Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blog Catch-Up

Since I have so many new readers, I thought I would acquaint everyone with the things I might refer to on the blog or the people and things and review some of the more noteworthy past events I've blogged about. So, first, the cast of characters.


Well, there's me, Mary.

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I'm 33-years-old and am in my one millionth year of graduate school, pursuing a PhD in Biology. The good news is that I am submitting paperwork today (yay!) to graduate in May. The bad news is that I am attempting to write a dissertation while caring full-time for my three-month-old baby. But, I am 100% determined to do it.

Here I am doing my best scientist impersonation.

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This is Jason, my husband.

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He's also 33 and was an avid cyclist until he met me, got a full-time job, and had a baby.

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Now he bikes when he can. So, if you wonder why there are so many bike references on the blog, such as in Elsa's nursery, it's because of him. He's in sales and he's really good at it. In fact, he was the top salesperson at his company last year and his success landed him a big promotion, which is awesome. I am so proud of him. He proposed to me in 2005 by surprising me on the beach at sunset while I was on vacation in Florida with my family.

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I had no idea he had flown down and planned the event, aided by my family. We got married in June of 2007, while my dad was dying of lung cancer. Our wedding was as much a celebration of us as it was of my dad.

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[Photo Credit: Robert George Photography]

This is Lola, my most high-maintenance charge.

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She was gifted to me at Christmas 1999 by a former boyfriend. All you need to know about her is that I complain about her a lot, she screeches all the time for my attention, she enjoys laying eggs in her spare time, and she's completely insane.

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Monty is my green-cheek conure and he is named after Mr. Burns.

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I acquired him in 2001 as a baby bird. He could live THIRTY years. And he's a she, but we don't talk about it in front of him in order to avoid gender confusion. Monty is basically a giant hambone who wants nothing more than lots and lots and lots and lots of attention. He used to be a feather picker, but when we adopted our pit bull, Levi, he miraculously stopped. Monty talks a little bit, saying "hi, baby "who's my baby?" "Monty" "I love you" and I'm pretty sure I've heard him say "you're sweet." He's also an alcoholic.

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Levi is my amazing pit bull, my heart, my love, whom we adopted in 2008.

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While we sometimes joke that he was raised in a million dollar house because he acts superior to everyone and everything, he was actually rescued as a stray from north St. Louis, probably the most dangerous area in all of St. Louis. He was around two-years-old when we adopted him and he is NEVER GOING TO DIE. Did you know that? He's a magical vampire like that. The rescue group Stray Rescue of St. Louis found him on the streets. Jason and I volunteered with them from April of 2008 until four days before my water broke with Elsa. We walked shelter dogs every Thursday night and met more wonderful dogs than I can mention here. Cletus was one special one.

Volunteering introduced us to pit bulls and how wonderful they are. We are huge supporters of Stray Rescue and I was on hand when they took over the job of the city pound and became St. Louis city's no kill shelter. While we are not as active as we'd like to be due to life being crazy in general, I'd like to someday foster or start volunteering again.

Anyway, we have had numerous adventures with Levi. He has been through all the levels of obedience training with the Greater St. Louis Training Club, he has taken out both me and Jason (fracturing Jason's knee) when we dared not get out of the way of his zoomies, he has been on a million walks-in the snow, in the sun, in the city, in the county, he has endured holiday parties with celebrities, he has been in parades, and he has healed broken hearts. He has done it all! And he's amazing.

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In 2010, Jason and I purchased our dream house [my favorite room, decorated for Christmas].

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We had been living in a condo and had been dying to move for a long time. Even though we had the closing from hell, we got our house and love it more every day. Since it has already been rehabbed, we haven't done a lot of stuff to it, but we did revamp the yard last summer and, of course, created a nursery for Elsa.

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Less than a week after closing on our house, we officially adopted Neptune.

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My friend was fostering him and was holding onto him until we moved so that we could adopt him. Like Levi, Neptune was rescued as a stray, but from East St. Louis. He was in bad shape when they rescued him-severely underweight, covered in scars, and he had an abscess in his neck. But now he is happy as can be and is my little shadow. Even though he may not be as handsome as Levi, he is absolutely the sweetest dog on the planet. He wants nothing more than love. Truly. While I sometimes think Levi has ulterior motives for his actions, Neptune's motive is simple: please just love me; let's cuddle. Nonetheless, he still goes on adventures like Levi does and he is a pretty great, if reluctant, artist too.

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And in case you were wondering, both dogs get along with the birds.

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So, what else do you need to know? Let's see. I enjoy running, but have had my ups and downs with it and one painful body part or another (currently my ankles). I have run four half-marathons, always the one in the spring in downtown St. Louis. My best time is 1:49 and I don't think I'll ever be that fast (or skinny) again, but that's okay.

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Jason and I have participated in two mini team triathlons, with me doing the swim and run and him doing the bike. One day we'll get Elsa in the water and she can do the swim.

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Jason and I love to travel, but that mostly got benched when we bought our house. One of our most memorable trips was to Belize where we went diving with whale sharks.

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We also like to hang around our house and do nothing, which is perfect since we love our house so much.

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What else? I feel like I'm forgetting something...OH YEAH! I had a freaking BABY in October! Elsa Katherine, born 10/19.

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We had always been on the fence about having kids, but decided to take the plunge in July of 2010. I finally got pregnant in January of 2011 and the rest is history.

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I had an incredibly easy and wonderful pregnancy, but had a pretty traumatic labor and delivery, ending in the birth of a girl who I totally expected to be a boy. But, the important thing is that I have a healthy baby and she is so much more perfect and wonderful than I even could have imagined.


Week 39

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On April 23, 2012, I defended my doctoral dissertation, an unbelievable accomplishment considering I wrote the whole darn thing while taking care of an infant.  I finally graduated with my PhD in May.  I have an application pending for my dream job.  We'll see what happens.  Hopefully I'll be able to update this page with news that I am employed!






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I pinch myself everyday because you can tell from reading this post, I have so many blessings. And I haven't even talked about extended family or friends. I also love cookies, booze, cheese goldfish, naps, and celebrity gossip.

If you're still reading, is there anything else you'd like to know?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hot or Not? Russell Brand

Holy cow, it looks like I have a few new readers. Thanks to Lauren for the referral on her blog and welcome new readers! All the pressure to be entertaining now! Okay, we have't done a Hot or Not in almost two years! I think I feel somewhat guilty about judging people's looks, even though I do it all the time (and you know you do too!). But there's something about writing it down and putting it out there that makes me feel like a jerk. Because lord knows, I'm certainly not perfect in the looks department. But then I remembered the point of Hot or Not: trying to understand why some people find men attractive while those same men repulse other people. We pretty much all agreed Adam Levine is damn hot though.

So today I bring you Russell Brand! Clearly some people find him attractive. I mean, Katy Perry might have a terrible singing voice and her music makes me want to poke my eardrums with ice picks, but her body is unreal. She's hot, right? Even if they broke up, she saw something attractive in him.

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And before Katy came along, he was apparently some sex addict and has slept with loads and loads of women. Even if some of them only liked him for his celebrity, surely some of them were actually attracted to him, right?
So, tell me what you think? Hot bad boy with just the right amount of scruff and grease? It's his sense of humor that turns you on, as with Andy Samberg? Maybe it's that accent? That unique sense of style?

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Nah, I think he's pretty gross. Agree? Disagree? Discuss in the comments.

Verdict: NOT HOT!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Babies Make Good Pillows

I am a big advocate of setting your dog up for success. While I am not 100% perfect at this and haven't been in the past, I try not to put my dogs in situations where they might be uncomfortable. For instance, Levi can be nervous around strangers (though oddly, does great in large crowds), especially men, and very especially men that are doing funny things like using leaf blowers. I don't always have the ability to use every instance of a strange man using a leaf blower as a training opportunity, so instead of letting Levi get worked up, we cross the street, for example. Anyway, my point is that I try not to force uncomfortable situations on the dogs.

Now more than ever, I subscribe to this belief because of Elsa. While I don't ever think either dog would ever harm her, I would never take the chance. I never ever leave them alone with her for even a second. If I have to use the bathroom, she goes into a room where I can shut the door to separate her from the dogs. All interactions are 100% supervised. After all, Neptune can get mouthy when excited so he might unintentionally nip her. Or they might accidentally step on her while she's on the floor, so I want to be right there just in case. I don't believe in laying a baby on a dog for a cute photo op. I believe all interactions between dog and baby should be initiated by the dog and the dog should have the freedom to leave the interaction when/if it becomes too uncomfortable. I want all interactions between the dogs and Elsa to be positive ones.

So on this cold snowy morning, Elsa woke up for the day just before 7:00. Since it was so cold, I brought her into bed for snuggles and so that she could talk to the fan and the lights. And for the Mommy Police, we were not going to sleep. I realize there are a million suffocation hazards in the bed-we were just playing. Jason lets the dogs out and feeds them before he goes to work, then they come get back in bed. I decided to let them in bed this morning even though Elsa was in there. As usual, they like to cuddle right up with me.

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Well, Levi decided that he wasn't close enough to the action, so he leaned back to use Elsa as a pillow. And then my heart melted into a giant puddle of AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWs. I took a few pictures with my iPod, but fortunately, the camera was on the dresser, so I managed to capture this moment with better photos.

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Elsa has somewhat noticed the dogs, but I think this is one of the first times she has REALLY noticed one of them. It's hard not to when Levi's big ol' head is resting on her. She was so excited and smiling and looking at him. She was petting him. Oh my god, I about died. That's why I had to immediately write this blog post when I should be writing my dissertation. Oops.

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This just reminds me of how much I love my Big Dog. Sure, he can be a total asshole on walks, but he really is a gentle soul. He just knows. He gets it. I don't know how else to describe it. The thought of Elsa growing up with him and Neptune just makes me think how lucky we are to have them in our lives and in her life. I love that she will grow up having a loving relationship with a pit bull. I love that she will grow up with "throwaway" dogs as her best friends. I can't wait to continue to see her notice them, pet them, say their names, drop her food for them, throw a toy for Neptune, ask them to sit, read books to them, do her homework next to them. Okay, now I'm a blubbering mess. I think this is just the start of many memories yet to be made.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Christmas Recap by Levi

It's been a long time since mom has let me take over blogging duties for her. The tiny human is sucking up all her time these days. You would think that when it sleeps mom would give me the attention I deserve, but all she does is type at her computer. Well, I managed to pry the computer away from her long enough to tell you about Christmas this year. I wasn't expecting much because of the tiny human's presence, but it ended up being pretty great! In the weeks before Christmas, I knew mom was up to something because she would come home with packages that smelled delicious. She wouldn't let me investigate and would immediately put them up in the treat cabinet. Why she just didn't let me have a taste of anything was beyond me.

One day a package came all the way from Maine addressed to Mr. Levi and Mr. Neptune. I asked mom if I could open it, but she said I have to wait until Christmas. Seriously, this "Christmas" thing is a real tease. Finally one day we all piled up in the car with tons of presents and foodables and made our way over to mom's mom's house (Nanny's house). I love to go over there because I lived there for six months and Nanny always sneaks me food at the table (a no-no at home) and the whole house smells like kitties even though I can never find the one that lives there.

It was unbearable waiting to open my present. I had to watch all the humans stuff their faces. Dad even made Neptune and me wait outside. The indignity! I would like you to know that in my Million Dollar House, Christmas revolved around ME. I sat in a gold throne while my manservant handfed me the finest cuisine: Kobe beef, lobster, pate, bully sticks, bacon-everything a dog like me deserves. After dinner I was given a full-body massage on my Frette 10,000 thread count linens (not the ones for sleeping, the ones for my massages) until I retired in front of the flat-screen plasma TV for a private screening of Hotel for Dogs. But I digress.

Dad FINALLY opened the package addressed to Mr. Levi and Mr. Neptune and showed us the homemade treats Aunt P sent us. Homemade treats are exactly what I deserve-no commercial stuff for this dog. Some of them were in the shapes of stars and some in the shapes of birds, which I appreciated. I closed my eyes and pretended they were those two birds at home that constantly irritate me. Anyway, here I am enjoying my homemade treats. Oh yeah, I had to share with Neptune.

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See how polite I am while Neptune is standing there like a dummy? It's because of my refined background living in my Million Dollar House. I have manners, you know.

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Here I am delicately taking the treat. I am both gentle and genteel.

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Here Dad is making us work for our treats. I play along because it makes him happy.

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The next morning was actually Christmas morning. The good smelling items from the cabinet magically made their way to a stocking. I have to share a stocking with Neptune. Can you believe that? I'd like you to know that in my Million Dollar House, I had 24 stockings, one for each hour of the day on Christmas. At the top of the hour, my manservant would rouse me from my slumber and present to me a stocking embroidered with my name from thread spun from pure gold. The stockings themselves were woven with hair from the finest cashmere goats by only the most skilled Tibetan monks. And here I am now in my dumpy house with my idiot brother and I have to share a stocking with him. But I digress.

Here I am once again demonstrating my good manners while Neptune pushes me aside for first dibs on the toy.

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And what's this? A new antler? Even though I chewed on antlers from only extinct Artiodactyls in my Million Dollar House, I admit the antler from a common deer made me happy.

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What else is in that stocking? Neptune keeps taking everything.

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A Zuke's bone? Don't mind if I do!

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Oh good, there appears to be two of them so I don't have to share.

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Okay, okay. So the idiot brother is capable of SOME manners, but only because he learned them from me.

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And since I am such a gentleman, I allowed Neptune to have first crack at the new antler. We received some other goodies in our stocking, but mom didn't photograph every last thing.

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I guess it was a pretty good Christmas after all. I was included in all the festivities on both days and I received lots of goodies. Sure, it doesn't compare to Christmas at my Million Dollar House, but I admit having a mom and dad who dote on me is marginally better than a manservant.

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