Worst. Headache. Ever.

Each word in that title deserves to stand alone as its on sentence. When you read it, you need to pause appropriately to give each word the respect it deserves.

I'd had a headache for almost a week (since last Monday) when I woke up on Saturday morning it was as bad as ever.  I got up, brushed my teeth, took a sumatriptin pill (the prescription that I have for migraines, that is a generic of Imitrex), and went back to bed.  I knew that there was no way I was going to be productive with such an intense headache and was hoping to sleep it off.  A half hour later I took another pill (I can take up to 200mg - 8 pills) but nothing was changing.  In fact, it felt like it was only getting worse.

This was around 10 a.m.

I tossed in turn in bed for the next 2 hours.  I was in too much pain to sleep.  It hurt to have my eyes open, it hurt to have my eyes closed - there was nothing that I could do to make it any better. 

Around noon I got out of bed to use the bathroom, and in that instant, a wave of pain more intense than I had ever experience washed over me.  I grabbed my head, tears welling up in my eyes, and ran into our office room.   DH was on the phone with Comcast, but immediately hung up when he saw the look on my face.  By this point I was sobbing and shaking, and he decided that we needed to seek medical attention immediately.  I have suffered from migraines for many years, but never EVER before was I in so much pain or so distressed.  I have never cried over a migraine before, and this time I could even catch my breath, I was crying so hard. 

I managed to get dressed and put my glasses on - having a goal helped me to focus.  I got into the car and the motion intensified the pain even more.  I was squeezing a pillow for dear life and trying to breathe.  I kept grabbing the sides of my head with both hands and running my hands through my hair- even now, I'm not sure why I kept doing that.  It didn't really help me feel any better.

Anyway, even while experiencing the worst headache of my entire life, I was being fiscally responsible and decided that I did not want to go to the hospital because an ER visit would cost us $50.  Instead, I wanted to go to a MedExpress clinic near our house that I knew accepted our insurance would only cost $5 for the co-pay.  About 8 minutes away from MedExpress, we passed a different urgent care center that had just recently opened. 

"Let's just stop here, we can see if they take our insurance," I said to DH.  The motion of the care was so painful that I wanted nothing more than to get out of it.  At this point, I was willing to pay $1000 if necessary to the first place that could take me out of my misery.  My hands and arms were going numb, and I was feeling pins and needles in my back, stomach and on my face.  I seriously thought my brain was bleeding and I was losing circulation to my extremities (yes, I know that my back isn't an extremity - but at the time, I wasn't thinking logically.)  The pain was coming in waves, and it was hard to get through one while doing anything other than concentrating exclusively on staying alive.

Fortunately, the place that we stopped at did accept our insurance, and being that they were relatively new, had zero patients in the waiting room. Thank god. DH filled out my paperwork and within minutes we were in an exam room. 

I was still hysterical and could barely form words to even explain what was going on.  It was clear that I was in agony, so the nurse quickly took my temperature and blood pressure (the bp cuff did NOT help the numbness in my left arm) and left. 

The doctor came in, and after sputtering out a few more words to describe what was going on, he said, "I have a great fix for migraine headaches that we're going to try, that usually works every time."  The only catch?  I had to get 3 shots in the butt.

But did I care? No way.  I was beyond any sense of modesty and was more than happy to pull down my pants for three of the most painful, stinging shots I have ever gotten.  I was sobbing so hard that I'm pretty sure I made the nurse feel bad.  When I stood up, I couldn't catch my breath at all, and thought that maybe I was having an allergic reaction to the drugs.  It took a solid minute for me to be able take a breath and lay down on the exam table.  I closed my eyes and tried to will the radio music to stop playing ( it didn't work.)  

But within 15 minutes I was able to relax - the "edge" of the migraine was going away and my circulation was returning to my arms. The drugs worked, for the most part, although the headache was not totally gone.  I was able to leave a short while later, but spent the rest of the day in a drug induced state.  Every time I stood up for more than 60 seconds I got incredibly dizzy and sick to my stomach, so I spent most of the afternoon in bed.

Around 5 p.m. I needed to get ready for my sister's 40th birthday celebration, which was going to be a martini party... that was interesting since I could only stand for 60 seconds at a time.  Needless to say, it took me longer than normal to get ready for the party.  But I was just impressed that I was making it out at all after the horrendous day that I had.

To be continued....

Getting back to ME

After a serious of awkward conversations this past weekend, it came to my attention recently that this blog may have lost some of it's original focus.  I started this blog for myself, for me and to be about me.  But as I started getting into the blogging groove, I started sharing more, and started including others in my stories and pictures.  I forgot to consider that not everyone is as willing to put themselves out there as I am.  And so I need to take a step back....

You may recall this post from back in December, where I talked about how I struggle with my desire to be extremely honest and yet not overly offend or upset those around me.  It will be a constant struggle, I am sure, but it's good to go back to that every now and then to remind myself that this is about me, and no one else.

It makes me a little sad to realize that I need to be much more thoughtful in how I censor what I write, and in most instances it will mean omitting a great story, or a fun picture, or something else that I really wish I could have included.  I've even considered just quitting the blogging thing altogether, but I'm not sure that I could stay away for very long.  And then I thought about perhaps starting a completely new blog that I just kept totally personal, but I remembered that while I do write this for myself, if I knew that no one else was reading it, I'd quickly lose motivation.

Knowing that there are people out there who read this blog keep me motivated to continue writing in more ways that you can imagine.  Through this blog I've met some amazing new people, reconnected with others from my past, and have developed a way to continue to be connected with people currently in my life.  My network of "internet friends" continues to grow, and I absolutely love it!  A lot of people still can't imagine developing friendships online with people that you've never even met before, but in many ways, the lack of judgment and preconceived notions is freeing.  Sometimes - like now - I wish I could go back in time and target my blog to a more anonymous audience, instead of the family and friends that now make up the majority of my readership. 

But I can't, and I recognize.  So I recover from my one step backwards and prepare to move forward once again...

All of this is to say that you're going to be seeing a lot more (and hearing a lot more) of ME.  If you don't like reading about me, then.... well, you're going to be disappointed.  But I think in general this is going to be a move in the right direction, allowing me to focus on more thoughtful topics instead of the "what I did last weekend" sort of posts. (Don't worry, those aren't going away altogether, they'll just be framed differently.)

So, in many ways, this will be the "new" New Hartman blog - slightly modified and more personalized.  I hope you like it!

P.S.  From now on, my "dear husband" will be referred to as - somewhat appropriately - DH. 

My gardening "hobby"

I like to say that gardening is my hobby.  Truth be told though, gardening is work.  But there's something just slightly more gratifying about gardening - your success is measured in your output, and can only be increased by putting in greater effort.

For my colleagues in Student Affairs out there, I think that gardening a lot like PTP - Practice-Theory-Practice.  You start by gardening (practice). You see some success, you see some failure, but you don't understand why any of it is happening.  Then you start reading all of these gardening books and websites (theory), and you learn the theory behind those things that you observed but couldn't explain (what zone you're in, what grows best in each season, etc.)  Then you take that theory and you apply it to your practice (practice.)  If all goes well, you're going to see more positive results and you understand WHY you were more successful this time around. 

Here's a real life gardening example.  The first year that I did a garden, my lettuce didn't grow well at all - it was bitter and went to seed very quickly.  I then started reading gardening forums and sites about lettuce (exciting!).  Before I had NO IDEA that lettuce could only be grown in cool weather.  I had NO IDEA that lettuce seeds might not even germinate if planted in mid-summer.  Basically, I had NO IDEA about how to grow lettuce.

So what's the theory behind successful lettuce growing?

Plant seeds in the spring, even before the last frost (although there is some risk with doing this.)  If possible, plant lettuce in containers that can be pulled into a garage or other protected area if there is a risk for frost.  But, also know that lettuce is very delicate and needs to be transplanted veeeery carefully.  Ideally, plant lettuce seeds directly into the ground.  Also, if you want to have a summer crop, it is advised to start the seeds indoors, where there is air-conditioning.  Lettuce sometimes won't even germinate if it's too hot.

Now, isn't that a lot of theory to know about lettuce?  I think so....

So this year I'm trying to put some of this theory into practice, and I hope that with each year - armed with this new knowledge - I continue to improve my lettuce.

I'm conducting a few experiments.  First, I'm backing off on doing all traditional "leaf" lettuce and have moved towards healthier, greener leaves in the lettuce family - spinach and chard.  Both spinach and chard are extremely cold hardly so I'm working these 2 plants in 3 different ways.

First, I purchased young plants from Home Depot (in spinach only - we're not sure how much we're going to love chard yet, and didn't want to go overboard with it.)  

Second, I planted seeds in a planter.

And third, I started seeds indoors (along with a variety of other plants) in a greenhouse type setting.

But the greenhouse has been letting me down.  The problem I'm experiencing is that the seeds germinate really quickly and then the tiny plants overextend themselves as they try to reach for sunlight.  The stalks are all thin and white and sometimes just watering them can crush them.

On the other hand, the seeds that I planted in the planter (which have been left outdoors since day one) are popping up in nice, dark green little shoots.  I think that these planter plants are going to be the clear winners, as long as I can successfully transplant them once we have the garden up and running (which will hopefully be soon!)

Here is a picture of everything that I planted in the greenhouse:
     - Rosemary
     - Lettuce
     - Black seeded simpson lettuce
     - Chard
     - Spinach
     - Sweet pea flowers
     - Daisies

In the garden, I plan to plant (this list may change over the next few weeks):
     - Green beans
     - Cucumbers
     - Lettuce
     - Broccoli
     - Potatoes
     - Basil
     - Rosemary
     - Mint
     - Oregano (already in the garden from last year - it's perennial)
     - Red Pepper and Orange Peppers
     - Tomatos

This is definitely going to be the most that I've ever had in my garden at any one time, and I'm going to have to be crafty with the ways that I plant everything so that I can get it to all fit, mostly because last year we dedicated a third of the garden to strawberry plants. 

You'll definitely be hearing more about my garden for at least the next 2 months! Get ready!

The birthday dinner that almost wasn't

As I mentioned yesterday, Dave's dad and step mom came out to Pittsburgh to visit this past weekend.  They were originally supposed to come out back in February, but well... we all know what February was like.  Snowy and horrible.

So they rescheduled for April, and it just so happened to coincide with CMU's Carnival.

But the real reason for coming out was to take us out to dinner for our belated birthdays, and Dave and I were super excited to use this as our chance to check out the new Hofbrauhaus that recently opened in the South Side.  In our planning e-mails back and forth to his dad, we realized that Dave's dad had actually BEEN to the original Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany.  How cool, right?

Can you see the excitement in our eyes??? Oh wait, that's just cold...

So we wander in around 7:30 p.m. and I walk up to the lederhosen laden hostess and say, "Hi, can we put our name in?"  Only to get the response, "Sorry, we're not taking names anymore for tonight, but you can come back at 9:30 when we start doing open seating, or you can go down to our Bier Garden, which is outside."

Umm... Yeah. Thanks, but no thanks. 

Actually, we did end up walking down to the Bier Garden, but it is indeed outside and although there was a fire going, the smoke was blowing and we left, stinky and smelling like a campfire without even having a beer. I was definitely heartbroken.

So then we headed to Claddagh's Irish pub and ordered a drink.  The wait there was only about an hour, but after perusing their menu over a beer, we remembered that we had eaten there before and weren't really in love with their food.  Obviously, not a good choice then, as a place to celebrate your birthday dinner. 

And so our South Side bar tour continued.   Dave's dad and step mom were definitely being good-natured about our inability to decide on a place, and I decided that we should try the Cheescake Factory. 

The wait here was also over an hour, and I should note that by this time, it was already 8:30.  So we put our name in and headed to the bar area.  We couldn't decide - should we wait here and just be seated?  Or go back to Hofbrauhaus at 9:30 and take our chances at trying to get a table there once their so-called "open seating" started?  

As Dave and I were discussing, the buzzer went off that belonged to the group of people sitting at the bar table next to where we were standing.  "Do you want to sit here?" the nice man asked.  "Yes!" we exclaimed, showering him with kisses! (Ok, not true.)

But regardless, we were SO excited!  Finally! A table!! Hallelujah! And to top it off, we found out that we were even able to order dinner from here.  So why in the world would anyone wait for another table in the restaurant??  Oh well, doesn't matter to me.  

So we ordered drinks....

Mmm... pineapple mojitos... Best. Birthday. Drink. EVER. 

... And dinner.  But we were too excited (and finally tipsy) to remember to take pictures.  Instead of cheesecake for dessert, I decided to have one more mojito.  

Let's review - we started in Germany, traveled to Ireland, and finally ended up in what I decided would be called Morocco, based on this ceiling above our table. 

The birthday dinner that almost wasn't ended up being a amazing one, with a good story to boot.  You can't beat that!  


This past weekend was Carnegie Mellon's annual "Carnival," one of the greatest university traditions that I have ever witnessed.  Student involvement is incredible, and the events are really unique and memorable.  If you ever have a chance to check it out, I highly recommend it.   It's an event that draws students, alumni, and community members alike, and is really well orchestrated. 

I'm going to briefly highlight two of the main attractions that are part of Carnival - Buggy and Booth.


Allow me to over-simplify what "buggy" is - basically, a team of runners pushes a bullet shaped cart occupied by small Asian women to a finish line.

That's right - there's a human in that black thing

There's also some free rolling involved, in which the woman - who is laying on her stomach, face first - drives around curves and tries to avoid other buggies.

We weren't near the free roll area, but you can sort of see a buggy all by itself on that screen

And finally, here's a video of the end of a race - you can get a sense for how fast these guys are really running.

Here's the link, just in case the embedded video doesn't work:


Booth is the other major piece of Carnival.  Student organization - mostly fraternities and sororities - build large, house-like structures out of wood and decorate them around a theme.  Most are 2 stories high, although some are definitely more structurally sound than others.  Considering that most of the design occurs in less than a week, I am always amazed at how great the booths are. 

Here are just a few of the many.

You could actually "type" with the keys

This one had a functioning waterfall although you can see where much of the paper mache "rock" was destroyed during Friday's thunderstorm
See those animals up there?

A cute little display in the "Ice Age" themed booth (I didn't get a picture of the outside)

Dave and I were glad to be able to take his Dad and step mom (who were visiting us) to this.  Although it was bitter cold out the entire day, it was definitely a great way to spend a day.

And simply because this was just to ridiculous to not post, I give you this:

 Yep - those people, including one of their children, were walking around Carnival in stilts.  We later saw them walking them down Forbes Ave.  Only at CMU....


I had originally planned to work on some blog postings last night.  But around lunch time yesterday, I developed a migraine headache that overtook me so quickly I didn't quite understand what had even happened.  My migraine pills did no good.  My co-worker was off, so I couldn't just go home.  I stayed in the office, suffering miserably.  I don't even remember what I accomplished - probably nothing.

When it came time to leave, I debated just closing my office door and taking a nap on my love seat.  But I wanted to go home and sleep in my own bed, so I got into my car, only to immediately become stuck in horrible, completely stopped traffic.  Apparently a truck of bricks spilled on 279 North, snarling traffic for hours. 

If you are my Facebook friend, you might have noticed this post from yesterday evening:

Seriously - it was that bad.  It took everything I had to finish that drive home, arriving almost an hour later than normal, and I immediately crawled into bed.  

This morning, I woke up, feeling mostly better.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the only positive thing that came from that horrible migraine was that I lost 1 full pound between Monday morning and Tuesday morning.  

When I went into my FatSecret.com account to enter my weight for the day, I received the following message: 

"Warning! You are losing weight at the unhealthy pace of 7 pounds per week! If this is correct, click OK.  If you would like to change your entry, click Cancel."  

I clicked OK.  And wished like hell that I could actually lose 7 pounds in one week.  If that was the case, all of my problems would be solved by next Tuesday....


This past weekend we made a trip to Home Depot to return the tiller that we had purchased less than 2 weeks ago.  Frustrating, right?  But thankfully we did get our money back, and ultimately it was the cheapest 9 day rental of a tiller ever.  Unfortunately, we weren't done tilling when it decided to stop working, so our progress in gardening was greatly impeded. 

"But Lisa, what does all of that have to do with the title of this post?" 

Well, funny you should ask.

When we returned home from the aforementioned Home Depot trip, I gasped in utter horror when I saw this:

I was totally convinced that someone had broken into our house. 

But upon closer inspection we learned that was not the case.  Instead, it was just a storm window that was poorly secured by little "hingy" things that clearly weren't properly hinged.  The last piece that was holding that window in must have finally given way when were out, releasing the window and causing it to shatter to the ground. 

I bet Murphy was barking his little heart out when that happened.... I can only imagine.

So Dave spent Sunday morning cleaning up glass shards off of the sidewalk and out of the grass.  If you've even broken anything made of glass before (and if you haven't, then you're truly amazing) you'll know that glass shards fly in crazy ways, and that for days after the broken glass incident, you'll be finding glass in places that seem miles away from the site of the actual break.  Every time I walked out the front door another glinting piece of glass caught my eye.  I was afraid to take Murphy out that door, lest a shard of glass imbed itself into the pads of his feet.

So now we need to decide - should we replace it?  Should we let it be?  Should we take this as a sign that we should get a new door (the actual door is sort of awful - the handle doesn't work right and it leaks quite a bit of air.)  Unfortunately, buying a new door is definitely NOT in the budget right now, and after seeing all of the condensation that built up on the inside of the window overnight, I can definitely tell that those storm windows actually serve a useful purpose.  We're going to need to replace it before the next winter season... Fortunately, we have lots of time before that happens!

My favorite view of Oakland...

Every time I drive down Juliet Street in the heart of "deep" South Oakland, I marvel at the view.

The gi-normous (I know, I know... very technical term) Cathedral of Learning rising up out of what can only be described as city slums.  Pictures don't do it justice at all.  (If you're ever in South Oakland, drive down Ward Street, turn right onto Frazier, and then another right onto Juliet to experience the real thing.)

South Oakland is a funny place.  As a student, I hardly thought twice about living in those run down houses and apartments.  But now when I look back on it, all I can think is, "I can't believe that my parents let me live here!"  Or better yet, "I can't believe that thousands of parents let their thousands of students live here." 

South Oakland makes the list of the 42 neighborhoods throughout the country that are considered to be "student ghettos."  I honestly can't think of a better phrase to describe it.  It's definitely ghetto-tastic.

And yet South Oakland is one of those places that most Pitt students will probably always hold near and dear to their hearts.  I bet every single Pitt alum has at least one fond memory of walking down the dark and dirty street that is Atwood.  Or going to a party on Bouquet, or perhaps Meyran, or any of the other overcrowded streets lined with single family homes converted to house half a dozen or more college students.  Some of remember what used to be called Cumpies.  A some of us still frequent our favorite college bar, Hemingway's.

Most people look back on their college years with fondest.  But not many have the unique opportunity to work so close their alma mater.  I drive down Forbes Avenue every day, and I continue to marvel at how fast the face of Oakland changes from week to week.

There will be one more post later this week with some other great photos of Oakland that I took this past weekend at the water walk.  I'm going to see if I do anything fancy with Photoshop to jazz them up a bit!

Water Walk

On Sunday we participated in Amizade's annual Water Walk, an event to help raise awareness and money for women in Tanzania who spend the majority of their time walking back and forth between their home and their water source transporting water, since there isn't running water there.  Money raised through this event is used to purchase rain water harvesting systems, which are basically tanks that collect rainwater so that people don't have to carry it for miles and miles.

We started on the lawn of the Cathedral of Learning.

Nearly everyone carried a bucket...

And I quickly learned that I was quite adept at carrying my bucket on my head.

All in all, the event lasted just short of an hour, and we walked about 1 mile through Oakland and into Schenley Park.

Want to see some pictures of what it looks like in Africa?
Let me google that for you - http://lmgtfy.com/?q=carrying+water+in+tanzania+images.  It's pretty crazy... I was super proud of being able to balance my less-than-quarter-filled bucket with one arm.  Can you imagine carrying a full one without using your arms at all?  Impressive.

The Water Walk was a great way to spend a sunny spring afternoon, and hopefully it achieved its goal in helping to raise awareness and will hopefully allow Amizade to donate more water tanks to Tanzanian families.

If you're interested in learning more about Amizada, check them out at www.amizade.org.

And, as you might recall, the water walk was the first of two volunteer/service events that Dave and I decided to do this year.  In a couple of weeks, we'll be volunteering at the Pittsburgh Marathon!  Can't wait!


After some careful consideration, we have decided to jump on the refinancing bandwagon.  We're excited because we're going from a 30 year mortgage to a 15 year one, and in my mind, 15 years sounds SO MUCH better than 30 years.  I still can't wrap my brain around what 30 years looks like... Probably because it's more years than I have been alive.

Now, you should know that we weren't really going to have to take 30 full years to pay off our mortgage.  Because we made a large lump sum payment in the amount of somewhere around $28k shortly after we sold our last house, Dave thinks that we were on a trajectory to pay off our house in 16 or so years.  Not bad, really!

But by refinancing, we're getting a lower interest rate, which is part of the reason why we were able to get down to a true 15 year loan. With the lower interest rate and the 15 year term, this means that our monthly payment is going to be about the same as it was on the original loan, which means that we're "saving" at least one full year's worth of payments, which is roughly $15,000!  (This is assuming that we were really going to be able to pay off our last mortgage in 16 years.  Since that's just an estimate, it's possible that we're saving even more!)  Not bad considering that we're only paying $150 in closing costs!

I'm definitely excited about this and even though it won't change much for us in the short term in terms of saving money, long term it will be great to have our house paid off in 15 years (or less!)

If you have a mortgage and are thinking about refinancing, it really can be beneficial.  We are getting a lower interest rate, a shorter mortgage term, really low closing costs, and we don't even have to change banks/lenders!  This new mortgage is through the same bank so they were even able to use our original appraisal value, saving us a couple hundred dollars there as well!  Interest rates are still really low, but it won't stay that way forever!

Laura, of Life Happens, has been writing some great money related posts this past week.  Be sure to check her out!

My first 5K

***(Note: This post was supposed to go up yesterday.  So "last night" was actually Wednesday night, and "this morning" was actually Thursday morning.)***

Last night I completed my first 5k distance run on the treadmill!  Are you as amazed as I am????

I started with a 400m warm up, then did the 5k, and followed it up with an 800m cool down. (Don't I sound so smart speaking in metric?)  I don't know if I have ever been so sweaty in my life.  It also took me nearly 45 minutes, including the warm up and cook down - very slow, I know.  But I intentionally only set my pace at 5.5 mph because that's a pace that I know I can handle for a while. 

But this morning, both of my knees are really sore.  I already have one bad knee, and due to my tendency to favor it, the other one ends up suffering as well.  I need to do some research to see if there is anything that I can do after a run to alleviate the pain (I'm SURE there is, I just don't know what it is.)  And also perhaps to see if there is anything that could help prevent it in the first place.

If I can keep up the running AND start watching my calories like a hawk (I've been good over the past few weeks, but I'm pretty sure that I have the metabolism of a sloth, and thus if I don't exercise it doesn't matter how little I eat... I'll still gain weight) I might be able to reach my goal of 10 pounds in 8 weeks. It's not going as well as it did that first week... but nothing ever does, does it? 

A 3 bed dog

Before we even got Murphy, Dave gave me a dog bed as a Valentine's gift, as a placeholder for the dog that we would soon get.  Murph still has that bed, and he sleeps in it every week day when I Dave and I are at work.  Then, last year my mom gave me the L.L.Bean bed that her dog used to sleep on - he had long ago decided that he preferred sleeping in a plastic under-the-bed box lined with an afghan.  Then we bought Murphy the crate, and the L.L.Bean bed was a perfect fit.  The crate in the living room was like Murphy's bedroom - it was his own little space in the living room where he could be comfortable but still be near us.

But as you know, we recently we moved the crate into our bedroom.  It's too big to move back and forth every day, and we're apparently too lazy to bother to move the bed out of the bathroom and into the living room on any regular basis.  Murph, who hasn't really complained, started spending more time sleeping underneath the bed in the spare bedroom - away from us.  That's not really a big deal, except that when he's under the bed he actually sleeps, which means crazy dog a few hours later when we're ready to go to bed.  At least when he was laying in the living room, he would watch us and get up anytime we moved.  That meant less crazy dog at nighttime.

So yesterday we bought Murphy another - yes, his third bed.  He's got one in the bedroom, one in the bathroom, and one in the living room.

The good news? He loves it!! He's already started going to it whenever Dave and I are in the living room or dining room.  We put his little bed pillow in it so that it would smell more like him, and the best news of all?  It's the exact same color as our living room furniture!

It's probably hard to tell from this picture, but it's a dark blue-ish gray - is that a Crayola color?

Is it a little obnoxious to have 3 beds for our dog? Absolutely.  But we wouldn't have it any other way!

The Great Wall of Easter

I mentioned in my last post that we spent most of our Easter weekend building a wall.  Let's call it the "great wall of Easter."

Here are some "before" pictures:

Murph on his sunning pad...

And a side view...

As you can see, this part of our yard is ridiculous.  It is not practical for really any purpose.  Those random pieces of wood were essentially an attempt by the previous owners to create a border for a garden that was really just a massive hill.  To us, it was just more brown ugliness. 

So on Good Friday I did some major spring cleaning and Dave dug a trench at the bottom of that hill.

Then he filled it with gravel. 

Then he checked his level.  (Naturally.)

Meanwhile, Murph continued to lounge on his sunning pad.

I don't care if I'm in the way...

Then Dave picked up the blocks, and the wall began to take shape!  I should mention that he nearly killed himself transporting those blocks... they weighed 80 pounds a piece, and he had to push them up a hill and across the length of our yard, two at a time in a wheelbarrow.  He's tough, if you couldn't tell already.

A wall started to form....

And then, VOILA!

A wonderful, three-layered wall (minus one block.  Oops.)

Obviously there's still a lot of work to do: we need to get one more block, put on the top pieces, sort through the rocks and roots from the whole Dave dug and then figure out how we're going to layout the garden.  But all in all, I think it was a very successful project!

"Murph, what do you think of the wall?"

"Bark... As long as I can still get my daily dose of Vitamin D, I'm cool with it. Bark."


Happy belated Easter!

I hope that everyone had a fabulous Easter!  Ours was incredibly relaxing even though we spent much of the time working on our latest project.... building a wall.  I promise that there will more about that in the near future.

In the meantime, let me just say that I love the springtime.
Two weekends ago these little crocuses sprouted and were in full bloom. I'm pretty sure that crocuses sole purpose in life is to assure humanity that winter WILL end sooner or later, and to give us hope for the spring.  Mother Nature is so thoughtful...

Aren't they pretty?

Because - as I'm sure you can all recall - it wasn't so long ago that the world looked like this.

I officially hate winter

So here's to spring!

(Regular posting to resume soon - I promise!)

In the fall we rake leaves....

... and in the spring we rake leaves.  We rake leaves all. The. Time.  I hate it.

But at least in the spring, raking those ugly, brown soggy masses results in the exposure of new, green growth underneath!  Spring is so much better than fall for that reason alone...

See all that green!?!? It means spring!

Can you believe that it took me over 2 hours to clear one-third of that hill?  No, I'm not an incredibly slow worker (well actually, maybe I am, but that's not the reason in this particular case...), it's because I was harvesting gravel.

You see, the long, snowy winter meant lots of shoveling.  Lots of shoveling meant throwing lots of gravel into the hill.  Gravel in the hill not only looks stupid, but it kills the plants.  So I spent about 4 hours (not including the 2 spent on the leaves by themselves) picking gravel out of the mulch and leaves.  Not fun work, let me tell you.

Thankfully, I was alone....

I'm taking off work today and that means more yard work! It's supposed to be a beautiful day - here's hoping!

Update on "Goal - 10 pounds in 8 weeks"

On day 4 of the "10 pounds in 8 weeks" goal, and I'm proud to report that I've already lost 2 pounds! 

I'm celebrating, but not too much.  Remember the other day how I mentioned that I think I gained about 3 pounds last week?  Well, those are always the easiest pounds to lose, so I won't be surprised if I lose another pound in the next couple of days.  It's the remaining 7 that's probably going to be the death of me.

The other challenge?  I'm not working tomorrow.  Not being at work means a less structured environment through which I can control my eating.  At work I only have what I brought with me that morning.  I don't keep snacks in my desk (aside from gum, which is zero calories.)  When I'm home, I have access to soooo much food.  The temptation is constant, even if it's food that I don't really like. 

Would it be totally ridiculous if I set aside all of the food that I want to eat tomorrow and put it in little ziploc baggies and tupperware containers and only let myself eat that?

Really, who am I kidding?  Dave's mom is coming out tomorrow night, and we're going to happy hour at my absolute most favorite restaurant in the entire world - Mad Mex.   Even though the cheese-less chicken burrito that I always order is relatively low-calorie (at least as far as restaurant food goes), I'm fairly certain that at least a couple of beers are going to be involved.  But as long as I'm strong earlier in the day, I feel like I can maintain this weight loss.  My problem always is that the weekends ruin all of the hard work that I do during the week.  That's the trend that I need to stop - pronto. 

Weird places we put our dog, Take 3

Actually, let me edit that title... to"Weird things we put on our dog."

And I'll let the pictures tell the rest....

"I can see clearly now the rain has gone..."

What's that over there!!??!!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again...

Most. Tolerant. Dog. EVER.