby gate that confines her to the kitchen, so we are extra motivated to teach her how to behave in the rest of the house.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A week in review...

It's been awhile since my last post, so I'll try to summarize our week.
FRIDAY
Woke up in Spokane at my Aunt Becca's house. Schatzi terrorized Priscilla for a few hours, then we hit the road to Moscow so Joe could attend his meeting. Kevin, Mom, Amy & Noah picked me up to see newborn Kaleb (Rebecca Clapperton's new baby) and then we visited the Kaufmans for a few hours. Headed up to Orofino to stay at Lola's in the evening, but got delayed when Highway 12 was closed due to a fire.
SATURDAY
After breakfast at our favorite Orofino restaurant, Ponderosa, we headed up to Johnson's Bar on the Selway River for the Altmiller family reunion. Everyone had a good time meeting Noah and Schatzi for the first time and Schatzi had a great time playing with her sister, Brookie, who belongs to my grandparents.
SUNDAY
Drove back down to Lewiston and went to the Kaufmans to celebrate Steve's birthday. My grandparents and Mom joined the celebration. Jeff had a great time shooting with my grandpa and his dad and brothers. Joe flew home that evening. :( Miss that husband of mine already!
MONDAY
Lazy day...whoo hoo! Took a glorious morning nap at my mom's and then spent the rest of the day working on my Europe album.
TUESDAY
The Jacksons came down to Lewiston because Uncle Mark had to do a deposition at Juvy Hall. Hails and Syd met Schatzi for the first time (except Syd thinks her name is Yahtzee!). We watched Nanny McPhee and ate shortbread cookies. Uncle Mark got done early and spearheaded a clean-up of Grace (our car). She looked like new (inside AND out) until a thunderstorm blew in that evening! Tuesday night, Schatzi and I went to the Kaufmans' to camp out with Jeff. Since there was a storm coming in, we set up camp in the living room and Jeff and I pretended we were soldiers, heated up an MRE, and patrolled the outside perimeter while Schatzi took a potty break. Fun times!
WEDNESDAY
Had a great breakfast with Dad Kaufman, Jeff, Hank, and Ed at Jeffrey's restaurant before Lola and I drove to Vantage, WA to pick up Amy & Noah. (Poor Schatzi thinks she lives in the car!). After a long day in the car, we dropped Amy, Noah, Lola, and Schatzi back at home and went to Steve's new house in Palouse for a housewarming party.
THURSDAY
After a rough night's sleep (between Noah and Schatzi) we got an early start (too early!). Then, took Noah & Amy to the Eddys' for some quality time while Lola and I ran some errands. Now we are back at home, hoping for a quick nap before Tancie and Lauren get here this evening.

It's been a fun week and I've got to see so many family members! Tomorrow, I have to work, so until later....that's all for these wildly exciting adventures.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Euro trip 2006 (part 2)



Okay, too many pictures for the last posting.

Cinque Terre : Joe & I on our balcony one evening; Phil, Joe & I on the trail between the towns of the Cinque Terre.


Paris: Joe & I, at the Eiffel Tower.

Euro trip 2006 (Part 1)






To celebrate finally getting all of our Euro trip pictures in an album, I thought I'd post some highlights of our trip from London to Rome.

London: Here's the changing of the guards. We were only there for a short day...enough time to get over jet lag and then a quick trip to Brussels.



Amsterdam: We stopped in the Netherlands to visit a friend, Meinou, who took us to Zuiderzeemuseum (a period village). There's a picture of Steve and me at the train station.

Berlin: Left to right: Joe and me at the Berlin Wall, a picture of Joe at a museum, the gang traveling (and drinking!) on a German train.



Venice: Us on the train to Venice with some newfound friends; Joe and me at a romantic trattoria in Venice; Steve on some canal steps.


Rome: Steve, Jen & Joe at the Coloseum; Jen's henna tattoo (Phil got one to match!); Steve, Chase, and Phil, showing the hands that touched the Pope; and the Pope himself.





Monday, July 31, 2006

Tex creek wildlife area...


This weekend, Joe & I took Schatzi for a trial run camping in preparation for our Altmiller family reunion next weekend. Joe picked out a tent so we could car camp (and save on gas) instead of pulling our tent trailer with the truck. Can I just say, car camping is SOOO easy compared to backpacking. You set up the tent and then you are free to hike WITHOUT any heavy packs, come back to camp to eat, sleep in, and so forth. What a lazy, enjoyable weekend! Well, not for Schatzi..she had a great time playing in the tall grass. :)

We set up camp Friday night after work. It was my first time to plan the whole camping trip and, while well-planned, was not quite perfectly executed. In the chaos of hurrying Joe to get out the door and manage Schatzi's pre-trip potty, I forgot to load the water and the mosquito repellent. So, we stayed Friday night and drove the hour home on Saturday to retrieve the much needed supplies. (A quick shower, too!). Then, we drove to Palisades Reservoir to explore some hiking trails. Schatzi did so well in the car...it gave me hope for our long car trip ahead. That evening, we took Schatzi for a short hike near camp. She wasn't sure that she wanted to venture into the sagebrush, but after I carried her over the first bush and told her we weren't turning back, she decided it wasn't so bad after all and soon smelled some birds and decided she loved hiking after all. Joe snapped a picture of "his girls" on the hike.

Sunday, I slept in while Joe visited with a Fish and Game volunteer. The volunteer, an elderly gentleman, said he was surprised to see us out there...apparently, the "roads are so bad" that no one ventures out to the area very often. We both thought southern Idahoans must be pretty spoiled with their road quality because all of the roads were much nicer than the logging roads we used to drive in Northern Idaho. After breakfast, we packed up and took a drive to Mesa Falls and then back to home for a lazy evening, watching "The Benchwarmers".