Saturday, May 30, 2009

Blast From The Past

How many people keep up with their high school friends, once they're out of high school? I went to a very small private school, my graduating class had six people. Yes, you read that right, four, five, SIX people. In high school we were all pretty close, same school, same church, same activities. Most of my graduating class stayed in the same town, stayed at the same church and stayed in touch. However, two of us moved away shortly after high school. Me and Jen.

We were pretty close in high school, like sisters you may say. After high school, we both went to the community college in that area, and she was actually the one that introduced me to my husband in 2002. Within those two years after high school we both started to go down different paths. It happens, I was sad about it, but understood that rarely do childhood friends stay best buds through the years. During our sophomore year of college, Jen joined the Air Force. We wrote back and forth, but nothing near to the extend that we used to be in touch when we lived near each other. Jen sent word that she got orders to Langley in 2003. Soon after that Ryan and I married, and I moved to VA. Jen came to the wedding and Jen and Mitch (boyfriend, now husband) came to see me soon after I relocated in 2004. It was so good to see her, and now that we were living close to each other we promised to keep in touch. We didn't. In the last five years of living within 45 minutes of each other, we've talked a total of four times and seen each other once. My sister called me about a year ago to tell me that she saw Jen was pregnant on her MySpace. I emailed her, she had just gotten back from Korea and she found out she was pregnant. We said we would get together soon. We didn't. In the last year we haven't spoken at all, not on purpose of course. I think you just get caught up in life and don't think about these things. I emailed her a few weeks ago to see how she was and to ask her a few Air Force questions. We talked over the phone and set up a time to meet. Earlier today, during the drive up to see her, Mitch and their, now two children, I couldn't believe how long it's been since we've seen each other. I pulled up into the driveway and gave Jen a hug. She looked exactly the same. Her son and newborn baby girl are adorable and Jen seems so happy. It was go great to see them, I'm so glad we set up a time to meet. It's so crazy how things can change over the years. My high school friend is now a mommy. It's just so crazy, to go from my memory of her and I in high school, thugging out to Limp Bizkit in her car to now she's a mom. Maybe it's because we literally went from high school to adulthood and missed each others in between stages, I'm not sure. As we said our goodbye's we said that we would keep in touch better and we wouldn't go another five years without seeing each other, especially living so close to one another. I hope we keep that promise this time.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Book Signing

Yesterday, the judge finally dismissed the trial at about 5:15pm. By that time I was counting the creases in the leather chair in front of me. Ugh, peeling my own skin off would have been more entertaining than the trial at that point. Anywho, myself and the other seven jurors bolted for the door. You would have thought that they had just let out high school for the summer. I got to my car and calculated the time. I needed to go straight to the book signing if I wanted to sit vs. stand for the full hour that Mr. Macquire was going to be talking. Called Ryan, "Going straight to the library, so no worries and you're on your own for dinner." Called my boss, "The daggum trial is going to last through Friday, hopefully we'll be able to wrap it up on Monday but don't hang your hat on it." Traffic was HORRENDOUS. Figures. I grabbed my copy of Wicked laying in the passenger seat and flipped through the pages. I could feel the excitement and anticipation building, and at that point I was practically bouncing in my seat. I got to the library and was actually surprised at the emptiness of the parking lot. "Wow," I thought to myself, "maybe I have the wrong day." At that moment about three girls, maybe 16 years old, skipped past me, all wearing green T-shirts with the word Wicked written across the front. Nope, I had the right day. Once inside I was greeted by the same girl I pretty much tackled the other day when inquiring about the book signing. She recognized me. "Oh hey", she said, handing me a small card catalog card. "Here's your number for the book signing. Take a seat, we have about 30 more minutes." I responded, "Ok great, thanks." I found an empty seat in the back but with a good view of the microphone. I looked at my card. I'm number 119. "Oh God, this could take awhile." I'm checking my watch every five minutes and can't sit still to save my life, I'm so excited. Thirty minutes later, Mr. Macquire walks up. He talked for about an hour, read from his books, answered questions. He's much more animated than I would have thought and very dramatic when he speaks. It was really quite entertaining!

After he went upstairs to the book signing area, I was fortunate enough to meet two normal people sitting next to me and had a great conversation with them while we were waiting for our groups of numbers to be called. Now, I say "normal" because later on that evening a "non-normal" person added herself to the group. You know those people that enter a conversation that they happen to overhear and take it over? Yeah, she was one of those. My number was finally called, I excused myself from the group of two women I was enjoying talking to and the girl that was annoying as hell and entered the back of the line. The line was moving fairly quickly, and I was running through the millions of questions I wanted to ask my favorite author, trying to narrow it down to just one or two. I decided to ditch the questions and come up with something witty to say. As I'm running phrases through my head, I heard a familiar voice over my shoulder. "So, as I was saying, after I read that book, I absolutely had to read the others, even though they weren't NEARLY as engaging as her first...." The annoying girl was back. Apparently, her card number was in the same grouping as mine.

So there I was, listening to this strange girl ramble on about the last book series she read and how her crazy cat randomly attacks her in the middle of the night, standing in line to meet one of my favorite authors and trying to think of something dashingly witty to say to him. Annoying girl jumped ahead of me. That's fine, it gave me more time to collectively gather what I had wanted to say to this influential man. I was envisioning us laughing at a joke I just made and him asking me if I wanted to meet him after for coffee and to discuss literature. Suddenly...it was my turn. I saw him smiling at me from across the table. I started to walk up, and that, oh faithful readers of mine, was when I lost it. Typical Stephanie moment, I briskly walked up and managed to squeak out a "Hi", and hand him my book. I'm watching him sign his name, as I'm trying to remember the witty things I had just planned to say as they were flying out of my head. If you could have seen my brain at that moment it would have resembled a book full of blank white pages furiously being turned from one page to the next. He smiled at me and asked me my name. I managed to squeak out, "Stephanie." He asked me how to spell it, and I draw yet another blank. My name. How do I spell my name? What is my name? Do I have a name? He looked up at me questioningly. I shook my head, closed my eyes and spelled my name. He closed my book, smiled at me and started to hand my copy of Wicked back to me. This is it you big dummy! You're last chance, say something! I blurted out the first thing that popped in my head, "Do you know who you are?!?!" He laughed and said, "Well I think so." I laughed, told him thank you and walked away. I'm retarded. I meet one of the best authors, in my opinion, and I ask him if he knows who he is. Good grief. I told Ryan of the book signing experience when I got home. Ryan just laughed and said, "Yep, that sounds about right."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jury Duty

A few weeks ago I got a summons in the mail. The dreaded jury duty summons. I turned in the bottom portion of the summons with my information and called the number they said to call on the day they said to call it. I was to report at 830am on Wed. morning to the Federal Court House. I've never stood jury duty, I've heard all kinds of stories, that you wait for hours to just be told "you can go home now", and that it can be a huge waste of time. Considering the massive deadlines I have, jury duty couldn't have come at a worse time. Oh well, duty (literally) calls.

When I first got the summons I have to admit, I was perturbed. With work deadlines and no one else being able to think their way out of a paper bag at that company, missing one day of work might as well be like missing a month. Awesome. On the other hand, I've been sued before (car accident) and it did go to trial; so I whole heartedly know how crucial the role of the jury is. Although missing work right now is not a good thing, I was excited to embark on this new juror experience and exercise my American citizenship.

I arrived at 825am, doors were locked. Okie dokie then. Upon unlocking the doors, and herding us through security and upstairs into the Jury Assembly room, it suddenly dawns on me. "Man, I hope we don't sit around and do nothing for like half the day, I didn't bring a book or anything." WELL, did I call it or what?!?! We waited in the Jury Assembly room from 835am-1040am. Yes, I know the times, I was checking my watch every ten minutes. Do you have any idea how boring it is just sitting in a chair with a room of strangers, staring at a wall?!?! It's extremely boring people! I looked to my left and saw a woman reading a book that I normally wouldn't think was remotely interesting, but I was seriously thinking about wrestling it from her.

They FINALLY move us downstairs into the actual court room where we spend the next two hours watching lawyers scurry around whispering to each other, and answering monotonous questions. "No, I don't know the plaintiff." "No, I don't know the defendant." "No, I'm not a mechanical engineer." This questioning period probably would have gone a lot faster if half the other potential jurors actually listened and followed directions. The judge said to raise your hand if you could answer "yes" to the following question, then he would call on you and you would need to state your name and explain. Half the people who raised their hands were actually answering "no" to the question. I wanted to slap my forehead and yell, "People! I'm extremely starving, so if you could just use your brains for the next 15 minutes we could progress through this quicker and I may not be forced to thump you all on the back of the head."

After all that, the lawyers and judge had to collaborate for about another 30 minutes and decide who they actually wanted on the jury. Dude. I am telling you. During the trial I was in for that car accident, that shit moved right along. We started, like opening statements started, at a prompt 9am and ended at 12pm. I have no clue what the crap the deal was with these people. Anyways...so they finally call the jurors and wouldn't you flippin know it, they call my name. I grab my purse and make my way to the Jury Box. We were then allowed to take lunch (THANK GOD) and actually started the trial around 215ish. So for the next three days, I'm a juror. Should be an interesting experience and now that we're through all the waiting around BS, I think I'll enjoy the experience much more. I'm trying hard not to think about all the work that I'll have to make up for missing the next three days.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Wicked

This morning I was searching my library's website to see if they had a certain book I finally got up the nerve to read (another post, another time). Upon opening up a certain page I saw an ad for Wicked. For those of you who are "fine arts handicapped", Wicked is a book turned Broadway sensation that is currently being shown in the area I live in. I desperately wanted to see this show, but with the lack of money being what it is, we decided to pass on the show. (Although I'm hoping to make a trip to Nashville in Sept., to see it with Ryan's brother and wife. Fingers crossed.) The book is about the Wicked Witch of the West, basically it's her untold life and her side of the Wizard of Oz story.

Most of you don't know that I am a Wizard of Oz FIEND. Since the first time I saw the movie at 4 years old, I was hooked. It's my favorite movie, I have collector's memorabilia, and I collect the books. Not just the 15 book copies you can go grab at Barnes and Noble, but the rare books printed in the 1900's. I spend several days a week searching for rare Oz books online and at every little bargain book shop I can find. Call it sad, I'm ok with that.

A few years ago, Sean (Ryan's brother) told me about the book Wicked. I darted to the store the next day and grabbed a copy. Since then I have read the other 2 sequel's that have come out in Gregory Macquire's Wicked series, and 3 other books he's written. It's officially, I'm a fan.

So back to this morning...as I'm getting ready to click on the "catalog" button, the screen changes from the Wicked book cover to a picture of the author, Gregory Macquire. I see the words, "book signing" appear across the bottom of the screen. I drop my purse on the floor, grab the mouse and click on the link below the picture. Gregory Macquire is coming to my library to sign copies of his books. I grabbed my flat screen monitor and pulled it up to eye level. Ryan looks over and says, "Whoa, babe, what the heck...?" I plop the screen back down, look at Ryan and point to the author's picture. "Macquire.....Gregory Macquire....here....coming here! Holy crap!" Ryan asks, "Who's Gregory Macquire?" I squint my eyes and glare at him, "He wrote Wicked!" He looks back at me, "Ooohhh, THAT Gregory Macquire." He shrugs and goes back to his gaming.

Ok, I don't get super stoked about musicians or actors. I have my favorites, but I don't get super giddy, jump up and down and scream about them. Writers however, are my celebrities. It has been and always will be, my life long dream to be a writer. Meeting one of my favorite authors is HUGE. I'm the girl that waits in line for HOURS, to finally get up the writer smile, point at myself and say, "Fan...yours...huge."

I get to the library, picking up the pace with every step. What starts out as a quick step out of my car is now a dodge around people, jump over the small dog chillin on the sidewalk and dart to the circulation desk. "Hi! I saw on your website..." my eyes dart to the stack of Wicked cards on the desk, grabbing the top copy "THIS!" I finally come to, to see the two ladies behind the desk staring back at me with wide eyes. I relax my aggressive stance and nodding my head say, "I'm a big fan." Straightening the pile of cards on her desk, she looks at me and says, "Ok, well that's good dear." After about 20 minutes, I stroll out of the library with a book (the original reason for going to the library) and a card to see one of my favorite authors. THIS is going to be super fantabulous!

Money Doesn't Grow On Trees

It's really quite interesting how creative you can be when you're concerned about cash flow. We're down to one income now, and well, we all know I make crap for money. I have scoured our budget and have made just about every cut I possibly can, from shaving our cable bill down to the bare necessities, to laying off the lawn boy. Sorry Dale. I've gone from gathering as much needless crap in our house as I can find for a garage sale, to contemplating leveling up World of Warcraft characters and selling them on Craig's List for a few hundred a piece. Selling college books back to the university has never been very fruitful for me, until I discovered TextbooksRUs.com! I've pretty much made my money back from when I first purchased them three terms ago!

It's too bad I had Thor neutered. Whoring him out would have collected quite a nice chunk of change. Pure bred, rare breed, champion bloodlines. *Sigh* oh well.

Ryan walked into the kitchen the other day to find me furiously typing on the laptop.

Ryan: What cha doin?
Steph: Filling out as many sweepstakes as I can find on the internet.
Ryan: Uhhh...why?
Steph: Well I figure I'll win something and most of these are for cash. The ones that aren't, I could always sell the prizes and make money off that.
Ryan: Geez, are we really that bad off?
Steph: Well no, but I don't make enough for us to live off of and our money supply will slowly begin to dwindle. Money doesn't grow on trees ya know.
Ryan: But, money does apparently grow on Google.
Steph: Yes, apparently. I just entered a sweepstakes to win free shampoo for a year! That saves us $50!

Ryan and I were in the kitchen going through the mail, and I casually mentioned to him that he should get a paper route. He raised an eyebrow at me and said he'd rather go around and mow the neighbors lawns. I jumped up and down, "Oh oh, there's gas in the mower!"

I pulled out my postage stamp collection that I had as a kid. Come to find out it's worth a few thousand. Who knew? I collected them when I was 10, 11 and 12 years old. I thought the pictures were pretty. Never would have dreamed they would end up being worth that much. Thank goodness I listened to that nice old lady at the Post Office when she told me how to preserve them. After doing a lot of thinking, I put the stamp stockbook back on the shelf. It will be a last resort and I doubt it will come down to me having to sell it. I'd like to pass it on down to my kids one day. I'll pawn Ryan's Magic the Gathering cards first, hehehe.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Scrapbooking, Military Brides and Prom

I'm an avid scrapbooker. Next to writing, it's my favorite hobby. It started my senior year of high school when I wanted to make an album of high school memories. It soon led to a full blown hobby that I absolutely love! I have been gathering things from Ryan's Naval career-award letters, medals, pictures, love letters, ect.-to put together a Navy album. I was online looking for military scrapbooking ideas, when I stumbled upon the site, creatingmilitarymemories.com. I ended up purchasing $50 worth of stuff. I got my package today and I am beyond pleased with my purchase! I was able to find stamps and die cuts that I've never seen anywhere else and the paper was cheap! Avid military scrapbookers, check out the site, you won't be disappointed!

I received my university magazine the other day. Usually the magazine is full of what the alumni is doing with their lives and how the President of the university is the most awesomest dude ever. Anyways, I typically flip through it and toss it in the recycling bin. For whatever reason I ended up tossing this particular issue on the coffee table vs. into the bin. Upon picking it up during a commercial break for Wheel of Fortune a certain article caught my eye. Come to find out one of the alumni owns a bridal shop in New England. In support of our troops, she donates and organizes giveaways of wedding gowns to military brides. Whether the bride is the one on active duty and deployed or her spouse-to-be is the one deployed, she supports what they do for our country be helping them with their wedding. It's incredible! Her website is, thebridalstockexchange.com.

While we're on the topic of charity events, I would like to take a moment to recognize one of my personal favorites. In Chicago it's called The Glass Slipper Project. In Virginia it's called Fairy Godmothers of Virginia. In New York they call themselves, Cinderella's Closet. This charity is in just about every major city, and while they all go by different names and are organized by different associations, they all do the same thing. They provide young, less fortunate girls with formal wear for their proms. It sounds so simple, yet it can make such a huge impact. Times are tough, people don't have money for food or car gas let alone a dress for their girl's prom. How many girls are missing out on a one night event because they don't have anything to wear? Once you miss your prom that's it, you don't get another. It's like not attending your graduation and getting your diploma in the mail. It's not like you can just catch the next one, once you miss it you miss it!

Last February, I organized a drive through the FRG for Fairy Godmother's of VA. I was hoping for 30 dresses, I got 50+. The response was phenomenal. How many dresses do you have that you know you'll either never fit into again, or wear again? My own prom dress, I've been a bridesmaid a few times, then there's those Navy balls and ship wide holiday parties that you purchase dresses for. All of which can be put to good use when donated. When I dropped those 50+ dresses off, I have never seen women so appreciative.

Something so simple such as donating a dress or helping someone with a special moment in their life, like a wedding or a prom can mean so much. So much more than you may ever know.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Diablo Enterprises

So the newest thing at my place of hell...I mean employment, are sign out sheets. For every break and lunch we not only have to log out of our phones we have to sign out on a little sheet of paper the time you left and then sign back in with your return time. Those times are then cross referenced with our time cards. Now, obviously a thing like this would only need to be done if people within the department are abusing their break privileges by instead of taking two 15 minute breaks and an hour lunch, they are exceeding the number of breaks or the time limits to each. Instead of addressing this issue with the people abusing the rules, our department head has decided to make us all suffer. Whatev. I can deal. HOWEVER, what I cannot deal with is signing in and out to leave our desks for just a moment. Each time we leave our desks, whether it's to go to lunch, to go to the printer, to use the bathroom, whatever the reason we have to log out of our phones. This took me a bit to get used to, after about a week and random sticky's with the words, "Log out of phone queue" plastered all over my cube, it now comes second nature. BUT apparently we now have to sign out and back in if we leave our cubicle for something personal, such as running to the vending machine. Making a trip to the printer doesn't count, yet apparently making a trip upstairs to heat up a heating pad does. Oh no, I crap you not. Dead serious people.

On top of that we also have to copy our new department head on all emails that are sent to anyone higher than a manager. This of course is also due to a certain person who was rude to a higher up person and yet, instead of inquiring with the culprit, we all pay the price.

I have mentioned before that I am no longer allowed to have lunch with my boss, which is fine. It shows favoritism and I can understand that. NOW I have been informed that we can no longer be gone at the same time. We both take lunch at the same time. I get to the office at 7am, there's no way in hell I'm going to make it to 1pm without lunch, even with my SoyJoy bar. Luckily, my boss is understanding and we have worked out our lunch time query. The department heads reasoning for us going separate is so that someone is here while my boss is not. I'm not management, I'm not even a supervisor. If some sort of billing crisis comes up that MUST be resolved within that hour, there are three other managers on the floor. And again I'm not a supervisor or a manager, I'm a senior rate, that's it. If I'm supposed to be a "stand-in" while my manager is at lunch, I would think that that would be a supervisor duty, yet I am most definitely not paid a supervisor salary. LOL, my sister makes only $3/hr. less than I do, and she works at a fast food restaurant. I am a corporate auditor, I've saved that company 3.6 million dollars. I have put policies and procedures into place that have impacted that company in a good way and I make less than $30k a year. Talk about insulting. Damn economy and it's lack of career options! Now that I think about it, that's probably why this company does what they do. They know that there's nothing out there, so they get away with treating their employees like crap.

It's like being a prisoner chained to your cubicle! Before long they'll be handing out orange jumpsuits and monitoring pee breaks! "WHOA, easy on the coffee there killer, you only get one pee break between now and noon." One of the girls I work with said that she feels like a little kid in a sweat shop. I second that.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Miracle of Life

Tiffany had the baby. Rosemarie Leigh, 7lbs., 110z., 20.5 in., and she's absolutely perfect. You hear stories of the mom getting an epidural and next thing she knows she's got a baby on her tummy. You hear stories from the new mom talking about how easy it was. "A piece of cake, I'd totally have more!" Our little momma was in labor for 30+ hours and pushed for more than 2, poor girl is exhausted. I went to see her during my lunch break. I walk in and ask how everyone is doing. Mike jumps up and says, "I'm great!" I have never seen a daddy so smitten over his little girl as Mike is with Rosie. It's one of the sweetest things I've ever seen. While Alison and I were visiting, Tiffany pointed out a bouquet of flowers on the table. Apparently Mike came striding into the room with the flowers, and when Tiffany proceeded to thank him he calmly corrected her and said they were for their daughter. LOL! He's completely gaga over the little one.

I'm standing there watching Tiffany hold Rosie and I'm in complete awe. I've had friends have babies before. I've visited them in the hospital and seen them hours after delivery, but for whatever reason seeing Tiffany and this tiny baby has just put me in a complete state of awe. To see this tiny form of life, this little person who was formed from practically nothing inside my friend, and knowing all that Tiffany went through with the labor, I just think....wow. I guess the miracle of life just hit me.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

It's 7am on a Saturday, Ryan's asleep next to me with one of our cats curled around his feet. The other cat seems to think that my laptop is his personal lounge area. I can hear birds chirping outside my window and see the sun softly creep through the curtains. My Golden Retriever doesn't seem to understand that mommy likes to sleep in on the weekends. So, here I am wide awake at 7am on a Saturday.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot of the girls, Tiffany is being induced this weekend, Marina is in Spain, how I miss her so, and Alison...well let's just say that she's going through some FRG drama right now and as much as I try to be there for her, I can't be at the meetings and tell these other wives to put on their big girl panties and get over it. I did some searches on Navy life and I found it interesting that the two largest topics from blogs and "help" sites were how to deal with deployments and how to deal with other Navy spouses. How strange is it that a group of women who all have one thing in common(their spouses service)can all be so brash and awful to each other? Why it is that the "kick them while their down" complex is so popular amongst Navy wives? During deployments and times of hardship is when people should ban together, yet sometimes this happens, and sometimes it doesn't. Maybe because everyone is so miserable, it makes it difficult to be pleasant to one another?

It's all so petty, I just don't get it. Fights over who gets to have what position in the FRG, fights over who's husband is in charge of that work center and whether he's qualified to do so. Dude, I'm just trying to get through work each day and get decent grades in school. I don't care what your husband or my husband does, their both in the Navy. I don't care if you're the Chair of the Final Fling Committee, the President of the FRG, or the newsletter gal, we're all together for one reason and one reason alone, and that's our husband's service.

I suppose you have drama anywhere though, that it's not just limited to the Navy spouses. We have the same cattiness at work-who is showing what tattoo, who is wearing what, who is going to lunch with who. As far as I'm concerned you could be covered head to toe with tattoo's, wear ripped jeans and flip flops to work and go to lunch with your invisible friend, as long as you do your job and you do it well, I could care less. My sister works at Zaxby's, it's a step above Chic-Fil-A (sorry Alison but it is) but a step below a nice restaurant. A good place to go if you want good food, but don't have the time to sit down somewhere. She goes through cattiness everyday. It's not the 16 year olds or the 20 year olds working the cash register or cooking the food that start the drama, it's the managers. It blows my mind.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Reflection

Have you ever looked at your life and thought, what in the world am I doing? What have I done with my life? Most of us have families, friends, hobbies, a job; but what have we REALLY done with our lives, on a large scale. Looking at the total picture, what have I done with my life so far?

I'll admit I'm a perfectionist. I always shoot for the stars, even if I know what I'm shooting for is close to impossible. I've always been an over-achiever, I like the challenge. I like having goals to strive for. That being said, a calm and quiet life, living in the country side of Iowa isn't exactly fitting for me. Taking my family and my friends out of the equation and looking solely at my career, what have I been doing all this time? I've been making rich people richer. Gee that's something to be proud of.

I've volunteered with a couple organizations that have made impacts on their communities, and I am very proud of that; but I haven't done anything incredible like serving in the Armed Forces, or being part of the Peace Corps, or teaching children to read. I'd like to think that I've made a difference in my friends and families lives, and if I haven't, I at least know that I've entertained them. But what have I done in regards to the nation, to the world? I've done Jack squat.

Lately I've just felt that I could do better, I could do more. Maybe it's because I'm unhappy with where I work. Maybe it's because I've finally come to the realization that even with a Bachelor's degree I'll always be just a staff accountant. Maybe I'm just frustrated with both mine and Ryan's current job situation. Or...maybe my eyes are finally opened and I'm having a career reality check.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Moonshine and Baby Showers

I spent this past weekend in Indiana with Lisa. Dan (her husband) and I had been planning my surprise arrival to her baby shower for months. After much covering of our tracks and forming a plan B, due to Lisa's discovery of our plans, I arrived in Indiana and surprised her with my grand entry into her kitchen. It was so great to see her, and as I have said before, sometimes you don't realize how much you miss someone until you're re-united.

Between oohing and ahhing over tiny baby clothes and conversing with Dan about his current book project, the weekend was exactly what I needed. Nothing tops a weekend of good friends, laughter, relaxation and booze. The day of the baby shower, Dan conveniently pointed out two mason jars sitting on their counter. I raised an eyebrow at the syrupy-looking concoction and asked Dan, "What...is that?" "Moonshine", he replied. Yessiry, actual moonshine. Allow me to clarify, I'm sure there are multiple variations of the original moonshine back from the 1930's, and this was one of those variations, not the original from way back when. Where the heck they got it, I have no clue. Neither one of them are big drinkers, nor are they running a top secret distillery out of their garage. Then again, they DO live in Indiana, that stuff is probably sold in the grocery stores up there. The night of the baby shower, Lisa, Dan, Dan's mom and I gathered in the living room to watch a movie. Enter Dan with the moonshine. Let me tell you, I can shoot Vodka and Tequila no problem, after 2.5 shots of moonshine I had had enough. That stuff is God AWFUL! It wasn't as syrupy as it looked and it went down much smoother than I thought, but then you had the after taste. I looked over at Dan who was cringing as he swallowed. Lisa was laughing at both of us. Needless to say, we didn't finish off the moonshine and Dan's mom and I were passed out asleep about 30 minutes into the movie! Nothing like good conversation, good food, and a few shots to liven up an evening!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Cluttering of One's Lives

I have decided to boycott all gift giving holidays...well sort of. (Birthday's don't count, I'm a big birthday person, we like birthdays.) I have come to the determination that gift giving=clutter. How many times have you received a gift and thought to yourself, what the heck was this person thinking? Or received a gift, started out liking it, then later on, it either didn't match your decor, didn't fit, or you just didn't like it anymore? What about the infamous flower gifts? It's your anniversary and you get flowers, which not only cost $70 but also died 3 days later. What holidays do you most likely get gifts on? Christmas...Anniversaries...Valentine's Day...if you're a parent-Mom's day, Dad's Day. After years of gift giving and receiving, you have closets and a garage full of crap that you'll never use or once used, but now don't. What a waste! It is my personal opinion that holidays have become way over "hallmarkized".

Then you have the matter of the greeting card. I am not a card person, ask my husband or my friends, I don't normally give cards and I prefer not to receive cards. Not only are they $5 a pop, but it kills our planet, all for those 2 seconds where I read it, say thank you, then when you leave I toss it in the trash. Same thing with gift wrap, ribbons and bows! ARGH! It's costly and it kills our planet, all for the sake of looking pretty under the Christmas tree or looking cute on the baby shower gift table. Screw that! I put gifts in baskets, or re-use gift bags. Call me cheap, it's true, but I'm saving the planet and that's what matters. I once wrapped a friends gift in sheet music I had from when I played the flute for those two weeks back in Jr. High. She LOVED it, she said it gave the gift a personal touch. I used greenery from the yard one year to decorate Christmas gifts, and when the gift opening was done I put the pine cones and greenery back in the yard. I rarely give cards and when I do I make them from my scrapbook scraps. Nothing goes to waste.

If you have never read the book, The Five Love Languages, allow me to encourage you to please do so. Ryan and I read that book when we were engaged. It is fabulous. Without getting too in depth, the book explains that everyone has their own "love language", we all express love differently. For example, Ryan shows love and receives love through words of affirmation, you're wonderful, I love you, blah, blah, blah. My love language however is acts of kindness, helping me around the house, doing the dishes for me one day, taking my car into the shop for me, that kind of stuff. I think that when it comes to gift giving we should focus on people's love languages. Both of my sisters love language is, quality time. For their birthdays I'd take them out to eat or I'd take Jackie to an art museum or Lauren to a musical. Alison's language is gifts. She enjoys giving and receiving gifts. Last winter, Alison was really sick; Tiffany and I went grocery shopping and brought her the groceries. Gift giving, and she lit up like a Christmas tree. (I suppose that it could also count as acts of kindness but either way...) Those are the gifts that really matter, the ones that will hit people hard. The gifts that show that you truly understand someone, the gifts that say I love you. Before we read this book, I felt that Ryan didn't get me at all. He would go on and on and on about how great I was, but to me that didn't really mean much. He was showing he loved me in HIS love language. After we read that book, we started showing each other love in each others love language, and it made a big difference!

So, that being said, I need to call my sister and make sure that she got the money I sent her for Mom's, Mom's day gift.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fun in the Sun

In lui of the nice weather and bikini season knocking at my door, Ryan and I have been walking at night. Today, however, we decided to walk in the late afternoon, in the sweltering heat. After 1 mile we were both panting and looking at the kiddie pools in people's backyards like we have been in a desert for 5 months. We got back to our cul-de-sac and saw that our neighbors, 2 houses down, had their sprinklers running. I gave Ryan a look and said, "Man that looks so nice right now." At that moment I bolted towards their yard, running directly into their sprinkler system. It was like the world was in slow motion. I skipped through the streams of water, feeling the gentle spray cascading over my face. I lifted my hands up over my head and opened my mouth wide, to drink the cool water. I looked over to my left to see my husband standing there staring at me. "And you wonder why the neighbors think you're crazy." He grabbed my hand and we trudged down to our own house. Ryan looks at me, "Babe, if you're gonna do something, at least do it right. The slip and slide is in the garage right?"

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Lesson In Lunch

Everyday for the past few months, my boss and I have gone to lunch. It has been brought to our attention that this is a no no and I am now left without a lunch pal. For the last week I have been invited to lunch with a few people. Work people, to me, are just that, work people. I see them everyday for 5 days in a row for 8 hours at a time. I see these people more than I see my husband or my best friends. Not counting one, maybe two choice people, I prefer not to see work people outside of work, and I consider my lunch hour "outside of work". I have worked for several companies in the last nine years, I have only made good friends with three work people in all those years. None of those people worked in my department, but in completely different departments, in completely different areas of the building. In all actuality I never "worked" with those people, and I'm not really sure if I should even consider them past work people, anyways...

How do you turn people in your own department, that you see VERY often, down when you receive the lunch offer? My typical, I'm on a deadline excuse, can really only last so long before people start to put two and two together. I have thought of other excuses, yet much more lame than the deadline excuse or, that I brought my lunch. I need this hour to re-organize my paperclips; I need to check the ink level in all my pens; I plan on using this hour to dust off my scanner and clean behind my computer monitors-all lame, no good.

Today I decided to accept a lunch offer. It was really enjoyable. I have come to the conclusion that I really shouldn't segregate myself from others. Those 8 hours I have to endure no matter what, I might as well make the best I can of it, right? If I can enjoy a laugh with a co-worker over lunch, why not enjoy that laugh. After all they are probably just trying to make it through the day as well.