Thursday, March 7, 2013

101 in 1001 Updated!

Wow, it's been a long time since I updated my 101 in 1001. I can't believe how many more things I got done than I realized (that'll happen when you don't update something for 8 months).

Some highlights:

2. I learned in knit after getting yarn, needles, and instruction books from my mom and sister for Christmas

10. I did a 5K. It's highly debateable whether or not I RAN it

13. Our debt paying-off is in progress. My retail cards are gone! And we took a small personal loan in 2012 to get rid of the rest. We just weren't making a dent in Dan's (incredibly) high interest rate card. We're on a schedule to be debt free in late 2014. I'll miss the deadline for my 101 in 1001, but not by much. And really, I made that with the goal in mind to have MY debt gone (we have separate money, as you may know), but our whole household will be debt free, since our cars will be paid off around the same time (I'm not counting the house, because COME ON).

40 & 42. I've been in contact with RESOLVE about becoming a state advocate, and am waiting to hear back. I've expressed my desires relating to #42 and hope that I can be involved in some way with something existing, or maybe even develop an education program or contribute to the site's bank of info in some way.

45. I shot my pistol! I'm still going to sign up for classes and get more formal training in using what we have, but I know the basics for now and feel more comfortable using them.

67 & 68. I visited Kari in Illinois in June, and Dan and I visited my sister and brother-in-law in Seattle (their gorgeous new home, oh my gosh!) in February

What have you completed on your list?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

PJs at TJs 2: "Yay! You made it! Okay!"

For the second year in a row, I spent a fabulous February weekend with my friends from the internet. Yes, I have a lot of them, and many of them are better than some of the people I’m IRL (in real life) friends with. And many of them have also become IRL friends – because I know them now and I’ve met them and I can legitimately say they’re not just friends from the internet anymore. Anyway. I went to PJs at TJ’s. Last year, the event was at Kelly’s house and it was relatively small and intimate and fun and there was a snack wall and a bed in the living room (which stayed in the living room for a very long while after, which is brilliant). This year, Kelly found an amazing house in Gilbert to rent, expanded the cap on the number of attendees, and once again showed us all a fabulous time. There was a still a snack wall and there was still a bed in the living room, but this year there was pub cheese and a cake quite a few new faces.

Since I live about an hour from the party house, I decided that I would treat myself and go all out and rent half a bed for the weekend at the house rather than waste the money on gas driving back and forth, and I’m so glad I did. I would have missed out on so much fun if I’d stayed at home at night. I arrived after work on Friday and was greeted with big hugs and introductions to the new girls. We hung out, talked and overall had a nice time getting to know each other until probably midnight or so. I got to meet my roommate, Deja (also known as PinkieBling). I have to say, she is awesome. It was only the beginning, and we all had the best time, especially when Kelly broke out into highly animated book synopses and reviews. I hadn’t laughed that hard in a long time.

On Saturday, we hung out in the morning, then headed out for lunch and Targeting. Poor Noemi got lost (and I don’t know the area at all, so stupid me didn’t even realize I was following her to nowhere rather than correcting her and helping her find the way to the promised land that is Chili’s queso dip and margaritas), but we eventually got there and had lunch with a big group of girls. The up side to being lost was that I got to hang out with Deja and get to know her better. After lunch, Deja, Linnea, and I went to Target and then back to the party house to help Kelly decorate. I must say, we did an excellent job of purple-ifying, and all the d├ęcor Kelly picked out was just perfect and festive and fun. After a quick nap, it was time to get dressed (is it called ‘dressed’ when you’re wearing PJs?) for the big event: the pajama party!

Kelly really went all out with everything when it came to this weekend, truly. Not only did she take the time to make sure everyone was comfortable and happy, she spoiled us when it came to food. She had a pudding tower, the snack wall, pizza, snacks galore, this thing called crack dip, pub cheese, and – oh my gosh, people – cookie butter. She even had a cake featuring her main squeeze, Tom Hanks. The Canadian, Lara (whose hair is still fabulous), brought some snacks from her homeland, and would you believe one of them was a sponge candy bar? (My mom just gasped) I can’t tell you how much I love sponge candy. It reminds me of visits to my mom’s home town – there’s a candy shop that makes it and it’s just my favorite thing ever. And they have it in bar form in Canada. Bars. Of sponge candy! I might have to move there. Anyway, once again, we stayed up ridiculously late talking in our PJs. There were little groups dispersed all over the living and dining rooms, and they would evolve and shift, and you could just sit down and pick up on the conversation. We laughed so hard sometimes – enough that there were tears (I’m looking at you, Deja). I think I got a chance to talk to just about everyone at some point in the evening, whether directly or in a group. As people left for their hotels or to go upstairs to bed, the group got smaller and eventually – around 3am – we trudged off to bed, having laughed our way through a fantastic day. It really is the best kind of tired to be worn out from giggling and talking with friends for hours on end.

Everyone was really wonderful to see again or meet - I'm scared of trying to list everyone because I certainly don't want to leave anyone out. I loved seeing girls again from last year and getting to talk to them more. It was great meeting new girls, and I hope that our conversations will continue through this year, just as they did with last year’s crowd.

Thank you, thank you, thank you all (but most of all, Kelly) for an incredible weekend! You all are wonderful and I’m so thankful to have fallen in with the right crowd.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Shana had this on her blog this morning, and I'm a self-proclaimed sucker for questionnaires. And warning, I'm stealing some of her answers because sometimes, that girl lives in my head.

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? I'm pretty sure Brooke Shields is how the name made it to my parents heads. They were Team Green and if I'd been a boy, I'd have been Adam, which to my knowledge had no connection to anything in particular.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? "I’m a huge crier. I cry all the time. Most recently…this morning on the train as I read the book about a girl who was the sole survivor of the car crash that killed her whole family. She’s sort of suspended and she has to decide whether she wants to stay or whether she wants to go. It’s a great book called If I Stay by Gayle Forman." - Shana. Pretty much exactly this, only I was reading Signs of Life about a woman who is widowed at the age of 24 while 5 months pregnant. Shana and I know how to pick uplifting reads :)

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? It's okay. It's a little sloppy.


5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? I have two pups who are my kids.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? Yeah, I'm pretty awesome. I'm a good and loyal friend
9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? "Oh, hell no. I have a paralyzing fear of heights and just answering this question is making my heart race a bit." - Shana  Ditto

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Honey Nut Cheerios (they remind me of Grandma's house), and Froot Loops

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Yes, my shoes that tie can't be taken off without untying them

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? In many ways, yes.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Mint chocolate chip or Blue Bunny (this is very specific as nothing beats out Blue Bunny on this) Perfectly Peppermint
14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Probably the way they're dressed
15. RED OR PINK? Pink.

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? "My tendency to be lazy. I always have big plans…but my desire to sit on the couch wins way too often." - Shana. Word

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? I've been fortunate to have not been faced with a lot of loss. I miss my uncle very much, though.
18. WHAT IS THE TECHNIQUE THAT YOU NEED TO WORK ON THE MOST? Hmmmm. I want to get better at creating recipes with baking

20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? An egg white omelet with peppers, onions, and spinach. I forgot my Morning Star sausage today

23. FAVORITE SMELLS? My husband fresh out of the shower (awwww!), vanilla cake batter, and my momma's perfume
24. HOW IMPORTANT ARE YOUR POLITICAL VIEWS TO YOU? Aren't everyone's important? If you're asking if I'm highly opinionated and vocal, overall I would say no. I have only a couple issues I'm passionate about.
25. MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAY OR BEACH HOUSE? Mountain hideaway. Shana answered beach house. I'm questioning her sanity.

26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? "College basketball." - Shana. Oh, Shana. That's two in a row. I like NFL and hockey. Or golf if I want to take a nap.

27. HAIR COLOR? Natural color is dark brown. Right now, it's black with a purple sheen.
28. EYE COLOR? Brown
29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? Yes - I alternate with glasses though. I wear contacts about 50% of the time.
30. FAVORITE FOOD? Steak and potatoes. Any kind of potatoes. I love them.
31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Neither. I mean happy endings aren't bad, per se, but it makes me think of romance movies like the Notebook, which I have no interest in. I'm perfectly fine with endings that aren't all sugary and sweet.
34. SUMMER OR WINTER? "Fall is my favorite, but I prefer winter over summer." - Shana. And we're back on track

35. FAVORITE DESSERT? Tiramisu. Or cheesecake. Or tiramisu cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory

36. STRENGTH TRAINING OR CARDIO? Cardio if it's Zumba or Kickboxing. Otherwise, I'd rather do weight training than running.


38. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? I'm almost done with Signs of Life by Natalie Taylor

39. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? It's plain black.
40. FAVORITE SOUND? Ummm, anything that isn't creepy. I'll tell you my least favorite sound - zippers. I hate zippers. They're like nails on a chalkboard.

41. FAVORITE GENRE OF MUSIC? Metal or hard rock

43. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? Mmmm, I dunno. I don't think I'm above average at much of anything.


46. WHAT COLOR IS YOUR HOUSE? Off white with plum trim
47. WHAT COLOR IS YOUR CAR? Silver. I wanted it in graphite, but the one they had was like $4K more (four THOUSAND more?!) and sensible me decided that wasn't worth it.
48. DO YOU LIKE ANSWERING 48 QUESTIONS? "It was perfect for today" - well said, Shana

Monday, January 21, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

Hello, hello! Hope 2013 is treating you well. The beginning of the year was a whirlwind for me with work - many 9-10 hour days, and some even longer. It's finally letting up and I'm settling back into our regular pace. One thing that is new for the beginning of this year is that I'm doing the Biggest Blogging Loser, run by Jennie of SheLikesPurple. One of the items on my 101 in 1001 is to lose 25 pounds. Ideally, it would be a bit more than that (I have a goal number in mind, but I'm not sharing because it's my goal and I'll not allow myself to feel guilty about a number on a scale so long as I make healthy changes and feel better about me). It runs from January 7th through the end of March, with the final weigh-in on April 1st (I think - thankfully, Jennie send weekly reminders). The motivation and support among the 50 other ladies in the contest has been great. We have a FB group where we talk about challenges, share recipes, and cheer each other on.

Anyway, it seems like the perfect time to discuss what I'm doing (and what's been working for the 1st two weeks) and share my meal plans. I'm not setting out to do anything like Paleo or Whole30 (as some of our more brave and possibly crazy ladies are), but we're eating more veggies than ever before and it's pretty much a South Beach Diet plan, which I've been successful with in the past.

I made a HUGE pot of vegetable soup on Sunday (green beans, white beans, broccoli, cabbage, zucchini, celery, onion, carrots, etc.) and we had that Sunday and I'll have it the rest of the week for lunches. Breakfast is always (even at home on weekends or telecommuting) a 3 fresh egg white omelet with veggies and Morning Star sausage. For snacks, I have celery and cucumber pre-cut and packaged to grab when I make my lunch each morning. Afternoon snack is yogurt. I love Kroger's CarbMaster brand because it's got a lot of protein, is low in carbs, and it comes in "fake" flavors that I love. While I like Greek yogurt, many have fruit on the bottom and I can't handle the texture. They also tend to be high in carbs. So CarbMaster gives me flavor I love while keeping the sugar count low. My rule is that I only eat what I bring (unless I get really hungry, and then I steal a coworker's almonds), and that's worked well on both the diet and my budget.

Dinners this week:

- Cheeseburger wraps. I'm past the 1st phase of South Beach, so I made these with whole wheat tortillas. I skipped the ketchup because of extra sugar and just used my favorite burger seasoning instead. Funny story, we don't have a George Forman grill as recommended, so I used our waffle maker. Ours didn't look nearly as good, but they were tasty.

- Cilantro lime chicken and black bean salad. I love crock pot meals, and plan to freeze half the chicken for a later time. Hopefully this Pinterest find works out better than cheeseburger wraps in execution.

- Turkey meatloaf and spaghetti squash. I know, I've said that a hunk of turkey meat doesn't sound appetizing. But I'm determined to find a good recipe. If all else fails, I will season the heck out of it. We substitute spaghetti squash for pasta in our favorite creations a lot, but I also love it as a side. Dan makes it extra tasty with just a bit of butter (I don't use butter on hardly anything, so I don't feel quilty for a little bit in one side dish every now and then) and Spinach and Herb dip mix that I get from Tastefully Simple.

- Grilled chicken with mashed sweet potatoes. FINALLY I can have sweet potatoes!

- Steak with spinach salad. We had this same meal this past Saturday night and it was just so tasty. I love steak, and as long as I buy a lean cut and pair it with vegetables, it makes for a satisfying end to the week. Plus it always feels special to have a steak dinner :)

What are you having this week?

FYI, I'm getting spammed a LOT, so I'm turning off anonymous comments a while to see if it helps. I've set it so that anyone with a Google account can still post - if you're still unable to comment, feel free to shoot me an email and I'll see if another setting works better.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 In Review

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
Quite a few things - I got a new position within my company, designed and created a craft room. I did my best to let go of a really rough year.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't think I really made resolutions for 2012, because it's not really my style. My guess would be that if I did have any, I achieved about half.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

2012 was a big year for babies, particularly October. They were everywhere, and I don't want to list them because I might forget one and hurt feelings.
4. Did anyone close to you die?


5. What countries did you visit?


6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you didn’t have in 2012?

Better financial, physical and organizational health. A chance at a real career that I love.

7. What dates from 2012 will be etched upon your memory, and why?
July 9th - I started my new position.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?

Getting that new position. I was in a place where I didn't know what I wanted to do and if I even wanted to stay with my company, and that job saved me. Also, graduating from therapy.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not getting a better handle on my physical health. I found Zumba, which I love, but didn't really focus on using it as a tool to DO something.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?


11. What was the best thing you bought?

Hmmm. Probably the money we put into the craft room was the best money spent.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Dan's, always. I'm always thankful for his understanding and support.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

We had a lot of friend drama, especially early in the year. It upset us both very much

14. Where did most of your money go?

Bills, as always.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Going to see my friend in Illinois, and booking flights to visit my sister in Washington. Also, we recently took a big step toward financial freedom from debt and I'm really stoked about that.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?

Red Line Chemistry's Unspoken. The lyric "how do you sleep at night?" makes me think of our friend drama

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

Happier, about the same (maybe a tad heavier, shit), richers

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Spending time with friends, laughing.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Keeping to myself.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

My parents flew to Washington to be with my sister, but came home Christmas night. We had dinner with them and Dan's parents. We spent Christmas day being lazy and enjoying each other's company. I think it was perfect.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?

Over and over again :)

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Pretty much anything reality related - Breaking Amish, Amish Mafia, Sister Wives, etc.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

As much as I hate the word 'hate'... kind of. We were pretty badly hurt by people we genuinely cared for. I don't hate them - I more feel sad that they apparently thought so poorly of us and went about things in such a pathetic manner.

24. What was the best book you read?

I read "Becoming Sister Wives" by the sister wives (duh), and found it fascinating. I really enjoyed it.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

None really, I mostly stuck to my favorites.

26. What did you want and get?

My craft room, mostly.

27. What did you want and not get?

A new fireplace

28. What was your favorite film of 2012?

Hunger Games.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 31. We went out for dinner. My parents also helped paint the living room.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

More time away with Dan

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2012?

Whatever's comfy. I dont' have much fashion sense.

32. What kept you sane?

My husband

33. What political issue stirred you the most?
I don't really do politics. I know what I like and what I don't. I guess gun control is probably the only thing I really talked about much, and even that wasn't much.

34. Who did you miss?

My sister.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

I met a lot of great ladies at PJs at TJ's that I can't wait to see again in February.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

Even the people who seem to be the best of friends can hurt you. Deep, I know.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

I don't know. This question is ridiculous.

Erin and Laura both chose a word for their focus in 2012 and I like that idea. Mine is going to be Better. I want to end 2013 better than I started - in terms of health, finances, emotionally, and in my organization.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Today is Dan's 28th birthday and our 3rd anniversary. I can't believe it's been three years since we said our "I do's" and became husband and wife. It feels like yesterday, and sometimes it feels like 100 years ago, as though I've never been without him. The last three years have been very different than we expected when we stood facing each other that day. Life threw us curveballs, plans were changed. But the one thing that hasn't changed is our care for each other, our commitment to doing what is best for each other and our marriage. I know without a doubt today and every day that I married the absolute best man for me. There's no one else I can imagine spending this lifetime with. Here's to many, many more, Buddy! I love you.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Love Letters

When my husband I got married, part of our ceremony was a twist on the candle lighting or sand combining rituals that are common in weddings. We wrote each other love letters and put them in a box that was prepared by my grandmother, along with a bottle of wine. The idea was that if we were ever in a rough patch in our marriage, we would open the box, read the letters to remember why we wanted to join our lives, and drink the wine. The hope, of course, was that we would not have rough times and we would open the box, read the letters, and enjoy the wine in celebration on our 10th anniversary.

Now and again since our troubles having children - and then deciding to walk away from trying for parenthood - the words I remember writing me have haunted me with tiny snippets of memory. My mind thinks of these things I wrote to my husband almost as though I jinxed myself. My letter to Dan was - in part - about how excited I was to have a family with him and how lucky I felt to have met such a perfect man to be the father of my children. It contains thoughts of our naive dreams. And lately, it's bothered me more and more. In theory, we would be opening that box 7 years and 4 days from now, and it should be in celebration of 10 years well lived and well loved. But knowing that reading the letters will be very bittersweet puts a damper on that vision for both of us.

And so, we've come up with a new plan, just like most everything else over the last year. On our third anniversary, we're opening the box. We're drinking our wine and replacing it with a new bottle. We're writing new letters. I don't know what we'll do with the old ones. I kind of want to read mine, just to remember what I wrote, but I don't know if that's out of lovingly wanting to remember that fresh about-to-be-married excitement or I'm a glutton for punishment. Dan said I can read his, but doesn't seem to want to read mine, knowing what's in it (I brought this all up a couple of months ago after having it on my mind here and there for a little while). I guess we'll know what feels right when the time comes.

Like most everything else since Infertility entered our lives, plans are changing. I'm just glad that we came up with this new plan together, and - if I'm completely honest - it's mostly Dan's idea. I love that he recognizes that the box and its current contents needs to go, but also that this is something that is important for me to not let go of entirely. He could easily just say "chuck it all in the trash." But he wants to start over, with new words of love, a new bottle of wine - which will still be enjoyed on our 10th anniversary - and new wishes for the course of our life and marriage. Once again, I'm blown away by his thoughtfulness and understanding of what I need, and it always makes me go a big gooey one when he shows that he needs something emotionally from me, too. I have a feeling these new letters are going to be full of love and adoration for each other. I'm happy to be sincerely looking forward to our 10th (and our 3rd, of course) anniversary once again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I'm alive!

Barely, though. Just barely. Oy, what has happened in the last almost-month?

- I found my tiny monkey when I moved my desk. My blaming someone else for stealing my misplaced stuff should not surprise you.

- Our AC died Saturday and we're staying with my in-laws for probably two weeks until we get the part to replace it. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for a dog-friendly air-conditioned place for us to go, but I miss my house.

- Dan got the girls super cute new collars. He picked out one for each to suit their personalities. He's awesome.

- ::checks Facebook for anything notable::

- Speaking of checks, I ordered checks...

- Alright, Facebook thoughts:

      - Whenever I hear "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye (what an ugly mofo that guy is, BTW), I want to beat the tar out of xylophone. Yet I can't stop listening to that damn song.

      - I babysat Mrs. ESPN's girls the other night. I read "A Snow Day for Jingle" to Bia. I'd like to know who the hell takes a kitten sledding. And I also want to know how the dog works, but then again I don't because it might be like seeing the man behind the curtain.

OH MY GOD! How could I forget? My coworker told me that I look like SNOW WHITE and totally made my day, and my week.

I don't think anything else could top that, and the whole point of this post was to let my mom know I'm alive. So, mission accomplished.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Random Friday Musings

Happy Friday! Yesterday, as you may know, was my 31st birthday. It was a pretty awesome day - I had a surprise waiting at my desk from a friend here at work. She gave me a cute travel mug with "I chose the road less traveled. Now where the heck am I?" She's a fellow IFer, though she now has two sons, and so it means a lot to have her support as both a colleague and a fellow card carrying member of the IF Club. Last night, Dan and I went to dinner at a restaurant I've fallen hard for, then came home and hung out and tried to stay cool. Stupid me, I promised the dogs (yes, you read that correctly) that they could sleep in the big bed (read: mine, and not the crate) for my birthday. Of course, I remembered around 4 this morning WHY they sleep in the crate, because they were up and roaming around. So I am exhausted. But Mrs. ESPN and another coworker and I are going to lunch today, so I'm excited. This weekend, I believe my parents are coming up - Dan wants a "painting party" to paint the living room, so we're taking advantage of the cheap free labor.

Alrighty, here are my musings:

- Speaking of painting, DAN FINISHED THE BEDROOM WALL while I was in Illinois last weekend. Hallelujah! Funny, I didn't even notice the first night. I walked right by the paint can in the garage, and then went back and picked it up and thought, "crap, we don't have enough to finish. That wall will never get done." Little did I know.

- Also when I was in Illinois, this arrived:

Awesome. Dan now refers to the car itself as the "PuggleMom," as in "are we taking my truck or PuggleMom?" I Love him. Capital L.

- For my last "while I was in Illinois," someone was apparently working in my cubicle and left wires laying on my desk. And also apparently stole one of my three tiny monkeys. Dan had bought them for me from a grocery store trinket machine not long after we started dating, and they live on my monitor at the office. Whoever helped themselves to my tiny monkey took the coolest one (he was doing a hand stand). I'm so mad.

- If you're going to call someone your arch nemesis, you'd better be a super hero. Otherwise, just stop it.

- In an odd twist of events, I might be taking over my Resolve support group. Yeah, I've only been twice, but the leader is moving to CO, and I might be the only one interested. She also seems to have a lot of faith in me since I have (and this is not bragging) quite a bit of knowledge in comparison to other members of the group. So I may have found my volunteer opportunity for my 101 in 1001. I'm actually really excited about it.

- I have a pet peeve. And I swear this isn't bitterness talking. But here it is. It drives me nuts when pregnant women put their hand on their upper crotch area in every.single.picture. I get it if they're taking a photo to document the size of their growing bump, but I recently saw an album where a woman literally emphasized her bump in every photo. Like, she had to have gone out of her way to consciously think to do so every time a camera made an appearance in her life. That has to be exhausting. And it's AWish, which for those of you not in the know, AW stands for "attention hoar" (but with 'hoar' spelled properly).

- I had lunch with some coworkers earlier this week, and one guy was talking about how his wife - a teacher - was getting bored already and had been doing cleaning "projects." Never in my life would this happen in my house. Period.

Lastly, some shout-outs. Ally's baby shower is this weekend - I'm so excited for you, doll! I hope you have an amazing time. And Shana, I'm jealous that you'll get to be there, and I hope you have a safe trup and get your fill of peaches.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

24 years later...

This weekend, I went to visit my friend Kari. Well, it was more than a weekend, but you know. Anyway, if you don't know mine and Kari's story. We began as pen pals when we were about 7 years old. We both read a series of books about pen pals, and in the back, there was a page you could tear out, complete with your info, and be matched with someone to be pen pals with. We wrote to each other consistently for years and, as little girls, made a promise to each other to be bridesmaids in each other's weddings. In 2006, I kept my promise and was in her wedding. In 2009, she returned the favor. In September last year, she gave birth to her first baby. And so, I went to visit her and meet little miss Brynn.
I talked about needing a break very badly, and I certainly got it. And it was everything I could have hoped for. I flew out Wednesday morning and landed in Chicago at around 1pm. After finding me at the airport, we drove to her town about an hour away, stopping for lunch at Panera (I love you, Panera). We chatted and got acquainted again - we Facebook and email and text, but it's very different when you're face-to-face. We eventually got to her house and hung out a bit with her husband. I was amazed at how tired I was, and ended up going to bed at about 7pm Arizona time. Very anti-climactic.

The next day, we had a late start and after lunch at a Chicagoland tradition, Portillo's, (Yum, people - Capital Y) headed to the Geneva Swedish Festival. It was in a really cool little town with an adorable downtown area. There were tents and booths of crafts and all the shops were open. There was one store, The Little Traveler that sold EVERYTHING. I posted on FB that it was like someone decided to open a store, but couldn't decide what to sell, and thus decided to sell anything they could think of. Seriously, they had little rooms each featuring kitchen stuff, home decor, Vera Bradley, jewelry, teas, chocolates, and art. It even has a cafe in the courtyard. Unfortunately, with Brynn in the stroller, it was hard to get around, which was pretty much the same for most of the stores, since they're in old houses. Very cool though. When we left, it was sort of an awkward time in between Brynn's meals, so rather than heading to the splash pad like we had planned, we headed home and hung out the rest of the evening. Kari's husband loves to cook, so he made us some really yummy meals.

Friday was Chicago day. The plan: get up early and leave by 10am to drive to the city and go to Buckingham Fountain, Millenium Park, and the Lincoln Park Zoo. The reality: Brynn took a two hour nap (she usually only sleeps 30 minutes) and we didn't leave until noon. We went to the fountain and to the park, but it was so late by the time we were done, that we were pushing the babe's limits and were worried about traffic, so we skipped the zoo. We got lost getting back to the garage and were thankful to just be in the car. We were right to leave, since I ended up needing to sneak into the back seat of the car to feed Brynn and keep her calm only about 15 miles out of the city. We arrived frazzled and hungry about an hour after we'd hoped to be home. Again, we were boringasauruses and hung out before heading to bed pretty early.

Saturday (yesterday - that was yesterday? Holy crap) was probably my favorite day. We met up with another of Kari's bridesmaids for lunch and outlet shopping. I bought myself a nice little birthday present (Coach purse) and it was great to hang out with the girls. After the outlet mall, we went back to Kari's and changed for Brynn's first ever trip to the splash pad. First, if you haven't seen a baby butt in a swim suit lately, it is cuuuuuute. Seriously. Anyway, once Brynn got warmed up with a tiny little fountain-ish thing we found for her, she LOVED it. She tried to grab the water and was even trying to lick it. We started out standing her up next to it, and then eventually sat her down. She had.a.blast! She had no fear, except maybe for when a kid kicked water at her (parents - watch your kid at splash pads, seriously). She cried when we left, even though she was cold and wet. We got a ton of pics...

Side note: I'm AWFUL at taking pictures. However, as Ally said, it's also a sign that we were having too much fun and didn't have time for photos. That's true, too - there were so many amazing moments this week. Brynn crawled for the first time, for example. I didn't witness this week through my (phone) camera lens. I saw it firsthand. Also, we were lost or driving a lot. Or Brynn was eating. Or in my arms. And that means I didn't take pics. Kari and I both got a lot of pics at the splash pad. BUT, since she's not my kid, I'm not sure how much I want to post photos on the internet. We did get pics of us before I left this morning, so I'll post that when I get them, but I think I'll selfishly keep the rest to myself.

End side note.

Saturday, continued. After the splash pad, I took my incredibly gracious hosts out for dinner. We went to a sushi/Japanese restaurant in their college town that was delicious. It was nice to all go out, and enjoy a great meal and hear about their memories in the town. After chatting and reminiscing about the past few days, like an old lady, I went to bed at 9:30. For those of you playing the home game, that's 7:30 Arizona time. I rule. And I slept almost 12 hours. So there's that. I possibly sleep more than a 9-month-old.

This morning, we woke up and went to breakfast. The pride parade was going on in Chicago, and we were afraid of traffic so we wanted to make sure to leave early. I ended up having time to kill... blah, blah, blah. I flew home. But not without a lump in my throat as I said good-bye. I am gonna miss that sweet little face, as well as my friend and her husband. They were such wonderful hosts, and I'm so thankful for such a long-standing and loving friendship. It was a great time. I hope it's not a whole 6 years before I get back there again. I was greeted by my handsome hubby who surprised me with an early birthday gift - new shoes!

And now, some things I learned:

- Checking bags at the gate is awesome. If you can back your bag as a carry-on, but don't mind checking it, US Airways let me check for free instead of paying the $25/bag fee. Not to mention, on my way home, I was bumped to a higher boarding zone and got to board sooner for my "sacrifice."

- When you have a baby, you don't get to eat hot meals. Like, ever.

- Babies are seriously time consuming. I had a blast and would never change a thing, but I felt very aware that our plans were dictated by Brynn's schedules.

- Babies are also awesome. I love that little girl and her hugs, shrieks, expressions, and everything else. I hope to be a very special person in her life, always.

- To a Chicago cab driver, it's better to run over pedestrians than it is to miss a light. I kid you not, we were honked at for not running a light. Then we were honked at for going through the light but blocking a lane. It's so lose-lose. I liked Chicago, but 1. I would NEVER be in a taxi there and 2. I'm not sure I'd be drawn to going back to the city itself. It's loud and stressful. I liked the Chicagoland suburbs much more.

- My hair HATES humidity. I knew that. Now I KNOW that, as even my pricey products couldn't save me from the curls and frizz.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! I'm back to the grind tomorrow - only two more weeks in my current role! And only 4 days until my Birthday!