Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bed Makover

Earlier this year I upgraded from a twin bed to a queen. As one of my friends put it, "you're a grown woman now, you should have a grown up bed." My twin was less than a year old (I had slept on an oldoldold twin bed for years that creaked and squeaked every time I moved... no wonder I hadn't been getting good sleep for many many months!) so I posted it on ksl classifieds and sold it a few months later after reducing the price multiple times and taking a significant loss.

The exchange happened really fast - they texted, and came to pick it up hours later - so I called RC Willey and asked for the same bed I had bought in a twin last fall but in a queen size. After one night spent on the floor (big mistake - I'm not as young as I used to be), the bed came and I was in love.

Not only did I have enough room to stretch and sprawl, but I could stretch and sprawl with all three creatures around me and not kick any of them off. It was so nice to have that much space! Even now, five/six months later, I still sleep diagonally across the bed sometimes just because I can.

While I had the twin, I had used the same quilt I had had since I was 18 (a birthday present from the YW presidency). It was a light blue and white with flowers on it, stained from years of use. After getting the queen, I bought a bigger blanket in a light green color.

Seen here.

A couple of weeks ago I went to Kohl's with a 30% off coupon and came back with another pair of sheets (I love browns and creams).

New sheets seen here:

And a comforter! I can't tell you the last time I had a comforter on my bed. But it's brown and soft and warm and I love it.

I also grabbed a super-soft super-wonderfully-soft sherpa throw (the plaid patterned one). The underside is fuzzy and warm and fantastic. Then to protect it somewhat from the dogs if they jump on the bed when they're dirty I kept my old soft blanket (not as soft as the sherpa thing, but still nice) and overlapped it.

Max approves.

And so does Belle.

I'm a huge fan myself.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Visiting Veterans - Part Two (and sad news)

Max and I went back to work with vetereans last night. Once again, I feel like we had a great visit. I'll just get right into the things that I don't want to forget:

- being called "ma'am" many many times within a 60-minute period
- getting a chance to thank some of them for their service
- being thanked for thanking them for their service {often in the form of - "thank you for saying that."}
- the man from before, "Mike", who just loved Max the first time getting really excited to see him again in the hallway
- Mike telling us how it makes such a big difference when he sees Max - it relaxes him and he's nicer to people after the visit
- Max just being awesome again. I have a friend at work that I saw today and when I told her I went back last night the remainder of our conversation went like this - "and?" "they loved Max." "not surprised." (and she's not a dog person. I swear, this dog is magical.) (:

It was another nice visit.

And now for the sad news.

I was told on the way to the visit by Nancy (a mentor from TAU has come with me both times to get things settled and figured out) that after last night I wouldn't be able to go back because the staff didn't have anyone that they could keep in the room with me while I was there. I admit - I cried a little after hearing that. I have loved being there. I've said this before, but the big reason I wanted to get Max and I registered with TAU was so that I could work with veterans. I've specifically wanted to work with those struggling with PTSD and other psychiatric issues.

Nancy said that they've already done a site assessment another location for visiting veterans and that I can start there as soon as I want to basically. They'll have someone on staff with me all the time too. We swung over there and saw a few residents in a common area and visited for a bit. It'll be nice to visit there, but I really will miss the hospital even though I've only been there twice.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Visiting Veterans

I started this post writing the background to the therapy dog stuff that I've been doing. I decided I'm going to stick all of that at the bottom as more of an optional read. And I'll just jump into our time with the veterans.

Saturday afternoon Max and I went to visit veterans.

I was a little nervous about the visit, but mostly excited. I had been to the facility before, so I was familiar with the setup, and I knew we would be visiting in the TV room so that it was completely optional for the guys to come in and join us or avoid us completely.

While we were there we saw about 8-10 men. One of them stayed the whole time.

Here are some of things I want to remember -

- we walked in and immediately a  guy came up and wanted to pet Max, and then asked if he could bring him some water. I carry water around with me whenever we go on these visits, but I remembered from the class I took from TAU that some of the people you visit really want a chance to take care of/help/nurture something/someone. I told him that would be great. When he brought the water to Max I was so glad that Max decided he was thirsty. (:

- once we got set up in the room, Max was invited onto the couch. I put his blanket on there so he'd know he was allowed (he's not allowed on the furniture at home) and he settled in between two guys (one of them was the man who stayed the whole time, we'll call him Mike).

- occasionally I'd get Max off the couch and he'd spend some time with some other guys who had come in to visit.

- Max got called "Boss" by an older gentleman that was there.

- near the end of the visit, Max was on the couch by the Mike and decided to really settle in and get himself comfortable so he put his head on the Mike's lap. I love it when he physically connects with people like that.

- one other man we met started crying when he was telling us (Nancy, a mentor with TAU, was with me since it's a new location for volunteers) about two dogs that he had had to put down recently.

- throughout the visit the water bowl got moved aside and then different men would take turns taking it and offering it to Max again - just wanting to make sure he had enough.

It really was such a great visit. I loved it. I loved it more than I thought I would. And I think Max enjoyed it too. Of course, if I got a full-body massage every time I went to work (like he does) I think I'd really love it too. (:

We're going back tomorrow (there's some schedule shuffling happening but since I won't be able to go this Saturday we shifted it to Thursday), and I'm so glad this is going to be a regular thing!

Here's Max after the visit.

He always gets exhausted after visits like that. It can't be easy being so charming and lovable all the time. (:

And here's the background info that I was going to post before. If you're interested...

Some background because I can't remember if I've really talked about this on here (But I don't feel like looking back at old posts right now).

Last year November I took the handler's course for Therapy Animals of Utah (TAU). It's a day-long course where the human half of future therapy animal teams learn what their pets need to be able to do in order to become a therapy animal. We learned a lot about learning to read stress signals in animals so that we would know if our pet gets really stressed during visits. If the pet does get really stressed, you need to end the visit quickly and get them out of there. They want to make sure the visits are as enjoyable for the animals as they are for the people - and stressed animals don't enjoy visits as much as non-stressed animals do.

Anyway, after taking the course I signed up for the team evaluation in February. We went, and Max had an ear infection. They don't do evaluations in animals who are sick - including ear infected animals. So we didn't make it past the physical.

We got in again in March, and he passed wonderfully. They loved him.

One - big - reason I wanted to do this with him was so that we could work with veterans. I read an article a few years ago about a therapy dog that would visit veterans who were suffering from PTSD and I decided then that I wanted to do that with Max. I was already pretty sure that he was a prime candidate to become a therapy animal and that was one population that I really wanted to work with.

In August I went to this facility and started the process to become a volunteer. This includes a background check and two TB tests. I had to go back there after work three times in a couple of weeks. After that I had to wait for my background check to be completed. A couple of weeks later I got an email saying that I had passed (shocker, I know), and we started getting things set up.

A quiz and orientation with volunteer services, a few emails back and forth with my contact, a tour of the place I would be visiting, a visit with the nurse manager there (all of this taking place over 3 weeks or so), and I was good to go. Long process, but looking at our first visit, I can say that it was definitely worth it!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bad Dog and Good People

Don't worry. The irony is not lost on me - not at all - that after mentioning that I have a raving-about-Max post pending I end up posting next about what a bad dog he is. I'll probably still post that other one (whenever I get around to writing it) because this post doesn't make that post any less true. I've realized that while he is an awesome dog in so many ways, he's still human. Or, not, rather. But you know what I mean.

Oh the way to take my brother to the airport I ignored a phone call from a number I didn't know (I do that). They left a message and when I played it I heard, "I'm on the trail and I have your dog Max." Before I could call them back, and as Graydon is parking the car and getting out, they called again. She told me where they were, I told her where I lived - just North of where they were, she said she'd walk him North. The problem is, I wasn't home, and I still had to go back to work until at least 3 (early day today, yay!). I told her that I have great neighbors and if they were home they would help me with this. I texted Marie my address and then called Susan. After a quick catch up chat she asks, "What can I do for you?"

This is how wonderful she is.

I told her it was sad, but she was right. Every time I call her I'm asking for something. I quickly explained and she said she'd get shoes on right then and walk toward the trail. I texted Marie to let her know my neighbor was walking to meet her and she texted me this -

my bad dog with Susan.

I thanked Marie again, she told me that Max was really sweet and "such a good dog." When they called him over he came right to them, when they told him to sit he sat...

He's a good dog except when he decides to be an escape artist! Drives me crazy.

Susan called me later and said Belle was in the front yard when she took Max home so she put them both inside. I told her that I owed her dinner for at least a week and she said "No, that's what neighbors do!"

I'm so glad that people like him when they meet him but I really wish he didn't feel the need to make new friends this way.

So there's my story. I have a bad dog, and I am so so so grateful for good - and super-helpful - people who go out of their way to help others. Marie mentioned this was their second "rescue" in as many weeks. What a good lady! And Susan and Brad are saints. They have been so helpful in so many ways. I am so blessed to have people like Marie and Susan in my life - and so is Max!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Big News!

I have a post pending that is going to go on and on about what a good dog Max is.

You've been warned.

(It actually won't be that bad - promise! But while a friend of mine was over at my house this last weekend being sick, he was at his rock star therapy dog finest and hung out with her a few times after I left the room. And that dog follows me everywhere. So he knew what he was doing. He knew. And he's such a good dog. (: I've come to the conclusion that if there's someone who doesn't like this dog, there's something wrong with them. Because he's just great. Right Jen B.? :)

On to the big news!

A few years ago I read an article about a therapy dog working with veterans. I decided right then that that's what I wanted to do with a therapy dog. Come last November, I finally took the day-long course required for the human part of the team. In February I took him in for our evaluation and we couldn't do most of it because he had an ear infection (they start with a mini-physical and won't do the evaluation if there are any open wounds, infections, etc.). March was full, we went back in April and passed with really good scores. I may have written about that before. Anyway, that's a summary of it all.

Then, this past summer our first therapy dog outing was to the West Jordan library. While we were there I was talking to Deb (the director of Therapy Animals of Utah - TAU) about trying to get started with veterans. She said she's been talking to the VA for a while about getting a team in there, but nothing had happened yet. She told me to go ahead and start the volunteer process since it takes a while (background check, TB tests...) and hopefully then it'd be easier for her to get us in if we were already ready.

First week of August I got in there with all the completed paperwork that I had been emailed and got my fingerprints scanned. I was expecting to have to get inked up, but it's all digital now. Pretty cool. I went back four more times in the next couple of weeks to get a TB test started and then checked - twice. On August 27th I got an email saying that my background check cleared (shocker, really). I called in, scheduled my orientation, and that brings us to today! I'll be going in this afternoon to go through their confidentiality policies, learning what code blue, code red, etc. mean, their emergency protocols, and then I'll be setting up visits! I'm so excited. I'm nervous - we'll be working in the mental health hospital, which honestly, makes me a little more nervous - but I'm more excited than I am nervous, so I think it'll be good.

And I found out yesterday that Max will need to be in my volunteer badge picture too, so I won't be able to get the badge today but I'll have to bring him back sometime to get that done.

Anyway, maybe boring to the two (one?) people that read this blog, and for that I apologize. But I'm really excited. (:

Friday, September 5, 2014

So Glad!

So glad that I had a love affair with running yesterday. So glad mostly because today was not wonderful. It wasn't horrible, but it was hard. Even the promise of listening to the next exciting part of my audio book wasn't a super motivation to get me on.

Don't get me wrong, it worked, but it was most definitely not a love affair this time around. So I'm glad I experienced yesterday. I'm glad because I know that means that there will be days that I absolutely love it. I'm also glad that I experienced today. I'm glad because I know there will be days when the last thing I want to do is get on a treadmill. But even if I walk more uphill more than I run downhill, it'll still be making me stronger.

My muscles are sore.

And I'm exhausted.

That's all.

Guess What!

I like running. It's been so long (I honestly can't remember the last time I went running - aside from last night) that I had forgotten. But when I got on the treadmill, hit 5 mph (at a 2% decline - I admit) and started running, I just wanted to keep running. So I ran. For a mile. That took me 12 minutes. And then I stopped and walked between 3 and 4 mph at a 10% incline for 1/2 a mile. Then ran for another half (after changing it to -2% again).

The point is - it felt good.

It felt good to push myself in a way that I hadn't for a really long time.

It felt good to do something that I didn't think I was capable of doing (running a mile without stopping - albeit on a treadmill set on a decline).

It felt good to feel my muscles straining with the movement.

It felt good to *need* a cool drink of water after.

It felt good to have a reason to lie down and take a minute to cool off.

It felt good to feel my leg muscles shake when I was walking down a few stairs after.

It felt good to feel my abs ache when I sat up (running downhill is a really good workout for the core - that's one reason I use to justify my running downhill, I'm strengthening my core.).

It felt good to run.

And I must say that afterward I felt no inclination to stuff my face with cookies and cupcakes. And that was the big reason I made myself get on the treadmill yesterday. When I did WW the first time and lost 30 lbs. I was on the treadmill almost every day. I don't think exercise is the biggest factor in weight loss. I think it's much more about what you're eating and how much of it you're eating. But for me, exercise gets in my head and when I'm expending that much effort to be healthy, I don't want to blow it all on candy and dessert. And if last night is any indication, this should work for me again.

Here's hoping.

And here's to running.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Didn't Go Far Or Fast

Especially being on a treadmill, but I did something.
And it felt awesome.


Can anyone else hear the echo in here? I can. It's deafening in its silence. I'm just so out of the blogging habit. Not that it really matters, but I do enjoy writing and I feel kind of sad that I've stopped writing as much as I used to. Just for me really.

Anyway, I think I need to start running again.

Yep - *need.*

I realized last night as I was spooning ice cream into my mouth that being a member of weight watchers this time around hasn't been as much in my head as it was the first time when things went really well.

While I don't think running (or exercise in general) is the secret to losing weight (apparently weight loss is 80% food 20% activity... and yes, I'm quoting hearsay statistics, take it as you will), I have decided that running is what gets me in the weight loss mode. If I'm going to make myself run, I'm not going to then ruin it by eating half a pizza.

It's a mental game.

I love that on WW you track activity too. Those things do count.

But I also loved earning activity points and then not using them. It got in my head. It helped me believe that I really was in control of everything I was putting in my body and that what I chose to earn or not earn and eat or not eat made a tangible difference in how healthy I was.

So here goes.

I'm going to go home today and get on the treadmill.

And because that statement is now on the internet it has to be true, right?

And if I put it on wikipedia that would really seal the deal.

But it was true anyway because last night while I was trying to fall asleep I gave myself a talking to. And it went something like this -

"You have to start running."

"Okay. Fine."

You heard it here first.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Yearly Stress

For the last few years (maybe more) I've not looked forward to - dreaded is too strong a word, but I think it's maybe leaning in that direction - car registration. The reason for this is my 1993 Honda Accord - which I will refer to as Green Magic (because it's magic that it's still running).

I love my car. It's unnatural how much I love my car because it's so old and who knows how long it will last (hopefully forever, that would be perfect). But really, I love my car. We have a long history together. My grandma bought it new, and a few years later took me to the DMV for my drivers license test. I took the test - and passed - in that car. I drove it senior year of high school when my parents bought it from my grandma and she got another car. I saw my sister scratch the tinting on the back windows with her cello when she'd load and unload it for school. My sister then drove it her senior year and then my brother bought it after his mission (the timing was perfect since my parents wouldn't have another driver in the house for a couple of years). After my mission I bought the car - with my sister - from my brother for $2400. The following summer I bought the half from my sister because she had gotten married in May. I've been the sole owner for about 9 years now.

I love this car.

But on to the stress.

I've actually been looking into buying another car. This past Friday I found what looked like some good prospects online and on Saturday drove out to see a few of them. I won't go into details, but just yesterday I figured out that the one I was leaning toward wouldn't be panning out after all.

I decided that I should take my car in for the safety and emissions check since my registration needs to be renewed this month anyway. I figured if it passed, it would buy me some time before having to get another car. I figured if it didn't pass I had a couple of more weeks to really search and find a viable replacement.

I took it in.

This is the stressful part. Over the years I've had to put some money into getting it up to standard. A couple of times it was tires (I had the alignment fixed earlier this year, so that should help in keeping me from needing to get new tires sooner than I should have to), and other times... I don't remember. But it seemed like I was almost always putting money into it to get it ready to register.

This year I really did not have high hopes - but I had lots of prayers! - for it, but I figured it needed to be done anyway.

I had a coupon for Jiffy Lube safety and emissions, so I went there. I took it as a good sign that when I told the employee who came out to meet me that I was there for safety and emissions he didn't just start laughing at me.

After waiting, then talking, then waiting again, the guy gave me this -

After hearing the reason I headed over to O'Reilly's and paid this (JL didn't carry the part or I could have gotten it replaced there) -

The super-helpful O'Reilly's employee (they really have been awesome at this location - and I've gone in more often than I would have liked - maybe they're awesome everywhere) went out and installed it for me and I went back to JL where they gave me this -

 Love live Green Magic.

So now, according to the state, Green Magic is required to run for at least another year.

That's what it means right?

I love my car.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Yesterday I was emailing this girl (lady? woman? if they're close to my age I tend to refer to them as girls... does that say something about me?) from our corporate HR in LA. In our emails it came up that we both had a long-time wish to go to Italy.

I mentioned that the older and singler I get the more I feel like I should venture out more on my own since I can't plan on a built in companion. But I'm worried that if I ever did travel somewhere alone that I would just hunker down in my hotel because I was too scared to go anywhere. Don't laugh. I've seen "Taken." I know what can happen.

She mentioned similar fears of her own and how being able to share the experience makes it more enjoyable than going alone - even if you aren't hiding in the closet of your hotel room. So we made a pact. I started it with 10 years. As in - "let's say that if neither of us has gone to Italy in 10 years, we'll go." She said that was too long. I adjusted it to 5, she countered with 2.

So there you have it.

It's a pact.

Through email.

Which means it has to happen.

I'm thinking we may want to try a domestic trip first to make sure that we actually like each other in person as much as we seem to through email. (:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Grandma is Merving

My sweet grandma was over for dinner a week ago. She was sitting at the table while we were getting things ready and Belle walked over to be pet. I asked Grandma if Belle was being nice to her (just for the record, Belle is always nice to Grandma). The following conversation ensued -

G: Oh yes! And I'm merving...

Me: ...?... what?

G: Merv- no, uhhhh, merving... no...

(by now we're both laughing)

Me: Nervous?

G: chuckles No...

Me: Murdering?

G: laughs No...

Me: Okay, I'm out.

G: Oh! looking very sure of herself -- MERVING!

Me: That's still not a word Grandma. But I love how sure you were! (as my sister said when I was telling her this story - points for confidence, for sure)

G: Oh, well... I don't know.

I tried to bring my mom in on the conversation and see if she knew - she can be a really good guesser when it comes to Grandma-isms - but she was lost too. And by then Grandma probably forgot what she was going to say anyway.

She's 89 years old. She'll be 90 in December. I just wanted to write this down before I forgot it because I thought it was so cute and so funny and shows that even though she gets frustrated with herself for forgetting words (in her third language!!!), she has a great sense of humor about it and doesn't let it make her unpleasant or unhappy.

She really is probably the sweetest and nicest person I know.

Here she is (with a fluffy Belle) when she was still living next door walking back home after dinner. One day I randomly picked Belle up and put her on the walker. Belle didn't seem to mind, and Grandma loved that she was pushing Belle. After one or two more times Belle started waiting at the bottom of the steps to be picked up and put on.

Cute Grandma!

Sunday, February 16, 2014


I love the show.

And there are so many things I love about this clip -

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Puppy Playtime

There are a lot of things I've wanted to blog about. Some of them have happened so long ago that I doubt they'll ever make it on here - including some trips from almost a year ago. Sheesh.

Anyway, today my friend's one year old (or almost one year old) goldendoodle (same breed as my Max) came over and they played. For five hours. I think they were both pretty exhausted by the time Atlas went home. Belle was exhausted too, but only because she wore herself out barking at Atlas. She barked so much that I went hoarse from yelling at her. I mean - YELLING. I mean - I can't remember the last time I have yelled like this. Maybe at a BYU football game. Maybe. (She did eventually stop the incessant barking and brought it down to an occasional bark - just so I'd know she was still unhappy about the situation. Rotten little thing.)

Anyway, I decided to grab my nice camera for the first time since Christmas and take some better-than-iPhone pictures. Since they were moving so fast, my iPhone pictures would come out fuzzy a lot.

Belle pouted and tried to pretend Atlas wasn't there.

Cute dogs! Fun day.

So, It's Been a While...

(is now a good time for me to admit I'm never quite sure when to use "a while" and "awhile"?)

I'm way past the years of even thinking of apologizing for not blogging. Mostly because nobody cares, so there's nobody to apologize to. (:

Looking back at my last post... yikes. I did it all wrong.

I want to form those habits. Habits take a while (again - "awhile"?) to form. It would have been fine if I had outlined a timing for when I was planning on incorporating these habits - one. by. one. Not eleven by eleven.

This is my way of saying I burned myself out and by myself out quickly.

So I'll be revising, replanning, rethinking, and then starting again.

No worries.

Also, I'm going to think of goals, not just habits, that I want to reach this year.

Stay tuned.

If you want to. (:

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Another New Year

It seems like every year goes by faster than the one before it.

I don't think I posted any of my goals last year (a quick look back reveals that I am correct in that thinking) and honestly can't remember if I really ever set any.


So now, because I started setting them on Sunday, and starting tracking them that same day, I figured I'd list them out here.

According to the SMART goals thing, goals need to be:

Timely (given a time-fram)

According to the top 10 steps to set and achieve your goals, goals need to be:

Consistent w/ your values

According to something else that I read that I can't find right now, most of what I have chosen to focus on this year is more habit-forming rather than goal setting/achieving.


Here's what I want to do this year -

- Don't watch more than an hour of TV/one movie a day

With a netflix account (I finally grew up and got my own instead of freeloading off my sister's), I have experienced how scary easy it is to go from one episode to another andanotherandanother until the whole evening is gone and I did nothing more productive than... well, nothing. There is really nothing redeemably productive about those occasions.

Thus the limit.

The one caveat is that I can watch more than that if I'm doing something productive (i.e. cleaning, crocheting, etc). Although during those times I would probably be better served listening to music or audio books or something.

- Read scriptures 15 minutes a day

Inspired by my sister, I've really got to get back in the habit of regular reading.

- Pray

Similar to the above. I haven't made this a regular part of my day. That needs to change.

- Meditate/do yoga

I found a sweet app for my phone that guides me through meditation. I also have a pocket yoga app which is pretty sweet too. Every time I end the day with meditation, I fall asleep very easily. That keeps me motivated to meditate. (:

Here's an article on meditation. If you don't look at all of it, make sure you check out the 'how meditation affects you' section. Very interesting.

- Exercise 15 minutes a day

Okay, nothing earth-shattering by any means, but if it means I'm doing something active each day - even if it's not a whole lot - it's better than nothing.

- Walk dogs four times a week

The poor pups don't get out very much in the winter. But that was actually what I had in mind when I bought fuzzy boots. Yeah, it's bitterly cold some days, but if I bundle up enough, I can survive a quick - or slightly longer than quick - walk. And mixed in the bitterly cold we get some beautiful days that I need to make sure I take advantage of (yesterday, almost 50 degrees!).

- Do service once a week

Just trying to train myself to look regularly for opportunities to help others.

- Go to temple twice a month

Outside of my temple shift when I work in the baptistry once a week, I haven't been to a regular session for a very long time. I figured twice a month isn't too much to try for.

- Post on wordpress picture blog daily

I just started this blog today and decided to try a different format (after first checking to make sure that wordpress had apps for iphone - makes posting so much easier!). I'm hoping to post one picture a day. Go check out my first picture (posted today, so there will be a second picture posted today too). (:

- Do something social once a month

Okay, again, nothing earth-shattering, but I am not the most social creature. I figure if I want to get married (which I do... I think... most days anyway) then I'm going to have to be social in order to meet someone. So here goes...

- Do something that scares me once a month

This is maybe the one that I'm the most excited about (though I'm looking forward to each of these). Inspired by Walter Mitty, I want to do more, experience more, be more. I'm starting this month with quitting my job and starting a new one. Both things which scare me, but I'm looking forward to. If you have any ideas for me, let me know. I want to put a list together so that I can plan ahead and not have to frantically look for something that scares me on the last day of the month and end up doing something stupid. Something like... streaking... or something... (:

With help from the habit list app, hopefully I'll be able to stay on top of these!