Friday, January 29, 2010

Flashback Friday -- Otis' homecoming

Another big homecoming for The Balow Bunch was the day we got Otis.

We Dave anticipated getting Otis for such a long time.

When Dave was in the army, he wanted to get a dog. I told him he should wait until he got out of the service.

When Dave and I lived in an apartment, he wanted to get a dog. I told him we should wait until we have more space.

When Dave and I bought a house, he wanted to get a dog. I told him we should wait until after our wedding and after the honeymoon.

So it was decided that a dog would be my wedding present to Dave.

Otis was actually born before our wedding. Dave picked him out, but Otis wasn't old enough to go home until about a month after the wedding.

Here's the first photo of Otis that we ever saw.

We loved him immediately.

During our honeymoon, Dave would check his email every day to see if the breeder had emailed us any new pictures. One day we got lucky and saw this:

Finally, on the last Saturday in July, it was time to go pick up Otis. We drove 4-5 hours down to a farm in Iowa. We loved getting a tour of the farm, meeting Otis' parents, seeing the other dogs and puppies.

 That's Otis' mama, Angel, and one of his sisters.

Angel loves attention, just like Otis!

We drove back home with two puppies. Another couple was buying the other pup and they lived by us. So we took their dog back with us so they didn't have to drive down to Iowa too. We didn't know what they were going to call her, so we called her Princess. We were so tempted to keep her!

Dave and the little Princess.

O-bear and I. We put his little collar on him right away!
Checking out his new toy.

Otis and Princess did a great job on the way home. They didn't cry at all. That was so unlike my experience with my first dog, Nels. He cried the whole way home and my mom and I cried too.

Anyway, we loved Otis straight from the get-go. He looked like a little bear cub and waddled around the grass. It's so funny to remember how slow he was as the grass was almost as tall as him, because now he's so speedy. He would lick us right on our chin, just like we always dreamed our puppy would.

Our family.

Checking out another new toy. Today he would destroy a toy like this in seconds!.

Dave finally got his puppy. He said it was worth the wait, because if we had gotten a pup any earlier, it wouldn't have been our Otis.

Sleepy pup!

Read my previous Flashback Friday post: Dave's homecoming.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thankful Thursday -- Cooper's wiggles

I love my pups.

That's an understatement. lol.

One of my favorite times with them is when I get home at the end of the day. They are so excited! When I first walk in the door, it's Otis' turn to be super excited. Cooper has to wait until he does his business outside. Why? He wiggles a lot and would leak if he didn't empty his bladder first.

So when he gets back inside, Cooper is full of wiggles. He has to wiggle his body because he doesn't have a tail. Wiggles equal love. Cooper has a lot of love. Although if you didn't know better, you might think he was a little terrorist with all his wiggling.

Today I'm thankful for my wiggling puppies that explode with love when I come home. I wanted to share this moment with you all. Take a look.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A bit better

I'm exhausted, but I'm feeling a bit better than I was on Monday.

On Tuesday, I was driving to meet a friend for lunch. The sun was out.

I realized it had been a LONG time since I'd see the sun. Generally, I drive to work in the dark. I don't leave the building for lunch. I don't have any windows in my cubical. I drive home in the dark. It had been rainy all weekend. Anyway, during that drive, I could honestly feel my spirits rising as the sun reflected off the snow and into my car. Apparently, I may need to increase my dosage of my vitamin D supplements...or go on vacation somewhere sunny. But the vitamin D option is more likely.

I was reading my church newsletter last night. In her column, my pastor wrote about courageous hearts and winter, where trees and animals bravely endure the harsh weather. I loved the sound of the phrase, courageous heart. Courage, according to my pastor, doesn't mean holding on tight to make it through. It means you rely on God's strength to give us the confidence we need. Pastor Joy wrote,

"It is not until we have faced some winters in our lives, some challenges and struggles, that we are able to know our own courage and understand just how brave we can be when it is necessary to have a courageous heart."

In light of my feelings and my attitude the other day, these words really resonated with me. The miscarriage and the amount of time it's taken us to have a baby is really one of the few big trials in my life. Even though I obviously have my moments of weakness, I have surprised myself at my courage to get through these struggles. I believe that I have this courage because of the support of my family, friends and also, very importantly, my faith. It's my faith that makes me know that I have the strength to make it through. It's my faith that gives me hope that there will be a day when we're blessed with a child. 


Monday, January 25, 2010

A little bit of sunshine

I'm no longer in the depths of despair like I was earlier today. I got some good news.

I passed my math test-out exam

I can proceed with finishing my degree without any delay and without having to take a refresher math course. Hooray!



Warning: This mood of this post is a little lot depressing.

I don't remember exactly when I knew I wanted to be a mom, it's just a desire that was always with me. I loved playing house with my friends. I would pretend I was pregnant and stuff my Cabbage Patch doll up my shirt. I've always love babies and kids. Watching my niece be born pretty much confirmed that I really wanted to have kids some day.

One reason I knew Dave was the one was because we were on the same wavelength as far as kids were concerned. Not too long after I met him, he said he had two big goals in life. To be a husband and to be a father. I felt the same way that those were things I knew I wanted (be a wife and a mother), whereas I really didn't know exactly what I wanted to do for a professional career.

We've been trying for 14 months now. Even though I wrote the other day that I didn't want to focus on having a child this year, I can't ignore that it's still something I really want. You think I'd get used to when that time of month rolls around making it apparent that this isn't "the month," but it just seems to get harder and more frustrating.

It probably has something to with the fact that we're in the dead of winter right now and winter generally has a depressing effect on me. It probably has a lot to do with trying for so long with no success. To be honest, it probably has something to do with the fact that two girls I grew up with are now pregnant with their second children. And probably has something to do with the fact that I got my period yesterday.

But the cumulutive effect is that right now, for the first time, a hopeless feeling is sticking with me. I'm not feeling positive about our chances of having a child. I feel like each month we're the couple that tries to get the winning lottery tickets and even though we try and try, it's something that will never happen. I don't like feeling this way. I don't like making Dave feel bad because I feel this way. But I can't seem to shake these negative feelings right now.

I remember at Christmas my mom said to me, "Maybe next year there will be a new baby here for Christmas. Or maybe you'll be expecting one."

I said, "Maybe," but I was thinking to myself, "yeah right."

We've tried pretty much everything. We've tried to try. We'v tried not to try. We've given it up to God. I've charted my temperature. I've tried ovulation predictor kits. Since we did get pregnant once, the doctor says everything works so just keep trying. I don't get it. We've always been healthy people. Our parents were fertile. Our siblings were fertile. We're 27 years old -- supposedly in the peak of our fertility. What is the problem?

I used to want three children. But right now, I'd just like one. One baby that Dave and I can call our own.

I wish I could travel in time to the future and get a glimpse that everything is going to end up okay. Because apparently, I've lost my ability to reassure myself today. Thank God tomorrow is a new day.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

A little confession...

Earlier this week, I blogged about the commencement of my new half-marathon training program.

Before Monday, it had been almost five months since I've done any sort of running. I've either gained a lot of what (which I really haven't) or I'm just getting older. It's so much harder to just get up and run 2 miles. I used to be able to do that with no problems. Not this week.

It makes me so mad that I let myself get so out of shape. I put the time and effort into training to be able to run long distances for several months. Then I get bored of running, I get a little lazy and then all of a sudden it's been 5 months and I can't even run two miles any more.

So I attempted to try running Monday. But a little incident with my toiletry bag and a razor ended up cutting my run short. Oddly. this past week I was a lot busier than usual. I had something going on every night after work. Consequently, I didn't get back onto a treadmill until today.

With a lot of time and no injuries, I was able to concentrate a little better at the task at hand. I ran (with a little walking mixed in) and did a core class. I realized something today.

I have A LOT of work to do before May if I'm going to be able to run a half-marathon. I need cardio. I need core workouts. I need yoga. I need some strength training.

This week I'm going to be more committed to this training program. No excuses.

Although I may be singing a different tune tomorrow when I can't move my legs.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Flashback Friday -- Dave's homecoming

There's a lot more story to the Balow Bunch that what you've been reading in this blog since 2007. Actually, there are probably only a very few people who've been reading this blog since its inception. And as a matter of fact, there aren't all that many more people reading this blog now. But I thought it'd be fun write about a story from the past every once in a while so that you get to know me and my bunch a little bit better.


February 9, 2004

One of the best days of my life was when Dave came home from Iraq. He spent a year there. A year that for me was filled with anxiety, worry and fear. Those feelings combined with the feelings that I had toward Dave were pretty overwhelming at times. So imagine my relief and excitement when the day finally arrived that Dave would be safe from war and safe in my arms once again.

My mom and I started the day by driving 13 hours to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where Dave was stationed. The weather through southern Minnesota and into Wisconsin wasn't the greatest. It was foggy and kinda snowy/icy, if I remember correctly. But I wasn't going to let a little weather stop me from getting to see Dave come home.

Several hours into the trip, Dave called from Prague. I was in Jaynesville, Wis. It was just wierd that in the amount of time it was taking to drive from Wisconsin to Kentucky, Dave was flying all the way from Europe to Kentucky.

After several more hours, we finally arrived in Clarksville, Tenn. (right next to Fort Campbell). We met Dave's parents, sisters and nephew at their hotel. FINALLY, that night it was time to go to the army base. My mom and I followed Dave's family by car. Fort Campbell was ready for the families. They had soldiers directing us where to go.

I felt like I had been waiting all year for the day (which I had been), but the wait seemed to drag on and on. We were all directed into an airport hanger with all the other families.We waited. And waited. And waited.  I remember looking around at the families. Imagined what it must have been liked to be married with children and have a deployed husband. It'd be harder than my own experience for sure, and I thought my own experience was so hard. I looked at what the other women were wearing and compared to my own outfit. It had been so hard to pick out an outfit for that day! I wanted to look good. But I didn't want to look like I was trying too hard. It was cold and I wanted to be warm enough to stand outside.

Two planes finally arrived. It seemed like the planes had been there for a while before they called for families to go out to the barricade to watch the soldiers get off the plane. But Dave's unit was on the other plane, so we had to wait some more. And more. Finally it was our turn.

We hurried outside and went up to the barricade. We had little American flags to wave. Some people had posters. We were all squished up alongside the barricade. We waited some more. No one was getting off the plane.

Then my cell phone rang.

It was a number I didn't recognize, but I answered it anyway.

"Oh, my! It's Dave!" I exclaimed. EVERYONE turned and looked at me. He said they'd be out soon and he couldn't wait to see me.

We waited some more.

Finally the plane door opens and soldiers start walking down the stairs and across the tarmac. They all walk pass us and into another hanger where they are getting into formation.We're all cheering and jumping up and down.

Finally, I spot Dave. He looks so confident walking across the tarmac with his big black pack on his back. But you should have seen his smile when he saw his family and my mom and I waving at him. It was huge!

The moment I was waiting for so long was finally happening. Soon I would be in his arms.

After he went by, we moved into the hanger. There was an army band and a soldier singing, "Proud to be an American." This whole evening was the most patriotic day I'd ever experienced. We watched the soldiers go through their formation and finally they got dismissed.

We ran down to wear Dave is standing. He hugged his nephew, Anthony, first. Then, finally, my turn.

Dave was home. I was at  home in his arms. He was safe. I was safe. We were together.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

RIP Spike

Dave was looking at our dogs' breeder's Web site today. We love to check it every once in a while and see the new siblings Otis and Cooper has. Well, there was some sad news on that site today. Otis' biological dad passed away. His name was Spike. It makes me sad. For Otis. Not that he'd understand if we told him. But it also makes me sad for me. Dave and I operate under the assumption that our puppies are going to live forever. But Spike's death is a reminder that our puppies are not invincible.

So tonight I'm going to give the dogs a little extra cheese in their dog food and give them some extra scratches. Just so they know how much we love them and love having them with us right now.

Here's Otis and Spike side by side. Any family resemblance? They both have a lot of hair!!

Spike's photo is courtesy of


Monday, January 18, 2010

Training starts now

For the first nine months of 2009, I focused pretty much all of my energy on having a baby. It was the reason why I exercised. The reason why I wanted to eat healthier. The reason why I hardly drank at all. The reason why I didn't sign up for a half-marathon (which I'd be doing on an annual basis for three years).

Look where it got me.

Here I am a year later. No pregnancy. No baby.

In some ways I feel I missed out on a lot of life last year.

So this year, things are going to be different. Yes, those things I did last year were probably good changes to make. And I'm going to continue being as healthy as I can be. But this year, I'm doing it for me. We're actually going to slow down on this whole starting family thing. I don't want to look back on another year giving up things I like to do for something that may not happen. If we get pregnant, great. That would be awesome. But if not, I still have a lot of life to live. I don't want it to pass me by.

I'm signing up for a half-marathon. Lake Minnetonka. May 2.

Training starts TODAY.


So I made it to the treadmill. But I didn't log the two miles as planned. As I was getting ready, I dug my hand through my toiletry bag to get a hair binder. My razor was in my toiletry bag too. You can guess what happened.

I totally gouged my finger against the razor blade. Blood was pouring out of my finger. But I was on a tight schedule and I was determined to get done with my run. I wrapped a paper towel around my finger and headed to the treadmill. It wasn't long before the paper towel was soaked through with blood. Since it was my first time running in probably six months and I hadn't eaten in several hours, I had visions of getting dizzy and passing out. I could seriously smell the blood. So after 1.25 miles, I had to be done.

But I think running with a bloody finger for 1.25 miles shows some sense of dedication and determination. Don't you think?


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Done and Done

Well, I'm done with the math test.

It's a big sigh of relief to be done with it.

Now I just have to wait for a couple of weeks to get the results. I'm not going to think about it. I'm going to enjoy my last two weeks before school starts doing lots of fun, I mean, work. But that's life and I'm thankful to be working!


Testing my [non-existent] math skills

Today I'm doing what I'm sure you're dreaming of doing on a Saturday afternoon.

I'm taking a math test.

A THREE hour math test.

I'm in a master's program for a Masters of Business COMMUNICATION -- well, I was accepted into a provisional status. My math score on the GMAT was a little low. So they gave me a couple of different options and I procrastinated, of course. Currently, I can't take any more classes until I fulfill their math requirement. 

The cheapest and least time-consuming option is PASSING their math placement exam. 

Being the thrifty person I am, that's the route I choose to do. In a matter of 20 days, I've relearned 12 years worth of math.

I think I did it. Knock on wood!

If I don't pass the test today (which doesn't have any multiple choice have to be able to solve the problems), I will have to either retake the GMAT or take a math class. And I won't be able to take any more classes until I do one of those....and their math class isn't available until fall. 
The stakes are high, but the reward will be good. 
IF you call being able to take more classes a good reward.


Friday, January 15, 2010


Back in October, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Katie and Brian, stopped by from North Carolina for a little visit. While she was here, Katie captured Dave and I on film....or memory card. lol.

Anyway, she recently featured us on her blog, so I thought I'd share. Go see how Katie captured us!

I'm a little biased, but I think the photos are awesome.


Feeling good...

Two people have emailed me and said that they donated to Healing Haiti based off my recommendation. It feels good to know that I've helped influence some people to give to such a great organization.

You can help by helping spread the word about this organization.. Please join them on Facebook Causes. Just click here and join. And please invite your friends to join too.

Dave's now considering joining me on a trip to Haiti. It would be so awesome to have that experience with Dave. Not sure when exactly we'll be able to go, but I emailed Healing Haiti to get details about a trip sometime this year. I know now that Dave and I will be able to make this trip happen. I've been talking to a couple of people about it and they've brought up on their own that they'd want to help sponsor us. I also awoke to a great fundraising idea, so I'm pretty confident we'd be able to get the money we need to go.

It's such a terrible tragedy, but I'm feeling really good about being able to help.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010


The news about the earthquake in Haiti is so tragic. Frankly, I don't know what to say about it. A country filled with people who were suffering are only suffering more today.

For Christmas, Dave and I decided to give money to Healing Haiti, which helps orphans by providing food, water, education and housing.

So tonight I was checking out Healing Haiti's Web site and blog to see if they had any information on how they'd been impacted by the earthquake. As you can imagine, they're still trying to get information from their workers and contacts. They have an orphanage in Titanyen where houses were completely destroyed. In their recent blog post they said, they haven't been able to reach the director of that orphanage and don't know anything about the 23 children there. 

They also said this:  
This is so much worse that we could have ever imagined and the information we continue to receive is not getting any better. This is truly an unbelievable event that we still cannot comprehend. Before the quake, only 30% of the people in Haiti had access to clean drinking water and now there is even less water available. We have one water truck staffed and will be running again when the roads are passable and we have another water truck that was shipped down last year that we want to put into service. We are also working with Feed My Starving Children to ship an emergency container of food to Haiti. I will be leading a small contingent of volunteers to Haiti hopefully in the next week.

Please consider helping Healing Haiti get their second water truck up and running. You can donate online through this link.

I've talked to a few people about it, but I'd been thinking that I want to join Healing Haiti on one of their mission trips this year. I guess I did mention it here. Now I'm feeling like this is something I really need to do. I have no idea how I would come up with the money to do it, but I know I can do it if I'm determined enough.