Saturday, December 31, 2011

A South Dakota Christmas

I. Love. My. Family.

And not just in the you-love-them-because-they're-family kind of way. I would CHOOSE to love them if they were not my family.

I feel so fortunate to have spent 5 days back on the Kienow farm, surrounded by family. I miss them all so much when we are far away, but a few hours back...and it's like there has never been any time or space between us.

Additional reasons why this Christmas rocked:
1. The weather was PHENOMENAL. If global warming means winters like this year in SD, I may have to change my voting sign to "R".

2. My goofy family is hilariously goofy. Case example 1: Amy's boyfriend, James, joined us for his first holiday...I can only imagine what he thought. "You don't want to go to town? Really? Well, ok. But don't snoop around." Case example 2: We all played Kinect. Even mom and dad...they bowled COMPETITIVELY with each other...followed up by a boxing match...which mom won.

3. My mom is a decorating GENIUS. I have never, ever, EVER seen the halls decked quite like my mom's house this year - except maybe in House Beatiful. Things were lit up all over, with the lights reflecting in chandeliers and sparkly things...very blingy...and everywhere you looked there was a little Christmas cheer looking back at you.

4. Extended family bonding is brought to you by Winchester, Ruger, and Beretta. Dude. We all shot guns on Christmas Day.

5. Food tastes better with family. Steak. Ham. Turkey. Shrimp. Sausage. Potatoes. Stuffing. Jambalaya. Salads (for good measure).

And of course...Oyster Stew. Come on, people! It's seriously the best.

6. And finally Napping. Much napping. Because everyone needs a little break from family at some point, too.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Memories of Bella

Bella was such a good friend to me. I got her in the winter of 2004, after I graduated from college and I was interviewing for jobs. Jeff was still working at Coke in Rapid City and was super busy. I was so lonely, and I really wanted something to love.

A few months later, we packed up and moved to Minnesota. She sat with me in her kennel for the whole road trip, and meowed until Pierre, I think. Those first few nights it was just us, an air mattress, our fish, and Bella. We had nothing else in our tiny apartment (our stuff had not arrived yet) and woke in the middle of the night to what we thought was the fish tank water gushing out. No - it was just Bella, who had gotten curious about a Target sack and somehow got the handle of it stuck around her belly. She hated crinkly sacks after that.

We have moved three more times since then. In our 2nd apartment in Minnesota, she loved to go outside on the patio in the spring and summer, while we sat with her and enjoyed the fresh air. This was the beginning of taking her out on supervised outside time. She LOVED to chew on any kind of spiky grass.

Bella loved to play with a few particular toys - especially jingly (when he was in his glory) and the throw-the-mousie game and her boomerang, LOVED her kitty bed, curled around my head in the morning and slept on the corner of my side at night, aircraft-carrier launched onto the bed when she was hungry, and would beg and beg for canned tuna and chicken. Oh, and she would try to drink out of your water glass when you weren't looking. She sat on my lap pretty much every night...she particularly liked to sit on a brown pillow that's on my lap. (She is a princess and wanted to perch perfectly.) She would roll around and 'kitty-whore' when she was really happy (included above).

She was a really vocal kitty. She always seemed to know when jumping up with a "BRRRREOW" would cheer me up, make me laugh, or be totally unhelpful (it didn't matter, she would do it anyway). She liked to respond in little meows when I would talk to her - which I hate to admit, I did pretty often.

She was a great kitty. I am sad our move to Georgia seemed to mess with her spirit - she was just never the same after we got here. We saw glimpses of our old girl all the time, but she just wasn't the same kitty, and deserves better - to go to her nice, new home...with an older single lady and her other 2 kitties. I hope she is happy. I will always wonder. And to cope, I will continue to tell myself she is doing great and we made the right choice.

Goodbye Bella.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bella's Last Day

We finally found a home for my girl, Bella. A co-worker of an old colleague of mine is going to adopt Bella this afternoon. We are meeting her after work.

I am heartbroken to have to say goodbye to my sweet girl after almost 9 years, but I am hopeful she is going to a home where she will be so much happier.

Jeff and I gathered up all of Bella's favorite things:
- Boomerang toy (the end of a rubber shoe insert...she loves it)
- Great White Mousie (a GIANT toy mouse)
- All of the little mousies that get thrown and chased
- Green Froggie and the Butterfly (catnip crinkle toys she's had forever)
- Jingly (a yellow wand with a orange toy and bell on the end)
- Prescription kitty treats for her gums

And also gathered some logistical items:
- Her kitty bed
- Airplane carrier
- Hardside carrier
- Medical records, shot records, and microchip information
- Extra food and container

It will be so hard to say goodbye today. I will miss her so much.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pot Luck Lunches

I LOVE POT LUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!

We had our holiday pot luck lunch at work today and it rocked!!!!!!

I brought a giant crock pot of my famous chili (mom's recipe) that was half-venison and half-beef with 3 kinds of beans.

There was also homemade mac & cheese, several meatball varieties, cheese / veggies / dip, sandwich fixin's, lasagna, spanakopita, and a bunch of desserts. FORTUNATELY, I only remember the cut-out Santas and Ooey Gooey Butter Cake from desserts - I "limited myself" to 3 cookies and a small bite of cake.

I later found out that cake has 2 sticks of butter, a package of cream cheese, and a box of powdered sugar. (Likely about 8 Weight Watcher points.) Oops.

Oh well. Worth it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hiking Adventures

Jeff and I are into hiking. It's official.

And we are REALLY into it. Over the long Thanksgiving weekend we went twice. And then again this past weekend.

On Friday after Thanksgiving, we headed to FDR State Park ... and 'accidentally' went 7 miles. Of rolling hilly mountains.

My body was not ready for this - my leg cramped so badly on the way home that we literally had to stop at a rest stop, lay down the seats to make way for cargo in the Jeep, and I laid down with my leg stretched out the rest of the way home. We also did not pack enough food or water - only 2 Clif bars and 64 ounces of water for the two of us...for almost 5 hours (oops). We obviously did not intend to go as far as we did - but we made it!

We vowed to do a shortie in celebration of our anniversary a couple days after, on Sunday, November 27th. We went to Sweetwater Creek State park and dropped off a "Seven Year Itch" Travel Bug in the geocache in honor of our anniversary. We did a much more manageable 4.2 miles.

This past weekend we went to the nicest private nature reserve I've ever seen, Dauset Trails. We shared the trail with mountain bikers (those dudes and chicks are SERIOUS) and kicked that trail's butt. It was relatively flat compared to what we've been doing, so we went for SPEED and increased our moving average by almost 0.5MPH. YIPPEE!

And lest I forget to mention...these were all done with my new best friends, Trekking Poles. I seriously want to use these poles just walking from my car into work...I LOVE THEM!!!!!!!!!!! (Thanks Lois, for introducing me to the concept.)