It's almost been a year since Mickey made the journey to Kentucky to her new home. There, she met Paws, who had become King of the Yard and spent his days sleeping on the front porch protecting the family from predators. Paws wasn't super excited about having Mickey around at first. She's what you call--a bit excited at times--or maybe just overly-loving. Paws was a bit annoyed.

Since the two have spent a year together, including a big snowy winter and a hot, dry summer--they've bonded. Together, they guard the yard, kills snakes, greet guests, and frighten delivery men.

Mickey is still working on learning what can and cannot be eaten around the yard. Baseball gloves, FedEx packages, decorated pumpkins, and telephone books have been placed on her do-not-eat list. She's still learning.

It's good to see Mickey happy with my nieces. She was a fun companion for me, but a lot of work to keep exercised in my apartment. She's been much healthier--and living a better dog's life in Kentucky.

Marissa & Mickey

Emily & Mickey

Emily & Paws

I did a 48 hour tour of Kentucky this weekend. I haven't been to my home state in several months and needed to touch base with home. Airfare has been really high lately, but I'm usually able to find a last minute special with Continental (so sad about the merger with United). So, this past weekend, a special was advertised with round trip access to Lexington, so I jumped on it. I rented a car and began my whirlwind trip.

In the little time I had, here's what I did:
-Took in the beautiful colors of fall on the Bluegrass Parkway
-Made friends with a Kroger Starbucks barista and encouraged her to make Rice Crispie Treats that night
-Drove past the original "My Old Kentucky Home" and through historic Bardstown
-Marveled at the beauty and elegance of the horse farms
-Prayed that a forest fire wouldn't overtake my sister's home
-Visited with Mickey the Dog and her adopted brother-dog, Paws
-Hugged my ever-changing red-headed nieces and compared shades of red
-Watched the documentary Babies with my nieces and got educated on a baby's life that's born out in the bush
-Relived memories on my nieces as babies while watching our family videos
-Got a whole case of Larabars from my sister (25 cents each!)
-Took fall pics of the girls & sis & bro-in-law for my mom's collection
-Drove to my mom's house
-Went to my home church
-Visited with a sweet friend at her beautiful farmhouse
-Scarfed down BW3 wings with my brother, sister-in-law, nieces, & mom
-Played the restaurant trivia game & lost
-Treated the family to Starbucks
-Took pictures of my nephew for my mom's "Grandchild Wall of Fame"
-Went to Wal-Mart to develop pictures
-Helped Mom flip a mattress
-Visited with a neighbor
-Hightailed it back to Lexington to catch my flight

...and believe it or not, it was restful!

I had forgotten how amazing the season Fall can be. Everyone said the colors weren't as brilliant this year, but when it's been several years since you've witnessed an orange, red, or yellow tree, it takes your breath away. I had also forgotten what the falling objects were that were gently floating onto the highway as I sailed down the parkway--they were leaves. One of my favorite moments was catching a little whirlwind pick up about 50 or so leaves, spin them around, and then lightly lay them back down.

Kentucky, you are a beautiful state.

I went to the dentist today. It was a bit painful. I have "mild gingivitis" which means "painful gums" in layman's terms. On a day to day basis my gums don't hurt, but when they are probed with a tiny metal hook, they ache. I hadn't kept my normal flossing routine over the last week or so, and the results showed today.

I endured the pain from the cleaning because I want good teeth. I want a sparkly smile. I've been working on it since I was five and got the magic red tablets and crocodile toothbrush from a kindergarten presentation. The tablets (which tasted awful) would uncover areas that needed to be brushed. My dad also had false teeth, and those teeth--or the absence of his real teeth--were a highly motivating factor of my own dental care. Teeth are preferably in the mouth, and not on the corner of a sink to soak at night--so I faithfully and fearfully brush.

I've been drinking more coffee over the last year, so now I have something I never had in the past: coffee stains. At first, I didn't know what was wrong. I thought I had some weird, translucent and mildly brown tooth problem. It was just the stains.

This weekend, I want my teeth to be exceptionally bright and white to show off a happy smile at the weddings I'm going to be attending. I have the whole scenario planned out with my teeth being the star (well, besides the bride).

I will be in the single lady lineup (which I normally detest) for the bouquet toss. Since I've been working on my vertical jump, I will easily claim the prize. And then after my great catch, I will flash my wedding white smile (brought to you by Crest White Strips and my dental cleaning), and a handsome groomsmen will have to shield his eyes with his wedding ringless left hand as the photographer's camera flash reflects off my smile. That groomsmen will at once be smitten. And the rest is history.

But that means, in the next few days, I've got to work extra hard at keeping my pearly whites pearly and not gnarly with more stains. It's almost gametime. So, Starbucks, we are officially on a coffee break...unless you promise that if I drink with a straw I won't have teeth stains.

I came, I saw, I ran. I did two races in two weekends. The races were only 5Ks, but if you add both together, you get a 10K. I could do another one in a few weeks which would mean I would accomplish a 5K Triple Crown of sorts. But I think I'm ready to get back to some old routine workouts.

Running can be physically exhausting. And it tricks me into thinking I can consume thousands of calories because I'm burning them off. Mentally, I know my burned calorie to consumed calories ratio has been a bit off, but my hunger monster prefers to ignore scientific facts. And because running is not a natural gift, I have to work pretty hard to reach goals, and working out has more of an emphasis on "work" than I would like it to. But, since I have worked so hard to be able to run an easy 3.2, I'm hoping to keep up my stamina and toned legs.

I've noticed that runners can develop a type of pride over their abilities. Perhaps it goes back to old days when good runners initiated and lived out "survival of the fittest." So maybe runners have the right to brag about their miles logged and PRs. If dinosaurs come back Jurassic Park style, they can put that talk into a walk--or, uh, run.

Sometimes I have thoughts flash through my mind when I'm in a parking lot thinking about me outrunning a purse snatcher or something. This is with the assumption that the purse snatcher is not a good runner. Or then I think the purse snatcher may have good speed, but perhaps I could beat him in distance. I better start practicing in heels for more real-world training.

So, I suppose I'll keep up my running. And maybe figure out what my next goal is--time or distance. I might go for time. It's a good feeling zipping by people.