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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Living life in the fast lane

I have always suspected that that phrase would never really apply to me in the figurative sense, and I have recently determined that I am also really not cut out for living life in the fast lane literally, either.

Houston driving scares me. Houston drivers scare me. As such, I avoid all major highways and the road raging Houstonites (is this the right term?) that drive on them as much as possible. However, the powers that be recently opened up part of 59 and as a result, coerced me to give the freeway a shot. You see, I have 2 route options to/from work— (1) Highway 90 (straight shot, speed limit maxes at 55 mph, lots of cows to look at, a few lights to slow me down) and (2) Southwest Freeway/Highway 59 (speed limit allegedly maxes at 70 mph, no stop lights, the commuters are much more hardcore).

Up until the construction was finished on 59, I took 90 on a daily basis and never gave it a second thought. In fact, I have avoided 59 like it’s the plague. Now that they have opened it up, however, it is a much faster and more efficient route to work. If you know me at all, you know that I am slightly impatient (understatement) and all about being efficient, so the temptation was just too much to resist. I tried 59 on the way home yesterday and it shaved 10 whole minutes off of my commute. I took it to work this morning and shaved 8 or so minutes off of that commute. I am now a changed woman.

What struck me this morning was the bravery of the other commuters. I saw at least 3 or 4 different speed limit signs that said 55 mph, so I thought I would give 60 a try. Apparently only grandmothers and blind people drive this “slowly,” so I upped it to 65. Before I knew it, I was going 70 mph (FIFTEEN miles above the speed limit) and EVERYONE was passing me. Seriously. A whole group of cars passed me and I was left to drive alone. Talk about peer pressure.

I wouldn’t normally call myself a people pleaser, but I have discovered that I have this pathetic need for everyone else’s approval when I’m driving. I want to drive fast enough so that I’m not slowing everyone down, but not so fast that I am deemed a maniac. I have found in Houston, however, that I will never be able to please anyone. No matter how I drive in this town, someone will always be angry and frustrated with me.

It’s sad, because I always thought of myself as a left-lane kind of gal, but I’m just not cut out for it here. And I would try the middle lane, but that lane just screams “INDECISIVE!” in my opinion. And we all know what a loser you are if you spend your whole commute in the right lane. So I think I’ll just buy a helicopter.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dear government: You're welcome.

So as many of you might have heard, the Economic Stimulus payments are on their way! I know some of you will argue that this is not really free money, but instead of wasting my time arguing, I’m going to continue having a little party in my head and silently screaming, “Free money! Free money! Hooray!”

Goody goody that I am, I am a little bit conflicted about how to best use this money. The government wants us to go out and spend it to “stimulate” the economy. My logical, practical brain wants us to save or invest it. The selfless part of me (although my family members might argue this part is very small!) says we should give it away, perhaps to another country. Fortunately, unlike with most of my internal mental/moral debates, I have a mediator who makes the decision-making process much easier in this situation: my husband. He hears “free money,” and rather than allowing himself to dwell on it or consider the options, he instinctively thinks “flat screen television.” And thus, that is where our stimulus will be going.

This idea didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, as I did promise Brian that we could get a flat screen tv after we got married. At the time, however, I wasn’t taking 3 months of my unemployment into consideration. And then along came our 2 pups (aka: the money pits), and timing just hasn’t worked out yet. But now I have no excuse. Someone is writing us a big fat check that hasn’t already previously been allotted into the sacred budget, so why not spend it? Besides, that is what the government wants us to do. And who am I to disobey authority? :o)

So my first question is: does anyone know where to get the best deal on a good flat screen tv? My second question is: if you care to share, what are YOU planning to do with your “free money”? Or if you are part of the fortunate segment of the population that makes too much money to qualify for the stimulus, what do you wish you could do with the free money?

PS- I hope this post doesn't make us sound shallow or selfish. I promise that we do our best to be good stewards of the money that God gives us :)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Townie Love

I feel very fortunate to be on a quest for townie-hood ("hood" has double meaning there), because I find myself learning valuable life lessons as a result. On Friday, for example, two very townie situations gave me a deeper meaning of the word "love":

1. After a stressful afternoon of errands, we decided to get a snow cone before heading home. When we walked up to the snow cone "hut," there were love bugs EVERYWHERE. Some of you fellow Aggies might remember that summer/fall when the love bugs invaded CS, and as a result, some favorite activities included trying to run away from them (but always failing) while waiting for the Aggie Bus, and trying (but always failing) to scrape their remains off of your car. Gross. As usual, I digress.

Anyway, the love bugs swarmed Brian's truck as we prepared to leave the snow cone place, and were holding onto the windows/windshield for dear life. While observing the love bugs, I realized that for some of the pairs, one love bug was planted firmly on the car, while the other was whipping in the wind. It was clear that holding onto and anchoring down the significant other proved a struggle for those bugs that were doing the holding on. And it was obvious that if the one holding on would let go of his/her partner, then he/she could save himself/herself. But is that true love? NO.

Of course, my response was to turn to Brian and ask, "Brian, if we were love bugs, and we were riding on a car, and you were the one holding on for both of us, would you let go of me to save yourself?" He looked at me as if he couldn't decide if he was confused, amused, or embarrassed to be married to me, and said, "No, of course not." So sweet.

2. I will keep this one short and sweet: We took a short-cut on the way back from snow cones to our house, and happened to drive by the Shell station that happens to share its property with a Popeye's Chicken. In the parking lot was a definite townie couple making out by their car. Nothing says love like groping your significant other outside the Popeye's Chicken at the Shell Station on a Friday afternoon. Nothing.

And side note: yesterday was Terrie Joiner's (my mother-in-law) birthday! We had a fun night celebrating. Happy birthday, Terrie!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

TV Overload

So was anyone else shocked by American Idol last night? I gasped audibly and screamed, “No way!” at the TV screen when they revealed that Carly— and not Aggie, Jason Castro— was in the bottom two. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that Jason is sticking around, but after his performance on Tuesday night, I was surprised to say the least.

I am also only slightly embarrassed to report that Brian and I spent the hour prior to Idol watching an episode of Wife Swap. I don’t know why, but I just really enjoy watching that show. It’s sort of like a car crash, really… you know you shouldn’t watch, but you just can’t help it. Last night’s episode was full of the predictable drama that arises when one outspoken (and typically overweight) free-spirited wife/mother trades houses with a soft-spoken (but still very controlling) Amish-wannabe wife/mother. Insults were hurled, lessons were learned, and a good time was had by all… except for the hateful husbands who despised every second of it.

Tonight will undoubtedly be one of the greatest nights ever because Grey’s Anatomy is returning after a loooooooooong break. AND The Office is on. AND I get to watch fellow WHS class of 2001 grad, Alexis, compete on Survivor. Oh yeah, and Brian is excited that Lost is back on, but because I am convinced that that show was only created to confuse and frustrate the spouses of its regular viewers, I am not having trouble sharing in his enthusiasm. Nonetheless, you can probably guess that our DVR will be put to good use tonight, especially because we are starting off the evening by eating dinner with my grandparents (and therefore will not be planted firmly in front of the TV until later than usual).

Enough about TV, let’s talk about Houston news: several people were murdered senselessly (on varying occasions and location) and their respective killers haven’t been caught. There, now you are pretty much caught up on all the happenings in Harris county and its surrounding areas.

OH and how could I possibly forget this great news? Our wedding album arrived in the mail yesterday! 9 months later, it is fun to re-live the big day, and the album is a great way to do so. We did not spend money on it just to have it sit on our coffee table at home, so here is your official invitation to come visit us so you can look at it. And if you are really lucky, we may even let you watch the DVD of the wedding as well. And the slideshow from our Rehearsal Dinner. And the DVD of our wedding website. And the scrapbook I made from our wedding showers. And the photo album that displays all the pictures that other people took at the wedding. And then you’ll never want to come visit us again.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Um, President Bush... can we talk?"

Ok so I just read this horrifying article on cnn.com. I normally stick to less up-to-date or socially relevant topics on this blog, but this one struck such fear in my heart that I felt I needed to write about it. $100 to fill up a car? Does anyone else feel like throwing up? Thankfully, my Jetta is slightly more efficient and economical, but my husband’s F-150 is not. Fortunately he lives less than a mile from where he works, so we really hardly ever use his truck, but still!

The fact that the soaring gas prices are all I hear/read about on tv and the news does not help. Every time I am reminded of it (including all the times that I notice it myself when driving by gas stations), I can’t decide if I want to (a) curl up in the corner and cry, (b) call my parents and beg for money, or (c) call the President and complain. So far I have done none of the above.

It’s not like Brian and I are living in poverty and can’t afford it, but as newlyweds, we intrinsically strive to pinch pennies and stick to a tight budget. Needless to say, spending $4 for a gallon of gas is not helping. And please note that my idea to call President Bush is not to call and yell at him, because I certainly don’t blame him. But rather, when you are younger and see an act of injustice, your gut reaction is to find someone in a position of authority and tell on whoever is being unjust. So basically, I’m a tattle tale.

7 things you may not know about me

Let me preface this list by saying that any of you who know me well and/or read my blog on a regular basis know that I am pretty straight-forward and forthcoming with details about my life. With that said, it is a bit of a stretch to come up with 7 things that most people don’t already know about me, so forgive me if none of these are new to you. So… here goes:

1. I/we were surprise babies. My mom and dad knew that they were having a baby (duh), but had no idea that they were having twins until she was in the delivery room. They cut her open (pardon the visual) and found Allison in there, robbing me of my precious oxygen. After they pulled her out, they noticed that—surprise!—there was another baby inside. Apparently I was blue and struggling to breathe because of my selfish twin sister’s inability to share the air with me, but nonetheless, I was a healthy baby. We were actually both healthy and weighed just under 7 pounds, which is pretty huge for twins… my mom virtually gave birth to 13 pounds of baby! Anyway, since Allison came out first, she claims that she was planned and I was an accident. My mom more lovingly refers to me as the surprise :o)

2. I went on 3 police stings in high school. The police officer who helped out at several of our Teen Teaching (similar to PALS) retreats and events needed some underage girls to assist in busting establishments that were selling alcohol to minors. It sounded like a fun adventure to me, so along with our teacher, an undercover policeman, and one other girl, we would drive from gas station to gas station in an undercover cop car and attempt to buy alcohol. I would walk in the store, pick out some type of girly alcohol (this is where I first heard the term “fuzzy navel” used to describe a beverage), and attempt to check out with my real 16-year-old ID. About half of the time, they would agree to sell it to me (even after checking my ID), at which point they would be arrested. It sounds cruel, I know, but hey, they shouldn’t be breaking the law! Anyway, it was a cool experience, and made for good material for a college essay for sure!

3. I used to want to work in broadcast journalism… I wanted to be a news anchor on tv. However, that dream was smashed to pieces after Senior Career Day, when the news reporter that I shadowed did his best (and succeeded) to discourage me from going into the business. He assured me that I would be miserable, make no money, and likely never make it on tv. Thank you, reporter man, for allowing me to pursue my second dream of becoming a recruiter for an offshore drilling contractor instead. Jerk.

4. In elementary school, I was too shy (hard to imagine, I know) to ask the teacher if I could go to the bathroom… ever. I would always wait until lunch or recess, and even then I was often too scared to go- not sure why? So virtually every day of elementary school, I would go the entire school day without going to the bathroom. Impressive, I know. Allison always used to claim that because of my fear of going to the bathroom at school, I wet my pants every day of kindergarten. It’s not true, so don’t listen to her! And just in case she tries to convince you anyway, I’ll have you know that she still had a lisp up until 4th grade! :o)

5. This one is really pathetic: I didn’t learn how to put my hair up in a ponytail by myself until I was probably a junior in high school. I just wore it down for soccer most of the time (very irritating), or had Allison or my mom put it up for me. So basically, I learned how to do something at age 16 that most people learn how to do at age 6. Awesome.

6. Ok now I’m really reaching. I eat Orbit gum, and instead of eating whole pieces, I tear each one in half and chew half a piece at a time. This is for two reasons: (a) to make the pack last longer and (b) because sometimes one piece is just too much gum to have at one time. And just FYI, I go through approximately 3 whole pieces (6 halves) a day.

7. When I was 10 years old, my mom asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. My answer was simple: a dictator. Ha there is no explanation necessary for this fact, so I will just leave it at that.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's fun to stay at the... Y-M-C-A

So we’re leaving the YMCA this morning after our work-out and what do we see sitting at the front desk? Two boxes of glazed donuts. DONUTS. As we exited the building, I asked Brian what gym thinks it’s a good idea to keep donuts—of all things—out for members to eat. My sweet husband, always motivated by his stomach, replied with, “A good one!” Sorry, hubby, but I beg to differ… or at least that’s what I thought at first.

My first reaction was quiet outrage at this overt temptation being placed as a stumbling block right in the path of well-intentioned gym-goers. But after giving it a little more thought, I realized that the YMCA might, in fact, be performing an act of pure genius. Think about it:

Member comes to gym to work out. Member, weak and tired after said work-out, loses his/her will to fight temptation and eats a donut on the way out. Member renders prior work-out useless and ineffective in a matter of bites. Member gains weight. In an effort to fight weight gain, member continues to go to the gym to work out. And thus the cycle repeats itself.

Wow, who knew the YMCA of Richmond was so clever? I sure learned my lesson, and I won’t doubt them next time I see them doing something seemingly foolish.

In other news, it appears that dry weather and humidity got into a huge fight, and humidity must have kicked dry weather’s butt, because it is gross outside. On the news (I love referencing the news, it makes me feel so grown up!), they have this scale to show you what the level of humidity is outside. What I find amusing is that “sticky” is on the scale… real technical term, huh? My scale would start out with something like "almost tolerable" and end at "don't go outside and consider blowing up the city." Regardless, I knew what was in store when I agreed to move to the Houston area, so I will do my best not to complain about it. My hair, on the other hand, might have a few complaints to file.

Speaking of weather, did you know that today is Earth Day? Pretty exciting, isn’t it? I’m sure that Wade, my brother-in-law and the nerdiest nature-lover I know, will be hugging several trees and using public transportation (or better yet, a bicycle!) to celebrate. Oh wait, that’s something he does every day. Wade, how about hugging an extra tree for me today? He really loves it when I make fun of him, especially for the whole world wide web to see, right, Wade? It’s ok, someone has to take care of our planet, and who better than my brother-in-law to do it?

I feel like I’ve sort of been neglecting Brian on this blog lately, and even though he rejected my offer yesterday to make his own post (in the form of, “Brian, you should write a blog post because you haven’t done one in a while. And make it about reasons why you love me.”), I still think he deserves at least a shout-out. Yesterday he earned lots of points on the good husband chart (I should really make one of those): he cooked dinner AND he filled up my water bottle for me before bed. Because the spout on our refrigerator water dispenser is about the size of the tip of a ball point pen, filling up a 32-oz water bottle can be quite a tedious task. And fortunately, God blessed me with a very patient husband who doesn’t mind doing it. Every now and again I just suck it up and do it myself, but sometimes I am just not up to the challenge. Wow… that makes me sound really lazy.

Ok time to wrap up… who wants to hear a Richmond fun fact? You do? Well great! Here you go:

The average SAT score for LCISD (Richmond’s school district) is 907.

I refer to this fact as “Reason # 1 why I do not want my children attending public school in Richmond.”

Monday, April 21, 2008

All in the family

So it’s here again. No matter how hard I try to avoid it, or how much I wish it would just disappear, Monday is back. I think it is too cliché to blog about how much Mondays stink, however, so I will end this thought on a positive note: at least we are one day closer to Friday!

So on to more exciting topics: I spent this past weekend in Austin with my fam and much fun was had by all. Allison flew into town for one last visit before she permanently relocates back to Austin (hooray!), so we got to have some sissy bonding. Her plane didn’t land until 11:55 pm on Friday, which is WAY past my typical 9:30 bed time. Nonetheless, my parents and I all loaded into the car to go pick her up and get the weekend started. And by “get the weekend started,” I mean that we drove immediately home and got into bed. No one parties quite like the Nelsons!

Saturday was spent eating breakfast with the Wheelers (and my sis-in-law, Kelly, who was visiting from Vermont), running errands with dad, touring Allison and Wade’s new apartment, and shopping with mom (a staple activity for all visits home). Oh, and we also made a visit to our friend Elizabeth who had to get her tonsils out on Friday, didn't want to leave that one out! We ended the evening with a bang by eating out at a less-than-average Mexican food restaurant in Westlake, and then came home to bake cupcakes. Well, Allison and I were the only ones baking… mom was supervising (translation: watching Lifetime movies in the other room), and dad was the official taste-tester.

Allison has recently decided that she is really into baking cupcakes (refer to her blog), and has wisely shared the news of her new hobby with my parents. Mom accordingly bought her a cute cupcake mold from Sur La Table (Did I spell that right? I feel almost as pretentious writing it as I do saying it out loud!). Dad, on the other hand, went characteristically overboard. He got onto ebay and target.com and purchased every piece of cupcake paraphernalia that he could find… including but not limited to a carrying case, cupcake molds, a cupcake cookbook, and let’s not forget the best piece: a collection of 5 or 6 “antique” cupcake pans that he bought on ebay for a total of $3.

I was there when he opened the box that the “antique” pans were sent in… let’s just say that I was assaulted instantly with the smell of moth balls and dead people. And these pans didn’t look any better than they smelled. He attempted to wash them, but they turned out just looking like a slightly cleaner version of ugly and disgusting, so he (by force) gave up on them. It’s just like our dear old dad to take an idea and run with it, and for this personality trait, we love him.

On Sunday we met up with the Wheelers for lunch at La Madeline. I’ll have you know that La Madeline no longer gives away free bread, and on the off chance that you ask for bread with your salad, your ONLY option is sourdough, unless you pay extra. Give me a break, you French-wannabe snobs. But anyway, Emma and Brown made the otherwise frustratingly overpriced restaurant (the fact that my dad bought lunch is irrelevant, I am still feeling righteously indignant toward the restaurant’s new stingy bread policy) seem enjoyable.

At one point, Emma asked if I wanted to go outside with her. I remember that when I was younger, Allison and I always asked if we could go outside the restaurant and play if we were finished eating, as if having to endure the adult company of our parents was just more than we could handle after our food was cleaned off the plate. Nowadays, you probably aren’t allowed to let your kids do that because they’ll get abducted. Sad. Anyway, knowing how she felt, I agreed to go with her.

We got outside and she politely commanded me to sit down on the sidewalk with her. I could tell she was ready to chat, so I began talking, and the conversation went a little something like this:

Amanda: “So Emma, who’s your best friend?”
Emma: “Bond! And Robert!”
Amanda: “That’s nice… and what’s your favorite food? Do you like strawberries… or tomatoes… or cookies?”
Emma: “COOKIES! I like cookies.”
Amanda: “I love cookies, too. So what’s your favorite color?”
Emma: “Umm… I like pink cookies.”

I just thought it was really cute that she was still thinking about the cookies, when I clearly thought we had moved on. Also, at one point Ford (her dad) was talking about how she and Brown had been particularly whiney and difficult all morning. He joked that they were going to send them back to the baby factory because they must be defective models. My mom (always defending her precious grandbabies) protested with, “No they are not!” Then Emma, who was apparently listening in, yells, “YES THEY ARE!” We couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that she just insulted herself and didn’t even know it. Oh how I love my niece and nephew (who, meanwhile, was eating a crayon).

I feel like I have more to say, but this post already seems rather lengthy, so I’ll end it now and hopefully post more later today or tomorrow! Happy Monday!

Monday, April 14, 2008

P.S.

Isn't it kind of ironic that Noah (the squirrel killer) has the same name as the Noah that provided a safe haven for all the animals on his ark?

I dare you not to laugh.

Let me set the scene for you…

It’s Friday afternoon, and I’ve just arrived home from work. I make myself an egg salad sandwich (Brian doesn’t like the smell of hard-boiled eggs, so I try to only do this when he’s not around), watch “Ellen” while I eat my lunch, and start making a mental list of the chores that need to be done for the day. Brian has left town for a youth ministry conference, so unlike most Friday afternoons, I am left to do the cleaning all on my own. I don’t mind this, because back in the good old days of unemployment, I always did the cleaning on my own. I have, however, come to appreciate having 2 extra hands to assist… especially with mopping. I hate mopping.

After first tackling the kitchen, I decide to do some dusting. The last room I reach is our bedroom, and just as I am finishing up polishing the wood on my bedside table, I look outside the bedroom window and notice something unusual. Normally there is a fairly deep hole there that the dogs started digging a couple of weeks ago, and for some reason, when I’m near that window, I always check to see if they have made any more progress or given up (due to the red pepper that we sprinkled inside it). I do a double take and realize that there is, in fact, a dead squirrel in a shallow grave staring up at me. Well I guess you can’t really stare when you’re dead, but you get the idea.

I might have mentioned before that Noah (our husky mix) has a fascination/obsession with squirrels. He devotes his entire day to patrolling our yard tirelessly in search of squirrel intruders. Brian has often commented that one of these days, Noah is going to get himself a squirrel and it will be the greatest day of his (Noah’s) life. And boy was he right.

Of course, Brian’s phone doesn’t work at Camp Allen, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to call him for help. I called my mom and mom-in-law, both of which laughed at me. My mom suggested burying it (which I knew would only lead to Noah digging it up), and Terrie suggested disposing of it. Well we don’t have a shovel, so I knew that disposing of the little dead friend would be no easy task. Terrie suggested that I turn a trash bag inside out and pick the squirrel up through the trash bag, and then toss it. Clearly, she doesn’t realize what a girl I am!

After getting online to research what was the worst that could happen if Noah ate the squirrel (rabies or worms were enough to put me into action), I decided I had to dispose of the little critter. I marched bravely across the street to borrow our neighbor’s shovel, and put a plan into action. I marched back to our backyard and quickly noticed that the squirrel had been removed from his shallow grave—he was now being carried around the yard in Noah’s mouth. Awesome.

I start yelling for Noah to put the squirrel down, but he—clearly proud of his catch and amused by his new toy—starts trotting towards me in an effort to share his prize. I begin running in the other direction, all the while still yelling for him to put the squirrel down as if (a) he understands me and (b) he is going to obey me. It is at this point that Buster notices how much fun Noah is having and how much attention he is getting, so he decides it’s time to play tug-of-war with Noah over the dead squirrel.

So here I am, frantically yelling and waving my shovel in the air while Noah and Buster pull back and forth on the dead squirrel’s limp body. And the more I yell, the more excited they get and the more quickly they trot towards me. At this point, I realize I am being held captive by the dogs as they are more or less chasing me and backing me into corners of the yard. I escape towards the back door of our house, and open it thinking foolishly that they will drop the squirrel (as they do with most of their outside toys) and come inside. Buster responds accordingly and comes sprinting in my direction… and guess who comes running behind him with DEAD SQUIRREL STILL IN HIS MOUTH?! That was the point where I contemplated how quickly we could get Noah adopted by another family. Kidding, but as you can imagine, I was not amused.

I closed the door just in time, and went inside to get a couple of treats. I brought one for Buster (who immediately took the bait—he is weak), and one for Noah. I placed it in front of him (dead squirrel still in mouth) and watched him make what I think might have been the most difficult decision he’s ever made: “Do I drop the squirrel and risk losing it forever, or reject this tasty treat and keep my prize?” Well luckily for me, his stomach won and he dropped the squirrel and went for the treat. I very quickly swooped in and scooped the lifeless squirrel into my shovel, and sprinted to the back fence. I hurled him over to the compost pile, but of course I missed.

Noah and Buster were close behind, clearly upset with me. I went outside the yard, spent 5 minutes trying to get the squirrel back in the shovel (he was in a pile of leaves and it was harder to scoop him up this time), and successfully lifted him into the compost pile and gave him a proper burial.

So how does the story end, you ask? Well Noah and Buster seemed to recover quickly from their loss, and were back to their hyper selves in a matter of minutes. I, however, am scarred for life. And I don’t have to tell you how things ended for the squirrel.

And just so you know, as I was walking to church yesterday morning, I saw 2 squirrels playing in the street, and I quietly warned them that if they wanted to keep their lives, they needed to steer clear of the backyard of the orange brick house on the corner.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Happily ever after

I think I am suffering from BDGS. It’s a very serious condition, and I have no doubt that those of you who blog have also suffered from it at one time for another. What is BDGS, you ask? Blog Delay Guilt Syndrome. Every time I go more than a few days without making a new post, I feel very guilty. And I recognize that this is a very self-absorbed way to think about things, because I know that the world will continue turning whether or not I write a new post. But still, I am a person of commitment and loyalty, and as such, I hate to give anything less than my best to my efforts. And so, readers, allow me first to apologize (whether you care or not) that it has been almost a week since my last post.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about how The Office is FINALLY coming back on tonight. I feel as though there has been a void in my life without the normal Thursday night tv programming… is it sad that I feel that way? Well anyway, Grey’s Anatomy is not far behind, because they are returning with new episodes 2 weeks from tonight on 4/24. All I know is that I really need an update on what’s going to happen with McDreamy and that stupid nurse, and I also can’t wait to see what happens when Dwight doesn’t get invited to Michael’s dinner party. So if you were planning on calling me tonight (I know you weren’t), then please don’t. It won’t be worth wasting your minutes.

Brian is abandoning me to go on some youth minister conference this weekend, and thankfully Brittany and Chris have taken pity on me and are allowing me to be the 3rd wheel on a date with them on Friday night. I think the plan is to go get some Mexican food somewhere in Katy. And by the way, if you think I’m a townie, then you should meet someone from K-town. I have told Brittany many times about my theory that Katy children are groomed to lead the following life pattern: graduate from one of the Katy high schools; attend college with Katy high school significant other OR continue dating high school sweetheart while attending 2 different colleges; marry someone from Katy (preferably your high school sweetheart); move back to Katy, and start your own family in Katy. I have known of a few outsiders breaking into the Katy inner circle, but much like with the Episcopal Diocese of Texas inner circle, it is very hard to do.

Speaking of the Episcopal crowd, did you know that Wade (my twin sissy’s husband) and Brian (my husband) knew each other through diocese stuff long before they met us? It’s true. Shortly after Brian and I started dating, we would randomly run into Wade on campus at A&M, and at one point, they decided to go to lunch at Layne’s and invited me to join them. I instantly liked Wade (who I now affectionately refer to as Wade-topher), and thought that he would be a good candidate to date one of my friends. I sadly didn’t have very many single friends at the time, and Allison didn’t seem like an option because thinking about her dating people grossed me out. So it was by sheer luck (ok, so if you know anything about the Presbyterian doctrine, “sheer luck” does not exist, so I’ll stick to my roots and call it God’s will :) that Wade and Brian crashed one of our Chi Omega sisterhood events at an Aggie baseball game, and Wade just so happened to be seated next to my bitter and resentful sister.

Well the rest is history, because now they are married and she is not bitter anymore… at least not about boys anyway. Now she is bitter about new things, like people asking her to make copies at work, or the prolonged winter weather in Utah. But anyway, another fun part of the story is that Wade proposed to Allison before Brian proposed to me, even though they had been dating for 3 months less than we had. Looking back, 3 months doesn’t seem like much, but trust me, when you are a twin, you always keep track. So when Wade called to tell me that he was going to be proposing to Allison, I hung up and then proceeded to cry… partially because I was happy for her, and partially because I felt very sorry for myself. Aren’t girls awesome?

Well the rest is history to that story too, because Brian eventually sucked it up and proposed to me as well… poor guy :). Now we are all living happily ever after, and thankfully, the Olivers will be back in Texas in less than 2 months so that our double dating can resume once more! The end.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Murder, dog-walking, and other important topics

As I normally do, I was listening to the news this morning as I got ready for work. I was digging into my bowl of Raisin Bran when I heard the following words come out of Owen Conflenti’s mouth: “There’s been a decrease in Houston’s murder rate so far this year… from January-March of 2007, there were 88 murders. This year, there have only been 78 murders in January-March. That’s a double-digit decrease!”

Um. Seriously? Is that upbeat news supposed to help me sleep better at night? Fortunately, as the townies that we are, we technically don’t live in Houston, so these statistics don’t really apply to us directly. But still, and I hate to be cliché here, but what is the world coming to? It’s just sad to me that “only” 78 murders in a 3-month time period in one city is supposed to be good news.

But anyway, let’s move on to more exciting topics. Brian and I are taking on a new task: walking the dogs every night. This may seem simple, but if you have ever attempted to walk 2 puppies on leashes, you know that this is no small task. Buster is apparently not the fastest learner, because the entirety of our walks with him consists of a never-ending cycle of him running too far ahead, and getting yanked back on the leash, running too far ahead, and getting yanked back on the leash. He doesn’t seem to mind if the leash starts to choke him a little, he just wheezes and coughs and tries harder to get off the leash. It’s really pretty sad. But get this, we decided at one point to take him off the leash, just to see what he would do (he is not fast enough to out-run us and there were no cars around, don’t worry). He trotted about 3 feet ahead of us and then ran back to us, trotted about 3 feet ahead of us, and then ran back to us. Do you sense a pattern here?

Noah has gotten much better now that we have one of those collars that tightens if he gets too far ahead on the leash. He is smart enough to realize that he prefers breathing over not breathing, so he stays back with us now. However, squirrels are by far his greatest temptation, and if he spots one, you better hold on to that leash for dear life or Noah will be gone. I sure hope that the mentally challenged nature of our dogs is not a reflection of our parenting skills :o). For now, I will just blame it on the fact that they are young!

Brian and I are headed to Austin this weekend primarily in honor of my mom’s birthday. She will be the big 5-8… weird to think that my parents are closer to 60 than they are to 50! I’m sure she’d be glad I was sharing her age for the entire world wide web to see… you’re welcome, mom! It will be nice to go home for a weekend, especially to see Emma and Brown, my ridiculously cute niece and nephew whom I haven’t seen in 2 months. Don’t worry, I will take pictures, and I will post them. I can’t wait to see what new tricks they have learned!

And lastly, readers, I’d like to let you know something important: I have a newfound enemy. I have always wanted to have an arch-nemesis… someone that my life’s goal was to defeat, and now I have one: those fuzzy things that fall out of trees. You know what I’m talking about… they’re stringy and kind of a greeny brown, and they will fall to pieces if you aren’t careful with them (and why would you be?), and if a bunch of them fall all together, it’s like a mossy carpet on your sidewalk? Anyone know what I’m talking about? Well they have been falling in the masses onto my car, and every time I open my car door, they all spill into my front seat… and then I have to sit there and pick them out one by one, inevitably leaving their little droppings behind. It is incredibly frustrating! And so much so that they are now my arch-nemesis.

Fuzzy tree droppings, let me be clear about one thing: I will defeat you. Somehow. Some way.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Never have I ever

So guess what. I have never ordered an item off of the “specials” menu in my life. Never. Not once! Is that weird? And something else, I have a really hard time typing out the phrase “guess what.” It sounds like a question, but it’s actually a command. A challenge, if you will. So therefore, it is supposed to end in a period. But every time I write it out, I am tempted to use poetic license and put down a question mark. However, being the grammar stickler that I am, I realize that such a move puts me at high risk of having comments written on my blog like, “I can’t believe YOU made a grammatical error! Loser!” (No one would actually call me a loser, but it would be implied…)

Anyway, here are a few other things that I have never done that you might find amusing (or strange):

1. I have never intentionally burped. I don’t know how. Seriously. Occasionally (once a month, maybe?) one will slip out on its own, but never on command. Instead, my throat just kind of growls all the time when I’m full. It’s pretty entertaining, actually.

2. I have never eaten a pickle. Any of my co-workers that are reading this are probably giggling in their cubicles right now because this topic has come up more than once in conversation recently. After polling almost everyone in my department, I learned that I am the only one that does not like pickles. I am disgusted by the sight and smell of them, so there is no way that I am going to take a bite out of one. They look like warty, moldy hot dog wieners, and in case you didn’t catch my drift, that image does not appeal to me.

3. I have never consumed a cup of coffee, or taken a sip of one for that matter. Even when I go to Starbucks, I order a vanilla bean frap (which contains no coffee).

4. I have never been skiing! No need to elaborate here, I just haven’t.

5. I have never dyed my hair. It has been dark brown since the day I was born!

6. I have never used a lawn mower. I guess my snobby Westlake roots are what prevented me from thinking this was weird, but once I admitted this to a group of girls at my last job, everyone looked at me in shock. I’m pretty sure I could figure out how one works- it doesn’t look that complicated- but then again, that’s what husbands are for. :)

That’s all for now, but if I come up with any others, you will be the first to know, my faithful readers!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

That title, as is usually the case with my blog, has no relevance whatsoever to this post. However, I have always wanted to use that phrase, and now seemed as good a time as any. And now that I’m thinking of it, could you stick anything in a pipe and smoke it? I have never smoked before- not a cigarette (vomit), not a cigar (vomit), not a pipe (vomit), or anything else that can be smoked. About as close as I’ve gotten to smoking is my almost daily ritual of eating smoked turkey on my sandwiches (refer to previous posts to read about my repetitive lunch menus). Anyway, if pipes were filled with cheese or chocolate or something else, I might be interested in taking up the habit. But I guess that’s kind of like saying if alcoholic beverages didn’t contain any alcohol, I might be more interested in drinking them… which sounds stupid, but is also true for me.

You have probably heard either Allison or myself tell the story about when we were young (2nd or 3rd grade), and we were picking out what to wear to school the next day, and Allison very sternly informed me that sometimes “you have to sacrifice comfort for fashion.” And while I have always done my best to avoid falling into this trap (I typically attempt to look my best, but with the least amount of discomfort possible), today I am a slave to that rule. I am wearing a headband, but not for any particular reason. I dried and straightened my hair, so it’s not like I’m trying to keep ponytail wispies (yes, that’s a real word from here on out) out of my face. I just took a look in the mirror once I was dressed and decided that my head was missing something, and a headband was it.

Well this headband is giving me a pretty annoying headache. But the unfortunate part of this pointless story is that I knew that it would give me a headache. This particular accessory gives me a headache every single time I wear it, and in fact, I even popped 2 Advil (that’s a lie, they were the Wal-mart brand of Ibuprofen, but you get the idea) before I left for work in anticipation of the pain. And yet her I sit, typing away in my cubicle and enduring a distracting and painful throbbing in my head all because I thought my outfit needed to be topped off. Why are girls so crazy? This would be like if Brian was getting ready for work, glanced one last time in the mirror, and then decided that he needed to slam himself in the head with a hammer before leaving.

In other news, for those of you that were wondering about Buster, he is recovering quite nicely from his surgery. The vet said he would be sluggish and worn out for the remainder of the day, but that was not the case. He was as peppy as ever, jumping at our legs for attention and wanting very desperately to go romp around outside with his ADHD older brother. He did decided to leave us a nice post-surgery surprise in the form of a pile of poop left on our dining room floor. Awesome. I was thinking our dining room needed a little extra touch to make the ambiance a little more formal, and that was just the trick. Don’t worry, we cleaned it up. And when I say “we,” I mean Brian, who is and will always be the scooper of dog poop.

However, you should know that I committed 2 amazing acts of bravery this morning before work without Brian’s help: I killed AND picked up 2 bugs from our kitchen. One was a spider (who, oddly enough, seemed to be missing one of his legs?), and one was a beetle-type creature. I didn’t even wake up Brian for help or moral support- aren’t you proud? Well don’t go pinning my medal of bravery on me just yet, because not 10 minutes later, I heard a fluttering/scraping sound in our laundry room, and as I was convinced that it was a flesh-eating rat of some sort, I had to go wake Brian up to check it out. He, of course, found nothing, but I KNOW there was something in there. And since we opened the doors, it’s probably lurking in the house somewhere—most likely in our underwear drawers or in the microwave, like I accused the cockroaches of doing a few months ago. Those pesky bugs… they really BUG me. HA! Hysterical!

Ok that’s all for now. Here’s a Richmond fun fact for you:

On average, Richmond experiences 114 partly cloudy days per year, and 147 cloudy days per year. Do the math, and that means we only have 94 (95 if it’s leap year!) days of sunshine in a year… how depressing!

(… this is me, waiting for Allison to click on “Comment” and say that I shouldn’t complain, because at least I don’t live in an arctic tundra like Salt Lake City where it snows all year and the sun hates them. Go ahead, sissy, I know you were going to!)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Those crazy Nelsons

This is just a little tidbit about my family that you might find interesting…

I wouldn’t say that my family had a lot of “traditions” growing up, at least not many that were out of the ordinary. But there is one that I have always found particularly amusing:

Every Sunday, we would get up and to go “big church” and Sunday School in my dad’s sweet 1980s suburban (whichever 80s color he was rocking at the time, my favorite being the one with alternating shades of blue). After church was over, we would all 6 pile into the car and get a lecture from my dad about not leaving any of our “Sunday School doo doo” (crafts we’d made, notes we’d taken, etc) in the car. And while most families would then proceed to Sunday brunch with grandma at the country club, or a big b-b-q lunch at home, the Nelsons chose a different path: we went to 7-11.

Yes, every Sunday after church we would hit up the local 7-11 as a family. Each child was allowed 1 drink and 2 food items. In my younger years, I always chose a slurpee for my beverage, but after the “incident” in which I spilled one of my slurpees on the cloth interior of my dad’s car and attempted to cover it up by placing my stuffed Pound Kitty on top of the mess (thereby staining not only the car, but also my beloved kitty), I was “strongly urged” to get a bottle of coke instead. My food items were always the same: Cheetoh Puffs (Big Grab sized bag, duh) and a Kit Kat.

Much like our annual summer trips to family camp, I thought this tradition was normal well into my young adult years. Eventually, after polling enough of my friends, I learned that it wasn’t exactly an ordinary Sunday afternoon activity. Nonetheless, it is a tradition that I hold near and dear to my heart, and if I hadn’t become such a cheapo, it’s one that I would have no problem carrying on with my own family some day.

How about you? Have any of your own unusual family traditions that you’d like to share?

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end

Happy April Fool’s Day! I am always a fan of the first day of the month because it is a chance to start fresh… we get to start a new tab on our budget spreadsheet, we are one month closer to May (which happens to be my favorite month of the year for very obvious reasons), I get to flip the page in my work calendar, and of course, it provides the opportunity for me to say “rabbit rabbit” when I first wake up in hopes of having good luck for the month. I can thank Nickelodeon for instilling the importance of that last tradition in me.

Unfortunately, today is a different kind of beginning for our little pup, Buster. Unbeknownst to the poor little guy, he is going to the vet to be neutered today. I guess it’s a good thing that he is not aware of what awaits him, because I doubt he would have been as willing to get in Brian’s truck this morning if so. They also decided they are going to pull 2 of his baby teeth while he’s in there… talk about adding insult to injury. I feel like I should make him a card or something, but (a) what would you write on such a card? and (b) he can’t read. Bummer.

On a lighter note, I re-discovered my love of dodge ball this weekend, and simultaneously discovered what a crotchety old woman I am already at age 24. Who stays sore for 48 hours following a 30-minute game of dodge ball? Yes, me. Brian needed an adult volunteer at youth group on Sunday, and considering that I have no life, of course I was available to help out. Well apparently the favorite activity with the high schoolers is dodge ball, and I gladly joined in. I just didn’t realize how little I use the muscles required to hurl objects at people, and the ones used when attempting to avoid having the same thing done to yourself. Oh, to be young again…