Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Two-Fer!

My great friend Sera arrived from California today!

She's here visiting for the next several days, and is officially the first visitor that we've had since we relocated ourselves to Ohio.

I love having visitors!  Not just because it's great to catch up with old friends, and not because it's fun to show folks around who aren't from here.

I love having visitors because it forces us to clean!!!

Somehow, cleaning is less important when it's just the two of us. 

I see the clutter, I know it's there, and yes, I have learned to ignore it. 

Crumbs on the counter?  I can overlook them.  Dust on the tv cabinet?  Nope, I don't see it.  Dog hair in the carpet?  That's why we have shoes!

Somehow, I'm ok living with stacks of mail on the kitchen table.  I can get around the random boxes that clutter our guest room, and I effectively block out the dirty dishes as they pile in and around the sink.

But, as soon as we knew Sera was coming to visit, we began evaluating what needed to be cleaned and organized before she arrived.

After several days of behaving like grown ups, our humble 900 square feet was made presentable - I would even feel comfortable having my mom walk in here!

So, this week, aside from being super thankful to have my friend here for a few days, I'm thankful that her arrival motivated us to finally get around to the cleaning that we'd somehow managed to keep putting off.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Good And The Bad

Christmas is always such a powerful time of year.  At least for me.  While I love Christmas, it makes me feel like I'm practically bi-polar!  One minute I'm happily enjoying the joys of the season, spending time with family, reliving some of my favorite Christmas memories.  The next, I'm missing my grandparents, getting road rage because of the idiots driving around me, and feeling sad about all the friends I've lost touch with over the years.

This year was no exception. 

I had a great time with my family - we went to Christmas Eve service at church (the first time I've gone in several years), we opened lots of fun presents, and we enjoyed our favorite Christmas Eve tradition of eating Chinese food and watching an inappropriate movie (this year it was The Hangover 2).

Now that we're more than a year out from my dad's diagnosis, I tried like hell to take little mental pictures throughout our Christmas weekend, knowing that next year could be completely different.  Sitting with JB in church, talking to him at dinner, watching him open his stocking presents on Christmas Day and seeing his face light up when he got a movie that he's been talking about for months.  Click, click, clickity click - pictures, pictures, and more pictures (though, ironically, we didn't take any actual pictures)!

However, while we enjoyed our time as a family, I found myself fighting back tears on several occasions. 

Tears about the fact that we continue to see a decline in my dad, tears about the fact that the next year is a great big unknown, and tears about what will never be. 

As we sat around on Christmas Day, I thought about how great it would be to have a little one with us (no, I'm not pregnant).  How fun it would be to walk into my parents' house with our little family and call out "Merry Christmas", to gather around the Christmas tree to open presents, and to get to see Christmas through our child's eyes. 

And then it hit me...if and when that actually happens, my dad won't be there.  He won't get to see his grandkids all dressed up to go to church on Christmas Eve.  He won't help them set out cookies and milk for Santa.  He won't be there to see them tear into presents on Christmas Day.  And that breaks my heart!

Even as I type this out, I'm in tears.  It's heartbreaking to think ahead about all the changes that 2012 will likely hold for our family, to think about the trials that we still have ahead of us, and to realize that unless there is some medical miracle in the field of memory loss, JB's disease will continue to slowly, ever so cruelly, take him away from us. 

Of course, we don't know what the next year holds, and we certainly don't know what next Christmas will be like for our family, so I'm trying to focus on the positive and am feeling blessed and thankful for a great Christmas this year with my family.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

That New Car Smell

This year, Christmas came a little early for me.

I've been toying with the idea of getting a new car over the last few months (ok, years).

Yes, Little Red (as we affectionately called my tin can on wheels), was a good car, made the trip from Ohio to California in one piece, and did its job getting me from Point A to Point B.

So, on Tuesday, I pulled the trigger and am now the proud owner (leaser) of a 2012 Nissan Rogue.

Go me!  Thanks to my darling husband (and former car salesman), I got a screaming good deal and can say with confidence that I bought a great car!

So, my thanks this week is not only for my new car (which I love), but for the security and peace of mind that it brings.

No more worrying about when the check engine light is going to come on again.  No more stressing that despite the bright red color, larger cars on the freeway simply don't see me.  Most importantly, no more panic attacks at the thought of driving my darling tin can into the "snow belt" of NE Ohio this winter, hitting ice on the hilly roads I take to work, veering off into a ditch, and freezing to death because I'm trapped and can't get out.

Yes, for all these things, I'm thankful this week!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Holiday Humbug

I love Christmas.  I love the build-up, I love the movies, and I especially love the baked goods. 

There are, however, things about the holiday season that drive me crazy. 

First of all, it's as if all traffic laws of the United States cease to exist during the month of December.  Seriously, between the horn honking, the running of red lights, and the fighting for parking spaces, it's enough to drive a person crazy (pun intended)!  Somehow I've missed how screaming out your window and giving a perfect stranger the finger became the standard greeting for the holiday season!

Second, I am confused by the people who put a red nose and antlers on their car to make it look like Rudolph.  Um...it's a car...12 inch antlers and a red ball on the hood do not equal a reindeer - it equals a minivan that looks like it hit a squirrel and then drove through a heavily wooded area, picking up a few stray twigs on the way.  The one exception to dressing up one's car is the semi-trucks that put wreaths on the front grill.  I'm all for that, especially for the truckers who spend the bulk of the holiday season away from their families and tackling the crazy drivers that emerge in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Third, I CAN'T STAND the musical arrangements of dogs barking or cats meowing to the tune of "Jingle Bells" or "Deck the Halls".  Whenever I hear something like this, I envision people in a recording studio squeezing the poor animals like a stress ball to get them to make these God-awful sounds!  I'm an animal lover, I'm guilty of watching YouTube videos of dogs licking babies, and I even get a kick out of (other people's) pets wearing sweaters when it's cold outside.  But, leave the musical performances to humans - unless you manage to teach your cat how to play the piano or get your dog to play the harmonica...THAT I would listen to!

Finally, I come to the people who confuse me the most...the people who do their shopping while wearing Santa hats. 

I DON'T GET THIS!!!  These are the same people who wear cartoon character sweatshirts, and I am still waiting for a valid explanation for this one!

We know you're Christmas shopping...we're Christmas shopping too...but you don't see the rest of us throwing on ridiculous Santa garb to trudge through the toy section of Target!  Once again, there is an exception to this rule - folks who work certain jobs can absolutely get away with wearing a Santa hat to enhance holiday spirit - doctors, nurses, the little man braving the cold to ring a bell for hours on end hoping to solicit a few donations for the needy - these folks are more than welcome to don their gay apparel.  But for the rest of you, leave it at home!

I won't even get into the baseball cap Santa hats - there are hardly words, and the ones that I can think of aren't nice.


While there are things about the holiday season that drive me crazy, I really don't consider myself to be a humbug (though I might sound that way today).  I listen to Christmas music from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve, I spend evenings driving around looking at Christmas lights, I'm always excited to send out Christmas cards to my friends and family, and I look forward to our Christmas Even traditions.

Just don't expect to see me driving my reindeer car through a red light while donning my Santa hat on my way to buy the latest copy of "Meowy Christmas".

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Husband Of The Year

I often tell my husband that he is Husband Of The Year. 

Usually it's said with a sarcastic tone - picture me trying to get from the car to the apartment with my arms full and Ben walking alongside me carrying nothing. 

I joke about it...but today, he really is Husband Of The Year!

Work has slowed down for him over the last couple of weeks.  As we wait for the snow to finally hit (so that the $4000 snow plow he bought can become more than a really expensive and over sized hood ornament), he is spending the bulk of his time at home during the day. 

Today, he put his free time to good use.

He cleaned the apartment!!!!

I won't go into details about how disgusting this place was (really), or how many times he had to empty the vacuum (4) - I'll just say that I walked in here, and rather than fight the urge to turn and run, I was welcomed by a clutter-free, organized living room!

I'm not domestic, I hate to clean, but that doesn't mean that I'm not irritated beyond belief by the clutter that seems to materialize out of nowhere.  Today Ben completely saved me!

I'm thankful for my Husband Of The Year - for real!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Being Thankful Is Hard Work

It wasn't until I got an email from my mom today commenting on the absence of blogs that I realized that I completely skipped over Thankful Thursday last week.

I suppose it's because I haven't wanted to be thankful.  I'm tired of thankful being such hard work!

I don't want to be thankful.  I want to wallow.  I want to mope.  I want to sit around feeling bitter. 

I'm bitter about all the things that I don't have control over.

I'm upset by the feeling of wanting things but not being able to get them.

Wow, do I sound like I'm about 4 years old or what?

But, alas, it's true.  I'm frustrated, I'm tired of working hard and having nothing to show for it, and I wish upon wish that something, anything, would get just a little bit easier!

Yes, I have a wonderful husband.  Yes, I have a job.  Yes, I have a place to live. 

Blah, blah, blah..

Sometimes isn't it just easier to feel bad about what we don't have than to feel good about what we do have?

It's something I need to work on.  I don't like feeling jealous.  I don't like feeling angry about where my life is.  I don't like feeling as though I'm in a hole. 

Life is good, I've had lots of blessings, and everything is happening for a reason...

I just need to remember it!

Monday, November 28, 2011

I'm Not Weird, I'm Quirky!

I was recently on a Friends kick.  I set it to record on TBS and Nick At Nite (by the way, the fact that shows from the 90's are airing on Nick At Night is just a little sad), and all of a sudden I had over 40 episodes waiting for me on the DVR.

Well, a few weeks ago, I was watching an old episode where Monica (Courtney Cox) and Richard (Tom Selleck) were talking about their quirks.  Monica, of course, had a million, while Richard struggled to think of any and in the end just made something up to make Monica feel better.

This got me thinking about my little idiosyncrasies - the things that make me, me.  You're never aware of them until someone or something makes you self conscious, and now, all I can think about is how many bizarre, borderline OCD "quirks" I have.

For example:

-When in a restaurant, I always put my glass back on the exact same spot on the little napkin, so that there is only one glass ring.

-I like to have the loose end of the toilet paper come up and over the top, rather than from underneath (when I saw that someone had replaced a roll at work "backwards", it took every ounce of self control I had to not flip it around).

-Sometimes when people are talking, I think about how fast I could type out our conversation.

-I tend to move my lips along to whatever song is in my head.

-I could care less about making the bed in the morning, but I have to straighten the sheets before climbing in at night.

-I like to eat M&Ms in even numbers.  Also, if I grab a handful, I want to have the same number of each color, so I'll eat the extra ones first.

-I freak out if Ben has his foot or leg on top of the covers when we go to bed.

-I have to have all the doors closed in a room in order to go to sleep.

I'm sure I could go on with my list of crazies, but I won't bore you. 

I'll just say once again that I'm not weird...I'm quirky!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Thursday

Today, when my mom half jokingly suggested that we go around the table to say what we're thankful for, she got shut down. 

We all laughed and went about the business of consuming about 10,000 calories in less than an hour.

But, her suggestion got me thinking...what am I truly thankful for today?  Yes, there are the obvious things - health, family, jobs...blah, blah, blah...but today of all days, what stands out?

1.)  I'm thankful that we didn't have to travel further than down the street for Thanksgiving

2.)  I'm thankful that I have a husband who actually likes to cook (especially today, the mother of all cooking holidays, this is a biggie)

3.)  I'm thankful that despite my extreme lack of domestic or culinary skills, I was allowed to make the mashed potatoes (exciting for me, because it's pretty hard to screw up mashed potatoes!)

4.)  I'm thankful that we began a new family tradition of movie watching and evening grazing after Thanksgiving dinner

5.)  I'm thankful that, at least for this year, we could be together as a family

6.)  I'm thankful that I wasn't stupid enough to eat 4 pieces of pecan pie (unlike Ben)

7.)  I'm thankful (a little) that with all this extra junk in the trunk, those extra 10,000 calories won't make that much difference

8.)  I'm thankful that I had some stretchy pants to come home to

9.)  I'm thankful that going shopping tomorrow is not in the cards for me (whew)

10.)  I'm thankful for a simple, fairly low key day with my family.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pre-Holiday Plan

I'm boycotting my weigh-in this week (again).  In fact, I'll probably be boycotting my scale through January!

I've decided that evil little elves live in the scale and mess with the numbers just to see my reaction each week. 

I'm sure I put on a pretty good show - stripping down to my underwear, carefully stepping onto the scale silently praying that I've lost weight, my eyes slowly bugging out of my head as I focus my eyes on the number shining up at me, doing rapid mental calculations about what I've eaten since my last weigh in (I'm sure I look something like a monkey attempting math).

I've had enough...the show is over!  You're cut off, you little bastards!

I refuse to give up!

I'm still working out...I'm still trying to make good choices...I'm still drinking a ton of water every day...

While my clothes still fit the same, I have noticed that my knee-high boots are fitting a little looser.  I used to work a little harder to get them zipped...whereas now I zip them and then deal with them slouching down a bit during the day. 

Progress?  Sure...I'll pretend that my legs are a teeny bit skinnier (rather than the more likely scenario that my boots have just stretched out a bit). 

I realize that heading into the holidays is the worst time to attempt to lose weight.  Figure if I struggle so much during the rest of the year, I don't have a prayer. 

However...I'm going to maintain.  I'm not going to try to maintain...I'm just going to do it!  I'll keep working out...keep drinking water...and keep (sort of) making good food choices.

Fingers crossed that I can do this!!!!

Family

I'm a freak.

I love that we live close to my family.

I look forward to getting to see them during the week!

Tonight we had dinner together at my parents' house.  We laughed, we joked, we busted each other's chops, we discussed serious things, we discussed not-so-serious things...and I loved every minute of it!

I know I didn't always feel this way.  Maybe it's because I've lived away from home most of my adult life...maybe it's because of all the health issues we've dealt with...maybe I'm just reaching an age that makes me appreciate what I have. 

Whatever the case - I'm thankful for my family!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Simple Things

You know those days when all you want to do is go home, get into comfy clothes, sit on the couch and eat some comfort food while watching mindless tv?

That was my day today. 

It was a good day at work - seriously, no complaints.  I just felt wiped out.  I kept daydreaming about how nice it would be to curl up under a blanket and sift through the numerous tv shows that we have waiting for us on the DVR.

Thankfully, tonight, I got my wish. 

I came home, walked the dog, slipped into something more comfortable (enter workout pants and a hoodie), and waited patiently for my darling husband to arrive with pizza!

So, here we sit, pizza eaten, shows watched, comfy clothes still comfy...enjoying a nice leisurely evening at home.

It's just what I needed, so I'm thankful!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

An Ego Boost

There are few occasions that make you feel like a million bucks. 

Getting praised by your boss at work. 

Wearing a new outfit that you feel amazing in. 

Best of all - getting a great haircut!

A few years ago, I grew out my hair and donated it to Locks of Love.  I was happy to do it, I didn't mind the months and months of not having to pay for haircuts, and I was super happy to finally cut my hair!

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, I decided that I'd like to donate hair again, but this time, in her name.

Today, a journey a year and a half in the making has come to an end.


Before.....

After.....





I was a little nervous about the grand cutting of the hair this time around.  I was worried that it wouldn't look good, that Ben wouldn't like it, or that it would be shorter than I wanted.

Fortunately, as soon as she started trimming the edges after lopping off over 10 inches of hair, I started smiling and haven't been able to stop!

Today, I'm thankful for the great feeling of getting a haircut, being happy with it, and receiving compliments from wonderful friends that make you truly feel like a million bucks!

Thanks friends!!!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Isn't For Tweens

I love October.  It's my favorite month.  I love that with October comes the big changing of the seasons, the crisp fall weather, and the hint of the upcoming holidays (without the stress).

I also love Halloween.  Coming up with an awesome costume idea...deciding who you'll trick-or-treat with...and the culmination of the Halloween holiday in the form of a ginormous sugar high!

Halloween is a great time for a kid - the candy, the costumes, the fun.  It's also a great time for parents - dressing your kids up in costumes that you pick, enjoying that magical time before the boys want to dress like Freddie Krueger and the girls want to dress like pole dancers on spring break.

But...what about those of us who fall between these two groups? 

I'm pretty sure that at 30, I'd get some strange looks if I showed up for trick-or-treating without a kid.

But, on the other hand, we don't have kids ourselves to buy costumes for and take trick-or-treating, and we don't live in a neighborhood where we get to pass out candy for little ones. 

We're in that funny in-between stage of life.  No Halloween parties to go to, no trick-or-treating, no excuse to purchase excessive amounts of candy.

Today, I broke out of the "tweens" and embraced my inner child.  We had a Halloween party (for kids) at work today, so I got creative, made a costume myself, committed to it, and had a rip roaring good time as I walked around my office in costume.

I'm not sure when I'll be dressing up again, and I'm pretty sure nobody took me seriously while I was "in character"...but today, for a few brief hours...I was Pippi Longstocking!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nostalgia Isn't For Everyone

I'm feeling nostalgic today.  Days like this seem to hit me out of nowhere - a movie on tv, a song on the radio, something I see in a store - literally anything can suddenly whisk me back to the days of my youth.

I had a lot of that today.

It started with discussing Halloween at work, which I suddenly realized is only a few days away. 

I love Halloween - especially when I take a few minutes to think about some of my favorite Halloween memories.  It's great to remember favorite costumes, Halloween parties at school, trick-or-treating with friends, and the joy of dumping out the loot at the end of the night to compare what we'd collected before beginning the grand negotiation of who would trade what candy for what other candy.  It's like being a kid again.

Later this evening, while watching one of our recorded shows, I saw a commercial for It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown on tv and was delighted to discover that it was right then!  For some strange reason (insert sarcastic tone here), Ben didn't share my enthusiasm, so I quickly clicked the "record" button and flipped to something that would be equally entertaining for both of us. 

A little while after the Charlie Brown discussion that ensued (and yes, I did negotiate at least one viewing of A Charlie Brown Christmas this winter), it came out that Ben never saw Goonies.
 
Goonies!  With Chunk, and Sloth, and One-Eyed Willy, and slick shoes, and Sean Astin when he was young and adorable! 

Isn't it an unwritten rule somewhere that anyone who grew up in the 80's had to see that movie?

Anyway, I realized that there is an appreciation for things past that some people have and some people just don't understand.

There are actually people in the world who, if asked to watch Back To The Future, or The Princess Bride, or When Harry Met Sally, would be inclined to say "no thanks, I've seen it already" rather than (my personal tendency) "sure, I remember the last time I watched that...."

These are the same people who don't understand my desire to watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation or White Christmas, or A Christmas Story multiple times each December.

So, today, as I remember favorite movies of the 80's, and think ahead to Halloween, and the whole holiday season, and snow, and tv specials, and yummy food, and re-watching my favorite Christmas movies, I'm thankful for my nostalgic tendencies. 

(And if there are ever little Whaleys, we all know which parent will be only too willing to sit down to watch endless loops of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and A Christmas Carol, and any other silly Christmas move they can think of.)

(I should also note that it's possible that after writing this blog I'll have to systematically watch all the movies that I've just mentioned.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

My College Years

This weekend is Homecoming at Elon University.  All week I've been seeing comments on Facebook from college friends getting ready to head back to North Carolina to re-live the glory days of our youth.

While I can't make it to Homecoming (nor have I made it to a single Homecoming since I graduated almost a decade ago), I realize how much Elon and the friends I made there have meant to me over the years!

So, I've taken a few moments to look back on some of my favorite memories from college:

Freshman year in West dorm with a certain someone across the hall constantly saying "I'm so glad y'all are here" and "Weeeelcome to Eeeeelon!"

Going through Recruitment and meeting all my wonderful AOII sisters!

Sophomore year when I stayed in West dorm for another year and lived with my darling Stictoria!

Junior year when I moved into a house with 3 great friends!

Getting to be a Rho Chi during Recruitment - one of my favorite Elon memories!

Eating in McEwen and then smelling like it all day.

Shopping at Wal-Mart at 11:30 on a Tuesday night.

Having campus shut down because of a "snow storm" and getting to have a snowball fight instead of going to class!

Contemplating with my friends whether the grounds crew really did spray paint the grass on campus.

The Lighthouse, West End, and Brewballs.

Schlepping across campus to Moseley to find something to eat on the weekends.

Daring to get Little Caesar's and hoping that I wouldn't live to regret it!

Saturday nights on the Greek Courts.

Sorority formals, mixers, and crush parties.

Late night runs to Cook-Out for mint Oreo milkshakes.

Of course, there are a million memories, a million inside jokes, a million reasons to look back on my 4 years at Elon and smile.

So, this weekend, as the lucky ones head back to pay homage to our Alma Mater, I'll be wishing I was there too, missing my dear friends, and being thankful for my wonderful college years!

Go Phoenix!

P.S.  For those of you who didn't go to Elon - sorry about all the inside jokes and references...guess you had to be there =)

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Letter To Me

This evening I was delighted to have dinner with 2 of my friends from high school.  Of course, we spent the better part of the meal reminiscing about the "good old days", sharing funny stories, laughing about teachers we tortured, and discussing how different middle school and high school students are today.

This got me thinking...looking back, it was fun, life was generally easier, and the things that I worried about now seem like a day at the beach compared to the stress of adulthood.

So, taking a page from friends who have also done this, I'd like to write a letter to my teenage self.

Dear Erin,

It sounds trite, but don't sweat the small stuff...save your energy.  I know things may seem overwhelming and stressful now, but live it up, because while being an adult is great, there are hardships that you never would have imagined and one day you'll look back on your teenage years with longing and nostalgia.

Enjoy the sports you play - you won't always be able to run around the tennis court and it turns out that teaching tennis lessons will be one of your favorite memories.

Enjoy the simple pleasure of coming home after school, grabbing a snack, and settling in to watch Pop Up Video on VH1.

Enjoy being a size 12, because it will never happen again.

I was kidding about feeling nostalgic about your teenage years - I wouldn't do high school again if you paid me...being a grown up is soooo much better!

Keep making goals and working hard to accomplish them - it is a habit that will serve you well.

Don't stress over your grades - you do fine, you go to college, and you do well there too.

Don't stress over your friends - while you hold onto a precious few, most of your lifelong friends will be from college and after.  When you find a great friend, be sure to tell him or her how much they mean to you.

Don't worry about the boys - you have some good experiences, some bad experiences, but you ultimately meet and marry the love of your life, who also happens to be the best friend you've ever had.

Don't be ashamed of your morals, your loyalty, or your ethics - they will serve you well.

Keep your enthusiasm.  Laugh, especially at those who waste their time being petty. Find something that you love to do, and do more of it! 

Enjoy your family - you have no idea how much you'll miss them down the road, and how you'll wish that you had every moment of life with them on tape.

Don't be afraid to take advice, especially from Mom and Dad - I know you don't want to give them the satisfaction, but sometimes they really do know what they're talking about, and they really do want what's best for you.

Don't be afraid to speak up.  Whether it's for something that's right, or against something that's wrong, people will respect your opinion.

Pay cash - credit cards are the devil!

Eat more vegetables!

Learn to change a tire!

Take a cooking class - you'll wish you weren't completely useless in the kitchen someday!

Take a business class - even though you hate it and it's ass numbingly dull, the knowledge won't hurt!

Take time to look around, relax, and take a breath.

You really do have a blessed life, made more interesting by a few challenges, but it's a hell of a ride!

Cheering you on,

An Older, Wiser, Chubbier, You

Friday, October 14, 2011

Belated Thanks...Again

Commutes to and from work can be such a pain. 

You're sitting in your car, working your way through traffic, trying to fight off the road rage that threatens to take over every time some jackass cuts you off (or is that just me?), wishing that you could just be there already!

We've all been there, and I'm back there after 4 blissful years of having no commute (one of the many perks of living where you work).

Now that I'm in my new job, my drive has become a big part of my day.  I had to figure out the fastest route to and from my office, which is about 20 miles away - one that avoided stand-still traffic on the freeway, a million school zones where you're forced to creep along at 20 miles per hour (enter road rage again), and curvy back roads that will be a disaster this winter.

I have found my route, I know it by heart, and now my time before and after work can be spent not stressing about when to merge from one lane to another, or how long I've been in the car, but doing one of my favorite things - singing.

I don't claim to be a great singer.  Fortunately I can carry a tune and don't seem to make dogs howl if I break into song.

One of my favorite places to sing (and is often the only place that I dare do it) is in the car.  There's something so great about finding a song on the radio (one that I actually know the words to) and singing along at the top of your lungs.  

Yes, I am that woman that you pass by in your car, who is just bopping along, happy as a clam, singing her heart out to whatever is playing.

It's something that I missed getting to do in California - it's somewhat difficult to have a sing-along that doesn't include barnyard animals or the Itsy Bitsy Spider when you've got 2 small children in the car with you.

So, while I could be bitter about the fact that I spend the better part of an hour getting to and from work each day, I'm choosing to be thankful. 

I'm thankful that now I once again have time to relax, unwind, and sing to my heart's content!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Strange Movie Addiction?

I realize that I'm not the most active person in the world.  Yes, I walk the dog, I occasionally exercise, but in general, I'm a fairly laid back person.  Some of my most relaxing moments happen while sitting in front of the tv, idly flipping channels in search of something interesting...or better yet...something I've already seen.

I'm afraid I have some kind of illness - I LOVE watching movies that I've already seen. 

I love them!!!

Ben and I joke (ok, he complains, but I like to pretend that he's just joking around) that whenever Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Couples Retreat, or Did You Hear About The Morgans? come on, I have to watch them.

Even as I'm typing this ridiculous blog, I'm half watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding on one of the movie channels...again.

Ok, now here is the really crazy part...I somehow find it more appealing to watch a movie that I've already seen on tv rather than pop in the DVD.  

Just the other day, I was watching Something's Gotta Give (and yes, I realize that I have a thing for romantic comedies) when Ben, quite innocently, asked "Don't you have this on dvd?". 

I had to stop myself from saying "um, yeah, but it's on tv!" when I realized how asinine that would sound.

Is this some kind of a disorder?  Is it laziness?  Is there a serious shortage of new and exciting things to watch?  Do I need to learn to turn off the tv?

Whatever the reason...here I sit...again...watching a movie that I have not only seen about 2 dozen times (not counting the flight back from Greece when I watched it about 4 times in a row)...and that I happen to also own.

There is definitely something wrong with me!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Seems Strange, But I'm Thankful

We've had quite the emotional week.  It was a week of changes, adjustment, acceptance - things that are never easy under the best of circumstances, which unfortunately, these aren't.

After much deliberation, discussion, and yes, raised voices and harsh words, we have made a huge step with my dad...we took the keys away from him.

It's a long story, but suffice it to say that it's been coming for a few months now, and Monday was finally the last straw for us. 

While attempting to take a "shortcut" to meet a friend for lunch, my dad got on the freeway (which we had asked him not to do anymore) and ended up getting lost several communities away from where he was trying to go. 

Confused, he called me (at work) and I spent 30 minutes on the phone with him (in front of my new boss) trying to, first of all, figure out which way he was driving, and then get him turned around and headed in the right direction with simple instructions on how to get where he was trying to go.

So, by the end of a very exhausting and emotional day, my mom, having to be the "bad guy" (leaving us out of it so that JB wouldn't feel like we were ganging up on him) informed my dad that he would not be driving again. 

Whew, and yikes!!! 

I'd seen my parents go through the process of convincing my grandparents to stop driving, but somehow it feels completely different when you go through it yourself.

Dads are supposed to drive.  It's what they do.  Going out to dinner?  Dad drives!  Family vacatoin?  Dad is behind the wheel!  Teaching you how to parallel park?  Totally Dad's job!

Not anymore.  He has been retired, and now we're all left to deal with the emotional fallout that comes with this milestone.

It means so much for what we're dealing with from here on out - a huge loss of independence for my dad, a huge responsibility for the rest of us, the challenge of keeping him social and active...the list goes on.

As with most things, the days, weeks, and months leading up to the actual taking of the keys was a lot worse than actually doing it.  It was like taking off a Band-Aid or getting a shot - the talking about it was worse than the act! 

Now that it's done, and we don't have to worry about him leaving his car running in a parking lot, or turning off the car without putting it in park, or driving on the freeway when he doesn't know where he is (yes, we've already dealt with all of this), I feel like I'm finally wrapping my brain around this whole Alzheimer's thing.

Before this, there were symptoms.  Of course.  We saw changes, we knew he was progressing, but life was still very much the same. 

This is different.  This is tangible.  Somehow now it's even more real.

It's taken me a few days to sort out my feelings about it...sad...guilty...relieved...

It seems strange, but I'm actually thankful for a few things today.  I'm thankful that JB thought to call me for help when he got lost.  I'm thankful that he got to lunch and home safely.  I'm thankful that my mom was able to stick to her guns and do what she knew was for his own good.  

Mostly, I'm thankful that it's done!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Our Crazy Woof!

Meet our dog Mia...

She is mild mannered...(yes, this is Molly trying to ride her in the backyard)

Even though she can be a little needy...

And for some reason thinks that she should sit like a person...

She can be fairly laid back...

And although she appears to have a foot fetish...

And pouts when we leave...

She's loves to help with my blog...

We sure love our sweet girl!

She is a complete dope, makes us laugh every day, is a rather convincing guard dog (until someone says hi to her, at which point she goes belly up), and has been a great addition to our family. 

Even though she barks when someone rings a doorbell on tv, she tries to attack squirrels, deer and rabbits when we take her outside (yeah, she's vicious), and has gas that can clear a room in under 10 seconds, she's our Miss Woof!

I honestly don't know what we'd do without her (aside from wake up without a cold wet nose poking our armpits in the morning).

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I'd Be Thankful For Some Help...

I think we've established that I'm not exactly domestic and that Ben and I have had our dining issues.

I managed to shock my new co-workers when I described my lack of cooking skills and the fact that I only know how to make about 4 things.  Apparently I'm the only one who buys alfredo sauce in a jar rather than making it (hello, isn't that why they sell it in a jar?), and who prefers to make cookies from the convenient little bags of cookie mix that can be found at the store, rather than making them from scratch (seriously, who has that kind of time?)

My big problem is that I simply don't enjoy cooking.  It's a chore.  It's not how I want to spend my free time.  I am missing the gene that tells me that something need a little more cinnamon, or what to do if something tastes too salty.  I'm just not that girl!

Somewhere, Julia Child is rolling over in her grave.

Also, our lack of creativity when it comes to our evening meal is really starting to bug me.  I feel like we recycle the same 5 or 6 options (most of which include pasta).  As much as I love spaghetti, enough is enough!

I know I'm a long way from being voted Happy Homemaker Of The Year, but I'm determined to branch out a bit!

So, this week, I'd be incredibly thankful for some recipe suggestions!  Yes, this is an anticipatory Thankful Thursday.  I'm planning on being thankful when you, my darling readers, come to my rescue and give me some meal suggestions!!!

Now, keep in mind, that my cooking skills are somewhat limited.  I'm not completely useless in the kitchen (I've even been known to cook pasta without the pot boiling over), but let's just pretend (for kicks) that I know nothing about cooking, am about 5 years old, and have the attention span of a cocker spaniel!  So, any suggestions need to be relatively simple (oh, pretty please). 

Yes, this is my official plea for help (as well as my great big THANK YOU).

Do you have a recipe for me???

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Employment!

The economy is crap.  The stock market tanked again.  People are losing jobs, losing money, losing their homes...you get the idea.

I feel like I've taken up permanent residence in "limbo-land", as I've come to lovingly refer to this constant state of "I don't know what's next".

The move, the loss of a steady paycheck, the addition of multiple expenses - these things have been making me nuts!

Aside from the actual stress of job hunting (which, for those of you who have not had to job hunt in the last couple of years, blows), I've been dealing with the dilemma of whether to hold out for "the job" or just find "a job". 

Was it too much to ask to find a job that I actually cared about?  To find a job that utilized the administrative skills that I've come to embrace (yet that somehow manage to elude me at home)?  Was it too much to hope to find a job that didn't make me feel like the last 4 years of my life spent as a nanny were a total waste?  Impossible to think that I'd be able to work with people that I actually enjoyed and who made me feel like a valuable member of a team rather than a "worker bee"?

Apparently it wasn't too much to ask, or hope for, or expect, because I have found my job! 

Not only is it a job that I will totally rock at, but it's a job that makes use of all my skills, that will challenge me, that will allow me the opportunity to "give back" a bit, and one that I know will be so  much more than the "paycheck job" I was dreading having to settle for.  There will be no settling here!

Tomorrow is my first official day of work, so on this particular Thankful Thursday, I'm incredibly thankful to have found my new job!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Crumbs

This entire post might be a complete over share, but here goes anyway.

I am tired of cleavage crumbs. 

You heard me right - I am constantly finding crumbs in my cleavage...and I'm officially sick of it!

Let me elaborate.  I don't wear low cut tops - in fact, I prefer to cover up "the girls", and I don't consider myself a terribly messy eater (aside from the random dribble).  But, somehow, no matter what I do, I always end up with crumbs in my cleavage.  As if having a large chest isn't bad enough...now I have to worry about attracting ants down my shirt!

Most often I'm aware that some of my food has defected from my mouth in search of solace within the confines of my boobs, though more than a few times I have found a lovely little surprise waiting for me when I change clothes.  "Ooh...goodie...an M&M!"
It's terrible (not to mention uncomfortable)!

At some point over the last year or so, my boobs began attracting little bits of whatever I happen to be eating.  Crackers, cookies, sandwiches, macaroni, cereal, rice, salad - you name it, I've had to dig it out of my bra.  I try to be discrete about evacuating the debris from my chest, but honestly, how likely is it that I could be wrist deep down my shirt without someone noticing? 

Some people are destined to spill - no matter what they eat, it ends up across the front of them.  But not me - no, instead I seem destined to carry bits of my meals around with me in my own little hands-free "to go" box.

Do I need to stop eating things that come apart when you bite into them?  Do I need to run everything through a blender and sip it through a straw?  Do I need to invest in turtlenecks from now on?

I simply don't know what to do about the cleavage crumbs!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Heart Fall

Last night, I stepped outside with the dog, felt the chilly night air, took a deep breath, and loved seeing that soft plume of fog when I exhaled. 

Fall is on the way.

I love fall.  I love sunny crisp afternoons.  I love the leaves that seem to change overnight from the soft green of summer to brilliant fall shades of orange, yellow and red.  I love the cooler temperatures that require jeans and jackets.  I love that fall means football season.

This time of year, I feel like I can look forward to the upcoming holidays with anticipation, rather than a mild panic attack at the idea of having to Christmas shop, decorate, cook, and attempt to maintain my weight through yet another holiday season.

Fall is the deep breath before the insanity that seems to be the winter months.  We don't have to worry about crowded shopping malls and grocery stores.  We aren't faced with icy roads or snow days.  We can (usually) walk from a parking lot to a store without getting frostbite.

These are the days of sweatshirts, fleece, cozy afternoons, and hot drinks. 

I love fall, and today, having a glimpse of what's to come, I'm thankful for fall in Ohio!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Belated Thanks

I've lost track of what day it is, and didn't remember that yesterday was Thursday until about 11:30 p.m.

So, my "Thankful Thursday" post is a day late.

Yesterday, I was most thankful for good customer service.  Let me elaborate.

My car has been...temperamental (to put it mildly) over the last couple of years.  It's only 6 years old, has less than 75,000 miles on it, but for some reason, every few months something goes wrong.

Last Saturday, as we were driving back from the Ohio State game, the "check engine" light came on.  Shortly after, my car somehow lost the ability to accelerate from a dead stop to about 30 mph without me completely flooring it. 

Now, it's done this before, and when we took it in they couldn't figure out what was wrong, because the transmission had somehow magically corrected itself, and there wasn't anything to fix.

Being that it was a holiday weekend, we knew that we'd have to make due until at least Tuesday when the repair shops opened.

Long story short (too late), I took my car into a local auto repair shop yesterday morning, they had it for about an hour, and called to tell me that it needed to be taken to a transmission shop for further analysis.

The man I dealt with was incredibly nice, and didn't end up charging me for the testing that they'd done (though he would have been well within his rights and my expectations to do so).  I was also absolutely delighted when he didn't talk to me like I was a slow 6 year old, as I'm sure other women have experienced in auto shops.

So, when I arrived at the transmission shop, I was once again pleasantly surprised at the way I was dealt with.  The woman behind the counter was friendly, efficient, and gave a clear timetable for what they would do for me. 

A few hours later, as promised, one of the repair guys called, gave me a breakdown (which I actually understood) of what they had done, what the situation was, and what else they were going to do. 

Basically, as before, my car had magically fixed itself so they couldn't pinpoint exactly what the malfunction had been.

When I went to pick up my car, it was ready to go upon my arrival, the repair guy came out and chatted with me, basically saying "I could throw a new sensor on it for ya, but if it was my car, I'd just drive it for a while before putting money into it.  Here's your keys - no charge for the testing." 

SCORE!!!  Since when do repair shops encourage you to walk out without making a repair, changing out a whatchamacallit, or replacing the most expensive part they can think of?

HALLELUIAH!!!! 

This is what I love - folks who are good at what they do, who understand that we don't all have bottomless pockets filled with cash, and who are aware that some of us genuinely appreciate (and expect) good customer service (and who don't act like they're doing us a favor by doing their jobs). 

Needless to say, both auto shops have made a loyal customer out of me!!!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

2 Years

Today is our 2 year anniversary.  Seriously, where has the time gone???

In honor of me getting to marry my best friend and love of my life exactly 2 years ago, here's a quick look at some of my favorite wedding day pics.

 Our wedding day brunch before the official festivities began (thanks Susan and Jerry for hosting!)

The boys are all ready to go!

A quick hug from Mom...

The ladies are ready to go...

Walking down the aisle with my favorite little man...

Mr. & Mrs. Benjamin Whaley

Our entire family!

A dance with Dad...

Oh, what a night!

Ben, thanks for the best 2 years of my life - looking forward to many more!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Joys Of Apartment Living

In the last several weeks, we managed to pack up enough stuff to fill a 2,000 square foot house, move it from California to Ohio, and somehow squeeze it into a 900 square foot apartment. 

No easy task.

We're adjusting to having half of our stuff in boxes, we're embracing being able to walk from one end of the apartment to the other in about 3 seconds, and we're even dealing with the fact that if we drive into the parking lot after 7:00 pm, there is no parking anywhere near our building.

All of these issues - no big deal.  We'll make it work, we always do, and when the day finally comes that we can move into a house, it will seem simply palatial after this!

But...the one thing that I simply can't seem to wrap my head around...the mysterious sounds coming from upstairs.

We have the loudest neighbors EVER!!!  Honestly, I'm not exaggerating.  It's ridiculous!  Far worse than the typical walking around, flushing of toilets, dog barking (yes, they have a small dog that barks constantly) that you'd expect to hear while in close proximity to someone else.  No, no, this is an entirely different situation.

We cannot figure out what exactly they're doing to make such noise, and at such odd times of the day!  I could probably learn to ignore the constant banging, thumping, and scurrying, if only I could figure out what was causing it in the first place.  It's a mystery and I don't like it!

At first, we wondered if they were amateur bowlers, working on their release in the narrow hallway leading from the living room to the bedroom, however we live about 2 minutes from a bowling alley, so why not go there to practice.  Then we considered the possibility that they were perhaps doing some psychotic form of kickboxing or Wii Fit situation, but the sounds aren't rhythmic enough to have that seem like the explanation.  It was also possible that they are herding sheep, but given the tight quarters that we live in, that seems unlikely.

I'm trying to figure out if there's a scenario in which I could go up there during the noise making to, oh I don't know, borrow a cup of sugar or ask directions to a restaurant and subtly sneak into the conversation "By the way, what the hell are you people doing up here?!?!"

Thumping, running, banging - what possible explanation could there be for the sounds that we hear on a daily basis coming from our ceiling?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Feels Like Home

This week, I'm thankful that Ohio feels like home!
We've been in Ohio for almost 3 weeks, and it's finally hit me that we actually live here now. 

Ben is learning his way around, we're continuing to get our apartment organized, and best of all, we are figuring out where to find important staples like wine and toilet paper in our new grocery store!!! 

While we've taken advantage of having my parents in close proximity, I feel like we're also spreading our wings a bit.

We don't rely on them to keep our social calendar full, in fact, we've managed to keep ourselves fairly busy without their help! 

As we continue to pull away from California - finally getting around to cancelling our California health and auto insurance coverage, getting local cell numbers, and seriously discussing going to the DMV to get Ohio licenses and plates - I find that we're settling in quite nicely. 

When we first arrived, I felt the need to check in with Ben every day with subtle questions like "Are you glad we moved here?", "Do you still like it?", and "If you hated it here, you'd tell me, right?"

Fortunately for both of us, we're very happy with our decision to move to Ohio. 

However, if we weren't, I'm pretty sure we'd be stuck here, because I honestly don't know if I can do that cross country drive again!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Time Change

My body needs to have a crash course in adjusting to new time zones. 

It's like I'm hard wired.  No matter what I do, I can't seem to force myself onto a new sleep schedule.  The whole "go to bed early" or "force yourself to wake up early" thing just doesn't seem to be working for me.  I need a new tactic, because I'm currently staying up until the wee hours of the morning, and by extension, sleeping half of the day away.

I figured that between the drive cross country, the lack of sleep that I got during our trek, and the hard work we did once we arrived, I would have no problem adjusting to being 3 hours ahead. 

Apparently...I was wrong.

Confession:

Some of you will likely shriek when you read this (sorry Mom), but these last few mornings I've slept in (been in a coma) until well after 10:00 (ok, 11:00 this morning).  I don't know what's wrong with me.  I can't remember the last time I slept more than about 8 hours (and that's being generous) and now I'm sleeping almost 10!  Is it possible that I'm finally catching up on the sleep that I've missed over the last 4 years???

Even now, as I'm writing this, I'm acutely aware of the fact that it's 12:30 a.m. and I'm WIDE AWAKE!  I'm feeling invigorated!  I'm cruising job sites, sending out applications, monitoring the US Open, and seriously considering doing some dishes, or laundry...or something!

Seriously, someone needs to bash me over the head with a frying pan, or better yet, throw a bucket of cold water on me to get my booty out of bed in the morning (no, not really, because then I'd not only be wet, but I'd be pissed!!!)

Tomorrow, we're setting an alarm and getting up at a reasonable hour.  Really, I'm going to be out of bed before 9:00 a.m.!!!  I've had enough of this - time to embrace Eastern Standard Time!!!!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

A State Of Chaos

Is it possible that some of us are destined to live in a constant state of chaos? 

If so, then I'm definitely one of those people. 

Granted, at this moment I'm dealing with MAJOR life changes, but I feel like I've been living in a perpetual limbo over the last months (ok, years).  

I want to know how people do it differently.  How do they have it so together?  Do they actually do it differently, or are they just better at faking it than I am?

I don't own a home, I don't (currently) have a job, I don't have a plan, and I honestly don't know what my life will look like a year from now.  Aaaah...chaos!!!  It's like I'm trapped in "temporary" (which I would guess is a lot like purgatory).  Never quite settled, never sure what's next, no set agenda - just...making due...existing.

It's a constant feeling of being unsettled, and I'm starting to get sick of it.  I crave routine, I crave stability, and I'd give anything to be sitting here complaining about how boring and predictable my life has become.  

I have to expect that at some point, I will begin to make sense of my life.  Things will fall into place, regularity will be established, and I'll look back and laugh about how scattered I was......I hope.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Frugal Frame Of Mind

We're coming up on 2 weeks of living in Ohio.  Whew - where has the time gone?

While there are still many (many) boxes to go through, still more stuff to get rid of, jobs to find, and a regular routine to settle into, I feel like we're doing ok so far.

Anyone who has moved can attest to how expensive it is.  Needless to say, moving from California to Ohio forced us to tighten our belts a little bit (ok, a lot).

When we arrived, we wanted to truly make an effort to break out of the "eating out" routine that we'd gotten so used to in California.  To think of the hundreds of dollars that we've spent over just the last 6 months eating in restaurants or ordering takeout - well, it's enough to scare me straight!

Upon our arrival, we make an unofficial deal to eat out less, cook at home more, and try to be smarter about our finances.  2 weeks in, I think we're doing alright.

Since we've arrived, we've eaten out for dinner exactly once (with my dad), and have only ordered in pizza (to share with my parents).  Other than that, (and the occasional run to Bruegger's for a bagel sandwich at lunchtime) we've been great about cooking at home, eating leftovers, and only buying what we need at the store.

Granted, part of the whole "only buy what we need" is because we don't have any pantry space - literally, the few things we have (peanut butter crackers, a box of brown rice, olive oil, etc.) is currently sharing a shelf in our laundry closet with detergent and paper towel.  So, seeing as we're not blessed with abundant cupboard space, we're making due.

In the long run, I know that we'll find places that we enjoy ordering takeout from, and I know that we'll start to eat in restaurants again, but for now, as we continue to guard our money (what little we have), I'm proud of us for embracing our inner Julia Child and cooking up a storm in our tiny kitchen! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Starbucks Isn't Looking Too Bad...

I know, I know - I've only been in Ohio for 1 week, my apartment is still in disarray...I should get the rest of my life in order before jumping back into work.

No?  That's not what people are thinking?  Well...crap!

Terrible as it may seem to some, I've enjoyed not working.  Mind you, I'm terrified about depleting what (little) financial reserves we have, and as the money suckers (like utilities, insurance and rent) keep appearing, I'm secretly wishing that the folks at Publishers Clearing House would finally draw our names and show up with a big fat check!

Don't get the wrong idea - I like working.  I want to work.  I like the idea of earning my own money, and I really like the idea of not worrying about how we're going to pay for silly indulgences like...groceries!

I realize it's only been a couple weeks since my last rant about the job search (Wanted: A Job) but I'm just (still) having a hard time figuring out what I want to do. 

Ben puts me to shame.  He has literally hit the ground running, making phone calls, doing odd jobs for my parents, and has actually managed to bring in some money in the last week.  I'm so proud of him, but I'm also jealous - he knows what he likes, he knows what he can do, and he goes for it. 

Me, I'm still grappling with whether to pursue grad school, or work at a university (hopefully to make getting into grad school easier), or just get an administrative assistant job (to bring in some money), or hold out for my "ideal job" (assuming I can nail down what exactly it is), or just say "to hell with it" and go apply at Starbucks (literally, as I write this I have another screen open with a Starbucks job description on it).

I know I'm not the only one looking for a job right now, and with the economy the way it is, I know that any job will put me ahead - I'm just someone who takes work seriously.  I want to like what I do.  I want to like the people I'm working with and the company that I'm working for.  I want to look forward to work, not dread it and spend my free time thinking of creative ways to get out of it.  I want to make enough money to keep us comfortable, but I also don't want to be a sell-out who works a job of no significance because it happens to pay well.

*Is it wrong that I also question whether or not I can go back to working in an office?  I've worn capri pants and flip flops to work every day for the last 4 years - I'm honestly not sure that a business suit and cubicle are in my future.*

I know that there are no simple solutions - I just need to get my resume out there and see what comes of it.

I'm trying to keep the faith and hope that the right situation will present itself.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Nature

I've never claimed to be one with the elements.  I don't camp, I don't hike, I don't do...y'know, "outdoorsy things". 

But, I do love being outside.  At the beach, at a lake, at a park on a beautiful spring day, (does eating outside at a restaurant count?) - I appreciate these things. 

Today, in spite of my lack of "natural flare" (pun intended), I'm thankful for nature. 

I spent quite a bit of time outside today (for me). 

Ben and I walked Mia a few miles along the Metro Parks trail that runs behind our apartment complex and took her to a local dog park.  Then, again this evening, we walked in the opposite direction on the trail and enjoyed the quiet of dusk.  We saw deer twice today (as Ben fought the urge to get a gun and go hunting), appreciated the shade, and watched for lightening bugs (something we didn't get to enjoy in California).  While taking Mia for her final "out" of the evening, our ears perked at the sound of rumbling thunder, and we watched as the sky lit up with the approach of a storm.

Just being outside today, in the fresh air, getting some light exercise, life seemed simpler somehow.  Things slow down.  You can't rush when you're in the forest (Ben has pointed out that the trail behind the apartment isn't really a forest, but hey, I'll call it what I want).  I can't speak for everyone, but I know that when I give myself a chance, I almost always enjoy the sights and sounds of the outdoors.  Granted, this doesn't mean that I'm going to plan my first camping trip to the hills of central Ohio any time soon.  I'm just saying, something about walks, lightening bugs and thunderstorms makes you appreciate the simple things - which I know I need to do more of.

So, today, I'm thankful for nature, and the opportunity to be a (brief) visitor every now and then.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Unplugged

Today was day 4 in our new apartment.  Things are slowly starting to come together, though the apartment is still in a bit of disarray. 

One side effect of moving was that we had to unplug ourselves from our DVR in California. 

I know we're not the only ones guilty of it - we rely way too much on what we've recorded on tv.  In the evenings, after a long day, we're usually found on the couch vegging out in front of a variety of shows.  On the weekends?  Yep, couch potato central!  Much of our free time is spent saying "what should we watch now", or "what's on tonight?".

Before we moved, I went through our Series Manager to jot down the shows that we record, so that in the time between leaving California and arriving in Ohio, we wouldn't risk forgetting one of our precious programs.  God forbid we miss an episode of Storage Wars or Project Runway (no really...I'm serious!)

The number of shows that we were set to record was staggering - too many to mention, and some I couldn't even remember watching. 

In any case, since we left California, we've exponentially reduced our time spent in front of the tv (a side effect of driving cross country for a week), and I think it's been a good thing.

 I'm sure by the time the US Open rolls around, or the fall season starts, we'll be singing a different tune, but for now, I'm really enjoying the fact that we've been unplugged for a few days!

P.S.  The cable guy comes on Thursday!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Great Move-In

Well, we made it.  We are officially here in Hudson/Stow, and in our new apartment!!!  Yay/whew!

After several long days on the road, we are glad to be here, relatively unscathed!  

First the good news - we got the entire truck unpacked in a few short (though they didn't seem short) hours.  Also, this morning, both moms set to work in our kitchen and got all our cupboards loaded and ready to go for us.  Our apartment is in a great location - an end unit at the corner of the property - surrounded by trees and grass on 2 sides!  Finally, it took about a day, but I no longer have the sensation of moving, even when I'm standing on solid ground (a side effect from driving from California to Ohio).

Now, the not-so-great news - the apartment is tiny small (this we knew, but some things you don't really appreciate until you're there in person, and since this is all we can afford, I'm willing to go with it)!!!  How we ever thought we could take stuff spread around a 2,000 sqft house and put it into an apartment that's less than half the size is beyond me.  We are currently living in a jungle of boxes, with no clear cut plan in how to tackle them.  The bathrooms are teeny, the kitchen doesn't even come close to holding all our stuff, and we need to buy several large pieces of furniture (a tv cabinet, bookshelves, a dresser, a couch) which can be fun, but ultimately sends me into a mild panic attack at the thought of spending more money (especially when neither of us has a job)!

Long story short, we're here, we're getting settled, and I'll be glad when I can walk through the apartment without tripping over boxes, shoving suitcases out of my way, or trying to remember which room something was tossed in during the move-in. 

I know it's not "Thankful Thursday", but I'm so thankful for our moms (getting us organized), for Steve (the son of my parents' neighbor who helped us unload our truck), and for Ben (for suggesting that we come to Ohio in the first place). 

I know things will come together, and if nothing else, this apartment will be good motivation to save our money and stick to a budget so that we can buy a house!

Overall, the good outweighs the bad! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The End Of The Road

The end is in sight. 

Tonight is the last night in a hotel...whew! 

Only 6 hours of driving left for tomorrow...double whew! 

Tomorrow is officially our move in day at our new place...yay!

It's certainly been a long process - the cleaning, the organizing, the packing, the driving - I'm glad that we're almost done. 

Yes, we still have unpacking and organizing to do, but at this point, anything will be easier than the last few weeks have been. 

So, as we head into our last day of a very long cross country road trip, I'm thankful for the end of the road, which is now officially in sight, and I'm thankful that tomorrow begins the next chapter of our lives!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's Not The Journey, It's The Destination

I've never been one for scenic road trips.  While I don't mind driving - in fact I used to look forward to the 7 1/2 hours that I had to myself while driving back and forth from college and home - I am not someone who wants to stop every 60 miles to go into a local store, or seek out the world's biggest ball of twine, or drive 2 hours out of my way for some other monument, national park, or tourist destination.

When I drive, I want to make good time.  I want to get from point A to point B as fast as possible.

I know the saying goes "It's not the destination, it's the journey".  Well, that might be true in terms of being a metaphor for life, but when it comes to road trips, my motto is "just get there!".  Unless I'm about to pee in my pants, or the vehicle I'm driving is literally out of gas, I'm hard pressed to pull over.
As we continue our trek across the better part of the country, these words feel true more than ever before - JUST GET THERE!!!!

We're more than halfway to Ohio - so far we've gone from California to Nebraska, with only Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio still on the agenda.

I don't know if it's just me, but all the states are beginning to look the same - flat.  The only good thing about Nebraska (which, for the record, looks exactly like most of Nevada and Wyoming), is that it's more green than brown, which is a definite bonus after 3 days of brown mountain driving.



Tomorrow, we'll stop in Des Moines to meet up with some of Ben's family for lunch (only a slight detour, and one that I'm looking forward to), and then hit the road once again. 


Insert theme song here..."On the road again.  I just can't wait to get on the road again..."

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Goodbye, California!

Yesterday we officially said goodbye to California.

I'm a mixture of sad, nostalgic, and excited to FINALLY be on our way!  It was a rough week, our nerves were...frayed (to put it mildly), and we are now officially moving on (literally).

The drive was long, boring, and made even more difficult because Ben and I were in 2 separate vehicles!  I was lucky enough to drive "Big Red" (as we affectionately call Ben's Ford F-350), while he had the unpleasant task of driving the moving truck, which was also towing "Little Red" (my Suzuki).

But, after about 11 1/2 hours of driving, we successfully arrived in Salt Lake City, just in time for dinner with Ben's family!

Today, the reality of being "homeless" hit me a little bit.  I am still referring to California as "home", in conversation and part of me feels like we'll be back there in a few days.  Then, Ben was showing off some video of Molly from our last days with the kids - so of course, that made us cry. 

I know that this is going to be something of a process and that over time I'll fully "get" the fact that we don't live in California anymore, I'll probably accept that we don't get to see Jack and Molly every day (though I don't have to like it), and hopefully at some point, Ohio will feel like home once again.

As California is further behind us and we get closer and closer to Ohio, I know things will get easier - for now, I'm just missing our old life, and feeling nervous about setting up a new one. 

Let the transition begin!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Thankful For Stuff

During the last week (ok, the last several) as we've prepared for our move to Ohio, I've done a lot of complaining about the amount of crap that we have junking up our house.  The endless piles of random paperwork, the clothes that haven't seen the light of day for months (ok, years), the kitchen appliances that have never been used, and the frustration that I feel while sifting through the infinite chaos that is our home has been about enough to send me right over the edge. 

That was until tonight. 

My friend, who is an Assistant Principal at a local high school, was telling us about some of the crazy outfits that kids were trying to get away with for their school pictures this week.  This, of course, led to a discussion not just of inappropriate picture outfits, but of blatant disregard for the dress code in general. 

She was telling us about a girl who today had on a tiny pair of "beige" shorts that (the way she told it) offered roughly the same amount of booty coverage as a pair of underpants.  So, the offending young lady was escorted, by my friend, to the office to call home for a change of clothes. 

Well, my friend overheard the conversation that the girl was having with her mother on the phone and realized that she wasn't trying to disregard the dress code or be disrespectful - her family simply didn't have the money to buy new clothes, so she had squeezed into last year's shorts, even though they were too small.

When I heard that, all my frustration about having "too many clothes" and "too much stuff" just melted away.  I realized that while it is a hassle, and while I really don't need everything that I have, I'm incredibly lucky to have what I have.  I can eat in a restaurant if the mood strikes, I can buy gifts for friends, I can fill up my car with gas, and most importantly, I can afford to buy a new shirt or a pair of jeans when I need them.

So today, despite my complaining, I'm thankful for all my stuff!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Process Of Packing

Moving sucks.  No, scratch that.  Moving is a fun and exciting adventure that marks the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. 

Packing sucks!

I can't stand the process of packing.  It's tedious, frustrating, and leaves you scratching your head, wondering how the heck you managed to accumulate all that stuff, not to mention trying to figure out how the heck you're going to fit all of it into your new place. 

Yesterday, we were productive - pictures came off walls, books and DVDs were boxed up, closets were cleaned out - but I now find myself wondering why we have so much stuff, and where the heck we're going to put it once we get to Ohio! 

We've been blessed with a beautiful house to live in.  Unfortunately, our dreams of home ownership are still out of reach, so we'll be hanging our hats in a 2 bedroom apartment that is roughly half the size of our current home.

It's understandable that when a couple moves in together and 2 homes become one, you're going to have double the stuff.  Well, there must be squatters hiding in our attic, or evil twins secretly storing their household items in our closets, because we have more stuff than 2 people could ever possibly require!  Sheets, towels, toiletries, pillows, blankets - we've got too many (and none, may I add, are in very good shape). 

But, in addition to the moving expenses, the new cost of living that we're saddled with, and the fact that neither of us has a job yet, we can't just throw stuff away and figure that we'll buy new once we arrive in Ohio.  Nope, we need to be thrifty, responsible, and we need to move all of this crap from point A to point B. 

And so, today, we continue the frustrating and exhausting process of packing.  We will sort through paperwork, clear out more closets, pack up the bathroom, and hopefully by the end of the day will find ourselves a tiny bit more organized than last night - when the haphazard piles of "stuff" lying around made it feel less like we were in the process of moving, and more like we were organizationally challenged mongrels auditioning for an episode of "Hoarders".

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wanted: A Job

It occurred to me yesterday, once the tears had slowed and I was able to think of something besides how much I'm going to miss seeing Jack and Molly every day, that I'm officially unemployed.

Yikes!

The words of my father are echoing in my head as I write this "You don't quit a job until you have another job".  Oops - sorry Dad!

While that rule is great for most situations, I feel that it simply doesn't apply this time.  We needed to make this move.  It was the right time, the need was there, and at some point you just make a decision and go with it.

Unfortunately, one of the casualties of making a life changing decision was job hunting.  I've put it off, knowing that I have too many other things to deal with, and (until now) never really thinking about the reality of not having a job.  That was, until reality hit me. 

Yesterday, I received my last paycheck.  Gulp!  Unfortunately, with our financial reserves being what they are (or aren't), the pressure is now on to not only make our move quickly and economically (anyone who has moved across the country, or even out of state knows how impossible that is), but to find some means of income immediately upon our arrival in Ohio. 

So, now the big questions start to bounce around my head.  What kind of job do I want?  What am I trained for?  How much money do I need to make in order to pay the bills?  Do I take a job that will simply provide a paycheck and a daily activity, or do I wait and seek out something that I'm passionate about doing?  What am I passionate about doing?  And...the list goes on.

I can't help but feel like we're being pushed in this direction, so part of me wants to believe that the right situation will present itself - I just hope it happens before we have to sell a kidney on the black market in order to pay the water bill!

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Letter To The Kids

Today is my last day working with the Jack and Molly.  *Tear*  I know that we'll visit each other, we'll Skype, we'll talk on the phone, we'll send cards and presents, but it just won't be the same.  I've seen them practically every day (minus the odd vacation apart) for the last 4 years - I'm the closest one can be to a parent without actually being a parent.  I love these kids as if they were my own, and I am already missing them. 

So, in light of the fact that we're all beginning a new chapter of our lives (them without me, and me without them), I want to leave them with some thoughts and words of wisdom.

Dear Jack and Molly,

I love you both more than words can say!  You are such amazingly wonderful little people, and I've been so blessed to be a part of your lives over these last years.  It has been truly incredible getting to experience so much with you, the good and the bad.  You've both challenged me, trusted me, loved me, and allowed me to be such a big part of your lives, and for that, I will be forever grateful and proud.

It occurs to me that in the long run, I won't have meant as much to you as you've meant to me, but I want you to know that it's ok.  I'm blessed to know how special these 4 years have been, and to appreciate all that I take away with me. 

Jack Man, be a good boy!  Play, get dirty, have fun, be silly, keep reading, keep swimming, keep asking questions, and don't sweat the small stuff!  You are such a smart little man, and I hope you stay passionate about learning.  I am so proud of the little boy you've become - you are absolutely incredible!  I'll miss our conversations, our lunch dates, our movies, our sleepovers, our tennis lessons, and most of all, I'll miss the funny way you have about explaining things.  Please continue to have lots of fun, make good choices, and show the good behavior that I know you're capable of!  You're my goose!

Molly Moos, stay sweet.  Continue to be friendly, and outgoing with people you come in contact with.  Give hugs, blow kisses, be independent, keep laughing, keep singing and keep dancing.  You are such a happy little girl, I know for sure I'll never meet anyone who's quite like you.  I will miss your giggles, hearing you sing along with songs that you know, your excited voice when you get good news, and most of all, I'll miss the way you lay your head on my shoulder and pat my arm when I give you a hug!  Please be a good girl, don't fight with Jack, and keep your enthusiasm for life!  I sure love my Little Miss!

You have both changed me more than you'll ever be able to understand.  You've taught me about patience, about unconditional love, and about the kind of parent that I want to be someday. 

It has truly been one of the great privileges of my life to spend these years with you. 

I miss you already, and I can't wait to see you soon!!!

I love you, I love you, I love you!!!

-Erin

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thankful For Memories

This is my last week working in California.  I came out here just over 4 years ago, not knowing what life on the west coast would be like for me.  Looking back, I can't imagine it being any other way. 

I have grown so much as a person, learned so much, gotten through so much, and experienced so much, I don't know what I'd be like if I'd never come here.

I wouldn't have met Ben.  I wouldn't have made some of the closest friends I think I'm likely to find.  I wouldn't have gotten a 4-year-long dress rehearsal for parenthood.  I wouldn't have learned first hand how difficult kids can be, and I wouldn't know how tough stay-at-home moms have it!  I wouldn't know how challenging, and amazing, and frustrating, and entertaining kids can truly be, yet how different they are!

So, today, I'm most thankful for 4 years worth of memories.  The hugs, the laughter, the tickles, the cuddles, the games, the time-outs, the tests of patience, bath times, bedtimes, singing in the car, watching movies, bowling, going out for ice cream, first steps, first days at school, sleepovers, illness, (did I mention cuddles?), Starbucks, going to lunch, vacations, swimming - everything that you do with kids, are caught off guard with, take for granted - I'm thankful for all of it.  The whole kid package!

Jack and Molly are two of the most amazing little people I ever expect to come in contact with.  They have each changed my life, and I am so thankful for both of them.


*Love you guys*

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Perfect Pillow

I want a good pillow.  Am I crazy?  Have I lost my mind?  Apparently.  I feel like at the end of a stressful day, when all is once again right with the world, I deserve to lay down in my bed with a fluffy pillow cradling my head as I drift off to sleepy land.

Apparently, I dream too big.  A pillow that maintains its shape and firmness?  A pillow that doesn't store and radiate body heat and make me feel like I'm in the damn Sahara Desert?  A pillow that is comfortable without me having to crunch it in half or fold my arm underneath it?  Ha!  Dream on, crazy lady!

Now, I don't know what the standard shelf life of a pillow should be, but we seem to be going through them like toilet paper!  I don't want to throw anyone under the bus...but...my husband is a pillow killer.  Whew, there, I said it.  Boy, does it feel good to get that off my chest.

I just bought us new pillows ($20 each - I splurged!), and he's already broken it down so much that he has a 2nd pillow underneath it to help prop his head up to a comfortable height.  What's a girl to do?  Is there any hope for a simpleton like me who just wants a decent night's sleep without having to spend a fortune on some freaky designer pillow?

I am a firm believer in "you get what you pay for", but honestly, I'm not about to spend $100 on a pillow!  Scratch that, I'm not about to spend $50!!!  Especially because there's no way to test drive a pillow Yes, you can do a test run in the store, but putting the pillow (in its plastic cover) on a nearby shelf and attempting to simulate how heavy your head is when you're lying down will only get you so far (and yes, I've been "that lady" in Bed Bath and Beyond).

I want some pillow expert to come to my rescue.  I want to be told "This is the pillow for you" and know that I can trust that the pillow won't have a visible head imprint after only 2 weeks of use!

I know that this might seem like something completely trivial, but I don't care.  It is starting to affect my life, and I don't like it.  I just want a decent pillow, people!  Is that really too much to ask?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Husband, My Hero (Again)

Today, I am thankful for my husband, Ben.

Thankful doesn't seem to come anywhere near the right words to describe how grateful I am to have him in my life.  When I need him, he's there.  When I fall, he picks me up.  When I'm sad, he makes me laugh (or at least smile).  And, anyone who has ever had that, knows what a gift it can be, especially in your darkest hours.

Despair is an ugly feeling.  But, I'll admit, over the course of our relationship, I've felt despair more times than I care to admit. 

Between last night and this afternoon, I was feeling it again.  The evil lurking hopelessness seemed to creep up on me, and before I could fight it off, I was wrapped so tight that I was struggling to even see my way out of it.  I was in a hole, unable to fathom what I would need to do to improve my situation, trying hard not to give in to my urge to sit down and give up.

Ben was there for me.  He doesn't always have the right words (and he'll be the first to admit it), but he knows how to be there.  He knows that sometimes I don't even need the right words, or for him to "fix it" (as much as he wishes he could) - but somehow he knows that just by standing by me, offering a gentle touch, and holding me when the tears finally start flowing, that it will make me feel even just a little bit better.

He is my rock, my constant, my saving grace. 

Today, I'm thankful for Ben.  No frilly words, no elaborate phrases - just me fighting my way out from under a cloud to be thankful for the greatest thing that ever happened to me!

*I love you, Patoots*

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

An Undomestic Goddess

Today I was struck with a cold, hard realization.  I am not domestically inclined.  Scratch that, not only am I not a perfect picture of domesticity (somewhere my mom is trying hard not to laugh), I fear that I am its antithesis.  I don't like to cook, I'll do anything I can think of before I clean, and I'll do laundry only when I'm out of clean underwear. 

This startling truth hit me today while I was using my precious time off to do some (much needed) cleaning.  After vacuuming the bathroom (because apparently in addition to the dog, Ben and I are also shedding), I set to work on our carpeted bedroom, hallway, and family room.


This past Christmas, my mom bestowed upon our humble household, a new vacuum cleaner.  I'm sure, of course, that she was not meaning to imply that our house needed to be vacuumed, that our current vacuum wasn't up to the job, or that without the proper motivation we would likely never vacuum again and slowly bury ourselves in dust, dog hair, and crumbs (though you're getting warm on that one).


This wasn't any old vacuum cleaner.  It was a super-dee-duper one!  I won't get in to what brand or model it is, because, honestly, it doesn't matter.  Suffice it to say, my cousin did research online before purchasing hers a few years ago, and was soon followed by my aunt and my mother.  (Apparently every female in our family needs one of these vacuums)


I will say one thing, it's a cool little sweeper.  It has lights on the front that indicate whether a given spot is clean.  It goes from red (really dirty) to orange (only a little dirty) to green (clean).  Usually when I vacuum, it takes only a few (or a dozen) extensions of my arm to get an area clean.  Even in the areas that belong to the dog, I can get that little green light to appear in well under a minute.


Today, when I fired up the vacuum, I feared that it was malfunctioning, and was already dreading the phone call to my mom wherein I would have to tell her that our brand new, "hardly been used" vacuum was broken.


I swept and swept and swept the same area to find that the damn red light was still staring at me (not even blinking, just staring).  So, I moved on to another spot (fully committed to my "vacuum malfunction" theory), but figuring that at the very least, I was getting the worst of whatever was lurking in the carpet fibers.  Same thing - seconds turned into minutes, and before I knew it, I was LITERALLY dripping with sweat as I ran the vacuum over and over and over the same patches of the floor with no result. 


I emptied the filter, and at one point even sat down with a pointy nail file and cleaned out in between the little filter folds.  Why didn't I just replace the filter?  Well, because we only have a few, and our vacuum has been discontinued (so the filters are hard to find), and oh, yeah, because I'm not domestically inclined!


Long story short, after emptying the filter 6 times (or was it 7?), spending 20 minutes cleaning out filter folds, and sufficiently drenching my shirt with sweat, I did what anyone in my position would do.  I gave up. 

Even though this was the first time I'd encountered a carpet that refused to be cleaned, quite honestly, I don't expect to lose much sleep over the fact that the little green light never made an appearance over the carpet in any spot that we actually walk on.  

While I know how to do laundry, change sheets, even dust furniture (if the occasion calls for it), I (most often), choose not to.  Can you blame me?  Why dust furniture when it's only going to get dusty again?  Why wipe down the counters every single day, knowing that within 24 hours they'll, once again, be covered in spots and crumbs? 

Those of you who are neat freaks are probably about to lose it, so let's just say, if we ever decide to spend time together, it won't be at my house (until, that is, this undomestic goddess hires a cleaning service)!