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A is for Appetite ….. just kidding, it’s for Arnold Schwarzenegger

I am pretty excited to jump on this bandwagon, albeit a bit late. The premise? I’m not entirely sure it’s the same for everyone. There is an A to Z Challenge, where bloggers can subscribe and blog everyday of a month (i.e. using a letter of the alphabet every day) on a particular subject, such as April’s challenge on the subject of Survivor. My friend Rachel is also doing this challenge, and her blog (Under the Tapestry) is incredibly insightful. She got the idea from her friend Lara, who also makes themes for her challenges. Her latest one was “A Romantic Alphabet,” as Lara is a “romance author (with a scientific twist).”

MY TURN!

Starting this challenge was a bit difficult. I wanted to pick something fantastic for the first letter of the alphabet; but, the more I thought about it, the more items I had to choose from. Do I write about my sister Amanda? My academic aptitude? How I was this close to joining the Army? So many choices for just one simple letter. Naturally, I decided not to do any of these, and instead focus on my appetite and how that brings me to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

When I was younger, I was average build for a child. That is, until I was sent to live with my grandparents in Arizona when I was 6. It was then that my father, whom I was running from (long story that involves a lot of repressed memories …. that I am starting to remember), started telling me that my mother made me fat. I was 7.

This is me before being sent to live with my grandparents:
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[From L-to-R: Reychl, Amanda, and Me …. we always dressed alike, whether we wanted to or not]

You see? Pretty average. I also had some straight hair at this age … which quickly changed by grade 4. But by grade 5, not only was I ‘fat’, I also made a friend who tamed my hair.

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[Me, grade 5. Not fat and awesome hair. Is it bad that I think this is one of the best photos of me ever? I truly felt beautiful this day. Every boy in my class fell from their chairs when I walked in, and the girls stared and smiled. It was MY day and it was the BEST day.]

But, I say, what do you expect to happen when a child lives with grandparents? I missed my family, I was miles and miles away (seriously, I lived in Arizona and my family lived in Michigan), and I had no friends. So, I watched Top Gun every single day. Seriously. Every. Single. Day. I would even fall asleep next to a family portrait (of my aunts and uncles) staring at my mother. When the Easter Bunny came, he hid my Easter basket behind this portrait. He knew my sorrow. So, to recap, I missed everyone, I ate, and I sat on my butt watching Top Gun. Every day. …. until my sisters and mom joined me and we all caught chicken pox. It was beautiful misery.

But, I digress (did I mention the ADD thing?).

My dad was a pretty fit guy, and he was from ‘the old country’ (i.e. the former Czechoslovakia, the now Slovakia). When he lived there, he helped his family make marble caskets (which stayed above ground) and built many of the houses in the city (then village). He needed to stay fit just to survive his job; his life.

I don’t have many photos of my dad, but this is one of them.
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[My dad and me, probably in 1982, which made him 32 years old. With all of those muscles.]

I keep talking about my dad like he isn’t here anymore, and that’s true. He died in 1998 (I was 16), and it still weighs on me. I still cry. So … call it “daddy issues” or whatever else, but Arnold Schwarzenegger reminds me of my dad. The accents aren’t entirely the same, but the humour is. And those muscles.

Arnold was completely driven from a young age; he wanted to make it to America and he knew bodybuilding was his ticket. My dad didn’t want to be in the military, he fled, and he ended up in Canada. Close enough.

I miss my dad. I miss him so much. Sometimes I wonder if it’s silly or unfounded because of my past, but I can’t help it. I miss him and I love him and I would give anything just to see him again and tell him those things. But I can’t.

So …….. it became a goal of mine to own every single Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. Don’t laugh. I’m being serious. Plus, laughing would be mean, and I just poured my heart out. I have most of them; Arnold is credited for 54 titles, in which two are announced (hello, Triplets anyone?!), one is post-production (Terminator, YES!), and one is completed, making it 50 titles that are available. Some of the 50 titles also include television appearances, etc, so there aren’t really 50 movies. I need less tan 10 to complete my collection!

LESS THAN 10.

So, there you have it. I feel strange getting some of this off my chest (if you will), but hey, maybe this blog will be therapeutic.

I look forward to letting you all get to know me.

A Trip Across Nebraska

Have you ever just jumped in a car with absolutely no cares in the world; letting the driver take you wherever, and all the while, you know that you will be safe, see many new places, … and pee on all the things? Me either. But, I never leave home on a road trip without my pups! And they just told me, they experience the above all the time! Could you imagine? (Ok, fine ….) Would you imagine? Imagine that freedom and that happiness … and all of that wind rushing through your hair.

If you are doing it right, you will find that you look just like my Daisy.
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[Dogs are seriously wonderful people.]

 

BUT – I am getting WAAAYYY ahead of myself. I didn’t start out this vacation on the road! I started it SICK! Like deathly ill. Well, not really. But, I was treated like death …. remember? Well, just in case you don’t remember ….

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[Me, as death.]

It started out with Reychl, my littlest sister, coming to visit me! … and I kind of, maybe, a little bit at least, forgot to tell her I was sick …. until she was on her way from Detroit (to Nebraska). Seeing as that is a 12 hour drive, without stops, she was mostly committed at that point. So for the first few days, we just sat on the couch, watching movies and having some quality time.

Then, I felt guilty.

Naturally, I did what any person would do. I took her to the National Roller Skating Museum a few blocks from my house.

Rollerskating

 

This place had some pretty interesting things inside … like roller skates for animals, movie memorabilia, and so many different kinds of roller skates. Like these:

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[
Cockatoo with skates]                                                         [Drew Barrymore’s skates from Whip It]                         [Skates for short people … haha, just kidding. Crazy people.]

That was all I could take that day. Too much fresh air for my flu. So, we went back home, probably watched more movies.

Then guilt settled back in the next day. So, right around closing time, I took Reychl to see the Governor’s Mansion. We pretended it was my house. Because, well …. why not? It was gorgeous, very historical, the tour guides were very nice, the first lady and the first puppy (Snickers – seriously, he has his own part of the Governor’s webpage) even came out to say hi!
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[As a graduate student, I make a lot of money … what can I say?]

The guides here told us that we should hurry up and go to the last tour at the Capitol building. So, we crossed the street as fast as my flu would let me, and we crashed the Nebraska Farmer’s Bureau’s tour. We just kind of weaseled our way into their group like the flu in my lungs. It is such a beautiful building! Nebraska’s capitol building is one of three art deco style capitol buildings in the USA. How neat is that? What that means is … you are basically walking in an art museum. The tour guides at the Capitol were AMAZING! GLORIA WE LOVE YOU!

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[Don’t those ceilings just make you want to cry?]      [GLORIA!!!]                             [Lincoln, NE]

Did you get my reference there?? I will give you a hint ….

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[SUCH a good movie – makes you laugh and cry and laugh and smile and then you are happy. Watch it.]

Unfortunately, we didn’t watch this movie while Reychl was in town. But we should have. Because it is awesome.

I still felt guilty for being sick. I mean, wouldn’t you? Your sister drives across the country to come and see you, and you are dying on the couch? I needed to make this up to her! So, in my delirium, I thought:

“What would make this better? A ROAD TRIP ACROSS NEBRASKA!!”

Remember when I said I was a genius when I am sick? Well, I lied. I mean, who orchestrates a huge road trip, in the opposite direction of Michigan, the weekend before their sister has to leave to go back to Michigan? To be clear, we left on Saturday and came back on Sunday, and Reychl’s original departure day was Monday. Can you imagine just how excited she must have been, after driving 24 hours in the past 36 hours, just to drive 12 more? Good thing we brought the pups! When we got tired, they took the wheel. Don’t worry, they’re old enough.

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[Wrolea loves to drive. She is so serious!]

We stopped at a lot of places, and I’m probably going to get the order all wrong. I blame the delirium. So, here are some of the places we stopped, in no particular order, although, I will try to order them because of my O.C.D.

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[The Great Platte River Archway]

At the archway, we learned all about the emigration out West. What was really  neat about this place, was all the history you learn in here is reinforced along your drive (if you do road trips like we do – and stop at everything along the way.)

We learned about the original pony express station, and how there were just a few riders, and how they helped to deliver news to California about the Civil War! THEN BOOM! We drove to the pony express station!

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[Pony Express Station in Gothenburg, NE!]

We were in the habit of stopping at this point, so we decided to see what Boot Hill was all about. It turns out, it was a cemetery, and everyone was buried with their boots on. (Hence the clever name: Boot Hill.)

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[Boot Hill.]

THEN WE ARRIVED AT THE BEST PLACE IN ALLLLLL OF NEBRASKA!!! Seriously, I have been looking forward to going here since BEFORE I accepted admissions at University of Nebraska-Lincoln!

 CARHENGE

Seriously, I was GEEKED! What is Carhenge, you ask? Simple. You’ve heard of Stonehenge right? (Please say yes.) Just in case you haven’t, or need a quick reminder (for comparison purposes in just a few short seconds), this is Stonehenge.

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[Source]

Nebraska doesn’t have Stone-henge; but, we do have Car-henge. (I hope you are picking up what I am putting down.)

Be prepared to be amazed.

Are you prepared?

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[Kind of from the same direction as the above shot of Stonehenge.]

Wait, there’s more.

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[There is graffiti all over the cars/trucks – but some of it was pretty neat.]

We then decided to go to some of the rock formations that are nearby (sort of) Carhenge.

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[This is Chimney Rock, and it basically told all the emigrants they were about a third of the way. No big deal. We are SO BAD at squishing things in the background.]

We couldn’t get close to Chimney rock, because it is fenced in. Most likely due to fear of human-escalated erosion.

BUT, we could get close to Jail and Courthouse Rocks! They were also a little drive from here, but totally worth it.

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[*No dogs were harmed when taking this trip.]

 

I forgot to mention the creepy dolls in the Governor’s Mansion. Some of the first ladies leave extra fabric from their inaugural gowns, and some of their hair, for these dolls to be made. Naturally, I took a picture of all of them.

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[As creepster as this is, it is neat to see how history shapes the dresses. Not all of the gowns are shown, because not every Governor had a ball – you know, Great Depression and all. P.S. The first gentleman is also shown here.]

 

All-in-all, it was a great vacation. Even if I was sick.

I will leave you with a picture of carhenge – the graffiti said it the best.

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Sunday Living: Meet the kids!

Sometimes, I struggle with what to write about. Like, what on earth is too much information and what on earth is interesting enough. I am, by far, so un-interesting.

But, since I already introduced you all to my beautiful wife (here), I figured I should introduce you to our babies! We have 4 beautiful fur babies: 3 girls and 1 boy.

Boys first! This is my dapper young man, Arnold. He was named after the Arnold. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Kristi and I found him the same day we took Wrolea (you will meet her soon enough) to get her very first hair cut. We saw this little kitten get hit by a car, roll away, and hide in a hole in the median. We rushed in our car, turned around so fast, and hopped out of the car so quickly. Kristi searched the side of the road, just in case the little fellow crossed it while we parked the car. I ran into the road, found the little kitty looking up at me, grabbed him and held him to my chest. He has forever since been a boob kitty.
Arnold

He’6 about 6.5-7 years old now. It must be the year of mischief. He is constantly getting in to stuff these days and always tries to convince us that he did not do it.

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Like here. Believe it or not, he did not know there were flowers in the house. … and he swears, it was not him that ate them all.

Girls next. We have Wrolea (pronounced Rolly), Adia, and Daisy.

I have to talk about Wrolea next. She is my heart and soul. I was so lonely when I moved to Florida, and I just wanted someone to bond with. I looked all over Craigslist for a dog. I was hoping to find a male miniature dachshund but I found her instead. She was one dog of two litters and they were all in pretty bad shape. I picked her up, she was shy, but then she did the best thing ever. She fell asleep in my arms, and then slowly fell backward to reveal her chubby belly. I knew right then and there, she was mine. She was covered in fleas. I’m talking about every inch of her. They were either crawling around, or imbedded into her skin feeding. I took her to the vet and they said she was momments away from needing a blood transfusion! They gave her a portion of a pill (because she was just 6 weeks old) and when all the fleas died, I had to go to work. I bathed her, and then for 8 straight hours, I pulled the fleas out of her skin one-by-one with tweezers: out of every crease in her ears, toes, and all over the open skin.  A few days later when she was starting to recover from the blood loss, she was so lively. She started doing puppy things – like chewing up all of my shoes, peeing all over the floors, and pouncing on me in the middle of the night. Still, to this day, her belly skin is blackened from the scars I had to leave behind. She is my Wrolea, and she is 7 years old.
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Wrolea is the lab-chow mix in the back.

Since, I inadvertently introduced you to the other dog, I should just carry on. Her name is Daisy. She kind of wiggled her way into our little family very slowly. When she was just a puppy, we babysat her a few times. Then, the family that had her asked us if we wanted to keep her because Daisy (who went by Daliah at the time, but that was just too hard for me to say.) Daisy was just too energetic for this family, and their other animals just didn’t appreciate being pounced on all the time. So, we took her in, and she managed to wiggle her way into the lives of the other babies too!

Seriously, who could say no to this face?
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She is a cuddler, that Daisy! Daisy is about 3 years old.

This leaves the last, and most regal, to the end. Meet Queen Adia. Her name isn’t Queen Adia, it’s a title she demands. Adia rules the household, and I firmly believe nothing happens without her consent. Kristi came in to our relationship with Adia (and the late Moe, a basset hound.) Adia loves to scratch all of the wood working in the house, and she loves to chase Daisy. Every other time of the day, you can find her looking very pretty and put together.

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Our lovely Adia. She is about 10 or 11 years old.

There you have it. My family! As I write this, they are all sleeping next to me. What a perfect Sunday!

The love of my life, my wife: an unlikely pairing

I am brash, book smart, naive, kind, generally happy-go-lucky, no-touchy kind of person who is passionate about animals, human rights, art, and science (just to name a few characteristics of me).

My wife, the beautiful Kristi, is, for the most part, my opposite. She is affectionate, a fire-starter, street smart, and an honest person who shares most of my passions, except the in-depth love of science.

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She loves aviation, I love science.
She loves basset hounds, I love Rottweilers.
She loves looking nice without a hair out of place, I love sweatshirts and crazy hair.
She loves the beach, I love not the beach.
She loves going out and having date nights, I love staying home and having date nights.
She feels love with physical touch and acts of service, I feel love with quality time and words of affirmation. **
She loves coffee, I love tea.
She loves cuddling, I love space.
She loves movies, I love reading.
She loves noise, I love quiet.
** These are part of The 5 Love Languages book by Gary Chapman. You can take buy the book on Amazon here, or take the free quiz to find out how you need love here.

You get the gist. … but Paula Abdul got it right! Opposites DO attract! If you actually watch this video, Kristi is Skat Cat and I’m Paula Abdul. Kind of. Well, for this analogy, we can be these people.

Now, on to the gushy stuff.

We met in Jacksonville, FL … actually, we met on MySpace while we both lived in Jacksonville, FL. We were just looking for friends, and she messaged me about my dog (instant bonus points, if you ask me). We started talking …. and it was impossible not to be caught up in this girl. I didn’t want to work that day, but I did anyway … just to rush back to my desk so we could keep talking. It was a Friday in January (perhaps the 12th) of 2007. After a long day of messaging each other, I told her I didn’t have the internet at my house, so we couldn’t talk over the weekend. She panicked, and asked me out on a date. The best mistake she could ever make, if you ask me. Once she realized I was directionally challenged, and despite living in the same neighborhood for a few years, that I had no idea where anything was, she offered to pick me up at my apartment. But only after I confirmed I wasn’t a 40 year old man. So, she showed up, and my heart was racing. I grabbed my groucho glasses, and met her outside. I LIED! I WAS a 40 year old man (hahahahha!, get it? … did I mention I have a very corny sense of humour?) She took me out to dinner anyway …. and this should have been the beginning of the end. If I could have been given a grade for this entire date, it would have been a F. Kristi took me to a nice restaurant, I didn’t order anything. Well, I had a water (because it was free). You see, I didn’t have any money to buy food, and I hadn’t been on a date in quite some time, and I forgot all the rules. So, instead, I watched her eat, and I talked. I talked, and talked, and talked. For-ev-er. You see, I have this thing where I talk when I am nervous, and nervous I was! She took me home, and I called my sisters telling them I had the best time but I think I bombed the entire thing. Next thing I know, Kristi brought me some food for dinner one night while I was working at the movie theatre. It was timed perfectly, because I couldn’t shut up to all of my theatre friends about the date and how amazing she was. Then, out of nowhere, here she is bringing me food! She didn’t know what I liked, so she brought me the meal she ate on our first date. I managed to woo her and we became official on February 4, 2007. She moved half way across the country to be with me in December 2009. We got married on May 23-25, 2013 (yes, it was a 3-day festival of love).

Oh! I failed to mention that it was quite strange that we had to meet online. She lived like 1 mile away from me, and we did all of our shopping at the same stores. I wonder how we never saw each other!

She really is my everything.

She is my wife.

We are perfect together, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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