Monday, December 27, 2010

The Last Ten Years

2010 is winding down. We’re ending our first decade of the 21st century. 2001-2010, it’s so crazy to think of this decade. Especially for my generation. 2000-2001 we were all graduating high school. That whole decade is our 20’s. We finished high school, maybe went to college, maybe got married, maybe had kids, changed jobs a few times, changed careers a few times. A lot happens in a decade, especially in your 20's.

Enron, 9-11, the war on terror, technology advances, medical advances (did you know they can create bionic appendages now???), the economy recession and housing crisis, the Terminator became the governor of California, and our first black President was voted into office. There have been oil spills, hurricane's, tsunami's, floods destroying Nashville, and fires overtaking half of California. It's crazy to think of all the things the human race has been through in the last decade, and how we as a human race are different because of those things.

What has this decade meant for me as an individual? I graduated high school, I graduated college, I got married, I moved to two different states, I met amazing people, I became a pet owner, I became a home owner, I've seen over half the country, I survived three deployments and am proud to call myself a veteran's wife. I changed careers twice, I changed jobs...a lot, I went back to school, I got tattoo's, I had a foreclosure, and I got pregnant. When you're in those moments it's easy to forget all you've accomplished, all you've learned, or how much you've changed. When you run through the list of the last ten years it's hard not to miss what you've done with your life.

What do you see when you look back over this last decade?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

I'm feeling very reminiscent this year. Perhaps it's because I'm growing a child of my own. Perhaps it's because next Christmas will be our babies first Christmas, and the beginning of that tiny person's precious memories. Memory lane glows as I take a trip of my own to my childhood Christmas'.

I grew up in NY state, every year we had snow up to our knees; snowforts, snowball fights, and sledding was a yearly part of our Christmas spirit. I can't imagine growing up without those things. How do the kids in the South do it? No snow? At least not enough to do anything fun with. I guess when you grow up without it, you don't see being without a huge loss.

I remember going to school, snow covered our boots and snow pants. I remember each student having a cubby outside the classroom to store their boots and snow pants. Each classroom was decorated for Christmas. Red and green construction paper covered the walls. Art projects masterfully created by each student lined the perimeter of the chalkboard. The teacher had a tape player (yes, I grew up in the 80's before CD's came around), as the students wandered in from the frigid outdoors, Christmas carols were playing. Not the remake crap by Britney Spears or Usher, but the old school carols sang by gospel choirs.

After school we would get home and mom had transformed our home into a winter wonderland, unlike anything you've ever seen. Garland and multi-colored lights lined each doorway and the railing up the stairs. Santa-themed trinkets lined the mantel and hutch. Christmas music played in our house from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

Going to get the tree in NY state is an awesome experience I'll never forget. We didn't go to a lot and pick out our tree based on the rows of already pre-cut trees, we went to a Christmas tree farm. We would all bundle up, snow gear, tools and all, and would drive the 45 minutes to the tree farm. Upon getting there we would climb into the sleigh pulled by the Clydesdale horses, Holly and Molly. The driver sang Christmas carols all the way up the mountain. Everyone got out of the sleigh and we would start the hunt for our perfect Christmas tree. Of course this was a tree that was a monstrosity of nature. For whatever reason my dad had to have the tree made for people at least 12 feet tall. My dad would cut down the tree, and we would wait for the sleigh to make it's way back up the mountain with it's next load of people. Of course the tree was covered in snow, and we couldn't bring the snow into the house, so we would have to leave the tree in the garage while the snow melted off. The next weekend all of us would decorate the tree together, listen to Christmas music and drink hot chocolate.

Christmas was magical for us growing up. It wasn't about presents, it was about experiences. Snowmen, cutting down the tree, decorating the tree, making cookies with mom every year, watching Christmas movies with dad, making Christmas ornaments at school. In all honesty I don't really remember what any of us got for Christmas. I don't remember opening gifts. I remember singing Silent Night on the school bus. I remember going to see the movie Prancer in the theater with my dad. I remember making snowmen with my sister, and I remember the first time Lauren took "the big jump" on the sled, at the park across the street. Ryan says I have these memories because I'm a girl. Girls remember this stuff, boys remember presents.

Regardless of my child's gender, I hope I can create the same magic for my child as I had growing up. My mom made a big deal out of experiences and what we did everyday. Yeah, we took vacations, and I have some great memories of those vacations, but it's the everyday stuff that I remember the most. I hope I can create memories as good or even better than my own for our child. I hope every one has a magical Christmas, no matter what their gender is, where they are, how they got their tree, or what weather they are having. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Is It Just Me Or Do People Really Suck?

Ya know, I seem to recall feeling this way around this time last year towards people. Maybe it's the greed in the air, or the way the holidays make everyone exhausted from all the "go here, go there, buy this, do that" business, but people really suck. I hate to be the pessimist here, but let's all take off our rose colored glasses and look at things realistically. When was the last time you went out in public and didn't think, "geez that person is rude," or "how inconsiderate of that person," or "it's called a blinker pal"? Oh, you didn't think any of those things, well then people were probably saying those things about you. Just sayin'.

What is it about the holidays that makes everyone so selfish? This is the time for giving, a time to be thankful for what you have, whether that be a lot or a little. Not the time to cut people off in line at Toys R Us, or yell at the girl behind the fast food counter for leaving olives on one of the 15 special ordered sandwiches she made. Yes, I realize the whole girls job is to make sandwiches, but if you order 15 with all kinds of "special" instructions for all your "special" peeps and she only screws up ONE of them, it's probably not the end of the world...crazy secretary looking lady.

No one wants to take responsibility for anything. I watched a lady knock over a table display at the mall, she looked down and said, "I didn't do that." What do you mean you didn't do that???? The aisles are tiny and they have them crammed with Christmas gift ideas and empty gift wrapped boxes, I probably would have knocked it over too! Instead of saying, "oops" or "crap" or "damn", she says it wasn't her, gives the sales clerk an attitude (like it's her fault she knocked the table over) and walks away. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with people?

Are people REALLY that oblivious to those around them? I'm standing in line at Toys R Us, the line is HUGE, streaming down toy aisles huge. The people in front of me are taking their sweet time, "does little Johnny REALLY need this? Should we get Billy the same one? Let me count my roll of $1 bills." Do you not notice the ginormous line behind you, all of which are full of people dressed up, so we're all probably on our lunch break, so ya mind speeding it along a little? Good lord.

I love Christmas, until I go out where there's people, then I remember why I've become a homebody, and I raise my hand up to the sky and thank God I'm an accountant and not in retail this year.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Random Pregnancy Ramblings

I hope our child wants to be part of girl scouts or boy scouts.

I hope it snows in Nashville for Christmas.

I've always heard it's super easy to get carried away with baby stuff and buy all kinds of crap you don't need. I've found that as soon as I see the price tag I realize I probably don't whatever it was that I was admiring. Well, except for the monitor I registered for, SURELY I need that.

Christmas shopping for Ryan's sister is beyond easy. If Ryan's family ever does the whole, pick-a-name-out-of-a-hat-and-buy-for-them deal, I WILL jerri-rig it so that I get Janea's name every time.

Does anyone else think office holiday parties are completely lame? Seriously, I spend 8 hours a day with these people, I'd rather not spend any extra time with them, thanks. Let me go home at 3 instead of forcing me to deck the warehouse halls with boughs of holly, and I'll be a happy camper.

Since I've been pregnant I've gone home early twice and called out once due to illness. I hope my boss is as understanding as he says he is.

Those women who say they LOVED being pregnant...I think they just forgot what pregnancy was really like.

Thor knows something is up, if I'm out of his sight for too long he comes and finds me and the first thing he does is sniff my belly.

I'm at 11 weeks, not showing yet, and my weight is the same, but I see a difference in my body. I'm softer...bye abs. Marina, I have no idea how you still had abs throughout your 2nd trimester.

I'm down to my last few classes for school, electives. I'm taking a creative writing class. It has shown me just how crappy of a writer I truly am. Thank you so much my loyal blog readers!

I put the Christmas tree up yesterday, all the ornaments bring back such great memories!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving + Pregnancy = Happiness

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I had always hoped that if I ever got pregnant that the nine months would land somewhere around Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving gods have heard my prayers. Tonight, Ryan, Thor and I will be driving to Charleston to spend the holiday with my family. While I'm stuffing my face with turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie, I hope you all have a fantastic holiday filled with family, friends, and food. If you're spending Thanksgiving alone, no worries, sometimes quiet holidays are nice. They allow you to catch up on the sleep you've most likely been lacking, and you won't have to wrestle the mashed potatoes from your sister. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What I've Learned This Year

Please read through and answer the following questions as YES or NO:

1. Are you homeless?

2. Are you or any of your relatives missing, i.e. kidnapped or abducted by aliens?

3. Are you dying of an incurable disease?

4. Have you gone more than 24 hours without eating, unvolutarily?

5. Are you suffering from an addiction that controls your life and has shut every person you've ever loved out of your life forever?

If you have answered no to these questions, I'd say you're doing just fine.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Working Mom or Stay At Home Mom?

So far, the decisions attached to this whole mommy thing have been simple. Legal guardian? Done, easy. Do we want to raise the kid in church? Done, easy. Choosing which pregnancy and baby books was easy. Choosing names was easy. Choosing a doctor...well, I think we just got really really lucky with that one, but regardless, easy. Choosing a birth plan, easy. Should I breastfeed? Done, easy. Choosing who will be in the delivery room, easy. Should I take birthing/parenting classes? Done, easy. The one thing I have struggled to make a decision on is the one thing that should be the easiest decision in the world. Should I stay at home, or should I go back to work?

Before you start stoning me, let me explain. Ryan and I are not rolling in the dough, by any means. We have been fortunate and wise enough to pull ourselves out of the financial crater we were in a year ago, and our bank account looks better than negative. We could afford for me to stay home, it would be tight, like fitting 12 Mexicans in a mini cooper tight, but we could do it. I worry that we may not be able to afford things for our kids, and we might put ourselves in a bind financially if I do stay at home for any length of time. Now I totally realize that they aren't going to college or playing hockey when they're six weeks old, but that crap is expensive and the cost for those things add up fast and seriously, the school system gives you like a week's notice for this stuff. I would like to give our kids opportunities that we didn't have growing up, like a paid college education, or the opportunity to go to football or ballet camp. If I decide to stay at home, regardless of my bachelor's degree and 10 years of accounting experience, interviewers will see the gap in my resume and think I'm not current in my field. It's the age old story so many women have gone through. They decide to stay at home, and when the kids go to school the mom decides it's time to go back to work, only, she can't find a job because she's been out of the game too long, so she ends up working retail, or taking a receptionist position in an attempt to prove herself worthy. In the meantime she's making $8/hr. and wondering why she's even bothering with all this trouble because now the gas getting to and from the job, and the after-school babysitter is more than her paycheck, so now they REALLY can't afford for little Johnny to go to space camp.

I'm not a fan of someone else raising my child. Not that I have no faith in the daycare system. I know a lot of working mom's who really love their daycares. I want to raise my child, that's all. I'm also not a fan of missing milestones in my kid's life. I recall a friend of mine who came into work crying. I asked her what was wrong and she said, that as she was dropping her kid off at daycare, she happily reported that her son took his first steps last night. The girl smiled and said, "Oh yeah he's been doing that for days now." I can only imagine how disappointing that must be. You're his mom and you're missing huge things, like first steps and first words.

I know, I know, at this point you're probably thinking that this is just a matter of what's more important-your career or your kid. I fully understand; however, that's not how I see it. I see my job as a means of being able to provide extra things for my kid that I didn't have growing up. So really it all does come down to the kid. Will I be more upset about missing the kids first steps, or explaining to little Billy why we can't afford for him to go to football camp with his friends? I have no idea. I have no idea what to do.

Ideally, I would work part time, and get daycare part time. That would be the best of both worlds. I get to keep my career and stay current in my field, while still having time for my baby. I'd even be able to do a workout everyday! The only problem with that is, I have no idea if my employer will go for that. I could do my job in 25 hrs. a week no problem. There are days I leave early because I have absolutely nothing left to do. My employer would save money, wouldn't have to pay benefits, would have someone experienced and someone they like in the position, but I have no idea if they'll see it this way. They are hiring a girl to work in customer service and be my "back-up" when I go on maternity leave. They may just say screw it, we'll just keep chicky-poo instead of you. That's no bueno.

Ya know what, yes it would be a bummer to miss my kid's first steps, first words, ect. but really I'm the only one suffering from that standpoint. Sprout isn't going to know if mommy was there for his/her first steps. I have no idea if my mom was there for my first steps and I'm no less of a person because of it. Later on, not being able to send my kid to college, or being able to pay for my daughter's wedding, or being able to pay for them to play sports, the kids are the ones suffering then. I think I would rather be able to afford for my kids to be able to do things and have the life they want than me be selfish and tell them they have to go without because I don't want to miss anything. Does this make any sense? I'm not a professional writer, I'm just a blogger who sometimes can't get her words to make sense. I guess perhaps I solved my own dilemma. I'm just gonna keep my fingers crossed that my boss likes the part time idea...

Before I start receiving hate mail, allow me to clarify. I am in no way, shape or form saying stay at home moms are selfish. Two of my best friends are stay at home moms and they in no way are selfish people. They however have different situations than I. If you can afford to stay home and choose to do so, that is completely up to you, and I am in no way passing judgement. This post is specifically speaking about me and my family. I can only speak on my behalf since I live my life. I can't possible know your life situation or why you choose the decisions you did, nor do I pretend to. I am strictly speaking for myself.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sprout What the Heck Are You Doing In There?

We've decided to call the kid Sprout. It sounds a lot better than "it". I'm trying to convince Ryan that we should let the gender be a surprise. I have yet to succeed with that task. Ryan wants a boy so bad he can barely stand it. I keep telling him that knowing the gender isn't going to change anything, that the gender has already been decided, and that's that. He knows all that, yet he still wants to know. He says he wants to bask in the joy of being able to tell people he has a son. What is he going to tell people if we have a little girl? Maybe he needs time to mourn the loss of the son he never had? I have no idea. Men. I'm still convinced that if we could create sperm in a lab, they'd be an obsolete species.

Making a kid is exhausting. My friend Kristine, who is also pregnant, said that everyday during the first trimester we use the same amount of energy it takes to run a full marathon. Well daggum, no wonder I'm pooped after cleaning the kitchen! I actually feel VERY lucky so far. I've had few to no symptoms. One day of nausea that's it. Other than starving every 5 minutes and feeling like I'm gonna fall asleep at any moment, I feel good. I have those moments where my body just feels weird. I know, I know, that's a completely vague and general term, but I don't know how else to explain it. I just feel odd, not myself, strange. Not bad, just different. That's typically when I ask Sprout what he/she's doing in there.

Apples and Taco Bell have become my best friends. We're not talking, like an apple a day type thing. I'm talking like bushels of apples. One day I had three and that wasn't enough, I wanted more. Apples have a lot of natural sugar in them, so 2-3 is gonna have to be my limit there, much to Sprout's dismay. Taco Bell, this is new. I hate fast food, it literally makes me sick. Taco Bell is the worst. It's absolutely disgusting, it tastes like grease. I can almost feel my arteries clogging as I would order Ryan's food in the drive through. I was driving around on my lunch break trying to figure out what to eat, when I saw a Taco Bell. Without even thinking I was driving into the drive through and ordering. It was delicious and EXACTLY what I wanted. Weird. Sweets make me sick. I had an Oreo the other day and ended up spitting it out, it tasted terrible. The thought of cake, or cookies, or ice cream makes me want to hurl. I'm hoping this whole hating sweets thing passes by the time Thanksgiving and Christmas get here. If not, well, no treats for me. That's alright, I have no problem with filling up on turkey, and mashed potatoes!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We Have A Heartbeat

Big news, I’m pregnant, half way through my first trimester, woohoo! It’s very surreal, I don’t look pregnant and I didn’t have any weird symptoms until recently, so this whole baby building thing is still pretty knew. We tried for three months, got pregnant some time in September, I feel VERY lucky it happened for us semi-fast. People say all the time that pregnancy and birth is a miracle. It’s hard to see it that way when: 1) you’ve never been through it, 2) teenagers pop up pregnant all the time. It’s not until you start reading pregnancy books and doing research that you realize that things have to line up just right and stay lined up just right to create a baby. It’s pretty amazing.

I can honestly say that there is something to be said about trying/but not trying. People told us, try but don’t try, the minute you stop trying so hard is when you’ll get pregnant. I tracked my ovulation for months, took my temperature, peed on sticks, made sure we only had sex every other day, the list goes on. September came and I said screw it, I’m not tracking any of this anymore, and we didn’t and we’re pregnant.

It’s a bit overwhelming. First thing, other than pee on 6 pregnancy tests, was to find a doctor. Again, I feel lucky, first doctor I met with we both really liked. No word of mouth, no asking around, I went to my insurance website pulled up a list of doctors and picked one out randomly. Called the office and set up an appointment. We lucked out on that one, I thought for sure I would have to meet with a bunch of doctors before we found one we liked. After I got home and dumped out the big bag of crap they gave me, realized I had enough bathroom reading material for the next 10 years is when the anxiety and overwhelming gasping started to set in. I called my mom-“There’s so much crap I have to do! I’m still working and in school! I have to schedule birthing classes now because they get booked super fast! I need to pre-register with the hospital, and figure out our kids religion, what if our kid doesn’t want to be our religion! I have to register with baby stores, and set up a nursery, OH MY GOD I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING!” My mom calmly told me to chill out and do one thing a day. There’s a reason why we have nine months, it takes that long to get ready. God bless my mom.

So there ya have it. I’m gonna have a baby. We're 7 weeks and heard the heartbeat today. It was amazing. Today was the most perfect day ever.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Worry

I fully realize that worrying about something is pointless. That it does no good to worry about it, it only adds stress to your life, contributes to health issues and shortens your life; however, for some it's just not as simple as saying "I'm not going to worry about this anymore."

Take me for example, I consider myself a professional worrier. For a long time it was the house in Virginia. What if they foreclose? Will it ruin my accounting career? Why won't they work with us? Surely there's something we can do? After I realized that there was absolutely nothing we could do, that our hands were tied, I did stop worrying and my mind simply moved on to the next topic of worry. I've been like that since college.

Oh how I wish I could be like Ryan or Marina sometimes. Aliens could be invading and they'd tell everyone to chill out, that the world wasn't coming to an end.

Are you a worrier? How do you calm your mind?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Interesting Thought of the Day

Nowadays, women can pretty much do everything men can. We can run companies, manage money, work in factories, run machinery, play sports. All that stuff that way back when only men did, women can now do all those things. I'd like to see a man go into work after being up with an infant all night and do a steller job. I'd like to see a man cook dinner, watch the news, feed the baby and do a load of laundry all at the same time, WHICH by the way, I have seen. I'd like to see a man give birth. I'd like to see a man raise the kids, manage a home, work full time, and go to school for his masters, yet again, I've seen women do this. Some women do all this without a man being present at all, hello military wives and single mom's.

Ya know, if there was a way to create sperm in a lab, there would probably be no reason for men to exist at all. No offense babe, just sayin.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Random Ramblings

Big news, Sean, Jen and Kael are coming to see us this weekend. I'm so stoked! Sean sent me a picture of Kael, and he's grown at least 17 feet since we last saw him. Well, maybe not 17 FEET, but close. The weather is beautiful here in Louisiana, sheer perfection, so we're gonna hit New Orleans. I can't wait to see them.

Been running, the ankle is fine, I've been keeping it wrapped. Yesterday was rough, I don't know what my deal was I could barely do my four miles without grabbing my knees and gasping for air. I took today off in case my body needed rest. Yesterday the same blond chick passed me about four times. I wanted to ask her what the heck she was eating or drinking that produces speed, but I couldn't catch her.

Saw on the web that Chelsea Handler and 50 cent were together. That's a match I didn't see coming.

Fall makes me rediscover apples, in the most delicious ways.

So we decided that we probably aren't going to Disney in November. It's no big, we decided to save the money to take a trip somewhere we haven't been yet. No clue where that somewhere is, we haven't talked about it; but when we do we'll have the money for it! Truth is, neither one of us were super excited about driving 10 hours to walk around a park for a day, then drive another 10 hours back.

Fall air smells crispy. Er, crisp like. You know what I mean.

Little kid and baby Halloween costumes are completely adorable.

I understand football so much better when I see it from that stands versus my couch.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cookin' Cajun Lesson 1-Gumbo

Gumbo is amazing. I didn't have gumbo until I moved down here, and when I tried it I was hooked. It's delicious. Completely terrible for you, a pound of butter, 3 cups of flour, vegetables cooked to bare mush, pretty much zero nutritional value, but absolutely delicious. Our first gumbo attempt was no good. The recipe was terrible, it wasn't easy to follow and it left out crucial ingredients to make the roux. For our 2nd attempt I pulled the recipe off the New Orleans website, and had much better luck.

Making gumbo is much more involved than I had assumed. Lots of chopping, stirring, putting stuff in, taking stuff out, roasting of chickens and so on. It's not a matter of dumping everything into a pot and letting it boil for awhile, it's a lot of work. Certainly not a dish I would want to do on a weekday after a long day of work. Just to make the roux alone, was an hour of stirring. No joke an entire hour, straight stirring. Ryan and I took turns, I thought my arm was going to fall off. They say that a good roux is supposed to be a dark mahogany color. The darker the roux the more flavorful. After about 45 minutes of stirring our roux was still only a creamy light brown color. We added some more butter and flour and nothing changed. After looking at a few different resources, the chef pros say that there isn't THAT much flavor difference between a light brown roux and a dark brown roux. The dark brown roux's are a little bit more nutty in flavor, but that's it. We decided to give our arms a break and just deal with the light brown roux.



We timed it so that by the time the roux was done our chicken would be done roasting. Once the roux was made we added the veggies, meat and spices. We let that boil for about 45-60 minutes, and presto! We had gumbo.



Gumbo is typically served over rice, so we continued with the traditional way to eating the dish. It was delicious, but I think next time we're going to make a few changes-add shrimp, worcheshire sauce, and more chili powder.



Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This Is The Year I'm Going To Get My Crap Together...Oh Screw It, I'll Be At The Bar

One year ago today, I was on the road, my car packed with my belongings, Thor sitting in the backseat, headed to our new life in Louisiana. I was angry that I had to give up my job at the company that I had worked so hard at. The position that I worked so hard to obtain and maintain. The company that I could see me growing in and climbing the corporate ladder in. I was angry I had to leave my house, not because I loved that house, but because I knew that there was no way we could afford two house payments, and with the housing market being beyond lousy, we would eventually lose the house. I was sad to leave my friends, although most are military and would eventually move, I was sad to leave my civilian friends too. I loved my life in Virginia, I was angry I had to leave it behind. My marriage was not good, Ryan and I were fighting all the time, constantly at each others throats, and I had zero desire to live in Louisiana. On top of all that I was disappointed with myself for feeling all of those things. It is now one year from that day. I have a decent job with decent pay. One of the ladies I work with has become a good friend. I no longer hate my husband, as a matter of fact I think I'll keep him. Thor's gotten used to not having a backyard and doesn't even bother with the stray cats anymore.

Time heals all things. Eventually you're gonna get over it, you're gonna move on with your life. I had to stop fighting the battle of Louisiana, and just get over it. I, of course, was the only one fighting this battle. Louisiana had no idea I was at odds with it. Eventually you just have to say, "This is my life right now, I can either deal and chill or stay pissy and miserable." It's exhausting holding a grudge, especially against an entire state that doesn't know you despise it. Am I saying you should force yourself to like something? Nope. Do I ooze happiness that I live here. Meh. But I do live here now and I can either make the best of it or be a pain in the ass. Frankly, I'm running out of new reasons to continue hating this place.

Basically, eventually you end up saying, "FINE, you win, I'll be at the bar."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Home Is Where the Heart Is



The word home can mean many different things. Your home could be your house, the facility you physically live in. For a student going to school out of state, or a military person your home could be your parents house. Your home may be where your significant other may be, or where your children are. For me, I have many homes.

I first left my parents house when I was 21, I got married and moved to where Ryan was stationed-8 hours and 2.5 states away. Ryan would get upset that I still called Charleston my home. Not that I didn't consider my place with Ryan home, but Charleston was where my family was, so I called Charleston home. Nashville is also home-Ryan's family is in Nashville. Now, Baton Rouge is home. I think of Baton Rouge as a temporary home, similar to the way I thought of Virginia as being a temporary home.

They say home is where the heart is. Ryan and I have so many homes, and our home has changed every 4-5 years, we just say America is our home, right now we live in Baton Rouge. When people ask us where we are from we typically look at each other, laugh and say, right now we live in Baton Rouge. Explaining that I'm originally from NY, Ryan's originally from CA, but prefers to say he's from TN, we met in SC, lived in VA and now LA is just too much to explain.

Lately I've been missing my family a lot. I call it being homesick, even though I have a home here. I don't remember missing my family this much when I was younger, even though Ryan says I've always been a little homesick. I don't remember the yearning for my family being so strong. I've even seen them three times this year, I still miss them very much. Maybe it's because so many things have been going on with my family this year-Lauren's graduation, Jackie getting married, dad getting a new job and leaving the police field, mom's heart attack. Maybe it's because we're trying to have a baby and I never thought I would want kids, let alone have them without my mom being around. Maybe it's because the holidays are coming and I always miss my family more around the holidays.

Someone really needs to develop teleportation, 12 hours is just too far to drive on a regular 2-day weekend. Is anyone else homesick? Do you guys miss a certain person or place?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Operation Learn How To Cook Cajun

I am by no means a cook. I can bake. I come from a long line of excellent pie bakers, but my cooking skills are horrendously lack luster. Ya know those marinade packets made by McCormick in the seasoning aisle at the grocery store? The ones where you mix the seasoning, oil, vinegar and water? THAT is my kind of cooking, bada bing bada boom, DINNER. Sssaawweeettt! Hey give me a break, my husband cooks, I swiffer.

We all know New Orleans is a foodie's dream. The food here in Louisiana truly is phenomenal. I love spicy food and NOTHING compares to the food in Louisiana. For several months now I've wanted to be able to go home and cook true Louisiana cuisine for my family, or if people come to see us I'd like to be able to make Cajun food for them. About a month ago, I started researching authentic Louisiana dishes-gumbo, jambalaya, ect.

Several weekends ago, we tried our hand at gumbo. It was a miserable failure. First of all, cooking this stuff is not nearly as easy as just throwing it all in a pot and stirring. Hollywood needs to find new sources for this crap. Cooking Cajun food takes HOURS, chopping, prepping, stirring, take crap out of the pot, putting crap back in the pot. I was literally in the kitchen for four straight hours that Sunday afternoon. Dude, I'm in the kitchen long enough to clean it after Ryan cooks, do the dishes and make coffee. Four hours is entirely too long. Ryan even helped! After I asked where we put the chainsaw so that I could cut up the chicken, he decided he had better come see what the crap I was doing. Basically, the gumbo was horrifically bland. I even doubled up on the spices, no worky worky. It was just boring, no kick, little flavor, it just wasn't good. This weekend is round two of the gumbo sector. We'll let you know how it goes...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Injuries and Marathons

Two days after my sister's wedding my dad and I were on our usual 12-mile bike trail. Every time I go home dad and I take a 12-mile bike ride. It's something that allows us to bond, something we both need, and we've both come to enjoy it. I wish I could say that I was doing something valiant like saving a child from an on-coming car or rescuing a kitten from the clutches of an alligator, but I can't. I was avoiding a pricker bush, which caused me to almost ride smack into a pole, which upon dodging that caused me to lose my balance. I jumped off the bike, lost my balance some more and landed in a heap on the asphalt. My knees and hands were a bloody, fleshy mess and I had to walk a mile vs. ride because my ankle was all jacked up; but I'll be damned if I didn't finish all 12 miles, blood running down my legs and all.

Since then my knees and hands have healed nicely, my ankle however is another story. It's amazing how such a minor sprain can be so annoying. The wrapping, the icing, the elevating, GAH! After about a week I was able to walk normally on it and go up and down stairs faster than an elderly woman who just had a hip replacement, but it's still slightly swollen, and twisting my foot so that the bottom is facing up is slightly painful. I was supposed to start training for the Mardi Gras Marathon two weeks ago, but I didn't think running on a sprained ankle, minor or not was a good idea. Aside from the swelling and the strange tweaking when I twist my foot, I feel fine, so I decided to start training slowly. Today I walked 4.5 miles, I feel great, and my ankle is still swollen. No worse, no better. I guess we'll see how it is in the morning.

No wonder athletes get SUPER pissed when they get injured. Not only does it set them back weeks, months or years, but it's so frustrating and annoying. I was planning on starting marathon training no problem, but now I'm weeks behind and I'm having to nurse this dud of an ankle. I'm glad this happened so far ahead of the marathon, plenty of time to heal and train!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Realms of Twilight

For those of you out there into role-playing games, check out the Realms of Twilight website-http://www.realmsoftwilight.net/. I actually know the author, Ryan and I have been friends with he and his wife for a few years now. The Realms of Twilight Campaign Setting book is actually a "world book". It sets the scene for the game master to work in. Each player chooses their own character and rolls for their character stats. The game master then places those characters in a certain world or area. As you can imagine there are a lot of things to think about, terrain, vegetation, life forms, city dwellers, the list goes on and on. Most people just want to play, they don't want to have to think about all that crap. Just like the Dungeons and Dragons magazine and books, Realms of Twilight does the same thing, it sets the area of play for the game master. Dan even offers a free 9-page sample of his book, so you can check it out before you make a purchase (this is available at drivethrurpg.com).

Dan, the creator of Realms of Twilight, has been playing these role-playing games since he was four years old. His 20+ years of experience in this hobby shows in his book. If you've run a campaign before, you know how often the game master needs to improvise and think on their feet. Just one roll of the dice and anything in the game can change. All those details you thought of before, now may not matter. From the crisp detail of the terrain to his extensive background explanation of dragon lore, running a campaign with his book will be an entertaining and smooth experience. Personally, I am looking forward to his first fantasy novel.

I've dabbled in a broad area of hobbies. I've tried anything from knitting to PC gaming. There's few things I won't try. Why not try everything once? If you find out something isn't for you, well that's the best thing about hobbies, you can start or stop whenever you want. Life's too short not to try new things. You never know, you just might find out something new about yourself, meet some pretty cool people, or realize you really like something you never thought you'd enjoy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Be the Duck

Be the duck. A swimming duck, not a flying duck, I don't do flying things. To the world, a duck gently and gracefully glides on the pond, barely making any ripples in the water. The duck looks calm, cool and collected; yet underneath the blanket of clear water those little webbed feet are paddling furiously. So, my new mantra...be the duck...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Marriage Is Like Ice Cream



The flavor, whichever you choose as your favorite, never changes, it's always the same, sometimes you really crave it and sometimes you wonder why it's even in your freezer. It typically seems to be your undoing, your comfort when you've had a rough or particularly celebratory day. HOWEVER, there are days when you know you should throw it out, because it drives you crazy, yet you can't bring yourself to toss it because even though it drives you crazy it is a constant. It's always there when you need it, and when you don't need it. It always tastes good, it never tastes bad. You can depend on ice cream...for the most part. It may have a rather negative affect on you when you step on the scale, but when you evaluate the pros and cons, the pros win, so you keep the ice cream in the house.

However odd this post may be, it's true and you know it. ;-)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Weddings and Reflections

I was in Charleston last weekend getting my sister married and what not. After about four nervous breakdowns, six pep talks, an entire box of tissues, a drunk DJ, and a charred veil, my sister is now a newlywed.

I look back and remember what it was like starting a new chapter. I was now a wife, I had a husband. We had our own place in a different state than either of our families. I remember one night I was homesick and crying. Ryan held me close, stroking my hair saying, "It's ok babe, we have each other. I'm your family now." I burst into hysterical sobbing at that point. Poor guy.

It can be exciting starting this chapter in your life, and scary. Right before the ceremony to wed my sister started, she, Lauren and I stood in that church nursery, my sister glowing in white, holding her bouquet of Calla lilies, the lilies vibrating from her shaking hands. "Do I look pretty?" She asked. Her voice shaky, her eyes wide and glassy. I responded, "You look breath taking." She looked at me and said, "I don't remember you being this nervous when you got married. Why am I so nervous?" Her lilies shook harder with every question. I slathered another coat of lip gloss on her lips as I told her that as soon as she saw Josey she would be fine. She was. The candle light ceremony was beautiful. I'll never forget how my new brother-in-laws eyes welled up with tears as he repeated those vows to my sister.

Watching my sister at her wedding and reception, and getting the post honeymoon-I'm home-I miss you, phone call makes me reminisce about what was running through my head when I got married. I was going to own a home, have my first child, be the top personal trainer at the gym, remain a size 0, Ryan and I were going to take fabulous weekend getaways to DC, and have gobs of money in the bank, all by the time I was 25. Well, needless to say none of that happened quite the way I expected it to. I was a personal trainer...for about three weeks, we did go to DC a few times, and we did buy our first home when we were 23 and 24.

It's amazing how your priorities change with age. You suddenly realize that all those lofty ideas were just that, lofty. Somewhere in the midst of sugarplums and gumdrops, those ideas got sticky and became a giant ball of sickening sweet sugar that makes me laugh and roll my eyes. (Maybe that's where those pesky ten pounds came from...) Oh Stephanie, look how naive you were. Somewhere down the road we all realize that things don't always go as planned, plans have a tendency to rearrange themselves. Just like Marina always says, it always works out in the end. I've decided that it's not the end that really matters, it's the process of getting to the end.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Career Choices

Growing up, my parents always told me to do what I love. "Do what you love because in the end, happiness is all that really matters." I decided to go to school for theater and literature. I love theater, I love writing, I love reading, so it made sense to go to school to learn creative writing. What my parents didn't tell me and I didn't think to ask, was, how was I supposed to thrive in this certain field. Writing is pretty competitive. Editors get thousands of articles sent to them everyday by writing hopefuls. California is even worse, everyone's a screenwriter. Directors, producers and agents have scripts coming out of their ears, and unfortunately if you're not there and visiting these people it's hard to establish a repore with them. Unless you write several books, and they're popular books, you're not gonna make a lot of money. It's true money isn't everything, but it does pay for food, a vehicle, a house, clothing. You can live as frugal as you can, but you're still gonna need to make a certain amount to sustain the life you want. I can't do that with writing, maybe someday...maybe not. I need to do what's realistic and practical for my family now. Hence why I choose accounting. Accounting is not my love, it's probably one of the most boring fields EVER; but it pays, I can do it anywhere and no matter what shape this world is in, you'll always need accountants and financial people. Was it my first choice...no. It's the practical and logical choice.

The job market is terrible right now, and really competitive. I read an article that said there's 60 people for every one job. That's 59 other people you have to compete with for that job application you just filled out. That's crappy, especially if you don't have a degree or a plethora of experience. I read the New York Times and BusinessWeek regularly. It's hard to get a realistic idea of our economy's future, one day economists are saying we're heading out of the recession, the next day they're saying we're headed towards a double-dip. The housing and job markets have had little to no improvement. What they thought was improvement is really just a shift in numbers, the ending result has not changed.

My sister is in school for graphic design. She's an amazing artist, but I worry that she won't get very far in that field. Not because she doesn't have the talent or the drive, but because the art field just doesn't pay very much, it's extremely competitive, and many places aren't even hiring right now. How is she supposed to pay for an apartment, a car, her student loans, her credit card, clothing, gas, her cell phone, and utilities off of $30,000 a year? That's not including extra things like going to the movies, or visiting her sister in Louisiana. The average earnings for graphic designers is about $45,000. Even without our debt, Ryan and I would have a rough time paying for housing, utilities, child costs and regular everyday living expenses with $45,000. We would have to forgo certain amenities, like cable, healthy food, road trips to visit family, and children, we're not really willing to let go of those items.

I find that most people I know don't work in the field that they love. My dad's love is acting, he's a cop. My love is writing, I'm an accountant. My sister-in-law went to school for graphic design, she's a nanny. Ryan's love is cooking, he's a service technician. Tiffany would love nothing more than to be a stay-at-home mom, she's an accountant. Why? Why do all these people forgo their career love for some other job? Simple, they can't afford it. Happiness may be important, but so is paying the bills, and usually artistic fields don't pay much. I know, I know, someone is probably reading this thinking, my Aunt Tilly makes X amount of dollars every month off Etsy and is able to live just fine. Well, there's always the people that do make it work, congratulations to them, they've arrived; however, the rest of us like to eat more than ramen and frozen pizza everyday.

Those people who truly love being a lawyer, or an accountant or an economist, they have the best of both worlds, they do what they love AND they make a decent amount of money, but I think those people are rare. My question is this-would you do what you love even if that means struggling financially? Or would you do what's realistic? For me, I do what's realistic and my love has become my hobby. Are you working in the field you love, or has your love become a hobby?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Oh My God I Have No Idea What I'm Doing

Sean, Ryan's brother, and his 7 mo. old son, Kael, came to visit us this weekend. It was kind of a last minute thing, and we were super stoked because we don't get to see them all that often, just a handful of times each year. Kael is such an easy baby, he smiles at everyone!

Today, Sean and Ryan went to the store, they were gone about 20 minutes, and Kael was down for his nap. Sean said, if he wakes up he'll need a diaper change and to be fed. I responded, "Sure, I totally got it." About 10 minutes after they left I heard the tiny squealing from the guest room. I go in and there he is looking up at me all smiles and coo's. "Hey bud!" I pick him up and start looking for the diapers. No diapers. "Hm, where'd your daddy put your diapers? Ok well there's wipes, we'll need those. Alright come on we need to find Aunt Stephie's cell phone." I called Ryan, asked where the diapers were. Ryan said they'd be home in 5 minutes and the diapers were on the floor. I found the diapers and laid Kael down on the floor. Oh my lord, he is a wiggly little squirt. After about 3 minutes of flipping him back over because he rolled over and started scooting away, I looked at him and said, "Ok seriously dude you're gonna have to work with me here." Sean came in and he must have seen the look on my face cuz he cracked a smile. "I'm going to be a terrible mom! I can't even change his diaper, his getaway plan is to good!"

Then we started feeding him, and I couldn't work the feeding chair. He started getting a little fussy and I wasn't sure if I was feeding him to slow or what. Ryan came over and was able to feed him fine. So I get him cleaned up and again couldn't work the feeding chair thing. Set him on the floor with his toys to play, I get up and he starts fussing. "I'll be right back bud!" Got my drink and came back. Sean said that he likes to see people, so if you're going to be up and doing stuff try putting him in his bouncy contraption. "Oh ok, makes sense." He bounced, I cleaned the kitchen. We moved back into the living room and played for a bit. After awhile he started getting fussy. Sean said he's tired, so I go to put him down and I'm asking Sean questions that I probably should already know. "Do I lay him down on his back or his tummy? Does he need anything else besides his baby sleeping bag?" I feel like I should already know all that stuff. I'm a girl, I want a baby, makes sense right? Let's get real here, how in the world would I know any of this stuff I don't have a baby! I never baby sat, and when I did work with kids it was never babies. I worked with 2-3 year olds and 12 year olds.

You hear people talk about the whole, "you just know what to do". Um, how? Maybe I just won't know other people's kids, but I will with my own? Does the mommy instinct section of your brain decide to turn on when you get pregnant? I know that a few of my friends have said that they had no clue what they were doing, they just winged it. Their babies are happy and healthy. Why do we not talk about the realistic part of having a kid? Is it because admitting we don't have any experience in the mommy department means we're lousy moms or going to be lousy mom's? You never hear women say that they don't want stretch marks, or that they're worried they won't lose the baby weight, or that they're scared they'll scar their kid for life because, let's face it, even if you have 20 kids, each kid is gonna be different; so even if you're already a mom each kid is like a whole new parenting experience.

Admitting these fears doesn't make us bad people, it makes us real. No woman wants their body all jacked up for forever, it's a price we pay to have kids, most women hope that their body goes back to semi-normal after the pregnancy. Most women want to be a good parent (the exception would be the women adopting their children out, they won't be a parent, so they won't have this concern), and I think it's normal to be concerned with the type of parent you'll be. Yet, you never hear anyone talk about their concerns or fears, it's all baby names this and nursery colors that. I love my friends, they are the most honest group of women I've ever known, and for that I'm so thankful. If they weren't open and honest, I probably would feel that I'm just not mom material. Knowing that it's normal to not know what the heck you're doing is relieving...and a little frightening. I was kinda hoping the whole mother nature thing would kick in and I would know why my kid was screaming, who knows if that will actually happen or not. If it doesn't, well, I'll just wing it, it seems to work for everyone else.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

So I'm Insane...What Else Is Knew?

Alright enough with the I'm back, no I'm not, I'm back, no I'm not BS. In between kicking Monday into the taxi and sending that bitch where she came from, barely passing my Econ homework assignment and getting ANOTHER negative pregnancy test, I'm just gonna say screw the whole bloggy break thing. You guys are just gonna have to deal with my hormonal cranky ass. Yes, you read that right a negative pregnancy test. We're trying to have a baby. The Air Force isn't accepting anybody right now, they're too full. Who knew we could have too much military? So, it's baby time. We've only been trying a couple months, so I'm trying not to get too exasperated that I haven't seen the dual lines on the pee stick yet. Although if you asked Marina, Alison or Tiffany how I was handling it they might say I'm a tad impatient. It's a big thing, we're excited, what can I say.

So, due to the lack of birth control hormones that keep me functional and some what well-behaved, I've been a teeny irritable, a tad overly sensitive, and refuse to be held liable for whatever heinous crap can and will come out of my mouth at this point in time.

I would like to take this moment to thank my mother-in-law for not calling every week wanting to know if I was pregnant yet, like a few others I know. You have no idea how stressful something as fun as baby making can become until you have friends and family asking "are you pregnant yet, how's the baby making going, how long have you been trying," and on and on and ON it goes. I feel kinda bad, one of Ryan's best buds caught me online one night and made the fatal mistake of asking how the baby making was going. The conversation may or may not have ended with me threatening to stick an ovulation test in his ear the next time I saw him. If you know someone trying to conceive, don't badger them, good lord. I'm fairly certain they know how to make babies, where they come from, what position is best, and how ovulation works, so no advice is necessary. Really, I promise.

Technically we weren't going to even tell people we were trying, for this very reason, the comments, the unwanted or needed advice, we were hoping to bypass all of that, however; a certain husband decided to put it on Facebook for all of the Facebook world to see. Awesome. That conversation went a little like this...
"Um, babe, I thought we weren't telling people about the baby making?"
"Yeah, right, we aren't."
"Well, um, then how come you have it POSTED ON FACEBOOK?!?!"
"I...didn't...ish. I'm sorry babe, I wasn't thinking, I was excited!"

I couldn't be mad at him, he's wanted kids since the day he proposed, however; if he continues to be one of the people happily bouncing around me asking "are you pregnant, did you pee on the stick" I'll be forced to use the magical duct tape on him. Silence is golden, duct tape is silver.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Yet Again

Have you ever followed a blog that you LOVED, thought it was fantastic, awesome, amazing and incredible? You've followed that blog for months, YEARS even, then all the sudden the author falls off the face of the planet, never to be heard of again...or for at least a month or so. It's always the amazing writers that sporadically disappear and reappear. I, am not one of those writers. I promise I'm not dead, or dying, or abducted or anything like that, I'm just gonna take another blogging break. I thought I was ready to come back...I'm not. 'Nough said.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I Tend To Stand In My Own Way...

As most of you guys already know, I moved around a lot as a kid. About every five years, my dad would transfer somewhere or take another job, and we'd move. Before I was homeschooled, we would have to change schools. As a kid, I would have a lot of friends, but I would typically click really well with one person, that person was what you'd call a best friend, of course we'd always end up moving, so I have a best friend from my past for every city we lived in. Recently I've been in contact with two of those girls. Facebook is an amazing tool, when it's not annoying the crap out of me.

I came home from work one day and checked my email. I had a Facebook email from Jessie, my best friend in junior high. I couldn't believe it. After accepting her friend request and sending her the typical, "HOLY CRAP! HOW'D YOU FIND ME? I'M SO GLAD YOU DID!" message I read her profile. She still lives in upstate NY, has a masters degree and is a producer for a television station. She of course, asked the typical, "Where have you been? What have you been doing?" questions. I immediately felt completely embarrassed. Here I am 27 years old, STILL don't have my bachelor's degree, working in single-handedly THE most boring profession in the universe, and living in Louisiana. Oh God, the shame. For a split second I thought, "If I lied, would she find out?" I decided to tell the truth. I don't have the memory to keep up with lies. I'd forget what I told people and end up ratting myself out. It's just better if I avoid that.

Yesterday, Ryan told me that someone he went to grade school with, found him on Facebook. I said, "Oh wow, I don't even remember any ones name I went to grade school with...except Brittany." I logged onto Facebook and did a search, there she was...I thought. I sent the, "Are you who I think you are? If not, my bad" message. This morning I got a message back, it was Brittany my best friend in elementary school. She was premed, working on her masters degree, living in NYC when she realized she hated it and decided to go to culinary school...in Italy. "What have you been doing Steph? Where have you been? I've thought of you often!" Oh God, the shame. Welll...I'm an accountant who hasn't finished her BACHELOR'S yet, living in LOUISIANA, and wondering why the hell she has Facebook.

As we were catching up, I had an epiphany. I've been so ashamed of my life because it doesn't look like I've done much with it. I don't have my degree yet, the house I do have is being foreclosed on, I've never traveled overseas, I don't have kids, I have THE most boring job in the world (all accountants will agree with me), but who the hell cares. I've been so embarrassed that my life pale's in comparison to these other people's that I went to school with, I never looked at what I did have. I've been married to a military man for six years. Just being married six years is an accomplishment these days! I am honored to say that I was a military wife for five years. The divorce rate in the military is 75%, most women can't do it, but I could. I was never more proud of my life than when I told people I was a military wife. That's big (all military spouses will agree with me). I chose my profession because it was practical. I was marrying a military man, military moves a lot, I need a career that I can do anywhere. If I had finished my degree in theatre, I wouldn't have been able to do much with it anyway. We have a "little theater" down here that does strange versions of Rent every other month. A playwright isn't gonna go very far with that.

Yes, I have an incredibly boring job, yes I'm still working on my bachelor's degree, yes I live in the pit of southern hell. I also have two sisters who I know love me very much, I have the four best friends in the entire world who love me no matter what my profession is or where I live, and I have a marriage that's lasted through rocky hikes up hill in the pouring rain, and sailed through calm waters. So here's my epiphany, the only one embarrassed of me is me...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Remember When You Had A Six-Pack Without Working Out At All and Ate Everything You Wanted...

Does anyone else find it hard to keep up with a workout? To maintain the body I want I need to exercise six days a week, for about an hour and a half a day, and maintain a strict diet of what resembles cardboard and wood chips. Sounds super fun right? I know, seriously, how can I not want to do all that????

Like most people, right around the ripe old age of 25 my metabolism started to slow down, I had desk jobs that didn't have a lot of active time to them, Ryan and I ate like crap cuz we were young and could. We didn't really think about it. Yeah I know, I used to be a personal trainer; I knew eventually the glory days would end but you try to live them out as long as you can. Some try to live them out even though their WAY past the deadline...exhibit A...



You may remember last year right around this time I decided to try P90X. It worked, I lost 10% body fat and totally fit into my size 2 jeans again. It was glorious. Then...I had a cupcake and apparently as you get older the affects of fat and sugar triplify. In my sheer panic of gaining 5 billion pounds from cupcakes and cookies I started P90X again, worked like a charm. Then...I went to Olive Garden. You may start to see a pattern here, if I'm not eating GOBS of protein and exercising 2 hours a day, maintaining my 115 pound, size 2 frame is a total pain in the ass.

Here's my problem, I work 8 hours a day, 7am-4pm. I also have a husband and dog who start whining if I'm ignoring them, and I'm in school full time. In a nutshell, weekdays suck. I was doing the whole-home at 4:30, heaven forbid you take longer than 3.5 minutes to read the mail cuz now you're behind in your 2 hour workout, which sets dinner behind, then you'll never get all your school work done for tonight which sets you behind for the entire week-deal. I'm really getting sick and tired of rushing around like a chicken with its head cut off just to make sure I look decent. NOT TO MENTION, I WANT COOKIES DAMMIT. I digress.

Am I the only one who has a hard time fitting this into their day? I've thought about cramming my workout into the morning, but that means I'll have to get up at 3:30, I truly will die if I have to do that. I even tried breaking my workout into 2 parts, but I had less motivation to do the 2nd half of the workout when I got home from work, so that's no good. Right now I've cut the workout in half (1-hour a day) but I'm not seeing the results I want. I'm also taking my last core classes and they're INTENSE. School has taken double the amount of time it did before, so I'm still running around like a headless rooster...dead chicken...a dead, headless hen, whatever. I guess eventually you just deal with your body and call it a day? Or maybe you tell everything else in your life to take a hike and go back to your chin-ups? I miss the glory days...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Work, Balance and Aneurysms

Seriously, who came up with the 8-hour workday? If I ever find that person they will be given a slow and tortuous death, courtesy of Stephanie. Workdays should be 5 hours, 7am-12pm. No lunch break of course, geez you gotta get some work done, you lazy bastard. You can get a lot done in 5 hours; and really how much time are you truly missing out on by shaving off those pesky 3 hours? I mean hey, you might miss out on prime internet surfing time, or the hour where you nod off and wake yourself up when your head hits your desk, or your 15 trips to the vending machine for snacks and other calorie filled goodies to keep you awake, but we all can do without that right?

Of course if we’re all working 7am-12pm there’s the time zone issue. Noon eastern time is 9am pacific time and let’s face it Californians don’t even stumble out of bed until about 9am. So, there would need to be a standard time that we all follow. I vote for mountain or central time, it’s in between eastern Time and pacific time. I’ve lived in the eastern time zone, and they could use a little more sleep over there, you westerners can share the wealth a little bit.

And all you people who LOVE work SO MUCH that you’ve wrapped your entire existence around it to the point where you don’t know what to do with yourself if you work less than 14 hours a day…get a hobby, or a family, or something. Yeah, yeah, I know, work IS your hobby; your co-workers/employees ARE your family. That’s just sad and I guarantee your job nor do your co-workers/employees feel the same about you. They’re really all just waiting for you to crack because you never give yourself a break. I mean really, if you die or leave or whatever, the company is still gonna go on, they’ll hire someone else no problem, and they’ll probably be just as good if not better than you. They’re not gonna hang your picture in the hall, or write songs about you, you were just some dude/gal that worked there at some point in time. Spend your time doing something meaningful like taking your kids to the park, THEY will remember you, and you’d rather have them remember you for the times when you took them to the park, not the times when you missed dinner with the family…AGAIN.

Yeah work’s important, it pays the bills. There’s nothing wrong with having a career, I have a career, but there is something wrong when you make it your entire world. I used to be that person who worked long days, tons of overtime, and what did that get me? Stress, headaches, a nice paycheck or two that ended up being devoted to many a happy hour at the nearest bar (which in the long run did me absolutely no good), an offer to fly out west for a threesome, hangovers, mood swings, you get the picture.

Alright, even if this post hasn’t made you realize that a job/career isn’t everything, and you’re just one of those people that is a die-hard workaholic, that’s fine, do what you gotta do, but don’t push your ideology’s and workaholic tendencies on those of us who really just want to put in our time and go home to our family. If we do our job and we do a good job, let it be. I WILL take my vacation, I WILL go home at 4pm when my shift is up, not 4:15, not 4:30, I will clock out and leave at 4, I WILL NOT come in on weekends unless it’s necessary, and I WILL take my full lunch. Yes, I realize unlike you who work from 6am-8pm, I’m not nearly as “dedicated” or “devoted” to this company; but I guarantee the CEO isn’t going to visit your grave, take care of your dog, or read bedtime stories to your kids after you die of a brain aneurysm.

Pardon my random outburst, but I needed to get this off my chest. Just because we choose not to work obscene hours or take on more than we know we can handle does not mean those that do are better than us, that we're slackers, or are less deserving than those who do work countless hours or take on every project they think they can complete. I come in on time, I leave on time, and I do a damn good job; don't make me feel less than who I am just because our point of view is different. I used to be where you are, I don't miss that. At the end of the day I feel content and happy, do you?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

School Online and the Ignorant People That Drive Me Insane

I'm interrupting this blogging break to vent about people's ignorance, including people who are close to me and sometimes are so completely retarded I wonder how it is that I know them and continue to claim them.

The other day I was asked if going to school online was hard. I was asked if it was hard to stay focused, and if it was possible to fail. Apparently, if you teach yourself, you cheat a lot, and therefore it's impossible to fail. Lately, I have also heard snarky comments from other various people about online school. With the popularity of online school growing I was taken back by these questions and comments. I couldn't believe that there were people who thought online school wasn't legit. People's ignorance never ceases to amaze me.

I remember being asked these same questions when I was in high school. I was home schooled from 7th-11th grade. I received a multitude of questions, such as:
Do you have friends?
Does your mom give you all the answers?
Do you have to do school from 7am-2:30pm, like a normal school day?
Do you even do schoolwork?

Um hello, have you met my mom? Yes we had a full school day, we were expected to get up at 6:30am and be ready to do school from 7am-2:30pm. We were not allowed to play outside, or in our rooms, or watch TV. We were expected to study. No my mom did not give us the answers to our tests. Yes we took tests. We also had to do eight book reports a year, and take two writing tests a year. We're talking like 10 page papers in 7th grade. It was not easy, by any stretch of the imagination; however, we had the ability to move at our own pace. If our Bible assignment for that day only took 15 minutes and our math assignment took three hours, that was what we did. I think that because of that, online school just seemed right for me.

During my first two years of college, sitting in a classroom listening to the professors talk about stuff I just read in the book was extremely annoying to me. I felt like I was wasting my time. Seriously, I just read all this stuff, you're not teaching me anything that I didn't just read, this is a waste of time. It got to the point where classroom time was day dream time, totally pointless. I finished at that college with my associates degree and had zero desire to go back. Then, about five years later I realized I had to go back if I was going to move up in my career. I had to work, there was no option there. I applied to the local university and got in. The price was obscene, $40,000 to finish my bachelor's and it was going to take me five years since I had to do night school. Just out of sheer curiosity I started looking at online programs. I wanted to go to a decent school, one with a campus, one that was accredited, one that was affordable. I found the university I'm going to now. The advisers gave me a list of classes that I would need to take and they were able to transfer most of my credits from my AA degree. I would have my bachelor's in 2.5 years for much less than $40k. For me it was a no-brainer. I can do school whenever I want, I don't have to listen to professors bore me to tears, I can still work, I'll finish in half the time for half the money, and there's no difference between this university and the local university that I was going to go to?!?! Hot damn, sign me up.

Yes, you can fail. In regards to cheating, the possibility of cheating is so high, the online classes are designed to be more difficult than the classes you sit in. For example, rarely do you get a class that takes tests, it's too easy to cheat. You have your book and the Internet right there. Most of my classes I've taken were writing intensive, meaning you wrote papers...A LOT. We're talking like three or four six-page papers in an eight week time frame. Most of our tests are essay's, and it's a lot of scenario based or mathematical based questions. If you do get a class with multiple choice tests they're more than likely trick questions designed to make you think or trip you up. It's just as difficult as a sit in class, if not harder because your time is cut. You take three months of work and assignments and cram them in eight weeks and you just cut an entire month out of your semester, and the workload doesn't get cut people, it stays the same.

When I first was looking at online school, I was afraid of how future employers would see my degree. Would they think that I cheated the whole time? Would they think that online school is a bunch of BS? Would they think that I took the easy route vs. the "real" route in regards to my education? I talked to a few people and did some research, apparently people don't care where you get your degree unless you work for the CIA, or NASA. As long as the school is accredited, and your GPA is decent, it doesn't matter if you went to Old Dominion University or Southern New Hampshire University. (Of course, there's a huge difference between Old Dominion and say Chapel Hill, Cornell or Harvard, but really I couldn't afford those big name universities anyways; and just so you know some of those big name universities offer distance aka online degrees.)

So for all you people who think online education is a crock of crap, I suggest you do your research, what you find may be very different than what you think.

How's that for an IIII'mmmmm baaaaaccckkkk post?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Farewell...For Now

For the last few weeks I’ve written and re-written about a dozen farewell posts. None of which were to my liking. The best thing about hobbies is that you can start or stop whenever you want. No strings attached. I have quite the list of past hobbies-cross-stitch, gymnastics (four years!), biking, knitting (and when I say knitting I really mean getting tangled in the yarn for 20 minutes while Ryan cut me out), gardening (which I would still do if I had a yard), card making, gaming (yes I was a video gamer, I know, I know, I’m a total dork). Few hobbies have lasted the tests of Stephanie’s attention span. So far, reading, scrapbooking and writing are the only ones that have lasted beyond the typical 1-2 year attention span most of my hobbies have been given. In all honesty, blogging has lost its excitement. The fun part that kept me coming back wanting to hit the publish button has been MIA for several months now, and my writing shows it.

For the last two years I’ve posted about my life as a military spouse, the challenges I faced, going back to school in my late 20’s, becoming civilians and moving to a different time zone. I’ve posted about my family, my friends, my marriage, my fears, my dreams, my craziness that drives me insane (I assure you its possible), school, my career, and jobs in between. It was about four months ago that blogging started to become more of a chore than an outlet to express myself. There were weeks that I struggled just to get out those two posts a week. It was when I found that I actually chose to do homework over blogging that I realized holy crap, I think my blogging phase is done.

I thought surely I can’t leave those few people that loyally read my blog every week (mom) hanging. I mean seriously, I have my baby sisters graduation this weekend, my sisters bridal shower that I’m throwing for her next month and her wedding in August. I’ll be finishing my degree this year and I still don’t know if I’m going to join the Air Force or not, and kids are right around the corner! Surely I’ll have TONS to blog about, crazy stories to tell, and memories to share. That, my faithful blogger buds is why I am not saying goodbye, but taking a blogging break. I’m sure I’ll be back, but I don’t know when. Stay plugged in, ya never know when I might pop up ready to tackle the blogosphere again. Until then, enjoy your summer, and I’ll see you soon.

Steph

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kids or the Air Force?

Lately, and when I say lately I mean for the last year and a half, I've been going back and forth with a decision. For those of you that don't know me super well, I don't make major decisions quickly or easily. Tattoos, I have three, after I picked out what I wanted for each one I waited about a year before I actually got it, just to make sure...they are permanent ya know. When Ryan proposed I told him I wanted to be engaged at least a year, just to make sure. (Give me a break we had only been dating, long distance mind you, for nine months.) When we bought our first house I had already been scoping out neighborhoods a year in advance. My biological time clock started ticking six months ago and we haven't started "trying" yet. I want to make sure that the ticking doesn't stop...that's all. I don't take large decision-making lightly. I analyze every tiny, intricate piece of the puzzle. It drives my husband nuts. This decision is HUGE. Hell I've been contemplating it for a year and a half, that's gotta say something.

It started when Ryan was deployed and we found out that he was getting out at higher tenure. Growing up we never really had financial stability, we had health insurance in spurts and never when we really needed it, and my parents will more than likely work for the rest of their lives with no retirement. At the time, saying goodbye to the military meant saying goodbye to financial stability, saying goodbye to our kick-ass health care, and saying goodbye to a guaranteed pension plan. Ryan, being a nuke, couldn't cross-rate or join a different branch. Once a nuke gets out, that's it for your military career unless you join the reserves, and you don't get 1/2 the benefits with the reserves.

I did some research and was seriously looking at joining the Air Force. You can have your education paid for, amazing medical benefits, the option to serve overseas (depending on your rank and job), the pride of serving your country (which to me would be worth it regardless of the other benefits); you can say that you are part of something big, something important, something that matters. I talked to a lot of people, airmen, sailors and soldiers. It was the airmen that really grabbed me. Each and every one of them loved it, they all said it was the best decision they ever made, and that they wouldn't get out until they were kicked out in umpty-ump years. The soldiers were a bit mixed in the feelings of the Army and all the sailors told me I was an idiot for thinking of joining. I talked to the girls, and I still remember what each of them said. Alison said "Really?" Tiffany said it made complete sense and that she thought I would do well in the military. Marina said "DO IT!" Ryan wasn't as thrilled, he said he would support me, but you know when your life partner isn't super excited about something. I did some more research and found the qualifications for being an officer. Basically it came down to finishing my degree. I put the Air Force on hold. I decided that I only wanted to join if I could be an officer. The pay is better and there's more career opportunities. Shortly after that Ryan got the job here in Louisiana. We packed up and moved. My dreams of the Air Force moved with me.

The plan, in my head, was to finish my degree and talk to Ryan again about joining the Air Force. I wasn't planning on my biological time clock to start ticking six months ago. Now I'm not sure what I want. The Air Force topic came up again last night. Apparently Ryan didn't know I was so serious about it. When he was less than thrilled about it the first time I mentioned it, I let it go. He didn't realize the desire was still there. He mentioned using his MGI bill to go to school while I was in the AF. As we talked more about it I was excited, but the thought of kids still hung in the back of my mind. I'm not going to do well having kids and then leaving them to deploy. Some billets don't allow you to take your family and you could be gone for a year. I could miss firsts, first steps, first birthdays, first driving lessons, their prom, their graduation. I don't want to miss any of those things!

Do I want kids or do I want to serve my country as an airman? I realize people do this all the time, and I know plenty of people who are in the military with kids. I look at those people with admiration. Not everyone can do that. I don't know if I could. During Ryan's second deployment I hung out a lot with this girl named Annie (you may have seen her leave comments every now and then). Her husband was stationed on the same ship as Ryan, he and Ryan were friends, they had two little boys. I remember their oldest son, he was maybe five years old at the time, crying because he missed his dad. It broke my heart. Deployments are so hard on kids, much more so than I realized before I saw Cody sobbing. Annie tried to comfort him with tears in her eyes. I can only imagine how helpless she probably felt. There's nothing she could do, she couldn't call her husband and say, "Hey ya mind coming home for dinner tonight, the kids miss you." That's not an option in the military.

My friend Jen, I went to high school with her, she joined the Air Force our sophomore year of college. She has two babies, a year apart, she hasn't had to do a deployment away from them yet. She said herself, that she has no choice it's her duty to go, but it will rip her apart and her kids and husband will have a hard time. Do I want to do that to my future kids, just so that I can live out a dream of mine? Ryan and I can provide a decent living for our kids without the military. I guess my dream of the Air Force is selfish at this point. I guess this all comes down to what I want more. I couldn't do both, I couldn't leave my kids for months on end. This isn't exactly the same decision as-do I want to be a stay-at-home mom or a career mom working 9-5 at the office.

Do I want to be an airman or a mommy?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Random Ramblings...

Ugh, this whole recycling thing is a pain in the ass. How horrible would I feel if I just said screw it and started throwing away my recyclables?

I feel like I should start going back to church...I know...WEIRD.

I went through our Netflix list and rearranged the movies. All movies with a plot that make me have to think, are now last on the list. I do enough thinking, when I'm watching movies I'd rather just stare at the screen with my mouth open.

I purchased life insurance the other day. I have student loans. If something happens and I die, those student loans would fall on Ryan. How crappy would that be? Not only is he losing his wife, and her income, but now he's gotta pay for loans that he didn't even earn.

I caught myself looking up nurseries on Google last weekend. Not garden nurseries, baby nurseries.

Ryan said it's crappy that I would go to a titty bar without him. Uuhh, call me crazy but I really have no desire to see my husband oogling other women's boobs.

No mom I didn't go to a titty bar. It's all hypothetical and it started with a conversation about cartoons...oh never mind.

Is it just me or does the 8-hour work day really feel like an 8-week work day?

I look forward to when I have time to read for fun. Right now I'm reading about economic forecasting theory...it's about as exciting as death...as most textbooks are.

Friday, May 14, 2010

WHAT?!?!

So, I open up the Internet and what do I find...Heroes has been canceled. Heroes, THE best "supernatural" TV show since Smallville has gone down hill, has been canceled. AND we never got to know what happened! Did Silar stay good or did he go evil again? What about Noah and his blonde partner chick? What about Claire, she totally jumped off that building and cracked her bones back together in front of that news crew. What about Peter and the deaf chick? He never did get all his powers back, and she was finally figuring out who she was!

UGH, what the heck is wrong with NBC? Apparently due to fewer viewers, less than 5 million, oh darn, and that time slot being needed for other new shows, they kicked my beloved TV show to the curb. Dude, unless these new shows have a bad-ass, sweet-hearted, smoking Italian with super powers and Ali Larter naked dripping wet, it's just not gonna cut it.

*Sigh* I guess I'll just have to be happy with Smallville. I've been watching that show since it started nine years ago. I know, I know, it's totally gotten strange, but I'm vested at this point. Nine years of my life has been spent watching Tom Welling swoop in and save the day, I can't let those nine years go to waste, I might as well see it through. Hopefully "through" will be soon. At least salvage the show with some decency.

Speaking of supernatural shows, Vampire Diaries turned out to be pretty good. I was afraid it would end up being really teeny boppery and annoying. Not so much, I've become quite a fan. Anybody seen the finale? It's gonna kill me to wait months to see what happens, especially now that a certain someone is in the picture.

Ok I'm done rambling. NBC sucks, Heroes is gone, Smallville needs to wrap it up and Vampire Diaries is hot. There ya have it, my professional TV opinion.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

New Orleans...With Pictures!

Ryan and I have gone to New Orleans a few times since we moved to Baton Rouge six months ago. We really like New Orleans, it's a bummer we live 45 minutes away, but both my job and the majority of Ryan's jobs are in Baton Rouge, so here we stay. I actually remembered my camera this trip, so I have pictures for you guys.

We were surprised that it wasn't more crowded downtown, since it's Mother's Day weekend. We could actually walk around without bumping into people, which is nearly impossible in Charleston on a holiday weekend. The weather was perfect, sunny with a breeze. AND we stopped at Cafe DuMonde this time for beignets (french donuts). People down here RAVE over beignets. They're good don't get me wrong, but I guess I'm just an American girl...I thought Dunkin' Donuts raspberry filled donuts were better. *Shrug* What can you do?

I think the reason why I like New Orleans so much is because of all the culture there. You have people painting on the side of the street, and "mom n' pop" jazz bands playing in the middle of the street. Not to mention the beautiful architecture. New Orleans is a bit rundown, and if you pay attention you can find the stores and condos that were abandoned after Katrina. I think that's why I like it, the city shows it's history, like it has a story to tell. I know I compare New Orleans downtown to Charleston's downtown a lot, just bear with me. Charleston is beautiful. All the buildings, the cobblestone roads, the picket fences, the pier, everything is so perfectly maintained, you're almost afraid to touch anything. It's so obvious that Charlestonians have a lot of pride in their city. It's almost too perfect, like it was built yesterday, not during the colonial days. New Orleans has that historical worn in look.

My favorite area is by St. Louis cathedral. That whole area is kind of open, you'll see local artists painting, tarot card readers, psychics, palm readers, and drag queens posing hoping you'll put money in their sequined hat.









There are so many different shops in New Orleans. You have your regular tourist shops that sell t-shirts, mardi gras masks, and mardi-gras beads, antique/junk shops, furniture stores, clothing stores, jewelry stores, and all of them are original to New Orleans. You won't find Prada, Coach, Liz Claiborne, Tommy Hilfiger, none of that. You have super fancy shops...



And not so fancy shops...


The outdoor market area...I originally compared it to Charleston's marketplace on Market St., but as we continued to walk it changed from a market place, to a farmer's market, to this awesome outdoor eatery area. Ryan said that you see these eatery places in Europe all the time...


Biker bars...notice the green shutters on the building to the left of the bar, how cool!


And people dressed up like robots, actually moving like a robot to robot music...


Bands playing in the streets...




Then there's the beautiful wrought iron balconies...








Then there's the jazz cafes, Harrah's, and the trillions of bars. If there's one thing that Louisiana knows how to do it's party. New Orleans is truly one of a kind city. I'm glad I have the opportunity to experience it!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Lots Of Good and Some Bad

The company I’m with has officially made me one of their permanent employees, which is fantastic, because I REALLY need to start accruing vacation and sick time. I also got a raise, which is also fantastic. That’s my second raise since I started working here 3.5 months ago.

I found out that if you have a certain GPA, the university I’m going to allows their students to triple up on classes. For example, full time for an online student is 2 classes at a time since each term/semester only lasts 8 weeks. It’s the equivalent of taking 4 classes on campus each 3 month semester. Well, if your GPA is high enough you’re allowed to take up to online classes at a time. Once my finance and economics classes are done, I’ll only have electives left and I’ll be doing my damndest to triple up on classes so that I can finish early. So, that’s good news.

Ryan and I are going to New Orleans tomorrow, and a crawfish boil on Sunday. Stay tuned for pictures.

Ryan and I are going to Charleston, SC in 3 weeks for my baby sister’s high school graduation. I miss my family A LOT, I can’t wait to see them. As an added bonus, Alison and Hunter were just transferred to Charleston, so I’ll get to see them too!

Now for the bad news. It’s not really bad…well it is bad, but it’s not coming as a surprise. The foreclosure auction date for the VA house is on Tues. I pulled up my credit report just to see the damage and to see what I’m working with…it’s extensive, and my score will drop again after the foreclosure date…or so I’m told. The good news is my company pulled my credit score (I’m in accounting it’s regular practice) and they didn’t say anything about it, it didn’t hinder the perm process at all. So here’s hoping that I can get our scores back up in the next few years.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fun Jobs

Marina and I were discussing fun jobs the other day. I haven't had the most fun jobs, although Ryan says that selling women's underwear and measuring boobs all day sounds pretty fun to him. Working at a bookstore, coffee shop, delivering flowers, wedding planner, puppy walker (not adult dog walker, just puppies...yes we discriminate), they all sound super fun. Of course all of these jobs pay crap. Isn't that how it usually goes? If it's somewhat enjoyable at all you end up living in the city park because you make crap for pay. The stressful and in Marina's words, soulless, jobs are the ones that pay all the money. Then you end up spending all that money on a shrink and antidepressants. You end up having no time to even read books or drink coffee because all you do is work your soulless job. Doesn't that sound like gobs of fun?

What if you had a chance to work one of those super fun jobs...would you take it, knowing you'd make no money? I don't know if I would. I enjoy having financial security, and financial independence from credit cards and banks too much.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dinner Theatre and a Textbook

*The setting is a dark condo with a single light on in the dining room. Textbooks spill out from an open corduroy messenger bag onto the table, under a bright light. The only sound is the air conditioner (I'm in Louisiana it's hot). I approach the table...cautiously...

"So Calculus...we meet again. I was surprised to see you when I opened up my economics textbook, although I probably shouldn't have been. You've been flanking me for the past three months now, waiting for the day to make my life miserable."

*I lean in to the textbook laying open on the table, displaying various symbols and letters.

"You have nothing to say? Of course not, you need not say anything, I won the last battle, final grade of B+ in my last class that YOU dominated.

*I turn from the table, arms folded.

"And I will win the war."

*I spun back around to the table, hands on my hips, eyes narrowed to page 47.

"So give me your best shot Calculus, because I will win dammit! The victory I had over you may have been one battle in a series of many, but mark my words you will not stand in the way of my diploma WITH HONORS!"

Right about that time I turned around to find Ryan standing in the kitchen, left eyebrow raised.

"Oh hey babe, I was just...ya know...giving my textbooks a good talking to. Lettin' um know who's boss n' all."

He continues to look at me, eyebrow raised. "Right. So uh, are they defending themselves?"

I clasp my hands together in front of me, and slowly shake my head. "Um, no, I think they realize that right now is listening time."

He slowly nods, "Mmhmm, baby are you are sure you're getting enough sleep?"

True story...unfortunately.