Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas greetings!
It’s been a frozen week here in Seattle, and if you haven’t seen us on the news chances are you’re not watching the news! It’s been the coldest and snowiest December on record here! I left you last Thursday with Matt and I cozied up at home next to the fire and me unable to drive my car anywhere. Well its Christmas and I still haven’t moved my car! It snowed Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! And we had more this morning and are due for more tonight! Its insane!
By last weekend I was going stir crazy so I strapped on a backpack and left Roy in his crate while walked to the grocery store. By the time I got back there was a note on the door from our neighbor who has met Roy and really liked him. He was letting me know that the whole 3 hours I was gone Roy had barked! I went with Roy to apologize, but he said he didn’t mind that much and loved on Roy, and just wanted to let me know he does NOT like that crate!
Monday came and Matt drove me to work. He’s been parking at the bottom of Queen Anne hill and walking up so he could continue driving to work. Luckily a coworker gave me a ride to the bottom of Queen Anne hill and I walked home. That street was closed, and people were actually sledding, skiing and snowboarding down it! That was only a two-mile walk, and I got some Christmas shopping done so it was nice.
Tuesday Matt dropped me off again, and I got a ride with a co-worker who dropped me off downtown as I assured her I was going to get some Christmas shopping done and could ride the bus home. The buses are clean, efficient, and the stop is just at the bottom of the street where I live.
I browsed around Pike Place Market, picking up stocking stuffers and a unique gift for Matt before heading to the bus stop. As I approached I noticed about 30 people surrounding the little stop, all looking in the direction of the coming bus. A little perturbed, I pulled my scarf higher in the freezing night air and waited for 5 minutes…10 minutes…then 20. Finally a bus came, but it was amazingly packed tight. As the bus pulled up, the throng of people I was in—by now at least 40—pushed forward in a mass to the opening doors of the bus. A few people got off, then there was a maddening jostle of bodies as people tried to squeeze themselves into the already full to capacity bus. Elbows in your side, feet sloshing in the frozen slush as we pushed forward like a reverse birth. I could swear I saw one man frothing at the mouth. As I was towards the back of the crunch, I finally gave up and made my way through the crowd and began walking.
I walked nearly 4 miles—from Downtown to Queen Anne—carrying my purchases and trying to walk fast enough to keep warm but slow enough not to slip on the packed snow and ice. It took me about an hour and a half (and yes it was uphill) and I wasn’t the only one walking. At one point a young man carrying a bouquet of Christmas flowers hurried by me at a quick pace. “How far are you going?” he asked. “Queen Anne,” I replied—this still being about 2 miles out. As he passed me I called, “Hope you’re not headed to Ballard!” (which is further north and across the bridge from Queen Anne. “Nope, Magnolia,” he called back. Poor guy—depending on where he lived in Magnolia it was anywhere from 3-7 more miles!
I was carrying my bags and my $1 mittens weren’t quite doing their job, so I figured I would get a cup of coffee to keep me warm. Wouldn’t you know it? Only ONE coffee shop my whole walk home and it was CLOSED! This is Seattle—the birthplace of coffee shops! With my scarf wrapped around my nose to keep my face relatively warm, I waddled and slid my way home. One amazing sight was walking past two gas stations with every pump CLOSED because the weather’s been so bad that gas trucks haven’t been able to get through! When I took Roy out when I got home he was more than excited, and we played in the soft untouched snow in the parking lot—us both losing our footing on the steep hill and sledding down together in a mass of wet snow and sprawling legs. He loves finding an untouched patch, pouncing in it, then hopping to another one—it’s like he’s trying to make snow angel dogs!
That night Matt’s parents, Dave and Beth, and his sister Katie got in from Groveland. This is Matt’s first Christmas with them in 3 years! We’ve stolen him away the past few times! They love our apartment and Roy, and he was more than excited to have more people in the house to love on!
The next day Matt was off, so I could drive his car to make it in to work on Christmas Eve. It was snowing/raining pretty good, but the roads were a bit clearer and the temperature was above freezing so things were thawing out. It still was an adventure—my first time driving in snow! I could feel the car’s 4 wheel drive kick in quite often as I trudged over the leftover snow packed on the streets and highways. After work I drove to the market in Ballard to load up on a ton of groceries—and let me just say that its quite the experience pushing a cart LOADED to the max with food and firewood over mushy snow and ice in the pouring rain! I was in front of the cart, dragging it like a mule when a kind man offered to help me get the last few feet to the car. Driving home I felt quite accomplished—enough so to drive through the snow to park in Matt’s usual spot for the first time in a week!
Christmas morning rolled around and I was awakened by Roy’s excited nose shoving me under the covers like a kid saying, “Get up! Get up! Its Christmas morning!” He’s never that persistent in getting me up…I think he knew he had some good treats coming! We ate Beth’s cinnamon rolls and listened to Christmas music by the fire as it rained and snowed outside. As my main Christmas present from Matt, Roy Boy had a big red bow tied around his neck and left it all day! We all opened gifts and exchanged hugs and thanks and all felt pretty spoiled. Roy opened his new toy that’s a puzzle he has to work at to get his food, and had no problem learning how to tear open a present!
Later we got dressed and headed to Sacred Heart Church for Christmas mass. The Palmers grew up Catholic to it was a little bit nostalgic for them, and a wonderful, sacred experience for me. It was great singing old Christmas carols there surrounded by beautiful stained glass windows and a ton of candles. The priest was a jolly fellow who warmly reminded us that everything we do at Christmas points to the birth and gift of Jesus, and Him being our connection with God.

Back at home we all collapsed into some state of nap or relaxing. I passed out on the floor before heading to the bed, Matt and Katie lounged around watching who knows how many episodes of The Office, and Dave beat us all by taking a sound 4 hour nap!
For Christmas dinner we feasted on ribeye roast, mashed potatoes, sautéed zucchini and mushrooms, and soft rolls. Top it off with some sugar cookies and ice cream and Christmas was complete.
We hope you all had warm, loving Christmases, and enjoy your time with your family!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Day!

Here in Seattle I think the best Morning Cup would be a rich hot cocoa right now! Today was a SNOW DAY! I got up for work, looked outside and saw it falling fast and thick. Now, being a southern California girl I’ve never actually driven in snow, and had my first ice experience on Monday when it was a whole 22˚ when I tried to unlock the car and found the lock frozen shut.

Still, after taking Roy outside and watching him romp in the snow on his three legs and lick it from the trees and rocks, I tried to gather my courage and headed out the door. Turning on Matt’s car (he was off and his car has 4-wheel drive), the radio warned that it was a nightmare commute, hours to get to your destination, and “dozens” of spinouts in downtown Seattle alone! The news and police and pretty much everyone was saying “STAY HOME!” 

(People in Michigan would laugh at how Seattlites handle snow!) 

Looking at the road that leads down the hill, it was compacted and frozen snow where the few daring cars with chains on had headed down. I decided to see if I could wait it out and headed back inside.

Inside we turned on the news to see what a “bear” (in the news’ terms) all the freeways were. It was insane! We put a log on the fire, turned on the Christmas lights and after calling my work a number of times with no one picking up…decided to have a snow day! We bundled up and walked to a café for breakfast, watching the few cars out slip and slide down the hill, and a few that were actually stuck in the snow (including a bus!). We got back inside, got in our comfies and put on a movie!

After a nap I made some homemade bread while Matt looked for new Christmas songs and Roy took his 10th nap of the day. By tonight there was SEVEN inches of snow on our patio, so we headed out to build a little snowman and play in the snow! Roy is definitely a snow dog—he loves it! He ate it, laid in it, and romped in it!

That’s our latest news—the snow has stopped but the high tomorrow is 26˚ so all that compact snow is just going to stay frozen! We’ll see how the commute is tomorrow! Oh, and Roy is healing very well—he thinks he’s back to normal and romps around trying to take stairs 2 at a time, get on the bed, and run all around! It’s tough keeping him down! But he doesn’t seem to be in pain and is the same happy-go-lucky dog.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Well its not worth a whole venti morning cup but I thought I'd let you know that its SNOWING here! Its probably snowed over an inch and Queen Anne is blanketed in white! Its beautiful! And it didn't seem to bother Roy when we took him outside--I think he likes it! We know we do (at least until we have to drive)!

Roy came home this morning and has been hopping all over--I actually had to leash him to the couch so he wouldn't follow me around so much! In between following me around and devouring his rawhide bone, he's been taking good long naps which is really good! He's moving his foot forward when he walks and it twitches when he has doggie dreams and he was using it to stabilize his bone--showing he probably doesn't have nerve damage! He's doing great thus far and since he's my Christmas puppy he appropriately situates himself beneath the tree.

That's all our news for now--thank you all for your prayers again for our Roy Boy! Enjoy this CHRISTmas season!

December 11th

Well it has been a heck of a week. First, let me underline the fact that I’ve had a cold/bronchitis since Thanksgiving, and have been hacking my lungs out.

Second, on Thursday morning Roy broke loose from his leash AND collar to bolt after a pug across the street and got hit by a car. I saw it happen as I stood there with his broken collar in my hand, and I have to say that’s probably the worst thing I’ve ever seen. 

The car braked but still hit him, and Roy skidded across the pavement twitching and convulsing and snapping at the air. I ran to him and in his panicked state he bit my hand, but two seconds later he was completely calm and still. Thank God I wasn’t freaking out right then. I kept my head and instantly checked his spine and major bones, and made sure nothing was protruding and he didn’t have any major open wounds while talking soothingly to him. He only had a few minor scratched, but he wouldn’t stand on his front left leg. The moment the car hit him nature had kicked in and his hind part was completely wet and soiled.

The woman who had been walking the pug yelled, “Do you want me to call a vet?” and I said yes. The man who had been driving the car got out and just felt awful, but I assured him that his collar broke and it was not his fault. I was about two blocks away from our apartment, and once I got Roy to stand a bit I lifted all 80 pounds of him and began to carry him back. I had to stop and put him down a couple of times, and made it to the door of the apartment when my arms told me I couldn’t go any further (80 lbs is a lot of dead weight for a girl that doesn’t work out! That’s two full bags of dog food!). Thank God the woman with the pug came and found me (without the pug) and told me what vet she called, and offered to stay with him while I went and got Matt.

As we took him in, he never whined or whimpered but was totally calm and submissive. The vet came out and handed us a list of things they wanted to do for him and the total came to almost $800! At that point, of course, we signed—but Matt being the logical one was already looking in the future. What if he needed surgery or more? 

I didn’t start crying until I had ran into the apartment and got Matt, but I didn’t stop crying until I went to sleep that night.

The first report was that he may have nerve damage, and needed an MRI, and had a broken shoulder which would require surgery. He also potentially had damaged his liver and lungs. We were potentially looking at costs of $4-6,000 or more. December 11th was probably one of the longest and hardest days I’ve ever experienced.

 I know we had only had him for a short period, but I was definitely attached to him and him to me. I couldn’t take three steps without him moving with me and plopping down with a happy sigh on my feet. But the reality was if we couldn’t afford to take care of him, we’d have to put him down. We went home and I put my bloody and soiled clothes in the washing machine, and Matt and I crawled into bed and just lay there, praying (and I crying).

After work I went to visit him, and he was happy as a lark when he saw me. He was in a kennel near the floor and hooked up to an IV, but when I opened the door and sat down he wiggled his way over until his head was buried in my lap and his tail was thumping happily. 

I had to figure out how to get him back inside when I left, and then he was standing up and trying to follow me out. The thought that we might have to put him down because of finances absolutely made me sick. After I left, I couldn’t eat anything and went home and just got in bed and cried myself to sleep. I cried so hard my face hurt. 

When Matt got home we talked (I cried) about it, and we knew this was a trial in our marriage—we do have different views on dogs. He sees them as pets and I see them as companions, and there’s nothing wrong with either view. But we don’t have that much money, and to put ourselves that much deeper into debt over an animal was a hard thing for Matt to swallow. 

We finally came to the conclusion of a price limit—I know it’s harsh but that’s what we had to do to be unified and on the same page. We were even looking up financial aid for pets online. The irony is we were going to sign him up for pet insurance that day. I know animals are just that—animals, but they’re God’s creatures too, and it made me physically sick that a dog that was so happy and full of life might have that taken away because of finances. All we could do was pray hard for a miracle and wait until morning.

Morning came and as I moved to get out of bed my body absolutely yelled in pain. All my muscles—my biceps, quads, back—everything had been strained to the max when I carried him that far, and the adrenaline didn’t quit until night and then holy moly! I’ll never be so glad to get in an Epsom salt bath as I will be tonight!

Around 9:30 the vet called, and as it turned out he didn’t need a MRI, had feeling in his foot, and may not even require surgery. Now this vet has absolutely given us a run for our money--$50 to take his blood pressure? With a machine? (I testily told the assistant that I could have done that myself with a second hand watch) $40 to clean each little scrape he had?! It was ridiculous! So I flat out explained that him needing the surgery or not was a matter of his life...and I did it all without crying and very firmly. He said he would call when he heard back from the orthopedic surgeon who was looking at the X-rays.

This ray of hope was almost too much to bear. I steeled myself for the worst and waited for six long hours before calling again. Well, my friends, God still does work miracles. The surgeon thought that surgery wouldn’t really benefit him, and the best thing for him would be house arrest and rest! Their only concern was that his heart might be bruised, and so they needed to keep him one more night and run an EKG on him. But, they hadn’t heard anything negative so far, and said we could most likely take him home tomorrow (Saturday)! When I asked what the full total was, it was less than half our agreed limit.

I went tonight to see him again and this time they had me wait in a room—then here he comes hopping on three legs with his tail wagging—my Roy Boy. His whole body was wriggling so hard I was amazed he could still stand on just the three legs! The vet assistant left me alone with him and I sat in the middle of the room as he hopped in a circle around me like he was saying, “Look mama! I can walk!” I grabbed his ears and snuggled his face calling him a big showoff, and he just licked me from my nose to my hair giving me an attractive cowlick. 

Then he settled down for a good long face rub with his eyes half closed and his tail smacking the door and the drawers on the wall like a metronome. He has a little cough but they said that will heal in time, and he’s even trying to move his foot forward when he walks which shows that there’s probably not any nerve damage!

We’ll most likely bring him home tomorrow, and then comes the huge task of keeping a 2 year old lab who likes to follow you everywhere laying down most of the time for the next 6-8 weeks. I bought a crate tonight, along with a plethora of bones and a soft cuddly toy (can you blame me?) in order to keep him in one place, and when we’re not there have a hard bone to keep his attention for a good period of time. I also bought a strong training collar for when we’re outside—even with a broken shoulder I still don’t trust him! Yesterday as he was in my lap another pug at the vet was being walked by and he tried to go to it! Crazy dog…you think he’d have learned to stay away from pugs.

So that’s my Christmas miracle. 

I told Matt to just tie a big red bow on him come Christmas Eve ‘cause that’s all the gift I wanted! 

Please keep him in your prayers as he’ll still be recovering, and that he won’t need any further medical attention. Pray we learn how best to handle keeping him down and calm, and that he takes to the crate well. Pray for us to have patience with him, and that he heals up fully so he can go hiking and backpacking with us like we so want a dog to do that with. He’s definitely got the energy!

And if you think God doesn’t care about animals guess again—I believe this was nothing short of a miracle and a blessing from God for us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Roy Boy

We would like to introduce you to the newest member of our family


Roy, or "Roy Boy," is a 2-year old chocolate lab who was picked up as a stray over a month ago. We found him at the Seattle Animal Shelter, where when I put my hand in through the gate and he fell on it like a long lost friend it was love at first sight. He's a VERY happy dog, and we chose his name for a couple of reasons. 1) the name he had at the shelter was Rollo--like the candy--so its an easy switch (he already knows it!) 2) its my dad's middle name, and he's one of the happiest people we know, and 3) it means king, and doesn't he look handsome and noble?

Matt and I both took him out, and from the get go it was like he was our dog. He completely ignored the shelter workers' commands, but when Matt called him or we told him to sit we instantly had his focus and obedience. We only got to spend 20 minutes with him the first night, and they had him written up like some wacky wild dog but even in the short time we had him we could see what a gem he was. Friday we went in and after playing with him a bit longer, we decided he was the dog for us. He calmed down for us, responded and loved both of us, and just seemed to "fit," as Matt says. We signed the papers, got his license, but sadly we have to wait until Monday after he's been neutered to take him home.

You know me, the minute we signed the papers I was off to Petco and got a doggie bed and all other necessary items, and then I went back to the shelter just to play with him some more.

What a smart dog he is! The first night we threw a tennis ball and he looked at it like, "yeah...what do you want me to do?" So I went and got him a rope toy and within 5 minutes had him playing tug-of-war, he learned "drop it," and learned to fetch and bring it back for more play.

Today they let me take him home to the apartment for a few hours to get him used to his new home, and you have never seen a happier dog! He came in and sniffed out everything, found his bed and BOY was he in hog heaven! He rolled on his back with all four legs spread and the biggest doggie smile on his face while I rubbed his belly and let out a huge sigh.

He learned to walk on a leash better, learned "stay," "down," where to go when I said "bed," and I only had to tell him once not to do something and he wouldn't try it again. I swear in a week he'll be pushing our elevator buttons and carrying our mail! I don't know why they had him as a wild dog cause he was nothin but a snuggle-bumpkin with me for the whole time we were home!

When Matt got home I thought he was going to break his backbone or tail or something his whole BODY was wagging so hard! We sat down and he just went back and forth between us like it was too good to be true that we were both there and he had a place of his own. After he got his love fill he went to his bed and plopped down and went right to sleep.

I can't tell you how hard it was for us to take him back to the shelter that night! But we'll go back tomorrow and love on him some more, and Monday after his surgery Matt will bring him home FOR GOOD! No more crazy dog-barking-constantly shelters! He's home with me healing up from his surgery and I'm getting over bronchitis so we're couch potato buddies!
Welcome to the family Roy!

If you're thinking of getting a dog for your apartment, here's an article I wrote from all the research we did looking for our Roy - The Best Dog Breeds For Apartments.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I'm so sorry its been so long you're suffering withdrawals from your Morning Cup! Things here in Seattle have been a bit crazy this past week or so! And a Happy (late)Thanksgiving to you all as well!

As I write this (at least the beginning of this) I’m sitting in the living room of my in-laws happily tired from a day of hiking in Yosemite Valley and stuffed with steak and warm memories. I’ll rewind back to the middle of last week, when I finished stuffing my 2,000 newsletters and we were still hunting for a dog.

On Friday the 21st we got the green light from our landlady to go ahead and repaint our apartment. She agreed we could go “warmer” than the hospital white it was painted. It also was eggshell meaning every smudge, nick, scrape and scuff was visible on it. You could hardly find a square foot that was clean. I found my paint chips, sent her pics and got the approval.

The next day I headed out to Homeward Pets Adoption Shelter, but the dog I had gone to see had been adopted an hour before I got there. Disappointed I decided to look at the dogs who were still there anyways. I came across Cooper, a lab/german shepherd mix with a lot of personality in a 50lb bundle of 9 month old puppy. I (of course) got a bit attached to him and immediately called Matt and set up a time to meet the dog with him the next day. 

After I left Cooper I headed to Home Depot and found a ecologically friendly paint from the brand Fresh Aire (would definitely recommend!) that matched the swatch we wanted to paint our house. And wanting a cleaning-friendly paint I got semi-gloss so I could clean off any smudges or scuffs we accrued during our rental time. As I headed out the door with my four gallons of what I thought was “warm white” or “light tan,” I think my first clue should have been that the swatch was called “Ray of Hope…”

Back at home, I began painting our small bedroom feeling a great satisfaction covering all that nastiness on our walls. Our walls looked nearly gray compared to the new paint, and the lighting in that small bedroom is so bad it was beginning to look rather…yellow. No…I thought, its just the lighting and the small proximity of this room. Finishing that room I moved to the hallway and finished that. I left the doorframes and doors unpainted, and compared to the new paint they appeared a dingy gray. With the garish hall lights we have, the paint was beginning to look more canary yellow than warm white.

When Matt got home, we agreed it was the lighting and small space that made the paint appear more yellow than previously expected. At least we hoped it was the lighting and the space. The next evening after I had finished the halls and the dining area and realized it was looking way more yellow, we drove out to see how Matt liked Cooper. 

I got there before him, and so was outside playing with the little guy when the gate at the end of a dark alley rattled. Cooper was off in an instant barking with the hair raised up on his back. Well that turned out to be Matt…and that didn’t make such a great introduction for Cooper. Outside he just barked and barked at Matt, never getting close and eyeing him from a safe distance. We got the dog trainer outside with us and he suggested bringing Cooper inside and in his kennel to make him feel more secure. Once inside he took treats from Matt, did tricks and was fine…but as soon as we headed outside in the dark play area he began barking again. So it didn’t work out with Cooper, poor guy, but we’ll keep you posted in our search for a dog.

I got a “ray of hope” when I began painting the doorframe and baseboards with bright white, and that night as Matt and I finished painting the rest of the living room area and baseboards we realized it was the gray walls in contrast that made it look so yellow. Now, looking at our clean home with freshly painted baseboards and walls, it looks a wonderful clean butter cream and we’re very happy with it!

This brings us up to our “Sleepless in Seattle” night. Wednesday night we packed our stuff and got our house back in order (all that’s left to paint is the master bedroom and the doors), and ended up in bed by 12:30. Three hours later we were up and stumbling into our clothes in the pre-dawn darkness and out the door by four in the morning. We were headed to the SeaTac airport to fly to Oakland then drive to Groveland for Thanksgiving.

Matt had called a parking place the night before to make sure they had space, and tell them we were coming. On our way to the airport we had to call three times to get directions to this place…but since it was only $9/day for parking as opposed to $26/day at the airport and we were going to be gone 5 days we figured it was worth it. Finally we found the location…a bit late but at least we were there. Pulling into the dimly lit lot with one sign labeled “E-Z Parking” and cars haphazardly in every nook and cranny of spare space, a woman who looked like she’d seen the ugly side of too many mornings swaggered up to our car and in a surprisingly low voice demanded, “You got a reservation?”

We explained that we had called last night (i.e. 5 hours ago) and they said there was room for us and no need to make a reservation, and we’d been conversing with them all morning trying to get there (read: um…if we needed a reservation shouldn’t you have told us to make one during one of our 6 conversations with you?).

“Sorry, no reservation—no room. We’re full.”

We stared at her with gaping mouths…our plane was leaving in an hour and every sign we had passed on the way had said “LOT FULL” making us grateful they knew we were coming and had space…or so we had thought. Word to the wise…always make a reservation.

With no time to argue we pulled out of the shady parking lot and did manage to find a Park-n-Fly for not too much more, and as tossed our keys to the valet, grabbed our bags and jumped on the shuttle we heaved a sigh of relief. That will wake you up!

Eight o’clock we landed in Oakland and were greeted by both of our dads at the airport. A two and a half hour car ride later we were walking into Matt’s parent’s house in Groveland and giving hugs and kisses to his Mom, Katie, my mom, Ammah…and of course their black lab Max.

have to say not too much of that Thanksgiving is ultra clear other than the general feeling of being happy and full. Two very good emotions to have connected with Thanksgiving!

The next day Matt and I were woken up at noon (hey, three hours of sleep the night before!) by our moms and Ammah noisily (and purposefully so) talking outside our door…then two heads popping in with big smiles. I keep telling them they’re really going to regret that one day…

We headed into Sonora that afternoon, and Dave and Beth found prime real estate on the main street where the parade was going to be that evening. After wandering in the cute boutiques and quaint antique shops we cinched up our scarves and sidled up to a ton of Thanksgiving leftovers as the parade began. 

It began with the high school marching band, followed by fire trucks, an astonishing amount of nativity scenes (most of them missing baby Jesus though…but they were well stocked on angels of all shapes and sizes!), the cowboy vets, Chinese dragons, a slew of Harley Davidsons, old fashioned cars, more nativities, girl scouts, tap dancing reindeer, a “all snowflakes are unique and equal” float (i.e. gay pride), and it all finished with Mr & Mrs Claus. It was truly a small town parade with Katie waving to her neighbors who were riding their horses in the Sheriff’s posse, people from the café behind us running cups of coffee to their friends riding on the floats, and the drivers of the classic cars chatting with us as they rolled by.

I’m having to leave out a lot of great warm and fuzzy Thanksgiving times like hiking in Yosemite (yes we saw that bear!), watching old family videos, singing along with my dad and Uncle Chris on the guitar, snuggling with Max (the dog) and reading my book, going to church with my whole family Sunday morning, and Dave’s birthday dinner. All these wrapped up for a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I hope you had a great one as well.

And now we’re on to Christmas! Don’t laugh but I already have a garland and stockings hung and we still haven’t hung pictures on our walls! I’m just a Christmas nut…I start drinking eggnog as soon as it hits the stores and try to think of ways to maximize our Christmas décor.

Oh, and I officially started at Delta Marine today! Looks like I’ll be busy! I already have a blurb I have to write by Friday as we’re submitting one of our yachts for refit of the year! ‘Till next time, keep cozy and bring on the jingle bells!

Falling in Love

Mmmm…smell that rich aroma of your coffee, doctored just the way you like it and sitting there steaming in front of you? Cup your hands around it—even if it’s in a paper cup—and enjoy its hospitality to your hands. Outside right now its 45 degrees and nothing warms you to the core like a hot drink. Now that I’ve got you nice and buttered up for your morning cup…here it is!

Saturday, November 15th will always be the day I remember as the day I fell in love with Seattle.

 I slept soundly knowing that Monday morning I had a job to go to, and woke up late and unburdened with the nagging thought that I needed to spend more time searching online for jobs or making calls or fine tuning my resume. I ate a slice of homemade pumpkin pie for breakfast (isn’t that the best?), then around 2 I finally got dressed and headed out for a day in Queen Anne. 

I went to the artists’ trunk show…but figured I could make 99% of what they were showing and while I was willing to support local artists I wasn’t going to pay $20 for a 2 inch felt owl that wasn’t even sewn…it was glued! Haha, after I browsed my way through that I cut across the playfield where kids were burying themselves in the giant mounds of leaves and finally made it to the Queen Anne Library. I know. I can’t believe it took me two weeks either.

This charming brick building was built in 1913, and has as much character and warmth as its neighborhood. I wandered in there for awhile, finally found an interesting book on the history of Seattle and plopped down in a cozy reading area to read the first 20 pages. Glancing up at the gorgeous stained glass windows I realized that it was getting late and I wanted to be home before dark—plus I had apples drying in the oven which made the whole house smell like apple pie.

As I began walking home, I came around the corner and caught the tail end of a glorious sunset over the Olympic Mountains. It was one of the few times they’re really clear, and the clouds were lit up like a magnificent torch over Elliott Bay. Finally knowing what the best streets to take were, I hurried to 8th street where I caught the rest of it, and it struck me that that was the moment I fell in love with this new city. The mountains, the bay, the trees in their autumnal brilliance, the smells, the feel--everything natural and wonderful swirled into this feeling of adoration and thanksgiving for where God had placed me. 

I’m so glad Matt didn’t apply for a job in Alabama.

Sunday Matt and I slept in late and then went to the Woodland Park Zoo. Now, I know we were spoiled down there living 15 minutes from the San Diego Zoo, but you know? This one ain’t half bad! It’s much smaller…which is actually kinda nice. You don’t have to work up the energy to go see the tigers. And the animals have much more space to roam…it was more like a mini wild animal park than a zoo. 

The funniest thing, though, was as we were looking for gorillas there was this weird and loud bird-sounding thing going off right behind us. I look and there perched in a tree and glaring at us with beady eyes was a fat squirrel. Chak chak chak he said continued to do so as we began to laugh. This apparently irritated him so he let out a long noise and began creeping down the branches toward us seething with anger. We were basically trying to control our laughter at this point, but with it only being a couple of feet away I had a vision of it attacking Matt’s face like a Chevy Chase movie. So we tried to stifle our laughter and backed away as it continued chattering at us—here’s a video that sounds just like it!

We tried out our first Seattle church called Bethany Community Church for the night service, and really enjoyed it. The worship was good, sermon was good and spot on (and we were on our guard for sure). While it had a community focus it definitely didn’t leave scripture behind but rather used it copiously (Matt’s words). We’ll definitely be back to check it out again and want to try out the young professionals group.

Yesterday I started work at Delta. Now, this isn’t going to be what my normal job is like. I’m not even “official” yet just helping them out while Michelle (my direct boss) is in Mexico for the photo shoot of slojo, a yacht that I’ve actually gotten to know at Driscoll’s. My job this week entails stuffing the newsletters in the envelope, sliding the glue stick and sealing the envelope, sticking the stamp on, and sticking the label on these letters and newsletters that go in a silver cardstock envelope.

Stuff. Slide. Seal. Stamp. Stick. Stack.

I have 2,000 newsletters to do.

As I’m stuffing and sliding and sealing and stamping…I go to affix a mailing label and look down and my eyes pop.

Oprah Winfrey

What the heck? I look at the stack of labels in front of me and start to read a few more names. Warren Buffet. Donald Trump. George Lucas. Ralph Lauren. Holy moley, these are the type of people getting this newsletter? I go to affix Steven Spielberg’s address on his newsletter and am holding the corners tightly, trying to make sure it goes on perfectly straight. Right before I got to place it my right hand slips and it goes on crooked.

Sorry Steven.

Till next time...

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Job!

Allright, since this morning’s morning cup was basically a shot of espresso, here’s an afternoon mocha with some more caffeine and a lot of sweetness mixed in!

Yesterday morning was Matt’s day off but we still needed to get up early to go to the REI Issaquah’s one year anniversary staff event they were having at 8 am (I don’t understand morning people). We woke up a bit late and rushed out to door pulling on jackets and boots for our hike later that day. As we drove out east we were blessed with the sight of the Cascades and the base of Mount Rainier—usually all shrouded in clouds. In fact, in the two weeks Matt’s been working there he’s never seen those mountains!

We got to REI (late, of course) and the whole staff was assembled in the community room eating pancakes and listening to the manager talk about how well the store’s done and honor a few people. We got our pancakes from Dey (pronounced Yi—we met him earlier at the Flagship store remember? He interviewed Matt originally for this job, and now is actually paired up with him in a mentoring program) and then stood awkwardly between the door and the trash can since there were no more seats left. I had a Styrofoam cup (shouldn’t REI know better?) in one hand and a plate of pancakes in the other and awkwardly tried to balance them and eat but eventually gave up and put the cup on the serving table. After all the awards and honors were given out, people began to mingle and talk and I got to meet some more of Matt’s coworkers and his boss.

We had just bought some duct tape for my heels (to prevent blisters) and were headed out for our hike at North Bend when I chanced to check my email on my phone. It was a day past a week since my interview with Delta and I still hadn’t heard back from them. I didn’t want to put all my eggs in one basket, so I’ve been sending in cover letters and resumes to other openings as well…but my heart just sank as I sent one to a dentists’ office, a medical simulation technology lab, and even considered nannying again. I didn’t want to take a step backwards! I had just barely made it to the career position I wanted in marketing and in a field I loved (boats! Yes I’m my father’s child) and it was so disheartening to think of going all the way back to start. But these are tough economical times and I need to work (and soon!) so if that meant waitressing, then I’d need to get some comfortable shoes. I saw I had an email from Delta Marine…I read:

“Hi Kaitlynn,
It was a pleasure meeting with you […]Thank you also for your patience in allowing us some time to think about how we are positioned for 2009 and a storm, if one should hit us. We are very cautious of the uncertain economic times and are hoping for a prosperous year to come.”

My heart was pounding…did this mean they were going to play it safe and decide not to hire me? I kept scrolling down…

“In light of that, we would like to welcome you to our team!”

I looked up at Matt and a big ole’ smile spread over my face. “You got it?” He asked. “I GOT IT!” And we proceeded to produce a display of silly excitement and mushy kisses in front of one of his coworkers who was leaving.

I somehow managed to calm down enough to read the rest and realized there was an attachment with my salary and benefits so we went back into REI and to the lunch lounge computer where I opened it up. Now the salary was what I had been making at Grubb & Ellis, and was more than when I started at Driscoll, but quite a bit short of what I was making when I left Driscoll. After discussing how to approach negotiations with Matt and with Matt’s boss even (really nice guy—named Matt—who’s very business savvy) I called ready to negotiate but still willing to take the job no matter what. It turns out she was wondering if I could start working informally next week just doing the newsletter, and come in for half an hour that day for her to show me how and go over the benefits.

Matt and I had to cancel our North Bend hike, but we did end up going back to Discovery Park and having a wonderful hike there. One of the first things I said after I got the email was, “This means we can get a dog!!!”

Matt and I are definitely pet people. Not just pet people, animal people in general. We had passes to the San Diego zoo and once I start getting a paycheck we’ll become Seattle Zoo members as well. We get googley-eyed over every dog we pass, and are still like kids in that we point out every squirrel that we see when we go on walks. We weren’t allowed to have pets at our last apartment (we even considered a guinea pig), so two or three times a week we’d head down to dog beach in San Diego and play with other people’s dogs. Last night we were both up until 2 in bed with the laptop looking online for dogs—so to say we’re ready is an understatement! We have to wait until after our Thanksgiving vacation (I don’t want a dog feeling we abandoned it right off the bat!), but we’ll keep you posted!

After our hike I cleaned up and drove myself (yes, you heard me) to Delta without getting lost or frazzled! I met some of the office girls, found out my job for the next week, and when she asked if I wanted to go over the benefits I said yes. At the end of her explanation of the insurance and vacation hours and all that, when she asked if there was anything else I‘d like to discuss I said yes again with my heart in my mouth. I explained how I understood these economic times were difficult for everyone, but then went on to reiterate what I was brining to the company, and in light of my previous salary that I thought a middle ground between what they had offered and what I had been making was fair. She agreed and said she was sure that would be no problem! I was so shocked at how easy she was with it I thought, “Dang, I could have asked for more!” But it’s still more than I was making two months ago, and I’m at a high profile company in the field I want to be…I have no reason to complain!!!

That night our friends from college Thomas and Mica Kucera came over (Mica was kind enough to view the apartment before we moved up here, so we knew we weren’t being scammed or moving into a dump!) and we went out to Thai food. Matt and I went to their wedding in 2006 shortly before we were engaged, and since then they’ve moved up here and Thomas (who is in the Army) has served in Iraq. Mica sent “WA Update” emails and that was the inspiration for these “Morning Cups.” So even though its been (wow) a year and a half since we’ve actually seen them, it hasn’t really felt like it and we were really excited to reconnect with them.

After they left I remembered a bottle of wine I bought at Wilsons Creek Winery with Nadine on our wine tour that I’ve been saving for whenever I got a new job. The day of my interview I put it in the fridge to chill as an act of faith, and every time I would open the fridge and see the bottle it was a reminder to say a little prayer that God would provide a job. Matt and I shared a toast and put the rest away for a good dinner I’m making up tonight.

Well I’m off to a Queen Anne Artists’ Trunk Show—I’m finishing up my third cup of coffee and am buzzed and raring to go! Thanks to all of you who kept my job situation in your prayers—and in case you didn’t know my brother also got a job the day before I did at a high end men’s clothing store called John Varvados! We are truly blessed!
(now we just need a puppy…Lord? haha)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Charissa visits!

What is it about late nights that makes me prone to write?

 Leftover vestiges from my college days? 

I sit down in the middle of the afternoon with a cup of tea and stare blankly at a word document…I try to force myself to write and what comes out is mundane and banal. Yet at night—say 1:22 in the morning as it is now—words flow through me like tears from a teenage girl. I sit here swathed in my husband’s large warm shirt trying to type softly as he’s lying here snuggled up to my side making an occasional happy grunting noise when I rest my hand on his head. Well, you can’t fight the urge when it hits so here it is ladies and gents, your morning cup for November 13th.

Last Friday night we welcomed the first guest to our new home—my best friend/roommate from college and one of my bridesmaids Charissa. She got here on Friday night, and we all settled in to a few great episodes of Seinfeld before hitting the hay.

The next morning we woke up and drank our coffee on the patio as the sky cleared up in what looked to be a very stormy afternoon. We spent the day watching one of our Meg Ryan classics, walking all over Queen Anne, exploring boutiques and stores and of course, drinking coffee.

We started up the hill and stopped in every little store that interested us—many of them leaving me mumbling, “I’ve gotta take my mom or Ammah or Beth here…” as we wandered in vintage jewelry, adorable boutiques, and cutesy cafés. We explored pasta shops, peered in the window of a restaurant interestingly named “How to Cook a Wolf,” and stopped in an old fashioned game shop that made our heads spin.

We finally made our way to El Diablo, the same Cuban café where we got lunch and coffee and chatted beneath the brightly painted murals. A tour of Queen Anne Books and continued on our way. We ducked into a shop filled with beautifully carved furniture and Indian shawls and pillows and a GIANT Bernese mountain dog lying on the floor. We were instantly suckered in by his soulful eyes then he got us to rub his belly and we were in love. After we tore ourselves away from him, we continued walking towards the southern edge of the hill.

The leaves are falling by the bushel and carpeting the streets and sidewalks in yellow and red. We made our way to Kerry Park for the quintessential Seattle view, when we were suddenly distracted by a party of people dressed in an absurd amount of green.

“Is it a prom?” Charissa asked as we looked at the number of green dresses and tuxedos. I then spied what had to be the most awful wedding dress I’ve ever laid eyes on.

“NO…it’s a wedding,” I shuddered in horror.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!”

The bride’s dress was mostly GREEN. As if this wasn’t bad enough, it was a white strapless bodice with green boning and green ruching around the bust and green lacing up the back. To finish this work of art were gloves…if they can be called that…that look like something from medieval times. Large poufs just above the elbows led to a fitted arm that expanded to white bell sleeves. And she looked about 15. Contrasting her medieval throwback gown were her bridesmaids lime green dresses which would have better fitted a prom setting than a wedding. Call us awful but we just had to get a picture.

By the way, Matthew just woke himself up snoring and looked at me accusingly—haha!

The rest of the day we spent curled up and warm at home watching movies, talking, cooking, and enjoying the fact that we only lived 4 hours apart now.

The next day Matt was off and we took our first bus ride into downtown Seattle. After doling out the appropriate quarters we boarded the bus and listened to our energetic driver narrate the streets like a baseball radio announcer.

“And next here we’ll be rounding up on Mercer, yes Mercer folks, and after that we’ll be stopping off at the Wall Street of Seattle where all the millionaires come to play. Take a look outside folks you just might see one…”

We got off at Pike Place Market and showed Charissa around. I got my Market Spice tea which I first tasted after my mom brought it back from her trip with Charlene, and we spent a long leisurely afternoon walking in all sorts of shops and stores. After another bowl of that amazing clam chowder, we headed home.

That night Charissa left and this week has been a mish-mash of sorts. I’ve gotten to 
sleep in, take extra long walks, and wait impatiently by the phone to hear back from Delta Marine and see if they’re going to hire me or not. Yesterday I walked nearly 4 miles all over Queen Anne, found a new café where I stopped to read Jane Eyre (so what if it’s my 6th or 7th time?), wandered upon a new park with some awesome trees, and managed to make it home just before the heavy rain started.

Today Matt and I meant to get up and go to the Pike Place Market to pick up a bag of books Charissa left, but someone kept mumbling, “Mmm…snugglebumpkins…so nice…so stormy outside…nice and warm right here…” and kept convincing me to hit the snooze. But hey, can I really complain about a husband who wants to stay in bed late and snuggle with me? I don’t think so!

We did manage to make it to a new park located in Magnolia, called Discovery Park. This is one of the biggest parks in Seattle, and we donned our raingear and headed out. Though we only got 45 minutes there, it was easily one of our favorite places we’ve visited so far! Winding on trails through moss covered trees you feel as if you’ve been transported deep into the woods somewhere. It was raining just light enough to make the trees drip, and we decided rather quickly we’d soon be back.

So that’s the latest on us. I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything 
back from Delta or anyone else I’ve sent a cover letter and resume to for that matter—keep me in your prayers!