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Friday, February 26, 2010

Dreaming of squirrels, no doubt

Just because I haven't mentioned it lately, I thought it necessary to remind you all how cute our dogs are. I have provided the following 2 pictures as proof:

I know that you are now considering abducting our precious pups, but please don't :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just in case you didn't already know enough

My wonderful womb-mate tagged me with the “Beautiful Blogger Award,” and while I’m sure you have noticed by now that I am painfully shy and have trouble sharing things about my personal life (ha!), I am going to step outside of my comfort zone and oblige with the tag. You’re welcome, sis.

So without further delay, I am now going to attempt to list seven things about myself that the internet does not already know.

1. I quit gymnastics when I was 5 because doing somersaults with a bow in my hair made my head hurt. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just take the bow out instead of quitting the activity entirely, but I don’t have a good answer for you. I think it was just a convenient excuse because I thought gymnastics was boring… all we did was roll all over the floor like doodle bugs. This might explain why Allison, who stuck with gymnastics a bit longer, went on to be the dancer, and I went on to be the oaf-y soccer player.

Although now that I think about it, maybe the bow wasn’t the problem at all—maybe I was unknowingly consuming an excessive amount of Australian Sea Lion liver at a young age??

2. When I was a sophomore in college, we had a guest speaker at one of our sorority meetings that told us to write down on a note card what our dream job would be. She then encouraged us to set realistic goals to work toward achieving that dream job. I wrote down “Supreme Court Justice,” but the whole idea of having to go to law school and be a lawyer first kind of put the kibosh on that one. Which explains why I went on to graduate with a degree in Spanish and now work as a Recruiter. This is not unlike the fact that I wanted to be a Broadcast Journalist in high school until I went to Senior Career Day and was so discouraged by the person that I was shadowing that I gave up on that one as well. Pretty impressive ability to follow my dreams, right??

I just realized that # 1 and # 2 both make me sound like a huge quitter. I’m not—I promise!

3. I am a big fan of the soundtrack to the Rent movie. I don’t so much care for the soundtrack of the actual musical, probably because I never actually saw it. And I didn’t even think the movie was all that great, but I could listen (and sing loudly along) to the soundtrack for days on end and never get tired of it. My favorite song is “Light My Candle” and I have been known to force others to sing it with me (it’s a duet). As an amusing result, and much to his dismay, I’m sure, Brian has unintentionally learned some of the words!

4. It is no secret that I love dessert, but I think I have officially decided that my favorite dessert is a chocolate chip brownie with ice cream on top. Ok wait, this is tied with the pizookie at BJ’s... which basically just substitutes a giant chocolate chip cookie for the brownie. My birthday is May 31st, just for the record.

5. I have been a bridesmaid in 5 weddings, and am going to be in a 6th this summer! In chronological order, I was a bridesmaid in Elizabeth’s wedding (my older sister), Maryanne’s wedding (my friend from high school/college/sorority sister), Brittany’s wedding (my friend from college/sorority sister), Allison’s wedding (duh), Sara’s wedding (my friend from college/sorority sister), and I will be in Risa’s wedding (yet another friend from college/sorority sister) this summer! Just in case you were curious, the colors of the dresses (also in chronological order) were/are: pink/green, blue, pink, brown, brown, blue.

6. When I was in first grade, I used to chase boys on the playground and kiss them if/when I caught them. I find it amusing that I was so promiscuous at the age of 6. I even managed to snag myself a boyfriend that year—Brady Evans. And he wasn’t just any boy, he was the cutest boy in first grade, so BOO-YAH. And Brian, I’m sure if you had been in first grade with me, I would have picked you instead, so not to worry :)

7. I used to think blogs were really stupid. It’s true. I remember hearing about these “online diaries” back in college and I thought it was pretty ridiculous that people would broadcast their every thought for the entire world to read online. I also, for the record, thought A&M was a dumb school and had no interest in going there up until around April of my senior year. So the good news (particularly for my husband, who has probably noticed by now that I’m a little, shall we say, “set in my ways”) that there is now official proof that my mind can be changed!

So there you go. And now I tag the following seven BEAUTIFUL bloggers:
1. Camille at Camille Rodriquez
2. Stephanie at Blogahon
3. Bonnie at Mommy Brunson
4. Angela at Bringing Creativity
5. Christian at Srp Stories
6. Leah at Gibbizzare… although she likely won’t have time to get around to doing this considering she is due to give birth any minute!
7. Everyone else that reads this :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Day in Brian's Life, aka: the most awesome day ever

So, after Amanda posted “A Day in the Life of” post for herself, there was an overwhelming response that I (Brian) guest blog and do a post in the same format... or maybe it was just one person. Why on earth anyone wants to know what happens in my life on a daily basis I do not know… but you are all in store for a special treat. Get ready for a day in the life of a youth minister.
I am going to pick Thursday for my example because it is usually a relatively busy day for me, and I don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression about what goes on in my life. So, without further delay, here we go!
3:47am – Amanda’s alarm goes off and we get ready to go to the YMCA.
-note: its actually closer to 5:10am when it goes off, but it always feels earlier.
6:00am we get back from the Y, and I proceed to watch early morning TV or a show that I have recorded from the night before. I usually like to watch movies that I recorded. Some recent good ones from TV: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Days of Thunder, anything Clint Eastwood…
7:00am – as Amanda leaves for work I start to get ready for the day by hopping in the shower and then shaving. I do shower daily, however, I only shave twice a week because I hate it. And because Thursdays are special, that is 50% of my shaving quota for the week.
7:30am – leave to go to the church to set up for the middle school chapel. Allow me to explain a little more. The church I work at is a church & school, and they have daily chapel. Thursday is the day that middle school has chapel, and I am in charge of delivering a message to them and arranging the music for it. So, on Thursday I get there early to set up microphones, guitars, projectors, etc. and to prepare mentally for the message I have for them.
8:00am – chapel starts and I do what I just described. It is actually one of my favorite parts of the week.
8:45am – if I haven’t eaten breakfast before chapel, I grab something about now – usually it’s a pack of peanut butter crackers and some coffee. It’s all about the simple things that help me get through a day.
9:00am – on days not beginning with ‘T’ I usually arrive at work at this time. Upon entering the office, I usually read the news online and check up on some church related (leadership, youth culture, etc.) websites and what not. I strongly believe that if you are in ministry you need to start with the news on a daily basis just to see what people are hearing and talking about, and also to get a sense of what culture is throwing at them, and what we are up against.
-note: I, like Amanda, don’t really want to blog about everything that goes on at work, so like her, I am going to condense it down quite a bit. Just know that I prepare my lesson for each week, plan retreats, practice worship music, think of games, arrange things for trips, etc. during this time
10:45am – more coffee. I like to make mine taste like candy. I do not understand how someone can “like” the taste of straight black coffee. Too bitter for my sweet tooth/teeth.
12-1pm (usually) – I say usually only because sometimes I go to lunch a little bit late. Or, sometimes, I skip lunch. Amanda cannot understand this whatsoever. Sometimes I sort of get busy and forget to eat. Inconceivable to some, but to me it just happens sometimes.
3:48pm – nap…. Just kidding, although some days I wish it were true… especially if I have eaten an entire box of mac & cheese for lunch. But I do usually need a little pick-me-up in the form of candy or chips, which youth ministers have in endless supply.
5:00pm – This is when the office closes. I don’t always stay in the office until 5, but I try to have consistent hours so someone can find me if they need me.
5:04pm – I am home. You are jealous because my commute is awesome. About now is when video games are played, or playing on the internet commences. Want a fun site to go to? I love movies, and can usually spend more time here than I need too. The movie I am most looking forward to at the moment? Probably Clash of the Titans or the new Wall Street movie. If you haven’t seen the original Wall Street, you should.
5:15/5:30pm – depending on what is for dinner I start getting it ready about now, so that Amanda and I can eat when she gets home.
5:48pm – Amanda is home!
6:00pm – we start eating if dinner is ready
6:30pm – we are planted in front of the TV to watch all of our favorite TV shows – Community, Parks & Recreation, The Office, and 30 Rock. Love them – all of them. Best night of television that doesn’t include LOST.
9:00pm – time to get ready for bed
9:30pm – usually I go to sleep about this time, but in the event I can’t go to sleep……
10:00pm – I can’t sleep so I let Amanda know that I am going to go in the other room. I usually play a video game or watch a movie that I have saved on my instant Netflix queue. I told you I love movies. Just watched Memento – excellent.
12:00am – I go back to bed and then sleep in on Friday since it is my day off!
So there you go – a day in my life. I hope you found it fun to read!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Maybe we shouldn’t be in such a hurry to save the polar bears?

So I have been a tad stressed out lately, and I have noticed that, in addition to a headache that won’t go away, I have been shedding quite a bit of hair. And because nothing can drive you insane quite like looking up medical symptoms on the internet, I decided to google “headache and hair loss” just to see if “stress” popped up.

Sure enough, stress was listed as a possible cause… along with SEVENTY-EIGHT other possible causes. Seriously? I know there are a lot of ailments out there, and I realize that headaches and hair loss are probably fairly common symptoms, but 79 causes seems a little excessive.

Needless to say, I scrolled through a few of them out of curiosity. But I didn’t even make it out of the “a” list before I decided this list might be a little too all-inclusive. Which potential condition caused me to stop in my tracks in disbelief, you ask? No, it wasn’t cancer. And no, it wasn’t some other well-known terminal illness.

It was Australian Sea Lion Poisoning.

No, I’m not kidding… this is (allegedly) a legitimate illness.

Apparently, eating the liver of the Australian Sea Lion can result in a Vitamin A overdose which can cause SERIOUS symptoms—including headaches and hair loss, apparently—and even death in extreme cases. And you all know how I feel about “death” being listed as a symptom.

I have a couple of questions:

Who eats liver? Seriously? Who sits down at dinner and thinks to himself, “Hmm, a cheeseburger just won’t hit the spot tonight. What I need is a nice hunk of liver.”
Who specifically eats the liver of a sea lion?!
Who eats SO MUCH sea lion liver that it results in a Vitamin A overdose?

Well the good news is that I have never, to my knowledge, eaten a sea lion liver, or any liver for that matter. And I have actually never been to Australia or even anywhere near it, so you can all breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that I am not suffering from Australian Sea Lion Poisoning.

The bad news is that I may have lupus or melanoma, but don’t worry—I think stress is a safe bet.

And for the record, I just looked through the list more closely and “polar bear poisoning” and “walrus poisoning” are also both listed as possible causes. Who knew that consuming arctic mammals was such a dangerous habit??

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Comes with the territory

Is anyone else tired of wearing the exact same winter outfits every single day? I’m sorry, but my wardrobe was just not prepared for winter to last this long, and while normally I relish every opportunity to sport my pea coat or pick out a scarf for the day, lately it just makes me angry.

Is it too late to blame the groundhog?

Anyway, I’m sure some of you girls can relate to the fact that I stopped feeling cute about a month ago, at which time I began silently pleading God to turn me into a bear so that I could hibernate for the rest of the winter (where no one will care if I spend all day in my pj’s and a fleece) and just come out when it’s warm again. Apparently He is either too busy attending to people with real problems or He thinks I am just being irrational, because as far as I can tell, I am still human.

Anyway, speaking of cold weather (talk about a seamless segue), much of my time at home lately has been spent wrapped up in some form of blanket. We don’t have any Snuggies (pathetic, I know), so unfortunately we are left to rely on our trusty old throw blankets. Well the other morning I happened to notice that one of our living room throw blankets (yes, they all have designated spots in the house) was nowhere to be found.

I searched every room, thinking that perhaps Brian had used it the night before during one of his late night tv-watching stints, but to no avail. And here is the part where you might think that my obsessive compulsive behavior is a tad… well… obsessive. It was approximately 5:50 am, but I could not go one.single.extra.second without knowing where the blanket was, so I went into our room and woke Brian up to ask him where the blanket was.

Go ahead and judge me, see if I care!

It took him a good minute to wake up and actually understand the question… and perhaps to process why, exactly, I was acting like it was reasonable to wake him up at 5:50 in the morning to ask. After muttering “um” approximately 7,000 times (much to my frustration, of course), he finally responded that the blanket was up at the church.

Sure, that’s logical.

When I, in turn, asked him why, he informed me that he took it up to the church to “use for an illustration.” Also totally logical. I didn’t bother asking for further explanation because I realized a coherent conversation would not likely ensue, but I did insist that he immediately set himself a reminder on his phone to retrieve said blanket and bring it home from work. A tad pushy? Perhaps. But I have a feeling many of you wives that are married to husbands with a little condition known as ADD can totally relate to this behavior.

As I continued getting ready for work, I wondered to myself, as the wife of a man in ministry, just how many times I will get that same response in our marriage. “Honey, where’s the cheese grater/hammer/toaster/our youngest child?” “Oh, I took it up to the church to use for an illustration.” I guess one can only hope that the missing youngest child would be noticed more quickly than the missing throw blanket.

And you might or might not be surprised to learn this, but it is just a tiny bit harder to get mad at your husband for forgetting to bring something home (or for, perhaps, housing a RAW COW TONGUE IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR) when his excuse involves the church. What am I supposed to say, “I don’t care if you were using it for a sermon… next time, steal your prop from somewhere else or tell the children to do without!!” Ha, I joke like that is something I wouldn’t actually say :)

Anyway (have you ever noticed that “anyway” is my favorite transitional word?), I am thankful to be married to a minister—I just think it comes with some amusing (and some not so amusing) quirks that I would not have anticipated. Feel free to share about the strange things that come along with your spouse’s job.

Or to share about how tired you are of the cold weather so that I don’t feel so alone. Either way.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Short and sweet... pun intended

For those of you that were curious, we have successfully demolished 4 of the 6 cupcakes. I have saved my 2 favorite flavors for last—birthday cake and yellow cake with chocolate fudge icing.

The fact that such boring and predictable cupcake flavors are my favorites really irritates Allison, because the snobby baker in her really wants me to like something a little more challenging for her to make. And it is for this reason that every time she offers to make me cupcakes, I suggest yellow cake with chocolate fudge icing and end up with something strange like banana fried cupcakes with strawberry lemonade powdered sugar ganache and jelly beans on top. I can’t help it if I have classic taste, sis, ok?

And speaking of desserts, can we please talk about the fact that Brian’s sweet mom gave us at least 8 million chocolate chip cookies AND chocolate-covered pretzels for Valentine’s Day? And that there is a cream cheese King Cake at work for probably the 100th time in the past 2 weeks? And that one of our vendors brought up a tray of assorted cookies and no-bakes to our office after lunch today? And that one of my co-workers gave everyone Valentine’s Day candy on Friday while another one brought Reese’s no-bakes for BREAKFAST? And please don’t forget the infamous cupcakes.

If my calculations serve me correctly, then I should develop a severe case of diabetes in approximately 2 hours.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Just another day in paradise

So where were we?

Oh yes, my pitiful efforts at sleeping away my illness.

So I woke up bright and early on Saturday morning (let's be honest, I wasn't having all that much success in the sleeping department at that point) to head over to the Junior League for six fun-filled hours of volunteering. Somehow, I survived, and our Valentine's Day celebrating began.

First I came home to find a bouquet of flowers (props once again), and not one but SIX gigantic cupcakes from Cupcake Cafe. I haven't quite figured out how we are going to finish these all off before they get stale, but you better believe we are going to give it our best effort.

Our next plan was to eat dinner at Houston's because we had a gift card left over from Christmas. However, apparently the other 8 billion trillion Houstonians also decided to do the same thing (at 5:30 pm, mind you) on the night before Valentine's Day, so we headed over to our most favorite Mexican restaurant in the entire world, El Tiempo.

If you haven't been there, go. Now. Trust me- you can finish reading when you get back.

After partaking in the consumption of the world's greatest fajitas, we headed over to the Toyota Center to watch the Houston Aeros play. The Aeros are Houston's minor league hockey team... or at least I think that's what Brian told me. But anyway, last week I received an e-mail from the YMCA advertising half-price tickets to that weekend's games for members. And considering that (a) Brian loves all sports and (b) Amanda loves a good deal, it seemed like the perfect Valentine's Day gift.

The game was actually really fun and our seats turned out to be pretty up close and personal, as evidenced by the fact that I flinched every single time a hockey puck hit the plastic screen that was approximately 10 feet in front of us. And perhaps even more amusing than the game was the world's most unenthusiastic and depressing couple that happened to be seated next to us.

When she wasn't busy texting her homies (Bruce and Carol... I might or might not have looked over her shoulder a couple of times), they were busy practicing their "I would rather die a painful death than be here right now" faces. I don't think they said two words to each other, other than "What are you so busy texting people about?" and "Ugh, nothing! Carol needs my advice!" So that was special.

I was pleased with the gift because Brian seemed to really enjoy the game, minus the fact that every five minutes I made a reference to the Mighty Ducks, suggesting that if the Aeros would just give the "Flying V" formation a try, they would definitely score a few goals and win the game. He loves putting up with me.

Despite all the excitement, we left the game a little early and came home to polish off #1 of the 6 cupcakes before calling it a night.

And as for the actual Valentine's Day? Well prepare yourself for perhaps the most romantic recap ever:

We woke up, got to church early to sell tickets to the upcoming Pancake Supper, went to church, came home, ate lunch (at home), took the dogs on a walk, and sat down in front of the tv. At that point, Brian played on the computer while I (drum roll, please...) did our taxes! I know all of you husbands out there are jealous that your wife didn't pull such a sweet move on Valentine's Day, but try not to be too hard on them.

But that's not all!

As I type this, I am blogging (clearly) while watching the Olympics (on mute, because I don't care about the background story... just put on your ice skates and get the show on the road). Meanwhile, Brian is eating pizza at youth group with 20+ teenagers. It's true- this "date" might go down as the most romantic of all time.

So since I'm not going to post this one until tomorrow, by the time you are reading this, you can rest assured that we probably polished off at least 1 or 2 more cupcakes. Just 3-4 more left...

Happy belated Valentine's Day to you all!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Good luck keeping up with this one.

Hello friends! I apologize for the delay since my last blog- I have been sick and therefore unmotivated to do much besides take baths, sleep, and overdose on Mucinex D.

Nonetheless, many blog-worthy things have happened lately- including our celebration of Valentine's Day!- so I will not leave you hanging any longer. Do you sometimes wonder how you ever survived before this blog existed without knowing my every thought and action? I do.

Ok so first, a brief thought on The Biggest Loser. You know how they put in those majorly cheesy and obvious plug-ins for random products throughout the show? For Ziploc bags, Brita water filters, etc? I have decided that the Extra gum ones are my least favorite.

For example, did anyone else see the part in last week's episode where the girl from the purple team was staring longingly at the dessert display in the Olympic Training Center cafeteria? Bob walks in and is all, "You don't really want to eat that. Why eat a piece of cake when you could have Extra 5-calorie sugar-free gum instead?"

Seriously, Bob? That is about as believable as Jillian spitting out the Taco Bell burrito. Yes, everyone agrees that 5-calorie gum would be a healthier snack alternative, but it's a bit much to act like it's a fair trade-off for cake. Couldn't you have at least offered up some frozen yogurt, or a couple of M&Ms? You are lame, and I want no part of your dieting plan. Especially because I have a hunch that it does not include DQ blizzards.

Moving along, Wednesday was my grandfather's 87th birthday (alternatively referred to as the 66th anniversary of his 21st birthday), so all of us that live in the area got together for a little surprise birthday dinner at a restaurant in Sugar Land called Los Tios.

Brian and I arrived early (this is a huge shock, I know), and decided to wait in the car (hello, seat heaters!) until everyone else got there. Well in the middle of our conversation, we all of a sudden saw this guy take off in a sprint out of the Walgreens nextdoor, and then a split second later saw another man chasing him.

My inclination? Lock the door and hide.

Brian's inclination? To jump out of the car and join the chase. And while I am very proud of his heroic efforts, I also wanted to hit him over the head while reminding him that criminals often carry weapons of the GUN AND KNIFE variety.

Fortunately, Brian was not injured. Unfortunately, the thief hopped in a getaway car and zoomed off before anyone could catch him or see the car's license plate. We found out afterward that he had apparently stolen a woman's purse and knocked her down before taking off from the store.

The police came and interviewed us, so don't be surprised if you see us being portrayed by famous actors in an upcoming episode of Law & Order. Because a woman's purse being robbed at Walgreens would most definitely make for a new and original story line, right?

Anyway, I'm not sure if I was just worn out from all of the crime-witnessing excitement or all of the chips I consumed at my grandfather's birthday dinner (my inclination is actually to blame the never-ending winter weather and rain), but I woke up sick the next morning.

I would love to say that I have since recovered from my illness, but here I sit, 3 days later, surrounded by a pile of used Kleenexes and with a container of Vicks Vaporub glued to my side. I know that conjures up a pretty racy image, so try not to get carried away, boys. I'm married.

So I missed work on Thursday, and all I have to say is THANK GOODNESS for DVR because I forgot how unbelievably boring day-time tv is once the first hour of the Today Show ends. I also have to say thank goodness for my husband because he did indeed make a special trip to Chili's to pick up some baked potato soup for me for lunch. Although he ended up getting beef fajita quesadillas out of the deal, so I'm not sure that his motives were entirely altruistic...

So anyway, I think we would all agree that there is no better way to recover from an illness than to wake up the next morning only to find that your family dog was going to be put to sleep, right? Sadly, my parents' dog, Millie, left us to go to doggie heaven on Friday morning. We are all glad that she is no longer in any pain, but were all, of course, sad to see her go. My sister and brother both wrote sweet tributes to her on their blogs, so be sure to check those out here and here.

Clearly in denial about my illness, I pushed forward on Friday so that Brian and I could hang out with Chrissy and John, some of our most favorite friends in the area. We met for lunch and a viewing of the new Valentine's Day movie, which, for the record, was cute, but did not live up to all the hype considering there were approximately 700 famous people in it. My summary is that it was basically a less-good version of Love Actually. I should be a film critic, I know.

Regardless, we still enjoyed the Trapps' company and I especially enjoyed the Valentine that one of their imaginary friends, Carolina, made for me! Yep, it's true, the Olivers and Joiners are not the only ones with imaginary friends, so there!

Another downfall of the movie, however, was that I started to get chills and a fever in the middle of it, which meant that I was in the bath at 5:30 pm (for an hour, mind you) and in my pj's in bed by 7 pm. Brian came to the rescue once again by making a trip to Walgreens (no, not the same one plagued with criminals) for some medicine and a trip to Wal-mart to get me some raspberry sorbet. Isn't he great?

We turned on the Olympics and I fell into one of those sickness-induced sleeps where you toss and turn all night, intermittently waking up to cough up a lung and blow your nose just so that you can continue breathing. But the good news is that my fever disappeared! Hooray!

Are you bored yet?

Well just in case you are, I am going to turn this post into a "to be continued..." so that your boredom can be drawn out for another day. If you'll tune in tomorrow, you can read all about the Joiners' oh-so romantic Valentine's Day weekend. Remember how I said I wasn't going to leave you hanging any longer? I lied. Get over it. :)

To be continued...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Just one more reason why my husband is awesome

Just in case any of you ever doubted the awesomeness of my husband, then please take a look at this video.

Some background info: The youth group’s annual Pancake Supper fundraiser is next Tuesday, and in Brian’s reign as Youth Minister at Calvary, he has implemented a Pancake Eating Contest as part of the fundraiser’s festivities. He is the two-time reigning champion (I have probably blogged about this before but I’m too lazy to go back and find it), so anyone else that participates in next week’s contest will have some fierce competition.

Anyway, when we recently visited our friends, Lauren and Drew, Brian recruited Drew to assist him with a little pre-pancake-eating “training” if you will. And thus, the video was born. Enjoy!

And if you happen to be in the Richmond area next Tuesday evening (2/16- Fat Tuesday, duh), feel free to stop by the church between 6-8 pm for pancakes and a good time. Feel free to comment if you want me to send you the details!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Viva Nashvegas

The predictable thing for me to do today would be to post a recap about our trip to Nashville. But guess what… I’m not predictable so I’m going to blog about my favorite zoo animals instead!

Ok that’s a lie… I’m going to blog about the trip. But for the record, I’m a huge fan of the red panda. And the original panda for that matter.

So back in the Fall, Southwest was having a sale and we decided to take advantage. There were a few different places that were in the running, including Seattle and New Orleans, but because the flight times to/from Nashville worked the best with my half-day Friday schedule, Nashville was the winner!

The weather was not exactly cooperative, unless you consider grey skies and temperatures in the 30s to be cooperative. Fortunately we took the fact that it was February into consideration when planning the trip, so we didn’t really have anything outdoorsy planned.

The highlights of the trip were most definitely a trip to Bluebird CafĂ©, a venue where local up and coming songwriters play their songs while you sit and listen. A very complicated concept, I know. One of the guys who played that night happened to be the person who wrote the song “If My Heart Had Wings” (made famous by Faith Hill), and he performed it for us which was pretty cool. He did, however, spend the rest of the evening making cynical remarks about his ex-wives and people who steal music online. It was an authentic Nashville experience nonetheless!

We also enjoyed a “musical comedy tour” called Nash Trash, courtesy of Allison and Wade, who so kindly purchased us passes for Christmas. I really have no idea how to adequately describe the tour, so you are better off just going to the website to read about it. I will say, however, that they had a good time flirting with the younger men (my husband included), and that I was flattered that they referred to me as “cutie” while referring to the rest of the girls on the bus as “hookers.” Always a nice compliment.

Other than that, we did a lot of driving around and (surprise!) eating. I ate the tastiest pizza ever created at Bosco’s (which is saying a lot considering I’m not really a big pizza fan), and also enjoyed a cupcake that theoretically should have put me into a sugar-induced coma for days at Gigi’s Cupcakes. For the record, Brian and Bailey (one of my former youth group girls that is going to Vanderbilt) did NOT finish all of their frosting. But I, being the true champion eater that I am, pushed through to the end and consumed every last crumb of mine. A proud moment indeed.

We enjoyed watching the Saints win the Super Bowl (have I mentioned recently that Drew Brees went to my high school? And I’m facebook friends with his little sister? I know, I’m pretty much famous) at the hotel. Not the most glamorous place to watch the game, but being that Brian basically consumed his weight in buffalo wings at the hotel’s restaurant lounge, I think he was perfectly content. Of course, I think that contentment also stemmed somewhat from the fact that the game finally ending signified an end to my incessant, “Did you know Drew Brees went to my high school?!” comments to strangers. He’s probably just jealous :)

Our trip came to an abrupt halt when our plane touched down in Houston at 4:30 pm yesterday afternoon. Because by the time we arrived to our car and started to head home, it was 5:30. PM. On a Monday. In Houston. In case you aren’t good at math, this basically means that we were in h-e-double hockeysticks as far as traffic is concerned. So that was awesome. But not quite as awesome as the fact that a tsunami hit Houston right around the time we finally got out of gridlocked traffic. As you can imagine, I was perfectly calm and relaxed about the situation and Brian did not incur any of my wrath.

So anyway, we’re glad to be back to home sweet home, but sad to see our mini-vacation come to an end. I do have to point out one huge victory for Richmond and more specifically for our house, however—we did not find one single cockroach (dead or alive) upon arriving home yesterday. Not one! This has never ever happened before!

And on that note, is it sad when you consider arriving home to a house with no cockroaches to be a “victory” in your life? Regardless, I’ll take it.

Have a great week (until we meet again)!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Day in the Life, aka: a great tool for potential stalkers

After complaining that only 2 of you submitted blog topic suggestions a couple of days ago, I received an additional suggestion from my pal, Bonnie. I know what you’re thinking—“THREE WHOLE SUGGESTIONS?! She’s the luckiest girl in the world!” It’s true.

Bonnie suggested that I do a “day in the life” post. And since there is nothing more interesting than reading about the life of a young-married-with-no-kids-yet-recruiter-married-to-a-youth-minister, I have decided to oblige. So without further delay, I give you a day in the life of Amanda Joiner:

5:10/5:15* am—Wake up! I am up and out of bed within approximately 30 seconds of the alarm clock going off. Boo-yah.
* The time depends on whether I will be working out at home or going to the YMCA.
5:10/5:15-5:50 am—Work out
5:50-6:50 am—Shower, get dressed and ready for the day, eat a bowl of Raisin Bran, do some early morning e-mail/facebook/blog stalking, all the while watching my friends on the Local 2 Morning News
7:15 am—Arrive at work!

I would love to share with you what I do at work on a typical day, but since I try to make it a habit not to blog about work for a variety of reasons, I am going to refrain. I do, however, one day plan on doing a post about amusing (deeply disturbing?) things that applicants say and do.

9:30 am—Morning snack time (typical snack options include: Wheat Thins, cereal, Laughing Cow cheese with crackers, popcorn, or pretzels)
12-1 pm—Lunch break; Because I am frugal and have a high tolerance for repetition, I pretty much do the exact same thing every day during lunch: walk a lap around the building outside while talking to Brian on the phone, eat my predictable turkey sandwich lunch, and read a book. Thrilling, I know.
3:30 pm—Afternoon snack time… assuming I can hold out for that long; my afternoon snack is always some type of granola bar… and not something cool and healthy like a Luna bar, but rather the same Chewy granola bars that I have been eating since 5th grade... peanut butter chocolate chip and s'more are my favorites :)
5:30 pm—Leave work and head home
5:32 pm—Call Brian
5:34 pm—Call Allison
6 pm—Eat dinner (typically I have either cooked in advance and Brian heats it up, or he starts getting it ready when he gets home at 5)
6:15-9 pm—Watch tv, play on facebook, check e-mail, eat something for dessert, take the dogs on a walk (if it’s not dark, freezing, and/or rainy… which it has been for the last 8 million years)
9 pm—Get ready for bed
9:30 pm—Targeted bed time

I know you’re probably feeling a little down in the dumps because your life probably isn’t as glamorous as mine, but try not to beat yourself up too much—not all 26-year-olds can live the life of an 86-year-old with such ease. But by all means, good luck trying!

And if you are looking for more insight into my life, make sure to head on over to Allison’s blog and ask a question (or 5)!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Happy birthday, Bath Volkie!

I would like to wish my wonderful friend, Elizabeth Rose Volk, a very happy 27th birthday today!

Elizabeth and I have been friends since 8th grade, and even though she didn’t invite Allison and me to her slumber party on the first weekend of school (therefore leaving us to hang out at home alone stuffing our faces with Cheetoh puffs while watching Powder), I still love her :) And she loves when I bring that up!

I can imagine that being best friends with a set of twins was not the easiest task, but she handled it well—she always invited both of us along, made sure to switch off which twin she asked for when she called the house, and managed not to interfere in any twin fights (probably because she feared for her life).

I never laugh harder than when I’m with Elizabeth, and even though our friendship began almost 14 years ago (eek!), we still manage to behave like 8th graders whenever we’re together.

My favorite memories of Elizabeth include making music videos ("YO YO ES GRAAAANDE!"), a few unusual rounds of volleyball in my parents' pool, cruising the streets of Westlake (and occasionally meeting potential child predators in the WHS parking lot), trips around Texas (not limited to the roach motel in Dallas and of course our senior trip to Padre), and many, many more. And lest you forget, she also happens to be the friend that made my embarrassing Backstreet Boys interaction possible. Thanks for that one :)

Anyway, I thought I’d include a few pictures from over the years, although I didn’t have very many scanned from our pre-digital camera days. Enjoy, and make sure to leave a comment wishing her a happy birthday!

Sophomore year Soiree (1998)
Elizabeth's 16th birthday (I think) (1999)
Sophomore Year Pedernales (1999)
Elizabeth, Maryanne, Allison, and me at my parents' house (2002)
Allison's bridesmaids' luncheon (2006)
The day after I got engaged (2006)
"Super Six" at my bridesmaids' luncheon (2007)
Helping to get me in my wedding dress (2007)
The most embarrassing day ever, aka: meeting two of the Backstreet Boys (2007)
Christian's wedding (2007)

And PS- don’t forget to visit her cute jewelry website!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Remembering the roomies

Happy Groundhog Day, everyone! Unfortunately, our imaginary friends don’t really know the difference between major holidays (Christmas, Easter, etc.) and minor holidays (Arbor Day, Groundhog Day, etc.), so some of them are a little on edge about the fact that we are still required to work today. And that they weren’t given any presents. I know, the NERVE of us forgetting to buy gifts for our imaginary friends on such a significant day as this!

Anyway, word on the street is that we will be having 6 more weeks of winter. Hooray. Don’t get me wrong, I most definitely enjoy the cold weather that accompanies winter—but if I could just (a) see the sun for more than a day at a time and (b) have the opportunity to sit around the house comfortably without being wrapped up in a blanket, I would really appreciate it. And yes, you will hear me singing a different tune come June. Let’s all accept my seasonal double standards and just move on.

As you might or might not have noticed yesterday, I was struggling to come up with something to blog about. I submitted a plea for help, and 2 of you very kindly responded. To Risa and Allison: thank you for your assistance during this trying time of blogger’s block. To the rest of you, thanks for nothing! Kidding… sort of.

Anyway, Allison requested that I blog about how I’m a picky eater/how I hate it when people say that I’m a picky eater. However, I think I kind of covered that with my post back in September about my excursion with some co-workers to a local Chinese food restaurant.

Risa (yes, the very same President of Chi Omega that I referenced the other day) requested that I blog about my college roommates, in particular those from Spring of 2005. Well congratulations, Risa, those who ask will receive, so here you go!

One of the more glamorous parts of serving on the Executive Board for Chi Omega was that we were required to live in the house during our term. I actually didn’t mind because I really enjoyed living in the Chi O house. You get to live with 40+ other girls, so there’s always someone to hang out with (translation: someone to distract you from studying). There’s a cook that prepares 3 hot meals a day, and a housekeeper that cleans the bathrooms every day. And never mind the fact that boys weren’t allowed upstairs and we had to have a babysitter in the event that our house mom was out of town—it was otherwise a pretty sweet gig!

Nonetheless, after spending 3 full years under the roof of the Chi O house, I was ready for a change of scenery. As luck would have it, when my term as VP ended in the Fall of my senior year, there were some willing new Exec members and eager freshmen that had no choice to/agreed to move into the house. Risa and Allison happened to be in the same boat, as did Risa’s friend, Page, at the Theta house next door. And thus begins our tale.

We were fortunate to move into a cute little 3-bedroom house in the historic district near campus. And by “3-bedroom,” I mean to say that there were 2 bedrooms and a room downstairs that we pretended was a bedroom. Allison and I split the master bedroom, Risa had the bedroom next to us upstairs, and Page took one for the team and lived in the downstairs cubby hole with no closets or locked doors known as the 3rd bedroom. It was her punishment for being part of a different sorority—ha ha!

And Risa thinks that we lived with her because we like her, but what she may be saddened to find out is that we only lived with her because her dad had the hook-up with a furniture rental store and got us a sweet leather couch and dining room table for our place. Thanks, Mr. Holland!

Anyway, many fun times were had in 402 Welsh—we made dinner together on very rare occasions (ok, I think it happened once), we had a birthday party for Page, and perhaps most importantly, Allison, Risa, and I repeatedly had contests to see who could shout out our Aggie introductions the loudest from room to room. I’m not even going to bother explaining an Aggie introduction to you, because you simply will not understand. Or care.

I should also note that during this particular semester, I was enrolled in a whopping 3 hours of class. It was originally 6 hours, but when I realized that I might get a B in one of the classes and therefore lower my GPA, I dropped it like it was hot and continued on with my one class. So needless to say, I spent a lot of free time lounging around that house eating lean pockets and watching episode after episode of Gilmore Girls. Oh, to be in college again…

This also happened to be the house I lived in when I fractured my foot (playing Guesstures with Brian’s family at Easter), and due to the very steep stairs there, I gave up on using crutches within 24 hours of my injury. And to really make sure I was fully resisting the healing process, I also made sure to walk to class AND to Brian’s apartment as often as possible since our house was less than a mile from both. I’m such a rebel.

We really did have a fun semester, and along with many things about A&M, I was sad to see our living arrangement come to an end when we graduated and went our separate ways at the end of the semester. I even made a mix cd for the roomies to commemorate our time together. I would share the track list with you, but my copy unfortunately is no longer around due to the great cd collection theft from my car in 2006. Boo. Maybe Allison or Risa will share with you if you ask nicely... if they still have their copies!

Sadly, I don't have any pictures on this computer from our time at 402 Welsh. I do have a picture of the 4 of us (plus my niece, Emma) from my wedding back in 2007, so that will just have to suffice.

Page, me, Allison + Emma, Risa

So there you have it. If you want to avoid having to read additional posts about things you might not care about, then I suggest that you come up with some new topics for me ASAP!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Lacking motivation

Ok friends (and strangers), I am really struggling to come up with something to write about today... unless, of course, you consider a post dedicated to detailing every single thing I ate over the weekend to be an intriguing topic.

So instead I am leaving the ball in your court- what would YOU like for me to blog about today (or tomorrow... or whenever)?