Sunday, October 30, 2011

They'll Know of our Love: Update

As an update to my previous post about the lock of love that we wrote our names on, and our friend, Kim, was going to attach to the bridge over the Rhine in Germany...it's done!

Jer, Janet + baby Dutch Marcum

Kim and Mik with our lock

A view of the thousands of locks on the bridge

We are forever grateful to Kim and Mik for attaching our lock to the bridge.  I still can't get over how sweet it was for them to do this for us.  We can't wait to see our German friends again, and visit our lock of love in Koln, Germany!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Smart Cookies

I'm amazed at what you can teach a dog in just a few short days.  We took Casey to get spayed a couple of weeks ago, and we knew she'd need some time away from the other doggles, especially Juneau, during her recovery.  Her and Juneau have a volatile relationship, and we knew her being in pain would just add fuel to the fire.  When she came back home after surgery, we made a point to keep them separate or always make sure one was in a crate while the other roamed free.  Our doggles have never been crate-trained, so they were not too keen on the idea at first.  We had to force them into their respective crates, which was accompanied with lots of growling and resistance, followed by whining once inside.  That behavior occurred for a couple days and then, voila, they figured out it wasn't the end of the world to be in their crate!  Now, all I do is walk over to Juneau's crate in the living room, open the gate, point inside and say, "Juneau, get in your box."  She trots right on over and gets inside!  The first couple times it happened, I couldn't believe my eyes.  She's so agreeable now!  As for Casey, we just make her get into her crate for bedtime.  She's used to crawling underneath our bed and sleeping there, so we knew that forcing her to do anything else, let alone get inside a crate, would be a chore.  To try and make it seem less like a punishment and more like she was just sleeping closer to us now, I put her crate on the large table next to my bed.  After a couple of days of putting up a fight, it almost seems like she looks forward to the crate now!  When I open our bedroom door, she runs to the bed, jumps on it, and stands by the crate (the table is even with our bed and just a few inches away from it).  I lift the mesh zipper flap and usually without me needing to even saying a word, she walks inside.  I zip it closed and she's good for the night!  I can't tell you how pleased I am that they've made such strides in minding us.  This is definitely going to come in handy when we introduce a newborn into the mix! 

Casey and Juneau laying next to each other (during an on-again moment in their on-again/off-again relationship), with Riley in the background

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Professional Courtesy

In this day and age, people want results quickly, but sometimes we're not in a position to be able to take a phone call.  I'm in my car a lot, sometimes with clients, and I've always got my GPS talking to me when I'm house-hunting.  It's not conducive for talking on the phone, so I prefer email whenever possible.  When I'm stuck at a long red light, I can shoot off an email.  When a client is walking through a house, I can read and respond to a business associate without speaking aloud.  When it's late at night and I'm just getting back home and catching up on what I missed during the day, I can read and send emails that won't disturb someone else, like an annoying ringing phone would.  In other words, we can't always be expected to answer our phone or make a call, but how hard is it to send an email?  If you want to be a Realtor in the 21st century, you need a smartphone that gives you access to email at all times, or, at the very least, you need to be checking in on your email a few times a day.  You need to make it a rule that you respond to all emails within 24 hours, ESPECIALLY if you're the listing agent and looking to get your property sold/leased.  I've been pretty frustrated over the past couple of weeks with other Realtors dropping the ball on email communications. 

Example 1: I previewed a rental for a client that I thought they'd like, but might have a concern with the size of the master bedroom.  The room would be fine, except that the owner bought a massive storage closet unit from Ikea that took up an entire wall instead of having a traditional closet.  That didn't leave a lot of room if my clients had a king-sized bed, dresser, and TV stand.  I left feedback for the listing agent with that concern.  He emailed me and said that he believed that part of the storage unit could house a TV.  Okay, that might make the house a possibility then.  I wanted to get that verified before I drove my clients all the way out there, though, so I emailed him back and asked if the unit had electricity and cable outlets inside it, so there wouldn't be awkward extension cords running across the room.  He said he would check with the owners and get back to me.  A day passed.  Two days passed.  My clients were coming into town soon and I needed to make appointments at the houses that would be worth their time.  I emailed him again and asked if he had the chance to verify the location of the outlets.  No response.  What the heck?  How hard is it to follow-up on what you tell someone you'll do, or at least send any kind of response about why you haven't followed-up?  If he forgot that he told me he'd check into it, then my additional email should've served as his reminder!  I ended up showing the house to my clients anyway, but they didn't like it for a different reason.  I sent the new feedback to the listing agent, and what do you know?  He emails me to let me know the owners have dropped the price and to see if there's anything he can do to help my clients consider it.  Pbbbt.  You can start by not selectively responding to emails, and actually following through with the things you say you'll do.  I bet his client would be interested to know that he's failing in the communication category.

Example 2: I previewed a rental for a client and I absolutely loved it.  The house was great, the neighborhood was great, and it met all of my client's requirements.  This was a week before my clients were coming into town, so I emailed the Realtor two days before their arrival to make sure it was still available.  The listing still showed as Active, but I wanted to check.  No response.  I decided to go ahead and make an appointment to show it to them, and hope for the best.  When I tried to do that online, the appointment service threw back an error and it wouldn't let me set it up.  This can either mean the service is broken, the agent has removed the listing temporarily, or the listing is no longer active.  Because I knew my clients would love this house, and the listing still showed as Active, I didn't want to just give up on it in case there was a problem with the appointment service, not the listing.  I emailed the Realtor again and told him about my problems with setting up the appointment and asked again if it was available.  No response.  Are you freaking kidding me?  It wasn't until a few days later that the listing changed status to Leased that I knew there was no hope for it.  If something was in the works when I emailed him both times, could he not have spent 30 seconds sending me a response and telling me that?  Actually, "It's been leased" took me five seconds to type, so that's all it would've required.  It's just a matter of professional courtesy, people!

Rest assured that I don't have these communication failures.  I find it unacceptable to let an email, text, or phone call go unanswered from my client or from a business associate.  Not only that, I get back to people quickly.  As soon as I know something, my client will know something.  As soon as my client wants to pull the trigger on something, I make sure the other parties involved are aware of that.  There's no excuse for a lack of professional courtesy among Realtors, and there's no excuse for a lack of attentiveness towards one's clients.         

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kicking It

I've been feeling little baby Dutch's kicks for a couple weeks now, but Meezy had not had the opportunity to.  Since he's only about a pound at this point, the movements are easier to feel on the inside of my tummy than the outside.  On Saturday morning though, as I was laying in bed, I noticed the kicks were pretty constant and more pronounced than usual, so I gave it another shot and put Meezy's hand on my belly to see if he could feel them. Dutch got in 3 good kicks in the span of just a couple minutes, and Meezy felt all of them.  :)  He said to him it felt like I was just contracting my stomach, but I assured him I had no control over the situation! 

I like getting the little reminders throughout the day that Dutch is moving around and growing.  I get so busy sometimes, or get wrapped up in mundane tasks, and his little nudges are a nice break.  The pregnancy experience is so (understandably) tilted toward the mom's side since the changes aren't happening to the dad's body, but having Meezy's hand on my stomach while our little man said hello made me feel like he was getting some of the experience too.       

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Favorite Pictures (Europe edition)

Continued from my post from yesterday, here are my favorite pictures from our adventures in Europe in 2010.  Our trip to 5 countries over 2 weeks was one of the most amazing things we've ever experienced, and I'm so grateful I can look back at these pictures and relive the memories and sights.  I know we'll make it back to Europe one day, and maybe next time we'll get to bring little Dutch and show him where his Opa was born!

 Mayhem on the Museumplein in Amsterdam, Holland during the World Cup Final

Canal in Amsterdam, Holland

Big Ben, London, England

Parliament, London, England

London, England from atop Tower 42

Famous casino in Monte Carlo, Monaco

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Photo op in Monte Carlo, Monaco

 Meezy outside the Musee Oceanographique, Monte Carlo, Monaco

Netherlands American Cemetery outside Maastricht, Holland

Basilique du Sacre-Coeur outside Paris, France

Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

Paris, France

Inside the Pantheon, Paris, France

Outside the Louvre, Paris, France

Inside the Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

Inside the Koln Cathedral, Koln, Germany

On the Nurburgring, Nurburg, Germany

Proof I rode the famous ring, Nurburg, Germany


Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Favorite Pictures (non-Europe)

I have a frame in my entryway that contains six of my favorite landscape pictures that I've taken on our various trips.  I love walking by it and seeing the beautiful scenes they depict, and thinking about the amazing memories the hubs and I have made while traveling.  It got me thinking about how we've seen some pretty awesome sights, and I felt like going back through our photo albums and picking out my favorites.  Most of them we took ourselves, but some of them are pictures we asked others to take of us.  The number of ones I decided I love started growing rather large, so I am breaking them up into Europe and non-Europe categories!  Here they are, my favorite pictures from travels and adventures outside of Europe, in no particular order:

 Kim, Meezy, myself at Palo Duro Canyon outside Amarillo, TX

Meezy and me at Palo Duro Canyon outside Amarillo, TX

Puerto Aventuras, Mexico

Snorkeling in a cave outside Puerto Aventuras, Mexico

 Friendly dolphins in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico

Kim and I at Coronado Island, CA

Meezy and I at Coronado Island, CA

Polar Bear at San Diego Zoo, CA

Reunion Tower in Dallas, TX

Alcatraz Island outside San Francisco, CA

Alcatraz, outside San Francisco, CA

Skyline in San Francisco, CA

Meezy and I in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA

Our photogenic friends, Brett and Lena, in San Francisco, CA

View from atop the famous arch in St. Louis, MO

Meezy at the Peppermill Lounge, Las Vegas, NV

View atop Rockefeller Center in New York, NY

Sarah, Mark, and Meezy in front of the Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C.

Fort Lauderdale, FL
Kim at Dallas Karting Complex in Caddo Mills, TX

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

Most Sundays around my house are lazy Sundays.  Meezy and I try to sleep in, watch some football, eat take-out, and catch up on recorded TV shows.  They're pretty much greatness!  I also usually start putting together my to-do list for the week and think about how much I'm going to get accomplished on Monday and the following days.  It actually starts to get me excited, in a nerdy kind of way, because I love getting things done and marking things off the list.  I had big plans for Monday, but that quickly went south around 9pm on Sunday night!  Meezy and I drove through In and Out Burger, and on the drive home, I started to feel kinda queasy.  After we got home, I ate a couple of french fries (which are really no good, by the way.  No flavor!) and had a couple of bites of my cheeseburger.  That was all I could take and I had to push them away.  My stomach was just not feeling it.  I went to the bathroom and threw up.  Hmmm.  I hadn't had "morning" sickness for quite a while now, and even when I did have it, I usually didn't throw up.  This felt different.  Turns out, it was! 

I found myself throwing up at least once an hour overnight.  It was miserable.  I couldn't ever fall sleep, and couldn't even keep water or Gatorade down.  Poor Meezy had to sleep in the living room because he had to go to work the next day and wasn't getting any sleep with me constantly stirring and running to the bathroom.  When morning rolled around, I got kinda worried that not being able to eat or drink anything would affect the baby.  I called my sister (who I remembered went through this twice in her recent pregnancy) and then called my doctor's office when it opened.  Basically, there isn't a worry with not being able to eat for a day or two, but not staying hydrated can become a problem.  If I still couldn't keep even water down by mid-afternoon, I might've had to go into the ER to get IV fluids to avoid dehydration.  I really didn't want that to happen!  I was super thirsty (and hungry, of course), but I made myself just take small sips of water and I sucked on ice chips.  The throwing up persisted throughout the morning, but it became less often, and I was actually able to sleep for about an hour and a half in the afternoon.  That made me hopeful that things were on the mend!  I still didn't feel awesome by dinnertime, but the vomiting had ceased, and I was staying hydrated.  Man, stomach bugs are ridonkulous!  I lost an entire day to this stupid thing, and wasn't able to get anything done.  I found out later that a few of my friends also caught it this weekend.  There's no stopping it!  Lol.  I'm so thankful I'm back to my normal self today, albeit 4 pounds lighter, but normal food still doesn't look super appealing!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I Am the Face


Today, October 15th, is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  I am the face of miscarriage, and I am the 1 in 4 women who will experience the loss of a baby at some point in their lives.  Hearing that statistic makes me cringe because it's way too common of an occurrence.  I know that it's true, though, because it's happened to more of my friends and family members than I can count.  The silver lining is that the taboo around this subject is disappearing, and there are many of us out there available to talk to if you need it.

I think the important things to remember are that miscarriages and stillbirths are predominantly NOT caused by a lack of prenatal care, or something else the mother did or didn't do during pregnancy.  They are not your fault, and there's probably no way they could've been prevented. (www.iamtheface.org)  The startling truth is that 25-50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage (pregnancy.org), 1 in 160 pregnancies ends in a stillbirth (March of Dimes), and about 20,000 babies each year die in their first month of life (March of Dimes).  These statistics aren't meant to scare you, instead they are meant to reassure you that you're not alone, and there are resources available if you need support.  Someone somewhere, probably even nearby, has gone through what you've been through.             

This day is a bittersweet day for me.  I am happy to carry the torch for this cause, because we need voices, and we need solidarity and strength.  But, I can't help but think about how my original due date was just two short weeks from now.  Back in February and March of this year, I thought I'd be welcoming a baby into the world right about now.  It wasn't in the cards, and that's okay.  I've accepted that, and my sorrow has turned into joy at thinking about the boy I will be bringing into the world in February. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Trigger Happy

Now that I've pretty much got my nursery theme figured out, it's hard not to jump in and purchase every cute thing I see that would fit that theme!  I've done pretty well so far, though, in not going crazy.  I did pull the trigger on an item last night that was just too adorable to pass up.  The hubs was with me, and he said, "just buy it" so that sealed the deal!  Check it out:

How cute is that lotion dispenser??  The nursery has a sink inside the room, so I knew I'd need a few bathroom items that had to fit the theme.  I saw this green frog, surrounded by dots, and knew I had to have it.  My main colors are green and orange, and dots are another central theme, so it couldn't have been more perfect.  I also got the matching wastebasket.  It's starting to come together!

Speaking of the dots theme, here's a reminder of what some of the bedding and window decorations look like:


It's a bit ambitious, but I'm attempting to replicate this design on one of the nursery room walls.  It will be the wall behind the crib, changing table, and dresser.  The other walls will just have a bold orange stripe running horizontally along the middle.  Meezy thinks I'm crazy, but I've got enough time to finish it before the baby comes, and I think it will look awesome upon completion.  Here's the first peek of just the outline of my drawings on the wall, before paint:


This is only one small section of the wall, and it took a decent amount of time, but I'm getting the hang of it.  Can't wait to post more pics as it progresses!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Internet Famous

I mentioned last Christmas that my nephew brought fingerstaches to our family get-together as a joke, and we were all good sports and put them on for a family photo.  My brother-in-law added a funny touch by wearing a spiked hair hat, a la NSYNC.  Since my dad already has a real mustache, he put his fingerstache up to his forehead and made himself a unibrow.  I thought that was pretty clever, and the whole picture was hilarious, so I uploaded it to imgur and posted it to reddit.  It quickly made the front page and got a lot of views.  By a lot of views, I mean over 180,000.  Holy cripes!  I can't believe the picture was viewed that many times.


I had forgotten about it since then, until my nephew's classmate recently told him he had seen him on an iphone app.  What??  Apparently our picture was snagged and posted to a few other sites since then.  One of them was Buzzfeed, with the following description. Lol.


That site shows a hit count of about 2,000 views.  It totally cracks me up that people took our photo and submitted it to other sites, and that it's been viewed almost 200,000 times.  Man, I wish there was some kind of compensation for getting this much exposure on the Internets!  Haha.