Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday Update (Beware--it's long!)

After taking a long hiatus from blogging, i have so many blog ideas. We have had so much going on since my last post over a week ago.
This year, we spent Christmas away from Kansas for the first time ever (that I know of). My family drove out here to spend the holiday with Matt and I. I really appreciated this because Matt had to work every day this past week and I would have been so lonely without my family. On the same note, I hope that Matt working Christmas wasn't too hard and lonely on him. It's a hard time of year to have to work so much!
Tuesday, I got home from work and errands and baked, baked, and baked some more. I made ginger snaps, peanut butter cookies with Hershey's kisses, and apple pie, butterscotch oatmeal cookies, chex mix and chex Muddy Buddies. My family got here right as I finished up. I know they had to battle snow and high winds to get here. The odd thing is that Denver didn't get more than a few flurries here and there, even though we were in an 80% chance for snow.
Wednesday, my mom and I stole the Highlander and went shopping. We went to Cherry Creek mall because it was a little tamer than the other one I went to. (Less kids running around and no adults on roller skate shoes.) I finished up my shopping for the most part.
We got home and made our Christmas Eve tradition meal: chili and cinamon rolls. I'm not sure how or when this became our traditional meal. I got to use all of my new china and crystal, and the table looked great! I was so proud.
When Matt got home, we opened presents. It was really late when we went to bed and I had to get up early before church to start get the turkey in the oven. Luckily, my mom got up and helped me with that one. I was so tired that I took the turkey out of the fridge and looked at it and thought "What am I supposed to do with you?" Mom took over and rubbed it down with sage and oil and butter. It turned out beautiful and delicious.
We managed to get Christmas dinner on the table after church in plenty of time for Matt to eat before heading off to work. This was somewhat of a challenge because I was trying to combine both ours and Matt's family traditions, which meant turkey and Honey Baked ham, adding green bean casserole and making corn, rolls, mashed potatoes and fresh veggies. Matt was the only one to have a piece of the apple pie. He ate like a champ! :)
I took a nap, then my dad and brother and the dogs and I went for a walk through Cherry Creek State Park. The lake was frozen and Brennan walked out on the water! Dad and I were scared for various reasons. He couldn't watch!
Friday was sad because everyone was leaving. Matt went to work and my family left in the midafternoon. The house felt so empty after that so I put the dogs in the kennel and went for a drive. I passed the dealer where we bought the Highlander and saw Matt's old car on the lot. It looks good, but I couldn't see a price on it. I didn't want to drive in to the dealer to check, so it will remain a mystery. Still, I miss that car and it wasn't even mine!
I found a few bargains at some stores but wasn't in the mood for shopping so I went back home and slept and slept and slept. I slept so much I scared myself. Saturday, Matt had to work AGAIN so he could have the 2nd of January off. I took the dogs to the dog park after he left. Pongo had a blast but Perdi had to stay on the leash because the big dogs would scare her and she would run off. When we were alone, I let her off and she chased Pongo all around. She came back when I called her, which is a great sign for such a little puppy. After that, the dogs got to go to Petsmart and get some treats since we were running low. What spoiled dogs we have!
Sunday, we planed to go skiing, but Matt was so tired and we thought it best that we all just rest that day. We did end up going to the dog park again, and this time Perdi spent most of the time off leash. She and Pongo played chase through the bushes by the river and had a grand old time! They were so tired when we got home, which gave me a chance to make some more turkey noodle soup. (Matt didn't get any the first time.) I must say, the second batch was much better. It is a great way to use up leftover turkey! All you need is chicken broth, cut up turkey meat, carrots, celery and a bit of basil, bay leaves and parsely. Throw it all in a crock pot and let it simmer as long as you like. I added some large egg noodles and it was fabulous. I love love love turkey or chicken noodle soup though. It has always been a favorite of mine.

I can't believe how fast 2008 has gone. This has been one of the most exciting years to date.
This year:
-We got married
-We honeymooned in St. Lucia
-We moved to Colorado
-I fell in the Arkansas river a couple times
-We started this blog
-We spent many weekends camping in the mountains
-We both started new jobs
-We brought a second beagle into our house
-I got accepted to grad school at Purdue
-We learned to ski
-We bought a new SUV
-We had SO MANY wonderful visits from friends and family and look forward to many more.

What a busy and wonderful year! We look forward to continuing to keep you all up to date on our lives on Mountain Millards for years to come. With any luck, the upcoming years will be as wonderfully exciting as this past year has been and we will have great stories to share. If I don't get another post up before 2009, I hope you all have a wonderful new year! We will see some of you soon!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Late Again

I am one day late with this post, but trust me, I was so tired last night after skiing that I wouldn't have been able to form a coherent sentence.
Yesterday was Barbara's birthday, and since I have been TRYING (I emphasize that word) to write a few nice words about as many people as I can on their birthdays, I really feel bad that this is a little late.
Like myself, Barbara is a (semi) recent edition to Matt's family. She and Bill were married in the spring of 2006 and I was one of the lucky ones who got to be there. Ever since then, Matt and I have been treated to nothing short of wonderful hospitality and excellent meals every time we are over at their house, even when we have two ornery beagles in tow!
Barbara is very dedicated to her family and her students. It is always fun when we are all together at birthdays, holidays or just ordinary gatherings. My favorite was the "Cars" themed birthday party we attended this past March. Barbara has done a great job raising her three boys, Tim Brett and Jon. All three are polite and helpful all the time and I love being a part of such a large family when we are all gathered.
I love that Barbara is passionate about participating in the fight against breast cancer, which is something that hits very close to home in my own family history. She and Bill were also some of the first guests we had out here in Colorado and we hope they return anytime they can! (We have a better guest bed now!)
Barbara, Matt and I both hope you had a wonderful birthday!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Police Gathering

I am pretty exhausted tonight after taking dinner to Matt and the pharmacists at the hospital, then fighting massive crowds at the mall just to get a few last things for Christmas. I'm done except for Brennan, who can't seem to figure out ANYTHING (besides a car) that he wants for Christmas.

Since my creative juices will soon give way to useless rambling, I will tell this story. Matt let me drive the new car today because he knew I would have shopping and errands to do, plus I could get it ready for skiing tomorrow. While I was picking up the orders for the pharmacists at Chipotle, I noticed a few police cars parked outside the restaurant. When I had paid for everything and left Chipotle, there were three policemen gathered in front of the Highlander. Here is the conversation that followed:

Officer: "Maam, is this your car?"

Me: "Yes, is there a problem."

Officer: "What kind of gas mileage does it get?"

Me(baffled): "17 in the city, 23 on the highway."

Officer #2: "Is this the Rav4?"

Me: "No, sir. It's a Highlander."

Officer #3: "Oh yeah, it's the one that's built on the Camry chasis."

Me: "Actually, it's the Avalon now."

Officer: (Eyes wide) "So it's bigger than the old ones?"

Me. "Yes, I suppose so."

Officer: "This just might be my next car when my Camry dies."

Me: "Your Camry will never die. Trust me."

So they were just discussing the car when I got out there, but I figured that with my luck and new cars, they would be writing me up a ticket or something! This was the first casual and fun conversation with a policeman that I have had in a long time. I told Matt this story and he said he would have been freaked out if he had seen that many cops around the car. I took it as a compliment if they liked it that much, even covered in dirt and road chemicals as it was at that point. (I ran it through the car wash tonight because I am told by many people that the mag chlorite they put down out here really can do damage to a car.) I hope we made a good choice of car...after all, it seems to catch the attention of policemen, which is not ALWAYS a good thing!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December is Full of Birthdays!

Well I promised a new car post, but this is much better. Today is Alissa's birthday, and even though the day is almost over, I am going to dedicate this post to her. Alissa is one amazing person. She is passionate about everything in her life from school and AKPsi to love, friends and family. Again, I am fortunate to now officially be included in the "family" section of that last sentence.
Alissa is one AMAZING photographer. And not only that, she is organized with her photos and shares them for all to see. This is a stark contrast to myself, who can barely manage to even get a rough set of wedding photos printed! Anyhow, I always love seeing the photos she takes.
Alissa was among the first visitors we had out here in Colorado. She has no idea how much her trip helped ease our transition out here. She even flew us our favorite beer in her suitcase! She is also a wonderful "aunt" to our beagles and their tails are always wagging when they see her.
Imagine this: having a pair of twin older brothers and being the lone younger sister. I don't pretend to know much about being in that situation, but I can imagine it may have felt a little bit like being a "third wheel" at times. Well I just hope she knows that she is never a (now) "fifth wheel" when we are all together. Wherever we are, no matter what we are doing (family gatherings, weddings, dinners with friends), is always more fun when she is there.
Matt and I really wish we could be in Manhattan on Friday to join in her birthday celebration. It is hard missing out on things like this now that we live so much farther away. We can't wait to see her on our trip to Kansas in a couple weeks!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Through Someone Else's Eyes

I decided to watch a movie tonight while waiting for Matt to get home. However, I was just on the phone with my mom and I think she could definitely use some cheering up with all the stress she has in her life right now. So I decided to watch Love Actually through her eyes since I've seen it so many times. I am going to do this and see if I should recommend it to her as a cheer-up kind of movie, which is definitely what it is for me. It also really gets me in the Christmas Spirit. I don't know if she even has enough time to watch a movie nowadays, but my family is coming out for Christmas in two short weeks, so I may MAKE her sit and watch this with me, if I approve of it as I watch it this way. It really does add a new perspective on the movie for me as well. And still, it is making me teary eyed and goose bumpy even after the umpteenth time of watching it. It's definitely a new holiday tradition, started many years ago in college with a wonderful awesome friend. You know who you are. :) Okay, it's Anne!
I'm ending this post now because I'm getting scatterbrained and missing out on some of my favorite parts of the movie, but here's my holiday challenge for you all: watch your favorite movie through someone else's eyes and see how your reactions change with a different perspective.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Picture Hiatus

I haven't posted any pictures for a while, so I thought I would do that tonight. However, when I looked through my most recent ones, all I could find were pictures of the dogs (big surprise!). I realized that we didn't take ANY over Thanksgiving, at least with my camera!

We got Perdi her own bed. Here are the dogs sleeping in their beds.

Every once in a while, everyone will settle down for a nap. Here, even Matt indulged.

We have noticed that Perdi likes to "bury" things. This really intrigues us, since Pongo never did it. The vet gave us the "all clear" to give Perdi flat rawhides, which has been a livesaver. She chews them down a little and then buries the rest. She buries them under the couch, in her bed or Pongo's bed or under the Christmas tree. Tonight, she buried one in her kennel, which I'm going to take as a good sign. It is so funny to watch because she digs a "hole" with her paws, inserts the bone, and then covers it with air dirt until she is satisfied.

Oh, those eyes! She is getting so big!
Today, I must end with a birthday comment. Matt's mom is celebrating her birthday today and what can we say to truly portray our appreciation of everything she does? Arlene is always patient, happy and in a good mood. She always has a joke to tell to cheer us up or break the ice and she is always there to lend a hand with anything. She puppysat Pongo many times, even during his puppyhood, putting Matt and I at ease knowing that he was in good hands instead of his kennel.
Arlene is a wonderful cook and is always ready to prepare a meal for us, whether we live 10 minutes or 10 hours away. Her dedication to her family is unwavering and I am so lucky to have gained such a caring and supportive mother-in-law in May when I married Matt. These are just my own observations. I'm sure Matt has much more he would add if he were home to blog.
Happy Birthday, Arlene!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dissapearing Dog and Other Ramblings

It snowed so much here last night that this morning when I took Perdi out (after she slept ALL NIGHT!!!) she disappeared in the snow as soon as she was out the door! I'd say we got a good 6 inches and that was the non drifted snow. It's a good thing she likes to be outside, snowy or sunny. However, Perdi really drove me nuts last night. She told me she needed to go out, so I opened the door immediately and she did her business. Not a minute after she got back inside, she went on a blanket. Ah, I guess its one step forward, two steps back with her. Still, she is really learning to go to the door and let us know, which is so exciting.
Work was really crazy today. I'm still trying to keep up with the airports, and we are getting work in the secret room too. My supervisor lives in Colorado Springs at a much higher elevation so when it snows, he has problems getting to work and didn't make it in today. Of course, everyone else in my work group had just finished a big project and needed to get started familiarizing themselves with the new software in the secure room, which wasn't set up yet. Yipes! We had all kinds of trouble and I was the only one who used the software before. It was definitely a balancing act to figure it out. I called everyone I could, including the Dayton office, my WAM co-workers, and finally the software company themselves. I finally got somewhere after that. It was a long day.
I was amazed this morning as I slowly drove to work in the 6 inches of snow on the street at how snow doesn't seem to tame the crazy driving out here. While my car seemed to want to lose control at the slightest tap of the brakes, others were careening wildly in and out of my lane. If I needed my space driving before, it is 10 times more true in the snow when I am less likely to be able to stay in control of the car if I need to brake quickly. Am I missing some Denver memo? I drive in low gear in the snow...that doesn't seem to be the cure, though it does help a lot. Anybody have thoughts on winter tires? It has been suggested to me a couple of times...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Skiing: Awesome and Painful

I've been meaning to write this post for days. Matt and I had our first ski trip this weekend. It was so much fun and I can't wait to go again. Yes, it was painful but let me explain. We got up way early for a Saturday (5:30 am), got dressed and left the puppies in their respective places. We met up with Dave and Mary at 6:45 and headed to Breck. The drive wasn't bad, not too much traffic. But when we got there, it took us 45 minutes to park!
We got to the top of the mountain just in time to start our day of lessons. We started with the very basics: sliding around on one ski, going up a magic carpet (mini lift that you stand on) and stopping using "pizza." (pointing your skis together) Before lunch, we were already up the lift to the bunny hill. At first, I wasn't really concentrating on turning myself to control my speed, rather, I used the "pizza" all the way down. That got really exhausting and my teacher made me follow him to see how I should be doing it.
I didn't mind his hints at all, but he seemed to feel the need to babysit Matt and ski with him all the time, giving constant tips. Matt and this other girl (who was REALLY struggling) were lumped together in the same group, and I thought Matt was doing a lot better than to deserve that.
One funny story is that right after we got off the ski lift the first time, we had to ski around a curve to get to the learning slope. Well I got going too fast around the curve and couldn't stop so I flung myself into a snowdrift. At least it was a soft landing! I seemed to do fine during the lessons, but when it came time to go down the actual full bunny slope, everything left my mind. I would get going too fast because it was a lot steeper than the learning area and so I would just fall. This probably happened 6-7 times! I was really frustrated but I know i'll get it. Needless to say, I was the last one down the mountain.
Now for the pain part: falling didn't cause it. My calves were so sore yesterday that I didn't even want to walk! Even today at work, I was drawing funny looks. I have never had that sore of muscles, not even in track! I am feeling much better this evening. I think part of it was that I was dehydrated.
Matt and I were so tired after that trip. I especially felt bad for Matt, who worked Thurs. night, got up early Friday to work the day shift so he could go to my Christmas party Friday night. We got up early Saturday to ski and really put our bodies through a lot. I spent Sunday cleaning the house and doing laundry while Matt hung Christmas lights. Then we went out for dinner and did some shopping and bought a real live Christmas tree. The tree is really tall and beautiful and we got a great price on it because they had discounted it for a "bare spot" that you can hardly notice. This is the first year I have had my own real tree! We have never really had the room or money before. It smells so good too. We still need to decorate it and the house, but I'm just happy it's up and the house is clean.
Right now as I type this, I have two sleeping dogs beside me. They are tired from their trip to the vet, where each of them got a handful of vaccinations and ear swabs. Perdi has gotten rid of her ear mites but now she has yeast in her ears. We have to wash out both of their ears with a perscription solution to make sure that everything gets taken care of. Not fun. Here's a tip for all of you Coloradans: if you get homesick and want to talk to someone from Kansas, go to a vet. I think they are all K-State grads, since it has such a good vet school, and they are all Kansas natives as well. It makes me feel a little closer to Kansas when I go to the vet with the dogs.
Now it is snowing like mad outside. I hope Matt gets home safely. We will have at LEAST 4 inches of snow by morning, but that's the conservative forecast. Like I said, it is really coming down.
We are negotiating with a Toyota dealer on a Highlander this week. I'll keep you posted...

Thursday, December 4, 2008


For some reason, I am very jumpy tonight. I don't know why I'm so on edge, but I have been very productive tonight, despite this fact. I decided to try a brand new recipe since I already had most of the ingredients. I have been watching a show on TLC called "17 Kids and Counting." It is crazy how many kids are in this family but they are so resourseful and live without debt! (They make their own laundry detergent.) The other night, the mom was teaching the young boys how to make Tater Tot Casserole, and it looked really good so I tried it.
Mine turned out very well, although it is almost the same thing as Shepherd's Pie, sub tater tots for mashed potatoes. Yummy! I hope it reheats well for Matt. I feel silly cooking for myself but he really enjoys having leftovers. I also baked a loaf of pumpkin bread, so the house smells delicious. It was just a quick bread mix, but I figure we can have it for breakfast on Saturday on our way to Breckenridge.
It snowed all day long today in Denver. It's not the same snow as in KC. Now I know what they are talking about when they say "fresh powder" in referral to the ski slopes. It is much dryer here than KC, so the snow is little powdery flakes. It is very easy to shovel because it is so light. I cleared the driveway, sidewalks and deck in about 20 minutes. Pongo and Perdi helped me, except Pongo got cold and sat shaking by the front door until I was done.
The one problem with the snow was that I misjudged how long it would take me to get around, and I didn't leave work early enough to get P & P to their vet appointments. This really bummed me out because I wanted to get it taken care of and I left work early, but the vet understood and we rescheduled for Monday. It works out better because they get to see the vet I took Perdi to last time. I really like him and the practice as a whole. It is quite a bit farther away, but they do a really good job with the dogs and we are on the same page as to what meds P & P should be on. (a.k.a. Heartworm preventative all the time). Now if only I could find a good dentist...for Matt and I of course!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Constant Battle

I don't know how you moms out there do it. I am in a constant battle to keep my house clean and I don't even have kids. I don't know how so much STUFF can just accumulate so quickly and I just can't seem to get organized. Our Dyson is in constant use and no matter how often I vacuum, it still faithfully fills the canister every time. It makes me wonder how much good our old vacuum even did. But with two dogs coming in and out of the house, it sure is nice to be able to know I am not wasting my time with the vacuum anymore.
Perdi is getting so big. We will have had her three weeks on Friday. She is beginning to tell us when she needs to go outside (instead of us just guessing and putting her out). She still has the occaisional accident. It is fun to watch her personality emerge. Yesterday, she ate her dinner and decided that she wanted more, so she carried her bowl to me. She did it with Matt again this morning.
I also replaced her "snuzzle buddy," which I burned in the microwave before we left for Thanksgiving. It is essentially a Beanie Baby filled with buckeyes that you can heat in the microwave. I do this at night so she feels like she isn't alone. She was so excited to have that thing back! She carried it to her bed, then into her "new" crate (she graduated to a bigger one yesterday as well).
I updated my Facebook status to say that I wish Perdi would sleep through the night. Well she almost did! I had to get up at 5 am to let her out, but that was it. I was a little bummed because I get up at 5:30 and it seemed silly to go back to sleep after that, but overall I had to be pleased. I think the bigger crate had a lot to do with it. She only wimpered three times before bed, then fell asleep. It is such a blessing to be making progress with her. She is still howling every time I get home though. I'm not sure if she just starts up when the garage opens of if she just cries for 4-5 hours. I guess only Pongo knows that.
I am excited for the Woolpert Christmas party on Friday. I am not sure what to expect or what to wear, but I know it will be fun and a good opportunity to get to know my co-workers even more. I always look forward to events that take place outside the office. This is something I really miss about WAM still, though I know I have mentioned that before.
And the last bit of news is that Matt and I have planned our first ski trip for Saturday. We are going up to Breckenridge with some friends bright and early Saturday morning. There has been a lot of snowfall this week, so we are going to take some lessons and maybe try an easy slope. I am so glad that my first skiing experience will be at Breckenridge!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Back in the Saddle

I am finally getting to my Thanksgiving post. It seems, as always, that there are a million things to do when you get home from travelling. Unpacking, laundry, catching up on sleep... I have to admit, I was a bit stressed about travelling with two dogs, one being a two month old puppy. First and foremost, I have to thank every one of our hosts (Dave, Sheila, Mom, Dad, Bill, Barbara and Arlene) for putting up with us! We were a bit high maintenance with our brood of dogs this time around. THANK YOU ALL!!!
We had a great weekend, despite spending much of it on the road. We were lucky in that we got to see many of both of our families and have three official Thanksgiving meals. Needless to say, I am back in the routine of running again. I don't want all of that food to catch up to me! I have been giving the dogs "the slip" so I can get out and run on my own. Today, it was warm so I left them in the back yard to play. I don't think they hardly noticed my absense. Ahh, I regress.
So we spent four days in Kansas and each night, a different bed. Wednesday night, we stayed in Kingman. I always love getting out into the country. It is so beautiful and reminds me of the summers I spent on Grandpa's farm when I was little. We spent Thanksgiving catching up with the Goverts, which I always love. We have such fun family gatherings. The dogs loved it too...they got to run around freely in the afternoon and were even treated to a tour of the farm in the back of a Gator cart.
We drove to Manhattan Thursday night and Matt and I stayed at my dad's training center on our air matress. Pongo did not want to go to sleep that night and it drove me crazy! We went out to brunch at the Chef Cafe, a place that recently re-opened in downtown Manhattan. I used to go there with my parents a lot the first time it was open. For some reason, all I remember is the applesauce. I used to get some dish with applesauce, which I loved. Well, the menu has changed a little, but the food was still great and the coffee even better!
After brunch, we packed up again and hit the road, this time to Kansas City and Thanksgivings #2 and 3. Bill and Barbara had a wonderful meal Friday evening. It was fun with everyone there, both her three sons and their guests and the Millard kids and Mary Anne and Gordon (Matt's aunt and uncle). Much of my time was spent outside with Perdi. I really didn't want her to have an accident, because all of the tavelling must have been really confusing for her when she is still learning in her own home environment. She and Pongo both behaved relatively well. Perdi still struggles with being quiet in her kennel when left alone, which is embarassing. We had a great evening all in all, and Alissa was so nice to let Matt and I stay in her room Friday night. It was the first good bed we had stayed in and it felt so good. (Night #1, cheap motel. Night #2, air matress.)
Saturday, we headed across town to Arlene's house for our third and final Thanksgiving. What a great day! Catching up with family, fabulous food, a spectacular win for KU football and we played a fun new game called Apples to Apples. I imagine we'll need to get that game for future camping trips.
We also got to see some good friends (Anne, Jake, Marcos) on Saturday evening. Arlene and Ron were so nice to watch Perdi (and Pongo) for us for a couple hours. I was worried because she can be a pill. I think I worry too much. With so much going on that day, I slept GREAT that night. Perdi did us a favor and slept for 6 hours straight. I tell you, puppies are almost as much work as I imagine babies are!
Sunday morning, Pongo decided to be a pill. Sometimes, his nose just gets the better of him and Arlene was cooking bacon...I am naive in the fact that I expect Pongo to be perfect now that we have the puppy. Is this what it's like when you have a second child? Anyway, we had to keep an extra eye on him, as discipline did not seem to effect his determination to get bacon. He is such a great dog 99% if the time and is really great with Perdi now. He checks on her when she's sleeping and comes to get me when she is getting into something he knows she shouldn't be. Dogs are so strange with their personalities! They are truly small people trapped in a dog's body.
We made one last stop before we started our long drive back to Denver. We introduced Perdi to my cousin Audrey, who really really wants a beagle puppy but is allergic to dogs. We didn't stay very long but it was still wonderful to see them again.
I think I'll end this long post by saying what I am thankful for. Again, I am very thankful that it worked out for us to be at every family gathering and see so many loved ones. I am thankful for safe travel and my wonderful puppies who kept us company. But most of all, I am thankful for 4 whole days with my husband, free of crazy work schedules. Of course this list is incomplete. I could go on and on, but I have lost my creativity after typing so much. It's bedtime for me!