And I Was Running …

Four months ago, my philosophy on running was that I would run if something was chasing me. Otherwise, I wasn’t interested.

But always in the back of my mind was how fun I thought it would be to run the Warrior Dash and actually be able to endure it. Also the thought of being more active was appealing. Living like a couch potato can get boring. Also there was the fact that my parents live in the most perfect neighborhood for walking, running, or biking and I am living at their house at the moment. But still, nothing was chasing me, so sleeping later won out.

Then came Lent. I’m not Catholic, but I understand the concept of sacrificing something and I’ve given up things for Lent the past several years. This year I decided to give up laziness and downloaded the Couch To 5K app. My goal was to be able to run a mile by Easter. A friend of mine who runs felt confident I’d be able to do it, so I gave it a shot. Those first 60 or 90 second running increments were rough, but I stuck it out and built up endurance. And it happened – I ran over a mile straight before Easter.

So now here it is two months after Easter and I’m still running. It’s a strange thing to admit, but I actually enjoy it. I actually look forward to it. I look forward to getting up an hour earlier than non-running days and running. I’ve found it to be a great way to start the day.

I get to see the moon before it goes into hiding for the day. I see rabbits and turtles and squirrels and ducks and geese. (I’m cautious of the geese. I’ve heard they can be aggressive.) I talk to God. I clear my head. Ideas come to mind. Things seem to make a little more sense early in the morning when I’m outside in the fresh air. Most of the neighborhood is still asleep or getting ready for work, so there’s very little traffic. It’s peaceful. Usually I’ll turn my music on after a few minutes and it keeps me motivated. Then the day carries on, I get to work, and thoughts/ideas can get a little fuzzy again, but the morning starts out wonderfully. I love it. I’m thankful for it.

For the longest time, I was running around 2.5 miles, but hadn’t made it to 3.1. That was my next goal. First was run a mile by Easter (check!) and next was to make it to 3.1 miles, which is the distance of a 5K. I’ve done it my last three times to go running. I’ve run at least 3.1 miles. (The most so far was 3.42.) Wonders never cease.

On the day I first accomplished 3.1 miles, Melissa and I signed up to run the Warrior Dash to celebrate. Now I have no choice but to keep going. I’m thankful for the motivation though. I want to keep at it and nothing is even chasing me.

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Sayid likes to give me a post-run bath when I get home. He likes the salt. Then I head to the shower and wash off the sweat and dog slobber. I’ve gotta say though, I’d be a fool to refuse some sweet Sayid kisses.

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Louisiana Sneaux Days

We’ve had three straight snow days in north Louisiana. Well, we’ve had two ice days, one snow day, and one more snow day in store for tomorrow. For Louisiana, that’s a lot. I mean, really a lot. I’ve come to the following conclusions.

#1 – The best part of a snow day is sleeping late. After that, they can get pretty boring. Just ask Sayid. He has spent many moments just staring at me out of sheer boredom, willing me to get him out for some type of exercise in this slushy, nasty weather. We’ve gotten a bit of exercise, but we’ll both be happy for warmer, sunnier weather.

#2 – I’m so thankful to have a job. I’m thankful to have a job where the safety and wellbeing of the staff is a concern and they’ll close the office and allow us to stay off the roads when they’re slick and hazardous, but I’ll be happy to go back to work. This sitting at home all day does not suit me.

#3 – I eat too much when I’m more or less under house arrest. There’s really no need to turn this week into an All You Can Eat Buffet, but I kind of have. Bless.

#4 – This time of year is the perfect time to have picked up a new running hobby. (This running hobby is only guaranteed to last through Lent, but much to my surprise, I am enjoying it. So who knows, maybe it’ll continue.) Yesterday evening – once the ice was melting away and the snow hadn’t made its way to the area yet – was the most lovely day to run. I also must confess – I use the term “run” loosely. During these “runs”, I’ve run a total of eight minutes each time and none of them consecutive, so I’m still very much a walker with short bursts of running. You’ve got to start somewhere, I suppose. But anyway, this was the most picturesque part of my run yesterday. Beautiful!

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This afternoon, once those big, sad puppy eyes were too much to bear any longer, I took Sayid for a walk. Here’s a photo of the same location today.

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As we were walking, with snow all around us and the church bells ringing out a song down the street, I felt like I had been transported to Chicago to the set of Home Alone. We passed a neighbor at her mailbox and I almost asked her if this whole scene and the church bells made her think of Home Alone, but I didn’t want to be the neighborhood weirdo, so I kept that thought to myself. It made me smile, though.

Sayid had a few opportunities to play in the snow today and he had fun. His favorite was catching snowballs we threw to him. He’d take them right in the face, spit them out, and then snack on them a little bit. He was adorable with snowflakes all over his face.

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The snow was beautiful and I’m glad we got to enjoy it. I’m hopeful now that God will bring on the sunshine and spring time. This girl needs to get back to work and slow down on the snacks.

Santa Paws

IMG_7418Our local mall allows people to bring their dogs on leashes to the mall for photos with Santa on a few Mondays leading up to Christmas.  Sayid has gone most years – I think this was his fourth year to go.  The first year he went, he met Santa and took the most adorable photo.  In fact, here it is.  He looks so small!

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That was the only year he stopped to meet Santa.  See, Sayid tends to act a fool when he sees other dogs.  He is usually pretty friendly once he actually meets the other dogs, but he has no idea how to express himself properly, so he comes across as aggressive and scary.  Plus, they stopped allowing people to take their own photos and I’m not looking to spend $20 (or more?!) on a photo.  Luckily, I snapped this one when Sayid was a young puppy, and Santa looked right at me with a twinkle in his eye.  No need for Sayid to visit Santa anymore.  Now he just visits the mall.

This year, Mama and Daddy met Melissa, Sayid, & me.  It’s so fun for us to walk Sayid through the mall and see all the reactions.  More often than not, he gets a smile out of people.  (A big happy dog in a Santa suit will have that effect.)  Some people ask to pet him, and he’s happy to oblige.  Some people get wide eyed.  Some people spout profanities.  One older man was full of questions about Sayid and said he had never petted a dog before who looked scary, so we assured him Sayid was friendly and would only lick him.  He bravely reached down to pet him & smiled.  One little boy who looked to be about two walked up and Sayid gave him a big lick on the face. A girl working at a small booth of Christmas decorations took pictures of Sayid and showed us photos of her own puppy while a lady working at an adjacent booth quickly ran over to love on Sayid and then hurried back to her work station.  Then Sayid just wagged his tail, stared at her, danced in place, and whined.  I think he wanted a little more attention from his new friend and couldn’t understand that she was at work!

Adding to our fun night, we went to the food court and Daddy was insistent on treating all of us to Chick-fil-a.  Melissa stood off to the side with Sayid and Mama had already ordered, but I was with Daddy as he was getting ready to pay.  The employee visited with us while fixing our drinks and getting Sayid a little bowl of water, and then he said, “Your total will be zero point zero zero.”  Daddy and I laughed as Daddy tried to hand over his $20 bill.  The employee said, “Y’all have a nice night!”  Daddy and I were just looking at each other in confusion.  The guy was just not going to take any money.  So Daddy said, “Really?!  Are you sure?!”  The employee said, “Yep, I’m sure.  It’s free!”  Daddy said, “Why?!”  The employee said, “It’s just something we do; we randomly choose people during the day and give them their orders for free.  You were chosen.  So enjoy!”  Daddy and I were just shocked.  And grateful!  What a kindness.

Sometimes at the end of a work day, I just really don’t feel like doing anything but going home.  But sometimes you get to walk your dog through the mall in a Santa suit with your family and receive the gift of delicious free nuggets & waffle fries.  And that just makes for a great evening.

Water Boy

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July 12th made exactly five years since we brought Sayid home.  My nephews were in town visiting from Texas that day and Mama had taken them to her friend’s house to swim.  Melissa and I were going to eat supper at our parents’ house that night and Mrs. Barnes’ house is on the way to Mama’s & Daddy’s, so we dropped by on our way over to visit with Mrs. Barnes, Mama, and the boys.  Mrs. Barnes kindly agreed to let Sayid swim in her pool.  Sayid had been in plenty of ponds and lakes, but never a swimming pool.

We took his leash and collars off and gave him permission to swim.  He was nervous and couldn’t figure out how to get in.  He ran laps around and around the pool, whining as he watched Caleb and Jacob swim in the water without him.  I went to the car, got his soccer ball, and threw it in.  Even that couldn’t convince him to actually jump in.  Finally Melissa rolled up her jeans, stood on the steps in the shallow end, and dragged Sayid into the pool.  I could hear his toenails scratching against the concrete as he tried to resist.  But once he got in, he was as happy as could be.  He swam around a while and then started looking like he wanted out but couldn’t figure out how.  So Melissa ended up getting her jeans completely wet in order to steer him to the steps.  He rested a few minutes and then was happy to swim again.  I think Sayid would agree that swimming in a pool was a great five year celebration.

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A couple of days later, we went to the lake where my parents had rented a cabin for the night.  Sayid loves wearing his life jacket & riding in Grandpappy’s boat.  He also loves the fact that at the lake he can run straight in the water from the shore instead of having to jump in.  My boy got plenty of time in the water that weekend.

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If only he could come to the beach with us in a few weeks!  One day I’m going to find a dog friendly place on one of the Florida beaches.

My sweet boy is FIVE!

Sayid turned five years old last Monday.  To celebrate, Melissa and I took him to the dog park, where he swam in the pond and ended up filthy and stinky.  Thankfully, we hosed him off and took him on a short walk to dry off a bit before putting him back in my car.

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Then we took him to Petsmart for new toys and Petco for some cookies with icing from the snack bar.  He got a good, much needed bath when we got home.  Mama and Daddy came over later that night and brought him a few toys, as well.  I’d say he was sufficiently spoiled.

I have to post this photo of him with one of his new toys.  Melissa and I saw these and thought they were too funny to pass up.  We put some peanut butter in his new Kong pacifier and laughed as he worked to get the peanut butter out.  How adorable is he with his pacifier?!  At least we didn’t get him the pink one.  See, so it could have been worse!

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Current score: Birds 2, Lindsay 0

I mentioned that the birds got my beautiful prized strawberry a few days ago.  Saturday morning, I had another pretty little strawberry growing.  I bought a fake snake at a garage sale that morning and put it in my strawberry pot, hoping they’d be tricked and stay away.

Sayid & I went with my parents to the park that morning, immediately after depositing said snake into strawberry pot, and then about an hour later, Mama and I left the park to pick up lawn chairs at their house and Sayid’s soccer ball at my house.  Upon getting the soccer ball out of the trunk of my car, I realized it was really flat.  So I walked through the back yard fence and around the corner to get the air pump out of the storage room.  As I rounded the corner, a bird frantically flew away from my garden area, squawking a warning to all his friends.  I think I actually yelled, “Hey!” at the bird, but being a bird, he wasn’t concerned with anything I had to say.  I glanced at my strawberry, and at the moment, it still looked lovely.

Fast forward to a couple of hours later when I got home from the park.  Once again, they had gotten my berry.  The fake snake my parents had in their garden last year was much more realistic looking.  My bright yellow snake didn’t fool these birds for a second.  (Also, Sayid has been eyeballing that snake ever since I brought it home, and last night while Melissa was in and out of the house grilling burgers, he got his chance.  She went back outside to find that he had stolen and was chewing on the snake.)  I started brainstorming a little and asked Daddy, who thrives on problem solving, to help me come up with an idea.  I needed something to protect my strawberries from those obnoxious birds!  And preferably, something big enough to also cover my tomato plant, because that’s probably the other part of my garden they’ll be interested in.  Daddy told me he’d think about it and come up with something.

And come up with something, he did!  It isn’t complete yet.  He worked several hours on it this afternoon and still has a bit more work to do before it’s ready.  But I think it’s safe to say those birds are pouting on their perches as they watch my innovative, problem-solving father put an end to their berry buffet!  As soon as it is complete – which will likely be in the next few days – I will post photos.  I’m just so happy about it!

Also, Daddy pointed out that my cucumber plants are starting to peek out from the soil, so I’m pretty happy about that, too!  My tomatoes, strawberries, and squash were all transplants and had already started growing.  But my cucumbers came from seeds!  I’m feeling pretty optimistic about my garden’s chances.

Crossing my fingers that my thumbs are green

Growing up, until around the end of elementary school, I remember having vegetable gardens in our yard.  My mom informed me that the reason we didn’t have gardens during my middle school & high school years was because the house we lived in had a massive front yard and no back yard, and “nobody wants a garden in their front yard”.  I maintain that we could have had a garden inconspicuously hidden behind the massive hideous bushes that surrounded our property.  But, alas, nothing can be done about it now!

In the summer of 2008, my sister and I decided to attempt a garden in our yard.  It was not successful.  I think that was partially because we planted it too late in the spring, partially because we didn’t give it the attention it needed, and also maybe because our soil – which was just our yard dirt – wasn’t that great.

I’ve decided to give it another shot this year.  But this year, I am doing a container garden instead of a standard garden.  I did some reading on container gardening and it definitely has its pros!  For example, today when we’ve had storms and strong winds, I brought my pots under the patio, so they’re not in the crazy weather.  I actually bought a 99 cent book in the Kindle store over the weekend and got quite the education on container gardening.  It was 99 cents well spent.  If anyone is curious, the book is called Container Gardening – A Beginner’s Guide to Successful Container Gardening by Alice C. Murray.  It was a wealth of information for a buck!  It comes highly recommended.

After some research, a few visits to Lowe’s and Home Depot, and then sending my dad to pick up some better quality soil at a local garden mart instead of one of the major stores, I was ready to plant.  My sweet parents came over to help me Tuesday night.

Daddy scrubbed my hand-me-down pots from Mama with soap and water.  (This is something I learned in my Kindle book!  I would have probably just rinsed them out really well, but I learned that soap and water were necessary to make sure there are no lingering pesticides, insect eggs, salt deposits, etc. from the previous planting.)

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Sayid discovered my new watering can and kept drinking from it.  He also decided he liked snacking on potting soil, unfortunately.

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In the end, I got everything planted!  From left to right, I have Sayid (who at 85 pounds is pretty much still growing!), patio tomatoes, strawberries, squash, and cucumbers!

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I had three strawberries on my plant to begin with.  Two were green and one was red.  The red one was so lovely and it smelled so sweet!  I took a picture of my cute little strawberry.  And thank goodness, because by the time I got home Wednesday afternoon, a bird had been snacking on my precious little treasured berry.  But wasn’t it cute before the rude bird with great taste but no manners came & destroyed it?

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I am hopeful that my garden will be successful, but I’ve gotta figure out something to keep those pesky birds away!

Roaming around Louisiana Tech

Melissa found out about an event on Tech’s campus yesterday afternoon for dogs, so she suggested that Sayid and I come to Ruston after I got off work.  Mama ended up finishing averaging grades around mid afternoon, so I invited her to come to Ruston with Sayid and me to celebrate.  The three of us met up with Melissa and tried to find the event.  We realized it was at the softball game and none of us wanted to go to the softball game, but we didn’t let that put a damper on our trip to Ruston.  We found a great park – aptly named Hideaway Park, since I was a student at Tech for years and never even knew this park existed – and took a walk.  Then we drove over to the main campus and walked some more.  Sayid and I took a photo outside the Bulldog Kennel, where I was a student worker.

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We walked around Centennial Plaza where we found my sister’s and brother-in-law’s bricks.  (Speaking of which, I wonder if/when I’m ever gonna get my brick?!)

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We roamed around a little bit more.  Sayid made some new friends.  Sayid was obviously thirsty after all that walking around and he and Mama had emptied her water bottle.  Melissa and Sayid waited by the Lady of the Mist fountain while Mama and I went to the car and got Melissa’s keys so she could go in her building and refill the water bottle for Sayid.  When we met up with them again, Mama wanted to take our picture, and then this  happened …

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My sweet boy just fell backwards into the fountain!  Mama didn’t think she had gotten a photo, but I guess she had her finger on the button whenever Sayid started falling!  We could not stop laughing.  He looked so sad and ashamed at first.

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But then he turned into a happy little hippopotamus when he realized it was water.  And he was thirsty.  And the water was at the perfect level where all he had to do was open his mouth on occasion and he could drink to his heart’s content!  I felt like I was at the hippo exhibit at the zoo!

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Then Melissa helped pull that big 85 pound body out of the water.  I thought I was going to have to roll up my jeans and get in to give him a boost, but they were able to manage!

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He is much easier to remove from the water when he’s wearing his life jacket that has a handle.  We’ve learned from experience that he’s not the most graceful fella, so when he rides in Grandpappy’s boat, a life jacket is required!  Who knew he’d also fall into this little body of water!

Okay, confession.  I think I was so busy trying to get him situated for the picture that I didn’t realize how much space Melissa and I were taking up, and I think I kind of shoved him off.  Ooops!  Nevertheless, it was a great little comedy routine!

Shortly after this happened, we left Ruston and drove back to West Monroe where Mama treated us to McAllister’s for supper.  It was a fun evening.

Flat Stanley’s adventures with Sayid

My sister, Ashley, lives in Texas and asked me if her friend, who teaches elementary school, could send “Flat Stanley” to me.  Flat Stanley is a little character that teachers send on different travels/adventures for their students to follow.  I agreed, and a few days later, I received Flat Stanley in the mail along with a letter and instructions.

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Sayid is a fan of adventures, so I took the two of them on a few.  We went to the dog park but I kept Stanley tucked safely away in my book because the dogs that day were far too hyper to risk Stanley’s demise.  So his adventures were much more limited than Sayid’s.  Melissa and I also took him to the playground with Sayid.  I had hoped to get a photo of Stanley sitting in the cup holder on a bike ride around my parents’ neighborhood, but any time I had the chance, it was either raining or far too windy.  I certainly didn’t want to send Stanley flying on the wind into one of the lakes, which is actually where I was picturing this cup holder photo op taking place.  Also, I think the great hope was that I’d get by the Duck Commander headquarters since Duck Dynasty is West Monroe’s claim to fame.  Alas, I had the same problem as with the bike ride – always too windy or raining whenever I had opportunity to go.  I figured I had held Stanley hostage long enough, so I sent the following letter and photos back to the kids.

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Also, I must add, I’m not sure how Stanley got that black eye, but it wasn’t Sayid’s fault!

Grandnanny’s Snack Stash

My mom has a certain cabinet where chocolate can be found at her house.  A couple of weeks ago, Melissa was in search of a miniature Reese’s cup.  Mama didn’t think she had any, but she crouched down to help Melissa hunt.  Mama tends to keep goodies for all creatures in the same cabinet.  Sayid is well aware that his treats are in that same cabinet.  So he squeezed his way in between Mama and Melissa and started his own search.  I couldn’t help but snap a photo of this trio!IMG_5572