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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A new year is (almost) here, but more importantly…

One year ago yesterday, we had our very first precious 4-legged friend join our family! Yes, that’s right, we have now officially had Noah for a whole year. And what a year it has been. You can go here to read about when we first got him.

In that post, I wrote a little bit about Noah and what he was like at first. Let’s review those statements and see if they are still true today:

1. “He has a very sweet disposition”: Check. He is still very sweet, although the addition of his little brother, Buster, has certainly brought out his territorial and aggressive side. He has been known to fit Buster’s entire head in his mouth with one bite on more than one (ok, daily) occasion.

2. “He seems to be a quick learner (we are working on “sit” and “shake” to start out)”: It’s true, Noah is very smart. However, to this day, we have only added 2 tricks to that list: “roll over” and “stay.” He is able to do all of them, but usually he is too distracted with the idea of eating Buster’s face to obey us when we try the different commands. Do you notice a theme here?

3. “His favorite activities include: chewing on his bone, going on walks, and spying on us through our windows… he is very curious”: Also true. He is a lurker… in the mornings he follows me from window to window throughout the house, halfway begging to come inside and halfway because I think he just likes to know what’s going on. He would make a really great stalker if he could just be more discreet… the whole incessant pawing at the window thing kind of tips us off that he’s watching.

And by the way, we need to add chasing and killing squirrels to that list. No need to explain if you’ve already read this.

4. “He also likes to chase his shadow and chew on himself”: And/or chase and chew on Buster. Whichever is more convenient at the time.

5. “He loves visitors (although he jumps, so beware! We are working on it!)”: Um, yes, there’s still plenty of jumping. So apparently we didn’t work too hard on it. Sorry, visitors!

6. “I feel like this is good practice for when we have children, as we are already having to tweak our routines a bit for him… but it is well worth it!”: If you consider tweaking our routine to include spending an evening driving around the neighborhood putting out “lost dog” signs, spending an afternoon stealing and disposing of a dead squirrel, and spending another evening installing an electric fence in our backyard, then yes, it's safe to say we’ve tweaked our routines a bit :o)

Yes, sweet Noah has been a handful, but he has also been a lot of fun. He and Buster certainly do keep things interesting... and expensive.

And in totally unrelated news, I wore my new pea coat today. It had some of those little silica gel things in the pockets, and when I took one out to throw it away, I realized that it says, “Do not eat” on the outside. Seriously? What I want to know is: who purchases a new coat, and then, upon finding a foreign object in the pocket, decides to eat it? I guess no one now that it comes with such helpful advice.

Happy new year, peeps!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas 2008: I almost met Dennis Quaid. And ate my weight in cookies.

Guess which of the above statements is true? That’s right, they both are. You’re jealous. Ok maybe you’re jealous of the first one, and sort of concerned about the second, but that’s beside the point.

So while I was in Austin for Christmas, my mom and I went on one of our marathon morning walks around my parents’ neighborhood. As we were winding around the tennis courts at the country club nearby (could that sound any more snobby? Sorry), a suburban drove by with a rather handsome man at the wheel. I turned to my mom and told her that the man driving looked a lot like Dennis Quaid. She said she didn’t notice, but that it could very well be him as he and his wife are building a house in Austin (my mom should have her own celebrity gossip blog, I tell you). So anyway, we kept walking.

We got down closer to the town homes by the lake and the same man walked about 5 feet away from us, flashing a smile as he passed by. After we were (hopefully) out of earshot, I turned to my mom and whispered that he had to be Dennis Quaid. No doubt about it. So we turned around at the next cul-de-sac and hurried up a bit to make sure we didn’t miss him. Right as we walked by, he yelled goodbye to his driver (yep, there’s a clue) and after we heard his voice, there was no doubt in our minds. Sure enough, it was Dennis Quaid.

I’m fairly sure that he would have stopped and flirted with us, but was perhaps distracted by our glaring lack of make-up… or the bright green high school Varsity soccer t-shirt from circa 2000 that I was sporting. Your loss, Dennis! But anyway, that was fun times.

And yes, the other statement is also very true. On Christmas day, I ate a cinnamon roll the size of my face for breakfast. For dessert, I followed it up with a handful of peanut butter M&Ms and 2 pieces of fudge. For a mid-day snack, I had 2 cookies, several handfuls of mint M&Ms, and a few Reese’s peanut butter cups. That was just my warm up for the remaining 2 days. And my body has spent the past 4 days raging against me in response. I will never learn my lesson.

We had a wonderful Christmas with both the Joiners and the Nelsons—we had fun getting to hang out with the fams, and the presents weren’t so bad either :o). As expected, we played several rounds of Bananagrams and Apples to Apples (apparently we only like to play games that involve fruity titles)—and my family actually (shockingly) agreed to play as well. Sadly, the Nelsons are not necessarily a game-loving family, unless you count rounds of charades that quickly turn inappropriate. But in the spirit of Christmas, MOM even participated. Magical things happen at Christmas-time, I tell you. Thank you, baby Jesus, for being born :o)

We also saw not one, but two movies in the theater over the break—The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Marley and Me. Here is my summary of both movies (both of which I really enjoyed): Benjamin Button: Forrest Gump meets The Notebook. The end. Marley and Me: A little bit of laughing and a lot of uncontrollable and embarrassing sobbing. The end. Maybe I should consider a career as a movie critic, no?

So anyway, we headed back to Richmond Saturday and Brian promptly abandoned me on Sunday morning to go lead a retreat. (There’s an invitation for strangers on the world wide web to come abduct me if I’ve ever seen one). Don’t worry, he gets back tomorrow, and in the meantime I am starving the dogs in hopes that they will be filled with rage and attack any intruders as a result. Kidding, they have been fed a-plenty. It’s very clear, however, that they miss their dad and prefer him over their uptight and un-fun mom. Poor guys.

Coming back to work was not as hard as I thought because fortunately I had a lot of catching up to do, and it made the day go by much more quickly. And I have spent my two solo evenings at home like any girl would- taking a bath, putting my PJs on well before an appropriate hour (is 6:30 pm too early?), and enjoying the blissful lack of sports-related rambling on ESPN coming from the tv. I have even turned the tv off early both nights (gasp) to read my latest book- Baby Proof by Emily Giffin. I wouldn't exactly call it "deep" reading, but hey, it probably beats mindlessly sitting in front of the tv, right? Right?!

Anyway, I am anxiously awaiting New Year’s Eve, as we will be ringing in the new year with 2 of our favorite couples—the Olivers and the Scibas. We are planning to eat at PF Chang’s (food coma, here I come!), and play games while we wait for midnight to arrive, at which time we will likely all turn into 25-year-old pumpkins and fall into a deep sleep. It’s fun being old and married :o)

Happy new year to you, friends/family/strangers- make it a great one!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Taking a break

As you might already know, I have been on vacation from work (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) for the past 2 weeks. Not sure if you can sense my excitement or not, but I’m pretty pumped about it. As expected, it has been very relaxing and much needed. I do fear, however, that my newfound sense of laziness is going to have a very startling slap in the face next week when I have to go back to work. I don’t want to think about it, so I’m going to pretend it’s not going to happen.

I have been using this vacation time to take a break from many things—waking up at 5 am, working out every morning, eating responsibly, using my brain, and getting dressed before 4 pm to name a few. Brian has also been on vacation so we have had a great deal of togetherness lately. Amazingly, we have only exchanged a few cross words (shocking, I know), and have managed to enjoy each other’s company most of the time… although sometimes “enjoying each other’s company” has meant that he is in one room playing video games and I’m in the other playing on facebook, but hey, it’s still quality time, right?

Tomorrow we are headed to La Grange to spend Christmas Eve and the first part of Christmas with Brian’s family. I foresee a lot of eating and game-playing during that time... maybe I will make up for my horrible display of Scrabble skills (I don’t think I can really even fairly refer to them as “skills”) during Thanksgiving, but probably not. Even though I think of myself as being a fairly verbal person, for some reason when I play word games, I can never come up with anything bigger than “dog” or “it.” And in case you forgot how most word games work, 2 and 3 letter words don’t usually lead to a big win. Anyway, we are going to spend the second half of Christmas day with my family in Austin, and then we’ll be heading back to Richmond on Saturday. Austin will likely bring a comparable amount of eating, but exchange movie-watching for game-playing. Good times will be had by all.

I should mention, by the way, that next week is only a 2.5-day work week because of New Year’s Eve/Day, so I guess there are worse ways to ease back in to a regular working schedule. We are planning on ringing in the new year with our wonderful friends, Brittany and Chris (shout out to the Scibas!), and then spend the long weekend being lazy again. I could get used to that. And guess what… my cute (I’m assuming) little nephew, Sayers, will be arriving the following week! Hard to believe that he’s almost here—can’t wait to see how Emma and Brown “welcome” him into the family.

Anyway, it’s time to get back to watching the 4th hour of the Today Show… my how this makes me miss unemployment. Hope that you all have a VERY merry Christmas!

And by the way, Kimmie is having a give-away over at her blog, and while I have no desire for you to win, I do want to make sure you have the chance to enter. So head on over to Living in Dallas and Loving it! and check-check-check it out. Much love, peeps!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

As dictated by the pups

Kimmie and Gabby tagged sweet Noah and Buster to share six non-important things/habits/quirks about themselves. Noah and Buster really felt unloved and unappreciated when we ditched them to go to DC, so when I mentioned the idea of devoting an entire blog to them, they were pretty excited to say the least. There might have even been pee involved.

So to be fair, we gave Noah 3 facts, and Buster 3 facts. Noah gets to go first because he's the oldest. Feel free to do the same post for your favorite four-legged friend! Anyway, here goes:

1. I am ob-sessed with squirrels. I like to stalk them, chase them, and even occasionally hunt them and leave them by mom and dad's window to show off my skills. I spend most of my day patroling the yard to make sure no squirrels get in, and trying to bark them out of trees.

2. I have blue eyes! Most dogs have brown eyes, so I like to think this makes me special. Plus, whenever people meet me, they make sure to mention how pretty my eyes are. Looks like I'm the handsome one, Buster!

3. I love to shake hands. When mom and dad first got me, they taught me how to shake and roll over (before Buster came along and ruined my training). I learned that "shake" means I get a treat, so now I shake in order to get more treats, avoid getting in trouble, and get attention. Works every time.

4. I. eat. everything. It doesn't matter if it's food, grass, sticks, chew toys, soccer balls, the wheel of mom and dad's new grill, the grill cover, a trash bag... I eat it. And then proceed to barf up the remains.

5. I get car sick. I don't think I need to expand upon this one as long as you've read this post that mom wrote about my trip to the dog park. Oops.
6. I LOVE to lick people. Dad thinks it's a nervous habit, but really it's a product of my severe insecurity. Regardless, give me a hand, foot, pair of pants, couch cushion, whatever! I'll lick it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

We're baaaaaaaaaaack!

(This post was written on Thursday, 12/18)

So here I sit in the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, with sounds of a vacuum cleaner in the nearby gift store and the chatter of non-English speaking travelers in my ears. Brian is sitting next to me, very involved in an ESPN Q&A article that undoubtedly goes on to explain why there is more to football than grunting and life-threatening injuries. And thus, we are on the home stretch of our vacation to Washington DC.

A special thank you to Daddy Nelson and Allison for guest blogging while I was away—I hope they kept you entertained. I also hope that they didn’t inadvertently lower your opinion of me, but I guess they probably didn’t point out anything regarding my character/personality that you weren’t already aware of just from reading my ramblings on here. But anyway, I’m glad that they provided some extra reading material in my absence.

We started our trip on Sunday and were greeted at the airport in Washington by our friends, Chris and Casey, who are married and go to seminary out here. They were kind enough to let us crash at their apartment for 2 nights of our stay, and the first night they even gave us a brief tour of some of the harder-to-reach-by-the-metro spots around town. (Side note: In order to prevent anyone from falling asleep while reading this, I’m going to refrain from listing every single thing we saw and did. Besides, I'm not sure there is enough room on the world wide web to list it all anyway…). I’ll just make sure to hit the highlights.

We had a nice dinner with them in Alexandria, VA, on Sunday night and then went back to their apartment to play a few (hundred?) rounds of Scattergories. In case you have never played a game with me and my wonderful husband, then you have yet to learn that things can get a little bit feisty. We are both a tad on the competitive side, and let’s just say that insults flow a little more freely when points and/or the title of “winner” are involved. Fortunately, Chris and Casey had a little bit more light-hearted approach to the game, so no blood was shed (even when Brian cheated and tried to use the words “little Coke” for things found in a hotel room that start with the letter “L”… seriously, Brian? Seriously?)**.

It is hard to describe Monday without becoming overwhelmed with exhaustion just thinking about it. Apparently Chris is a seminarian by day and a hardcore Washington DC tour guide by night. Not only does he try to fit in the most activities/attractions possible, but he also happens to walk at the speed of light. Brian and I were both fairly convinced after traversing miles of terrain to see all of the important monuments that our legs were either going to fall off or cease functioning. Fortunately neither happened, but we were pretty sore by the end of the day.

It was unseasonably warm for December that day and got up to around 65 degrees, so the tricky part was having enough layers to stay warm in the shade or while standing still (which, let’s be honest, rarely happened that day), but having enough arms to carry the shed layers indoors/in the sun/while walking upwards of 15 mph between each monument. Fortunately I brought a purse large enough to carry a small child inside, and extra-fortunately, Brian was willing to carry my coat for me, most likely in order to avoid listening to me complain… but he got to hear a bit of that anyway :o) We wrapped up the night with dinner nearby their apartment, another few (less intense) rounds of Scattergories, and a viewing of Christmas Vacation. Oh, and let’s not forget that Brian spent the majority of the evening trying to get their 2 cats—Max and Olive—to rumble, street fighter style. No such luck, but they were still fun to watch.

Casey drove us to our hotel on Tuesday morning (thanks, Casey!). We stayed at the Omni Shoreham for those of you who are looking for a nice (seriously- very nice!) place to stay that isn’t overpriced. We decided to take the rest of the day at a bit of a slower pace… and by decided, I mean to say that our bodies were not physically capable of doing much after the whirlwind city tour of day 1. We made it to a few museums, spent a good amount of time at Starbucks, and finally met up with my friend from high school, Alexis, and her boyfriend for pizza. And I should note here that I’m not really sure how I am still able to breathe with the amount of food that I consumed, but I think that has something to do with the thousands (maybe I’m exaggerating) of miles we walked to burn it all off. Anyway, we made a stop at Alexis’s apartment, and then headed back to the hotel to collapse, err, I mean go to sleep.

On Wednesday (after we awoke from our comas), we managed to finish off the museums on our “to see” list, get an in-depth tour of the Capitol from a friend, AND go ice skating. This was my first time ever going ice skating outside, and while I feared that I was going to resort back to my age 7 ice skating skills and eat it in front of a large crowd of people, I managed to stay on 2 feet the whole time... and I may or may not have held onto Brian’s hand with a death grip for the first few laps. I’ll never tell. Regardless, it was a fun seasonal activity and a highlight of the trip for me… even if the elementary schoolers were lapping me left and right.

Our tour of DC came to an end this morning (Thursday) with a trip to the National Zoo. I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet that we came at the perfect time of year—the weather is cold, but definitely bearable, and there are very few other tourists around. We didn’t have to wait in line anywhere, and only rarely did we flee an exhibit in a museum in an attempt to escape screaming children on a field trip. Anyway, back to the zoo. It is really hard to pick which animal was my favorite, but the red panda was pretty darn cute. And the sloth bear. And the beaver. And pretty much all of the animals. What was not cute, however, was the cheetah that was ripping a bunny rabbit to shreds in front of our very eyes for its lunch. Um, I’m fairly sure that if I was a child visiting the zoo, that would more or less ruin the experience for me. But maybe that’s just me.

So now here we are, tired and ready to be back in our own bed, but thankful for a great vacation, and of course for time away from work (!!!!!!!!!!!!). I am actually sitting on the plane right now, and had the good fortune of sitting behind the most obnoxious person on the plane. He is seated in an exit seat (read: has NO seat in front of him), but still felt the need to lean his seat back as far as possible. And every few seconds, he shoves it back even further into my lap as if to ensure his spot as most annoying person in the entire world. Rude. I hope he reads this blog. Oh, and he just paged the flight attendant because his ear phones aren’t delivering optimal sound volume. A real winner.

And I know this is ridiculously long, but I can’t wrap up without highlighting some of the greatest things about visiting DC:

1. The metro: cheap, clean, and efficient! We made it to the airport in less than half an hour for only $1.35 a person!
2. The bathrooms are clean: You would think with thousands of people visiting these public attractions on a daily basis that the bathrooms would be filled with all sorts of communicable diseases, but they were seriously (for the most part) spotless. I’m impressed.
3. The weather: I guess I can just appreciate any place that has seasonally appropriate weather. And I know some people say that DC is humid, but those people have never been to Houston. It was raining for 2 of the days, but still my hair did not expand into a wavy and unsightly afro.
4. Almost everything is FREE! Well, the museums, monuments, etc. anyway. Other than ice skating and eating, we did not pay for a single activity while we were there. A very budget-friendly vacation indeed.

I highly recommend that you visit our nation’s capitol if you haven’t done so already, and I most definitely recommend going in December… before the holidays, that is. I'll try to put a link on here for pictures from Shutterfly soon. In the meantime, I hope you’re all having a great weekend before Christmas!

**Editor's note from Brian: Please comment and let Amanda know if you think "little Cokes" is an appropriate response. If not, don't worry about it. But I feel like at least one person will take my side on this one!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You think you know, but you have no idea...

Greetings from Allison from The Blogivers, aka: Amanda’s twin sister! Since Amanda will be out of town for most of the week on vacay in D.C., she has bestowed upon me the highest honor of being her guest blogger for the week. Actually I thought of it on my own and then asked for permission, but whatever.

However, in typical Amanda fashion, I was not given the freedom to choose my own topic for this post. I was given a choice between 2 options – this, or “Christmas Memories”. Since this option gave me more room to make fun of her – which is one of my favorite pastimes – the decision was an easy one.

So without further adieu, here are 10 things you may or may not know about my sister…

1. She was the founding and sole member of the Greek Alphabet Club in the 5th grade. Let me explain – her teacher at the time gave the entire class the option of memorizing the Greek alphabet, at which point they would become members of the prestigious “Greek Alphabet Club”. Since it was optional and most of the other 10 year olds were more interested in where they got to sit at the lunch table in the cafeteria, no one did it… except for Amanda. She went home that night and memorized that bad boy so she could be the first to join the club the next day. I think she might even have it on her resume today.

2. She is not a big fan of sharing. And this might be an understatement. (I don’t really have room to talk, because I’m not so great at sharing myself… but I think she might take the cake.) Take for example, clothes. If you were a girl with an identical twin sister who was more or less the same size as you, you would probably want to share clothes with her so you could essentially double your wardrobe, correct? Well, Amanda has never seen it this way. I can’t count how many times I came into her room in high school, having mustered up all the courage inside of me just to ask if I could borrow a shirt to wear the next day, only to be met with the fury of Satan himself. You would think I had asked to borrow her vital organs for the day!

3. She used to be deathly afraid of moths. You see, we used to vacation in a remote area of New Mexico at a family camp called Camp Davis. Now, Camp Davis wasn’t exactly known for its luxurious accommodations and calling the cabins “clean” would not be entirely accurate – they definitely had their share of bugs. And from time to time, these bugs (mostly moths) would land on our personal belongings, which included our sleeping spaces. Being that moths are kind of just like little pieces of paper that fly, it usually wasn’t a big deal… unless it landed on Amanda’s bed. She was TERRIFIED of those things. It was honestly as if a small T-Rex had landed on her bed and was trying to eat her legs. As you know from reading her blog, this fear of moths has been replaced with a different irrational fear – that of cockroaches.

4. She’s an animal lover. While I wouldn’t consider her a likely candidate to become a spokesperson for PETA anytime soon, she definitely has a special spot in her heart for animals. I remember one time in high school when we were driving home from a friend’s house one night, we saw a rather large dog wandering around on the side of the road. While I felt sorry for the lost pup, I had no desire to wrangle him into our car in the dark. But Amanda made us stop the car, turn around, and pick him up. He was returned to his owner safely thereafter, thanks to her. She is now the proud owner of 2 of her own dogs, and she totally tears up every time she sees that heart-wrenching Sarah McLachlan commercial.

5. She is loyal. You’d be hard pressed to find a better friend than Amanda. Though she may get irritated with you and let her temper flare up on you from time to time, she will not easily give up on you and she will always stand up for you. Even at points in our lives when we haven’t been getting along so well, she has always been a good sister to me. When we were in high school, I can’t count how many dance team performances of mine she went to, even when I was a jerk and hardly went to any of her soccer games. I can’t count how many times she has defended me when someone has done something to hurt my feelings. I can’t count how many times she has stepped in and told my husband when I was having a bad day and was in need of cheering up when she couldn’t be there to do it. We could all use more people like that in our lives.

6. She still sleeps with her blankies every night. All 3 sisters in my family grew up with an attachment to something – for me, it was a small pillow; for my older sister, it was a large blanket; for Amanda, it was 2 blankets that have since turned into unidentifiable shreds of strings. It was assumed by our parents that we would give up on these attachments one day, our wedding days at the latest. But Amanda’s wedding day has come and gone, and she still sleeps with those things every single night. I have a feeling if she is ever forced to choose between sharing a bed with Brian or her blankies, Brian might be getting the boot.

7. She has a hard time getting rid of things. While she likes to argue that I get rid of things too quickly thereby ignoring their sentimental value, her problem is just the opposite. I’m willing to bet if you were friends with her in 6th grade and once gave her a post-it note with her name written on it in block letters, she might still have it today. The same goes with clothes – on more than one occasion I have rightfully accused her of wearing something in the past few years that was purchased in middle school or early high school. She has gotten better about this, but I happen to know that she still wears her soccer shorts from 8th/9th grade on a regular basis.

8. She didn’t learn how to put her hair into a ponytail until she was in high school. For some reason it took both of us a long time to get around to learning how to do this, but she was even more stubborn about it. I remember having to do it for her before our soccer games in 8th grade. She would complain that I was hurting her or that there were too many bumps when I did it, and then I would kindly remind her that maybe if she learned how to do her own hair, she wouldn’t have that problem! You’ll be happy to know that she has since learned how and is able to do it all by herself. I’m sure Brian is thankful for this.

9. She doesn’t like frappuccinos. I know that not everyone in the world is a fan of this magical drink, but considering that she and I came from the same womb and were once 1 person, I find it intriguing that she is so adamantly opposed to something to which I am rather addicted. She tried it once before, but vowed never to try it again after that. She will go to Starbucks from time to time, but will only order non-caffeinated beverages when she’s there. It has been hard, but we have thankfully been able to put this conflict of interests aside and remain on good terms.

10. She leaves gum wrappers in the cup holders in her car. Ok, maybe she’ll argue that she doesn’t do this anymore, but she’s probably lying. For someone who is almost just as much of an obsessive compulsive neat freak as I am, I do not understand this habit. And while we’re on that topic, I also need to mention that she will not eat a whole piece of gum – she tears them in half and chews the half pieces. I thought I was the cheapskate/weird twin, but this makes me think she is giving me some tough competition. If you ever ask to have a piece of her gum, be warned that you will only get half of a piece… then again, if you will refer to #2 above, it’s probably safe to say that you won’t even get the half piece.

Whew, that was quite a guest blog if I do say so myself. I only hope that she will be able to live up to the standard I have now set next time I go on vacation!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A surprise guest blogger!

Hi. Steve Nelson here. I’m Amanda’s Dad. She left for D.C. and gave her twin sister guest-blogging rights. Allison further delegated the guest blogging rights to me. We should probably alert Homeland Security about the explosion that’s about to occur in D.C. It’s just Amanda finding out that she has…drum roll, cue the fireworks…..No Control…over what I am about to write.

Not that I would write anything bad…it’s just sort of fun to watch Amanda squirm when things aren’t falling neatly into the places she had pre-designated, sorted, indexed, cross-indexed, and planned for. How many of you know that Amanda’s clothes are hung in her closet by four sort groups that are never violated, and in the following precedential order: seasonal, sleeve length, spectral colors starting with the lowest wave lengths and moving up, and acquisition date. When she was in high school, we could start a complete closet reorganization by simply pointing out that she had Grayscale colors, such as White, Silver, Gray, and Black on the wrong ends…or that Purple (similarly, magenta), which is a mixture of Blue and Red, was placed out of order and confused with Indigo. Of course, she had them right the first time, but it was fun to watch her prove it.

As I write this, I’m not getting that feeling of empowerment that I thought I would have. Instead, I have this feeling of dread…that there will be paybacks. Indeed, I’m gonna quit now while I can. Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Potty talk

So now that the weather isn’t doing anything very eventful, it’s time that I get back to talking about my other favorite cliché topic: the dogs.

Noah went in for his annual check-up on Wednesday to confirm that he is healthy and rabies-free. Other than Buster’s extreme and inconsolable jealousy at the sight of Noah getting to spend one-on-one time alone with Brian, the visit went well. They confirmed that Noah is healthy, and gave him all of his shots to make sure he stays that way. I didn’t get to go to the vet with them, so Brian told me about it that evening when I got home.

Well on Thursday evening (yesterday), I walked into the kitchen and found a little paper bag from our vet’s office with something in it. I pulled it out, assuming it was going to be some kind of medicine or something that they told us to give Noah. Instead what I pulled out was an empty little canister with Noah’s name written on the outside. I turned to Brian and innocently asked, “What’s this for?” Brian then very casually informed me that it was for Noah’s stool sample.

Me: “His stool sample? Did they not take it at the vet?”
B: “No, apparently their new policy is that it has to be collected at home and brought in.”
Me: “Um, excuse me? They want us to collect his poop and bring it back in?”
B: “Yep.”

This apparently did not phase my very laid back husband. Maybe I’m crazy, but doesn’t it seem like the vet gets paid to do that kind of thing? Fortunately for me, I’m married. Because if I was a single girl and the vet asked me to do that, I would say too bad, so sad, my dog’s poop is going to stay in the backyard where it belongs.

So anyway, Brian’s plan is to collect the “sample” (sick) today after he feeds the dogs. My question is this: does Brian know the dogs that much better than I do that he can distinguish between their poop? If so, that’s pretty impressive.

And if I haven’t talked about poop enough already, it’s time for an embarrassing story that I was reminded of upon discovering the vet’s at-home assignment:

The summer after 6th grade, I spent a considerable amount of time with various friends at the neighborhood’s public pool, also known as the Communicable Disease Capital of the World. I’m sure this has something to do with my snobby Highland Park roots, but for some reason I am fairly convinced that a public pool is more germ-infested than a private pool. So anyway, I am blaming my frequency of visits to the public pool that summer for the stomach virus that plagued me toward the end of that summer.

As the start of school was approaching and my mom didn’t want my stomach issues to interfere with my rigorous 7th grade academic endeavors (ha), she decided to schedule an appointment for me with the pediatrician. I remember very little about the visit up until the very end, when the nurse handed me an empty plastic container (not unlike a cool whip container) with my name written on the outside. I gave her the same blank stare that I gave Brian and asked what it was for. And she responded with those same two horrible words: “stool sample.”

Again…excuse me? You want me to do what? They had to be joking. Surely they did not just hand an empty container to an 11-year-old girl and ask her to poop in it and bring it back to their office. And I thought peeing in a cup was disgusting.

That plastic container stayed empty hidden away somewhere for a good 2 years until we moved to Austin and I threw it away, because as you can imagine, at the age of 11, I would have preferred death from a stomach parasite over complying with their request. And fortunately whatever was going on with my stomach went away, because I eventually got better. Either that or I'm still dying a slow death and am just not aware of it.

If my mom read my blog, I know she would be really proud to learn that I just devoted an entire blog entry to poop. You’re welcome, Mom!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Here's me eating my words.

It is SNOWING as I type this! Yes, it is snowing in Houston (ok, Sugar Land), Texas. Hell hath frozen over. Actually, Houston hath frozen over. Pretty exciting!

I'm really glad I'm locked up at work in a cubicle with tinted windows so I can enjoy this experience to the fullest. Regardless, mark this down as my favorite day in Houston thus far. It also makes enduring July and August seem worth it...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Frosty the... Sleet Man?

So apparently Texas is taking this whole "winter" memo very seriously for a change. The forecast for Austin for tomorrow includes snow flurries. Houston's forecast, however, calls for sleet. How special. Austin might get pretty white snowflakes while we get frozen grey rain masses (that's a technical weather term). Sounds fair, right? No.

The scene from my cubicle window right now looks eerily like the scene during Hurricane Ike. That's comforting. Unfortunately I don't think this little cold front is going to result in any days of work being cancelled. But it's also probably not likely to knock out power for days on end or sweep people into the ocean, so I guess I can get over it :).

We have a fairly full week ahead, one which includes several Christmas-related events that involve, first and foremost, food. I'm not complaining, but all I'm saying is that I hope Brian doesn't mind temporarily being married to a giant marshmallow, because that's what happens when someone really pale gets "fluffy" (that's my mom's nice word for "fat"). We are also going to be celebrating Shannon's (Brian's sister) 20th birthday! 20 years old! That is crazy... and to think when I met her she was a wee 15-year-old high school freshman. Props to you on growing older, Shanny Shannon!

We are also busy getting geared up for our upcoming trip to Washington DC! I went to Half Price Books today and bought a previously owned (sounds better than "used"... or "soiled," which is one of my favorite terms ever) copy of a DC travel guide, so I think I am officially prepared. Now all I have to do is pack. And clean the house before we leave. And do some laundry. And charge my camera battery. And get something to occupy the dogs so that they don't eat away part of our house. And get some cash at the bank. And set a timer on the Christmas lights. And make sure that our DVR is set to film the finale of The Biggest Loser while we're away. And can anyone else tell that I am obsessing? I know, I know... shocking.

I really don't have anything witty or entertaining to share with you at the moment, so instead I'm going to keep it brief (gasp) and put a link to my sissy's latest blog here for you to read. Enjoy reading about what it's like to have a former womb-mate!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

I Can't Live if Living is Without You

You might notice that I have now blogged not once, but TWICE on a Saturday. You can attribute this rarity to the fact that Brian is currently watching the SEC championship game and I am bored out of my mind. The sacrifices I make to be a good wife! :)

Anyway, I saw this on Brittany's blog and thought it might be fun, so I'm giving it a shot. Feel free to do the same (I took out the part about the tagging rules so that I won't feel guilty for breaking them :).

1. Put Your iTunes on Shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. You must write down the name of the song no matter how silly it sounds!
4. Put any comments in brackets after the song name.

If someone says, “Is this okay?," you say?
"Stronger" - Kanye West (this question seems really random to me)

How would you describe yourself?
"Precious Things" - Tori Amos (precious, indeed)

What do you like in a guy/girl?
"Champagne High" - Sister Hazel (I like my men boozed... and high)

How do you feel today?
"Don't Laugh at Me" - Mark Wills (pitiful, apparently)

What is your life’s purpose?
"Emotionless" - Good Charlotte (yep, that's my goal, alright)

What is your motto?
"People Watching" - Jack Johnson (self-proclaimed stalker)

What do your friends think of you?
"Crazy Amanda" - Sum 41 (NO, I am not kidding- that's really the song that came up! Sadly it calls the Amanda in the song the b-word... ouch)

What do you think of your parents?
"Lightning Crashes" - Live (hmm)

What do you think about very often?
"No Scrubs" - TLC (no, I don't want your number, no, I don't wanna give you mine)

What is 2 + 2?
"Oh Praise Him" - David Crowder Band (well He did create math, after all)

What do you think of your best friend?
"Mistaken" - Warren Barfield (this refers to Allison's political views- kidding, sis:)

What do you think of the person you like?
"Keep Moving" - Savage Garden (it's true, youth ministers do move around a lot)

What is your life story?
"Blessed Be Your Name" - Matt Redman (I do try to give credit where it's due:)

What do you want to be when you grow up?
"Something Worth Leaving Behind" - Lee Ann Womack (ha, that title doesn't sound like a good thing, but it's true if you know the song)

What do you think of when you see the person you like?
"You Are Worthy of My Praise" - Big Daddy Weave (Brian will get a kick out of this one)

What will you dance to at your wedding?
"Walk Away" - Ben Harper (glad we didn't)

What will they play at your funeral?
"No More I Love You's" - Annie Lennox (both fitting and depressing at the same time)

What is your hobby/interest?
"The Luckiest" - Ben Folds Five (not pertinent, but still a great song)

What is your biggest fear?
"How Forever Feels" - Kenny Chesney (so I guess I have commitment issues)

What is your biggest secret?
"Gotta Get Through This" - Daniel Beddingfield (maybe the secret is that I actually have this song on my computer)

What do you think of your friends?
“Prayin' for Daylight" - Rascal Flatts (true... ?)

What will you put as the title?
"I Can't Live if Living is Without You" - Mariah Carey

Well now you have a little glimpse into my very random taste in music. Too bad nothing showed up from the Backstreet Boys... maybe next time!

So I married a teenager.

So this guy just came to the door selling meat*, and when Brian answered the door, the guy asked him, "Are your mom and dad home?" Brian then politely explained that he was, in fact, the homeowner.

Hmm, maybe it has something to do with the fact that Brian's current attire is a t-shirt, jeans, and a Strake Jesuit baseball hat...

*Selling meat door-to-door? Who does that?

It feels strange to be blogging on a Saturday, I am more of a weekday blogging kind of girl. Not much to report here... our big plans for this evening include watching Elf and, um, that's about it. Hope your Saturday night is as restful (but possibly more exciting) as ours!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Teeny boppers and dogloos

(Before proceeding with this post, I just have to inform you that I am very aware of how irritating the title sounds. I would be willing to bet that Allison was ready to comment about it before she even read the post! Anyway, keep reading.)

So two of my favorite songs right now are by David Archuleta (“Crush”) and Taylor Swift (“Love Story”)… I can’t help but think that this is a good indicator that my taste in music didn’t progress past the age of 15. But I am also admittedly still a big fan of the Backstreet Boys, so I guess this shouldn’t be any surprise to me.

My obsession with these two songs is a bit problematic, however, because it is preventing me from listening to a proper amount of Christmas music. Brian recently made me a mix cd (because that’s what young people in love do, obviously) with both songs on it, and I have been listening to it non-stop for a week. Amy Grant and Mariah Carey are going to be really upset if I don’t switch over to their Christmas albums ASAP, so I guess Archy and Taylor will have to be put on hold… at least until December 25th has passed.

So in case you haven’t noticed, Houston finally got the memo that the Christmas season should warrant jacket-attire rather than flip flops. I am extremely excited about this because I hate warm weather with a fiery passion. And I hate warm, HUMID weather even more… which is why Houston is the ideal place for me to live, right? Right.

So anyway, it’s pretty cold right now, and probably will be cool at least for the next couple of months (except on Christmas day, where I’m sure it will be a toasty 80 degrees just because that’s the way Texas operates). And we also happen to be going out of town a few times in the coming weeks, and sadly leaving our pups at home. Don’t worry, fellow animal lovers, we will have people checking in on them and feeding them, but just not anyone to let them in at night to sleep in their kennel. So to remedy this problem, we made a trip to PETCO last night to buy an outdoor shelter for Buster and Noah to keep them warm at night. First of all, those things are ridiculously expensive. You seriously want me to pay $160 for an igloo-shaped piece of plastic? I don’t think so, Roger-the-PETCO-salesman.

Roger also informed us that there were going to be some “big sales” going on this weekend, and that maybe we could come back to check those out. However, as he was escorting us out (how kind), we saw a “dog barn” that looked to be the right size and was only $90. Much more in our price range. So we said we liked it, and Brian asked if we should wait until this weekend to take advantage of the “big sales.” Roger then very shadily (yes, it’s a word) informed us that the dog barn was new, and that the upcoming sales didn’t apply to the new merchandise. Hmm, sounds legit... if you're a used car salesman.

Also, when we were explaining to Roger that we would be going out of town for a week and letting the dogs sleep outside, his jaw dropped to the floor and you would have thought we had just admitted to killing a village full of orphans. Um, newsflash, we love our dogs, but they are DOGS. I think they can handle sleeping outside for a few days. And hello, we were there purchasing something to help keep them warm. So quit being a hater. But he then revealed that he is the proud owner of 3 pugs, and we figured that any man that willingly owns 3 pugs is probably not an outdoor-dog kind of guy. Nothing but love for pugs, but I wouldn’t exactly call them rugged “man” dogs. It’s kind of like a guy driving a VW beetle in my opinion.

And my last rant about PETCO: they had to page Roger 3 times to come back to the "igloo" section to help us out. When he arrived, he apologized for the wait and said that they had been really short-handed because the flu was going around. I counted 1-2-3-4 other employees in the store and 1 other customer. How hopping can a PETCO be in Rosenberg, Texas at 6 pm on a Thursday night? Just curious.

Anyway, we ended up buying the dog barn and decided to go ahead and put it in the yard last night before bed just to let the dogs try it out. Well if you consider “trying it out” to be staring at it from across the yard and occasionally approaching the barn to lick the outside of it profusely, then the dogs definitely gave it a good try. We even tried to bribe them to go in there with treats (Brian even climbed inside of it at one point), but they had zero interest in going inside. I am hoping that they’ll warm up to it (no pun intended) today since they will actually be able to see it in daylight. Otherwise I’m going to send them both to work for a few days until they earn back that $90. Anyone need their fence painted? :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

‘Tis the season to eat leftovers

Alright peeps, I am back and ready to blog, so prepare yourselves for what might be a long and unrelated rambling. First, let’s address (apologies for my tardiness) the topic of Thanksgiving. In true newlywed fashion, we had 2 turkey days this year—one with my fam, and one with Brian’s. After delivering meals around the neighborhood with our church on T-giving morning, we hopped in the car and headed to Austin. But don’t worry, we stopped on the way for a traditional Thanksgiving lunch of Whataburger. Thank you, Sealy, Texas, for providing us with a convenient fast food stopping point before putting our lives in peril, aka: getting onto I-10.

We celebrated the day of giving thanks (let’s see how many ways I can say “Thanksgiving”) with my sisters and our respective families by eating another traditional meal: enchiladas. And my were they tasty. We spent the rest of the evening watching the Aggies put forth a weak—but admirable—effort against the Longhorns and eating Allison’s cupcakes. And I think Emma and Brown spent the majority of the evening screaming while chasing my husband in circles repeatedly around the dining room. Our wonderful friend, Risa, even joined us to watch some of the game, as she was in town to watch her little brother’s high school basketball tournament. What a great sis you are, Ris! And we were glad to have you celebrate with us :o)

On Friday, Allison and I decided to go on a walk at the Arboretum, because walking around a somewhat upscale shopping center is much more motivating than walking around Allison and Wade’s apartment complex. Well we just so happened to bring our purses with us, so we figured that we might as well drop in some of the stores (read: all of them) to see if there were any un-missable deals (there were), and shockingly, it was not crowded at all! Black Friday was advertised more shamelessly than I had ever seen it, so I had images of angry overweight women body slamming each other over sweaters and pea coats. I’m not sure why the women in my imagination were overweight, but that’s neither here nor there.

So anyway, we found a few great finds and then came home to join Wade and Brian (and Rocky) at the apartment. The boys (minus Rocky) decided to go see the new James Bond movie together, being that Allison and I have not exactly expressed a desire or willingness to join our husbands in watching such movies. So we behaved in an appropriate domestic manner by scouring the shelves of Hobby Lobby for 50% off Christmas decorations and getting the Olivers’ apartment ready for the Christmas season.

We ended Friday by going to a wedding shower for Danny and Gretchen (Danny is a friend from high school). It was fun to see some old high school pals, as well as to eat everything in sight. Because let’s face it, that’s what Allison and I do best when we’re together. And because over-eating is more or less a rule during the holidays, we concluded the evening by going to Maudie’s. Yum.

So on Saturday we made the trek to La Grange for Turkey Day: Round 2 with Brian’s family. Although his granny made threats of withholding Thanksgiving leftovers, there was plenty (and that’s an understatement) left over, so fortunately we were able to stuff our faces yet again. And don’t you worry, we got to take some of those leftovers home, so we have gotten to re-live Thanksgiving on several occasions now.

Anyway, we were there through Sunday and spent most of our time playing games, watching football, and watching various youtube videos that Shannon had found, most likely during her diligent study sessions at the sorority house at A&M :) I learned that I am pretty terrible at Scrabble. I was also once again reminded that board games are good most of all for starting marital disputes. Let’s just say that I wasn’t pleased when Brian kept yelling things out like “Bottle ghost! Glass of water!” when I was clearly drawing “Genie in a Bottle” during a round of Cranium. And I’m also still upset at his usage of the word “flout” in Scrabble when we all know that he had never heard of the word until he looked it up in the electronic dictionary right then and there. But don’t you worry, I have made sure to use the word on a fairly frequent basis since then just to make sure he doesn’t forget it. He loves me, I promise.

We came back home on Sunday only to spend 4 or 5 hours cleaning the entire house and (hooray!) decorating for Christmas. The stockings are hung (not by a chimney, because we don’t have one), the Christmas tree is up and (pre) lit, and the lights are up and running outside the house. Fortunately the neighbor’s cat kept us company while we were putting up the lights. For you cat-lovers, you probably really would have appreciated the fear and awe that the twinkling lights inspired in this cat. He was torn between swatting them to death and cuddling with them. Gotta love cats. Meanwhile Noah and Buster peered jealously through the back window, vowing to destroy Eli (the cat) if they ever get the opportunity.

Brian and I both took vacation days on Monday and Tuesday so we were thankful to have an extra-long break. On Monday night we got to go to the Texans game, and although it was a little on the chilly side, I actually had a good time and didn’t complain once! I also found it pretty amusing that they had separate lines to get into the stadium—one for men and one for women. This was for “frisking” purposes, so the fact that there were 2 lines wasn’t the funny part. What was amusing was that FOR ONCE, the men’s line was longer than the women’s! Apparently pro-football in 40 degree weather attracts males more than females—who would have thought? Anyway, Brian was pretty pumped to go to the game and I was appreciative that he invited me to join him rather than one of his sports-loving friends. And with only a few exceptions, I actually knew what was going on most of the time… that is, when I wasn’t pointing out to Brian which players had small butts and which players had huge butts. Important information, I know.

On Tuesday night (I know you are loving this play-by-play), we had our wonderful friends, the Trapps, over for dinner and games. In case you haven’t played Bananagrams, it’s time that you started. Our friends, the Malones (I feel so grown up and married citing our married friends by their last names—haha), introduced us to the game a couple of months ago, and I mentioned it to Chrissy (Trapp) because I knew she and her husband were big fans of board games. So not only did they bring the game with them to dinner, but they gave us our very own set of Bananagrams! Thank you, John and Chrissy, for the wonderful gift :o) Anyway, a good time was had, and it was not easy waking up at 5:17 am the next morning to get back to the real world. Although the fact that my office building is very elaborately decorated for Christmas did make it a little bit easier.

I should also mention that yesterday was my grandmother’s (mom’s mom) birthday. We call her Mom Brown, in case you’re keeping track. Anyway, I called her on my lunch break and asked her if she had big plans to go to the clubs that night. She responded with, “Oh yes! I’m going clubbing to see if I can find someone to dance with me!” Ha! Too cute. Somehow I think her evening probably ended with her falling asleep in front of the tv, but at least she’s hip and with it enough to pretend otherwise :o) I hope I’m like that when I’m old.

Ok props to you if you’ve made it this far into the post. Now that I have verbal vomited (love that phrase) for several paragraphs, I will let you get back to your regularly scheduled blog-reading. I want to try and blog about something fun and Christmas-y soon, so I’ll see what I can come up with. If all else fails, I'll talk about our dogs and the weather. Adios!

PS- I am too lazy to spell-check or grammar-check this, so please ignore any errors :)

Five years later…

Five years ago today (also on a Thursday, might I add) Brian and I hung out together for the very first time. For those of you who don’t know how we met/got together, let me sum it up by saying that I very shamelessly bribed him to attend my sorority’s philanthropy event with the promise of a free dinner at the Chi Omega house. He was more or less a stranger at the time, as I had only met him once or twice on the A&M campus bus a few weeks prior. So I’d say it was a pretty bold move to invite him to eat dinner with me knowing we would have an audience of 42 of my sorority sisters. I was either desperate or just feeling a little courageous—you be the judge.

So anyway, he joined me at the Chi O house for enchiladas (I gave him the menu for dinner for the week and that was the meal he chose). I took my normal seat at the head of the table next to the House Mom (because when you are a die-hard House girl, that’s how you roll), and Brian sat to my right. I don’t remember the meal very well, but I do remember introducing Brian as an Australian exchange student to a few of the girls, and I do remember that he went right along with it, complete with an accent and stories about kangaroos. I knew then that I had met my match as far as a strange sense of humor goes.

We were pretty much inseparable for the next couple of weeks, “studying” for finals together and staying up chatting WAY past my bed time on IM (I was such a rebel in those days), and driving around College Station looking for things to do. At one point we drove all the way to Navasota—listening to Christmas music all the way—for no particular reason, only to turn around and come back home. I guess we were just looking for an excuse to hang out, and the fraternity and sorority houses weren’t exactly the ideal setting for getting to know one another.

Anyway, sparing you the mushy details of our getting-to-know-you days, we had our first date just 12 days later on December 16th, 2003, and the rest, as they say, is history. I never would have thought, as we sat eating our enchiladas 5 years ago tonight, that we would be eating dinner together alone in our own house 5 years later. Crazy!

So thanks, Brian, for sticking with me for these past 5 years, and please forgive me that tonight we will be eating Lean Pockets in celebration instead of enchiladas :o)

Oh, and here's another fun tidbit: whenever you had a guest over for dinner at the Chi O house, you were supposed to pay $6 for their meal. So that night, rule-follower that I was/am, I wrote the House Mom a check for $6. Well she kept forgetting to cash it and finally just gave it back to me... and I kept it for some unknown reason. So now I have a little memento (I hate that word) to remember our first dinner together!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tagged again!

Well hello there, blog readers! Long time, no blog, right? Well don't worry, I have big plans to put up a post about my exciting life later today or some time this week, but for now I'm going to keep it simple by responding to another recent tag from my pal, Stephanie (one of the 3!).

Here are the rules:

1. Choose the 4th picture folder on your computer.
2. Choose the 4th picture.
3. Explain the picture.
4. Tag 4 people to do the same.

I think I must be 3 or 4 in this picture, and I'm pretty sure this was taken at pre-school. I think it really captures my ability to pout. Brian will probably tell you that he stills this face on a far too regular basis :o) Not sure what I was pouting about, but I'm sure it was something really important. Anyway, it's one of my favorite pics from childhood so I'm glad I could share it with the worldwide web!

And now I tag YOU (how's that for non-committal?) to do the same :o)

Monday, November 24, 2008

One fab day

It’s not even Thanksgiving yet and already something to be thankful for: my high school pal, Kimmie has given me a blogging award! Many thanks to someone that kept me company in my love for Sesame Street characters several years after it was appropriate :o)!

So here are the rules:

First I must list 5 things that I find fabulously addictive:

1. Dairy Queen Blizzards – If you read my blog (ever), then this is probably no surprise to you. I’m not sure what the deal is, but I can’t go more than 2 weeks without one. I think they sprinkle a little bit of magic in those things.
2. Aveda products – I only own/regularly use 2 Aveda products, but they are my favorite by far. Somehow they just leave my hair smelling better than the Wal-mart brand of Head and Shoulders. Hard to believe, I know.
3. Marshalls – Much like DQ, I probably hit up Marshalls at least twice a month. And every time, I go at least partially in search of a pair of shoes. And every time, I leave without buying a single pair of shoes. Don't worry, my time is not wasted for I have made many a purchase there, just none that happen to be for my feet.
4. Facebook – Ok so maybe this isn’t fabulous, but it’s most definitely an addiction. I literally feel behind in my day if I haven’t checked all of the updated profiles from that day. And usually once I’m done doing that, I click on the photos tab and find myself perusing total strangers’ photo albums in hopes of finding out what my 1st grade best friend wore to a Halloween party. Because that, my friends, is essential knowledge.
5. Return-address stickers – If you’ve ever donated money to a charity, you have probably received a pack of these in the mail. Maybe this makes me a huge loser, but I just think it’s a really useful gift. Unless, of course, the stickers come complete with some old lady looking floral design (usually printed next to “Mr. Brian Joiner”… very masculine), but that doesn’t stop me from using them.

Now to share the love with 5 fabulous bloggers:

1. Stephanie D. because she’s one of my favorite new friends from Bible Study AND she has 2 very cute little girls!
2. Stephanie C. because it’s always important to show love to fellow WHS class of ’01 Chaparrals. And because she also has cute kids :o)
3. Bonnie because she’s also a fun friend from Bible Study. And that’s right, also has a cute kid!
4. Maryanne because she is one of my bestest friends and maybe this will motivate her to update her blog for the first time in almost a month :o) And by the way, she has 1 cute kid and 1 on the way!
5. Stephanie H. because I already had the other 2 Stephanies on here! And because she’s great.
6. (Yes, I cheated) My sister-in-law, Kelly, because she is family, duh!

To conclude, I have a lot of friends named Stephanie and I have a lot of friends with children. Have a happy Thanksgiving week, all!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stolen from a stranger... as usual

Sometimes (daily) I read total strangers' blogs. And sometimes they have fun blog ideas that I want to steal. And today is one of those times.

The idea is that you can only answer the questions using images. Enjoy, and feel free to copy!:

1. Where do I live?

2. What do I do?

3. What do I drive?

4. What do I wear?

5. What do I believe?

6. Where is my favorite place to vacation?

7. What is my favorite hobby?

8. What do I do in my spare time?

9. What do I want most this holiday?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I have LBS.

Yes, that’s right. I have Lumpy Butt Syndrome. I am wearing a new pair of pants today, and little did I know before I left the house that the pockets on the rear give me a lumpy butt! Tell me something, ladies: when in your life have you ever used the back pocket for anything on a pair of FITTED work pants? It just seems really silly to me that they are even there, but maybe that’s just me.

I also have a confession today: I abandoned my turkey sandwich-fruit-chips lunch today and rebelliously went out to eat instead. I packed my lunch and brought it with me and everything, but about an hour before lunch time, I just wasn’t feeling it. So what did I do? I e-mailed my husband and conned him into joining me for lunch at Cupcake Café. Actually, my exact words were, “Let’s go to Pappasitos/Cupcake Café/anywhere that isn’t turkeysandwich-ville.” Sometimes turkeysandwich-ville is just not going to cut it. And let me say that we made a wise decision, as Cupcake Café was delicious as always. We shared the pesto pollo sandwich and ginormous yellow cake cupcake with fudge icing. And so what if I’m still full 4 hours later? It was well worth it.

Also, Brian deserves a special shout out today. He drove to Beaumont yesterday to meet up with another Youth Minister friend and didn’t get home until 1:15 in the am from his visit. Despite his late night and full day of driving, he still woke up at 5:10 (4 hours of sleep later) to go to the YMCA with me! I’m guessing his work-out today wasn’t the best he’s ever had, but I appreciated him coming with me nonetheless.

So that’s about all that my lumpy butt and I have to say today. I am pretty pumped to watch The Biggest Loser tonight after last week’s big upset. More thoughts on that later. Adios!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why have children when you can have dogs?

Finally! We turned on the heater! It is a rare thing in Houston for the temperatures to be low enough to actually warrant turning on the heater. It’s definitely nice that it’s warmer inside the house than outside for a change. Looks like summer has finally decided to peace out… maybe now some of our leaves will start falling? Fat chance.

So we had another fun-filled weekend in Richmond. Allison and Wade came into town on Friday afternoon so that Allison could join my sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and me at the Houston Nutcracker Market. Immediately upon their arrival, they were forced into taking pictures for us in hopes of getting a good one for the Christmas card. Allison hates taking pictures for me, primarily because I have a tendency to be somewhat particular. You’re shocked to hear that, I know.

So anyway, the plan was to include Noah and Buster in the picture, which would have been totally fine IF our dogs weren’t mentally-handicapped and completely incapable of being obedient for more than 3 seconds at a time. Ok that’s an exaggeration, they can probably last a good 20 seconds. But anyway, problem number one was that the cat who lives across the street from us, Eli, decided to come frolic in our driveway, aka: mercilessly taunt and tease our dogs. We love Eli and kind of pretend he’s our cat, so we didn’t dare tell him to leave, but he sure wasn’t helping matters much. Let’s just say they were a tad bit distracted.

Well then Allison and Wade pulled up, adding to the excitement, and pulled Rocky (their little white puppy) out of the car. Confused as to what the convulsive fur ball was and why it was in their yard, Noah and Buster of course responded appropriately by trying their hardest to break free from their oppressive leashes and see what the heck was going on. Obviously Brian and I, their insufferably uptight parents, didn’t want them to eat Rocky (for some reason I think that would deter Wade and Allison from making any future visits…), so we held onto the leashes for dear life and didn’t let them go.

In the meantime, I hand the camera over to Allison and politely insist that she takes pictures of us with the dogs in a few different spots in the yard. I don’t have any of the attempts on this computer, but just trust me when I say that the dogs weren’t exactly focused on the camera*. I think this is a taste of what it would be like to photograph toddlers. Or bumble bees. Or something else jittery and uncooperative.

Well in between pictures, Buster apparently decided he would have no more of this oppression. And what did he do? Yes, he quickly gnawed his way off of the leash. Who does that? I guess he is smarter than we give him credit for, because I would have expected him to just continue pulling harder on the leash in hopes that we would let go. So he of course makes a run for it, making the painstakingly difficult decision of which animal to chase: Eli or Rocky. In the end, both little critters scattered away for fear of being licked to death by little Buster Brown.

Eventually a suitable Christmas card was taken, but needless to say, it was no easy task. And unfortunately for my husband, my frustration with the dogs was directed at him. Sorry, Noah and Buster, but I’m not sure we’ll be pushing to get you in any future family photo ops.

After that, Allison and I spent the evening shopping with Terrie and Shannon at the Christmas Market. But if we’re going to be honest, only one non-food-related item was purchased, and we spent most of the time sampling toffee. I’m not even that crazy about toffee, but there were enough samples to feed a small country, and who I am to refuse free food? We followed the evening up with dinner at a very townie Mexican food restaurant—La Cocina. The food probably isn’t the best in the Houston area, but there was no wait at 7 pm on a Friday night, so you won’t hear me complaining! And my mother-in-law very kindly bought our dinner, so a big shout out to Terrie for that—thanks, MIL!

We finished the evening up by hanging out with Rocky and the boys at the house before calling it a night. The Olivers left early on Saturday, so because we were already up, we decided to hit up Walmart. Brian did whisper “Bingo” to me a few times during our trip, but I must say that it is a much, um, classier crowd at 10 am versus, say, Sunday afternoon. We spent the rest of the day running errands and (get excited) we finally went to see High School Musical 3. It was just as I expected—cheesy, predictable, and totally awesome. I don’t think Brian was all that impressed, but I bribed him with dinner after the movie at Five Guys (read: greasy hamburger and fries), so he kept his mouth shut. Thanks, Brian!

For some reason, when we got home from the movie, Brian thought it would be a good idea to turn on the Vince Vaughn re-make of Psycho right before bed. If you’ve seen the movie, I think it goes without saying that I didn’t take a bath that night. On Sunday we did the usual church activities and watched our latest Netflix movie—Ratatouille. Very cute. And to answer your question, yes, we did watch a lot of movies this weekend.

Now we’re back to another work week, but fortunately, Thanksgiving is in sight, as is a 6-day weekend for me (putting my vacation days to good use!), so I think I’ll survive until then. I’ll do my best to blog later this week, and hopefully it won’t be a detailed chronicle of the happenings of my life, since I know that probably isn’t as fun for you to read as it is for me to write. Adios, peeps!

*Edited to add: I got on my laptop at home and thought I'd add a pic that really captures the essence of our Christmas card photo shoot. They look so focused, right? Just not on the camera, unfortunately...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Next thing you know, I'll be blogging about Nascar...

So last night Brian and I were watching tv (The Biggest Loser to be exact… more on that later) when we saw a commercial for the Today Show. Apparently they’re airing a segment on germs, and in the commercial they say, “You’ll be shocked to learn some of the places where we found the most germs!” and then it flashes to a picture of a grocery store shopping cart. Shocked? Seriously? To learn that a shopping cart handle is covered in germs?

Apparently these people have never been in the Rosenberg Wal-mart (or any Wal-mart for that matter), because based on my experiences there, I would be shocked to learn that a shopping cart wasn’t covered in all kinds of communicable diseases. They might as well have flashed to a picture of a port-a-potty, or a public pool. And that brings up a good “would-you-rather?”: Would you rather lick the handle of a port-a-potty door 10 times OR lick the handle on a Wal-mart shopping cart 10 times?

And while we’re talking about Wally World, please allow me to give you a visual of the crowd that kept us company while we were waiting to check out on our most recent visit:

To our right: a very large woman with a t-shirt on that had “G-UNIT” written across the chest. She was, of course, with a screaming baby, whom she was, of course, ignoring. Is it that you can’t hear your child screaming bloody murder, or you’ve just stopped caring? Either way, the rest of us can hear him quite clearly. And now that I think of it, the “baby” was more like 6-years-old. In the words of my sis-in-law, Kelly, it made me want to stick my head in an oven.

Behind us: a man with a rat-tail pushing a shopping cart filled completely with an obscene number of giant cans of hominy. Seriously, like 50 or so cans. Why on earth would you need that much hominy… ever?

In front of us: an entire family wearing matching purple “family reunion” t-shirts that listed every single family member’s name on the back, complete with what I can only hope were nicknames like “Bubba” and “Lil’ John.” I assume they were either right in the middle of their reunion, or that they love the t-shirts so much that they intentionally wear them in unison whenever they leave the house.

Sometimes when I'm there I can’t remember if I’m shopping for groceries or if I've somehow walked right into the middle of a traveling circus. And for those of you that can relate, I have to pass along a forward that I recently received called Wal-mart Bingo. The idea is that you take the bingo card below with you to Wal-mart and see how quickly you can get a BINGO by checking off the things you see. I dare you to read these without laughing (you might have to click on it to make it bigger):

I think my favorite is “pregnant woman with visible ‘tramp stamp’ tattoo.”

And as for my thoughts on The Biggest Loser—weren’t Vickie, Heba, and their husbands just so tacky last night? I’m embarrassed for them that their behavior was displayed on national tv for all the world (including their kids!) to see. You can lose all the weight in the world, peeps, but it isn’t going to make a lick of a difference if you act like a big jerk. Deep thoughts, I know.

And speaking of (not) losing weight, Brian and I have another buy-one-blizzard-get-one-free coupon thanks to my membership in the DQ Blizzard Fan Club. And guess what—this month’s blizzard-of-the-month is Reese’s, my very favorite! So you can guess where we’ll be going tonight after he gets home from church. Oh the joys of being a townie… maybe if we’re lucky we can hit up one of the city’s dollar stores while we’re out, or better yet, the Tractor Supply Store! :o) Nothing but love for you, Rich-Rose, nothing but love.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A restful weekend at home…?

This past weekend started off on Friday as most weekends do in the Joiner household with a trip to Wal-mart and a thorough cleaning of the house… two of Brian’s favorite activities, as you might have guessed. However, when you combine that with an oil change, a trip to the dry cleaners, and some premature Christmas shopping (I’m a planner, I can’t help it :o), it doesn’t leave much of the day to just relax. Brian also had a junior high lock-in at the church that evening which we both were planning to attend. Suffice it to say that we were already ready for another weekend to begin by the time Saturday morning rolled around.

I actually only attended the lock-in for a few hours, whereas Brian endured it in its 13-hour entirety. Let me just say that 5 minutes with middle schoolers is enough to wear me out for a week, so I’m not sure how he physically survived the whole evening. Don’t get me wrong—they are a great group of kids, but where do they find all that energy? I don’t think the endless supply of cookies and soft drinks really helped matters, but what would a lock-in be without unnecessary amounts of food that your mom won’t usually let you eat? Anyway, after a few “getting to know you” games and the world’s longest battle of Capture the Flag, I was ready to pass out. And pass out I did… for 10 hours.

I should also add that it was pretty cool to get to see Brian in his element—their drama, their uncontrollable hyper-activeness, and their unwillingness to stop.talking.ever. didn’t seem to phase him one bit. It seems that youth ministry truly is his calling… I totally thought he was just doing it for the money. HA! :o)

So anyway, Saturday was an adventure. We decided to take Buster and Noah to the dog park because the weather was perfect and we have been talking about taking them for quite some time. We also decided that we would swing by Jamba Juice and eat “lunch” while we played. Little did we know that it would turn into the world’s longest and most repulsive trip to Jamba Juice ever…

Let’s just say that we couldn’t find the Jamba Juice that we were looking for (we had an address, but couldn’t seem to find it), and so our adventure was already off to a rocky start. After some bickering and several u-turns, we decided just to head to the familiar Jamba Juice in Sugar Land and go to a park nearby instead. So if you know me at all, you realize that this fact alone frustrated me because of the precious time (as if we had better things to do) and gas money we had wasted.

So we were driving along, me in a bad mood and Brian trying desperately to get me out of it, when we turned around to admire how funny it was that Noah was coating Brian’s truck in saliva—inside and out—and how sweet it was that Buster was sleeping peacefully in the back seat. Or at least how sweet it was until we realized that he was sleeping next to a giant pile of his own VOMIT.

Fortunately, we had put a towel in the backseat for any drool that was being slopped around, and he managed to barf on the towel. Unfortunately, however, he threw up on the other side of the back seat (where there was no towel, mind you) just minutes later. So we pulled over as quickly as possible (which was not easy considering there was traffic—yes, on a Saturday afternoon… it’s Houston) to a gas station. I took the dogs on a little walk while Brian got to clean up the barf—lucky guy, I know. And let me tell you, when he was finished, Noah and Buster had NO interest in climbing back in that seat at all. I wonder why?

So we proceeded on our trip, thinking Buster’s car sickness had passed, and I gave him a nice tall cup of water to drink, which he inhaled in about 60 seconds. Big mistake. Almost instantly after getting back on the road and FINALLY swinging by Jamba Juice, he threw up again (mostly water this time) all over the back seat. It didn’t take much for us to realize that the dog park was not going to happen.

We quickly got on the highway and headed home. I talked to him and scratched behind his ears and tried my best to distract him, and he was SO CLOSE to making it home with no more incidents. So close, but yet so far. As we were turning onto our street (our backyard in sight), poor Buster threw up a fourth and final time. Fortunately, the turning motion of the car caused it to spread all over the backseat. Awe. Some.

So can you guess how we spent the next hour or so? Yes, that’s right, shampooing and vacuuming out Brian’s car. And then to alleviate our bad day, we watched the Aggies lose miserably to OU… what a great day, right? Fortunately we turned it all around with a fun semi-townie date—dinner at El Tiempo, followed by yogurt at Berripop ... annoying name, but very tasty, I promise.

For the record, Brian stuffed his face like I have never seen him do before. He consumed four heavily loaded beef/chicken fajitas for dinner. FOUR. Plus chips. I had 2 lightly-loaded fajitas of my own and was pretty stuffed. And then he finished all of his yogurt (blueberry with fruity pebbles on top) and part of mine (raspberry pomegranate with fruity pebbles on top). How is it possible that he is so thin? The world is an unfair place.

And by the way, I realize that these establishments are not in Rich-Rose, but the fact that they are in the Houston area will make them count as townie-worthy, ok? Besides, there are only so many restaurants in our area and I think we’ve tried all of the good ones by now. All of them except Bob’s Tacos, which I plan to try some day. And the dog park was only 16 miles from our house (George Bush Park)… it’s the thought that counts, right?

Oh, and for those that were curious, we ended our date by watching our latest Netflix movie—Legends of the Fall. I had never seen it, and while Brian assured me that it would be a good movie (it was), he did NOT warn me that it would be incredibly depressing. So in case you haven’t seen it yet, there’s your fair warning.

Have a great week, peeps!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A series of unrelated thoughts

I apologize in advance for the lack of cohesion in today’s post. :o)

I had a realization recently that 2 of my favorite things share the same initials: California Pizza Kitchen and Cabbage Patch Kids. Coincidence? I think not. My favorite meal at California Pizza Kitchen? The Waldorf Chicken Salad. My favorite Cabbage Patch Kid? I never owned this doll, but rumor was that there was one named Amanda Jane (which, for those of you who don’t know, is my middle name as well!).

A good way not to make friends (as observed on my way to work this morning): cruise on the freeway during rush hour going 20 miles under the speed limit… with your collection of pink stuffed animals proudly displayed in your back window and a “git ‘er done” sticker on your bumper. What does that even mean? Get what done? And who puts a “git ‘er done” sticker on the back of a Chevrolet Cavalier?

Today is a significant day in history indeed… 10 years ago today, I got my braces off! Don’t ask why I remember these things, I just do. And in case you were wondering, Allison got her braces off that day as well. We got them on and off at the same time… because that’s how identical twins roll. Except I was always adventurous and would get different colored braces… ie: red and green during Christmas. Allison played it safe and ALWAYS got the silver ones. I think it’s pretty clear who the boring twin is :o).

We get it, Barack Obama is black. Can the media please move on to a new topic now? Thanks. It is great that the USA has taken this step forward, etc. etc., but don't you think that the more they harp on his race, the less of a step forward it really is? (This is by no means meant to be a controversial statement, by the way… it just seems that it’s all they are talking about on the news now! How about let’s discuss his credentials instead? Or his lucky number? Or his favorite breakfast food? Just anything else, please.)

We celebrated Buster’s pretend birthday on Halloween! And by celebrate, I mean that we left town and abandoned him and Noah. Poor guy. But nonetheless, his loving Aunt Allison and Uncle Wade got him a cute chew toy as a gift. He slept peacefully with it the first 2 nights, chewed one of its legs off the 3rd night, and the 4th night (last night) apparently tried to consume some of the chew toy and vomited twice in his kennel. What a fun sight/smell to wake up to, right?

And that's about all I have for today! I realize I have been slacking on townie updates lately, so I will make sure to incorporate them into my next post in some way. Until then, have a good one!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

If this doesn't motivate you, I don't know what will.

I’m not sure which one is more exciting to me: this or this. Either way, both are great news. Granted, I don’t think I will be taking Ben & Jerry’s up on their offer… Halloween wasn’t exactly good for my effort to avoid obesity, so I figure I should steer clear of ice cream for a bit, even if this day does come only once every 4 years. Nonetheless, I encourage all of you to (a) vote, and (b) go to Ben & Jerry’s. And try the chocolate fudge brownie (frozen yogurt or ice cream)… you won’t be sorry. And if ice cream isn’t your thing, word on the street is that Starbucks and Krispy Kreme are also in on the freebie action, so feel free to stop by one of those instead.

And about Grey’s Anatomy, I think it’s safe to say that we are all ready for this shady story-line to come to a halt. In fact, I think it’s safe to say we were all ready for that before it even got started. Besides, Dr. Hahn talks like Kermit the Frog and the whole crying scene that we were all forced to endure last week was as painful for the viewers as it was for Callie O’Malley. And now I’m going to stop advertising my addiction to trashy tv shows.

And because I have nothing exciting to blog about (other than the same old, same old about the election), I’m going to share with you a few things I am really looking forward to in the coming months:

1. FINALLY getting to see High School Musical 3. I think I’m going to try and convince Brian to see it with me this weekend. He’s a lucky guy, I know.

2. CHRISTMAS. Yes, it’s in exactly 51 days for those of you who are counting! I don’t care that the stores already had their decorations up before Halloween was even over—in fact, if I had it my way, decorations would be up in August, and it would be permissible to listen to Christmas music year-round.

3. Oh, and Thanksgiving too. That’s a good one.

4. The arrival of my newest nephew, Sayers Wheeler, on January 7, 2009… or at least that’s when his c-section is scheduled to take place! I’m not sure that it’s possible for a child to be cuter than Emma or Brown, but I’m sure he will give it his best effort.

5. A trip to Washington D.C. Brian and I are headed there for a vacation the week before Christmas! We are going to visit a few friends and enjoy a real winter (one that doesn't involve weather conducive to wearing flip-flops) while doing very tourist-y things. This will be our first “big” trip together since our honeymoon!

That should suffice for now. And again, if you didn’t already vote, make sure that you do. I’m a very firm believer that if you don’t exercise your right to vote, then you lose your right to complain. Happy election day to you all!

... and feel free to join me in saying a little prayer that we will be seeing lots of RED on that map tonight! :o)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Warning: Post may make you drool.

Happy Halloween, peeps! Sounds like everyone has fun plans for the evening, so that’s a plus. I am packed and ready to head to Austin for a little Nelson family Halloween bonding… it’s ok to be jealous.

In other news, when will this election be over? And I’m not just talking about the presidential election, because to be honest, it hasn’t been as big of a pain in my butt lately as the local elections. If I have to see one more commercial about how Joe Bob Smith wins the award for “biggest liar” and “most false attack on his competitor,” or about how Judge Nobody-cares one time got a speeding ticket, I am going to head butt the television set. Seriously. First of all, has anyone ever taught you, Campaign Marketing Chairman, that the more time you spend talking about someone else, the less time you are talking about the candidate you are actually trying to promote? And guess what… when it comes time to vote, I am more likely to remember the person’s name than I am to remember the bad things you said about him, so pounding his name into my brain (even if you follow it up with some version of “is a moron”) is not doing you any favors.

Phew. I feel better now that I have that off my chest.

So now, in honor of Halloween, I’m going to share with you my top 10 favorite types of candy. I was going to limit it to 5, but it’s no secret that I am big into candy, so I figured I might as well go for 10. Hope it doesn’t make you hungry!!

Top 10 Favorite types of Candy (in no particular order):

1. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups - best. candy. ever. I could eat these for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and feel no shame... minus the morbid obesity thing. And this also happens to be my preferred topping/"mixing" in DQ blizzards!

2. Twix - the best part is that there are 2 of them, so it's a good one to share!

3. Kit-Kat - I once told y'all about how my classy family used to stop at 7-11 every Sunday after church, and in addition to my Coke and Cheetoh Puffs, a Kit-Kat (one of those giant ones) was always a staple in my "meal."

4. Starbursts - I'm straying away from chocolate momentarily to bring you my favorite fruity candy. Red and pink are my favorites, but I really don't discriminate with candy, so I eat them all.

5. Skittles - a close second in the running for favorite fruity candy. Skittles are my most common choice from a vending machine, but I'm not sure why? Maybe because of my theory that fruity candy can't possibly be as bad for you as chocolatey candy.

6. Dark Chocolate Hershey's Kisses - I think it's well-known that I keep a well-stocked supply of these at home, and that I eat one every day with my lunch. They say dark chocolate isn't as bad for you, so that's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

7. Snickers - My dear old Dad was once rumored to eat 17 of these in one day... maybe that's where I got the affinity for them? Snickers Ice Cream bars are also amazing.

8. Baby Ruth - I ate these a lot in my younger days (and somehow managed to come out under 200 pounds), but haven't had one lately. Feel free to send me a bag :)

9. Gummy Bears - I'm not sure if these count as candy, but I don't know what else they would count as? Either way, I love them, especially when I'm sick. Strange, I know.

10. Tootsie Rolls - I kid you not when I say that my mom keeps bags of these hidden around the house. She hides them for fear that my dad (the Snickers-fiend) will find them and raid her supply. I'm pretty sure she's addicted to them, and it seems she has passed that along to me.

11. (sorry, I couldn't leave these out) M&Ms - Dark chocolate, peanut, peanut butter, milk chocolate, I don't really care. I just love them. And I think the talking ones are cute :)

So what about you, what candy are you hoping to find in your trick-or-treat bag tonight?