Monday, June 30, 2008

The sexiest tupperware in town

All it takes is a short trip to IKEA and a drive-by the brand new Container Store (which my husband REFUSED to stop at...pretty sure he said something like "are you crazy, woman? I'm driving this car and I refuse to stop anywhere you want to go. I own you." Sounds just like him, right? It had nothing to do with hunger levels in all parties in the car) to get me ready to organize.

Over the last several months I've been thinking (not doing, of course) about cleaning the junk out of the house. You know, the junk no one can see. The junk drawers and IKEA cardboard boxes full of office supplies I keep forgetting I have, and empty food boxes out of the pantry and the freezer, and old clothes (namely t-shirts), and old magazines, and lotion/body mist/medication/hair gel from 2003 still under my sink 5 years and 3 moves later. You all know I have a problem with this...remember the 4-year-old maple syrup I was still storing (and maybe used)?

But, alas, I have not found the energy to do anything about it. The mess was clogging my brain and making me crazy. I've come a long way from a clutter-whore, emotional hoarder to wanting clean and simple living. I had to get this done. So I picked up a few things at IKEA this weekend and yesterday I was hopped up on Mimi's Cafe pancakes and ready to get down to business.

I cleaned and sorted and trashed and labeled like a mad man. I sorted and bagged up 6 bags of old clothes, purses, and shoes for charity. Threw out ALL the old People magazines (I keep saving them for others to read, but it never happens and who cares about Britney's breakdown 6 months ago...she's so much better now). I put all of our important documents and files (tax returns since 2002, vet files, passports, birth certificates, instruction manuals, mortgage papers, and soon adoption papers) into one gorgeous, handy box from IKEA so that I never again have to think "where is that document?".

I cleaned out kitchen cabinets and stored all the lids to pots and pans in one handy plastic container, freeing up tons of space for other kitchen appliances I'll never use. I arranged my tupperware in a Victoria's Secret pink lingerie box and the lids in a White House/Black Market shoe box which at one time held some very attractive black peep-toe heels...making my tupperware the sexiest tupperware in the neighborhood when all dressed up.

I cleaned out and rearranged the pantry with food we don't eat. I spent over an hour cleaning out the cabinets under BOTH our bathroom sinks and getting rid of all kinds of goodies, like formerly good-smelling Bath and Body Works lotion given to me by an ex-boyfriend's parents for Christmas one year. I cleaned our bathroom junk drawer and used tupperware to organize makeup and toiletries.

I arranged the game cabinet with all the games we never play (some still unopened) and I cleaned all the laundry room cabinets, even storing hundreds of tealights in glass jars so they're in one safe place.

I compiled an entire Kinko's box and a giant shopping bag full of papers to be shredded. Cleaned out all decorative boxes with anything other than photos or stationery in them.

And then John grilled steaks and we ate dinner at home for the first time in probably 2-3 months.

Today I ache all over, like I ran a marathon yesterday with a 5-gallon jug of water on my back. My back aches and my legs ache, I think even my toes ache. But I feel free. 6 trashbags of trash, 6 bags of clothes, a clean house later and I feel so good.

Now if I could just get some energy to work on the flower beds...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Katy Perry

Ok, so you guys know I'm pretty easy-going. But SERIOUSLY. This song is just beyond irritating. It actually makes me physically angry.

Feel free to discuss, I'm sure some of you have thoughts on this popular song.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Irish wonder about the folks in the U.S.

So my grandfather sent me this joke yesterday. Actually, he printed it off the computer and mailed it through snail mail to me which makes me smile!

The Irish are very perceptive.
We in Ireland can't figure out why people are even bothering to hold an election in the United States.

On one side, you have a gal who is a lawyer, married to a lawyer, running against a lawyer who is married to a gal who is a lawyer.

On the other side, you have a war hero married to a good-looking woman who owns a beer distributorship.

What are you lads thinking over there?

Ha! No matter what side you're on, that's funny!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The I Do's!

I was visiting my grandparents this weekend, so I'm one day late posting about our 5-year anniversary!! Obviously we didn't do anything exciting this weekend, but we DID just complete two major vacations and start the adoption process this year, so Happy Anniversary, Honey!

In all seriousness...I'm the luckiest, most blessed woman in the world. John changed my life 9 years ago this summer and changed my forever 5 years ago on June 21st. He has put up with A LOT...I'm not the easiest person to take care of! And the last two years have been as trying as any two years can be. But never once, not for a second, has either of us thought it would be easier without each other.

Our marriage is stronger, happier, easier than we could ever imagine. There is no better feeling in the world than knowing and trusting you have someone to walk with you through all seasons. For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In sickness and in health. In good times and in bad.

I will love you when it's easy, I will love you when it's hard. And I will be right here.

I love you, Honey! I can't wait to see what happens between now and next June 21st!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Off the crack

Well, it's not exactly crack. But I am officially 5 days off diet soda. I'm not off caffeine, just diet soda. There's no getting around's so bad for you. And I've been dealing with these migraines and headaches a lot lately and I really think all the aspartame has something to do with it. My own observation, not a scientific fact.

I drink coffee (with real sugar added in, not pink or blue or yellow). I think the possibilities of extra calories are ok to avoid the artificial sweetener. And I always drink my tea unsweetened (I hate sweet tea). So I still have caffeine.

A couple of years ago I gave up Diet Coke for a long while. I still drank Diet Dr Pepper, but just gave up Diet Coke on a recommendation of a friend. I really did notice a difference. I will do just about anything to get rid of these headaches. If it meant giving up brownies I would probably do it. But I'm not seeing any correlation between migraines and brownies so I'm still eating them.

Anyway...we'll see how long it lasts. But I haven't had even an aura of a headache in 5 days so...SCORE!

Also, I'm not going to make a huge deal about it because I've started and stopped more times than I can remember, but I did start back to Weight Watchers last week. Believe it or not, I was up 15 pounds from the last time I was there. I decided I can't afford new dress pants, so I just have to fit into the old ones...that's where WW comes in. In one week I was down 1.6 pounds so...SCORE again! Anyway, not that you care and we'll see how long it lasts. But I do feel less hungry and I've cut down portions big time.

There's your update...that's what's going on in my quest to feel better!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Yes, we talked about THAT

Wanna know a great way to get to know girl friends better?

Start talking about well woman exams and other experiences at your friendly neighborhood OB/GYN.

Seriously, it could replace weather as the best small talk topic ever.

What I have come to find out is that every single girl wants to talk about it. They want to giggle about it, roll their eyes, top the stories. The best is when you get to talk about taking your husbands to those appointments and watching their eyes as the experience unfolds. And watching the blood drain from their face as they go pale from realizing "wow, you're not making this crap up!".

Or talk about your first time at various nether-region exams and how no one prepared you for the sound that speculum's make (like a medieval torture device) or how "ultrasound" doesn't always mean goop on the tummy. It's hilarious, everyone laughs, and then everyone agrees that WE SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT IT! We should share and prepare each other so that no one feels stupid when they go to those appointments.

We all go through it (even guys have to listen or watch their ladies go through it) and it shouldn't be embarrassing. Last night I sat in a cozy room surrounded by desserts and talkative girlfriends and we shared...oh, did we share...and I laughed like I hadn't laughed in a long time.

I'm a pretty open person and I'll tell you just about anything you want to know. But I promise I do have a sense of who it's appropriate to talk with (I mean, probably not the best thing to chat about during Children's Bible Hour or a new client business pitch). But if you ever need good stories or want to share yours...I'd love to hear. We're all in this together!

Just a thought for your own Girls Night Out, especially with new friends. No faster way to get to know someone and put them at ease then talking about stirrups!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Going to the Chapel

Today I spent the morning with my best friend, Melissa, looking at a chapel for her wedding next summer. I had so, so, so much fun looking at the chapel, the reception options, flowers, thinking through a wedding party arrangement, talking about music.

She came back to my house and tried on my veil for comparison. A few weeks ago I helped her pick out her dress. I'd forgotten just how fun and exciting weddings are! You kind of go through phases in your life where it's all about prom...then all about graduation...then all of a sudden it's a wedding every weekend...then, of course, it's baby showers every weekend. I kind of moved out of wedding season a few years ago and it's so much fun to be back!

I'll be the maid (matron?) of honor in her wedding, so there will be showers and bachelorette parties to plan, hair appointments to make, dresses to get altered. I'm so honored to be a part of her the time she gets married it will be TEN years in the making for her! I have pictures of her and Eric (her fiance) on one of their early dates in 1999 when we all went to prom together.

We have been friends since we were 15 and choir nerds. I have several pictures of us from high school, but this is the only one scanned in, from her graduation in 2000. Our heads are kind of cut off...sorry.

I love knowing her. We have been through A LOT together and there's no one I've met that I can be as open and honest with as I can with her. She knows me better than most, and she is a great friend.

I can't wait for her to get married, but in the meantime I'm blessed to have a friendship of 11 years!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

It's Over!

Dude, are you excited? No more vacation photos!

Thanks for sticking with me through all of Hawaii back in April and now's great record for me to have on hand and that way you don't have to sit through all my photos in an album sometime.

I loved both Hawaii and Alaska. Which was my favorite? There is no way to even determine that. Hawaii was action-packed, every minute accounted for and we saw so many things. But I saw lots of wildlife and enjoyed the climate much more in Alaska!

Alaska was leisurely and relaxing. I didn't cry from exhaustion like I did after Hawaii. I caught up on sleep, but not so much I felt tired. I read books, ate a lot. I lost 5 pounds in Hawaii, I gained like 6 pounds in Alaska.

In Hawaii we were staying with my dad, Alaska was the cruise where people wait on you hand and foot. Alaska I won $75 in Bingo, but Hawaii I gained a chance to walk on the "Lost" filming site.

I loved them both equally and in different ways. They both provided awesome time with family.

If I had to choose one to go back to first, I would probably head to Hawaii. But it wouldn't feel right without a trip to Alaska a month later. So...I loved them both, every second. more amazing vacations for a while. Hopefully no more vacations without a little one, or at least a little one to come home to. Our next great adventure will be a little closer to home!

The Final Days: At Sea and Victoria

After Skagway we spent almost two days at sea. All day Friday, and most of Saturday until about 5:00 when we docked in Victoria. The best part of Friday at sea was sleeping in, then I spent most of the day reading in the Sky Lounge (with almost 360-degree views of the water, and then Baked Alaska night in the dining room. You can see what it looks like before (#7 and #8, along with our awesome waiter J.P.) and then what it looked like after cutting it open and serving to me. No after I ate it pictures because there was nothing left.

We also got to see a submarine in action while we were sailing (#6). That was pretty cool...even the captain said he sees a lot of whales but it's very rare to see a submarine on the surface of the water like that. John was giddy.

Once in Victoria, we didn't have very much time. We really wanted to be back in time for our last dinner with our waiters, so we got off the boat at 5:00, hit the town shops, and were back and seated by 8:15. Luckily the downtown part of Victoria is easily walkable and very pleasant. But most shops closed down at 6:00, so our options were limited anyway! First thing we saw off the boat...Darth Vader playing the violin (#4).

Nina and I walked around and picked up a couple of souvenirs, and I'm not sure where Arni, Matt and Robin ended up. John was searching for a cigar shop. There is a cigar bar on-board and instead of the typical alcohol most people partake in on cruise ships, John had a cigar each night and made some friends who told him he could get a real Cuban cigar in Victoria. He finished it up before we left for the boat, thank goodness...then brushed his teeth before dinner!

We took a couple of pictures in front of the Empress Hotel (nice hair in my face) and in front of the parliament building. It's a very pretty town and I'd love to spend more time there!

After that, it was off to bed (#5).

Day 6, Skagway

I couldn't imagine a day getting any better than Juneau. But our stop in Skagway was close.

The rest of the family took a train ride through the White Pass Summit. John and I opted for a motorcoach ride up into the Yukon because we liked the idea of stopping for pictures. I think everyone had a great time no matter what they chose!

When we went to San Francisco last October, one of the things we ended up doing was a bus tour of the city. And we thought "how cheesy, how touristy". But after we did, it was the best part of the whole trip. We saw SO MUCH and got so many great pictures. So the motorcoach tour of Alaska and Canada was the perfect option for us.

We started in Skagway, Alaska and headed up into the mountains. Pretty soon we were in British Columbia...followed shortly by the Yukon. We made a stop at a little bitty town called Carcross and ate lunch but only after John made an ATV ride through the "smallest desert in the world".

It was so strange to see the climate changes. We started out in the warm valley area, headed up through lots of snow and ice, plenty of frozen lakes. Before long it got warmer, the snow was further away and the lakes were unfrozen and perfectly still. There were lots of beautiful lakes.

Our favorite part came near the end before we turned around, when we stopped by Emerald Lake. Our bus driver was great because he told us to close our eyes and he would tell us when to open. We played along, because we wanted to be surprised. He drove and got us in the perfect position then told us to open our eyes. And there was Emerald Lake. Completely calm, totally blue-green, very rich in colors. It's made of glacier water that remains untouched. It was so beautiful, I think it was my favorite site on the trip.

We had a 90-minute drive back into town, and John and I shopped a bit in Skagway before heading back to the ship to eat a late snack and eat dinner. There was a lot of eating on this trip!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day 5 afternoon, Juneau

We had been looking forward to our afternoon in Juneau for weeks. Arni, John's dad, had a former student who lived in Juneau. She and her husband owned a fishing boat, and gave fishing and whale watching tours during the summer months. They agreed to take us out for a fraction of the normal cost, and once we realized it would be sunny and warm that day...well, we knew we were in for a treat!

The boat was called "Fissues" and it didn't take us long once we were on board to spot whales. Picture 2 and 3 below clearly show the mama and baby whale we came across first. We learned that whales will surface three times (generally) where they arch their backs and you can see their fins. Once they take their third breath, then you will see them dive down deep. Once you see their tails come up you know it will be 5 minutes or so before you see them again, and by then they could be far away from you.

After we watched mama and baby into their deep dive, we turned around and headed for the good salmon fishing spots. But not before seeing another whale, even closer to our boat! He gave us a good show until he deep dove and was long gone!

So we settled in for fishing. It was so relaxing to just bob along the open water, it was about 60 degrees, sunny, and the air was so fresh it was intoxicating. Not long and Nina (John's mom) got a bite on her line! We reeled it in, and it was a flounder (picture #8). Since we weren't looking for flounder, and Nina felt pretty bad for disturbing it and piercing it's lip, we sent him back home. Hopefully he learned his lesson.

It was getting close to time to pack up, and we hadn't caught anything else. We noticed around 5 bald eagles in the trees around us, and had been watching their show for a while. So we tossed our extra bait, one by one into the water. WHOA! Almost immediately, the Eagles began sweeping in and picking the fish up out of the water. I mean almost immediately. Before we knew it, we had 9 Bald Eagles circling our boat above our heads. They would glide down so easily and grab the bait...close enough to touch (but we knew better). At one point, we threw a piece of bait out and an Eagle sailed in and grabbed the fish in mid-air, before it ever hit the water. Of course, no one got pictures so you'll just have to take my word for it!

As we were getting ready to head back in, we finally got another bite on Matt's line. He reeled in a gigantic (in my book) Wild Kind Salmon. It weighed 25 pounds, and we had no choice but to get him ready for dinner. The hook had caught him in an artery, so he wasn't going to make it...which was fine with Matt who had the fish filleted and sent back home for later consumption.

Of course that morning after Endicott Arm I realized my camera battery was doomed. Luckily Matt and Robin had two camera and they let us borrow their little point-and-shoot. So, most of these pics (especially whales and eagles) are Matt's. Some are from the disposable camera I purchased (high tech!). Luckily the next day, we were back to digital but I will never, ever forget our battery charger again!

Did I mention Day 5 (Juneau) was my favorite day?!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Day 5 Morning, Scenic Cruising

This was the beginning of my favorite day. We knew we needed to wake up early, that we'd be sailing through the Tracy Arm Fjord beginning at around 6 a.m. We weren't really sure what that meant, except that it was supposed to beautiful, there would be ice, and the mouth of a glacier involved.

So we got up at around 6:30 and saw waterfalls outside our window. We rushed to get ready, luckily we dressed warm. I had on fleece, my lined windbreaker (hey $9 S&B jacket!), a fleece stocking cap, gloves and thick socks with my shoes and I was still pretty cold!

Turns out the ice was pretty bad in Tracy Arm, we'd been warned by another cruise ship. So our captain made the decision to take us up to Endicott Arm. We stood on the deck all morning and awed in the beauty. I know it sounds cheesy, but all we said that morning was "wow" and "that's amazing" and "look at that" and "wow".

I was mostly amazed at how still the water was. Here was this gigantic cruise ship sailing through, countless waterfalls all over the sides of the valley, even seals and sea lions in the water, and yet it was as still as glass. We could see reflections of the mountains in the water, it seemed like we were on top of glass.

There were huge chunks of ice in the water, which had broken off from the glacier and floated along. We saw seals on top of the ice, and Bald Eagles watching us pass. Some ice chunks were white, some were the bright blue glacier water tends to be.

We got right up to the mouth of the glacier (3rd photo down) and then we turned around and sailed on out.

What a way to start your day!