Sunday, September 27, 2015

Chloe's First Hike!

As you should all know by now, I love hiking! So, naturally, I'm going to force my new pup to love it as well. Last weekend Cody's parents and younger brother came down for a visit, so we figured what better way to spend a Saturday than to go hiking! Plus, this gave us a chance to take Chloe on her first hiking adventure.

We started her off with a nice simple hike - The Cascades. It's simple, but oh so beautiful at the end! It's about two miles out to the falls and two miles back to the parking lot. This is easily the most popular hiking spot out here, especially in the summer when people come to hike and then swim up at the falls.

She had such a blast. The whole way up her little nose was going a million miles a minute. She got to climb on stuff (which included her first experience with stairs). She met some doggy friends along the way. And when we got to the top she just soaked up all the attention from the strangers enjoying the water. 

After the hike we stopped at this small, local, sandwich shop for lunch. We ate outside so Chloe could sit with us and have her lunch as well. She also got to play around with a couple kids that were there, which she loved.

It was a wonderful day, but I think it's safe to say we pooped her out....she slept the whole ride home.

Looking forward to all of the adventures yet to come with her! She's definitely going to make quite the hiking companion.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Doggy Lovin'

After over a year of  talking about getting a dog...the time has finally come! It was an interesting process to say the least. A couple weeks ago I stumbled upon a sweet little dog named Jinx that someone was fostering and trying to find a forever home for. Naturally, I had to have her. So, we filled out the application and waited with anticipation. About a week later, we got a phone call to let us know we were approved to adopt through this particular agency, but sadly the sweet little Jink had already been adopted. We were pretty sad, and down on our luck.

Now, if anyone knows my Mama, they know she is the poster-child for "Everything happens for a reason". In an attempt to make us feel better about missing out on that pup, she just kept telling us "everything happens for a reason, there's a reason you didn't get her." Of course we brushed it off with the "Oh, Mom..." mentality. Not really believing what she was saying.

Then, on Saturday, we headed to Roanoke to go to Sam's Club and walk around the Mall. On the days we aren't feeling particularly active we figure that's a good way to get those steps in and move around without thinking of it as exercise. Over the last couple years we've been dating, Cody and I have started a little tradition. Every time we head to Roanoke for Sam's Club or the Mall we make a pit-stop at the Roanoke Valley SPCA. We always figure it's a nice way for the kitties and doggies to get some attention and lovin' and we get to feed our animal addiction a little.

We walked into the small dog/puppy room and immediately went to his cute boy hound-mix puppy that was starving for attention. After we went back to ask for him to be taken out so we could play with him, we headed back into the room to wait. I could feel something looking at me so I decided to turn around and look at the other side of the room. Wouldn't you know there was the sweetest little girl staring right at me with those big "come pet me" eyes. By the time the volunteer got to the room we'd decided to take her out instead.

After only a couple minutes of playing with her we knew she was our dog. I always tell people that I don't think we really get to pick our pets, I think they pick us. And boy did she do that! We were able to put a 24-hour hold on her so we could have some time to think it over and talk to our landlord. Of course we decided to get her.

I mean, just look at those golden eyes! (And I think it's safe to say she thoroughly enjoyed her car ride home) The SPCA had absolutely no clue what she had in her, just that she is a total mix. After spending some time with her we can tell she definitely has a little hound or beagle in her because her nose is always sniffing. For the most part she's pretty quiet but still has a lot of puppy energy and can get a little rowdy. She's already learning quickly and I can't wait to see what other tricks we can teach her. 

I guess I should mention her name...the SPCA had her listed as Nicki, but I don't think we should have a Nichole and a Nicki under the same roof. We're thinking of re-naming her to Chloe, what do you think? Does She look like a Chloe?

She absolutely loves rolling around in the yard, and of course she did right after her bath! She love her balls and squeaky toys. And yes, even though she's a girl she does have blue everything. If you know me at all you know I've never been super keen on pink :p 

I'm sure you'll hear all about her in future posts. For now, all I can is that it turns out Mama really is always right! There was a better dog out there for us, we just hadn't met her yet. I don't know why I ever second guess that woman... 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I'm a Senior?

Well, it seems like I'm already starting to revert back to my old ways - the semester started, I got busy, and forgot to update my blog! The start of the semester is always crazy. Between classes and clubs, and searching for a job, it has been a busy couple of weeks.


It feels like I was just moving into college a month ago. Has it really been almost 4 years already? I think someone is playing a trick on me, or I must be sleeping, because that just doesn't seem possible. Everyone said it would go by fast, but I never believed them until it actually happened. It's almost time to put on my big-girl pants and figure out just what I'm supposed to be doing with the rest of my life.

But, before I go there, first I have to finish this year strong! This semester I am taking Personal Health, Drug Education, Anatomy and Physiology I with Lab, and completing my Field Study. My Anatomy lecture and lab are 3 hours long each, and far from fun, but at least the material is interesting. My Field Study is what I'm most excited about.

Throughout the semester I have to complete 144 hours at my site, which is Carilion New River Valley Medical Center in their Outpatient Rehabilitation wing with an Occupational Therapist. The one downside is that I am only an undergrad and have had no training, so the majority of my time is spent simply observing and shadowing OTs. It's slow at times but I have already learned so much and it's only been two weeks.

(Fun Fact: if an individual has a stroke and loses mobility on one side of their body a therapist can often gauge the level of success they will have in rehab based on the initial function they regain - if the first thing they are able to do is shrug their shoulder or slightly raise their upper arm, even if they are unable to move their wrist/fingers, the likelihood of a successful recovery is significantly higher. If their initial movement is only in the fingers or wrist, their recovery will be much more difficult and their chances of regaining full-function is lower. This is because the body operates from the top down. You use larger muscle groups to do big movements, such as shrugging your shoulder. So, of you are able to do that, you can slowly begin to fine-tune the smaller muscle groups as you move down the arm toward the fingers. Gross motor skills come before fine motor skills. Either way, recovery is a very long process and it's important for both the client and the therapist to remain patient and appreciate each milestone, no matter how small it may seem)

You probably weren't all that interested in that fun fact, but it's things that that I find so fascinating. Going into my field study I wasn't sure if Occupational Therapy was still something I would want to do. But now, I'm pretty sold on it. You get to change people's lives and help them return to their normal routine. Not to mention the versatility and flexibility the job offers.

I am also the Community Service Chair for the Occupational Therapy Club at Virginia Tech. I will be able to set up various service events for the club to participate in throughout the semester. First up, is "Getting Crafty" at the Crossings in Blacksburg. This is an assisted living facility. I'm looking forward to meeting the residents and helping them make something beautiful. Who doesn't love a little crafting?

Now, I've been putting off my Anatomy homework a little too long, so I better get back to that. I'll try to write more sooner rather than later.

Cheers so a great start to Senior year!!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hiking: it's good for the soul!

Today I hiked a part of the Appalachian Trail to Dragons Tooth, a beautiful, rocky overlook. For me, hiking is such a release. It's a way to get away from it all. To clear your mind. To leave the daily rumblings of life. To be one with nature. I think just being outside in the fresh air, far from technology and the pressures of the "real world", can be the best medicine.

To most people, I'm sure hiking wouldn't be considered among the most exciting things you could do. It's the work you put into it that makes it so amazing. You're pushing yourself. Working to reach a goal. Letting go of your stresses. Embracing the beauty all around you. It's incredible. My happiest place is on the top of a mountain. Plus, you get to stop and appreciate so many little things along the way. Whether it's pretty flowers, a neat looking insect, or even this cool dude I passed today.

Dragons Tooth is about 5 miles long out and back. For the most part, it's fairly easy. Well, if hiking a 1,505 foot incline over 2.4 miles can really be considered easy. The last mile is where it really starts to get tricky...and your fears are set in stone when you come across this:

The rest of the hike consists of rock climbing, scaling the mountain, and a lot of praying you don't fall. It's tough, but when you get up to the top it's worth it! At the top, there are two large rock faces. One resembles a dagger tooth. Now, I could be wrong, but I think that may be how it got its name. Once to the top, and after climbing on rocks for the past mile, naturally the only thing you want to do is climb some more.

Some people decide to keep climbing because it's fun. Which was part of the reason I did as well. Climbing up even higher just makes the view that much more spectacular.

The top: the whole reason for the hike. The thing you worked your tail off for. Suspense for the view just continues to grow more and more with each step you take. Every rock you climb just brings you that much closer to what you're waiting for.  When you finally get there, you're able to look out onto something so spectacular. Something so much bigger than yourself. It really puts everything into perspective.

The views from the top can be truly breathtaking!

Oh! And I forgot to mention, I had the best company alongside me today. So lucky to have such a great hiking partner :) 

(please excuse what a sweaty mess we are)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My Sweet Fritzi

On May 15, 2014, I made a decision that would, unknowingly, change my life in so many ways. I accepted a job offer to work as a caregiver for a 92 year old woman. I had no idea what I was getting myself into or what to expect. All I knew, was that my new job description consisted of helping her around the house, helping her with general mobility, reminding her to take her medication, and other general assistance.

Now, before I even begin to go into the impact this job had on me over the past year, I think it's important to tell you a little bit about her. Elfriede Duynstee, or "Fritzi" as everyone called her, was 92 years old when I met her. She was born in Berlin, Germany, where she lived until she was in her later 20's. So, she was in Berlin throughout World War II. I can't even begin to tell you about some of the stories she told me. To say she has experienced it all would still be an understatement. She moved to America with her first husband, who was an officer in the Army. She had one son with him and then they divorced. She was married and divorced one more time shortly after that. On June 23, 2015, at the age of 93, after having outlived all of her family including her son, she passed away.

But, that's enough about the hardships of her life. To truly understand her charisma, you would have to meet her. No words of mine could ever do her justice. Throughout her life she was always a ray of sunshine in the lives of everyone around her. She cooked for everyone, and taught so many others how to cook as well. She was always the life of the party and her energy was so contagious. The whole town of Blacksburg knew her for her incredible work as a seamstress. Whenever there was an important event, all of the women would go to her to have their gowns made. Her work was incredible.

From day one, she treated me with such kindness. I remember walking up to her house on that first day, nervous, with so many thoughts racing through my head: Had a made the right decision? What was I getting myself into? Am I really cut out for this type of work? The second I walked through the door, all of my worries were put to ease. The very first thing she did was ask me my name, my full name. She asked me where I was from, what I was studying in school, if I had a boyfriend, about my family, and the list goes on. She was so genuinely interested. Not only did she always check to make sure I was happy and healthy, she was always checking to make sure others in my life were as well. Every day she would ask me about Cody. How he was doing in school, how his work was, how his family was. She would ask about my family, how they were. She always wanted to make sure others were being taken care of.

From the beginning, she assured me that we could cook together often. That was a promise she more than lived up to. I will always cherish the moments we spent together cooking and the many wonderful recipes she shared with me. My fondest cooking memories are from the many time we made her famous cheesecake. After we were all done, and it was in the oven, she always insisted on sitting there and licking every speck of the mix out of the bowl. Most of the time she would end up getting it everywhere. And when it was finished baking, she always made sure all of her neighbors got a piece of the cheesecake.

While it's still hard at times, I know my life is better because I had the pleasure of knowing her. It just goes to show that sometimes things happen, people come into your life, and it changes your life in ways you can never imagine. It's amazing how paths cross and how much one person can impact your life unexpectedly. I can't really explain how something that was supposed to be "just a job" came to be so much more than that. For now, all I can do is remember her fondly and maintain my gratitude for all she was able to teach me.

We cooked. We baked. We took walks. We went swimming. We got our nails done. We talked. We laughed. Sometimes, we cried. She shared stories from her past, and always encouraged me to live the fullest life I could. She had one of the most beautiful souls out there. I only wish you all could have had the pleasure of meeting her.

May your soul rest in paradise, my sweet Fritzi. You are, and always will be, missed.

Monday, August 17, 2015

What is this "Blog" you speak of?

Not long ago I got a text message from my cousin, and lifelong friend, Alicia with a link to a website. I wasn't sure where I was going to be brought, but I clicked away. To my surprise, this is what popped up...

Naturally, my initial thought was "oh dear lord...why would that picture ever exist" I took a second to get past the shock (you know, the one everyone gets when faced with embarrassing pictures from their past) and then decided to actually read what was in front of me. It only took a couple seconds for me to have another "Oh My Gosh" moment. Only this time, it was more like "Oh my goodness...I had a blog?!" 

So, I decided to go back to my blog and remember what it was all about. It has been almost 3 years since I last posted. I can't even say I ever gave blogging an honest effort. I mean, what did I have, like, 6 posts? 

I started thinking about why I ever had a blog in the first place. Who is going to want to read my random ramblings? Honestly...not many people. Then I realized blogging is less for the people who may read my "random ramblings" and more for me. A way to get it all out. Somewhere to come back to when I need help remembering. 

To say a lot has happened over the last 3 years while I've been away would be an understatement. Let's just get a quick run-down:
  • I am about to start my senior year in college (WHAT? How can that possible be?)
  • I have had a full-time job
  • I lost friends, made new ones, reconnected with old ones
  • I met and started dating my best friend (cheesy, I know)
  • Last year I worked for the most incredible woman, who recently passed away (you can expect a post all about her)
The list could go on and on and on. So, I won't bore you with all the details. 

I'd like to say I'm going to give this whole blogging thing another shot and be better at it this time, but I don't know if that's a promise I will be able to keep. So...we'll just have to wait and see how it all works out :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Really VT?!

Now, I'm sure that right about now you're all tired of hearing about Hurricane Sandy. It has been the topic of conversation among what seems like everyone for quite some time now. BUT I just need to go on a little rant for a minute....

So, last night around 9:00 pm everyone enrolled at Virginia Tech received a text message that read:
"S VT Alerts. In accordance with VA. Gov. executive order, Virginia Tech is closed on Monday, October 29. Classes Canceled. Essential Personal Report."
Well, as I'm sure you can imagine, my dorm erupted with cheers and excitement. Everyone started planning things to do for the night (that didn't include the homework we had all procrastinated on). I don't think I've seen a larger or happier group of people in quite some time.

But, as the story always goes, the happiness didn't last. Shortly after we all got another text message. Only this time it read:
"S VT Alerts. Virginia Tech will be OPEN on Monday, October 29. Classes and offices operate per normal schedule."
Really Virginia Tech?....REALLY?!

The sight down the hall was quite different after that message. Now, all you could see were angry college students ranting about how unfair it was, and how they couldn't do that. No Take-backs. What ever happened to that?

You want to know the reasoning behind uncancelling classes? Well, apparently the governor's order didn't apply to colleges and universities. So, VT thinks it's a good idea to have us walking across the drill field in 45-60 mile an hour winds and snow. GREAT! Good to know our safety is important to you VT!

But anyway, the study lounges quickly filled up with my hall mates.  We sat together, angrily typing away on our computers in an attempt to finish the homework we had hoped to put off one more day.

Thank you VT. Thank you for crushing the hopes and dreams of 30,000 college students last night. It's gonna take something huge to get back on our good sides again, that's all I'm saying.