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!!

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 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

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 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 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 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' we got that too! (Why can't the TJ by our house be open after midnight too??)

Here's a bunch of 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

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?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Good Morning Blog-world!

It's morning. I have lots to do. Yes, it's the perfect time to write a blog.

When Dave gets home from school around 10:15 a.m., we'll be leaving our house and driving up to Duluth for Jim and Aimee's wedding. Dave's the best man in the wedding (of course he's always my best man), but this weekend he has the honor of being Jim's best man too. Too much packing and things to do and not enough time. The wedding will be fun and I'm looking forward to dancing and having a weekend away from home!

Otis and Cooper are being separated for the first time this weekend. Otis went to Becky's house last night. Becky called me and asked what she should do to get him to stop yelping and sitting in front of the door. Poor little guy! In a little bit (after I pack, wrap the present, finish the accident report and get the kennel in the car), Cooper is going to my parents' house. Cooper doesn't know what to do without Otis. Good thing they're only apart for a couple of days.

You probably read "accident report" and thinking "What happened?"

Well, on Wednesday some old lady t-boned Dave and I when we were trying to meet my mom, sis, aunt, uncle and cousin for lunch. My cousin Ben is/was home from China for a couple of days to fix his visa issues, so we were looking forward to hearing about his job and life in China.

So we were crossing an intersection when our light was green and stayed in our center lane the whole time. The lady was turning right at the same the same time as us. She needed to make a quick left after her right turn...and didn't look straight ahead in the direction she was going...and ran straight into us as she crossed through our center lane. A big Cadillac crossover SUV caught the corner of my eye...I look right, scream, and the thing runs right into my door. Then she kept hitting the gas and moved our car, wrecking all the panels on our passenger side. So we had to have the police come and everything. All in all, it was a good reminder to count my blessings. Everyone was ok (even the two elderly people). Our car is still somewhat drivable. We had good insurance and the insurance company has been really great. We only suffered $3,500 in damage. So that's all I got about that one.

Here's one other thing that's kind of funny. Ashley and Loralai and the NC Balows were in my dream last night. We were on a family vacation at a really fancy place right on a body of water.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

October for The Balow Bunch…

Gigi’s post last week and Pappy’s post today, reminded me that I want to dedicate a post to all things we have planned for the month of October…It seems like this month is more low-key than last month…although we still got some exciting things going on…

  • Light the Night Walk (this one is already done)…
  • Lunch with my cousin who’s whom from China for a week
  • Jim and Aimee’s wedding (and rehearsal dinner)…in Duluth that weekend
  • Baby Shower for Erin
  • Bookclub (1-night retreat at Nicki’s cabin)
  • Lots of debate watching

Monday, October 6, 2008

Two more recipes that passed the Balow Bunch test

Yes, ok, I admit...Dave and I may not be the best judges for my cooking. We are probably two of the world's least pickiest eaters and like almost everything. But I've been loving my most recent issue of Cooking Light and have tried two more of the recipes from this issue. We enjoyed both of them -- Autumn Apple Cake and Braised Chicken with Mushrooms and Chard. The chicken recipe was surprisingly delicious with a sweet and slightly spicy flavor (I opted for the jalapeno pepper versus the cherry pepper). Apples are used with both recipes, so I've continued to enjoy my bounty from the apple orchard. But unfortunately, I used the last apple last night. Bummer.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Light the Night = AWESOME!

Last night, we participated in the Light the Night walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It was a great time. When all the donations were all submitted, our team of 19 raised $5,515! Thank you to everyone who contributed. You money will be put to good help support people and their families fighting cancer. Before the walk started, they had free food for the participants. They also had a band playing...and some cool people gave some words of appreciation (some local news anchor, Senator Amy Klobuchar and a Vikings player who currently has cancer). There were lots of families and kids walking together. It took a bunch of's a couple of my favorites.

Tonya and her family. Madeline, Lauren and Marc

Our team -- Team Tonya

This pic is for Pappy!

Me and Tonya. She had a special blue "Survivor" shirt and a white balloon.

Dave and I with our illuminated balloons.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Happy birthday to us!

With my new job, I've acquired a new awareness for email marketing, because that's what half of my job entails. To stay up-to-date with the current trends and such, I've added a few email marketing related blogs to my blogger feed.

Today I read this post about getting special email promotions for your birthday. I thought it'd be fun for us to put together a list for all the websites where you can sign up for emails and receive a special Happy Birthday email. I'll list the websites...and all you have to do is go to the site, sign up for the email, and then wait for your b-day to roll around...and received lots of great coupons and special b-day offers. Consider this my early b-day gift from me to you.

Here's what I got off the top of my head.

Are you aware of any other Happy B-day special email offers that you can sign up for? Leave them in the comment section.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Watch this video, please!

Today I had lunch with my friend and former co-worker, Tonya. In case you don't remember, she's my friend who battled (and defeated) cancer last year and the mother of two girls (now ages 2 and 4). She's my inspiration for joining the Light the Nigh Walk (and the team captain). Our walk is on Saturday!! I can't wait. We talked about it at lunch. She and her husband are both on the team and they're bringing the kids too, so they can be share the experience. It's going to be emotional. Tonya was tearing up just thinking about it -- and the walk hasn't even happened yet.

The good news I want to share with you guys about the walk. I made my fundraising goal!!! Beat it by $20. And the even cooler news -- Tonya's goal was to get ten people on her team and have the team raise $1,000. As of now, Tonya's team has 18 people and has raised $2,690!!! Go Team! We blew Tonya's goal out of the water! Thank you so much if you we able to contribute to the walk. I really appreciate it...and I know it will make a difference in the fight against cancer.

I've been saving this video to post on my blog for a long time -- as part of my efforts to encourage people to support Tonya's team. But since we met our goals, I don't need to encourage more donations (although it's definitely still appreciated) -- but I think this video is really I'm posting it here anyway for you all to watch.

It was a video that aired during the Stand Up 2 Cancer event that was on TV a couple of weeks ago.