Morgan and Jenny were living one perfectly happy life... and then one day they decided to spice it up with some crunching, chewing, barking, little fun. So get comfy, make yourself at home, and enjoy our little blog of chips and dip (o)..

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Dickens Christmas

So yes, it has been eons since we last blogged, and I owe you plenty of updates on our Prozac Puppy, our beautiful vacation to Nova Scotia and Maine, and Thanksgiving splendor to say the least. However, I wrote this earlier for my church's December newsletter, as a follow-up to our beautiful Charles Dickens Christmas party last weekend and thought you might enjoy.

In the 1600’s, Christmas was antiquated, controversial, and unpopular. Believed by the Pagans to be a Christian holiday, the Puritans, a Catholic holiday, and to the Catholics, a Pagan holiday, Christmas was poorly and parochially celebrated, if honored at all. In 1647, England’s Puritan leaders banned Christmas, and the Church of Scotland, Puritans of New England, and the entire city of Boston followed suit. Following the American Revolution, Americans as a whole disapproved of the celebration believing it an English custom, and the pattern continued.

By the time the early 19th century rolled around, Christmas was dead, as dead as a door-nail; there is no doubt whatever about that. Writers in the 1820’s began acknowledging that though the religious battles had waned, and sectarian tension nearly evaporated, the controversies had left a scar on the holiday, and they took it upon themselves to revive the spirit of Christmas - what they believed was a heartfelt and beautiful tradition of their ancestors - and a young author, Charles Dickens eagerly accepted the challenge.

Charles Dickens could only imagine what Christmas was like before the 17th century, which allowed him to shape the holiday, emphasizing goodwill, family and compassion. In 1843, he wrote A Christmas Carol, in an attempt to revitalize the holiday; and as it was accepted with instant popularity, Christmas as we know it was born. The novel is credited with associating Christmas with the following: family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, dancing, festive merriment, generosity, Christmas caroling, and the phrase ‘Merry Christmas.’

Since the time of Dickens, Christmas has amplified in popularity, and it has truly become a time to celebrate and give to our loved ones as well as those in need. It is a time for compassion, and a time to remember the many beautiful things in life, especially He “who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.” As Dickens’ story demonstrates, it is a time for reflection, repentance and recognition that our lives can touch and impact others both for good and for bad and it is up to us to make the correct choice.

The tale of Scrooge, an old miser, and a stranger to the spirit of Christmas can be seen to represent society as a whole. Reluctant for various reasons to embrace the season, and blinded by his own Ignorance and Want, Scrooge condemns the holiday, a clear metaphor for society in the 17thand 18th centuries. Yet, when Scrooge’s eyes are opened by the spirits of Christmas he welcomes the season with a softened heart, impacting the lives of so many around him, and for over a century, society too has welcomed Christmas with joy. Unfortunately, though still associated with generosity, family gatherings and merriment, Christmas is changing, and the patterns that lead to the rise of “Scrooge” are repeating.

Somehow, Christmas is once again falling prey to sectarian controversies. Schools are banning carols; parties are now labeled celebrations of the solstice; the phrase ‘Merry Christmas’ has been replaced by the politically correct ‘Happy Holidays;’ and equally as many people believe the holiday is too religious to be celebrated as those who believe it is abhorrently not-religious enough. The awkward battle over Christmas has resulted in a ghastly exploitation of the holiday by various commercial industries, who view the season with Scrooge-like tendencies of economic gain, and neighbors tip-toeing around with pursed lips, wondering if a plate of seasonal cookies, a beautiful carol or well-wishing card, or a compassioned phrase of goodwill and Christmas cheer will offend those they wish it upon.

This is a sad cycle that only we as individuals have the power to prevent. As Ebenezer Scrooge learned, the choice is up to us to embrace the true spirit of Christmas. Be generous with your fellow men. Love one another and celebrate with joy. Reflect on the blessings that God has bestowed upon you and share them with merriment and warmth. Consider the good in the world, play and delight in the littlest things as a child on Christmas morning - wide-eyed and overflowing with the spirit of giving, eager to gift away their most treasured items. Believe that miracles do happen, and follow the example of children all over the world, filled with unwavering faith, and unbridled joy, and do not be afraid to emulate it.

Be as Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, who fearlessly invited his cold-hearted uncle every year to Christmas dinner, and bestowed upon him heartfelt wishes of compassion and merriment. Be as young Tiny Tim, who despite his infirmity and poverty, aimed to remind others of Christ’s miracles through example, and brought joy to all those around him with his uplifting and selflessness and eternal words, “God bless us, everyone.” Be as Bob Cratchit, who in gratitude, asks for a blessing on his dictatorial and inimical employer, and though destitute, brings the optimistic spirit of Christmas to his family. Finally, be as Ebenezer Scrooge, and recognize that you can change overnight and that at any time it is up to you, and only you, to love your fellow brethren, to forgive and seek forgiveness, to generously share with those in need, to be a better version of you, and to cherish the spirit of Christmas.

Merry Christmas, and may God bless us, everyone.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chipson's Crate Escape Revisted

As part of the new training regimen for Chipson, we are supposed to film her when we leave the house to see what she does while we are gone. The idea is to see how long she is distracted by toys and food we leave her, how long she howls for, if she takes any breaks, etc. As you may recall from earlier posts, we used to crate her whenever we left, but she always seemed to miraculously find a way out. For this filming, we decided to use Jenny's bike lock to secure the crate. Filming her therefore wasn't going to be so difficult since she was restricted to one small space and locked down pretty good...or so one would think.

As you will see in the video below, our Houdini puppy was not going to be filmed in one spot the entire time. Unfortunately, the camera ran out of battery before the glorious moment of her freedom could be documented. Please note that, while traumatic, Chipson was not hurt during this experience. And this has convinced us not to try crate training anymore. She's now a free puppy to roam about the house as she pleases when we're gone, and to leave little "reminders" that she doesn't appreciate being alone.

Every now and then she falls apart.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy Campers

Since last summer Morgan and I were not married, we did not get to go backpacking, pretty much ever. I bemoaned this fate and made him promise that this summer (2011), we'd be in the mountains every other weekend. Then, as you may recall, we tried to backpack in late October - but by then, temperatures in the mountains had dropped below zero at nights, and I am just not that hardcore. So we camped in the house.

I think it was March when we first tried to head out into the mountains. We looked for a good spring hike, but our SUV was stopped in its tracks, when we... literally... ran out of tracks. The snow got so thick so fast, we couldn't even drive within a few miles of the trailhead, and we were obviously not going far in tennis shoes and jeans. So we went back to the house and waited another few weeks for warmer weather.

Months went by, and any attempt we made to venture into the outdoors ended in similar situations. Finally, June was here, the days were warmer, and our schedule finally gave us an open weekend at the end of the month to go backpacking!

As we were heading up the trail, we met a couple coming down in crampons and snow gear who warned us that we were about to hit snow. We brushed the warning off assuming these folk to be REI freaks who simply wanted an excuse to wear cool gear.

We were wrong.

Fortunately, as it was warm and sunny outside, when we hit the 6-ft deep snow pack, most of the time the ice was strong enough to keep us on top of it. So, even though Morgan was in shorts we kept going up... up... up... following no trail, praying to avoid snow-covered rivers.

(This pic was taken at a low altitude but shows how the snow can totally mask the river... eek!)

The higher we got in this un-trodden territory, the softer the snow became, and the more often we would plunge into the deep icy tombs. Chipson LOVED the snow, she bounded about as if she was overly-caffeinated, but would occasionally leap into our arms to give her paws a break from the cold.

The plan was to get to the top of the ridge and then hike down into a lake basin. We assumed if we just got up and over we'd be snow-free, but once we finally made it to the top, soaked and sore, we discoverd the lake was non-existent (thanks to the total lack of snow-melt). Defeated, we began to head back down to find somewhere snow-free to pitch a tent and warm our frost-bitten feet.

We found a gorgeous spot, halfway down that happened to be free of snow, pitched the tent, lit a fire and watched the sun sink behind the mountains.
And then we froze.

That night, with Chipson shivering between us, we tossed and turned trying to stay warm. I had the pup wrapped in blankets but she seemed to only be warm enough when she was beneath my legs, or tucked against my body. At 1 am we decided to throw in the towell, as the cold became unbearable. But after surveying the landscape, and recalling that we had no trail to follow down, wet clothes and feet of snow, we vetoed that emergency situation, and continued to do our best to keep the three of us warm through the night.

About 2 am, Morgan tucked Chipson into his sleeping bag, which warmed her up and let me sleep an hour or so until he kicked her out so he could sleep while I had warming duties. Apparently, I dozed off, because at 4 am, I woke up to Chipson standing over me with a look of utter panic on her face shivering uncontrollably. It was just light enough out for us to see the pathway, so with frozen bodies, we packed up shop and slogged down the mountain. Of course, with soaked and icy shoes, we hiked these few snowy miles in Chacos - now that's a trip...

We made it home safe, with little permanent damage done, other than Morgan continuing to hate backpacking, and me making little progress in changing that opinion. Sadly, as horrible of a trip as it was, with Morgan's broken leg, it appears that it'll be the only backpacking trip this summer, which means next summer, we are going EVERY weekend! (Right honey?) Of course, this trip did teach me a lesson, buy a puppy sleeping bag, and invest in neoprene socks for when I plan to hike in Chacos in the snow.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Jenny's One-Man Band

The following is an extremely abbreviated list of things that Jenny has done for me since I broke my leg:
  1. Help me walk
  2. Take Chipson out to go potty (including during her bloody-diarrhea giardia episode that had her up every hour on the hour in the middle of the night for a few days)
  3. Clean up after Chipson when she doesn't make it outside in time
  4. Clean the house
  5. Make breakfast, lunch, and dinner (I can't even make cereal without making a mess and working up a sweat from hopping around the kitchen)
  6. Get me things to drink when I'm upstairs, downstairs, or on the couch
  7. Carry everything for me (I can't even scratch my nose and walk at the same time because of my crutches)
  8. Drive us everywhere (to the hospital, to Spokane, to the grocery store, everywhere)
  9. Help me bathe
  10. Help me pack my stuff for our recent trip to Spokane
  11. Load everything into the car for our recent trip to Spokane
  12. Do my laundry (although I have been able to at least fold my clothes)
  13. Help me navigate rough terrain
  14. Feed Chipson every morning and evening
  15. Get the mail
  16. Bring me my vicodin
  17. Constantly ask, "What can I do for you?"
  18. Organize little picnics and trips to the park so we can get out of the house
  19. Play with Chipson since I lost my speed
  20. Make the bed every morning
  21. Buy birthday presents for family members
  22. Take Chipson for walks
  23. Rub my legs when they get sore (my left one because it carries the burden of my whole body, and my right one because it has to hold my up right foot off the ground all the time)
  24. Work from home so she can attend to my every need
  25. Hold me when I'm sad because I can't do stuff

The list goes on and on and on and on and on. Obviously, there is a lot to do when you need to take care of yourself, one puppy, and one immobilized husband. But with a superwoman like Jenny, you'd think it was just another day in the life. I love her lots.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Broken Leg Pictures

We saw the orthopedic surgeon on Monday, and my fibula indeed is broken, though not in the place anyone would have guessed. The doctor thinks that what happened is that my ankle got twisted, thus ripping up some ligaments (which is where the swelling and bruising is from), and putting strain on the bone to which they were attached (the fibula). This stress was enough to actually cause the bone to break about 3/4 of the way up, as indicated in the x-ray below.

I'm still in a lot of pain, but Jenny's taking great care of me and Chipson (who has bloody diarrhea from Giardia - yuck). She is truly a saint, and I would be much more of a vegetable without her. With her help, I've even been able to work from home for a few days now. I still have to utilize crutches for a month, and then be on a walking boot for a month thereafter. And then it's on to physical therapy to help me get my strength and flexibility back (not that I had any to begin with).

And now, drum roll please, here are the pictures of the inside and outside of my leg:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Crate Escape

Remember how we said we were going to start crate training Chipson? That training method is apparently intended for dogs that are not possessed by other-worldly demons.

We feel that we've done a good job in getting her to consider the crate to be a good place. We give her treats when she goes in it on her own, let her have bones and chew toys in there, and give her plenty of praise when she's in it. However, the first few times we left her in the crate when we left the house, she would inexplicably escape like a little Houdini-dog, and would naturally go do what she does best - pee on the carpet. Short of her growing opposable thumbs temporarily to manipulate the latch, we will never know how she figured out how to open the gate.

Our next step in confining her was to use Jenny's bike lock to keep the crate closed. This worked great probably twice. Then we had to leave her there for five hours during my visit to the emergency room. This did not sit well with the devil dog.

Realizing that the doctors were going to win the waiting game, we decided a good idea would be to have Danny and Derek go over to the house to at least let her out to pee. We figured that she might be scared to have people besides me and Jenny in the house, but that with proper incentives (treats), that she would get over her fear and make new friends. Danny and Derek will testify that we were wrong. Despite ten minutes of attempted persuasion, Chipson would not leave the safety of her crate to feel the warm embrace of Derek and Danny. Instead, she barked and snapped ferociously until those invaders left her territory. Were it not for her lack of speech, I'm sure she had quite the story to tell us later about how she repelled their attack.

By the time we got home from the hospital, we had been away for over five hours. As Jenny started unlocking the door, we heard Chipson's characteristic anticipation-whimper coming from downstairs, which meant she had miraculously escaped once again from her Alcatraz on the second floor. At the scene of the Crate Escape, we found that she had chewed through one of the wooden bars to get out once Danny and Derek had left. This meant that, at 1am, Jenny not only had to help her hobbling husband up the stairs, but then had to return to the scene of the crime to clean up the disaster that Hurricane Chipson left behind.

We (by "we," I mean "Jenny," since husbands on Vicodin can't use tools) have since tried nailing the bar back into place, but the ingenuity of mere mortals is no match for Chipson's wizardry. Lesson learned - don't fence her in.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Oh Snap!

Since I started getting old, I have turned to soccer as a new favorite sport. It's a great workout, pretty low-impact for my now 26-year-old body, and a lot of fun. It's even better because it's something that I can do with Jenny in a co-rec league.

Much to my dismay, however, our league is littered with people who mistake the word "co-rec" for "World Cup Final - MMA Style." These are typically guys who didn't make it beyond high school soccer, and now are living out their dream/frustration by slamming goals in D-leagues against people who have little-to-no experience.

I'm no good at soccer footwork, especially against these guys, but my relative size at least allows me to hold my own and maintain positioning against a lot of them. I take great joy in heading away a ball that otherwise would have been headed into our goal by a shorter opponent. I also take great joy in letting said opponent know that, although he can run circles around me, he won't be pushing me around.

...which brings me to last Tuesday. We were nearing the end of a game that we were losing 1-0. As our team started pushing forward more and more to try and even the score, their team ended up having occasional odd-man scoring opportunities against us in the open field. On one play in particular, I was the lone defender against a guy that was running right up the middle looking for a cross from his teammate that was running along the sideline. At first, he was a few steps ahead, but my long legs quickly negated that advantage as I again positioned myself to be the first one to have a chance at any high ball. Maybe he didn't see me in front of him. Maybe it all happened too fast for him to slow down or change direction. Maybe I got between a competitive jerk and his goal:

At any rate, he ran right through me, and we fell together pretty hard. The initial impact was kind of like being tackled as part of a dog pile touchdown celebration - not so bad. Somewhere as our jumbled mess fell back down to earth, though, my right leg got caught between him and the field, and I heard a loud, bone-chilling "SNAP!" The immediate sharp pain was the worst I ever felt, and let me know in no uncertain terms that my leg was broken before the rest of me hit the ground. I yelled uncontrollably at the top of my lungs, and immediately regretted it as I heard Jenny's very concerned reaction. I wanted to tell her that I would live, but I couldn't help it, so I just kept screaming out in pain.

I was initially convinced that I had suffered the exact same injury in the exact same place that Steve Zakuani had a few months earlier for the Sounders:

As adrenaline and a state of shock set in, the pain subsided somewhat, thus allowing me to survey they damage as my teammates gathered around. It didn't take long to realize that my leg had not been snapped like a twig, but more like my ankle had been twisted like a rag. Friends started asking me if they should call 9-1-1 and get an ambulance to pick me up. At first, I didn't care...I was in so much pain, I just wanted the same treatment a horse gets when it breaks its leg.

After taking a moment to gather my thoughts, I thought it would be best to have Jenny drive me to the ER, as opposed to paying an ambulance $500 for the same ride. We probably arrived close to 9pm, and didn't get out until after midnight due to the waiting game that doctors like to play. You know: 1) Welcome to the hospital! Your leg looks like it was put on backwards, but we'll be with you in just a moment. 2) Please fill out this insurance form so that your insurance can pay for your injuries, as well as those of people who can't afford health insurance. Then we'll be right with you. 3) Thanks for waiting, now we'll check your vital signs. Ok, looks like your heart is still beating. That's fantastic. The doctor will be right with you. 4) Ok, let's take some x-rays because we don't really believe your leg is broken. The doctor is going to have a look at these images, and will be with you in just a moment. 5) Looks like your leg is likely broken. Here's half of a baby aspirin. As soon as the doctor is available, he will see you and give you something better for the pain, assuming you don't pass out first. 6) Ok, our doctor is not competent enough to analyze the x-rays fully, so we're going to have a radiologist have a look so that we can also charge your insurance a little bit more. Then the doctor will be right with you. 7) Yep, you weren't lying - your leg is definitely broken. Here's some Percocet. Night night. We'll just put you in a cast and you'll be on your way.....blah, blah, blah, you get the idea.

Anyway, I'm now waiting to see an orthopedic surgeon on Monday who will have a closer look (after a great deal of waiting in his office, I'm sure), and determine next steps, which may include surgery. In the last 48 hours, my appreciation for Jenny in my life has grown immensely. I would have been nothing more than a depressed vegetable if it weren't for her taking care of me and enabling me to do things I wouldn't be able to on my own. I was even able to put in a full day of work at home thanks to her help today. I hope to be able to serve her half as well someday when she needs me most.

PS: I may have exaggerated the other guy's intentions a bit for the story. I don't hold any grudge against him. Besides, I still stopped him from scoring. If that's not taking one for the team, then I don't know what is.

Monday, July 11, 2011

At 9-months old

A friend of mine (Mallory Grover) does this adorable thing on her blog where she talks about each kid and says at 9-months old, Tacey likes... and Tacey dislikes... etc. Since Chipson is the rotten apple of my eye, I thought I would do the same thing with a bit of elaboration.

At 9-months old, Chipson likes:
- Dead things (she would be an asset to Bones)
- Consuming wood (Morgan thinks it is for her fiber intake)
- Swallowing rubber toys (she has the most colorful poop in the land)
- Ripping the face off of toys (the first ten minutes of the life of any toy, is the last ten minutes it has a face)
- Touching both Morgan and I at the same time (if we are sleeping, this usually results in Morgan and I laying vertically on the edges of the bed, while Chipson is stretched as long as possible horizontally between us, touching...well...pushing us both.
- Whining (our dog is the most vocal dog you can imagine)
- Little Kids
- Butterscotch cookies (unfortunately for Morgan, they are his favorite too, and they surprisingly eat them at the same speed)
- Flowers (when we walk down a path of flowers, Chipson bites the head off of every flower, and leaves it on the path)
- Salad (she is a wannabe vegetarian)
- Digging

At 9-months old, Chipson does NOT like:
- Alone time (please let the torn up molding, door and drywall be testament to this fact)
- Confinement (she has figured out how to unlock the crate door, which has forced us to lock the door with my bike u-lock, and even that seems questionably secure)
-Shrimp (for an animal that eats every dead crab leg on the beach, this is an enigma)
- Any adult besides Morgan and I
- Big dogs, lots of dogs, and the dog park in general (it's hilarious, her affinity for whining, becomes clear)
- Jogging (on occasion I try to force Chipson to run with me, and she has learned the secret to making us stop. As we are jogging along briskly, she will suddenly lie down, completely halting the forward momentum, and bringing my shoulder to a near-breaking point)
- Staying on her bed through the whole night (every night we go to sleep and she is safely curled up at our feet; every morning we wake up with her stretched between us.)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chipson's New Home

Despite repeated attempts and various methods, we have become convinced that Chipson cannot be house trained without a crate. We have been very diligent and consistent, I feel, but I think the fact that her daycare lets her go wherever she pleases has hindered her progress. She actually does a great job of holding her bladder and bowels in front of us, but if we're gone, she seems to know that we are helpless from stopping her poop-capedes.

We even tried turning the downstairs bathroom into her own special room while we were gone. I thought we did a great job getting her acclimated to it. It even seemed like she learned to like being in there. Well anyway, that didn't turn out too well:
Yeah, that's the molding torn from the wall by our bathroom door.

So, we have finally decided it is time to get her a legitimate doggy crate. After a couple days of searching on Craigslist, we found this bad boy:

She can sit, lie down, roll over, high five, shake, stay, leave it, come, go see mommy, go see daddy, drop it, etc. Slowly, but surely, I'm sure we can teach her to be comfortable in her crate. Any tips? Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Le Cordon Bleu

I abhor traffic - and yes I know, who doesn't. But I particularly LOATHE it when I am sitting in the middle of it watching a 13-minute commute translate into an hour commute over what feels to be three-hours' time.

This is my commute any time I leave the office between 5:30 and 6:00, otherwise known as the preferred time of departure of Waggener Edstrom employees. Thus, I find myself loathing traffic quite a lot.

Fortunately for me, Morgan is just too smart to ask the hackneyed question of "what's for dinner?" as I am banging my head against a steering wheel believing a gain of 5 feet to be a colossal win. In fact, he is so smart he usually calls when his tummy starts rumbling to offer up dinner options that HE can cook. The menu often looks like this:

- Frozen ravioli
- Canned ravioli
- Frozen tortellini
- Egg sandwich
- Frozen Asian entree that I keep in the freezer for just this purpose.

AND I LOVE IT. I expect nothing more, and I am grateful for his help. Which is why last night was just so flummoxing.

As I was mourning my fate of eternal limbo approaching the 520 bridge, I received the rumbly tumbly call.

M- "Hey babe, I'm thinking about dinner, and I thought maybe I could make some tortellini?"
J- "HUMBUG YOU SCROOGE OF A DRIVER!!! Some jerk just ruined my life and cut in line."
J- "Yea, sure, make whatever you want, thank you."
M- "Are you sure that sounds ok? Do you feel like tortellini?"
J- "Oh yea, although, now that you mention it, I really feel like Chicken Cordon Bleu. Hahaha, yea that's what I really want."
I explain to Morgan, who had never heard of this dish, that it is the hardest thing I could think of to make, and of course I was joking and of course tortellini is fine.

12 hours later when I returned home (ok minor exaggeration) I expected to find tortellini growing cold on the stove with canned pasta sauce bubbling in the microwave. Instead, Morgan was pounding his second chicken breast flat, the other neatly rolled up stuffed with ham and blue cheese and entrenched in bread crumbs.

He was making chicken cordon bleu.