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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