Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's Been Awhile...

Sorry for the delayed posting. Things have been incredibly busy for us, as of late. We survived Hurricane Ike, luckily with no real damage. Our back fence was blown away and the large tree in our front yard lost some branches. Our neighbors had whole trees blown down and next door had part of a tree land on his house, but it thankfully did not damage their home. We were without power for 5 days, and believe it or not, it wasn't that bad. TC and Gloria next door offered to let us plug an extension cord into their generator, and we were able to keep our fridge running and an oscillating fan as well. We brought a mattress downstairs and slept in the family room at night. It was way too hot to be sleeping upstairs without air conditioning. During the storm we camped out in the hallway upstairs, which was really the only place we could be where there were no windows. It was a very scary twelve hours. We could literally feel the house shaking and hear the tree out front slamming into the roof. Our neighbors said they were afraid it was going to fall, as it was bending a whole lot! We spent about a week helping out around the neighborhood, picking up branches and cutting down trees. At night everybody would sit out in their driveways and talk, so we would driveway hop and visit with whoever was outside. Jason went back to work about a week after the storm. I missed about a week and a half of class and my clinic was without power for two weeks. Things are back to normal now, and we have just been busy with our day to day lives. The only pictures I was able to take were with my camera phone, so they aren't very good. I will post a few though for everyone to see! I will write again soon! :)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Introducing Flip Flop!

I'd like to introduce you to the newest member of our family, Flip Flop. He was abandoned by his owners and fell into the hands of the good people at Briarcrest Veterinary Clinic, where I happen to work. Jason and I brought him home to foster for the weekend and we both fell in love. He is definitely not a dog we would typically be fond of (i.e. he is not a Boxer!), but his cute little spots and happy smile got the best of us! Flip Flop gets along great with the cats and he and Charlie Brown have become BFF's very quickly. Flippy looks like he is a mix of Chihuahua and Terrier, weighing in at a large 13 pounds, he has a small, muscular build, but a Chihuahua like face and Terrier energy. He does not seem to have been in a real home before, as he was terrified of chairs and is confused by air conditioning. He needs to learn better manners, which we are working on right now. "Pocket Dog", as Jason calls him, responds well to "no" and we are teaching him to sit. He is crate trained and sleeps in there at night, since we are not 100% sure he will not have an accident while out for the whole night. He is very excited to meet his new Nana and Papa who are coming for a visit at the end of October! And contrary to what the pictures say, he does NOT sleep this much. He's a little firecracker full of energy!

Remember the Alamo!

Hello all. I'm sorry it's been so long since I last posted. Now that school has started I have less and less time to do things. Anyway, last weekend we went down to San Antonio to meet Erin and Amanda for the weekend. It was about a 3-hour drive and on the way we saw all kinds of emergency and evacuation vehicles headed towards New Orleans to help the residents evacuate the city. Nearly 200 charter buses, 200 school buses, 100 cargo vans and 100 ambulances passed us heading East on I-10. We were a little worried about leaving for the weekend, as they were still not exactly sure where Gustav was going to hit when we left. But our neighbors and our work colleagues were all fairly confident that the hurricane was going to miss us, so we decided to hit the road for San Anton! When we got there it was all ready after 5 pm. I had to work earlier in the day, so we got a late start. Our hotel was right downtown convenient to the famous Riverwalk and to the Alamo as well. Originally named the Gunter Hotel it was bought by Sheraton a few years back. Luckily it maintains all of its old world charm and still has the original switchboard, mail slots, chandeliers, crown moulding and beautiful woodwork. It was a very nice place to stay for the weekend. We were able to walk anywhere we wanted to in downtown San Antonio. After checking in we headed down to the Riverwalk to check it out. It was PACKED! Being Labor Day weekend and all, we knew it would be busy, but there was barely room to move! There are a variety of shops and restaurants on the Riverwalk, many of them local to the area or to Texas. They also offer small dinner boat and tour boat rides through the area. We settled on a Mexican restaurant for dinner, claiming to serve "authentic Mexican", which turned out to be rather disappointing. The food was sub-par at best and the service even worse. After our meal we walked around some more and passed many other Mexican restaurants that looked MUCH better than the one we had chosen to dine at. We ended up walking almost the entire Riverwalk, which is unique because it is actually below the street. We decided to head back to the hotel, as we were getting up early the next day to go tubing. It just took us awhile to find our way back to the hotel! On Sunday we were up bright at early at 8 am, to begin our tubing adventure. We have heard from most people that the "initiation" into Texas consists of tubing down the Guadalupe River for the day. You are allowed to bring alcohol, so usually a large group of people gets together and brings coolers, food, radios, you name it and floats down the river for a day. The tubing location was about 1 hour north of San Antonio, so we stopped at IHOP on our way out of town to fill up on breakfast. Once we got into the Canyon Lake area where the tubing site is, we decided to go to a local gas station for some beer. Well, it was before noon and there were people lined up with beer in their hands waiting for the clock to turn 12 so they could buy their beer! It was pretty funny actually. Erin and Jason decided on a 6-pack of tall cans, while Amanda and I (smart girls that we are!) opted for water. Once we got to our tubing company's site we put on our water shoes (so nerdy!) and with cooler in tow, went to get our rafts. It's funny, they actually rent out coolers and rafts just for coolers. Erin and Amanda were smart and brought bungee cords with them so that we could hold our rafts together. We had the option of a smaller tubing trip which would be about 1 hour, or a longer one at 4 hours. We decided on the 4-hour trip and were all really pumped to get into the water! When we got to the docking area with our tubes we had to wait in line a little bit to get in the water. There had to be ATLEAST 500 people all ready in the water with beers in hand. The river was moving rather slowly so people were really close together in a giant mob. The water was freezing, so it made it hard to get comfortable when we were in the tubes. After awhile my thighs, which were in the water, actually went numb and turned red from the cold. The river is spring fed, which keeps the temperature cool all year round. It was a beautiful sunny day though, and luckily none suffered sunburns. We kept reapplying sunscreen so we all stayed safe from the sun's rays! The river had some rapids and some chutes on it, which kept things interesting. We hit one set of rapids that was very strong and it actually separated my tube from everybody else's and got me caught in some rocks. I had to jimmy my way out and I went cruising down the rapids. Jason had to hold his arms out and catch me or I would've been much farther upstream than the others! After we were done rafting we headed into New Braunfels in search of some good German food. It is a town that was established by German settlers over 150 years ago. Many of the towns residents are ancestors of the original settlers and just never left. New Braunfels is home to the world famous Schlitterbahn water park, which we are looking forward to trying out one of these weekends! We found a fabulous German restaurant called Oma's House. The food was amazing! We all ate until we thought we might explode, and then we split dessert. :) After that we headed back into San Antonio. We decided to check out the Riverwalk again and found a Margarita Bar that looked promising. Everybody was very tired after our day in the sun, so after 1 margarita we decided to head back to the hotel to get some sleep. On Sunday we got up and had breakfast at a restaurant on the Riverwalk. The hotel concierge had promised Amanda it was very good food. It was definitely not. Again, sub-par. We definitely struck out on food down there! After eating we went to check out the Alamo. Most people we have talked to said that it wasn't anything special and there wasn't anything worthwhile to see. But it still had some original buildings and they did a great job with the grounds and gardens. There was also all kinds of history available to read and also a really cool exhibit in the Bowie knife, or Arkansas Toothpick, as some like to call it. (Jim Bowie died at the Alamo). They also had display's of Davy Crockett artifacts, including guns, diaries and clothing he had worn. The mission was beautiful and it made me sad to think of what happened there. I should also note, that this site holds great meaning to many Texans, as it is a symbol of Texas freedom and of the Republic of Texas. It helped me to understand why so many Texans call themselves Texans instead of Americans. They were afterall, their own country, even if it was for just a short time. They fought hard for their freedom and are still proud of it today. We spent a few hours at the Alamo, and then decided to head home. It was in the 90s and we were all roasting. All in all, a great weekend! We are trying to decide what our next adventure is going to be. I am thinking white water rafting, Texas style!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Congratulations to a special couple!

My brother and his girlfriend of two years, Emily, are now engaged! He popped the question while they were vacationing with the rest of my family in the Outer Banks this past Monday. After a romantic dinner, they strolled on out to watch the sunset, where he then asked her to be his wife. My whole family is thrilled that she will soon become a Schroder. But, now there will be TWO Emily Schroders! Uh oh! I am very excited for her to be my sister-in-law. Congratulations to both of them! They are a wonderful couple and I know they will have a long-lasting and happy marriage together. :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Visiting the "Megaplex"

This past weekend we went up to Dallas to visit our friends Erin and Amanda. The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area is known as the "megaplex" to those who live in NE Texas. As Jason and I approached the city from the south, it just seemed so small compared to Houston, that the nickname megaplex just didn't seem to fit. Dallas is a VERY nice city. Erin and Amanda live in a 3rd story apartment in a trendy part of downtown. They are within walking distance to a plethora of restaurants as well as many stores such as Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft, and a variety of local stores as well. A few blocks away is a large neighborhood, that you wouldn't think to find in the city. It's filled with large, multi-million dollars homes on tree-lined streets, complete with fountains and parks. Beautiful.

On our arrival Saturday afternoon we were treated to a tasty lunch of roasted chicken, vegetables and wheat rolls that they picked up from a great local restaurant called Cowboy Chicken. It was extremely hot, so we just hung out at their apartment in the early afternoon. Charlie Brown came with us, so he was glad to just lap up attention and play with his toys. We also received a tour of the city from them. There is a trolley system that services part of the downtown business district and most of the communal areas seemed very well kept. We also drove by the "grassy knoll" where JFK was shot, and saw the building where Lee Harvey Oswald shot him from. In the window where the bullet supposedly came from is a mannekin of somebody holding a gun. (Sidenote: Come on! How could 1 person have shot him, considering the entry points of the bullets!) In the evening we went out to Champps to grab some dinner and to also watch UFC as well as the Olympics.

On Sunday morning we took Charlie Brown on the Katy Trail which runs behind their apartment. It used to be an old railroad track, but they've converted it into a bike and hike trail. After about 15 minutes of walking in the 90 degree heat (at 9:30 am!) we took Charlie back inside. He was exhausted. We then went to grab some breakfast at this great local cafe. The food was fabulous! Amanda and I got french toast that was covered in granola and served with fresh strawberries- Yum! Jason and Erin tried an omelettes, toast with strawberry butter and some oatmeal. After our fill we drove by a local high school football practice field. Apparently Erin has gone there to work out before, as it's open to the public. On the field are large tractor tires that the players use for workout purposes. They "flip" them over, using pretty much every muscle group to do so. Erin has flipped tires before, and Jason wanted to try it out. So, Erin and Jason each took a turn or two flipping over these monster tires. There was a smaller one there that Amanda and I flipped- it was hard! When we got back to their apartment we changed into our swimsuits and went to take a dip in their garden pool. It was refreshing and relaxing to spend time in the water talking and catching up with them.

The boys decided in the pool that they wanted to go back to the school yard and flip some more tires so that they could get a workout in. Apparently, this is some type of "Strong Man Event" (As seen on ESPN..) and so they obviously need to master it! Amanda and I stayed at the pool for a bit longer, then headed back to the apartment to change and await the arrival of our Strong Men. They came back tired and sweaty! We had to pack up soon after that and head on home. It's about a 4-hour drive so we didn't want to leave too late!

On the way home Jason filled me in on something he and Erin would like to do. Apparently we are going to be purchasing a few acres in Centerville (see previous blog) so that they can train for their own Strong Man Competition. Riiiight.......

All in all we had a great weekend and are looking forward to spending more time with them. We are planning on meeting up with them in San Antonio over Labor Day weekend, and I know it will be a great time.

Also, last Friday I had a job interview at Briarcrest Veterinary Clinic for a receptionist position. About 10 minutes after I left the interview I received a phone call from them offering me the job. I started this past Tuesday and it seems like a great place to work so far. Dr. White has been practicing for 36 years and has been in the same location for the past 32. He has an extremely loyal customer base. The Clinic serves cats and dogs as well as exotic animals. They also function as a rescue and find homes for cats, dogs, turtles, reptiles, whatever! There are 8 cats, 4 amazon parrots and 1 pit bull that call the Clinic their home. Some of these cats have problems and would have been euthanized if they had not found Dr. White's clinic. One is autistic, another has feline HIV, and we also have a little guy that is paralyzed from the waist down, but zooms around on his butt and front paws like it's nothing! The animals roam around all day and it's not uncommon for them to be on the counter, walking on your keyboard, or rubbing at your heels. I love being around the animals, and working in a fast-paced environment. It's a busy practice and so far I have found that the time just flies by! I definitely see this as somewhere I will be working at until I am done with school. I love animals, and I hope that one day Jason and I will be able to open up our home (with acreage!) to all animals in need of foster care before finding their forever homes.

Enjoy the rest of your week! :)

P.S. I included a picture of Charlie Brown because I'm sure many of you (his Nana!) miss seeing his cute puppy face!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Winding Down....

This weekend was really nice. On Saturday we were able to meet up with Jason's best friend Erin and his wife Amanda. They moved to Dallas a little over a year ago, and it is conveniently only about 3 1/2 hours north of us. So, yesterday we met halfway between Dallas and Houston to spend some time together. We had found a State Park located in the town of Centerville, and it advertised a lake for swimming and boating, as well as hiking and biking trails. When we got to the park, we found it to be extremely small, and the lake not very swimmable. (Is that a word?) We opted for a hike, and off we went trekking around the lake. After our hike, which we sat down at a picnic table to talk and eat some fruit. It was 111 degrees and we all needed a rest. Man this heat is really intense! Afterwards we went in search of a bite to eat, which proved to be rather difficult.

Centerville is an extremely small, sleepy town. Virtually nothing was open, except for one restaurant called Woody's that was located in a gas station. Using our trusty GPS we found another restaurant about 15 miles south of Centerville. When we reached it, we were rather disappointed. It was literally a small shack with a drive-thru window. We then stopped at the local gas station to ask them if they had any recommendations for local cuisine. They directed us to the Woodbine Restaurant. At this point we were all starving and probably would've eaten anything, even if it was cooked in a shack. Luckily, the Woodbine was fantastic.

The Woodbine is actually a B&B that serves dinner in the evenings. It's a beautiful historic hotel that was built in 1904. It is actually listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There was a sprawling front porch, as well as multiple back porches, a gazebo, and fish pond. The ceilings were atleast 15 feet high and the woodwork was breathtaking. Amanda and I both thought it was sad that such a beautiful building was in a location where it would see little business. The town it's located in, Madisonville, is known for it's mushrooms, and that's about it. All in all, it was a great day since we were able to spend it with such wonderful friends.

We have plans to go down to Dallas next weekend and spend some more time with Erin and Amanda. And, we are planning on getting together in San Antonio for the Labor Day weekend. It's nice to know that we have good friends that don't live too far away.

Today we went to Star Furniture and bought a new mattress/boxspring set for our bed! I'm very excited about it. We have been sleeping on our guest double bed, and now we can sleep in our queen bed again! Other than that we have just been recovering from our day in the sun yesterday.

We plan on having the insurance adjuster come out this week to check out the damage done to our things from the move. In addition to our kitchen table and lawnmower, we have found a few other things that will need to be replaced. Hopefully it can all be taken care of soon!

And, lastly, I am sorry that we have not posted any pictures yet. We currently do not have a working camera, so until then, you'll have to make do with just reading about our times down here!

Enjoy your week! :)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Heat, Humidity and the Headaches of Moving

So here we are, in Texas.

For so long it seemed that we had months before we were actually moving. But, the reality of the situation came all too quickly. We have been in Houston for almost 2 weeks now. It is definitely a change from northeast Ohio. The temperature has been in the upper-90s, flirting with triple digits for the last week now. And, with the heat index, it actually HAS been in the 100s. I can handle heat, it's never bothered me. But, this humidity is something else. I wouldn't mind it so much if we had the benefit of being 5 minutes from the Gulf so we could jump in and take a dip. But, we're an hour away. So, we suffer with the humidity and miss out on the benefits of living near a very large body of water. You can't have it all, right?

We left Ohio on Saturday, July 19th around noon. We had some last minute odds and ends to pack into the car, and goodbyes to make to our neighbors and our parents. Unfortunately, our main water valve broke that morning, and we were unable to drain the 75-gallon fish tank. We had been planning on bringing the tank and the fish in the car, but it ended it staying in Ohio. Jason is really upset about this, but is all ready planning on buying another one down here. Luckily, his friend Brian was interested in starting a cichlid tank, and Jason sold him his entire tank, stand, fish, and all the accompaniments for a great price.

After Big Al packed up the car, as he IS the Master Packer, we were on the road. We drove on Interstates all day Saturday, and ended up spending the night in Jackson, Tennessee, about halfway between Nashville and Memphis. I do not recommend staying in Jackson, ever. Not the nicest of towns. Next time we'll know to stay in Memphis. Then on Sunday we were up bright and early, and were on the road by 7 am. We drove on the Interstate through the entire state of Arkansas, until we made it to Texarkana. (Yes, I said Texarkana, we also passed a down called Arkadelphia... Right...) Texarkana, as you can guess, is half in Texas and half in Arkansas, hence the name. Very creative. Once we reached this town, we were forced to take state route 59 the rest of the way, into Houston. It was a VERY long drive. We would be going 70 mph, and then all of a sudden we'd have to go 25 mph, because we were in a little town. We actually passed a town where the population was 131 people. This is the Texas that most people probably don't get to see. We've decided that when we come home for Christmas (we're driving so that we can bring Charlie Brown with us!) that we will sacrifice a longer drive in order to drive solely on Interstates.

We reached Houston around 7 pm on Sunday night. We picked up the keys to our house from the Realtor, and went to have a look. I had actually never seen it before in person. I found it online,we had friends check it out, and Jason got to see it briefly a few weeks earlier when he was in town on business. After looking at the house we went to our hotel. We only slept for a few hours, because we were meeting the movers at 6 am on Monday morning at the house. They wanted to get started as soon as possible, because it gets hot very early here in Houston. They unloaded the truck and were gone within 3 hours. After that we were left with a huge house with lots of boxes and not enough furniture.

This house is enormous! Our house in Cuyahoga Falls was around 1500 sq ft, and this one is over 2400 sq ft. We have a lot more space than we are used to! We decided not to take a lot of our furniture, as we wanted to buy new furniture once we moved down here. So, basically we have an empty house. It looks pretty ridiculous. We have been looking at furniture, and will hopefully start to make purchases in the next few months.

We have found some things damaged in the move all ready. Our new kitchen table has all of the legs broken off of it, two glass bowls of mine were shattered, our lawnmower has a gigantic hole in the oil tank, scratches were found on both our DVD players, 2 pictures in their frames have been ruined, and a few other things. I guess that's a sacrifice you make when moving. Luckily we have insurance and an adjuster is coming out next week to assess the damage.

On Tuesday evening we went to the airport to meet the animals. We had them flown down with the Continental Airlines PetSafe program. My mom was nice enough to take both cats and Charlie to the airport, with the help of my sister's Natalie and Theresa. Everything went smoothly and when we met them at the other end, they were doing all right. We were expecting Toby to have had an accident, but luckily he did fine. We drove them back to the house, and let them explore their new home. They are all adjusting well so far. Although, Charlie has a very hard time with this heat. It doesn't help that he is a brachyphaelic breed and that he's white. He gets overheated very quickly and can't be outside for more than 15 minutes at a time. We hear that Fall down here is cooler, so we are hoping that he'll be able to spend more time outside then.

Jason started his new job on Wednesday, although there hasn't been too much for him to do as of yet. He has been supervising the installation of new cubicles and other office equipment.

This past weekend we went out and explored downtown Houston. It's very nice and they have done a lot to encourage people to come and spend time downtown. There a lots of restaurants, parks, museums and other things to entertain all ages. Also, their Theatre District is absolutely beautiful.

This past Monday, I started my job search. As of today (Friday), I have applied for 15 jobs. Wish me luck in finding one soon! I have school straightened out for the most part,and start on August 25th.

I hope that everybody has a great weekend and enjoys the beautiful weather! (If it's beautiful where you live, that is!) I think we are going to do more exploring; I'm not sure where we'll end up!


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