Sunday, August 24, 2008

Stephen M. Miller Memorial

Originally uploaded by Christsstar

On July 10, 2008, Stephen M. Miller passed away. We only knew him for a short time, but we knew he was a neat man with a big heart. Stephen was our landlord. We signed the lease in May, and the first of June he went into the hospital for an infected heart valve. Unfortunately, he had multiple secondary infections and his time on earth ended.

Stephen was a dog and nature lover. He had three dogs himself, and took them for walks frequently in various parks throughout Oakland. His life was honored through a memorial walk at Sibley Volcanic Regional Park, followed by brunch at a local cafe.

We were invited to celebrate his life with his family and friends. It was an honor to be invited and spend time with those who knew him best. We heard many stories about him and our house. While we didn't know Stephen for very long, the Stephen we knew was "the real deal." He was not a faker and he didn't put on any sort of show for us when we met. I am happy to know that the memories I have of this man are realistic of who he was.

His daughter is taking over his estate and has already proven herself to be a good landlord for us.

Stephen M. Miller Obituary

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

School Supplies

I love school supplies. Something about the new paper, new pens, new notebooks. The new notebooks in fun colors are a change from the previous year. The new pens that write perfectly and don't leak. The paper that's bright white and perfectly flat without any creases or marks.

A clean slate, ready for anything for the next year. New friends, new teachers, new classes, new adventures. Nobody knows what the next year holds. Nobody knows what will be written on the crisp, clean paper. What stories will be written on teh new paper? What lessons will be learned in the seats of the classroom????

The novelty of the new year is so exciting for me. I'm not even going to school this year, but going through the kids' school supplies and sepearating and organizing them for our household satisfied my curiosity enough for now.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Book Review: Harvesting the Heart, by Jodi Picoult

Harvesting the Heart Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Another Picoult book that kept me from sleeping and on the edge of my seat, although not as much of a socially controversial topic as the other two I've read.

At 18, Paige has run away from home to escape her past, hoping to find herself in her future. She meets Nicholas, a surgical resident from Harvard. They are engaged by their 4th date and cut off from his parents.

A relationship that starts out as romantic and fairy-taleish as possible gets harder and more realistic as life goes on. After 8 years of marriage, Nicholas working to be the chief of cardiothoracic surgery, and Paige working 2 jobs just to make ends meet, she gets pregnant.

Paige never had a mom growing up. She doesn't know anything about babies. Nicholas is away all the time. They have no family who they can call for help. Paige has no idea what she is doing and Nicholas comes home every night exhausted and seemingly unwilling to help. Then she just breaks. A quick trip to the store turns into a 3-month excursion to find her mom and connect the pieces of her present with the brokennes of her past.

Meanwhile Nicholas is trying to be a doctor and a single father of a 3-months old.

Paige eventually comes home, but not to what she left. Her heart is different, his heart is different, and the truth starts to make its way to the open.

I really loved this book. I couldn't put it down. I could see the rolling hills of North Carolina, I could hear the sounds of the hospital, I could smell the smells of a baby, I could see the look in Paige's eyes. Picoult does a phenomenal job holding my attention and of course making me think of any of my future babies, my own mom, and how I will be as a mom.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


One of the challenges of being in a house as opposed to an apartment is exercising. It was easy (once in the habit) of going to the weight room and cardio room at the apartment to work out. The equipment was there, the ipod was charged. Josh and I were faithful for months to work out.

then we moved.

Now, in a house, we have more expenses and no gym. Memberships are too expensive right now for us to justify it. So we strapped on our running shoes and started running through the neighborhood. Let me tell you, I HATE running. I'll ride my bike 40 miles, I'll do jumping jacks until my arms fall off, I'll march 4 miles in the snow carrying a 70 lb tuba ... but I cannot run. My feet get numb, I get dehydrated, I can't see where I'm going and my glasses dont' stay up, can't carry the ipod right, I can't breathe despite my training as a wind musician, my knees hurt, I don't have the right clothes ......... My excuses could go on for pages. But I need the cardio and my bike isn't working right since we moved.

OK. I'll try running.

I found knee stretches and a podcast on itunes (thanks to my Crosswalk ladies) called Couch to 5k. I'm not sedentary, nor I overweight, nor out of shape; but my body DOES NOT run. So I thought this podcast would do the trick. It's an interval program, run for a minute, walk for a minute, while listening to music. Every week the running intervals are increased a little bit more, then before you know it, you've run 5K in 30 minutes. (OK ... it takes 10 weeks to do.) I started doing the program and I was exhausted after the run. I didn't think I would ever make it. it's so hard. But I kept at it. Suddenly I was at the end of week 5 and ran for 20 min nonstop. Holy cow!!!!!

Then I went on vacation, we got a dog, met the new landlord. Obstacle after obstacle and I didn't run for 2 weeks. Last night I went running again and holy cow I was so tired. I couldn't do the whole program again. I feel like I fell backward 2 weeks.

But ... I was out there doing my thing.

I'm not a runner yet, not sure if I ever will be. But I can do it and it will get me my 20 min of cardio to stay in shape.

I still HATE running though.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

8-5-08 ....

I've been busy lately.

Late last week I decided I was tired of fighting with my printer and it's network issues and finding ink for it, so I went and bought a new one. It's a little slow, and not nearly as crisp in photo printing, but it's nice to have a printer connected to my Vista system. With my new printer I addressed wedding invitations. Got those stamped and in the mail this morning.

Friday I decided I was getting sick, Saturday I was no longer in the "getting" category ... I WAS sick. I wasn't too surprised since Larry (my bil) wasn't feeling good the last day of our vacation in Michigan. I found out that my nephew got sick too. So aren't we nice people? We get sick in Michigan and spread it to all ends of the country (NY and CA).

We moved into our new house May 15th. On July 10th, our landlord, Stephen, passed away ... ultimately from a heart valve infection. He was in the hospital for 6 weeks battling various infections in different body parts before his system finally shut down. His daughter, who lives in New York, is taking over his estate. Tonight she is coming over to meet us and see the house for the first time in a long time (if ever). She had heard through the grapevine that there were some workmanship concerns in the house. (Stephen was a DIYer to the max and wasn't the best at it; he freely admitted he hated plumbing.) She wants to walk through and see any areas that might need to be fixed. She's also going to reimburse us for the repairs we've already done.

So Saturday we spent the day cleaning the house and getting it organized so she can see what she has inherited. We spent last night organizing all of our Home Depot receipts and calculating how much we've spent on the house. I feel like she's going to think we're either a) whiners or b) destructive people. I hope that we can make a good impression on her.

But wouldn't luck have it that this morning: Josh went to the fridge to get the lunchbag out; the egg carton was frozen to the wall of the freezer and everything was warm. The freezer had frosted over the compresser and the vent into the fridge. So he spent the morning defrosting the fridge. On the plus side, however, he had extra time this morning because he had a dental visit to make. We also noticed yesterday that our spigot to our backyard hose is leaking. The knob is as tight and closed as it will go and it's really coming out ... more than just a slow drip. YAY us! Something else to tell our landlord about. Hopefully it's just a valve issue and can be cheaply fixed. But while we're at it, we're going to ask for a new hose ... the current one has a leak that is sealed with duct tape. sigh....

This weekend we got a dog. Poor timing I think. We had friends who had one and couldn't keep her. She just wasn't working out. Since we had to find a new home for Zoe (our kitty), we were empathetic and wanted to help out. Strangely enough, our lease allows for dogs, but not cats. Don't ask. She's three, an Australian Cattle Dog mix, spayed, up to date on vaccinations, and her name is Sheila. She's very sweet, but has never been through training. Our friends paid for a training class for us, so we start that next month. She's mostly house-broken, but has occassional "nervous/submissive urinating" episodes. We've discovered she's primarily an outdoor dog anyway, so that shouldn't be a huge concern.

And all that's just happening when we're not at work. I'm happy for work, it keeps us away from the craziness of home.