Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I didn't want the day to end

I had a GREAT day yesterday. Mark made the entire day so special. I laughed, I cried, I relaxed, I had fun, I ate good food, I couldn't stop smiling.

To celebrate our 15th anniversary, he set up FIFTEEN surprises for me - I received surprises and instructions throughout the day.

It started when I woke up and found #1
(a love letter letting me know about surprises to come)
on my nightstand.


Numbers 2 and 3 were waiting for me on the kitchen table
when I went downstairs after getting ready.

#2 - He had baked me blueberry bread (one of my favorites) for breakfast.

#3 - He found an old mix tape I made him back in college when we started dating and tracked down EVERY song on it and made me a playlist of all of them! I LOVE THESE SONGS!! They are so nostalgic for me - such strong emotions are tied to them. This is the one that made me cry, right in the middle of the kitchen. Scout was concerned and the kids weren't sure what to make of me. I looked at them, hardly composed at all, and said, "The best advice I could ever give you is to marry someone who's good to you."

#4 is the post he put up yesterday with that BEAUTIFUL video montage. Also very moving for me. If you missed it, click on the "#4" under the picture to see it.

I got a text from Mark a bit later telling me to check a file drawer
we have, and inside I found this beautiful Shakespearean sonnet. #5.


sushi lunch
(See "#6" on the bag?)

Mark worked that morning at the hospital. He showed up with sushi lunch for #6. He also kept his clinic schedule totally free to spend the whole rest of the day with me (he made up for that by working lots on Monday and today). Yesterday totally spoiled me.

#7 and #8 came together in a pretty wrapping:


I opened it and found 2 seasons of a new (to us) show to watch!

Mark has seen a handful of episodes and has suspected for a long time that we'd like it.
Plus, good friends that know us well have given it high praise.
And we're nerdy and it's a nerdy show.
And he got an amazing deal on them.
So, we're excited!

#9 was something just for me --
Mark scheduled a hot stone massage for me!
It was my first time trying that out. It was VERY relaxing.
While I was there, he took the kids to Chocolate World.

#10 was a really cute ecard that he sent to me

Apparently, I didn't upload the picture for #11 and #12
(which also came wrapped together in pretty packaging).
It's probably for the best.
Those were rather, um, personal. :)
We'll leave it at that.

We found the instructions for #13 in our advent calendar drawer.
It said, "Let's go eat! Happy Hour. Houlihan's."
We love that place!

The happy couple

We enjoyed delicious food and shared this dessert -- a S'mores fondue.
YUM!


I wanted to document that the kids were there with us, too, so as we left Thing 1 suggested we take these pictures and say, "Oh yeah, the kids were there, too.":



Oh yeah, the kids were there, too. :)

#14 - we got the kids to bed and watched "The Help" together.
Great book. Great movie. Loved it!

#15 was this sweet note to wrap us the day.
It was close to midnight when I got it.
I looked at Mark and teared up and said, "I don't want this day to end."
It was wonderful! He made it so special.
I am SO grateful for him
and don't one bit take for granted how lucky I am.
Happy Anniversary to us!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fifteen Years

video

Ever since the Scrubs series finale I've wanted to use that song for something like this. I've loved our first 15 years of marriage; I look forward to many, many more together.
I love you!

(Stacy--#4, by the way)

Our 15th Anniversary in Numbers

I love writing prompts. So I'm giving myself one for this post. Today is my and Mark's 15th wedding anniversary (and next year is TWENTY years we've been together!!).

So in honor of our anniversary, I'm doing a post-by-the-numbers. I'm numbering 0-15 and coming up with something for each number related to our marriage:

0
The number of times we've ever been apart. True story.
Since being married, and by choice (and good fortune, too), we have not ever been apart, meaning in different states/countries from each other. We see each other every day. When we dated during our freshman year of college, people nicknamed us "24/7" for a reason. After our freshman year, we spent 3 1/2 years apart and we were often across the world from each other. Honestly, that was really, REALLY hard. So, given all that, we really value being together. And since all that, we haven't desired to be apart.

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who are ready to judge and call us crazy and unhealthy and I've seen the articles that talk about distance being good for relationships. That's all fine, but the fact is we're happy and I can't think of anyone else I'd rather be with. Even with all this, I feel like I can't get enough of this guy. So if we have no complaints, I'm not sure why anyone else should.

1
The number of heart-breaking miscarriages we've suffered
(my first pregnancy)

2
The number of children we have together

Also, the number of crappy bosses we've had between the two of us
(hence, owning our own business)

3
The number of states we've lived in
(UT, AZ, and PA)

Also, the number of cars we've owned together

4
The number of degrees we've earned since getting married
(a bachelor's degree for each of us, a master's degree for me, a doctorate for Mark)

5
The number of addresses we've had
(Our first apartment in UT, our trailer in AZ, our townhouse in PA, and our farmhouse in PA, which has two addresses -- one for us and one for our business)

6
The number of concerts we've been to together
(4 of those just in the past year)

7
(7 1/2)

The number of years we've spent in school between the two of us since getting married
(8 1/2 when you count the year of post-doctorate training)

8
The age of our youngest child.

9
The number of years we've lived in PA so far
(well, 8.5, so I rounded up)

10
The number of bookshelves we own
(and they are all filled to overflowing)

11
The age of our oldest child.

12
The number of years ago we left UT and our first apartment

13
(13K)
Number of miles until our van hits 100,000 miles
Also, the number of years we've had our Saturn.

14
Number of years since we graduated college

15
Years of wedded bliss

There are other numbers that come to mind, too. Like 26 - the number of plumbing leaks under our trailer in Arizona. And 39, 36, 32, 31 - the number of states we've all respectively visited (Mark, me, Thing 1, Thing 2). How about over 150K words written in 3 years of novel writing? And 169 - the number of Google Answers Questions we've answered (yes, we'd work together on many of them. Big shocker). And over 2700 - the number of miles in our longest move. 2.2 - the number of miles in our shortest move. 5407 - the number of days we've been married longer than Kim Kardashian. 27 - the number of years left to pay Sallie Mae. 86 - the number of library articles currently checked out to us. And 22 - probably the number of boxes still not unpacked. :P 19- the number of years we've been together . . . so many numbers, milestones, and meanings, but today the number 15 is at the forefront.

For 15 years, I have been married to my best friend. I know that he has only had eyes for me, and I for him. He tirelessly shows me that he loves me and that we are his top priority. I am so grateful and so happy. Nothing means more to me in the world than my marriage and family, so I really feel like I hit the SUPER jackpot. 15 and counting means more to me than millions of dollars in lotto wins ever could. So. Much. More.


Happy Anniversary, Sweetie.
I love you.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Random Ramblings (The Addendum - Fa La La La La)

Stacy wrote a really nice post with some great Christmas ramblings. She wanted to include this picture so I'm posting it here. Also, she added a video of Scout and the kids so enjoy the post below.

Random Ramblings - 5 Days Until Christmas

Well, for us anyway. We open everything on Christmas Eve so we have 5 days to be ready. For some reason, this year has been nerve wracking! It's always a busy time of year, but this year has felt especially NUTS.

As of yesterday, though, we finished just about ALL shopping (except one or two little things we haven't been able to find). Isn't it always the stuff you're sure won't be that difficult??

Every year, I dream of being done in October with shopping, wrapping, etc. As you can tell by the date, we didn't even come close.

Sleep is taking a place lower on the priority list as Mark and I stay up late working on projects, wrapping gifts, and racing to get packages in the mail so that they're there in time for Christmas.

Everything that has to go to CA, AZ, UT, MA, etc. went out today and all of it should arrive by Christmas (PHEW!). We figure we better take advantage of the post office while they still exist. We helped them out by giving them a hefty sum to mail everything.

Seriously. Our total shipping costs are about what Mark and I budget to spend on each other! Crazy. We're starting to think that buying everything online and paying to have them wrap it might actually be more economical. Or at least the same.

The thing is, for a girl who doesn't like shopping, I really LIKE thinking about what someone might like and going out and getting it and wrapping it and making it special.

We have done much of our shopping online, so between that and the presents that have been coming to us from other states, I am LOVING the sound of the doorbell and knocks on the door to let us know that we have packages.

Packages are FUN. I just love them! When we hear the mailman clink our mailbox shut, we all race for the window/door to see what has arrived. Scout FREAKS out every time (she does NOT like the mailman). That part I don't love, as I'm always nervous she's going to be too loud for the patients in the clinic. But we do know when the mail arrives. :P

And then we have the fun job of trying to figure out if I can look at the box (or in the box) and/or if Mark can look at the box (or in the box) since we've both bought for each other and the kids online -- most of it has to be wrapped, but some is arriving wrapped. Plus there have been lots of Foley packages arriving from California. Mark's parents have given us the heads up about how the boxes should be arriving and my brother has as well. So far, no ruined surprises, so we're doing pretty well!!

The Elf on the Shelf has been a fun tradition to start this year. Every morning, the kids race to find Percy to see where he's hiding (and we do, too!). Also, every so often, we hear them whispering things to Percy, too. It's awesome (and remember, those of you commenting, they read this blog!). Ahem.

The other day, while out running errands and shopping, we ran into friends and all decided to go out for ice cream together. We went to Friendly's and Mark and I split a Gingerbread Ice Cream Sundae with sweet cream and caramel and whipped cream. SO YUMMY.

There are only a couple of presents under the tree so far, but as soon as the packages get here, we'll have more to wrap and put under there. I love the excitement of guessing what's inside!

A friend of mine and I went out to lunch this weekend. She is super sweet and very grandmotherly. She had 2 gift bags for our kids as a little Christmas surprise. We don't usually open Christmas gifts early, but what the heck! When I got home, we told the kids to go ahead and they were THRILLED to find cute, soft, Christmas-themed stuffed animals inside. They have been carrying them everywhere with big smiles on their faces. It's the thoughtful, little things. They mean a lot.

We've been making cookies, too. Oh, and all kinds of new cocoa recipes! The melted ice cream cocoa? SO GOOD. I love this time of year!

Every day, we open a drawer of our advent calendar. The kids love it, but I think the dog loves it even more. She gets a treat every time. When we pulled it out this year, she got excited and it was clear she remembered, from this past Christmas, how this works. When we say, "Let's open a drawer," she hops excitedly, awaiting her treat. It's so cute.

video

The kids are SO pumped. The energy level in our house is always super high for the whole month of December. Every night, they say that they hope Christmas gets here soon (as I smile and try not to think of how much more there is to do).

But I don't mind it. It is totally worth it. I'm looking forward to our big Christmas meal (our wheels are already turning about what we'll make this year), Santa's arrival (he fills our stockings -- can hardly wait to see what he brings!), and opening presents.

And I love the week between Christmas and New Year's -- it tends to be one of the most relaxing weeks of the year (on par with going to the beach!). We get to sleep in (mostly -- there's still work, etc.) and hang out in our jammies and play with our new things. I'm not quite as relaxed as usual this year, since my mom is having surgery 2 days after Christmas, but it should be fine. In fact, she'll feel so much better afterward, so that's good.

We went to visit Santa. He asked Thing 2 if he's been a good boy this year. Thing 2 responded, "Yes!" And then, "Well, I think so." Convincing. Santa busted up laughing (which is why I heard the story -- I asked the kids why Santa was laughing). Thing 2 says his laugh was regular and not a "Ho Ho Ho!" How strange.

As I sit here and type this, UPS just showed up with 5 more packages (lots of stuff is coming in separate packages for some reason). Scout's going nuts. This is a fun part of having so many family members in other states. Oh, the excitement!

One of my favorite parts of this season is getting plates of homemade cookies. I *love* that. Cookies and donuts are two of my favorite desserts.

Some years, I feel like I'm grasping for ideas, but this year, I'm really excited about my gift for Mark and he says he feels the same about his for me. I have no idea what it is. Again, I'm so excited!

We also, as we do all this, have Thing 2's birthday on our radar, since it's so soon after Christmas. We start thinking about theme ideas and parties and celebrating, etc. We can't wait until after Christmas to pull all that off. We celebrate Christmas and New Year's and then we take down ALL decorations so that his birthday is totally separate from the holidays. We love birthdays around here, so it's more celebrating! :) But yeah, we start doing stuff for it now, along with all the holiday stuff. Busy, busy time of year.

I LOVE how excited the kids are. I love making Christmas special for them and for Mark and I love all that they do to make it special for all of us. I love cutting snowflakes with them, watching Christmas specials together, listening to music, baking, having cocoa, visiting Santa, wrapping presents, attending holiday parties, etc. It's a busy, busy time, but it's a happy time, too.

This week, besides the finishing touching, wrapping, etc. we have to do, we're also squeezing in making and packaging homemade toffee and delivering it to friends and teachers. I love doing that, too!

So, yes, for some reason, this year has been especially busy and we feel like we're squeezing this all in in between a lot of work and home stuff and health stuff and family stuff and vet appointments and our anniversary and flat tires and school and music lessons and multiple car repairs and errands and so so much to do.

But I also recognize how lucky we are -- we have jobs, we have a beautiful home, and we have a happy family. Those things count the most and we are grateful. Presents are just a really, really special bonus. Merry Christmas, everyone! :)

P.S. It's now night time and SEVERAL fire engines just came blaring down our street. It took us a few minutes before we realized what it was. SANTA!! He comes on a Monday night before Christmas every year with lots of lights and loud, Christmas music playing. We ran outside and they threw candy (big deal around here).

Afterward, our curmudgeon of a son said, "I was upstairs in my room working on a game when I heard "Jingle Bell Rock" and then Michael Bublé and then "Jingle Bell Rock" AND Michael Bublé at the same time. And I thought to myself, 'Ugh, people turn their radios up too high these days!'"

So, Merry Christmas and BAH HUMBUG to you!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.

So, during our Gilmore Girls Super Marathon 2011 Stacy hears this song playing in the background. It was an episode set during the holidays and Stacy tells me she remembers the song from when she was a kid. I didn't recognize it, and I certainly couldn't tell you what it was from the faint sounds coming from Lorelai's radio, but it took Stacy exactly 4.2 seconds to find it online. Here's what she found:



So this holiday season I hear the song everywhere. And I mean everywhere! I had never heard the song before and now I feel like I can't go a few minutes without hearing it. I think it's a great song, but it gets stuck in my head so quickly that I feel like I've been blindsided.

And then, we're watching "Glee," and they of course do one of their patented Christmas Cheesefests and what to my wondering eyes should appear but a whole bunch of Cheerios performing this same song. Unbelievable. So now I have the song perpetually stuck in my head along with a bunch of twenty-somethings dressed unconvincingly as high school cheerleaders, waving rhythmic gymnastics paraphenalia while singing "Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas."



I can't get over how quickly a 30-year-old song I'd never heard went from being background noise in a TV program to becoming a prominent part of my mental soundrack for Christmas 2012.

(Does anyone else find it odd that a band like The Waitresses could create a "best of" album, complete with 15 tracks, even though it only released 6 singles?)

Friday, December 16, 2011

9 Days Until Christmas??


SERIOUSLY??

Where has this month gone??

I don't think I've EVER felt so behind in preparations.
It's been a busy past couple of months!

Are you ready?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Laughing at Wall Street



I got THIS BOOK through BlogHer and while I've not yet read all of it, I have read some and I have also read about it through several really positive reviews on Amazon.com.

The book description on Amazon reads:

$20,000 to $2 million in only three years— the greatest stock-picker you never heard of tells you how you can do it too

Chris Camillo is not a stockbroker, financial analyst, or hedge fund manager. He is an ordinary person with a knack for identifying trends and discovering great investments hidden in everyday life. In early 2007, he invested $20,000 in the stock market, and in three years it grew to just over $2 million.

With Laughing at Wall Street, you’ll see:
•How Facebook friends helped a young parent invest in the wildly successful children’s show, Chuggington—and saw her stock values climb 50%
•How an everyday trip to 7-Eleven alerted a teenager to short Snapple stock—and tripled his money in seven days
•How $1000 invested consecutively in Uggs, True Religion jeans, and Crocs over five years grew to $750,000
•How Michelle Obama caused J. Crew’s stock to soar 186%, and Wall Street only caught up four months later!

Engaging, narratively-driven, and without complicated financial analysis, Camillo’s stock picking methodology proves that you do not need large sums of money or fancy market data to become a successful investor.

Intrigued? Check it out. The concept of following trends on social media and turning those observations into investments has merit. Can you imagine? Yowza.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Joy of Randomness

Mark and I saw "Crazy, Stupid Love" this week.
Totally loved it.
Lots of fun twists and turns and a great cast with great acting.

***************************

I love that we can alter learning experiences to our kids' learning styles.
Wouldn't it be cool
if kids in school were "sorted" by learning styles
instead of birthday?

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I love mistletoe.
It's one of my favorite Christmas decorations.

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We make traditional Portuguese Christmas cookies every year.
They're very simple cookies -
more of a breakfast treat than a dessert.
Our dog loves them, too.

***************************

Michael Bublé has a new Christmas album out.
It is FANTASTIC.
Get it. Seriously. Right now.
My favorite song on it is is original "Cold December Night."
Every year, as a tradition, we buy ourselves a new Christmas album.
This album is AWESOME.

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I've been sick this week.
My husband made THE BEST chicken noodle soup.
Totally hit the spot.

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And yesterday, a friend of mine
(who is also my friend's mom)
brought me a pot of homemade
meatball and noodle soup.
It was AWESOME.
And so so sweet of her.

***************************

I totally had THIS idea years ago.
Don't you hate when you see someone else use your idea?
I actually have several awesome ideas (IMHO).
I just don't always know how to put them in action.
I'm definitely more big picture than nitty gritty.

***************************
I'm a news junkie.
But I hate video news online.
I would MUCH rather read/skim an article
than wait on a video.
Plus, Tivo has spoiled me, so I pretty much hate commercials.
(Though, now I hate product placement).
Speaking of, totally watch Morgan Spurlock's
(of "SuperSize Me" fame -- love that movie!)
"The Greatest Movie Ever Sold."
So, so funny (oh yeah, and informative).

***************************

One exception to that
is any video of a soldier returning home
and surprising his or her family.
They are great.
And make me cry every time.
I challenge you to watch THIS and not cry.

***************************

There is a new show on TV called
"I Hate My Teenage Daughter."
I think that is a sucky, sucky title
that perpetuates horrible stereotypes.
Teenagers are not inherently bad.
They can actually be DELIGHTFUL.
Stupid name.
Stupid stereotypes.
Plus, the idea of hating your kid?
Abhorrent.

***************************

A week ago today,
I was jolted by someone belligerently ringing our bell
("You come to my house,
you ring my bell many times!"/Gloria)
while I was in the shower.
It was the PA State Constable
leaving a business card that had my name on it
and the words
"A warrant has been issued for your arrest"
crossed out.
Scared the crap out of me.
(I knew I hadn't done anything wrong --
I'm not that kind of person,
but I was freaked out!
Images of being in prison for Christmas danced in my head).
Turns out?
Oops. Wrong address, so wrong person, too.
I was not amused.

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I *love* Modern Family.
Gloria and Cam are my favorite two characters.

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What the . . . ?
I recently found out, while Googling some Bobby Brown songs
that it's spelled "prerogative."
SERIOUSLY?!?
I did not know that.
This grammar and spelling nerd stands corrected.
PRErogative? Really? Really?

Monday, December 5, 2011

A few funny stories

On 12/1/2011:

Scout was barking at the window because someone dared to walk down the street near our house. Thing 2 went to the window to see what was up.

He tells me there was just some kid walking down the street with his "
pants on the ground" and we start talking about this "style."

Thing 2: I've noticed that people with backward baseball caps often have pants on the ground.
Me: Sideways baseball caps, right?

Thing 2 (who wears his backward): No, backward, too.
Me: Do you like
pants on the ground?
Thing 2: (eyes wide and shaking his head) No!! (and turning back to the window with a shrug) I break stereotypes.

On 12/3/2011:

Thing 1 played violin at the Christmas Spectacular with the Hershey Symphony. She looked BEAUTIFUL and sounded amazing. What a treat to be able to play with them! Mark, Thing 2, and I all attended to support her and enjoy the performances. Thing 2 looked SO handsome.

Mark volunteered to help backstage and while he was getting Thing 1 where she needed to be, Thing 2 and I got seats in the balcony.
I noticed how handsome he looked and leaned over and said, "You are SO handsome. If I weren't your mom and I were your age, I would totally have a crush on you."

He responded by slapping himself in the forehead while rolling his eyes and shaking his head (it only made him that much cuter).

After the concert, we went out to get something to eat as a family and we were all laughing and sharing stories. I shared that one and described Thing 2's reaction (he shook his head again while I relayed this to Mark and Thing 1).

Mark explained that all I was saying was that he's cute. I nodded my agreement, "Yes, I'm simply saying you're cute, that's all."

So Thing 2 looked at me and said, "Then just say that!"


(I'm not the only one who thinks he's cute. A friend recently told me that her 9-year-old daughter has a crush on Thing 2. Apparently her cute daughter gushed to my friend, "Mom, he has the best eyelashes!" and even wore a touch of make-up when she knew she was going to see him.)

On 11/15/2011:


Thing 2 was philosophizing (as he is often prone to do) and this time we got an insight into the inner workings of his mind.

He explained, "There are two chambers in my mind. The 'saving data' chamber and the 'easily forget' chamber."

He went on to explain that thoughts enter his mind and some stuff stays in his head forever (like the Yo-Gabba-Gabba songs he heard repeatedly when the kids' cousin Ada visited earlier this year) and some stuff doesn't stay long at all (I think I have this chamber, too).

I asked, "Can you put the thoughts in either chamber?"


He said, "It does it for itself."

And then, very matter-of-factly, he explained that when a thought enters his mind for the first time, it goes to "the middle" and then it chooses where it goes.


My thought? That explains some things!!