Saturday, April 23, 2011

early bird gets the worm

My mom used that saying a lot when I was growing up. I'm pretty sure it had to do with me always being the last to wake up and my siblings getting all the good breakfast or something like that. It seems I haven't outgrown this tendency.

Pat and I are very different when it comes to consuming desserts and sweets. I don't crave chocolate or sweets very often so I like to save mine until the moment is just right. Pat, however, has a never ending sweet tooth and will devour all sweets in sight, even if they're mine.

Take for example, the candy I got in my stocking. I love peanut butter so naturally, anything reeses makes is up there on my list of favs. Reese's pieces, reese's peanut butter cups, you name it. I received both in my stocking from Pat and haven't eaten either of them. I was saving them for that perfect moment when I'm craving something sweet and either can afford the calories or just lose my will power completely.

Recently, I noticed that the peanut butter cups were gone. Pat couldn't take the temptation anymore and ate them. Early bird gets the worm, I guess. But he doesn't even tell me when he eats them. He's very sneaky about it and I have to find out on my own. Lucky for me, I'm very observant and have a weird memory about where things are placed so I notice right away when something is missing and it didn't take me long to realize when the reese's cups were gone from our pantry.

In Pat's mind, even though I may receive something as a gift, after it remains in our house untouched for a certain, unspecified period of time, he feels like "mine" becomes "ours" and therefore becomes "his." Is it really early bird gets the worm or is it more like the diligent, calorie-counter gets screwed? You decide.

My mother-in-law makes chocolate covered pretzel rods for holidays and covers them with appropriate colors and sprinkles depending on which holiday it is. She gave us each a purple, chocolate covered pretzel rod for Easter. Pat ate his within moments of receiving it. I, however, am saving mine until the time is just right.

After about 24 hours of sitting on our counter, Pat had reached his boiling point. He couldn't take it any longer. Finally, he asked me, "Are you going to eat your chocolate covered pretzel?" I told him yes. "When?" he asked. I told him that I wasn't sure yet when I would be eating it and that I'm saving it. This answer did not make him happy. I guess he was hoping I would say that I wasn't planning on eating it and that he could have it. When I didn't, he got angry. "Damnit!" he yelled. "It bothers me that you just leave it there. It just taunts me. That is what it does."

So, I guess we're making progress. Instead of just trying to be sneaky and eating it, he actually asked me first. I'm still convinced, though, that if it wouldn't have been so obvious that it was missing from the counter, he would have. One of us will end up eating the pretzel but I'm not very confident that it will be me. After all, the early, non-calorie counting bird always gets the worm, right?

Recipe for a happy day

I just found this in the back of one of my Great Grandma's handwritten cook books dated December 1989 and thought it was definitely worth sharing.
Recipe for a happy day:

1 Cup of friendly words
2 heaping Cups of understanding
4 heaping Tablespoons time and patience
Pinch of warm personality
Dash of humor

Measure Words Carefully:
Add heaping cups of understanding
Use generous amounts of time and patience
Cook, but keep temperature low - do not boil
Add dash of humor and pinch of personality
Season to taste with spice of life
Serve in individual molds
 Just another example of why my Great Grandma was and always will be remembered as one of my favorite people in this world. :) Click here to read more about what a special lady she was. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

All my bags are packed

That's a lie. My bags aren't even close to being packed. My suitcase is sitting on my bed. Open. But empty. This is SO unlike me. Normally I would have had my bags packed last week. But we all know how many hours I worked last week and that trend has continued this week, too. I tell you what, if you didn't need a vacation before, you will definitely need it after preparing for a vacation at work. So stressful!

You may not know this, but after Mark died, I really, really wanted to get out of this trip. It seemed like a waste of money and very frivoulous at a time when I knew my mom would really be struggling for money. But we would have lost about $700 if we canceled our trip and neither of us were willing to just let that money go to waste. So here we are, several months later and we leave tomorrow. After the last few months of work being so busy and very stressful, I can't tell you how happy I am that we are going.

But I won't be going anywhere if I don't get packing. But first, I have to share a story with you that I cannot believe hasn't made its way into my blog yet. It took place two years ago when Pat and I were headed off to Punta Cana for our honeymoon.

When we arrived at the beautiful resort, after taking a look around and getting settled in our room, Pat sat down to look at the list of the nine different restaurants the resort had to offer to figure out where we wanted to eat dinner that night. I was getting ready in the bathroom for our first nice honeymoon dinner.

After studying the list, Pat said to me, "Well, it looks like there is only one restaurant where we can eat the entire time we're here." What the heck do you mean there's only one place we can eat? There are nine different restaurants! He went on... "Well, there seems to be a strict dress code at all the restaurants that men have to wear pants for dinner and...," he paused..."I didn't pack any pants."

Of course he was joking, right? Pat is starting off our honeymoon with a little prank. Only, he wasn't joking. He was dead serious. Despite the fact that I told him several times that I wanted to dress up every night for dinner, he still decided (unbeknownst to me) that it would be too hot in Punta Cana to ever wear pants so he just didn't pack any. I will say, this is something I would have hoped the travel agents would have warned us about, but at the same time, who doesn't pack at least one pair of pants for a nice vacation?

We avoided the issue the first night and went to the only restaurant we could - the one that is outside and has no dress code. But after we weren't that impressed with the food, we knew we had a serious problem on our hands.

I suggested to Pat that he go to the front counter and ask them if they have a lost and found to see if there were some extra pants he could borrow. He refused. He was too embarrassed. So I went up to the counter for him, and he wouldn't even stand next to me. Instead, he stood back in the distance, lurking as if he didn't even know me.

I asked the lady at the front desk if they had a lost and found, explaining that we were in desperate need of an extra pair of pants. I gave her Pat's pant size and our room number and she said she would see what she could find. A little while later, we received a phone call that they did in fact have a pair of men's pants in the lost and found which were very close to Pat's size and they were being delivered to our room momentarily.

When they arrived at our room, we soon realized "very close to Pat's size" meant one inch too short and two inches too small in the waist. I told Pat to suck it in and we tried our hardest to get those pants buttoned. But there was no way it was happening. Oh well, just don't button them, right? Unfortunately, none of Pat's shirts were long enough to cover up the unbuttoned pants. As much as it pained me to do so, we had to send the pants back where they came from.

Then I had another idea. There was a tall guy that rode on the bus with us from the airport to the resort - let's ask him if we can borrow a pair of his pants. I'm sure you can imagine that Pat was in no way comfortable with asking the guy we hadn't even spoken to and only knew him as "the tall guy on the bus" if he could borrow his pants.

We were down to one last hope; the two gift shops on the resort property (we were warned it wasn't safe to leave the resort so we didn't see traveling into town to buy pants as a good option). We went into the first gift shop and it was almost all women's clothing. There was one little rack in the corner with some of those khaki colored linen pants for men. Perfect! Except, they didn't have Pat's size.

So we wandered over to the second and last gift shop at our resort - our last hope. No khaki linen pants, but they did have white linen pants. As soon as I found them in Pat's size, a wave of panic came over his face. His eyes were saying, "No! Please don't make me do this." But in his heart, he knew it was our only option to wine and dine and fully enjoy the all-inclusive food for the remainder of our honeymoon - the food we paid for! So back to the dressing room he went, reluctantly, with the white linen pants.

He didn't come out to model them as I had expected. Instead, he came back out wearing his shorts and carrying the linen pants. "I can't wear these," he said. "They are see through and I only have bright colored boxers." Although he tried to act disappointed, I could tell he wasn't. Deep down, he was relieved that he could say, hey, I tried but they just didn't work out.

Lucky for him, I had a solution. "Go commando," I said. "I tried that. You can see EVERYTHING," he explained. No matter how desperately I wanted to be able to get into those fancy restaurants, I knew going commando in see-through pants wasn't going to help our cause of looking more "classy."

I frantically started looking through the store for something, anything that would solve this problem nightmare. Big, men's tighty whities is what I was looking for. I didn't find any, but I did find white spandex boxer briefs. Actually, boxer briefs is being generous. They were just white spandex shorts, somewhat like biker shorts, if you will. And what do you know? They had one XL left.

This time, it wasn't Pat's eyes that were saying "No! Please don't make me do this." Instead, Pat was really saying out loud, "Emily, no! Please!" I'm sure there was an exchange of words and then before you knew it, we were checking out with Pat's new wardrobe - our honeymoon restaurant problem was solved. That is when the lady at the cash register told us the grand total came to $95 US dollars - not pesos. That's right, almost $100 for Pat's new pants and spandex. Half of our spending money! Unbelievable.  BUT... at least we could eat!

So this is what Pat wore, every single night of our remaining six nights...


Except for the night that he begged me to do room service so he didn't have to put on the dirty, sweaty and probably smelly skin-tight spandex biker shorts.

I bring this up for several reasons. One, I just think it's a heck of a good story. I got so much sick enjoyment out of asking Pat each day while we were floating in the pool, "So, what do you think you're going to wear to dinner tonight?" As if he had any choices.

But most importantly, as we were beginning to plan and pack for our trip, you would think it would be a no-brainer for Pat to pack a pair of pants, right? Wrong. He actually had to text a friend of ours who has been to the same resort, just to verify whether or not there was a dress code for men at the restaurant.

The answer was yes and I am happy to report that Pat has already packed several pairs of pants in his suitcase for Mexico. But not without complaining. All I keep hearing from him is mumblings about "all these stupid shoes I have to pack to go with the stupid pants I have to wear," or "girls have it so much easier than guys do. You can wear dresses without getting too hot. I have to wear pants and shoes."

I couldn't help but notice when I was looking through his luggage to see if our beach towels were in there that the white pants were folded up and packed in Pat's luggage. Maybe he didn't really hate them so much after all!

Hasta luego my friends!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The truth about the Easter Bunny

A big, inflatable Easter Bunny that we saw tonight
on our walk (like this) is what got me thinking about this story.
When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I wanted SO badly to figure out what was real and what was make believe as far as holidays and life were concerned. It was very important to me that I had all of my facts straight so that I could "plan for the future," so I told my parents. 

I was in second or third grade and there were a lot of rumors going around school about whether or not Santa Claus was real or make believe and I just had to know the truth. So I started hounding my parents for answers. I was begging them to tell me the truth. They were convinced that I was still too young to know the truth so they kept telling me, "of course Santa Claus is real."

I still wasn't convinced, even after all of the assurances that Santa Claus was real so I started explaining the very logical and practical reasons about why it was so important that I get to the bottom of this Santa Claus issue. I explained to my parents that if I spent the rest of my life believing that Santa Claus was in fact real, when I have children of my own, I won't buy them gifts because I assume that Santa would bring them and if it turns out that there is no Santa Claus, my kids won't have gifts at Christmas! Even at age 6 or 7 I was already aware of what a bad mother that would make me one day!

I was a pretty smart kid, huh? My dad thought so too and was pretty impressed with my logical reasoning. Just as he was about to give in and tell me the truth about Santa Claus, I said to him, "Now I know the Easter Bunny is real, but I'm just not sure about Santa Claus."

That's when my dad knew I was definitely not at the maturity level to know the truth about Santa Claus. A man delivering gifts to the homes of children seemed very skeptical to me, yet, a bunny, hopping from house to house delivering eggs and Easter Baskets seemed perfectly logical.

I'm pretty sure I learned the truth about Santa Claus that year anyway, when I caught my parents putting my brother's race track together around the tree on Christmas Eve. They tried to say something like "Santa delivered it but we had to put it together," but I wasn't buying it. After all, I was way too smart for that. ;)

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Fly like an Eagle

After an extremely frustrating day today (yes, another one!), I got home and started watching the Decorah Eagles (which I've pretty much been watching nonstop since last Friday). Tonight I happened to tune in just in time to see the third Eaglet starting to hatch out of the egg. The mom sat back down on it before the Eaglet was completely out of the egg, but Pat and I tuned in later and actually got to see the Eaglet completely hatch! Watching this happen live, right before my eyes, made me feel such peace. When I say I felt an inner "peace," I know it probably doesn't make any sense at all and it's hard to explain but I'm going to try. 

When asked at a religious retreat for work this summer, when do I feel the closest to God, it was a really difficult question for me to answer.  I have a very personal and confusing relationship with God and rarely talk about it to anyone, let alone people from work whom I barely know. Even after all these years, I still don't know exactly what I believe or where I belong as far as any organized religion goes, but I pray and I believe in God. After giving the question a lot of thought, I finally came to the conclusion that I feel closest to God through nature.

This combined with my love for animals in general is what makes watching the Decorah Eagles so appealing to me. But it provides me with more than just entertainment. I feel calm, tranquil and close to nature when I'm watching.

This week has really made me feel like I'm being tested. And if so, in some ways, I think I'm winning. Well, technology is technically winning because my inability to connect to printers, the network and the Internet has made me significantly behind at work and hindered my ability to meet deadlines. That being said, I feel like I'm somewhat winning because of how I'm handling the situation.

Am I frustrated? Absolutely. Is it stressful? You bet. At some moments do I wish I could scream or throw something? Yes, yes I do. If someone walked by or into my office today, was it obvious that I was frazzled and not quite myself? I'm sure it was. But I keep telling myself, "You're doing the absolute best you can under the circumstances and it will all get done somehow" (even if I'm at work until midnight tomorrow night - which is a real possibility at this point).

But when I came home and got to watch the birth of an Eagle, it reminded me of how small these issues at work really are, in the big scheme of life. Life, of any kind, is precious and I refuse to not live mine fully or happily because of frustrating situations that are out of my control.

This is a really deep post for me and probably sounds really corny. But since Mark's death, I feel like I owe it to him to try really hard not to sweat the small stuff and to find happiness and joy in each day. Not saying it is easy or always works, but I feel different now than I did before he died and I can't explain it, no matter how much I try, so for now, I'm going to quit trying.

Monday, April 04, 2011

I love the weekends!

We've established I didn't have a great day today. Let's move on. I had a great weekend and I have so much to be thankful for!

Yesterday was a super relaxing yet productive Sunday for me. I got to sleep in (yay) and then went off to run errands. I went to GFS for the first half of my grocery trip. I really do NOT like going to more than one store for groceries, but I also don't like to overpay for anything so what's a girl to do? Do you have certain stores where you buy certain items or am I the only crazy one?

After GFS, I went to Target to try and use my gift card from Christmas (thanks Dad & Jill). But of course, since I was actually looking to spend money, I couldn't find anything I liked. This ALWAYS happens to me. When I don't have money to spend, I like everything. Humpf. But I did find a cute clutch on sale that I'm going to take to Me-xi-co (ole!) in two weeks to carry my essentials and camera.

Then I returned some clothes to LOFT that Pat said made me look like an old lady (how's that for making a girl feel good in her new clothes?). And unlike me, I didn't replace the returned items with anything else. That's a first, ladies and gentlemen.

Finally, I finished up my errands and grocery shopping at Giant Eagle. Pat would have HATED being with me on this shopping trip because I kept stopping at each aisle to program my shopping IQ app so that it was in sequential order matching the store. It WILL make my life easier and it was totally worth it, but not something I could have ever done if Pat was with me.

The most successful part of my day, though, was the fact that I actually remembered to bring my green shopping bags with me. On the green scale, I wouldn't say that I come even close to a ten, but I try to be aware of ways that I can reduce my footprint and these shopping bags is one small way. So I bought the bags months ago, and ALWAYS forgot to bring them with me.

When I got to the grocery store, I was kind of annoyed at how crowded the parking lot was (why do I always shop on Sundays with the rest of the city?) and I was rows away from any of the shopping cart receptacles. Hence the reason there were carts all over the place (pet peeve) so I took one of them and used it. Good deed for the day = done. And since all my groceries fit into my two big cloth bags, I was able to leave my cart in the store and carry all my groceries to my car. I'm sure I was smiling all the way to the car, because I was so proud of myself. Doesn't take much to get me excited, apparently.

When I got home, I went straight to work. It was freezing cold and didn't feel at all like spring, so I felt it was perfectly appropriate to make "winter-like" meals. On the stove I made my Nana's old fashioned stew and in my crock pot, I tried a new recipe for goulash. Yes - two major recipes going at the same time. That's a first for me! I felt pretty impressive cooking on the stove and in the crock pot at the same time (small triumphs, my friends). Oh yeah, and I made my own garlic bread to boot! Let me clarify, I bought the bread and made my own garlic butter mixture to put on top and baked the bread in the oven.

Nana's old fashioned stew
Goulash
Garlic bread
We had the goulash (recipe blog coming soon) for dinner and I packaged the stew for lunches and a dinner later in the week. How is that for being prepared? I knew it was going to be a rough work week so I was trying to plan ahead.

That reminds me - one thing I NEVER do, is freeze food for later use. I need help in this area. Is there in art to freezing (other than getting a bigger freezer since ours is tiny and barely holds our food)? Certain containers you're supposed to use? Certain amount of time you should eat things you freeze? I need help in this department...

As I'm honing in on my nesting skills, there is another nest I have been obsessed with since Friday. Have you heard of the Decorah Eagles? In a nutshell, two wild eagles laid three eggs and there are cameras sitting in their nest. Two of the eggs hatched this weekend and there is still one more. It is SO neat to be able to watch these eagles live.

One of the Decorah Eagles on the nest (along with dinner)
I never would have imagined how obsessed I would be about these eagles, but my parents put a lot of emphasis on how cool "birds of prey" are while I was growing up so I blame them. When in doubt, blame your parents, right? I fell asleep watching these eagles on Friday night (wild and crazy Friday night, ay?) waiting for the first egg to hatch. It hatched at 6:20 AM on Saturday morning - needless to say I missed it. But I got to see the baby when I woke up and it was SO cool. Baby #2 was born Sunday. You should definitely check it out. It's pretty neat. And if you are judging me for this, you should know that 11,000,000 people have viewed these eagles. There is strength in numbers and I feel better about myself knowing that. :)

Lack of blogging for a week = long, boring post. You're welcome?

Rainy days and Mondays...

If I would have known while driving to work this morning that the gloomy sky and weather was most certainly an indicator of how my day would go, I would have turned around and gone back home. It would have been a perfect day for staying in my pajamas and cuddling on the couch with my husband and dog.

But instead, my day was filled with frustrating meetings and technology issues out the wazoo. Technology is my BFF when it works but when it doesn't, it can get me so frustrated I could scream (or cry, or throw something or all of the above).

Without going into details, I can say with certainty that the new color copier in our office that I was SO excited to get last week, is possessed and has a personal vendetta against me. It works perfectly for everyone else but me. For example, I say print 48 sheets of labels, the printer decides to print on ALL 100 sheets of labels (and then ALL the paper that was left in the tray) using up all the labels that someone drove 25 minutes to get for me today for a 5 PM deadline. And because of the rain and intermittent internet and server connectivity, I lost hours of work during one of the busiest and most stressful weeks of work where I need to be productive every second. So much for not going into details (I did spare you MANY, believe it or not).

As frustrating as it all was, I didn't scream, I didn't cry and I didn't even throw anything. Instead, I gave myself a pep talk on my way home about leaving work at work, putting the frustrations of the day behind me and not letting it ruin my night, too. And it worked! (thank you, Dale Carnegie!).

I got home and actually EMBRACED the idea of a workout. If anything was needed after this Monday, it was a good workout. And it felt great. Then we came home and had a yummy dinner that PAT made! But we used my step-dad's pizza sub recipe and that made me think of him, so I cried. But I think it was a healthy cry. Just acknowledging the fact that I still miss him very much and think about him every single day. And still, as selfish as it is, I want him back.

How was your Monday?!?!?

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Bloggers slump

I've never been the type of blogger who logs in at the end of each day and summarizes the events of my day. Well first of all, that would require me actually blogging everyday which try as I may, seems to be impossible for me. Second of all, I feel like my days aren't interesting enough to share what I do each day. It would look something like this:

Drove to work, got stuck in traffic, was the victim of road rage, someone else was the victim of my road rage, worked, drove home from work, got stuck in traffic, was the victim of road rage, someone else was the victim of my road rage, got home, husband dragged me to the gym, came home, cooked dinner, went to bed. Repeat. Pretty lame, huh?

So I usually only write when I'm feeling "witty" or have something funny or self-depricating to share with you. Lately, I've had zero inspiration for blogging. Don't get me wrong, there is ALWAYS something I can make fun of myself about, but I just haven't been able to articulate any of that lately. This, my friends, is what we call a bloggers slump.

But because I'm feeling guilty about the fact that I haven't blogged in over a week and that I haven't kept up with ANY of my blogging goals and resolutions, I am going to try a blog entry, with no real storyline or goals in mind. I will simply start typing about my week, my weeekend, my day or even my afternoon today and just see where it takes me. Wow, this is stepping WAY outside of my comfort zone. Here goes nothing...