Thursday, December 27, 2007

Reflections of the Season

Wow, this holiday season has flown by! I love Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but perhaps even more so, I love the weeks leading up to it...the decorating, the music, the spirit, buying gifts for family and friends, spending time with the people I love. I'm always reminded of how truly blessed I am at this time of the year. This year was no exception.

It was wonderful and I enjoyed it, but now I'm ready for a little bit of down time and then getting back into a routine. We are planning on spending New Year's at Lake Oconee with Griff's family, at his sister's lake house. We'll go out either Saturday or Sunday and spend several days playing games, cooking, and relaxing. It's a great way to spend the last few days of the year.

It's exciting to think about the New Year. Griff's declared it the Year of the Body and subtitled it the Year of the Pocket. Our goals: Be Healthy and Pay off Debt. It's always nice to have some focus and a plan. I need to post an update about our experience with You on a Diet, suffice it to say we're both ending this holiday season weighing less than when we started. I'll go into more details next week, but I call it a success to make it through the season without gaining weight!

I hope your holidays were wonderful and that you were able to enjoy time with friends and family and experiencing the joy of the season.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Good Times with Good Friends

Our Christmas party was a huge success! We counted up and we think we had 38 people at our house, including friends from my work, Griff's work, college and high school! We have such great friends and it was really a wonderful time. My only regret is that we only do this once a year! I've decided one of my New Year's resolutions will be to get together with friends at least once a month. That doesn't seem like much, but literally there were lots of people at our party that we haven't seen since our last Christmas party and that's just not acceptable!

As usual, we were getting ready until the last minute (actually 30 minutes after the offical start time of the party, luckily that's when our first guest arrived!). It turned out great though and we were able to spend time with our friends and enjoy their company. Sage was even very well behaved, once she got over her initial fear of having strange people in her house.

Now we're getting ready for our next big holiday event - our trip to New York this weekend!

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Whirlwind Weekend

What a busy weekend! Between decorating, buying needed supplies, my niece's 4th birthday party, and a potential plumbing nightmare, this weekend flew by.

When all is said and done, I've barely started the Christmas decorating (the tree in our bedroom is up with lights on and the main tree is bought and in the stand). We did retrieve all the decorations from my in-laws house (our house is 50 years old and just doesn't have enough storage space). We bought our main tree and a wreath from the Catholic school down the street and the tree is really beautiful. I'm planning on at least getting the lights on it tonight.

Our house is a wreck too. It's funny how in getting ready for the party and trying to get our house in order, we have made a much bigger mess than it started out in. The guest bathroom is almost completely painted (I just have to do the corners and repaint some trim). Our front door is painted on the outside, but we still need to do the inside. I need to paint the trim in the kitchen - somehow we've lived for over 2 years without ever painting it! We also bought an additional shelf for our pantry which has made a huge difference and cleaned out our storage/tool closet that is actually in our front bedroom. Seriously, the only time we are this motivated to get things done around the house is when we are having people over.

Yesterday we celebrated Lola's 4th birthday (we'll also be having dinner with her tomorrow, on her actual birthday). We also get to see Griff's aunt and uncle who are visiting from Florida. We hadn't seen them since our wedding, so it was really nice to get to visit with them.

And we walked outside to leave yesterday to a yard with puddles of water from our sewer overflows! Somehow our pipes to the street (which is just about the only thing on the house we didn't replace when we renovated) got backed up. Griff called the county on a whim and they came out but said it wasn't their problem. So, we stopped on the way home to rent an auger that you feed down into the overflow and it clears out the pipe. When we got home though, it was fixed! I guess in checking out the issue, the county actually fixed the problem. So we got to return the auger (and Home Depot returned our money). What a relief!

A great busy weekend and a packed week ahead!

Friday, November 30, 2007

It's That Time...

I'm so excited because this weekend we're going to be pulling out the Christmas decorations and buying our tree! I love getting all the decorations out and making our house look all festive and cozy.

One of my favorite things about our house at Christmas time is that I get to have my own Christmas tree in our bedroom! I have a great little sitting area that has just enough room for a full size tree (we use a fake one in the bedroom and get a real one for the dining room). I love to fall asleep with the Christmas lights on. It kind of makes up for the fact that we have a tiny living room without enough space for a tree. We put it in the corner of our dining room. For the month of December I sit on my husband's side of our sectional couch just so I can see the tree in my peripheal vision.

We also will be painting our front door and apparently the guest bathroom too (my husband just brought this up today). We're getting ready for our annual Christmas party we'll be hosting next weekend. My husband and I both always hosted Christmas parties, even before we met each other, so now it's a big tradition. This is the 3rd one since we got married and moved into our house. I'm looking forward to it so much!

I'll have lots of pictures to share when the decorating is done!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Back to the C-I-T-Y

We're headed back to New York City for a visit in 2 weekends. We had such a great time in August and we decided that we really wanted to experience it at Christmas time. And we each had $200 vouchers from being giving up our seats last time we went! My husband's parents are also going with us. My sister-in-law (their daughter) works for an airline and her parents get to fly for free on standby. So it's become somewhat of a family trip, which should be a lot of fun.

I just booked tickets today to see The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee* on Broadway. It looks like a fun musical and we got great seats! They even pick people from the audience to be a part of the spelling bee. This show is right next the Gershwin Theater, where I've seen Wicked twice (my favorite musical EVER). Both times I went to see Wicked I noticed this show and thought that I wanted to see it.

I'm going to do some research now to find a couple of restaurants that I want to try out. I am such a planner and I have to research everything before making decisions. We ate at a great Mexican place in August and there's a Turkish restaurant that is outstanding. We take our food very seriously - that will no doubt be a big part of our trip!

And very importantly - I just got an email that there are 2 Garrett Popcorn locations in New York. They make the most amazing caramel popcorn. They are based in Chicago and my mom introduced me to them when I went with her to Chicago a few years ago (my mom grew up there). I've been back twice since then and had to make a stop at Garrett's both times. There are literally lines out onto the street of people buying popcorn. I joined their email list thinking someday I would order it online to surprise my family, but I haven't yet. But now, I get to go there in New York!

I don't know what our other plans will be, definitely taking in Rockefeller Center and some of the other sights. Maybe going ice skating? So many options!!

*I came in 4th in my school spelling bee in the 4th grade. I missed on the word scientist. I spelled it sciencist. Kind of ironic I ended up being an engineer (while at least got an engineering degree). Anyway, it's funny to me that I never forgot that. The top 2 kids from each class got to be in the spelling bee. We were all in the gym auditorium and there were parents there and everything. I think my parents were there, I'll have to see if they remember.

Giving Thanks

Last week I celebrated Thanksgiving together with the most important people in my life - my husband, my family and his family. We had a wonderful meal and a great time visiting with our loved ones. We're blessed in so many ways and I wanted to take a few minutes to give thanks for some of the important.

My husband: He's amazing. He makes me laugh all the time. He is smart and caring and understanding. He's a great cook. He's hot. He loves me.
My family
My husband's family, who have taken me in and made me a part of their family
My puppy
My friends
The health of myself and my loved ones
My career and working for a solid company with great people
Our country and those willing to serve and protect it, here and elsewhere

I'm a lucky girl and I have much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nervous Mom

Sage is at doggie day care and I could spend all day watching the doggie-cams to make sure she's okay and getting along with the other dogs. This is the 2nd time we've taken her to Recess for the day and we also boarded her there when we went to New York for the weekend. Sage is very timid around other dogs and also around people, so we thought it would be good for her. Last time they had to put her in a separate kennel towards the end of the day because she got scared.

I had a long talk with the owner this morning about how Sage is doing. He is like a dog psychologist, it was really interesting. He said bringing her up there was like throwing someone who's afraid of swimming into the deep end. That was not very reassuring to me. I'm now worried that we're traumatizing Sage. It doesn't help that she's probably the smallest one there. We did decide that we'll try it a couple more times and see how it goes. It may just be that she doesn't like it and that she actually would prefer being at home in her crate during the day. Actually, I'm sure she would prefer being at home laid out on our cushy comforter during the day, but we just can't leave her out like that yet.

There's a day care specifically for small dogs in Decatur, but that's way out of our way for normal days (Recess in on my way into work). We're going to leave Sage at the small dog daycare for the weekend when we go to New York next month. For now though, she's learning to play with the big dogs.

I can only imagine how nervous I'm going to be when I have to let my kids go out in the world on their own for the first time...

UPDATE: Sage did great today! She stayed out with the other dogs all day. When I got there I got to watch her through the window and she was just prancing around in the midst of a group of big dogs! I'm so happy, now I'm a proud mom!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Us On a Diet

Griff and I have been striving to be more healthy this year and while we've had some success throughout the year, it's really been more of a roller coaster and we're both back up at the top of the hill, in both diet and exercise. With the holidays approaching, we really wanted to get back in the swing of things and start eating healthily and working out again. We've both seen Dr. Oz on Oprah (I pretty much made Griff watch) and thought we would give his book, You On a Diet, a try. There's nothing shockingly new in the book - we both knew how to eat and what to do to get into shape, although there were lots of interesting tidbits in the book too. The 'diet' is all about whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and dairy. The 'workout' is about moving some each day, 30 minutes of walking and then some strength training and flexibility workouts. Nothing earth shattering and nothing that's not doable.

So, we started on Tuesday, following the two week plan that is laid out in the book. We've made some great food, Salmon with Brown Rice Pilaf, a Spicy Chili and Chicken Kabobs with Tabbouleh. Nothing about it's been hard so far and it seems like something that we could do 90% of the time. There's always going to be special events and dinners out, but I think if you make the healthy choice 90% of the time then we'd be in pretty good shape (literally and figuratively). I'll update in 2 weeks about how the plan went and my thoughts on maintaining it. It's really about the right lifestyle, not so much about a special diet. If nothing else, it should ward off the pounds we usually pack on during the holidays!

Monday, November 5, 2007

My Girl

Griff and I decided to get a puppy early this year. Okay, honestly I decided I wanted a puppy and Griff, being the loving and supportive husband that he is, went along with it. Truth be told, he offered that we could have a baby instead because he really didn't want a dog, but I convinced him the puppy should come first. I decided I wanted a rescue dog, since there are so many out there looking for the right owner. I literally looked for months on to find the right puppy. Petfinder is a wonderful website that brings together hundreds of adoption agencies to let potential owners search in one spot for the right rescue dog. We did not have a real preference for breed, only that we wanted a smaller dog and preferably a girl. After 3 months of looking and a bad experience with one adoption agency that told us we were not suitable pet owners for a variety of ridiculous reasons, we found our Sage, from Noah's bArk in Ellijay.

Sage's mom, Peanut, and her five puppies were saved from an animal shelter. I found them on Petfinder in April, thought Sage would be the right puppy for us from her description (she was the 'reserved' one of the group), and we met her the next weekend at the PetsMart in Alpharetta, where Noah's bArk goes each Saturday for adoptions. I knew she was the one when we saw her. This is Sage with two of her sisters. Sage is the one asleep, in the middle of all the excitement of people looking at them and playing. Sage and her siblings were all named after herbs (Rosemary, Parsley, Thyme), which suits us so well since we like to cook. We decided to keep her name, because it's so cute and it really just fits her.

We had to wait a week to bring Sage home, she needed to be 8 weeks old, so the next weekend we returned to PetsMart and came home with Sage. This picture is from the day she came home with a new puppy toy that we got for her. The toy was as big as she was. She has really been wonderful. We are so lucky to have a wonderful puppy with a great temperament. It's been frustrating at times, especially while we were trying to housebreak her, and it's caused more than a few arguments on the best way to train and raise her. I wouldn't trade it for anything though. I've grown to love her so much. It makes me so happy when she comes to cuddle with me. Griff is wonderful with her, he definitely found a spot for Sage in his heart and I know he loves her too.

Sage is full grown now, about 14 pounds with long legs and a very lithe body. We're pretty sure she has some chihuahua in her and probably terrier. We also think she might be part deer (seriously, her legs are really long). She is so cute, I must point out at least 10 times a day how cute she looks to Griff. She loves to cuddle and play, but she has not been a very rambunctious puppy. She's really timid around other dogs and people (especially men), so we're trying to socialize her more. We've taken her to doggie day care a few times and she has some other friends - our neighbor's hound Duke, my mom's jack russell Chester, and our niece's poodle Maggie. We completed a doggie training class at Jabula Academy, which I highly recommend - Kate Jackson is amazing. Sage knows sit, down, stay, spin and roll over and she's mostly house trained.

We're lucky to have such a wonderful animal as part of our family.

Friday, November 2, 2007

An Important Post

Griff and I have a new dentist. I got a new job last year and changed insurance and we didn't love the dentist we had, so I decided to try someone new. I am such a planner and researcher that I couldn't pick just anybody, I had to see if I could find any information about them or reviews from other patients (thank goodness for the internet). Well in doing that, I found out quite a bit of personal information that I wasn't really looking for, but has really touched my heart. My dentist's family has went through a lot of difficult times. Her parents had two daughters and two sons. One son died of cancer as a teenager, my dentist herself battled cancer many years ago, and her sister is still recovering from a bone marrow transplant she had last year to fight her own cancer. It's unbelievable to me that a family would have to face this terrible disease 3 times, that there parents would have to watch 3 children suffer.

I also came across my dentist sister's Christine's blog, documenting the months leading up to her bone marrow transplant as well as the months after. I have to admit I spent time reading all of her entries and became transfixed as I read about all that she been through. Christine is obviously a wonderful, vivacious woman and has come through an amazing fight and fought against the odds to even survive. She's only a few years older than me and I don't know how she had the courage to do what she did, with the grace and optimism that she had.

Most importantly, from reading her blog, I learned about the need for bone marrow donors. Christine never found a perfect match . She did all she could do to sign up donors, looking for her 'miracle match', but never found that person. Instead she underwent the transplant with a partial match, which made her journey even harder and her chances for survival even less. The amazing part is that her partial match was a man from China. Someone literally a world away gave her the chance for a second shot at life. Christine is Filipino and bone marrow is very dependant upon ethnicity for a match, so the odds were very small that Christine would find a donor. Christine made a PSA that explains about the need for more donors, especially people with different ethnic backgrounds.

Griff and I have both decided to join the National Marrow Donor Program. It's really easy to sign up to be a potential donor, all you have to do is swab your cheek and they're able to type your bone marrow. They also ask for $52 to pay for the cost of typing. IF they ever find that you're a match for someone in need, the procedure is relatively minor and literally can save a life. There's no additional cost.

I can't think of a more meaningful way to spend $52. I truly hope that I'm a match for one of the 6000 people currently desparately searching for a donor. I hope that if anyone I ever know is in need of a donor that there will be a match for them. What an extraordinary opportunity.

Oh, and our dentist is wonderful. I haven't been yet, but Griff (who hates dentists) really likes her. He had to have a root canal and crown and he still likes her!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The First Two Months

So it's been 2 months since I turned 30. Exactly. Today. I can't say the last two months have been extremely remarkable, but they've been good. I celebrated the weekend of my birthday in New York City, a surprise trip my husband put together. We spent the weekend enjoying the town, seeing Wicked on Broadway, shopping, people watching and eating at some amazing restaurants. We also fell in love with NYC again and decided that we might like to move there for a couple of years (but that's entirely another post). It was definitely a wonderful way to start my 30th year. I'm a lucky girl.

Since then, I've gotten a promotion at work (which includes the possibility of a 20% bonus!), spent time with my adorable puppy Sage, my wonderful husband Griff, and enjoyed the fall. My team (Georgia Tech) is 5 and 3. We finished dog training class, celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary, got gutters put on our house, started making plans to return to NYC for Christmas, and have spent time with friends from out of town. A solid 2 months.

In My Next 30 Years...

I turned 30 on August 24th. It's funny how age is so relative. I once thought 30 seemed so old, but it sure doesn't feel that way. I guess it's a milestone though, and with that always seems to come comtemplations. Things I want to accomplish, places I want to visit, people I want to meet. I can't wait for the next 30 years. I'm going to work to make them even better than the past 30 years. And I'd like to start chronicling them.

So, where am I starting? I have a great life, I am blessed in so many ways. I'm married to a wonderful man. We have a great home that we renovated ourselves and our family got a little bigger this year with the addition of a puppy. I have a job I love, that challenges me and gives me the opportunity to grow, as a consultant. My husband has a job that he tolerates in IT, he doesn't love it, but he's not exactly sure what he wants to do. We are paid well and are able to live a comfortable lifestyle. Our families are near by, my parents and brother and my husband's parents, 3 sisters and husbands and 7 nieces and nephews. We're close to our families and they support us completely. We have good friends close by and lots spread around the country. We love to travel and cook and get to do those things often.

I try not to take all the good things in my life for granted. I'm really grateful for all the people and things in my life. But, there's still more I want...a fulfilling way to give back to the community, to lose 20 pounds and be healthier, to see my friends more often, to be a better wife. And someday, probably a few years down the road, to be a wonderful mother. It's all a process and I plan to write about it here.

Here goes...