Suz's love for COWS + Allan's work with LASERS = one unique blog name! Welcome to our blog filled with race recaps, pictures of our labs, and everything else we share with blogland!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

We're Halfway There!!

It's the end of June people and that means we are halfway to Christmas and my birthday! This also means the year is half over and I can't help but wonder where it went. Six months ago my grandmother had just passed away and Christmas had come and gone with only our tree lit with blue and orange lights to show that it was the holidays at our house. We were preparing to travel to AZ to see our Auburn Tigers play for the National Championship and we had just bid farewell to a sweet friend who had left AL to return to HI. Now before you ask yourself why anyone would move from HI to AL just remember that love is a powerful force. Today is this sweet friend's birthday and I miss her every day.  We hope your special day is perfect and we love you so much!

In the spirit of being halfway there I'm also halfway to my weight loss goal!!! 13 lbs down and 13 to go!!! Since laying out my health and fitness goals I really feel like I've made some progress. I can run at least 1.25 miles with no stopping and no walking. That may seem like a short distance but when I started I felt that I had to stop after .25 miles. This morning I beat my personal best mile time and was a few seconds off from beating my best time for 1.25 miles. I'm eating a lot more fruits and vegetables (especially fruits) than I have in a long time and I feel a lot more healthy. Losing the weight has been a nice bonus! Exercising 5 days a week has given me a lot more energy and when I'm tired it's a good tired knowing I've been active that day.

Here's to the second half of the year and losing the second 13 lbs!!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday Brooklyn!

Today is our niece's 1st birthday and we were very lucky to be able to travel to NC last Thursday night and stay until Sunday morning to celebrate her birthday and spend some time with family. The "birthday princess" had a Princess and the Frog themed birthday complete with badmitton, cake, presents, family, and friends. What a special day!

Let me just say that after three mornings of waking up to sweet Brooklyn "talking" while eating her breakfast at such an early hour I was sad to wake up to the quiet this morning at our house (after sleeping 11 hours). I had gotten used to her precious little sounds she makes in the morning while deciding what she is and isn't going to eat that morning. My sister always talked when she ate when we were younger so it brought back special memories for me hearing Brooklyn do the same thing.

We hope and pray that this beautiful girl knows how many people love and care for her and her Mommy and Daddy. Our lives are truly blessed to have the three of them in it and we look forward to celebrating many more birthdays with you guys in the years to come! Happy Birthday Brooklyn! Uncle Allan & Aunt Suz love you very much!

Princess and the Frog cake that Austin & Krista made for Brooklyn-my picture doesn't do it justice

Low rider in the booster seat with the bottle at Red Robin

Allan & I with the "Birthday Princess" who loves her Winnie the Pooh phone Mimi gave her

Puzzles from Uncle Adam, Aunt Jodi, & Ali

Brooklyn & Ali captivated by Uncle Allan

Yep-these are our husbands! Love them!
Allan & I are so blessed to have such a large family. Having only grown up with one sister myself it's always fun to spend time with my other mom and sisters when we all get together. Not that I don't love spending time with any of our four brothers but girl time is always filled with great talks, a shopping trip here and there, and funny stories about the boys!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The One Day Way Book Review

A couple of weeks ago I shared with you all what I was reading and let you know I would be reading The One Day Way by Chantel Hobbs in this post.

This past weekend I took the book along for our trip and was hoping to get started on it so I could finish it this week. Well, I read the entire book in one day!

My review for Blogging for Books reads as follows :
"The One Day Way is a great book for those looking to live a healthier and more fit life or a great read for someone already on their way to being fit and healthy.

Chantel includes wonderful examples and personal success stories that really speak to the principles outlined in her book. I love that it speaks to those who look at losing weight as a complete overhaul that has to happen overnight. She encourages people to change one thing today such as switching a soft drink for water at lunch or meeting a friend at a park to walk instead of somewhere to sit and eat.

Focus on faith, food, and fitness and follow the commandments laid out for food and fitness and I think anyone will find themselves becoming a more fit and healthy individual!"

My favorite quote from the book is:
"You're the only one who can define the goals that will deliver the life you want."

Also "The Ten Commandments of the One-Day Way to Get Fit For Life
1. A great attitude isn't enough.
2. Believe that you were made to move.
3. Break a sweat every day.
4. Five days of cardio every week is nonnegotiable.
5. Intensity is important.
6. Something is better than nothing.
7. Results are a measure of personal progress.
8. Strength training three times a week is essential.
9. Recovery is required.
10. Figure out how to love exercise."

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
If you get a chance to pick up a copy and read it let me know what you think! Also if you want to check out Bloggers for Books, read my review, and rank it here's the link. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Free Starbucks for Me!!

Thanks to my careful reading of the entire Starbucks Decaf House Blend coffee bag I emptied last month I'm enjoying a free tall cup of Starbucks coffee. I'm also enjoying the rain which we so badly need.

Last night I went to bed feeling pretty upset and mad at myself. My jewelry is still nowhere to be found and we are 99% sure it's got to be in the house somewhere. Not being able to find it has been stressing me out and I'm so angry with myself for putting it away. After a terrible night of tossing and turning I got out of bed to start my day at 8. As I drove to pay the water bill I passed through an area where a tornado hit and as I looked at what used to be someone's home I thought of my jewelry. While I hope and pray that I find it I'm grateful that after April 27, 2011, the only thing I'm missing is jewelry that I myself misplaced. We are blessed that the house I saw this morning wasn't ours and that everyone we know and love remained unharmed throughout that day.

This morning as I thank God for our rain, Allan and the dogs, and our home I'm saying a special prayer for those whose lives were changed after April 27 and hoping they find peace and comfort as they rebuild their homes and lives.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Favorite Childhood Summer Memories

Today I'm going to share some of my favorite childhood summer memories. Please forgive the lack of pictures.

  • Building a fence with Momma, Daddy, Pa, NeeNee, and my sister when I was 6
  • Playing with my sister and two boys down the street (in the cattle trailer no less!)
  • Hunting for treasure in the creek which was usually broken glass pieces for my collection
  • Spending countless hours talking to my dog Jill and occasionally crying into her fur
  • Walking down the road with a garden hoe and Jill in case we ran into a snake
  • Catching lightning bugs and putting them in jars but always releasing them before the night was over
  • Checking the cows to look for new baby calves
  • Staying outside during a summer storm (as long as there was no lightning)
  • Eating double decker vanilla Moon pies down the road at my great uncle's house while listening to his stories
  • Trips to Luverne (where NeeNee was born) to see family and stop in at another great uncle's country store
  • A week or two at NeeNee and Pa's where there was cable tv, a shopping trip, & a McDonald's Happy Meal
  • NeeNee instructing Pa on how to drive with my sister and I (her dolls as she called us) in the car
  • Having to get Pa to turn around and go back home once I discovered Button & Block had not made the trip
  • Riding down the hill in NeeNee and Pa's yard in a little red wagon 
  • Homemade icecream
  • Shelling peas, shucking corn, snapping beans, and canning jelly with NeeNee
  • Staying up late with Pa to watch Braves games

For some reason I'm a bit sad today and while these memories bring a smile to my face they do make me miss NeeNee and Pa and my childhood summers. Our family didn't take summer vacations or spend money on entertaining ourselves. Everything we needed was right there on our farm or amidst family and friends. The one summer we won a vacation was fun but not one that even came to mind as I thought of my favorite childhood summer memories. This weekend as Allan and I head home to the farm with the dogs I'll probably take some time alone to walk around the farm and thank God for how fortunate I was to grow up there and make these memories with my sister, parents, and grandparents.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Joy of Raising Sasha and Lucky

The past couple of days after I wake up and make our bed I have ventured into the garage to find Sasha stomping in front of the food bowls and Lucky running around in search of his tennis ball or "tenni" as we call it in our house. As soon as the food is in the bowls, Sasha is busy devouring hers and Lucky is looking at me lovingly wagging his tail. He wants nothing to do with the food and if it were up to him I would start my day throwing his "tenni" around in the garage for him to catch and bring back. Yesterday and today I had to take the tennis ball from him and put it away in order to make him eat. Every time he would stop eating and this happens after every couple bites I have to tell him, "You need to eat if you want your 'tenni' back."

Ten minutes later he finally finishes his food and Sasha goes behind him to be sure the bowl is clean and there are no crumbs for her. Lucky meanwhile is sitting patiently waiting for me to give him his tennis ball back. As soon as he sees it he wags his tail furiously and waits for me to throw it. After a couple of tosses the game is done and I start my coffee and pop my bagel in the toaster.

The dogs live a hard life as you can see...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Clubs and Book Review

As I mentioned in this post I'm participating in an online book club this summer for Kelly Minter's book The Fitting Room. We have discussed the first three chapters so far and I'm really enjoying it. Not only do they post on the blog so everyone can leave comments and participate in the discussion, there's also a brief 10-15 minute video in which the author offers some personal insight into parts of the book and gives a little more details on personal stories that she shares in the book. It's not too late to pick up the book and get started-that's the best part about doing it online. If you are behind for the week then you can wait and watch the video and check the blog posts when you are ready.

Last month I attended a book club meeting at our local library and met a very interesting group of men and women who started meeting last May. They choose the books as a group and the titles for the past year have varied greatly. The Color of Light by Karen White was the selection chosen for last month and I really enjoyed it. Without giving anything anyway I can say without hesitation it is a well-written novel combining romance, mystery, and self-discovery. I found myself intrigued by several of the characters and it was difficult for me to put the book down. I would highly recommend it.

This month the selection is Ice Bound-A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole by Dr. Jerri Nielsen with Maryanne Vollers. I'm only 70 pages into it and I'm hooked. This is her personal story of diagnosing and treating her own case of breast cancer while trapped at the South Pole during months where no flights can come in. I'm anxious to read more about her experiences in a land far too cold for my liking and see the story develop. I'll let you know what I think when I'm finished with it!

Recently I read a review on Rightmeyer Relativity which introduced me to Bloggers for Books where I signed up to receive books (free of charge) in exchange for my honest review. The first book I chose is The One-Day Way by Chantel Hobbs and I'm so excited to read it. When I moved here in October 2009 I started listening to WAY-FM, our local Christian radio station based in Nashville, and every Wednesday morning she is on the radio answering questions and giving health and fitness advice. Her story is amazing and worth your time to read. I can't wait to read her book and post my review.

What are you reading this summer? Any recommendations?

Monday, June 13, 2011

SAHW (Stay At Home Wife)

On November 4, 2010, I walked out of a local bank where I had worked for the past two years, two cities, three transfers, and no pay raises (other than when I switched cities and had to be paid market minimum here). Over worked and under paid doesn't scratch the surface for what I went through at that job and throw being robbed in the mix and you've got several stories I'll still be telling when I'm 80. 

Six weeks prior I had turned in my two weeks notice with no idea of what I would do or if I would work at all. Two weeks prior to my last day I got the offer of a lifetime to work in my field from HOME. I'm an Animal Scientist specialized in Animal Breeding & Genetics so stay at home jobs aren't commonplace. I love working from home at my own pace, calling cattle producers, and spending my days talking about cows. I had been praying for months that God would open the door that would allow me to be able to leave the bank and I know I don't thank him enough for completely changing my life. It's difficult to know what an effect your job can have on you until you are in a better place looking back at what life used to be.

I love being a SAHW and I can't begin to describe the joy this has brought to my life. In addition to the job in my field I was offered a nanny job in February that's 10 hours a week unless there's a business trip and I have to stay overnight. For the months where my regular job is slower this extra income is much appreciated. In April I started volunteering at our local hospital which is something I started as a teenager in my hometown and have been anxious to return to since. In May I began working on my health and fitness goals and started using a free one-year membership to a gym that I won in April. Not sure what the rest of the summer holds but the last time I had a free summer without work or a full load of classes was when I was 12. I've either worked or been in class since that summer. Not to say that I won't be working this summer but when your office is the couch or recliner and your work attire consists of t-shirts and shorts one can't complain about having to spend a few hours typing on the computer and talking on the phone.

To see what a normal day looks like for me see this post. Since that post I've added in 2-4 days per month at the hospital volunteering and the times vary from day to day but that's pretty much my life these days. Today I probably won't do anything except run my mile and try out one of my new yoga DVD's. If I get some work to do then obviously I will pull myself away from the tv and get to it! There is one thing that I do need to come clean about and I'm not sure if I've told Allan about this or not. He turns on ESPN Sportscenter in the mornings and often will leave it on when he goes to work between 8:30-9:00. I have a tendency to leave it on while I eat breakfast, drink my coffee, and hop on the computer for a couple hours. I love sports and this guilty pleasure overwhelms me with sports stats and news that spill over into my conversations throughout the day.

I'd love to hear what other SAHW or SAHM do with their days!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Yard is Finished!!!

Three weekends of back-breaking work later both flower beds have been revamped with new weed barrier and black mulch. There's no more grass, I mean weeds, growing around my rose bush and other bushes in the small bed. The larger bed which is home to our hosta and azaleas has been transformed and finally has space to plant flowers close to the front steps. Thanks to our new 24" broom our sidewalk in front of the house is free of dirt and looks so much better!

After digging out the grass/weeds

Nothing like working around thorns!

Weed barrier is our new best friend!

Waiting for Allan to cut it and tack it down

Ahh...a haven for my rose bush!

Looks like a completely different space

Friday, June 10, 2011

Health & Fitness Goals

It's Friday and at our house that means that there will be no cleaning this weekend (since I cleaned the entire house yesterday) and minimal yard work (except for cutting the grass and finishing the small flower bed). There really is nothing more enjoyable to me than having a clean house with everything in its place. I'm confident that it makes me sleep better and I don't feel like the "house cleaning cloud" is hanging over my head every time I'm relaxing. After tomorrow hopefully we will have a clean house, freshly cut lawn, and both flower beds will have new weed barrier and mulch!

I started the week with a huge to do list and I've managed to tackle most everything on the list. I'm a list maker, always have been and always will be. It helps keep me organized and focused on what I need to accomplish. Five weeks ago I put pen to paper and devised a plan to get myself in better shape, be able to run (actually run, no walking) at least 3.25 miles 5-6 days a week, eat healthier, and hopefully shed the weight I've gained since we moved here. From mid January-beginning of May I had lost 5 lbs but I knew I could do better than that and should have in that amount of time. In the last 5 weeks I've lost almost 4 lbs. Enough chit chat, here's my list of goals. Feel free to keep me accountable!

Week 1: Track everything in my WW app (I probably should do a separate post on WW)
Week 2: Run 1 mile 5-6 days a week
Week 3: Drink 64 oz. of something each day (I know I'm not drinking enough, working on the H2O)
Week 4: Earn 20 AP's per week (AP's are activity points I earn by running, working out, doing yard work)
Week 5: Take a multivitamin at least 5 days a week
Week 6: Run 1.25 miles 5-6 days per week
Week 7: Do pilates once per week
Week 8: Earn 25 AP's per week
Week 9: Eat 5 fruits/veggies per day
Week 10: Run 1.5 miles 5-6 days per week
Week 11: Weight training 2 times per week
Week 12: Drink 64 oz. of WATER each day
Week 13: Do yoga once a week
Week 14: Run 1.75 miles 5-6 days per week
Week 15: Do pilates 2 times per week
Week 16: Try one new recipe per week
Week 17: Bike 4 miles once per week (on Allan's bike around the neighborhood-each lap is .4 miles)
Week 18: Run 2.0 miles 5-6 days per week
Week 19: Bike 4.4 miles once per week
Week 20: Bike 4.8 miles once per week
Week 21: Bike 5.6 miles once per week
Week 22: Run 2.25 miles 5-6 days per week
Week 23: Do yoga 2 times per week
Week 24: Eat 7 fruits/veggies per day
Week 25: Bike 6.0 miles once per week
Week 26: Run 2.5 miles 5-6 days per week
Week 27: Earn 30 AP's per week
Week 28: Do yoga 3 times per week
Week 29: Bike 6.8 miles once per week
Week 30: Run 2.75 miles 5-6 days per week
Week 31: Do pilates 3 times per week
Week 32: Weight training 3 times per week
Week 33: Bike 8.0 miles once per week
Week 34: Run 3.0 miles 5-6 days per week
Week 35: Earn 35 AP's per week
Week 36: Plan races for 2012 and set time goals for those races
Week 37: Bike 9.2 miles once per week
Week 38: Run 3.25 miles 5-6 days per week
Week 39: Earn 40 AP's per week
Week 40: Bike 10 miles once per week

I may make some changes as I see how everything goes but at Week 40 I hope to be:
Running 3.25 miles 5-6 days a week
Doing yoga, pilates, & weight training 3 days a week (yoga and pilates on T,R,Sa and weight training M,W,F)
Biking 10.0 miles on my off day(s) from running
Eating 7 fruits/veggies, taking my multivitamin, and drinking 64 oz of water each day
Earning at least 40 AP's per week
Trying one new recipe per week
Tracking everything

Basically the way I laid out my list is that I started with 1 mile and I increase .25 miles after 4 weeks of running that distance. From there I filled in the remaining weeks with other things that I knew I wanted to incorporate into my health and fitness plan. Obviously increasing distance on the bike is filling the gap on weeks where I just wanted to be able to focus on doing everything I was already doing. These 40 weeks will take me into February 2012 and who knows what I might be planning by that time!

I hope you find this motivating. Perhaps now is a great time to evaluate those New Year's resolutions that you made about eating better and exercising more and get yourself on track to living a healthier, more active life!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Master Bedroom and Yard Before and Afters

Last week I logged quite a few hours outside cutting the front and back yard, weed eating the back yard (until I broke the weed eater), shoveling and sweeping away the dirt and grass from the edge of the sidewalks, and tackling the long overdue flower beds. I started by pulling up the old weed barrier and nasty red mulch that you can sorta see in this picture below. This picture also has the small trees that I ripped out last fall that had found a home in the flower bed.

 This was Step 1 where I had pulled out the weed barrier and mulch.

 Next I laid down the new weed barrier being careful to cut slits for the existing plants and then securing the edges of the weed barrier around the base of the plants.

 Finally I laid down 17 bags of the new black mulch we got at Lowe's. My fingernails are still black underneath but it was totally worth it. I think it looks amazing with the new mulch!

 Today I picked up these zinnias from Wal-Mart (Wal-Mart and I have a good relationship with plants!) to replace the tulips that are done for. I loved all the bright summery colors in these four bunches and for $4 you can't beat it!

 Hobby Lobby had a great deal on this American flag to replace our faded and torn Auburn flag that has seen better days. As much as we love Auburn summertime for us is about celebrating our freedoms, being grateful for those who protect that freedom, and enjoying the simpler things in life like watching lightning bugs and listening to the birds chirp.

I believe I mentioned last week that I found a few pieces to complete our master bedroom. I've been on a search for bedtime table lamps that weren't too big, too small, or too expensive. I finally ran across this pair at Ross for $16 apiece. What a great deal! In that same trip I found a beautiful piece of metal artwork that I knew Allan would like. We have a similar piece in our den and dining room. Here's what our master bedroom looks like before and now:

 This bedside table lamp Allan is one I've had since freshman year in the dorm. It's a great lamp but not for the master bedroom.

The lighting isn't very bright because I was trying to take a picture on my phone with just the lamps on but you get the general idea.

 This is a much better shot of the new look for that wall (and the new lamps) looking from our bathroom into our bedroom.

Our lamps! I just love them and they complement the bedding, wall art, and our curtains perfectly!

That's all for now but I've got a lot more to write about so I'll try to get another post up tonight or in the morning!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Ahhh Friday

Normally Friday brings with it rest and some time to relax and unwind. That's not really the case in our house. Thanks to me we have a tendency to have "projects" to do around the house on the weekend if we are in town. I try to schedule lots of trips to see friends and family and most of those trips involve us leaving on Friday and coming back late Sunday or possibly even Monday. Working from home gives me the flexibility to do my work at different times throughout the day or evening so finding time to do yard work and housework isn't a big deal for me but I know the last thing Allan wants to do when he gets home from work is "Let's clean!"

Knowing we would be going home to the farm this weekend I've been working like crazy outside to get the grass cut and the old weed barrier and mulch pulled out. I was able to get all that done yesterday and this morning I spent quite awhile on the sidewalks. The people that lived here before us did not know how to clean the grass and weeds out around the edge of the sidewalk and we finally started tackling that a month ago. It's taken two trips around the inside and outside of the sidewalk with our neighbor's edger but we are finally almost able to see all of the sidewalk. This morning I got out the clumps that Allan had cut last weekend and I swept everything into piles. It's too hot for me to rake and bag it right now so that will have to wait until later this afternoon before we leave.

Next week we will hopefully get to lay down the new weed barrier and mulch and I will have some pictures to show you all of how much better it looks. I'm also planning to learn how to operate the weed eater which promises to be entertaining. I'm terrified of those things and there will be probably be some screaming during the learning process. Say a prayer for us this weekend as we will be working on the deck at the farm tomorrow. Also keep Allan in your thoughts and prayers. He is going to have his wisdom teeth taken out this summer and his mouth is starting to bother him so it looks like surgery will be sooner rather than later.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

In need of a little laugh?

I think we all need a good laugh from time to time and what better way to get in a laugh than a funny story or a hilarious picture. Today you are going to get both! As I eluded to in this post there's a Spring Break story from our freshman year that I was going to share. Let me start at the beginning and say that I had been crushing on Allan for at least 6 months at this point so when I mentioned SB plans and he said he might be able to come down for a couple of days I was giddy with excitement. I had just one a free month at the Ladies Gym in Auburn and had started going to the tanning bed (very bad for my skin, I know!). I made good use of every one of those days of free gym time and by the time SB rolled around I was tan, fit, and skinny.

Allan graced us with his presence for a couple of days and acted weird the entire time he was down there. He would hardly make eye contact with me and even when he left to drive back it seemed like getting him to hug me was going to take an act of Congress. Now, Allan always tells this story differently but he has no witnesses. I have two that will testify to his behavior! I realize this story is probably only funny to those who know Allan but if you didn't get a laugh from that then I hope these pictures will at least get you smiling!

Sasha in her pool

Allan with the Iron Man mask on

A dog painted like a tiger

Sasha in her laziest moment

If timeless elegance is a see-through shirt, Jackie O is rolling in her grave right now!

All the pumpkins I bought to decorate our porch for Halloween. Total cost = $16!

Sasha's favorite place to sit at MiMi's

This is probably only funny to those who have worked at a bank because the customers never pay attention to this

Church Gone Wild sign next to the Waffle House-I have now seen it all!