Friday, January 19, 2007

Happy Birthday Ayla!

Ayla is one year old!

She's finally healed from straining her leg, so after I got off work today she got to go to the park for the first time in TWO WEEKS! She was so excited to be there and ran around like crazy, played with the other dogs, chased the ball, and was her usual deliriously happy self. People at the park even sang "Happy Birthday" to her!

After the park we went to the pet store and chose a big rawhide treat. She wasn't really interested in any toys, so that's all she got. The Nutro saleslady gave her cookies, and Ayla got to say hello to her trainer Melissa, whom she adores.

Ayla pretty much got all the treats she wanted today, lots of play, and lots of love. She even got a birthday email from the couple that has her sister, Ember. How sweet!

Happy Birthday Ayla, I can't believe you're growing up so fast!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bathroom Renovations

The home improvement bug has struck us again! We spent all last week working on door moldings after work. Seriously, we'd both get home from work and start measuring, cutting, sanding, nailing, spackling, sanding some more, and painting. We did manage to get all new moldings up on the doors and get a good start on finishing them. It takes a lot of work to get them perfect, at least for inexperienced handy-men and Chris and myself. But we'll get there, some day. At least it looks pretty decent now.

On Saturday we went shopping at Home Depot for bathroom items. We found a pre-assembled vanity we really liked, and a countertop with inset sink to fit on top. Now my Jetta can haul a lot of stuff, and we've had many fun adventures trying to fit stuff in there and get it home without it falling out the back, most recently being a six-foot cat tree we brought home from Costco. But there was no hope this time, so I went to the Customer Service desk to ask about renting one of their pick-up trucks - stike one. Apparently, if you want one, you have to get there right when the store opens because they get rented out quickly. So we went home to shop online and see what delivery would be. However the is an awful, non-user-friendly site; one of the worst I've used (and as a professional purchaser, I use many!) - strike two.

We stopped by the local Budget rental car office and picked up a ten-foot moving van (no pick-ups available). Have I mentioned how much I like driving moving vans? It must run in the blood, since my uncle is a truck driver. We head back over to the local Home Depot and Chris goes in to buy the items, only to find the vanity we'd liked was gone! Well, we wouldn't be deterred, so we went to the Home Depot in Pleasanton. They ended up having one we liked even better. Score! We made our purchases, loaded the heavy items into the truck, drove home and somehow unloaded and got everything inside. I still don't know how, because that stuff was heavy!

The next day we had a wonderful visit from Duncan, Sara, and little Collin. We were a little apprehensive with how Ayla would do. Children's voices tend to set her off barking, and while she's not much of a jumper, she hasn't been around little kids much. Add on top of that the strained paw/leg that led to a week of forced inactivity, hence a wound-up dog, and we thought things would be... interesting. But she did wonderfully! She greeted Duncan and Sara outside like she's always known them and inside she had a blast chasing Collin as he ran up and down the hallway, never touching him at all. She was such a good girl, and when she could see him the little kid sounds didn't bother her at all. That's my girl!

After the family headed for home, we got down to business in the bathroom. Chris tore out the existing couter, sink, and cabinet. After a lot of finesse, learning about plumbing (our new sink is about 6" to the left and 3" higher than the old one, so we had to learn about piping to connect it), and a lot of work, we got the new vanity installed. Its awesome: we each have three drawers, space under the sink, and the coolest feature, a huge bottom drawer the width and length of the vanity. I put out old hardware from the first remodel back on since we like it so much. And the new counter and sink are one continuous unit made from cultured marble. We really like it.

Monday we removed the old toilet (shudder) and put in the new one. It was surprisingly easy. Although at one point scraping off the old wax that the unit seats on, I realized my fingernail had torn my glove and I had old gross toilet wax on my hand. I promptly screamed like a little girl, tore off my glove, cleaned up, and then got back to work; Chris was amused. After that the installation went quite well. The new unit is taller than standard toilets, by 3", which is neat. The coolest part is the new seat. Its a quiet-close seat, so you just flip the lid down a little and closes slowly and quietly on its own. No more accidently dropping the lid and it crashing down, threatening to shatter the porcelin and send rivers of water everywhere that should really be staying in the bowl. Yippee!

We have also made a neat frame for the mirror out of more molding and rosettes. Its been hard getting it in the proper spot and staying up, but I think we've got it now. And it really makes a world of difference in the look of the whole room; its much more refined.

Still to do: glass shower doors, new medicine cabinet, some tile accents above the shower unit, and maybe a new faucet fixture. Then we're headed to the kitchen... And if you made it this far, I'm sure you're just riveted by my account of our home improvement escapades and can't wait for the next installment.

Saturday, January 6, 2007


So here's my belated Christmas post:

My winter break from work started out fun. December 20, 21, and 22 I spent with food poisoning. That was fun. I'd rather not think about it now...

The Saturday before Christmas we packed up the car with our luggage, presents for family, and the pup and headed up to my parents' place for the holiday. Along the way on Highway 50 before Echo Summit we stopped to give Ayla her first taste of snow. I think she hated it. All her toes were splayed out to keep her balance on the slippery hard pack, and she was very unimpressed when Chris lifted her over the burm and put her in the snow. She shivered so hard! We felt bad and she wouldn't do her business, so we packed back in to the car and got on our way. Dobermans aren't built for cold weather, especially princesses!

Ayla walked into my parents' house like she owned the place, which she pretty much did. She followed my dad around like his little shadow and play bowed for him all the time; she really enjoyed playing with Clayton; and she got lots of love from my mom. And Ayla absolutely loves hanging out with Phantom and watching what he does. He's a great influence. :)

Chris' dad, Don, came up on Christmas morning. Ayla didn't quite know what to think of him, I doubt she's ever met anyone so tall. We all opened some really nice gifts (thanks, Clay - I wear my new gloves every day!). We had some great appetizers during the day and played the Monopoly Here & Now Edition. All the pieces, properties, etc., are updated to current times and players can make side deals, and it was a blast. I was this close to beating Don, but in the end he prevailed. Beginner's luck I say! :)

Then we cooked a wonderful Christmas dinner. My dad fried a turkey in the backyard and everyone gathered to watch the lowering of the bird into the oil and the later removal of said bird. It was really quick, tasted great, and who can resist the danger of boiling oil and an open flame in the backyard? We also had stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, and salad. For dessert, we had pumpkin cheesecake and apple pie. Yummy!

We all left the next day. When Chris and I got home, Gretel let us know how upset she was to be left over Christmas and meowed all night! But she was happy to have us home and became the snuggle-bug she usually is.

We spent the rest of our break on another home-improvement blitz. I painted the bathroom and a wall in the kitchen. We installed a new bathroom light that we picked up at Costco which matches our bathroom decor quite nicely. We cleaned out a bunch of stuff and got everything organized. We bought a new entertainment center and put it together, painted it, and made our living room nice. I'm sure there's more we did, but its all a blur now!

The first week back at work was pretty busy for both of us, and Ayla is getting re-settled with our usual schedule. The weather was rainy and cold during the week, but its beautiful now. This weekend has been great so far. I've sold a couple things on Craig's List that we no longer needed, and extra money is always good. And Chris and I kicked a@! just now playing Gears of War on XBox Live against Clay and my dad. Love you Dad, don't take it too hard! :)

Anyway, more of the same expected for tomorrow. Hope everyone had a great holiday season and Chris and I send out our best wishes for a spectacular New Year!