Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August - A Month of Fun Relaxation

A subset of items we gave away

Since July failed to be the month of relaxation, August got to be that month - and it was awesome! Don't get me wrong, we were still extremely active, but something about it just made it relaxing. Maybe it had to do with getting a few items off our plates:
  • We finished our dog training classes.
  • We finished the summer BBQs at our church.
  • We finished our softball season.
  • We also had a trip to California planed which got canceled. We managed to keep that weekend almost completely free. Actually every Saturday was completely free except for one.
  • We managed to purge TONS of items from our garage and inside - one of the shelves of our book case is completely empty (much to Vinnie's dismay).

Watching hot air balloons lift off

We managed to do fun things too:
  • We watched a couple Corvallis Knights baseball games with friends. Fireworks and all. (photo)
  • I DM'ed my first D&D adventure. (photo of map being printed) Jessi participated for the first time!
  • We helped out with Beach Olympics.
  • Jessi planted a garden.
  • We managed to get a couple paint quotes, and schedule to have the outside of our duplex painted.
  • We even had an impromptu campout in a friend's backyard (with them too... it wasn't like we snuck into their backyard and set up squatter rights for the evening).
  • Another indicator, I suppose, was the amount of posts this month. I did my regular amount of posts AND Jessi found time to contribute as well. That was a lot of fun. By the way, we're already flying past last year's record number of posts. (why I care)
Vinnie playing in our garden

I'm glad we were able to have a relaxing August, because September is going to be a crazy month. Here's a sampling:
  • Football season starts. That means fantasy football, Willamette games, and videos. Oh yeah!
  • Jessi starts teaching again. Vinnie and I are REALLY going to miss hanging out with her.
  • We'll be traveling down to California for my sister's birthday party.
  • Hobbit day is Wednesday the 14th. No, I don't have any plans to celebrate.
  • The mentorship program at Willamette will be starting up.
  • Did I mention that Jessi will be going back to work and that Vinnie and I are REALLY going to miss her?
  • We'll be getting our duplex painted.
  • Then, at the very end, we'll leave for our annual Parry-Furlo Campout. Yurtin' for certain!

Monday, August 29, 2011

NW Art & Air Festival Hot Air Balloon Lift-off

On Saturday morning, Jessi and I woke up early (5:30am) to watch 36 hot air balloons lift off from the NW Art & Air Festival in Albany. It was awesome being so close and seeing so many at once. Below are some pictures we took.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Winter Garden Wonderland

I have wanted to plant a garden for some time now and as the summer ticked along I thought it would be another year of dreaming. But the other day I was reading about winter gardens and how to keep them going through a wet season. Since Oregon doesn't get too cold, just super wet, there are lots of plants that make it through the winter! So, I told James about my research and he said..."What are you doing tomorrow night? Let's build a garden!" I didn't hesitate one second and was like, "I'm in!!!"

So, we have a garden!
We decided to go with a raised bed since it was the easiest way to get a quick and semi-permanent garden without tearing up a whole section of our yard. We got a little hand tiller and got to work! James did most of the initial tilling since our dirt is hard as rock. I pulled out the grass and weeds and then tilled it up nice and smooth. We also built a simple frame out of 2x6's and some corner brackets. The next day I went and got a huge truckload of dirt and picked out plants (my favorite part!). I worked for about 3 hours moving dirt while Vinnie dug to his hearts content. Then I put in the plants, watered and voila...a garden!

I planted some herbs, a variety of greens, sweet potatoes, winter strawberries, snap peas, and beets, carrots and squash from seed. Many of our plants will probably get harvested before it gets too wet, but I'm just excited to actually have a garden!

Vinnie totally loves it too. Maybe a little too much. He loves the "fresh" smelling compost/soil that it is filled with. We may end up putting in a little fence so he can't dig too much but for now it's not bad.

I also saw a really cute picture of garden labels on painted rocks so this week I scrounged up some good rocks and made them into cute plant labels. My favorite is the Sweet Potatoes cause the color matched the plant the most.

We love our little garden!
Stay on the lookout for future posts on delicious meals we make with fresh garden ingredients!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Analyzing Steps - Part Deux

HP just finished sponsoring another shape-up challenge that involves counting steps and exercise minutes. Like normal, I couldn't help myself and kept track on my own. Check it out. The goal (green line) is to hit 10,000 steps a day. The red line is the minimum of 5,000 steps. Yeah... there are more dots below the red line than above the green...

A couple worthy points:

A: Jessi and I spent the day painting the garage of our duplex (finished pictures).
B: Beach Olympics! I was actually sore the following day. :)

Here's an aggregated view by the day of the week. Weekends are good. Thursdays I apparently don't move around much. Last time, Monday and Wednesday were my slow days, this time around they were OK.

Fun stuff. I'll probably take a break from tracking for now and pick it up again later for another round.

You can also check out the results from last time.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Beach Olympics 2011

Last Saturday Jessi and I helped out with Beach Olympics. It is a 30 year annual event for our church's youth group. I could try to explain what it was like, but it wouldn't work. Instead, here are a few pictures of the day. We had 128 students participate at Ona Beach, South of Newport. It was a long day, and an extremely fun day.

Building Bible related sand castles

Playing a game called Bucket Ball. Get it?

More Bucket Ball

Yelling at Students (in a good way)

Digging to China

Green team. This year's champions!

My afternoon nap

Dinner and a message

Arriving at the beach

All the teams

Red Hot Poker. Don't touch the trash can!

Running over the bridge

Steal The Bacon - absolute crazy!

Surf run - grab the noodles and run back

Tennis ball launch

Student testimonies and the green trophy

A very tired Vinnie

Tug 'a War!
Great competition! Great fun!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fly Trap!

One of the joys pre-doggie door was that we got A LOT of flies in our house from leaving the back door ajar so Vinnie could go out as he pleased. Leaving the door open was great for potty training because he learned quickly that he could just go out when he wanted and didn't have to wait for us to notice he had to go. But like I said, lots of flies got in.

I think James killed at least 50 and I had a menagerie of fruit flies in the kitchen. I saw this blog post about making your own fly trap so I decided what the hay it looks easy enough. I made one last week with a chunk of watermelon and caught about 15 fruit flies. The pictures are of the one for this week with kiwi scraps in the bottom. As you can see there are tons of fruit flies meeting their doom!

The trick was getting the hole small enough for the flies to get in but not get back out. I ended up just putting a piece of tape over most of the hole and that seemed to work. In the blogpost she says to take the jar outside and let the flies go free. I am not so nice. I don't really want them coming back into the house and with a compost container on the shelf next to the sink there are always more fruit flies to replace them. Try it out. It totally works for eliminating pesky fruit flies. I'm not so sure I want to know what kind of bait to use for regular flies...for now the fly swatter will do.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Doggie Door

5:15am. Vinnie has to go to the bathroom. Unfortunately, Jessi and I went to sleep at 1:00am because we were hanging out with friends. Therefore, we didn't hear him get up and make noise. So, at 5:30am, Vinnie does what any rationale dog would do... take a dump on our carpet. 5:31am. Jessi wakes up to the smell of poop. Apparently my tolerance is a little higher... She gets up and cleans up.

Later that morning, Jessi does some doggie door research on doggie doors. Later that afternoon, we are the proud owners of a new doggie door. The coolest part about the project is that Jessi got to use her new sawsall. Here's a video of her using it for the first time.

Vinnie watching from inside. He was NOT a fan of all the noise. This is the very serious look he kept giving us. Personally, I like his smashed nose.

And the final product. It looks good. Once Vinnie figures out how to use it, that should be the end of early morning surprises.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Oh, Vinnie...No more eating dead rodents

So, you've no doubt seen pictures of the cutest pup ever on our blog recently. Vinnie has me wrapped around his little...hmmm...paw? and he just has to look up at me with those cute little puppy eyes and he gets pretty much whatever he wants, most of the time.

Yesterday, Vinnie and I had a little bonding moment on our afternoon walk. We had a great morning, he let me finish the dishes, laundry and a test for my online class with no problems! So I had pretty high expectations for our walk. One thing you need to know about Vinnie and walks is that he is a total hound dog which means he HAS to smell EVERYTHING and eat a few things too
for at least the first half an hour. He especially likes to snack on stinky things like dead worms, slugs, moldy grass and the occasional poop. We try our hardest to keep him away from these things but sometimes he's just too fast and finds one before we do.

So, we were on our walk and he was doing his thing sniffing and snacking. We had walked for about 20 minutes so I was ready for the shift to normal walking and less hounding. So we started our course to the park. We have walked by a fenced off construction zone almost every day for the past three weeks so I was just going along enjoying the walk. Vinnie usually sniffs around in some bushes just at the edge of the fence so I let him do his thing...when all of a sudden he makes his classic gobbling something down move (you know the one, head back, teeth chomping, tongue licking, kind of like a Velociraptor). Well I move in to get a closer look and take the "poop" out of his mouth only to see fur and little teeth on the thing he was chewing!!!!!

I almost puked right there but I knew I had to pull it together and get whatever it was out of Vinnie's mouth! I looked around for any help I could find but time was running out and he was relentlessly chomping and chomping. I had to act quick so I just held my breath, bent down, grabbed Vinnies jaws...and remembered that I had a handy little poop scoop bag in my pocket!
(side note: I have an ingenious idea about poop bag stations but I'll save that for a later date) So I yank the bag out of my pocket and reach into the jaws of death grabbing and pulling the best I could against Vinnie's ferocious appetite. Yes, I got it! Or so I thought. The instant I threw the first chunk away, I look back and realize (this gets pretty graphic...) that the other half of the rodent is still in his mouth!!!! At this point I'm thinking, "What! I have to reach in there again! Come on! Just drop it Vinnie it can't be tastier than the delicious meat treats we feed you at home!" But I have to go back in. I held my breath again and pried his teeth apart just long enough to whip the last part of the rodent out and across the sidewalk.

Vinnie was not a happy camper. He bee-lined straight for it again and I pulled him away. At this point I was holding back tears of frustration, grossed-out-ness and sadness that my cute little puppy could eat something so horrible. But I again pulled myself together and marched straight home with Vinnie in tow. Did I mention that the rat-thing had ants on it that had crawled onto my hand that I just now noticed half-way home!!!!! Oh my gosh, I'm getting sick just writing about it...let's move on to the clean-up.

I had to clean myself up before I could even think about Vinnie, so I put my nervous, confused little pup in his pen and scrubbed my hands and arms and anything else that might have contacted "the rodent". I headed back to the kitchen and took Vinnie straight to the tub. He got a full scrubbing, including his mouth, which I then brushed with his doggy toothbrush and paste several times and fed him some good food to wash it all down while saying the whole time, "This is good food, Vinnie. This is what we eat, not nasty rats by the side of the road." I sure hope he understood me.

Needless to say, Vinnie was kind of freaked out by my obsessive compulsive need to wash his entire body and mouth several times after eating a simple "snack". So he did laps around the house every time I got near him for the next hour. I knew he was clean and safe and that's all that mattered. We're totally friends again. I will think extra hard though before I let him sniff around in any more bushes.

James wanted to get some digital evidence of the incident so we went back to the scene of the crime and found this...

The head...which I ripped out first
and the decapitated body which I ripped out second.

After all that Vinnie is still a great doggie and I wouldn't trade him for anything...I only wish his natural instincts were a little less keen at times.