Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Decorations Still Hanging

I’m only writing because it’s been a while. Not really because I have much to say. Unless you read this and see that it’s super long – then I guess I thought of something.

The holidays came and went fast. We spent the actual Christmas Eve/Day with the Rausch and Miles families. Christmas Day night, my family came up for our kinda-sorta-annual Christmas Day movie tradition. That weekend we spent Christmas with some of the Greggs and Leaders. Two of my high school friends got married that weekend at home, so that worked out convenient for us.

New Year’s Eve we spent in Hawarden again, playing board games with my family and my sister-in-law’s family. Played: Squares, Pop 5, Buzzword, Apples to Apples. It was fun to just hang out and focus on strategy and playing the games.

I’m almost done with what’s been published of the Twilight saga. My sister’s friend is letting me borrow her copies. While it’s not the most well-written piece of literature I’ve ever read, it is an enjoyable story and somewhat addicting. I feel like my HS-age sister and sister-in-law. I don’t go crazy when Twilight is mentioned, but I can see why they like them so much. I’m almost done with the last book and it’s much more maturely-written than the previous three. I even blush. I am considering seeing the movie, though I know it won’t be as good – might have to wait until the library gets it in for rental if I don’t go soon before it leaves the theaters.

In a couple weeks, Miles and I will be celebrating our one year anniversary. We’re going to spend the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend at my grandparent’s timeshare in Okoboji. It’s something we’ve been planning since November, but now I feel like we need a weekend away even more. My family used to stay at this timeshare quite often in my pre-college days. Miles has not been there before and I think he’ll like it.

We’re well into the new year and I still haven’t written a check or anything that will force me to change my 08 habits. I don’t anticipate it being too difficult. So many things happened in 2008 (good *and* bad, but it’s easier to remember the bad) that I’m ready to move on.


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My hometown Youth for Christ organization asked me to create a graphic for their new building, called “Crosswalk”.  They wanted something that was more of the intersection crosswalk, than overtly Christian but also hoped a cross could be incorporated.  I came up with the graphic you see on the building.  One is facing the highway and the other is facing the parking lot.  A few volunteers painted it by hand this weekend, and did an excellent job if I do say so myself.

Bye Bye, Sammy

It’s no big secret that I’ve never been much of an animal person. My brother and sister are animal lovers – or at least animal likers. Not me. As a small child, I was afraid of dogs (and must admit, dogs of unknown friendliness still scare me today). I don’t know if I became this way because there were big dogs in my neighborhood growing up, or because I grew up in town as opposed to on a farm surrounded by animals, or if it’s just the way I would be no matter where I grew up. In any case, when my older brother would peruse the classifieds for animals, he had a way of getting me excited about some of the finds he’d come across.

Sammy Sosa One Father’s Day, over fifteen years ago, I remember Adam found an ad for several purebred beagle puppies at a home about a half-hour away and the owner just happened to be a vet. After talking to mom and dad, and threatening that we’d be happy with a cat if we had to, the family (and our cousin Corissa) were on our way to check them out. When we got there, my sister Marissa (about 1 years old at the time) stayed in the vehicle with a very large box with blankets, etc. I stayed so I could watch her (but really it was because I was afraid of dogs). A while later, the family returned with a dog, whose name was “Boots”. He stood out from the rest of the puppies because he had untied my dad’s shoes.

And so, we had a puppy. On the way home, it was decided his current name was pretty lame. We changed it to “Sammy Sosa” but we’d call him “Sam” or “Sammy” most of the time. (There was no hiding it – the Greggs were Cubs fans.) He was a smart puppy, except for when he’d growl at his reflection in the dishwasher. We kept him in the kitchen, for several reasons. One of the entrances had a door, so that was always shut. The other had no door, but we laid a chair horizontally for a while, blocking his path to the carpeted living room. It was only a couple days before he figured out how to get through the legs and into the living room. Soon after, a baby gate replaced the chair. Eventually, Sam could be trusted to stay in the kitchen without the door shut or the gate.

He was apparently a hunting breed of some sort, (though, we have never been hunting and so didn’t use him for that) so he was always much taller than any other beagles we’ve met. Since Sam’s been our dog for over fifteen years (I had to think about it several times before finally deciding that had to be true – it just seems like such a long time) there have been a lot of memories. I won’t detail them all, but will just list some that come to mind.

  • He had intense strength and taking him on a walk was always him dragging you around and almost pulling your arm off
  • As a puppy, he found some baby rabbits in our yard – I’ll just repeat that he was a hunting breed and say that there were lots of tears
  • When he was small, mom would be petting him on her lap and he’d climb to her shoulder – she joked that he thought he was an eagle, not a beagle. He continued to attempt this as he got larger.
  • He was always too afraid of the stairs to go down in the basement unless there was a leash on him
  • After every train whistle you would hear a very loud, low howl coming from our dog. I could hear him from the school playground (4 blocks away) during noon recess several days a week
  • Dad had set up an extravagant outside cage area and garage cage area, equipped with a heat lamp, heated water bowl, and several variations of roofing. The outdoor cage had a complicated door system so we could let him in the cage with a leash, shut one door, take him off his leash, and shut the other door, then open the one door again. Eventually, he could be trusted without having to shut the first door
  • He used to need to be attached to a leash (which was attached to a high wire near the back entrance so he could restrictively roam) to go do his business. Eventually we could trust him to (almost always) stay in the area without a leash. Then about a year ago he darted off and happened to get hit by a police car. He hurt his leg, but bounced back pretty quickly I think.
  • Eventually he started associating going outside with getting a treat, as opposed to going to the bathroom and getting a treat – each one of us would let him out in the morning because he acted like he hadn’t been let out yet – he became a much heavier dog

The family got an email last night that Sam hadn’t been eating anything in the last week and yesterday he either wasn’t able to or wouldn’t get up from where he was laying. He had gone to the vet a few days ago and got a shot and medicine. The vet was gone yesterday and so he planned to stop by today if Sam made it through the night. Dad predicted he wouldn’t be able to make it 24 hours. We got an email this morning that he didn’t make it through the night and will be buried out at grandpa’s farm this afternoon after school. He didn’t howl or whimper, all I heard about his last day was that he sighed. Which he did a lot when he wasn’t sick.

The picture above was taken by my dad yesterday. It’s comforting to know that he doesn’t look in pain, although a little sad, and he actually *looks* a lot healthier than he has for a while. Even the cloudiness in his eyes, that had formed since I went to college, seems cleared. Notice the uneaten hot dog, which I assume has a pill in it, because that’s the only time he would get a piece of hot dog.

Bye bye Sammy. I’m sorry that I didn’t show you as much love as you deserved. You were a very good dog. I’m sure we’ll find your hair in our house for many years to come.

Rausch Reunion

I Scream As many of you know, the Rausch Reunion is held every even year over the 4th of July holiday. This year was my second time in attendance and it was in Bismarck, ND. On Thursday, we picked up cousin Dan, cousin Amy, sister Molly and sister Brenna at the Summit exit and drove Val and Paula’s suburban the rest of the way. That night, along with 13 other relatives, we went to Hancock, which I found disappointing. Late night, but we were able to sleep in on Friday morning. After a jog/walk, we (Miles, sister Molly and I) met up with cousins Molly and Jenny and headed to Art in the Park in a nearby town. Then we hung out at the pool and headed to a park for a family picnic, then Cold Stone and then to the capital mall area for fireworks.

Sound Asleep Saturday was the golf tournament for most of the group. About 18 of us had an alternative tournament for disc golf, which was started as a tradition at the last reunion. Cousin Brenna had put together the teams, and though I wasn’t originally, I ended up on the same team as Miles, which worked out quite well since we brought our own discs and could share. That night was Mass and the awards banquet. And let me tell you, it was long. My hips and back started hurting from sitting for so long, so I moved to the lobby where all the little kids were playing. At the time, the children were beginning to overthrow the leader of the games because they didn’t like all her rules. Ahh, to be young again and thwarting “the man”.

At the end of the banquet, they try to determine where the next reunion will be. They seemed to be pushing for the Colorado group, but they said they needed 4 years to plan it, so they’ll be hosting in 2012. It kind of got shoved on to Sioux Falls after that and last I’ve heard, that’s where it will be in 2010. So we’ll be a large part of the planning committee, since there are only a couple Rausch families living here.

After that, we all hung out in one small hotel room, which I quickly removed myself from. Cousin Chad let us pick out a wedding present from his collection of glass sculptures (many are vases, but not all) and we’re excited about the one we got! On Sunday, we all packed up and made our way back home. A great reunion, I’d say about 125+ Rausch family members, which is intense. On to 2010.

Bleed Green

If any of you read blogs written by anyone other than your friends, it’s likely you’ve run across a “green” post or two. Miles and I are trying to reduce our carbon footprint, save energy, and save money. You can, too!

Some things we/I currently do, or try to do:

  • Bring canvas/fabric bags to the grocery store. HyVee will take 25 cents off your bill if you use them! Hopefully we can end up like Ireland (I think) who *charges* 33 cents per plastic bag – then everyone would start bringing reusable bags! Even Walmart, who is definitely not considered green, has updated their plastic bag turntables to include one (yes, just one) fabric bag holder to make it easier for cashiers to bag.
  • Wash full loads only in the washing machine and dishwasher and wash clothes with cold water.
  • Use a Brita water filter for drinking water so we can bring water bottles to work, instead of buying bottled water.
  • Save unused napkins from restaurants and keep them at my desk for future use. Subway’s napkins are 100% recycled fiber with at least 60% post-consumer material with no chlorine and uses water-based ink.
  • Send in our empty ink cartridges in the recycle envelope provided by the manufacturer.
  • Get multiple uses out of the plastic bags we *do* still have bunched up in a pile in the closet.
  • Replacing normal light bulbs with CFL’s.
  • Replacing current cleaning products with non-toxic ones – as they run out.
  • Turn off air conditioning and heat while out of the apartment

Most of these things we don’t even realize are saving the environment (and our budgets), they just something we’ve always done that just come natural. Some of them require a little more effort.

Some things we/I don’t currently do:

  • Don’t rinse dirty dishes before loading into the dishwasher.
  • Have live plants inside or outside to improve air quality.
  • Eat lunch at work one day a week to save gas usage.
  • Drive at speeds that have the best gas mileage for my car.
  • Get serious about recycling pop bottles and cans and other household plastics/aluminum.
  • Recycling printer paper.
  • Purchase products for their recyclability, rather than price. (Look for numbers in the recycling triangle symbols, look for products that have little packaging or packaging that uses recycled materials.)
  • Asking for no receipt if given the option.
  • Setting thermostat higher in the summer and lower in the winter.
  • Unplugging items that aren’t in use – cell phone charger, computer, etc.
  • Use ceiling fans (none in our apartment).
  • Use shower heads that conserve water
  • Encourage employers and coworkers to print less (most-specifically, websites and emails).

These lists aren’t all-inclusive. It’s what I’ve come up with quick off the top of my head and with little research. Make a list of what *you’re* doing – use websites like this one to help get you started. I think you’ll be surprised by how much you already do without thinking about it. There’s always more we can do, so today I challenge you to pick a “green” new habit.

Earth thanks you.