Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy New Year

Well, we managed to survive Christmas (almost) complete with 5 separate celbrations (so far). Our celbrations included (my mom, Brian's mom, Brian's Dad, My paternal gradmother and extended family, and my mom's brother and his daughter. I think we just one more to fit in with my stepfather's oldest son and his four kiddos. Now we are looking forward to the new year and to a much more restful long weekend after the 3 day work week. Goodbye Christmas and hello New Years! We are already looking forward to a very busy first three months of 2010. I (Susan) have 2 business trips scheduled thus far, one the second week of January and one the second week of February. We will soon be beginning preparations for the annual Fabulous Fifties Show in March to raise money to aid cancer patients, a long standing tradition in my family and who knows what else will crop up in the mean time. May you and yours have a very Happy New Year and fabulous end to the holiday season!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Early Christmas Presents

Monday night, Dec 21st, we recieved some early Christmas gifts. One of the coon dogs, Daisy, had 10 puppies sometime between Monday afternoon and Tuesday evening. We found the first 7 puppies Monday night and then the last 3 were discovered last night as we were cleaning out the dog house where Daisy birthed them and moving the very large family into a larger kennel. This brings us to a grand total of 17, yes that number is seventeen, dogs. These little ones are very tiny and from the looks of it are fathered by the formerly stray dog, Duke, that has since taken up permanent residence in our yard. It looks like we'll be taking care of them until they are 6 weeks old then working to find each of the 10 a wonderful new home. Free puppies will be ready just in time for Valentines Day! If you know someone who wants a cute little puppy, be sure to let me know! I can provide a half dozen or so free of charge.

Our pretty little Daisy Bell when she was just a puppy. She was the fattest little doggie that I've ever seen. In this picture you could really see her Budha belly!

Now she's a mama dog. Pictures of the new pups later.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One Last Merry Christmas

I wanted to offer everyone one last Merry Christmas before the holiday is upon us. I saw this video going around facebook and couldn't help but share it with you. So for the last time in 2009, War Eagle from us to you !

2009 Lights On Merrimac Ridge Animated Lights from Merrimac Ridge on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Christmas Season Update

So I know it's been a while since I last updated and I'm really sorry. We've been so busy during the months of November and December that I haven't had time for much anything that wasn't listed on my calendar. We had a great month of November filled with family celebrations of Thanksgiving and all the typical joys of fall including those last few beautiful indian summer days. We did a good bit of coon hunting and lots of running up and down the road to Birmingham to see Brian's family. Our niece, Kylie, had her first birthday party and was a cute as a bug eating her cake and we even managed to find a minute or two to enjoy each other's company. Thanksgiving, as every holiday, was especially busy for us. We alternate years celebrating Christmas and Thanksgiving with Brian's family and my family. This is a result of having family spread out over the majority of two states... it makes it impossilbe to be everywhere for every holiday. So this year we spent Thanksgiving in Birmingham and will do Christmas with my family in Tennessee. The day before Thanksgiving we drove down to Brian's grandparent's house to rake all the leaves with the cousins before the family decended on the place for the holidays. Then we went back on Thursday for Thanksgiving, first with the Hamiltons, then with the Allreds. Once we had celebrated and eaten two lunches (ugh...I'm full just thinking about it!) we got in the car and drove back to Tennessee for supper with my family (yes big meal number 3). We were completely stuffed and so exhausted from all the traveling that we had just enough energy to go home and crash. On Friday we did manage (with the help of my 11 year old cousin) to get the house all decorated for Christmas and watch the Iron Bowl. Somehow the weekend disappeared in the blink of an eye with visits from Brian's brother, Wes, and Wes's girlfriend, Melissa, and we were back at work trying to make it to Chirstmas. Last Saturday we were blessed with a little snow and I awoke Brian at 6:30am Saturday morning saying, "Get up, get dressed, we are going to make Christmas pictures." He was kind and humored me and we ended up with a couple of really neat shots for our Christmas Cards (Don't you just love our new blog title?). So that pretty much brings us up to the present with Christmas 2 weeks away and us rushing around trying to find time to get everything done. So incase I don't update things again... Merry Christmas!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Best Books

Lately, I've been reading like crazy. I don't typically read 3 books a year, but in the last month, I've finished two and am halfway through a third. It has been really great to get into some good books because the stuff on TV isn't any good these days. The only problem is that once I start reading, I don't want to stop. This works to my benefit when I'm on the elliptical or treadmill in the afternoons because the time just flies by. But it works against me just about every other minute of the day. Especially when I read in the car on the way home from work. Brian hates driving home while I read, so I'm often told to put my book away and save it for the next afternoon.
Anyway, these are my latest reads. I have thus far been incredibly impressed with the skill of the authors in both their writings and their ability to craft a story. I would highly recommend any of these books as an easy read to fill those 5-10 minute periods throughout your week when you wish you had something to keep you occupied.
Book #1 - THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN
Okay, so knowing how we LOVE our beautiful doggies, how could I resist a book with a golden retriever on the cover. I stumbled upon this book while browsing in the bookstore during my lunch break one day. After reading the back cover I discovered that the book was writen from the perspective of the dog.... the Dog! Can you imagine?
I thought it sounded like an incredibly interesting premise for the dog to be telling the family's story, so I picked it up off the bargin table and thank goodness I did. I started reading it that afternoon at the gym then restarted when Brian and I got in the car, reading aloud to him.
We thought that it was a wonderful story and loved getting the dog's perspective on things. But I must warn you, it can be one of those bittersweet sad books!!! But sad in a great uplifting sort of way.
"You manifest that which is before you." So go ahead and read this one!
Our beautiful doggies who inspired me to buy the book.
Spankie (above) and Rocky (below) our first "children" who bring us much joy in our everyday lives.
Book #2 LUCKY
Lucky also happens to be the name of our cat, but that had nothing at all to do with me buying this book. I actually went to the bookstore looking for this book. A couple of years ago I read Alice Sebold's other book, "The Lovely Bones" and was enthralled. Both of Sebold's books deal with the rapes of young women, Sebold's book being the auto-biography of her own rape. Though the subject matter is horrifying, I found the book strangly captivating. Sebold tells her story in a way that only she could tell it. She writes very well and seems to be able to put into words the gamut of emotions that families go through while enduring adversity and tragedy.
Oddly enough, Sebold is able to present her story in such a way that the reader does not develop pity for her character, but pride caused by the strength she shows and her determination to overcome the shadows that follow her. I'll say no more so that I don't ruin the book, except that this one is high on my list of favorites.
And finally Book #3 ANGELS AND DEMONS
Yes this is the first Dan Brown novel that I have read, and I am loving it. I very much enjoy movies like "The Davinci Code" and "National Treasure" that have a puzzle motif. But for some reason I had previously shyed away from the Dan Brown novels fearing that all the hype would leave me feeling disappointed. Well friends, believe what you hear because Dan Brown can turn a tale.
I'm about half way through the book and am completely captivated. I can't wait to get on the elliptical machine this afternoon and get to reading. I am a bit of a history buff, so the fact the Brown combines the factual history (locations of artwork, actual history, etc) with the mythologies (masonic and illuminati legend) makes this book that much more interesting. I'm really enjoying trying to solve the puzzles before the characters (though I haven't beaten them yet) and can't wait to see how the whole thing turns out.
Well that's enough for today. I've got a busy weekend ahead full of cleaning, football, and hunting. More on that next week. For now, I'm off to read and get a start on my weekend.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Battle of the Buldge

Over the last year, my thyroid has been completely messed up. The docs and I are still working to get things regulated, but the process is slow. This has led to massive weight gain and feeling so bad that working out was the last thing I wanted to do. To top it all off, I've been kinda lazy (or tired) the last few months and haven't gone to the necessary effort to cook a healthy meal every night of the week. Infact, we've probably been eating a little too much pizza (our favorite "we're lazy and want to get something quick" food). Well this week, I've decided I've had enough. We are going to get healthy and we are going to do it NOW!!! My goal is to take it slow. This week, my goal is to make it to the gym 4 times for at least half an hour. I know... I should stay longer, but my goal for the first couple of weeks is to build good habbits. So far, I've managed to get there twice and I plan on going again this afternoon and tomorrow during lunch. I've also cooked supper every night this week. We've had chilli made with extra lean ground beef, extra lean burgers with roasted potatoes, and grilled chicken with boiled potatoes and corn. This weekend, I'm going to pull out some of my low fat recipies and find something yummy to do in the crock pot on Saturday while we watch football and play around the house. Wish us luck as we battle our buldge! I'll periodically post low fat/low cal recipies to share. I'll start with an absolute staple in our house... Our Favorite Faux Fries Golden or Red Potatoes - these are the potatoes with the thin skins that are much smaller than your typical baking potato. I typically use 2 medium size potatoes per person for a meal. Pam or any Non-stick cooking spray Garlic Powder Salt Pepper Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Slice potatoes into your favorite French Fry shape (homefries are round, steakfries are thick and wide, or thin and long for fast food style fries) and place on baking sheet. Spray the tops of potatoes with cooking spray and then lightly apply garlic powder, salt, and pepper or any other combination of seasonings you enjoy (some red pepper and cajun seasoning would be good if you like them spicy). Bake for 20-35 minutes until the tops of the fries are a golden brown and the insides are done (baking time depends on how thick you slice the fries). (HINT! I don't always wait on the oven to heat all the way... I usually turn it on before I start preping my potatoes and put the pan in the oven when I've got them all on the pan and seasoned. The cooking time will be pretty much the same either way.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Our Latest Addition.....

Things have been so busy lately I just haven't had time to update the blog. I usually do it as a way of clearing my mind during my lunch break or right after I get to work to kind of get me up and running for the day. But lately, I've been so busy that I've had several days where I haven't left my chair from the time I come in around 7am until I leave around 4:30pm. The end of our fiscal year always brings with it challenges, but this year has been especially busy.
Anyway, on to our big news. We have a new addition to our.... family?, collection?, home?. Yes we've gotten... ANOTHER CAR! 1 week ago now, a big truck came a delivered a not-so-new 1969 Corvette - Brian's Dream Car. He was like a little kid at Christmas waiting for it to arrive. Unfortunately, he had to spend last weekend in Birmingham doing his weekend camp for the Air National Guard, and he didn't get to play with it. But every night this week he's gone out to the garage to play with it for a few and sit in it. He is very excited and very happy to finally have the one thing he's always wanted (except for me of course!). He has wanted an old Corvette the whole time I've known him, and I had to promise that he'd have one someday (before he was 30) before we could get married.
Here are some of the pictures we have so far. We have much work to do before it is restored to all its original glory. I'm told that we will be doing a full, body-off restoration. But all that will happen in due time. For now, we have just a little work to do in order to get it running (safely) and out on the road for the occasional Sunday drive. Perhaps part of that will happen this weekend.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Best Labor Day Weekend

Well it's Tuesday (but it feels like Monday), and the summer has unofficially come to a close. We celebrated the last weekend of summer in the best way possilble... just hanging around the house together. Friday night at 8:00 Brian returned from Baton Rouge for the last time. I can't tell you what a relief it is that he is now at home and working one last week before beginning his new job at the Corps of Engineers. We really enjoyed spending a weekend together without the thought of having to say goodbye again in a few days. Saturday we did a little grocery shopping, ate some BBQ for lunch, then grilled a steak to celebrate while we watched Auburn's first football game of the season. Auburn looked a little rough around the edges but overall made a good first impression under the new head coach. Sunday we drove to Birmingham to spend a couple hours with Brian's dad and stepmom and to pickup Brian's freshly painted Jeep. By Monday, with a shiny, like new Jeep sitting in the garage, we couldn't help but spend a little time playing with it. We cleaned the floors, painted some small parts that went in the engine well, put on headlights, and began the process of reassembling the whole thing. If things go well, we hope to have it back together before January. Then, last night, we did something that we hadn't had the opportunity to do in a long while - we got a pizza, rented a movie and just cuddled on the couch. It was absolutely wonderful!!! I can't wait to do it all again next weekend.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What's Old is New Again ... Almost

Anyone who knows us knows that there are 2 things we have way too many of... dogs and old cars. Anyone who knows Brian, knows that of all his cars, his favorite is probably his 1983 Jeep CJ7. I can't begin to count all the times that I've said no to him wanting to do something to fix up the old Jeep. I usually said no because he wanted to do something that would make him more likely to drive it in the woods and tear it up more than it already was; or worse, break his neck doing something assenine. So when he mentioned painting it, I was thrilled to say "yes!". I figure with a shiny new paint job, he will be less likely to drive it in the woods and either tear it or himself up.
The Jeep in it's original form just before moving to Tennessee Last weekend was the big weekend. After months of taking apart, bondo application, body work, sanding, priming, and more sanding, he finally took it down to his Dad's house in Birmingham to begin the painting process. The transformation has just begun and the results are already completely incredible! Thanks to Dad's crazy skills and his willingness to surrender his garage for a couple of weeks, the Jeep is well on its way to being better than new. In a million pieces in the middle of the sanding process. Sanded and ready for paint.
Bright and shiney for the first time in 20 years. 2 coats of primer, 2 coats of paint, and a layer of clear coat.
Buffed and in process of adding new stickers. Lookin' Sharp.

Friday, August 14, 2009

"Laissez les bons temps rouler!"

Let the good times roll!!!
Recently, Brian's been working in Baton Rouge, LA on the I-10 expansion between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. (That's right, isn't it, Sweet?) We've spent a great many days and nights apart, so for our anniversary, I went down and joined him for a weekend. We spent Saturday in Baton Rouge investigating the Cabela's, Bass Pro Shop, and Bowie Outfitters as well as the Mall of Louisiana. We had a great time, spent too much money, and got some great deals on toys to use during the upcoming coon hunting season.
Brian dreaming of buying a $6000 BBQ "mochine".
Since Saturday we did some of Brian's favorite things, Sunday was my day to pick. I couldn't resist a day trip to one of my favorite cities in the world, New Orleans. I just love the architechture and beauty of the French Quarter and Garden District. Brian says that it is a smelly dirty place, and I have to agree. But, I still love it and since he loves me, he agreed to walk around with me for 3 hours in the French Quarter and browse in some of the shops around Jackson Square.

Just look at those gorgeous buildings.

Okay, so I couldn't go to New Orleans without making a quick run up to Bourbon street to buy a Hurricane. You've gotta love a city where you can carry your adult beverage on your walk.

We did do at least one thing that Brian enjoyed in New Orleans... took a $20 bill and played the penny slots at Harrahs. Brian is the slot champion and was up $12 at one point in time. In the end, he won a grand total of 5 cents.

All in all it was a great weekend and a wonderful way to celebrate 2 years of marriage. We are really looking forward to seeing what the next years bring.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ride the Bull!!!

Sunday Brian and I went with some of his family and one good friend whitewater rafting. It was INCREDIBLE!!! The weather was perfect and the water felt great. We had a blast and got plenty wet. Our guide, Jeffery, made the trip down the Ocoee completely amazing by helping us to surf the rapids and making sure we all got plenty wet along the way. He even managed to throw a couple of us from the boat more than once (only when it wasn't dangerous). It was possibly the most fun I've ever had and I can't wait to do it again! If you want to go rafting, I'm definately in!
One of the first rapids of the day. Brian and I each had our mouths wide open as the wall of water came at us. I know I ended up with a mouthful and was completely underwater on more than one occasion during our adventure.
Lacey "riding the bull" or sitting on the front of the raft and holding on for dear life. Eventually, Brian and I would each take a turn at this little trick as well though, sadly, there aren't pictures of our turns on the bull.
Lacey and I are taking a face full in this pic. I was amazed that the boats had holes in the floor to drain the water out so that they stayed afloat.
We all got very wet. I don't think there was a dry spot on me after about the first 2 minutes. Perfect on a hot July day.
Whitewater rafting is like being on a roller coaster with lots of water. Only hopefully, you don't go upside down.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

So I'm Not Losing My Mind!!!

Yesterday I got some fabulous bad news.... I learned that my thyroid is still not functioning correctly. So here's how it all happened. In January and February, I felt horrible. I was tired all the time, I was extra emotional, I just knew that my thyroid meds needed to be increased. So I called the doctors office to set up an appointment to get things checked out. The nurse who answered the phone was completely rude and treated me like some psyco just wanting more meds. After 10 minutes of convincing, she agreed to do the lab work. Well the day after the blood test when I called to get the results I was shocked that the girl answering the phone didn't even have to put me on hold. She simply said hang on a sec, typed something, then said "Your levels are normal and they DO NOT want to increase your dosage." I'm a trusting person, so I believed the lady, but I was not at all appreciative of the tone she used and was suspicious that she had gotten the results so quickly. But I went on thinking that I was just overly stressed because of the schedule that Brian (my husband) and I had been keeping. He had been spending two weeks at a time working in Louisiana and I was trying to keep up with everything here (January to March is an especially crazy time of year for me) and only getting to see him once every couple of weeks. So I pressed on thinking this was all in my head, working out like crazy but still not losing any weight (in fact I had gained about 10 pounds since January). By May, my life had regained a little normalcy, but my mind had not. I was becoming a complete emotional basket case, I was still not loosing weight, and I was beginning to think that I was going crazy because, after all, my thyroid levels were normal right? So this was definately not medical... so I thought. Well after I put on another 10 lbs in 2 weeks at the first of May, I was done. I couldn't even take the dog to the vet without breaking down in tears. My family agreed that I had to go see a doctor and talk about whatever this was. I called my regular doctor (who has been my doctor since I was a kid) and was told that it would be August before I could get an appointment for that kind of thing. Well that wasn't going to be good enough so I went to my backup doc. She is actually a nurse practicioner which means she can do everything except surgury. I knew I had to see either my normal doctor or her because they've known me my whole life and would listen when I said that something was wrong. She did the full workup, listened to my heart, lungs, everything, and most importantly, listened to ME. Her statement was that it was possible it was my thyroid, but if it was just checked in March perhaps I was dealing with some sort of anxiety and needed something for that. I was hesitant, so she agreed to do a full thyroid panel screening first and then go farther if everything checked out normal. When the lab work came back, my thyroid suppresent hormone level was 19.4 when the normal range is 0.4 to 4.0. This was way out of the ballpark and meant that my thyroid was almost not functioning. Additionally, my iron levels were low.... Whew!!! I'm not losing my mind!!! Well since then, I've been taking the increased dosage of meds, but knew that things still weren't top notch like they should be. So Friday I had my scheduled appointment to recheck the bloodwork and see how the new dose was working. Again, I had this fear that it was going to be normal and I was going to be crazy because I still didn't feel right. Well it turns out I'M STILL NOT COMPLETELY CRAZY!!! My level had improved to 5.3, but was still too high. So now, I've been given even more meds which I hope will make me feel like a million bucks. So, since March when I was taking 50 micrograms and was told everything was normal (not that I believe that now), my dosage has needed to be increase to 88 micrograms. All this keeping in mind that they usually only like to increase the dosage by 12.5 micrograms at a time. Moral of the story, from here on out I'm demanding to know the number that I got, not just that everything is normal. Because I don't see any way, that in 2 months I could have gone from completely normal to non-functioning. So yay, that's my good news for today!!! I'm still not crazy even though a couple of stupid people at the doctors office tried to convince me that I was.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Blog Nation

So today my good friends at work and I were talking and we had all started or were starting a blog in the last few weeks. I'm loving it!!! So thanks to Tiffany for being my first follower.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Very Own Blog

So, wow! I've finally gone and done it... started a blog. My hope in starting this is to give friends and family a little insight into what's going on with Brian and Myself as well as have somewhere to post pictures of our travels and provide news about what we're doing and where we're going.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

One day, about a year into our marriage, we decided to drive the old red truck to Home Depot to pick up some lumber for a project we were doing. It had been a while since we had driven the truck, so we weren't too surprised that we had to jump the truck off to get it started. Apparently, we needed a new alternator, because when we finished at Home Depot and came back out to go home, the truck wouldn't start again. Not really having a plan and unable to get in touch with any family to come rescue us, we lifted the hood and hoped that we would be able to flag someone down coming out of the store to give us a jump. It wasn't long at all before a nice older man driving a big truck stopped by before going into the store to see if we needed help. We thanked him and accepted his offer and within a few minutes Brian had the cables hooked up to our truck and the gentleman was beginning connecting the cables to his battery. Just as he was connecting the second cable, his truck hood slammed down and latched with his arms now caught way above the elbow. I was in shock! I couldn't move and I'm certain that my mouth was wide open. My only thought was that this guy's arms had to be broken in multiple places and that he had to be in excruciating pain. After what felt like an eternity (though I'm sure it was only a few seconds), the man told Brian to get a big pry bar out of his truck and pry up on the hood. The only other option would have been to push down on the hood hard enough to allow us to release the latch, and I'm sure that would have hurt very badly. Within a couple minutes (though it felt longer to me and I'm sure it felt longer to him) Brian had him free. The kind man took a couple of moments to compose himself and allowed Brian to finish the cable connection (holding the hood up) and start our truck. We pleaded with him to allow us to take him to the hospital for x-rays, but he assured us he was fine. After many more inquiries about his arms, we offered him some cash for his trouble, which he refused, we thanked him multiple times, and then we went to the parts store to buy a new alternator. I still cringe when I think about the poor guy's arms stuck tight under that hood. It just goes to show you... no good deed goes unpunished.