Thursday, February 28, 2008

Busy Days

Hey, all! I'm sorry I haven't taken much time to write lately. Things have been pretty busy... not with any one thing in particular, but just as life generally goes! A few updates to share with everyone, however.

My uncle Larry is dealing with some pretty serious medical issues at the moment, and I would appreciate prayers and positive thoughts for him from anyone and everyone. I know things will be OK, but these little jolting reminders of how precious life can be are always tough to take. Good vibes can do wonders.

Gearry, Bailey and I are all doing well. Gearry was sick for a couple days this week, and he NEVER gets sick, so that was an issue. But, after an entire carton of OJ and half a bottle of Nyquil and Dayquil, he's feeling much better. I was keeping my fingers crossed that I would not get it, and so far, so good. I was really sick several times in the fall and early winter, within a two month span, but somehow over the last couple months I've been able to avoid the various flu-like buggies being traded around out there. Hopefully this post doesn't jinx that...

This morning, Gearry took some time out from his busy schedule to read to all of the 3rd graders at Burris Elementary in Mitchell, where his mom teaches. He wore his chef uniform and read some Dr. Seuss, so I'm sure the kids loved it. Reading to little kids is always so much fun... you can make funny voices and act pretty silly and it just makes them love it even more!

This weekend was supposed to the first IU regatta of the season, but the super cold temps as of late and the ice still on the lake forced it to be cancelled. I'm bummed, since I was going to be helping conduct the races, either judging, aligning or timing, or a little of all of the above. The next home regatta is March 22nd, so I'll just have to postpone my excitement for a few weeks. I wasn't going to be able to volunteer at the animal shelter this weekend because of the regatta, so at least I'll get to go visit with my doggy friends on Saturday morning.

I had a meeting yesterday with my favorite professor ever -- who kind of mentored me through my last couple years at IU and who gave me some great opportunities to assist with his research-- to talk about graduate school. Yes, kids, I'm heavily considering going back for my master's degree next year. I just found out I have an appointment with the program coordinator at IU for the program I am interested in next Wednesday, and I'm super excited. I don't want to talk about it too much right now, because I still haven't fully made up my mind and there are a lot of factors to take in and consider. But, I wanted everybody to know that if I seem particularly occupied or busy, it's because most of my energy is being directed towards that project at the moment. More to come about this in the future!

Alright, time to get back to writing (for work, not for pleasure) and finish off this so-far-relatively-productive day. Love you all!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cheaters Do Prosper... for Exactly $750,000.00

Coach Sampson is GONE... thank goodness. But IU chose to reach a "financial agreement" with him, rather than fire him, so for cheating, lying and generally being a unscrupulous person, he gets to walk away with $750,000. Sweet deal. What a joke.

I love IU... I have loved it since I was a kid and the Hoosiers were pretty much all I knew about basketball. But I think that this situation was just handled so poorly, starting with hiring someone who was on NCAA restrictions in the first place! This article, from Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News, says a lot about what I am afraid will be the fallout from this whole PR mess.

For Indiana basketball, there have been a few moments of glory during this decade. There was the remarkable win over Duke in the 2002 NCAA Tournament. There was the overtime win against Maryland in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge the following season. There was Tuesday's home victory over Purdue to put the Hoosiers within striking distance of the 2008 Big Ten title and send Kelvin Sampson into "retirement" as a winner.
OK, so it's not a long, long list.

It'll have to do.

There will not be many more moments to cherish with Indiana basketball for a long time. The descent has only begun. The challenges will become greater, the solutions less accessible. It may be years before we again recognize this program, even if the Hoosiers stick to those candy-stripe warmup pants.

Indiana's decision to hire Sampson away from Oklahoma in the spring of 2006 despite a pending infractions case was costly. The failure to properly supervise him during a year in which he was under NCAA sanctions was devastating. The mishandling of his departure following charges of major recruiting rules violations will haunt the program for years.

Several players' decision to skip practice Friday likely will be resolved in time for the Hoosiers to face Northwestern in a Big Ten game Saturday. In most previous cases of this sort, the deposed coach steps in when aggrieved players suggest a walkout, and his wishes generally are followed.
But that's not going to fix anything. It probably won't even save this season, which likely will meet a less thrilling conclusion than earlier seemed possible.

The past two years at IU have been a symphony of administrative bungling. Even a relatively simple matter like which coach to place in charge of the program following Sampson's ouster was mishandled. The university had three former college coaches on its bench, but, mostly to placate fans affixed to the program's history, the administration chose to put former Bob Knight player and assistant Dan Dakich in charge of the team.

Dakich, former coach at Bowling Green, is a fine, principled man and a capable coach. But he'd also been around the players for the shortest period of time. He was hired as director of basketball operations less than a year ago and was not installed as an assistant coach until Rob Senderoff was removed in October.

Assistant Ray McCallum recruited many of the players on the roster. Those who'd been in the program in 2006-07 regularly worked with him in practice. So when Dakich was placed in charge, the players could see their concerns were being placed below PR considerations.
Given that their wishes already were being trampled in the rush to push Sampson out the door, they understandably felt a sense of betrayal.

Hoosiers fans should take a look at Cincinnati's program right now. That's what they'll have to look forward to in a couple of years -- but only if the administration that has fouled up so much in the past year were to hire precisely the correct coach. Cincinnati surprised many of us by getting it right in hiring Mick Cronin, and he built up the Bearcats from a roster with one remaining scholarship player into a capable Big East team within two seasons.

Such miracles are rare. And, even at that, we're still talking about a 13-12 team. It's easy to admire the accomplishment of achieving that record under such daunting circumstances. It's a little harder for a fan accustomed to excellence to enjoy the .500 neighborhood.

The coach who takes over the Hoosiers in the future probably won't be as gifted as Cronin, because few coaches are and because Indiana wouldn't recognize them if provided a list of names. (I'll try one, anyway: Tony Bennett, Washington State. Maybe he'll take the call.)

Whoever becomes coach probably will encounter a program nearly as empty as Cincinnati was a couple of springs ago. Players willing to consider walking out on a season will not hesitate to consider transferring when that season is done. The two best players, D.J. White and Eric Gordon, will be gone regardless. And IU can forget about the recruiting class promised last fall. Those guys will be asking for releases.

It will be years before we recognize Indiana basketball as the power with five national champions. If you think about it, maybe offering the job to Bob Knight wouldn't be such an awful idea. He might be the only qualified coach willing to take it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lap of Luxury

Gearry and I arrived home this afternoon from our "romantic getaway" to West Baden, although I wouldn't have minded staying another day... or two... or ten. Alas, it's back to work tomorrow for both of us, so one day will have to suffice... for now.

West Baden was... amazing. I've been to some nice hotels, but this was hands down the nicest. It's 4 Diamond, and they are working on garnering 5 Stars. Every little detail is thought of, from embossing the toilet paper with the "WB" initals (yes, seriously) to soft slippers by the bed for turndown service to multiple flat screen TVs in each room. Luxurious is a fitting word. That, combined with the history and sheer beauty of the place, make it like no other. No wonder both French Lick and West Baden are doing so well, despite their location... kind of in the middle of nowhere. We got the chance to walk through French Lick before we left today, and I see why West Baden is definitely the more upscale of the two. But both are great pieces of history that I am so happy to see thriving.

We had dinner at Gearry's restaurant, Sinclair's, although I didn't get any pictures (didn't seem very appropriate to pull a camera out). The meal was fantastic, although we had so many courses that by the time I got my entree I was stuffed and took maybe two bites. It was super tasty, though. And everyone was excited that "Chef Gearry" was there as a customer. Comping is nice... the meal was free, although after our drinks, bottle of wine and $50 tip, we still ended up paying $118.00. But, hey, that's better than $210! And it was definitely worth it... a great dining experience that I recommend everyone check out!

The dome is so immense and ornate that it kind of takes your breath away the first time you see it. This was taken this morning, with lots of sunlight streaming in. I saw it for the first time last night, with the last of the evening sun coming through. It was gorgeous.

So beautiful. The room we stayed in was on the outside of the circle, overlooking the gardens rather than the atrium, but hopefully we'll get a chance to stay in one of the interior balcony rooms sometime.

No wonder it took them $500 million to renovate the resort. The details are amazing.

The indoor pool is soooooo nice! This morning right after we woke up, we headed down to swim some laps. The hotel is at low occupancy this time of year and during the week, so we had the place to ourselves. This picture doesn't do it much justice, but everything was so top-notch... the tile, the furnishings, the locker rooms, everything. We swam laps for about 25 minutes and then chilled in the hot tub for awhile.

Looking up from the pool.

Somehow every single one of the pictures I took of our room ended up blurry, except this picture of the shower... haha. It is a pretty sweet shower, though, so here you go.

Chilling on one of the sofas in the atrium... self-portrait, can you tell?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"Whoa... is it really 6:49?!"

That's similar to the first thing I said when I woke up this morning, with a few choice words I won't write here thrown in. Fortunately, I have a job where I kind of set my own hours and it doesn't really matter if I'm an hour or two late... but seeing as I had really wanted to be up by 5:30, it was still one of those "Oh, no!" moments. Funny thing is, my alarm was still set for the right time and hadn't been turned off or snoozed to death. It really just never went off. Either it hates me and is conspiring against me, or it loves me and thought I needed some extra sleep. Extra sleep I like... having to come in on Saturday to make up lost time? Mmmm, that I'm not going to like so much.

Normally I would just stay later tonight to make up the time, but I'm actually leaving early today (4:00 rather than the usual 6:00) for my belated Valentine's Day celebration with Gearry! Well, we're calling it our Valentine's Day celebration, but really it's just a general romantic getaway that we happened to plan for right after V-Day. We're heading down to West Baden for an awesome dinner at his restaurant and a night at the resort. It should be a great litle overnight excursion... I'm excited to see where he works, meet all of the people he bosses around everyday, and stay in such a beautiful hotel. There is soooooo much history there, I can't wait to see it. As crazy as it may seem, since I've lived in this area my entire life, I've never been inside the West Baden Springs Resort. As a kid, my cousins and I spent time exploring the nooks and crannies of the French Lick Springs Resort, but West Baden was pretty dilapidated by that time and we were never able to check it out. Even after they started doing tours as I got older, I always wanted to go but somehow never made it. Now, the resort has been restored back to its original grandeur (actually, even better than original) and is quickly becoming a very popular destination, just as it was back in the early 1900s. Luxury digs, first rate food, breakfast in bed... yeah, it's gonna be a good night.

Also, I received some pictures today from my cousin Jon, who is in the Air Force... he's wanted to be a pilot for as long as I can remember. On Thursday, Jon got his first solo in a USAF T-6 Texan II, which he'll be flying until June. After he completed his solo, he got thrown into the dunk tank, a tradition after a pilot's first flight.

Friday, February 15, 2008

What a Champ!

Asa is home! Can you believe it?

From Shannon: "Before Asa was born - 7 weeks premature - the Neonatologist told us that he would spend an absolute minimum of 3 weeks in the hospital but 4-5 weeks would be more accurate as a minimum. We'd then go from there. Just over 3 weeks old - still 3 1/2 weeks before he should be here - Asa is well enough to go home! He's now 4 lbs 4 oz and 16 inches (a gain of 1 lb 3 oz and almost an inch in length). He's on no medication. As the weather here is cold/rainy/windy, we will only be leaving the house to go to doctor appointments. That's okay with us. The past 5 weeks is a blur."

Here are some adorable pictures of Asa, first on his way home (in his special car seat... he's not big enough for a regular one yet!) and then home with Mommy & Daddy. He is absolutely perfect; he actually looks like a little baby doll. Every parent thinks his or her baby is the cutest, but I think Shannon & Eric would be right on this one. He's hands down one of the cutest babies I've seen.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentines Day is Sucking a Little Less

I was SUPER CRAPPY about Valentine's Day this year because it is my first married V-Day, yet I am spending it alone... as usual... for almost every holiday.

Not fair. Not fun. Valentine's Day is way overrated, but still...

But it just got a tiny bit better because Gearry showed up at my work with 18 red roses in a really pretty mug (yes, he put it together himself... yes, he has a few Martha Stewart genes, and he knows it).

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Finally: Pictures for your Delight!

I've finally scrounged up a couple pictures from Hillary's bachelorette party (Dec. 22nd) and wedding (Dec. 29th) and thought I'd share them here with you.

The whole bachelorette gang after a fun dinner at O'Shaughnessy's Pub in downtown Columbus, Ohio.
Chilling in the VIP section at Mynt Ultralounge.

The just-marrieds (6 months is still "just-married," right?) and the almost-marrieds.

The new Mr. & Mrs. Spears and the lovely Knapp family.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Asa: 2 of 3 and Counting!

I just received the e-mail from Shannon in regards to Asa, and a new pic:

"Hi. No news is good news. Asa has been doing well, not much to report until today. He's been able to regulate his own body temp so tonight he moved out of his isolette and into a basinette. He (Thank God and keep praying) has not had respiratory problems. Two of the three requirements for him to go home have been and are being successfully met. (Maintaining body temperature and no respiratory problems) The third is for him to gain weight by eating without his feeding tube. He is working diligently on that. The nurse and doctor spoke with me today about preparing to bring Asa home. If Asa keeps at the rate he is going, they estimate that he may be able to come home next week! Eating is tiring because, technically, he shouldn't be using these muscles for another 5 weeks so he is working hard to develop the coordination for it and he doesn't have the body weight to draw energy from. It may take him a bit longer, but he is doing SO well that they wanted me to be mentally as well as physically prepared for him to come home. WOW! We can't wait! Love, Shannon"

Wow... I can't believe how well he is doing and how quickly he is progressing! From the first few days of learning about the issues with the pregnancy, during which the whole family was praying and just hoping for the best, all the way to this. Incredible.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Casa de Caudell

FINALLY! After I have been promising everyone pictures of our house since we moved in last June... the day has come.

I've previously posted pictures of our porch and master bedroom, but here are a few more from around the house. They don't really do it justice but give you a good idea. It's a great place and it suits us perfectly... 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1007 square feet. I know I'll be sad in a couple years when we have to leave it (to move into a bigger place with a fenced-in yard for Bailey). It's definitely the perfect first home.

Super Sunday

I hosted my first party in our new house yesterday for the Super Bowl (unfortunately, Gearry was working, as usual) and it was a great success! I'm a spaz when it comes to hosting things... I worry about every little detail. But I just tried to relax and enjoy the evening, and I thought it went really well. There were 7 of us: Tasheena (from work) and her girlfriend, Trish; Nikki (from work) and her fiance, Joe; Ben (from work); and Afra... plus Bailey, who decided it was the night to continually bite and attack everyone, as well as hang on to their pant legs with his teeth anytime they got up to do anything. It is a good thing he is so cute, or he wouldn't have gotten away with half of it. Gearry and I are trying to work on the biting thing (it's just play biting... he plays really rough) but we're not making a lot of progress. He'd never really try to hurt someone, which is good, but he's definitely earning his reputation as an ankle-biter.

I was sooooooo happy that the Giants came away with the victory! I'm not a Giants fan, but I am definitely NOT a Patriots fan. Basically, I was cheering for the lesser of two evils. Most of the game was a little dull, but the last few minutes were amazing! I really couldn't believe the outcome... this morning I wondered if I had dreamed it! Guess it's true... cheaters never prosper.

Thanks to who-knows-how-many beers (yep, I lost count) I felt HORRIBLE this morning. I came into work almost an hour and a half later than usual and I was still pretty much the first one here. After some greasy, stomach-coating food for lunch and about a gallon of water, I am feeling a lot better. I usually operate by a glass of water for every two beers rule, which makes things much, much better the next day. But, in my Super Bowl excitement, common sense went by the wayside and I paid for it. Blah. Here's to a good night of sleep tonight and lots and lots more water.

Gearry has to work tomorrow because his executive chef is on a business trip, so we won't get to spend our usual Tuesday evening together. I'm not too happy about that, but it will at least give me an excuse to stay later at work and get some extra stuff done. And, most importantly, we still have Wednesday.

This weekend, Hillary, Stebby & Stebby's Colleen may be coming to stay with us. I hope, I hope, I hope! We need a great girl weekend. A little Mother Bear's, some Dave & Rae, and a lot of dancing. I haven't heard the final word yet, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.