Thursday, December 18, 2008

The holidays are underway...

The Christmas season is well underway. There's so much holiday stuff to try and fit into the schedule....maybe that seems especially true this year since we're getting ready to go to North Carolina next week. And maybe because we keep getting snow, which has forced me to spend way too much time on the road.

Here's the schedule for the next couple of days...

Tonight: book club Christmas cocktails
Friday: work, Holidazzle
Saturday: bake Christmas cookies, double-date with Rachel & Romo
Sunday: church (I'm a greeter this week), see Four Christmases with Beth & Dave
Monday: work, pack
Tuesday: work, bring dogs to their sitter in Belle Plaine
Wednesday: Depart for NC at 6:30 a.m.

Not much going on at all...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Another week flies by...

It seems like my blog posts have been slowing down to just one or two a week. Life seems to be criss-crossing between super busy and super boring -- although much more of the super busy. This past week was more of the super boring variety. Lots of work...but then just coming home and relaxing with the boys. I've also had a sore throat most of the week, so I've been trying to lay low in hopes that it doesn't turn into full-blown cold.

Today there's a rain/ice/snow storm, so we've deliberately decided to stay home most of the day. Luckily, the roads didn't start getting bad until after church. The great part of having storms is that it forces you to relax and to enjoy the season. If it wasn't snowing, I'd probably be running around doing errands. Instead I wrapped some Christmas presents and did some shopping online (oops...I accidentally shipped Anthony's present here...and the whole purpose of buying it online was so I didn't have to pack it!) Dave's watching the Vikings game. I fixed some of the remaining Christmas ornaments that needed ornament hangers (I improvised with some ribbon). I can't quite say that I'm all cozy and warm in my home -- the truth is that my feet and hands are freezing. But I guess it's much warmer inside that outside!!!

Yesterday was not so relaxing. Melissa and I met in the morning at Caribou and then went to the gym for yoga class (did I mention I've given up caffeine!!! I had a delicious hot apple blast). Afterwards, I went straight to Becky's house for Amanda's b-day party. Of course a watermelon cake was requested! I brought the cake and iced it at the party. The girls love helping put the jelly beans and chocolate chips on it, so of course everyone got a chance to help. Deborah asked all the kids who had been sick in the passed week to raise their hands. I think all put one kid put their hands in the air. Great! At least they washed hands first. And they actually listened when we told them not to lick their fingers until they were all done helping. Becky took some pics, so hopefully she'll email me some. Then I went to my parents house to hang out with my dad for 20 minutes or so and to give them a USB cord for their printer. Then I went home and got the dogs and we went to Belle Plaine. We went to visit the person who'll be dog-sitting the boys when we go to North Carolina. I always hate leaving the dogs and am apprehensive about where they stay...so I had to visit the house first. I decided that it should work well for the boys. The house has three dogs and two cats -- so they obviously like pets...and the woman works at a vet clinic. They have a fenced-in yard, and I know Otis and Cooper will enjoy being able to run outside anytime. In fact, I have a feeling they'll be asking for one for Christmas (well, if they could talk they would). Dave and I decided to go to El Loro for dinner. I have a new favorite meal there! Burritos Mexicanos. Well, I guess it's basically a pre-made fajita...but with a creamy white-queso sauce on top. Yum! And I got left-overs in the fridge, which I may go heat up now. Hooray!

This next week will be busy. A holiday party for work and a holiday get-together for book club. It's the last full week of work until Christmas. Hooray! Hooray!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Weekend Update...

This weekend was a busy one. Today I feel dehydrated and have a sore throat and freezing hands…so hopefully I don’t have the beginnings of a cold. I’ve had fun-filled couple of days, and I’m excited to share the details…

Thursday night was my first night of Theology on Tap (#14 on my 101 in 1,001 list). It was a small group of people close to my age and we shared some appetizers, coffee and tea, and some interesting thoughts about the Bible... where it came from, why (or if) it’s relevant today and we discussed some quotes that people have said about the Bible and if we agree with those people. Going forward we’re going to meet once a month. We decided to focus mostly on social issues and how they relate to our faith and sometimes have speakers. I’m excited to have some good discussions, deepen my faith and form deeper friendships with the people in the group.

Friday, my nieces were dropped off at my office and I took them to my house for a sleepover at their Aunt and Uncle’s home. Unfortunately for Dave and I, having a sleepover at the end of the week translates to having some tired girls. After some minor disagreements (and tears) over dolls and dinner plates, we had a good night eating pizza, watching a movie and playing with American Girl dolls. By 9 p.m., the girls were actually wanting to go to bed. So off to bed they went (in our new hide-a-bed), and slept until 6:30 a.m. the next morning…

Saturday was a big morning for us. We had big plans to go have breakfast with Santa at the YMCA. Well, they were big plans from my point-of-view. The girls weren’t that excited, b/c they’re shy around Santa. They wanted to stay at my home and watch PBS Kids. But they also wanted to go swimming at the Y, so I was able to convince them to go to breakfast too. Emily and I got our photo with Santa (will be posting later). Amanda was too scared, so she just stayed at the table while we got our photo. Krissy was one of the elves, and was taking pics for all the families there. Amanda and I ate our breakfast (Emily didn’t like pancake and sausage so she didn’t eat). The thing that both girls enjoyed was making a Christmas ornament. They spent an hour working on it. After that we all went swimming. We had a lot of fun racing, pretending we were American Girl dolls, and me pulling the girls around while they held onto a noodle. After all that was said and done, I drove the girls back home and I was exhausted! I went to shop at Kohl’s and it took me over an hour to decide how to spend my $10 Kohl’s cash. Lol. Needless to say, I went home and laid on my bed for a couple of hours and watch Anne of Green Gables.

Later Saturday night, Dave and I went over to Ron and Laura’s apartment. Ron is of one of Dave’s friends from work. We had a fun night together. Laura works for a medical insurance company, and one of her clients was my old work. So she knew a bunch of people from HR from my old job…so it was cool to have some connections to each other. It’s such a small world. Speaking of a small world, we went over to Major’s later on that night. Our friend, Heather, was there too. It was definitely fun to see her! Reminded me of old times when we used to go out dancing.

Church on Sunday was fun. We listen to scripture and sang lots of Christmas songs while watching the snow fall outside. Rachel and I took my mom to lunch at Friday's and to see Australia for her b-day (it was her b-day on Saturday). Something happened that I never ever thought would happen. I cried during a movie and Rachel and my mom did not! If you know my mom and Rachel, you'd know how unbelievable that seems! They cry at almost anything that's the least bit sentimental. We also went to the mall between the movie and lunch. Rachel got a couple of sweaters and I found some slippers that I really want.

Between the cold wind on Sunday and the six inches of snow today (only took me 1 1/2 hours to drive home today (usually takes 25 minutes)); I am ready to visit some warmer weather. Although, the snow is really beautiful and magical. I dug out my wool socks. Dave and I took Otis and Cooper outside to play in the snow. They always get so hyper and run around and stick their faces into the snow. And they got to play with their friend Lexi. It's time to make some hot chocolate, so I can finish thawing my fingers!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December!

December! I can’t believe it’s already the last month of 2008! This month will be busy for us, especially since we’re going to North Carolina for a whole week! I think this might be our longest trip there ever, and I’m looking forward to it!

This year has been a great year! And I’m looking forward to 2009! I’m sure I’ll be blogging some sort of “reminiscing the year” post later this month, but not today. I’ll also have to take a good look at my 101 in 1,001 list and see what I really want to try and accomplish in 2009.

Here’s what the Balow Bunch is up to this month…

  • My mom’s b-day
  • A sleepover with Emily and Amanda and we’re going to have breakfast with Santa
  • Holiday party for Jenny’s work
  • Theology on Tap (the Bible study group my church is starting for young adults (ages mid-lates 20's - ?))
  • Book club "Christmas Cocktails"
  • Dave finishes another semester of school
  • Amanda’s b-day
  • Annual Holiday cookie baking event
  • Traveling to NC
  • Celebrating Christmas

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Giving Thanks

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving has got to be one of my favorite holidays! It's the start to the holiday season! And it's one day dedicated to being grateful for everything I've been blessed with in my life. And I truly have blessed with a lot. A loving family, a wonderful husband, great friends. The best pets. A job. A house. Two cars. Health.

I had a wonderful holiday. Dave and I spent time with our dogs and went on our favorite outing -- to the dog park. Then we went to my sister Becky's house. My family was there and so was my brother-in-law's family, so we had a full house. If you noticed all my jib-jab videos from Thanksgiving, you might have guessed that my nieces loved the one that I made of the three of us, and then wanted to make more with the rest of our family. We had a special visitor towards the end of the night. Romo, the new guy Rachel is dating!!! It was fun to meet him!

Here are some pics. They're in reverse chronological order...be sure to watch the video at the end!

Emily and Amanda with their cousins, Dustin and Brandon.

Dave with the Miller's new dog, Midge.


Rachel and Becky doing dishes.

Dinner!

Mom is making the gravy. Dad's making sure she's making it right.

Emily took on of the giant turkey legs (which is funny b/c she never eats anything).


Cooper is so handsome!

Dave and Otis!


My boys and I!

Here's a video of the dogs running around at the dog park. They love trailblazing through the tall grass and chasing each other. I love watching them run free at the park!


video

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Scrapbook weekend!!

Scrapbook weekend was a blast and I have some pics to prove it! I brought my friend Krissy along. Actually she drove Gina and myself up to the cabin Friday weekend. I had no idea that this would be such an organized affair!! When we went into the basement all the tables were set-up. After dinner, we each received goody bags with all the scrapbook essentials -- some paper, a glue-stick, some Tylenol and chocolate! I hadn't really scrapbooked in 3 or 4 months, so I had stored up lots and lots of scrapbooking energy. Friday night, I stayed up until 1 or so in the morning scrapbooking the whole time. Saturday after breakfast we scrapbooked all day, except for some breaks for lunch and dinner. Saturday night we did a drawing for the door prizes. Later, Krissy, Gina, Andee and I went into the hot tub that was outside on the deck. And later, we had ice cream sundaes. Once again, we stayed up until the early morning hours scrapbooking. And we spent another 2-3 hours scrapbooking Sunday morning before packing up, cleaning and leaving for home. I worked on my wedding scrapbook. Although it was a couple of years ago, completing the scrapbook is on my things to do. I only have a couple of pages left, so hopefully I can find some spare time to finish it soon. And I'm voting for another scrapbook weekend in late winter!

Oh, the things you'll see in Minnesota's small towns [during deer hunting season.]

Welcome to Emily, MN

Our cabin. We were roughing it, don't you think?




The view of the lake from the deck. It's hard to tell, but it's covered with ice.


Scrapbooking pics....




The holiday card Gina made. Katrina had made a bunch of cards and was teaching us the patterns. BTW...Andee has a new-found love for card-making.



Lisa working hard on her card.




Andee won one of the door prizes.


Grandma Rose drawing the names. Coincidentally, Andee was mixing up the names. lol.


Jody serving dinner and laughing about something. Good times!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A little update...

I guess I’ve been MIA on my blog. I guess I did post a little something today, but nothing much about life with the Balows in more than a week and that’s a long time for me. In my own personal life, it’s been the same old stuff…but I feel like I’ve been learning a lot about life lately. And really busy.

Normally after work during the week, you’ll either find me working out or (and more likely) you’ll find me at home. That wasn’t me last week. I spent a lot of time catching up with friends and hopefully, I’ve “been there” for some of them when they’ve needed support. I have a couple of friends going through some really, really tough times. But on the other hand, I have several friends going through some fun and exciting times (like finding out they’re expecting babies.) So I guess no matter how bad things seem to be in this world of ours, there always are wonderful, good things happening too.It's great to be reminded – that I have some really good friends I need to make sure I’m taking time to hang out with friends.

That's one of the things I'm up to this weekend. Tomorrow is girls' weekend. We're going to be scrapbooking -- or at least that's what we're supposed to be doing. We're going to be staying at this cabin in Emily, Minn. It looks pretty snazy. I'm really grateful that Dave and his family have such great friends and now they're my friends too. I'm glad that it has worked out that way. I guess it's the unintended benefit of falling in love with someone. I fell in love with Dave...and now because of that I've become part of another great family, and I love and care for some many more people than just Dave. It's just something remarkable about it that I never really thought about before I was in love with someone.

Last Saturday, my sister, Rachel, had a house-warming party. She bought a really cute condo in Minneapolis. She had a pretty good party! Although I drove up there with my parents, so we left probably just as it started getting fun. But I was tired, so it was fine with me to head home early. Dave was supposed to go, but instead decided to go to the Wild game with Andee...she got some free tickets through work. I miss those days when I used to get free sporting events tickets through work.

Last Sunday at church, I felt so inspired. Do you ever have those experiences at church when you just connect with the message and with God more than the usual Sunday? Afterward, I just wanted to do good. Part of it probably had to do with the adult education. The mother of Greg Mortenson came and spoke about the work his son is doing in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He's building schools for the children, especially the girls, in various mountain villages, which provides so many opportunities to the villages where the majority of the people are illiterate when Greg first arrives. It's such an inspirational story. In fact, he's the guy who wrote the book, Three Cups of Tea. I am going to borrow the book from my mom soon. After church, about 50 people all went to lunch to an Afghanistan restaurant, which was surprisingly good (it was the first time I tried that type of food.)

Another reason why I felt so inspired Sunday was that I was so pleased with the turnout of gifts for the soldiers. I had just mentioned at the beginning of the service a week ago that I'd be collecting gifts that Sunday for soldiers in Iraq on behalf of Dave's co-worker, who was sending Christmas care packages to her husband's battalion. My whole backseat was filled with all kinds of stuff....books, magazine, food, toiletries. It was great to hopefully help make the holidays a little more cheerful for those who are away from their families.

Also, we had the Armful of Love tree up at church. Another great annual Christmas tradition. We adopt families through Armful of Love and the families provide us with their wish lists. The families are often those less fortunate who can't afford presents for each other. Often they are families with children (actually that's one of the requirements, I think). Persons are church can pick which gift of the wish list that we're going to get. I picked clothes for a 6-week girl. Got her some cute stuff at Target.

Tonight Dave, Krissy and I volunteered at Feed My Starving Children. Another great organization with a great cause. If you're not familiar with it....basically you assemble meals that are sent to starving children around the world. The meals have made so that they have the nutrients the kids need to overcome the affects of starvation. We packaged lots and lots of meals.

And since I keep talking about all these ways I'm trying to help make a difference...here's one last one. I recently found out that the team I was on for Light the Night, which raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was one of the top ten fund-raising teams! #9! Thanks again to everyone who was able to support me!

So that's a lot of random stuff to update you on what's been going on with us. Nothing crazy or really exciting. But just living and trying to make it all worthwhile...and having a little bit of fun mixed in there with friends and family.

MN Senate Race Recount...

The Senate race in Minnesota was so close that state law requires a mandatory recount. As ugly as this race is/was, the good part is that we get to continue the suspense of who will be representing Minnesota next January. I love watching the election results come in, and I can keep tabs on the recount in the weeks to come (and so can you), by following along on the Minn. Secretary of State's Web site.

Will Norm keep his 200-some vote lead? Will Franken gain votes and take over the lead?? Or my dream -- will the third party candidate surprise all and win the race?? That is to be determined.

One thing I know for sure -- I am glad I'm not one of the people who has to recount the ballots by hand.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veteran's Day!

One of my favorite Veterans... :)

Dear Vets,

Happy Veteran's Day! Thanks to all the Vets for their service to our country. The people of our country honor and respect you for your service. For your willingness to put our country's security and our freedom before your own interests; for spending time overseas away from your families; for the pain you feel for your fallen comrades; for living without everyday conveniences like showers and phones; for the transition of returning to everyday life after a deployment -- deserves our tremendous appreciation. Although this day is declared for your recognition, we are thankful for your service each and every day.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Jenny

Have you thanked a vet yet today? Don't worry you still have time.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Oh, what a week!

Most of my weeks seem to blur together....usually each week consists of the same old stuff -- work, sleep, eat, hang out with my family, being lazy on the weekends. Well, this last week was great. Lot's of pretty major stuff going on. Here's a quick recap.

Monday night, we finally, finally got our new car! We finally got the payout for our old car from the insurance company, so we went out right away to pick up the car that my uncle has been saving on his car lot for the last several weeks until we had the money. It's quite a beautiful car...a 2001 Audi A6 quatro. If you're ever looking for a quality used car at an affordable price, go to my uncle's lot, Bob's Auto Ranch.

Tuesday was a great day too. I could hardly concentrate on work as I had to wait until the afternoon to go vote (but I got to leave work 2 hours early). I completed #7 on my 101 in 1,001 list. Voted for Barack Obama as President of the United States.
My dad came over to watch the election results with me. Dave came home after school and got to watch most of it with us too. My mom was an election judge, so she was working. Before my dad left, we invited our next door neighbors over to help us eat this:


It all hasn't fully sunk in yet -- that Barack Obama is our President Elect. I keep finding myself at random moments just thinking about the achievement he's made and also just a little bit more hopeful for our future. On Wednesday, for some reason I was thinking about the War in Iraq, and finally, for the first time, the end of that war is in sight. On Friday night, Dave and I watched the movie Glory, and once again the historical significance about this election was made evident. The movie is about the Civil War's first African American volunteer company. In the beginning of the movie, the soldiers are just getting to know each other. Here's the conversation:

John Rawlins: Where about you from?
Trip: I'm from around Tennessee. I ran away when I was 12 years old and I ain't never looked back.
Sharts: What ya doin' since then?
Trip: I run for President. [laughter]
Trip: I ain't winning, though.

You really have to watch the movie in order to fully grasp the meaning of the conversation. But there was quite a bit of tension between these guys as they all came from different places and had different philosophies of their place in life. Denzel Washington's character (Trip) pointed out in a sarcastic joke that they did have something in common. And today, no one really can say a comment like that. It's just amazing what's been overcome.

On Friday, I woke up to this. No joke.
Hmm...there will be plenty more of this to come. The good thing was that it melted by lunch time.

This weekend's been good. We went to Andee and Bryan's house last night, for Andee's welcome home party with her family. It was fun to see all the Dobosenskis and the Reeses, who all came down from Duluth or up from St. Peter. Hopefully Gigi will post some of the pics that Gavin took. We missed seeing Jody (she was at her Aunt's wedding in Ohio). But it made me super excited for our scrapbooking girls' weekend that's just in a couple of weeks now!

Another cool thing we're doing (actually Dave is doing) is that he is coordinating sponsoring a battalion that's in Iraq for Christmas at his work. His co-worker's husband is one of the soldiers in the unit. He's asking the gym members to bring gifts (like toiletries and non-perishable food and DVDs and magazines), so that it can be sent over there in time for Christmas. I'm proud of Dave for supporting the troops. I thought it was a pretty good cause, so today at church I made an announcement asking members of my congregation to donate stuff and help contribute money for the shipping. Just today, I got $40 to go towards shipping. And hopefully next week people will remember to bring items to give. I just sympathize so much for the troops that have to be away at the holidays and for the families that are missing their loved ones at Christmas. Anything that I can do to ease the homesickness a little bit for the troops, I'll gladly do.

For this week's grand finale, we went to see the musical, Wicked. It was my first time seeing this show (although I've been listening to the CD), and it was WICKED FANTASTIC! My sister, Becky, and brother-in-law, Steven, got Dave, Rachel and I tickets for our birthdays this year. And before the show, they treated us to Famous Dave's for dinner first. Yum and fun!

Monday, November 3, 2008

In anticipation of election day...

Tomorrow is election day! I came across an image gallery of "Get out the Vote" posters by members of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts). There are some really cool ones, some inspirational ones, and they're all non-partisan. If you have a minute or two, I highly encourage you to check them out and choose your favorites.

Here's my favorite.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Trick-or-Treat

Here's some pics of me and my nieces and Otis trick-or-treating last night. Emily was Madeline and Amanda was a princess. Otis was Mr. Incredible, of course!




Also in this pic is the Miller's new dog, Midge, and a couple of girls from across the street, Zoe and Zara.

Friday, October 31, 2008

If you need a little more coaxing to vote on Tuesday...

Get free ice cream at Ben & Jerry's on Tuesday after voting!!
http://www.benjerry.com/features/i_voted/






Meet the Incredibles!

Happy Halloween! These are not new pics, but it's my duty as a parent to to show off how I humiliate my pups in order to celebrate Halloween!




Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Baby Shower for the Luckiest Baby!

On Saturday, Melissa and I had a baby shower for one of our dearest friends, Erin. I was so honored to help co-host the shower. And hosting a shower for a friend is on my list of 101 in 1,001 (and I promise Erin wasn't even pregnant when I created my list). We still have to wait until February for Baby Luckey to get here, but since Erin lives in Chicago, we had her shower this past weekend since we knew she was going to be home for a quick weekend visit. Baby Luckey is definitely going to be the best dressed baby boy ever! He got the cutest clothes and baby stuff. Now all I have to do is be patient for almost four months until he gets here and I can hold him. I can't wait!!!

I didn't really do a good job taking pics, but I got a few.

Abby (Melissa's niece) was helping Erin open all the presents. Abby also thought the baby was inside Erin, because she swallowed it. Abby also thought the baby was going to be born at the party (b/c how can you have a party for someone who's not here). Abby was all ready to share her toys with the baby. Too cute!!!

One of many cute outfits.


Erin's mom is smelling the melted chocolate in the diaper...one of a few shower games we played.

Me and Erin! She looks great! It's hard to believe there's a baby in her belly!

These guys weren't at the shower. But they were looking cute tonight, so I took a pic!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My thoughts...

* * * I'm actually feeling anxious about posting this tonight. I'm really exposing myself and my thoughts like I haven't done before. I'm not trying to change minds. I'm just trying to help people understand where I'm coming from. I've come to believe that all of us -- Republicans, Democrats and Independents -- essentially want the same thing. We just have a different means to getting to the same end. I would love it if, after reading this essay that I wrote, you would reflect and think about the choice you're going to make in 7 days when you vote for President. One of three things that will happen if you read this post: 1) You'll agree with me, and the essay will help reinforce your opinions. 2) You'll disagree, and the essay may help reinforce your opinions. 3) You'll feel even more undecided about this election, as you'll see a perspective you hadn't really considered. * * *

Three times now I’ve heard three different people say that they won’t vote for Obama because of his stance on just one issue. His pro-choice view on abortion. I understand that abortion is a horrible thing. But since I’ve heard this from several people now, I just want to stand up and declare that I am voting for Barack Obama in spite of his record on this issue. The reason why I am voting for Barack Obama is because by looking at the bigger picture – including hunger, poverty, other social justice issues; peace and diplomacy; equality; our environment; education; healthcare and prenatal and postnatal programs to give children a fair chance in this world; and vets issues – I feel that Barack Obama is comprehensively more pro-life than John McCain. I think it’s easy to look at the issues and simply choose just one issue on which to base your vote. I think it’s more difficult, but more rewarding, to look at all the facts and stances of a candidate and choose to vote for the President who will make the most good for the greatest number of people.

First, about abortion…
As a Christian, I do not like abortion. I do not think it’s a good solution to end unplanned pregnancies. I’ve seen from first-hand experience the extreme guilt, remorse and regret that an abortion causes. Yes, it’s killing a human life. Women who get abortions must be in a pretty desperate place if they choose to do it. But we need to look at why they are in a position where they feel so desperate, and we need try to help prevent people from being in that sort of desperate position in the first place.
I’d rather see programs that help women see their choices and guide them into making the right choice – the choice of life – rather than having laws that dictate what they do. Catholics in Alliance, recently released a 20-year study about the long- and short-term effects on abortion rates, which found that benefits for pregnant women and mothers; employment; economic assistance to low-income families; quality child care for working mothers; and, removal of state caps on the number of children eligible for economic assistance in low-income families has reduced abortions (Source).
In his Blueprint for Change, Barack Obama says he supports such initiatives -- expanding access to contraception, health information and preventive services to reduce unintended pregnancies. Obama says he’ll establish community outreach programs in underserved areas to help make sure women have health care. Obama supports expanding the highly-successful Nurse-Family Partnership to all 570,000 low-income, first-time mothers each year. The Nurse-Family Partnership provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families (Source).
Studies (including one by the Federal Reserve Bank) have shown that investing in training and early childhood programs to low-income mothers and high-risk children pays off in the long run, by reducing crime, drug use, lowering costs for prisons, and providing an opportunity for these children to make a better impact on our communities (Source).
I believe that all people are generally good and that given a choice between life and death for her baby, a woman would choose the miracle of life. And I think that those who decide to have an abortion are desperate enough to do it whether or not it’s legal…it’s still a choice they could make (albeit a bad choice), but if there are people who are going to do it regardless of the legality, why should we choose to cast our vote for President based on this one issue when there are lots of other important issues?

Second, looking at the bigger picture…
I have to assume people are against abortion because it’s about killing a life. But what about the people in our country and around the world that are facing death because of poverty and homelessness and war? In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Archbishop John Onaiyekan said, “The fact that you oppose abortion doesn’t necessarily mean that you are pro-life. You can be anti-abortion and still be killing people by the millions through war, through poverty, and so on.”
Unfortunately, the policies that McCain supports have killed people through war. He’s supported the war in Iraq since the initial invasion, where an estimated 638,579 civilians killed since 2003 (source). Those civilian deaths include many innocent children. Between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 4,775 soldiers have died (source). And more than 1.3 million have been severely injured (source). Not only has their quality of life declined, but also the lives of their families and loved ones. And because our country has committed ourselves to occupying Iraq, we don’t ability to help stop the genocide that’s occurring in places like Darfur, where an estimated 200,000 – 400,000 have been murdered (source). I’m not saying that these lives are more important than unborn children. What I am saying is this – all of these lives are important. All of these people are children of God and each of those untimely deaths is a tragedy.
I also think it’s important to look at the candidates issues on social justice. Who best supports educational programs – which is the best way to ensure that all people have an equal chance to improve their lives? Who wants to dedicate efforts to feed the starving? Who wants to dedicate efforts to eliminate poverty? Who believes that health care is a right and not a privilege? I believe that there is one answer to all those questions – Barack Obama.
When Obama is President, he’ll establish the Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He said, “This Council will not just be another name on the White House organization chart – it will be a critical part of my administration. We know that faith and values can be a source of strength in our own lives. That's what it's been to me. And that's what it is to so many Americans. But it can also be something more. It can be the foundation of a new project of American renewal. And that's the kind of effort I intend to lead as President of the United States." How great it will be to have a President who will leverage the faith and hope of people across our country and put it into action to make our community a better place.
More than any issue, the Bible calls Christians to help the poor and the oppressed. “If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks (Deut. 15:7-8).” Barack Obama understands the success faith-based partnerships have at helping people on a grass roots level, and wants to enable those organizations to make a bigger impact by making it a critical part of his administration.
The hard part about choosing who to cast your vote for is that there are so many issues on the table. Clearly, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the current state of our economy, this election is more important than any election I’ve ever participated in. These issues are all intertwined. I encourage you to not overlook all of these important issues by singling out just one. Think about how we can make this world a better place – not just for a few – but for everyone.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Otis' Big Day

As I'm writing this post, Otis is finishing his first day at agility class! We are super excited for Otis to start agility training. In case you don't know, agility is where dogs run through an obstacle course. There are tunnels, weave poles, teeter-totters, hurdles in addition to some other obstacles. Otis got a preview of agility in his first puppy kindergarten obedience class, and he showed a natural ability to get through the obstacles quickly and he seemed to love it.

Dave has been working really hard to get Otis ready for agility. Just to get into this class, the dogs have to be at least one year old, they have to have 24-weeks of formal obedience training, and they have to pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test. The Canine Good Citizen Test is pretty tough...There are ten items you must complete to pass -- like sitting, staying, walking on a leash. Doesn't seem too hard, except the dog has to be able to do it all with distractions....there are other dogs, dog toys, people, noises going on to try to distract the dog...and if you have to give your dog any sort of physical correction (like pulling on the leash), you fail. If you fail any one of the ten items, then you automatically fail the test. Otis and Dave passed it on their first try (yeah, you might not have guessed that if you see Otis at home...lol.)

So back to agility. We're excited to finally start the class. I'm bummed that it's on Fridays and so I have to be at work (and I tend to be too big of a distraction for Otis when I watch him in class, so I don't usually go anyway). The fun thing about agility, is that you can compete in it. I can't wait until Otis and Dave are good enough for the competitions...which shouldn't be too long. Otis is soon to be an agility champion! In fact, I have this on my 101 in 1,001 list. Hopefully, I'll get to sneak in to class one time and get some pics and video to share!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekend Update...

My weekend was really good. We didn't really do too much special and stayed pretty close to home, which was really, really nice. On Friday, we went over to our neighbors house. We had a fun time hanging out with them. They workout at Gold's Gym, so that's where Dave first met them. Well, it turned out that they lived in our neighborhood. Then one day Sean and I realized we both had worked at GMAC together, and had been in a couple of meetings together over the years -- but when we made that connection, neither one of us worked there anymore. Even so, we had quite a bit of connections with them, and it was nice to finally get a chance to all hang out together.

So on Saturday, I spent most of the day at home. It was a really nice day and we took the dogs for a walk, but I also spent sometime cleaning the house (that's got to be done every once in a while). That evening, we went to see the movie, W, with my family (Dave, Mom, Dad, Rachel, Becky and Steven), and we ate dinner at the California Pizza Kitchen. I'd say if you're interested in the movie, wait until it's for rent on DVD. It was an okay movie, but it definitely isn't as funny as the previews make you believe.

Today was another beautiful fall day. I just got back from the dog park with Otis and Cooper, my dad and Nels. We have a pot roast in the crockpot that's almost ready and it smells delicious!!! This morning I went to church and ran some errands afterwards. I think tonight I'm going to tackle the clothes and try to put them all away.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Moments of amazement

Do you ever have moments when you find yourself truly amazed? Do you ever feel amazed by the blessings in your life? Amazed by the beauty of our Earth? Amazed by your feelings of love and gratitude?

It happens in a moment, when something catches you off-guard and it forces you to take a step back and say, "Wow."

I had one of those moments last night. I was driving to see Krissy at Rise and Wine (yes, I know I already mentioned that in today's earlier post). But I forgot to mention this oh-so-important-part.

I was driving to the coffee shop...not speeding or anything, but slightly annoyed I hit a red light. I was thinking about how long I could hang out with Krissy, so I could stop at the grocery store and then get home and not miss much of the debate.

Then my light turned green, and I proceeded up a hill. Then I came to a clearing (the overpass over the freeway), but there in all its glory was a beautiful harvest moon peeping over the horizon. In that moment, I truly appreciated the beauty of that moon, wondering if others were slowing down to notice it too. The moon was full and almost orange. It was beautiful -- our world is beautiful, Although I'll see many more beautiful harvest moons in my life, I'll never see the moon exactly the same way as I did in that moment.

I let go of my to-do list and arrived at the coffee shop ready to enjoy some moments with a friend.

A little lunch time post...

On Monday, I was dreading this week. I was exhausted by our weekend trip to Duluth.

Today, I can't believe that another week is flying past so quickly!

It's been just another regular week at our house, and that's just the kind I like. Last night, before the debate, Krissy and I went to this little coffee shop called Rise and Wine. It's more than just a coffee shop. They also have a wine bar. They also have a light menu. It has a great atmosphere and is one of a few locally-owned coffee shops in my neck of the woods, and an overall great experience with one of my best friends. Although at 8:00 I had to rush out, so I could watch the debate. I might post more of my reaction later, but probably I won't. But I was very pleased with how my candidate presented himself and his stance on issues and how he's going to help our country.

I just know that whoever wins the election is going to have an enormous challenge to fix our economy and get our country back on track. And I'll pray that he and his advisers will have the wisdom to make good policies. I haven't been too thrilled with either candidates ideas on how to improve the economy. I think they have ideas that will help big business and will help people who our losing their homes to foreclosure -- but they don't have much that will help the majority of people who are struggling with job security, higher food and gas prices, but continue to pay their mortgage. The unfortunate part of the crisis we find ourselves in, is that no one seems to know exactly what to do to fix it. I don't even think the executives on Wall Street know what to do -- I don't think they really wanted their companies to fail and they didn't want the government to be bailing them out (although I suppose that is a better option than failing). Basically, I think that if they could have avoided this crisis, they would have and now they don't know what to do to get out of it b/c their theories about conducting business have just failed them.

Here's another thing that I've been thinking about -- I guess it's my own personal theory about our current state of capitalism in our country. We've heard the statistics -- something like 95% of the world's money is in the hands of 2% of the population. The way that our society works is that the wealthy keep getting richer and richer, and a gap is constantly growing between the middle class and the wealthy. However, the middle class is really the engine that keeps our economy going. Well, what if....the money in our society is now so concentrated in the hands of a very few wealthy individuals and the middle class doesn't have the disposable income they need to keep our economy going...that we've just hit some tipping point and now our economy is crumbling. If there's X amount of money, and there is some sort of multiplier that keeps putting more money in the hands of a few, then eventually there is not going to be enough money for the majority of people to keep functioning. If the middle class gets strapped too thin and don't have any disposable income to spend...b/c the prices of gas, food, housing have gone up...then they can't buy any other goods and then our whole economy falters. This is definitely a very crude and overly-simplified theory....just made up by myself...and I hope that it's not right...and I don't know if I'm explaining it clearly...but the more I think about it...the more it seems to make sense.

Anyway, if you're still with me....I'm back to my week. Tonight Dave and I are going to make Lasagna Roll-ups. A new recipe for us to try...and it's bound to be good...how can any form of pasta and ground beef and cheese and red sauce be bad?? It can't!

Friday is an exciting day. Dave and Otis start agility! Actually, it's the first class...so it's just the human...not the dog...but we're all really excited that Otis finally gets to start agility!

And I'm looking forward to this weekend. We have nothing to do! Saturday, I might go to a movie with my family. Sunday is church and Melissa and I are meeting to get some stuff for Erin's baby shower! I'm looking forward to relaxing!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ebay -- your input please!

Do you use ebay? What kind of stuff do you get good deals on through ebay? I guess that's my main question for you guys.

I don't use ebay often, but I would if I knew what I could get really good deals on. I found one really great thing to get off ebay recently -- Dog poop bags.

We go through those little rolls you get at the pet store like nobody's business and we go through them super fast. And they're so expensive at the pet store. Instead of paying $12 for 120 bags...I paid $11 for 400 bags.

Are there any other random items that you buy through the site that you need, but you hate paying full price for them??

Let me know! I love bargains!

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Fisher Wedding

We're back from our weekend in Duluth for Jim and Aimee's wedding. It was fabulous! We stayed at Mike's house and he had the weekend off of work too. I really enjoyed that he was able to come to the rehearsal dinner and the wedding, because I got to have two dates...and I also had a friend to hang out with while my husband was doing Best Man stuff.

Friday after the rehearsal, we had dinner aboard one of the Vista boats. It was my first time on any sort of boat on Lake Superior, so that was a fun experience.

Saturday was the big wedding day for Jim and Aimee. Aimee is a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz. They had an instrumental version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow during the prelude. Aimee even had ruby red slippers for some photos after the ceremony. And when she was taking those pics outside, guess what appeared!? -- A rainbow. It was pretty cool.

The reception was super fun. After saving the day (getting the poem Dave wanted to read during the speech printed), Dave gave an awesome speech. Also, Dave and I were in a dance-off. We should have won, but we ended up getting 3rd place (out of three teams)....not sure how we got jipped (or maybe I just have a misperception that we're good dancers, we're really not...lol.) Dave also had to play some game and strut his self around the dance floor like he was a model on a catwalk. Matt had to play the game too...except he had to be a ballerina...and Matt won. There was a lot of dancing and hanging out with lots of people we don't get to see enough, so it was really awesome...and we stayed until the end. A good night out can't end without Taco John's...so we got that too! (Why can't the TJ by our house be open after midnight too??)

Here's a bunch of pics....in no particular order, b/c I'm too lazy to fix.

Me and my dates. I'm sure Mike and Dave have some prom pics in this same exact spot...lol.


Aboard the Vista (and our only pic of the two of us from the weekend) :(


Jake, Mike and Dave.


The wedding ceremony. Isn't Dave doing a great job??


The drive was beautiful. I don't remember the last time seeing leaves this amazing. (And the pic is from the car while we're driving, so the pic doesn't 100% capture the beauty.)


Matt playing ballerina.


Dave playing model. Doesn't he look good??


Mr and Mrs James Fisher, Jr!


Here's the rainbow. Can you see it?