Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hurricane Update

So far, Mother Nature has been on our side. It looks like Hurricane Gustav is not going to be a serious threat for Pensacola. It rained for about 20 minutes today and there's been increased winds, but otherwise you'd never know there's anything going on in our neck of the woods. The predictions for tomorrow are lots of rain and wind, but we are only on the very outer fringes of the storm. The CNN map below labels Pensacola (underneath the inset), so you can see the brunt of the storm is farther west.

Now, the problem comes in in that NavyGuy and I are leaving for San Diego on Wednesday. He has to be there by Sunday for his survival training, and we had originally planned to simply take I-10 West until we hit ocean; unfortunately, Gustav is throwing a kink into the works, and we are in a holding pattern as to how far north we will have to go before turning left, in order to avoid the storm (and fleeing Louisianans). I had previously had visions of NavyGuy and I singing car songs, stopping at crazy roadside restaurants named after local heros (perhaps, Big Al's Pancake Barn?), and generally taking a leisurely stroll across the Southern United States; the new picture in my head involves flooded roads, insane gas prices, bribing bellhops for hotel rooms, and ending up on a news report for fighting with crowds of hurricane refugees for gallons of water. Hopefully, the trip will end up more like the former; if it ends up like the latter - don't you dare claim not to know me when you see me on the nightly news...


Friday, August 29, 2008

KFC = Faster, Higher, Stronger Movers

When I returned home at 8:45am Friday morning after taking NavyGuy's car into the shop (because it's not like we could have two working cars during this debacle...), I found the moving company already in my house ready to tackle our biblical quantities of books and other "junque." Apparently the moving company had a hunch what they were in for, because they sent three no-nonsense black ladies. I now have three new friends: Felicia, Alicia, and D'Wan (uh huh, you heard me).

The packing triumverate attacked the kitchen, dining room, and master bedroom first. Poor D'Wan was stuck with our bedroom, which consists of 678 concrete block computer books, my entire collection of purses (which I've been keeping since 1999... cuz you never know what might come back in style!), two dressers and a closet worth of clothes, and obscene amounts of other stuff. We became fast friends though when she discovered my crazy neat closet organization system (yes, anal-retentive DOES have a hyphen!), and it was smooth sailing from there.

Our friendship was cemented though over lunch. Having done my homework ahead of time, I was informed that if you offer the movers lunch (and sodas throughout the day), they tend to take a little more care with packing your grandmother's punch bowl and other irreplaceables. So, NavyGuy and I plied them with sodas throughout the morning, and then offered to order pizza for lunch. Well, Felicia and Alicia were fine with that, but D'Wan needed her pizza without cheese (despite our new best friend status, I didn't feel comfortable inquiring). Thinking quickly, I offered to stop and get her something from the Kentucky Fried Chicken (on the way to the pizza place) after I picked up the pizza. You'd have thought I offered her an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii. She was thrilled and immediately began folding my clothes a little bit neater before she put them in the box.

Well, once word got around that I was willing to hit up the KFC for lunch, Felicia and Alicia jumped on the bandwagon and next thing I knew, I was harassing the drive-thru attendant because they didn't have the honey mustard sauce that Alicia was craving, and checking to make sure that Felicia's mashed potato bowl came with a biscuit. The ladies were extremely grateful, and the afternoon sailed along swimmingly. Perhaps our politicians should heed this lesson; next time they're trying to broker some kind of negotation with North Korea or the Russians, take some crispy chicken and potato wedges along - you can never underestimate the power of the 11 secret herbs and spices.

Anyway, the only other major incident during the packing process was NavyGuy's tv. He recently acquired a 55 inch plasma screen monstrosity (I believe the exact words were, "Well, hun, since you got me the Planet Earth DVDs for Christmas, my old TV just won't do it justice!"... which sounds suspiciously like the kind of half-cocked logic I would use to justify an entirely new bedroom set based on the new wastebasket I got for the room.) Anyway, the TV is hugenormous, heavy, and cannot be held anywhichway but perfectly straight up and down. He had listed this item on the initial inventory sheet for the moving company, so they allegedly knew ahead of time that they would need to pack this. Well, Felicia (who seemed to be the queen bee), was ready to beat on someone when she saw this giant TV. Quicker than I could offer a soda to calm her, she called up the moving company and raised holy hell. From what I could tell on my side of the conversation, Mr. Abbott was supposed to have called the "crate guys" who would come out and crate the TV, but Mr. Abbott was too busy (cheap) to do so, and Felicia was sure as hell not going to try to pack that TV on her own in a wardrobe box, that's-for-dang-sure-son!

So, the moving company sent out a man with a box, which Felicia quickly deemed "still to dang small," and called the company office back again. This time she asked for "Jason." The name sounded familiar... (oh yeah, he was the guy that was supposed to come to our house on Thursday to look over all of our stuff and send the packing ladies with the appropriate packing materials... somehow, "Jason" never made it, but did have the brilliant idea to call NavyGuy around noon on Friday to let him know he'd "run out of time on Thursday but could stop by later on in the afternoon." NavyGuy gently informed him that the packing ladies had already finished several rooms, and that his services would not be necessary.) Apparently, Felicia had the same opinion of "Jason" that I did, and eventually, it was decided that the crate guys would come on Tuesday when the movers were loading the truck.

Nine hours and 176 boxes later, my triumverate left. All in all, it was a much better process than I had expected. The ladies were very considerate about asking if we wanted stuff packed or set aside (only exception - my comb disappeared into one of the 176 boxes... better the comb than the toothbrush I suppose). And they loved my lemonade (Alicia proclaimed Crystal Light the best thing since Southern Comfort...). Our house is now an obstacle course with small pathways carved out between rows of boxes (our bed was completely surrounded when we got back late last night, so I suggested we throw a blanket on top of the boxes and make a fort... you can guess NavyGuy's reaction). The movers don't come until Tuesday to load the moving truck, so we're living like very materialistic nomads for a few days, but there's still a TV plugged in, and the internet still works, so I'm in a good mood.

Oh, did I mention that after the stress of this packing day, we still had to go to a winging party that didn't start until 9:00... pm? I'll post about that later - I'm going back to sleep in my fort, er, bed.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

To pack or not to pack...

So, NavyGuy's winging was a great event. He got his wings, took tons of pics, and we had a great time with his family. It was a special day for him, and except for the unending stress of the movers arriving tomorrow, etc., it would have been a perfect day!

It's now 10:00pm, we've just gotten back from dinner, and the debate is on as to whether we stay up tonight to set aside everything we don't want the movers to pack, or just get up earlier in the morning to do it. While we decide, we're watching Friends reruns and living in a little land I like to call denial. [NavyGuy is reading this over my shoulder and commented, "It ain't just a river in Egypt... hahaha." Yes, kids, this is what I have to drive 30 hours in a car with.]

More tomorrow...


Chaos Update

The movers are coming to pack our stuff tomorrow.

Send vodka.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Craft Project

Here's my latest craft project (with some help from Mom): a winging banner for NavyGuy. Apparently, it's tradition for the girlfriend, fiancee, mom, wife, etc., to create a banner to commemorate when someone gets their wings. It's then hung out on the front porch to proclaim to the entire neighborhood, "Hey a Navy pilot lives here and he's finally done with flight school!"


When it rains, it pours...

From what I can remember of a conversation yesterday:

NavyGuy: Bad news.

Mugs: Are we out of ice cream?

NavyGuy: [sigh] I have to be in San Diego for two weeks of survival training starting a week from Saturday.

Mugs: Better you than me. Where's the bad news?

NG: I detach from the squadron here next week Tuesday or Wednesday. So the movers will be here for our stuff that day.

Mugs: Eh? Who?

NG: The movers. Who will be putting our stuff on a truck and taking it to Whidbey Island (our next place of residence). Which means we have to have everything set aside that we want to take in our car by Monday at least.

Mugs: But how am I going to watch TV and stuff once all my stuff is packed up and I'm still here...

NG: Funny you mention that. You actually won't be staying here in Pensacola - isn't that good news! You hate Pensacola!

Mugs: Yes... but where will I go instead?

NG: Well, you'll come with me to San Diego, and then continue driving 21 hours north until you arrive at Whidbey Island, where you'll house hunt and find us a place to live. Oh yeah, and Monday is Labor Day so the movers likely won't come that day (but we have to start our 30 hours trek out West by Wednesday at the latest), my entire family is arriving tomorrow for my winging ceremony and will be here all weekend, I still need your help making the winging t-shirts, and Hurricane Gustav will probably make landfall just about the time we're trying to drive west across Louisiana and Texas.

It was at this point that I either left the room or burst into tears. It's a blur.

Well, long story short, the next month and a half are going to be slightly stressful, but we've got a tentative plan. NavyGuy and I will pack up our precious belongings, and drive out to San Diego. I will drop him off at survival training to spend two weeks living in the desert eating berries and making shelters out of ducktape. Then I will drive up to Berkeley where Sister (and Hubby and Puppy) live, and crash on their couch for two weeks. NavyGuy will then hitchhike to Berkeley, meet up with me, and then we'll drive together to Whidbey and house hunt together. We still have to figure out the family, the winging t-shirts, the movers, the storage of our stuff, where we can have our mail sent, and the hurricane... but the important thing is:

He bought me more ice cream :)

Oh - and an update on my mental state - I wore two different color flip flops to Wal-Mart this morning and did not notice until 20 minutes after I'd gotten home. Luckily, I fit right in.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monday Lesson

Don't wear black pants whilst cleaning with bleach.

Or if you do, at least don't sit in bleach whilst cleaning.

Lest you end up with a suspicious-looking brown stain on your rear...

Lesson learned.



NavyGuy returned late last night from his "boneyard" trip, and now we're quickly prepping for his winging ceremony this Thursday. Winging for a naval aviator or flight officer is the equivalent of college graduation - except you get to wear a way better outfit, and most of these guys (and girls) have actually studied and worked extremely hard (unlike the performance of some of them... cough cough... NavyGuy... in college). Many of NavyGuy's family members are coming for this, and that means my weekend was spent frantically trying to clean a house that used to cage three boys.

I will spare you most of the gory details, but it's safe to say that this house was possibly, probably, never cleaned before - ever. Armed with my bottle of Clorox Cleanup with Bleach and a Magic Eraser (don't waste your time trying to clean serious disgustingess with anything else), I tackled two bathrooms, the kitchen, and two bedrooms. I encountered stains that had no reasonable explanation; how does a bathroom ceiling get caked in something that resembles chewed up carrots? Why were their little yellow balls scattered throughout the entire house? (NavyGuy explanation: "Well... Marine #1 came over and we were playing with our air guns..." Mugs: "Stop. It's best I don't hear anymore." I'll give you one guess as to who will be going around the house picking up all those crazy yellow balls...) By the time I got through with it, the house was unrecognizable. I suspect I'm still high on the bleach fumes, but I consider that a small price to pay for no longer worrying that I'm going to catch Ebola from the kitchen faucet.

As a reward for a day spent on my hands and knees scrubbing soap scum, I decided a pedicure was in order. NavyGuy and I will likely be leaving Florida within a month, so this may be my last excuse to get one until next summer. I opted for a classy pearl pink color, and had a magnificent time reading my Newsweek magazine throughout the pampering. The other fun of my day was a trip to Barnes and Noble and Target before picking NavyGuy up from the airport. (Yes, I bought another book. I'm done feeling guilty. Moving on.)

My other great find though was the Premium M&Ms! (So, after my nice healthy breakfast, I'll be taste-testing the triple chocolate variety, and I'll be sure to post a review asap.) Then it's off to face another day of cleaning and house-prepping. Despite all my hard work yesterday, the master bedroom, living room, and floors still need tackling. I also need to plan a menu for Wednesday night dinner with NavyGuy's fam, finish a winging present, battle a deluge of dirty laundry, and watch last night's new episode of The Hills (priorities, people). Whoever said unemployment is relaxing is clearly high on bleach fumes.


Monday, August 25, 2008

"Olympic" TV Coverage No Accident

The New York Times has a really interesting article (On TV, Timing is Everything at the Olympics) about how NBC managed to turn a potentially ratings-killing-time-zone-difference Olympics, into one of the most watched in recent memory. Apparently, Michael Phelps played a role in making sure that the swimming finals were scheduled for morning times in Beijing, allowing primetime viewing for Americans. (See, throw in Phelps' name, and now you're all going to read the article :)


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mugs "Must" List

Your weekly round up of all my pop-culture awareness suggestions of the week:

1. M&Ms Premiums
Why perfection needs to be improved, I'm not sure, but I am intrigued with the triple chocolate and mocha flavors of Premium M&Ms being advertised. The packaging has been upgraded, and the outer shell has been transformed into a marble-swirl pattern. I contemplated making a special trip to Wal-Mart to taste-test these goodies, but I decided that would require me to emerge from my pajamas. And, I do have ice cream in the freezer, so we're not at a life-or-death-chocolate-situation. (The link takes you to a candy blog which has a very detailed review.)

2. The Kite Runner
Even if you've already read the book by Khaled Hosseini, this movie is worth seeing. Having read the book, I was prepared for the seriousness of the story, but I did not expect the movie to match the intensity of the book. This is one of the few movies that I think is equal to, if not better than, the original book. The story revolves around two young boys in Afghanistan, with the Soviet invasion in 1979, and subsequent Taliban takeover, serving as the backdrop. This is a sobering film that doesn't pull any punches; if you're not up for reading some subtitles and getting engrossed in deep drama, then skip this and watch a rom-com instead. But if you're willing to try something that will actually engage your brain, rent this.

3. Democratic National Convention - Denver
If you thought the Olympics was exciting - hold on to your hats people! (Just kidding - this Special TV Programming will in no way compensate for the Olympics high I've been on for two weeks). If nothing else, just realize that many stations are airing at least one hour of coverage each night, so don't expect to gear up for your primetime favorites quite yet. For the true politicos out there... ha! My fans who are true politicos are definitely not getting their election news from this blog! But for those of you who want to know who's interrupting your Grey's Anatomy rerun - Monday night features Michelle Obama, Tuesday is Hillary, Wednesday is Joe Biden (VP candidate), and Thursday is Barack. And there you go - I've done my civic duty to educate the masses.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Why I Despise Local News

This just in from WEAR Channel 3 News in Pensacola:

"The center of Fay is over the Florida panhandle. A tropical storm warning and a flash flood watch is in effect. Fay is expected to weaken. Cloudy, wet and breezy weather can be expected for the rest of the weekend. Rain may become more intense Saturday night and Sunday as the back edge of the storm moves over. So far Fay has not been very impressive."

Um, I'm sorry - flooding and 40mph winds not "impressive" enough for you? What would you like Fay to do so you will be impressed? More deaths? (12 so far, according to More destruction? Gee, I just feel so bad for you, WEAR Channel 3 News - your reporters must not be having any fun out in the field wearing their yellow rain slickers, what with only 40mph winds and gushing flood water to battle.


P.S. Mom - I'm fine. I've battened down the hatches, and have my flashlight and emergency Snickers bar in my back pockets.


Maverick Flies to Tuscon

Crazy excitement around here folks - NavyGuy is flying a T-2 to Tuscon, AZ! Huh? Yes, this is a big deal - here's why.

The Navy is replacing the T-2 training airplane with the T-45 airplane. The T-2 is an elderly plane they've been using here in Pensacola for flight training. Elderly planes get to retire in Arizona (Florida is too expensive for them and the climate is better out west ;). Somehow, the elderly planes have to get out to their pleasant retirement community (aka "the boneyard") near Davis-Montham Air Force Base... and NavyGuy, being the ballsy flight student that he is, asked if he could be one of the NFOs who would fly one of the planes out there...

Shockingly - the Navy said yes! (Guess it never hurts to ask.) NavyGuy is scary excited about this adventure, and feels very privileged to be the only flight student caravaning along. He left early early this morning (5:30am...? I don't quite remember, but allegedly I said goodbye), and called several hours later to let me know that he had arrived somewhere in Louisiana. (These airplanes are small, so they can't go straight from here to Tuscon. They have to make several "hops" - little trips - in order to get there). As if NavyGuy wasn't excited enough, the pilot he's flying with let him do a landing from the backseat (which according to my ex-Navy-pilot grandpa, is really impressive, and I should be way more jazzed). And, they painted his name on the side of the airplane!!! How Top Gun is that?!?!

So, now he's in Houston, hanging out in his flight suit, thinking he's all that, living that sweet sweet airplane life. I on the other hand, am trapped in Pensacola, praying desperately that Tropical Storm Fay decides to speed up her trip through Florida and get the hell away from us quickly before I'm swallowed up in a deluge or blown out to sea. Yup - my fiancee left me here in the path of an approaching storm to go fly an old airplane. Don't think he won't pay for this; my souvenir from the airplane retirement community in Arizona better rock (maybe an old ejection seat that could double as a desk chair?)


Friday, August 22, 2008

Back to School Shopping

So... if I had any money, or any job to return to in the fall, I would be thick in the throes of back to school shopping. There was never anything better growing up than August, when Sister and I would get to go to Kohl's to pick out our new pair of jeans and a new backpack. A couple new shirts, and we were ready for fall. Then the agony began - what to wear on the first day of school. Opinions would be solicited, fashion shows staged, the merits of various outfits debated (would this tank top meet the strap regulations at school? do I need to add a layer to account for air-conditioning? am I risking wearing something too trendy and popular that someone else cooler than me will have it on the first day as well - and look better in it?). Choosing a first day of school outfit (plus hairstyle) could encompass the entire last two weeks of August sometimes!

Alas... I have no money now, nor do I have a job to return to in the fall, so I have absolutely no need or excuse to do any back to school shopping. (Don't worry - I'll come up with some semi-legitimate reason for needing new clothes soon enough.) The upside to this though, is that I can shop for you people, and make excellent suggestions as to what you all should buy to go back to school, or start your Fall 2008 off on the right foot!

We'll begin slowly... tops (and yes, you'll have to click on the links for photos - this whole "insert a photo from a website" is still on my list of to-learns).

Blue Cable Knit SS Cardigan - Forever 21
How snuggly does this look? You could definitely throw a long sleeve cotton shirt underneath once it gets colder, but in the meantime, it's a great layering piece.

Ruffle-neck Tank - Gap
So freaking cute! Let me tell you ladies, it's all about the ruffles this season. We're back to looking feminine again; instead of trying to bowl the boys over with your butchness, you need to win them over with shirts that whisper, "I look like I'm just wearing a girly top, but it's a ruse inspired to distract you while I get promoted over you..." Plus, it comes in pink, or the uber hot slate gray color that my mother thinks makes a person look like she's wearing concrete.

Short Sleeve Swiss Dot Pullover - Ann Taylor Loft
Another ruffle option, with a more conservative take on the idea. I'm still on the fence about the second hot color this season: electric yellow (especially trendy if you pair it with the concrete, er, slate gray). the adventurous part of me thinks it's a bold idea that could work well with a nice neutral; the sensible part of me thinks I'll be mistaken for a school bus or yield traffic light.

Mossimo Supply Co. Long-Sleeve Scoop Neck Tee - Target
Love love love! Bought one last year, and then to my dismay, realized others loved them as well so when I went back to Mecca to buy more - only the XLs were left in a pukey green color. My advice - stock up on these early. They are your basics, people, you will wear them to death, and because you only spent 8.99 for them, you will not care. I recommend one in white, black, and at least one of your other favorite colors.

AE Boyfriend Cardigan - American Eagle Outfitters
And a fashion season wouldn't be complete without total contradictions. My InStyle magazine for this month advocates femininity; Elle announced that masculinity is in vogue. I give up. Apparently, aside from wearing stone wash jeans or socks with sandals, you can do no wrong. If you'd rather wear something slouchy and comfy, this sweater's for you.

Maggie L/S Solid Top by Roxy
- (free shipping!)
Preppy, yet unique. The shoulder buttons add just enough flare to make it memorable, but not so much bling that you look like you're trying too hard. I'd go for the chocolate brown, but the black is also fetching.

Florid Breeze Sweatercoat - Anthropologie
One of my new favorite stores (courtesy of my future sister-in-law, bless her heart), stocked with amazing pieces that you will not find at Wal-Mart. You are going to have to shell out a little more of your hard earned cash for this piece, but seriously - you would eat ramen for a month to be able to wear this, wouldn't you? Okay, even if you don't love this one (because let's face it, not everyone shares my love of all things pink, girly, flowery, or moderately 1950s), you must waste the next 30 minutes perusing their website. You will find something that is worth wearing (instead of paying for heat for a few months).

Funny T-Shirt -
Yeah, it's just funny. If you don't get it - what the heck were you doing in sixth grade while the rest of us were shooting slow moving buffalo?

The next installment of Mugs' BTSS 2008 - pants! In the meantime, what tops are you all emphatically swearing you'll die if you don't have?


Pet Peeves This Week

1. The phrase "momtourage." Wal-Mart is airing painful commercials trying to convince moms that they need to be as cool as an HBO show, but they're essentially saying, "Hey Mom - you're not quite up to snuff and can't really handle everything yourself, so you need a teacher, coach, doctor, neighbor, friend, relative, therapist, life coach, and Wal-Mart in order to raise your children!" Aside from the philosophical aversion I have to this, the term just ticks me off.

2. Garbage bags. Why is it that no matter how big I buy the garbage bags, they never go all the way to the bottom of the trash can? How has no one fixed this obvious design flaw? If the bag touched all the way to the bottom of the trash can, then when I drop something heavy in, the bag wouldn't pull down to the bottom, forcing me to rehook the top of the bag around the top of the trash can! Glad - I'm glarin' at you.

3. Ann Curry. I'm a loyal NBC girl, and I do enjoy the Today show, but if Jeff Zucker doesn't do something about the over-expressive, turbo-charged emotions of Ann Curry, I may have to do the unthinkable and switch to Good Morning America. How does this woman get choked up during every segment? How does she manage to do more talking than the guest during each interview? Seriously - the woman teared up this morning during a segment about the Chinese language, "sexy" Beijing, and the U.S. soccer team winning the 1,000th American gold medal in modern Olympic history (okay, yeah, it's a big deal, but really? Tears?) No. Tears are for injuries, weddings, the rare Hallmark commercial, and severe stress. That's it. Suck it up, Ann.

4. Beach volleyball inequality. If the golden girls of the sand have to win their gold in bikinis, then the least the guys could do is take off their shirts. Shirtless men playing volleyball is the only redeeming quality of Top Gun; I say, London 2012 - bust out those abs boys!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Yes, Another Wedding

Another happily married couple begins their life together under the watchful eyes of yours truly. My college roomie Sketch got herself hitched this past weekend, and my mom, NavyGuy, and myself attended the wedding in Portland, Oregon. Between traveling with my mom, and being in a wedding where there were three flower "princesses" (apparently, the name was a stipulation for one of the five-year-olds), I've collected many memories...

~ Hours after we arrived in Oregon, Mom and I and Sketch stole the iron and ironing board out of our hotel room in order to help iron 35 tablecloths for the reception. Apparently, we would make good jewel thieves if necessary.

~ Sketch took us girls out for a fabulous tea party at a shop in Tillamook (her home town) called "La Tea Da." We had scrumptious little sandwiches, scones, tea, and a delightful cherry cheesecake tart for dessert :) Yum! Sketch also spoiled us with eco-green-reused-material purses; mine was pink, of course, and the two other bridesmaids got neat green and blue ones. I feel so green using it - but it doesn't look like a hippie made it out of hemp! It looks like you could have actually bought it at Target :)

~ The rehearsal went fairly smoothly, save for a few flower princesses who did not want to share the spotlight with anyone else. One of the adorable youngsters was unhappy that she was not allowed to walk out the door of the church first, and a meltdown ensued. One of the other bridesmaids and I debated bringing leashes in order to wrangle the flower girls during the ceremony the following day.

~ Morning of, we all gathered at the church to prep for the big event. The bride paraded around in a smashing ensemble of her large crinoline skirt, and her soon-to-be-hubby's oversized button up flannel shirt tied around her bust in order to avoid making any strap marks. It was a sight. The room started out peacefully, but once you added several flower princesses, plus their moms, plus their siblings, plus the groom's mom, plus the ring bearer's family, plus the florist, plus random other relatives... it more closely resembled the racing of the bulls rather than a church classroom. People yelling, clamoring for food, worrying about how they look, constantly checking the time, and on and on and on. We escaped to a different room not a moment too soon. It was quite cold outside for pictures before the morning ceremony, so us bridesmaids huddled together for warmth. Then miraculously, the moment we needed to walk down the aisle, the sun broke through and it was magical.

~ The reception was somewhat busy for many of us as we got things ready for the newlyweds, but that actually worked out really well, because none of us knew anyone else at the reception, so we'd just have been sitting around eating extra pieces of cake that we didn't need (though, I did still manage to get one of each flavor... just to test them... I'm doing research for my own wedding people - I'm just trying to look out for your well-being!).

~ Best moment of the reception had to be when the bride and groom finished their first dance together. They had been swaying romantically to Ben Folds' The Luckiest, and were getting ready to transition into the father-daughter dance. The music was supposed to be a classic song by Nat King Cole or something, but a technical glitch got in the way and instead the guests were treated to a blaring rendition of Amy Winehouse's Rehab song! The iPod that was serving as DJ was left on "shuffle" mode, so instead of going through the dance playlist, it skipped to the next random song on the iPod! Priceless. Awkward. Highly memorable.

~ Following the reception and clean up, we caravaned to Portland, and us youngster's headed to an after party at the Brewery where Sketchy's husband is head brewer. It's a brand new brewery and restaurant that just opened in March - and they're already winning awards for their beer! The other bridesmaid and I (friends from college) attacked the food spread and taste-tested each type of pizza that was brought out throughout the evening. We didn't stay too long though, because we'd been up since 5:00 am!!

Overall, the wedding was great. It was really personal to the couple; for instance, their favor was two different kinds of beer that the groom had created himself. Each of the tables was decorated with a favorite quote, which is sooooo the bride, and the whole vibe was very casual and fun - which is DEFINITELY this couple. I'm still in shock that both my sister and my best friend are now married off... where did time go? Weren't we just in college eating cookie dough and watching movies? Weren't we just little kids, reading books in the car during our summer road trips? Sigh. I'm so old. Alas, I'm not sure wisdom came with age... ;)


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mugs "Must" List - Late Edition

Your weekly roundup of my pop-culture suggestions (late because of travel and wedding-ness):

Yea!!!!!!  Mindless stupidity begins again.  Everyone can come out of the bad TV closet right now, cuz you know if you're under the age of 30, you watch, and love, this absurd MTV "reality" show.  I missed the season opener as I was on an airplane (weak excuse yes, but it's the best I've got), so I'm scanning MTV every two hours to wait for the replay.  I can only imagine that there were inane comments from Spencer, hair flipping by Heidi, and pensive sunlit shots of Lauren sitting at a cute restaurant, distraught over her latest friendship/relationship drama.  If you've somehow missed this gem, or are over the age of 30, or have thought yourself too educated to spend your time watching this drivel (no, you're not), check out the coverstory linked above so that you at least understand the pop-culture references when a Trivial Pursuit question comes up in the future.

Mom suggested this author, who sets many of his works in Florida, and has a biting black sarcastic tone (my favorite tone).  I knew after reading the acknowledgments that I was in for a ludicrous treat: 

"For their expertise on the most esoteric subjects, I am deeply grateful to my good friends, John Kipp (the finer points of skull collecting), Tim Chapman (the effects of canine shock collars on human volunteers), and Bob Branham (the care and handling of untamed South American coatimundis)."

Excellent.  A read that has you stopping every 20 pages and thinking, "Did I really just read that?".  Yes, you did., a comedy and humor site, posted this article featuring 15 photos of unbelievable sites.  As explained in the article, most look like they were created on some computer graphics program, but all have a real explanation.  I'm particularly amused by the steroid dog, and the inversion house.


"Mommy Mommy, I want a dog!"

This was the constant refrain in our apartment growing up.  Sister wanted a dog and pestered Mom night and day.  She pledged to take care of it, walk it, clean up the poop, etc., and eventually she wore Mom down.  Once we moved into a house, we promptly got a black lab (mutt) puppy who proceeded to eat socks, tear around the house in fits, steal hair scrunchies, drink out of the water bowl, bark insanely, jump on everyone who entered the house, climb onto the couch, scratch the carpet, and generally proclaim herself queen of the house - regardless of how anyone else felt about the situation.  Over the years, there have been threats to let the dog run away, let the dog run into traffic, shave the dog if she did not stop barking, and leave her on the back porch overnight in the dead of winter (oops - that was more an actuality than threat... relax, PETA, the damn dog was fine - it didn't even snow that night).  "Shut up, Ebony!" became as common in our house as "what's for dinner?" and "who left the light on in here!?" 

Every time another threat was issued, the reminder came up that Sister had wanted this dog, and she was going to do all the maintenance, and on and on, and yet somehow it was always Mom who had to deal with Queen Ebony's antics and oddities (such as, Ebs will only eat her food if someone threatens to steal it, and then stands there and watches her eat it).  So, it gives me great joy to report that some things never change --

Today, our beloved Ebony, in returning from the five day stay at the dog kennel while her inconsiderate family traveled cross-country, pooped in the front passenger seat of Mom's car... and then proceeded, not to vacate the front seat (because why would she give up shotgun?), but to try to step around the elephant-sized-poop-mound.  Unsuccessfully, she and Mom arrived home with Mom in a fit, and Ebony covered in poop.  The remainder of the morning was spent laughing at Mom attempting to scrub dog poop off the upholstery in her car, and spray enough Febreeze in the vehicle to create a visible hole in the ozone layer above our house.  Mind you, we had only gotten home at 1:30am, and all of this transpired before 9:00am...

By 9:15, Mom had left a voicemail on Sister's phone reminding her how "Mommy, Mommy, I want a dog" was going to go on her gravestone, as well as alerting Sister to the fact that there would be a large package arriving at her office within days (whether Mom was hinting at shipping the poop or the actual dog, we'll never know).  Lesson learned?  Before you sit, check for shit.


Back to Business

Hello hello!  Oh how I've missed you!  I arrived back in Wisconsin at 1:30am last night (early this morning... whatever), and will be here for exactly 38 hours before departing once again to return to Florida.  In that time, I only need to pack all of my worldly possessions in two medium sized suitcases (I have perhaps accumulated a few extra items since leaving Florida in July... is it tacky to wear four t-shirts, and shorts over jeans, in order to free up precious suitcase space?  You're right - I don't think so.)  Somehow I've also managed to arrive here in Wisconsin with ONLY 2 books - yes, TWO - and now I'm leaving with 8.  Not including magazines.  And a pop culture crossword puzzle book.  And my wedding binder.  And a new scrapbook.  Plus some scrapbook supplies that were CLEARANCE at Archivers.  Sigh.  NavyGuy - you best bring the truck to pick me up from the airport; the car will simply not be able to handle the weight.

In the coming days there will need to be a wedding recap, Olympics catch-up, and other stories from my travels with mom.  Hope everyone else had a great weekend - can't wait to start writing again!


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Speedy Swimmers

Unless you've been living under a rock (in Antarctica... with headphones on...), you probably already know that more and more world record times are being set during swimming races in these Olympics.  Some attribute that to simply better swimmers, but as the Herald International Tribute investigates, it's actually a combination of several factors that are producing such speedy times.

One of the most cited factors is the new LZR Racer swimsuit, which aims to make athletes more aerodynamic in the water, thus reducing drag.  Couple that with the specifications of the Olympic pool in Beijing (deeper than most, extra lanes to collect waves, special plastic lane buoys), the increase in sports-science technology to study breathing techniques, stroke movements, etc., and the fact that swimmers have more and more incentive to be record breaking, and suddenly it doesn't seem as surprising that Rowdy Gains is constantly screaming, "That's a new world record!"

Also of note - apparently, while we here in the US have become rabid Phelps fanatics (or at least some of us), there are still many in China who don't even know who he is.

And that's been your Olympics news for the day.  Unfortunately, I have a jam-packed schedule in the coming days, and limited internet access, so new posts will be sporadic at best.  In the meantime, keep yourselves occupied with my suggested reading material (look right), and NBC's internet coverage of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics!!!  Go USA!!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Perfect... 17?

Women's Gymnastic Team Final - Tonight!  NBC has provided a handy cheat sheet for those of you perplexed by the intricate and illogical scoring system (probably designed by a bitter Romanian IOC member).  Anyone who watched the men's gymnastic final last night, might have noticed that the numerical scores seemed a little... weird.  Well, you're right - there is no longer a "Perfect 10" score.  Instead if you do okay, you end up with a 14, good is a 15, super great is a 16, and "perfect" per say is a 17.  Huh?

Ok, long story short - after the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the IOC realized they needed to revamp the scoring system after some debacle with a Russian gymnast getting shafted.  So, their solution was to split the judges into 2 panels (Panel A and Panel B), whereby having Panel A judge the difficulty score (more death-defying, more points), and Panel B judge the execution (fewer flops, fewer lost points).  That is where it also gets complicated - Panel A judges are working upward, awarding more points for more difficult skills in the routine; Panel B judges are working downward, starting each routine at 10 points and subtracting when a gymnast falls or makes a mistake.  (Confused yet?  I know, my head hurts too.)  Here's another explanation of it if you're still lost.

Now, what does this all mean?  On the one hand, coaches and some athletes are complaining that the system encourages gymnasts to attempt more and more difficult / dangerous skills in the hopes of increasing their Panel A score.  With more and more focus on the athletic skills, and less on the dancing/artistry of the routines, watch for more tumbling passes in the floor routines, and less tapping toe pointing on the balance beam.

On the other hand however, Jordan Ellenberg (writing for Slate) makes a compelling argument of the benefits of a scoring system that doesn't have an upper limit (which the old system theoretically did):

"Gymnasts can perform moves that no one's carried out before - that no one ever thought of carrying out before.  Now, the sport has a scoring system that's built to reward that...  With the new system, gymnasts have the incentive to keep making their routines tougher and more complex.  In every other sport, the competitors in Beijing are superior to their predecessors and get better scores to prove it.  Why should gymnastics be the only sport without world records?"

The one thing we can be sure of is that the women tonight will continue to perform feats never before dreamed of - regardless of the scores awarded.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Cheers and Jeers

One of the best sections of the TV Guide is their listing of the Cheers and Jeers of the week.  After watching a few days of Olympic coverage already, I'm prepared to offer up a few of my own.

Cheers... to Bob Costas and NBC for their dramatic montages that play at the beginning of each night of Olympic Primetime coverage.  The slow-motion shots of athletes, the pained expressions of frustrated coaches, the joyful winners celebrating a victory, the obligatory shots of training and practicing, all matched up with appropriate music starts my evening off well.  I immediately get psyched for whatever competition is taking place that evening.

Jeers... to Elfi Schlegel, Tim Daggett, and Al Trautwig, the commentators for the womens' gymnastics events.  I'm normally somewhat rational.  I don't necessarily believe in ghosts or hoaxes or superstitions... HOWEVER, it absolutely never fails, that as soon as one of these three yahoos proclaims how well a gymnast always does on an event, she sucks.  Last night was no exception.  Chellsie Memmel was performing her routine on the uneven bars, and I swear to God above, no sooner than Elfi had opened her big jinxing mouth to say how she's "never seen Memmel be anything but perfect on this event," wouldn't you know - Memmel slips right off the bars!  Damn you Schlegel!  Daggett did it later on in the night when one of the USA girls was on the balance beam; the gymnast managed to stay on despite Daggett's voodoo curse of talking too much, but it was a close call.  If it was up to me, this entire trio of useless commentators should be ducktaped to a wall in the stadium, and only allowed to speak after the event has been scored.

Jeers... to another annoying reporter.  Andrea Kremer takes a sick joy in tackling swimming competitors seconds after they vacate the pool, and forcing them to endure endless questions about their emotions regarding the race.  Most of these swimmers can barely talk let alone wax poetically about how it feels to come in 3rd in the quarterfinal qualifying heat for the 100m breaststroke.  And poor Michael Phelps.  She has an especially big crush on him (maybe she gets paid per interview, like how papparazi get paid per pic), and interrogated him for five minutes after his first gold medal win in the 400m Individual Medley about how he felt during the race, how he felt about winning, why he was so emotional about it, what emotions was he feeling, and on and on and on...  She reminds me a clingy high school sophomore girl who's in her first relationship and wants her boyfriend to explain to her in every possible language how much he likes her.  I have a malicious hope that after Phelps' last race, he picks her up and drops her in the dive pool.

Cheers... to the NBC graphics department who understands that most of us are tuning in each night to watch specific people perform, and we'd prefer to have time to go to the kitchen for a snack, etc., when the Bolivians and Pakistanis are competing in yet another qualifying race.  Watch closely, and you'll notice that occasionally a small TV set will appear in the lower right-hand corner advertising how many more minutes until Shawn Johnson competes on the floor exercises, or Misty May and Kerri Walsh play Baywatch, er, beach volleyball.  Bravo, NBC, bravo.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mugs Must List

Your weekly pop culture suggestions:

"Dropping" on Tuesday, this could not come at a better time.  After their reunion earlier this summer, NKOTB is once "Hanging Tough" ("I'll be loving you forever" Jordan!!).  If you didn't grow up adoring them in the late 80s, then think of them as the original Jonas Brothers (only significantly hotter and not a product of the Disney channel).  My personal favorite "Step By Step" starts the album, and it continues with 17 of their other classics.  Download it on iTunes, or go truly old school and buy the CD (I know, I know, if we were really going to do them justice we would buy the cassette tape, but there's no point in making ourselves suffer anymore with the incessant rewinding to rehear the best songs).  For those of you fair weather fans who missed their reunion performance on the Today Show, you can catch up here.

Perfect for while you're on a boring phone call at work, or lounging in front of the TV at night.  I'm a big fan of the "How am I doing?" feature, where you can check and see if you've messed up along the way.

Old school Disney animated movie fans, have no fear - Christmas Day, 2009, Disney will release its latest animated movie (not a Pixar flick, but a 1990s style animation ala Little Mermaid, Lion King, etc.) titled The Princess and the Frog.  It features the first African American Disney princess (gee, do you think Mickey's been getting some heat from the NAACP?).  It's hard to judge the movie from the teaser trailer, but it is nice to see 2D characters again.


Where do you learn to play field hockey?

One of my favorite parts of the Olympics is how quickly I get sucked into sports that in a normal setting I would have absolutely no interest in.  For example, this morning I have already watched soccer, field hockey, water polo, basketball, fencing, and sculling.  Do I know anything about most of those sports?  No.  Do I have a clue what the rules are?  No.  Does that matter?  Heck no!

So far I have learned:
1) you cannot touch the ball with your feet in field hockey
2) traveling, double dribbling, and lane violations are non-existent in Olympic basketball
3) water polo seems worse than waterboarding (you float... the entire game... imagine trying to play basketball, but without a floor below you)

And where along the way in life do you decide, hey, I might like to play field hockey.  Do kids play this in gym class and pick it up there?  I mean, soccer, track and field, bball - these sports are fairly common and kids have lots of opportunities to join school or community teams.  But where do you find a water polo team?  Can I sharpen the end of a yard stick and take up fencing?  The more I watch the more I refuse to give up my Olympic dreams.  If Dara Torres can still compete in the swimming events (at age 41... with a 2 year old daughter), who says I don't have a shot at joining the U.S. Olympic sculling team!


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Say Yes to the Dress

Leaving the Olympics and returning to the wedding theme, I'd like to share my wedding dress shopping experience, because for every other girly-girl out there, this is something you need to do (seriously, even if you're already married, just go look for a bridal gown again - you can always "call off the wedding" at a later date).  NavyGuy - if you don't want to get any hints about the dress, STOP reading now.  :)  Love you dear.

So last week Wednesday, mom, my future MIL, future SIL, and I took Madison by storm in an attempt to finally find me a dress.  This was not my first time looking, and my patience was growing thin - what if there wasn't actually a dress out there for me?  What if I had to settle for something that was just, okay?  What if I had to bleach my prom dress and go with that?  By this point in the search, however, I had narrowed down my factors, eliminated some styles, and was a much more focused bride-to-be.

The first store we tried was a bust.  The woman there was incredibly helpful, but all they had were big poofy marshmallow gowns, and because of my less than voluptuous bust, those types of dresses make me look like one of those books that are cut into three strips, and you can match up the head of a chipmunk, the torso of a duck, and the bottom of a manatee.  Not good.  

The second store though, was my dream wedding gown shopping experience.  Vera's House of Bridals (no, mother, I'm not being paid to advertise), is an institution in Madison.  The shop itself is a giant white building with columns, that looks like it could have been a home in the South pre-Civil War.  There is actually a Vera - who I got to meet - who started the business 46 years ago, when she sewed her own wedding gown.  More on her later.

How many of you have seen the TLC show Say Yes to the Dress?  It's a reality show where brides shop for their wedding dresses at Kleinfeld's Bridal Store in New York, and they show women trying to pick dresses, and going through traumas when it comes to alterations - it's essentially crack for brides.  Anyway, I knew I myself would never shop at Kleinfeld's, but I had always hoped that I would go through the "Kleinfeld" consulting process at one of the dress shops around here...

Well, lo and behold - I had my own Say Yes to the Dress moment at Vera's!  The inside of the store is beautiful, with a dramatic staircase cascading down the entrance, and a second floor balcony circling all the way around the entrance.  I met my consultant, Beth, who took me to a private room upstairs, with a long bench for family to sit on.  She began by asking me about my "vision" for the dress, wedding, etc. - all kinds of questions about what dresses I had tried on, what I liked, what I didn't like, the setting of the wedding, and on and on.  I filled her in on my dress debacles up until that point.  Then she confidently announced that there were over 400 bridal gowns in stock, and that she would go search through the stock room to pull a few that she thought would suit me.  Mom, MIL, SIL, and I were free to wander around and pull any other gowns that we thought could work.

When Beth was done pulling gowns, she had me come back in the dressing room, where three gorgeous gowns were hanging.  She helped me into Dress #1, and then had me stand and look at myself for a moment, gauging my initial reaction to the dress.  Then we paraded out to the balcony and stood in front of several full-length mirrors to show off to my audience.

Dress #1 fit like a glove, and had a marvelous swishing when I walked.  I wasn't sold on the ivory color, but she found a sample of the white satin that would be used so I could compare.  Yes, I was definitely more a white girl, than an ivory lady.  I could sense that I might be putting this gown back on eventually, but I'm not a fast decision-maker.

Dress #2 was nice as well, but I was already comparing it in my mind to #1, and it wasn't making the grade.  It had horizontal bands of alencon lace circling around it all the way down the floor, and the effect was not flattering.  

Dress #3 was a full-blown mermaid gown that belonged on the Oscar red carpet.  It was tight to my knees, had a bedazzled bodice, and a big flare at the bottom.  Besides that, it was heavy!  Fun to play around in for a bit, but not the one.

That took care of the gowns she had selected from the back room.  During my various parades around the balcony however, a sparkly, lace number on a mannequin had caught the eyes of both mom and I.  Beth quickly stripped the mannequin (scandalous!) and I threw the dress on.  Uh oh.

Now we were in trouble.  I loved Dress #1 and Dress #4 (the sparkly mannequin one).  They were very similar, but #4 was sparkly, had a different all-over lace pattern, and the bottom draped more straight.  Dress #1 felt better on, but not having been able to try a white version, I was hesitant.  I walked around.  I walked into a different dressing room to see them both in natural light.  I sat in both.  I danced in both.  Crap!

Finally, Beth broke it down for me.  She said, "Are you a sparkle girl, or a non-sparkle girl?"  Essentially Dress #1 did not have any beading on top of the lace, whereas Dress #4 did.  Deciding whether or not I needed the sparkle would basically decide the dress for me.  Well, am I a sparkler or not?  How the hell do I know?  I don't use my 1980s Bedazzler any, but I'm a major fan of my bling engagement ring - how's a girl to decide?

Per usual, NavyGuy saved the day.  I quickly texted him the $64,000 question, and told him to respond fast, and with his gut.  My phone rang seconds later.  I already was beginning to know in my heart which dress I thought was me.  I was wearing Dress #1 and I was starting to get that bride feeling...

I always knew I picked a good guy, but it's nice to be reminded that when it comes down to the big decisions, NavyGuy knows me better than I even know myself.  I answered the phone, and he immediately said, "Non-sparkle."  

I turned to Beth and my entourage.  "This is it."  Everyone cheered, I felt slightly choked up, everyone laughed at me for using a text message to make a wedding dress decision, and we accessorized the gown with a veil, shoes, and earrings.  I was led onto the grand staircase, where all of a sudden, THE Vera appeared!  She is probably in her mid-80s, and reminded me of "a lady who lunched," with her great pink heels and tailored suit.  It's clear she loves what she does - oh yes, she still comes in and helps with alterations and such - and she threw her perfectly manicured hands up to her face, and proclaimed I looked like "a whisper."  (Which I took as a compliment).  MIL and SIL were equally entranced by the gown (always a good sign) and were both convinced that despite NavyGuy's typical stoicism, he would in fact get choked up when he saw me in the gown.  The staff took my photo posed on the staircase, and it was ready for me to take home once I had been measured, etc.

All in all, it was well worth the exhausting, stressful, seemingly unending process of finding The One (dress, not guy).  I am positively giddy over the gown, and it simply cannot arrive soon enough.  My advice for future brides (or anyone who likes to be pampered) - check out Vera's in Madison - and hope it's a day Vera herself is in the store :)


Olympic Photos

For more photo galleries from the Olympics, courtesy of NBC, click here.

For a disturbing photo of President Bush at the beach volleyball practice, click here.  (You have been warned.  Don't whine at me later.)


Escort Cards

What do we think of this, for the shape/design of escort cards?  I've already "ix-nayed" an airplane ice sculpture because I don't want to go overboard with flight/Navy stuff, but it might be nice to include some flying aspect in the wedding... hmm.... cute or cheesy?


Opening Ceremonies Recap

Modern technology has certainly upped the ante at the Opening Ceremonies.  Most of what made last night's spectacle so spectacular, wouldn't have been a possibility even four years ago, because of the vast advances in video, computer, and other technologies.  I would say you also need to keep in mind that China essentially told the creator of the Ceremonies, "Here, have as much money as you want, and as many people as you need, to do whatever you think will wow the pants off those doubting Westerners."  (According to NBC, the Ceremonies included 15,000 individual performers - no duplicates throughout the night - and cost $300 million dollars... 10x what Athens spent in 2004.)

That said, the Opening Ceremonies did wow my sweat pants off.  Cynics will say that it was weird, and over-hyped - phoeey.  You get 5,000 guys dressed in white to form perfect circles without any guiding tape on the floor, or a giant sphere to float in the air (no roof - where did it hang from!?!?!?!?) while people run around it in unison.  You make either of those things happen - then you can talk to me about what you would have done differently.  List below are some various photo galleries, that while not coming close to doing the event justice, will start to give you some idea of the magnitude and beauty.
Highlights of the Opening Ceremonies:

~ The light up drums that started off the evening.

~ Eating Chinese food for dinner in honor of the Chinese Olympics.

~ The Coke commercial where little animated birds fly around collecting straws in order to make their own mini "Bird's Nest" replica of the National Stadium.

~ President Bush sitting with his jacket off like he's at a Ranger's game (I so expected him to wave a five dollar bill in the air for the peanuts and popcorn guy), and getting caught checking his watch during the Parade of Athletes.

~ President Hu Jintao of China sitting in the dignitary box with his own pair of binoculars, a water bottle, and what looked suspiciously like a Cup O' Noodles container... 

~ The McDonald's commercial where a kids' soccer team loses, but wins in the end by taunting the opposing team with their Happy Meal's raised high above their heads.

~ The outfits that the Hungarians felt represented themselves best to the world (whoa!)

~ The 9 year old earthquake survivor (read his amazing story here) who marched beside Yao Ming when the Chinese athletes entered the stadium (and then later said in perfect English to a reporter who had concluded an interview with Ming, "Thank you, thank you very much.")

Overall, well done China, well done.  I'd certainly hate to be Vancouver, Canada and have to follow that show.


Slap Face!

Congratulations to Farmer's Wife for correctly identifying Mark Spitz as the current single Games gold medal record holder (7 golds in the 1972 Munich Games)!  Your prize will be in the mail soon.

For fellow The Office fans, you will snort with glee over the new promo commercial that aired during the Opening Ceremonies last night.  I may have found my chance to make it to the games yet...


Friday, August 8, 2008

Olympic Countdown

Let the Games begin!  My goal is to provide you with Olympic news each day, as I love the Olympics, still hold an impossible dream of walking in the Opening Ceremony (I suppose that would mean competing in an event, but that's an even more impossible dream), and feel that this Olympics is either going to be very newsworthy - or a big fat Chinese dumpling dud.  I (and China) would prefer the former.

Up today: Opening Ceremonies - NBC - 7:00 central time.  Hosted by Bob Costas and Matt Lauer, and sold as breathtaking and overwhelming.  If you only have time for a little bit, tune in for the start, and the finish, where the Olympic torch will be lit by a mystery guest. 

Michael Phelps - part man, part fish - is slated for enough swimming events to break the Olympic record of number of gold medals won in one games (the current record is 7 gold medals, also held by a swimmer... first one to throw the correct name in the comments will win a prize... ).  Phelps is sporting a goatee now, which prompted Matt Lauer to wonder why swimmer's shave their entire bodies and squeeze themselves into aerodynamic Speedos, only to voluntarily create drag on their faces (I agree, and suspect that if Phelps doesn't do well in his first race, he'll be back to a naked chin quicker than... well, quicker than he swims the 100 freestyle!)  Check out Phelps teaching Lauer how to do flip-turns!

Best of all, the John Williams / NBC Sports Olympic music begins today.  NBC actually uses a few different songs that Williams originally created for the 1984 Los Angelos Games and 1996 Atlanta Games.  Now, the "dum, dum, da dum dum dum dum" that you hear incessantly on TV is not the Official 2008 Olympic Theme Song; China came up with some unusual "Friends Forever" tune to fit that bill.  However, I will always be partial to the William's music; it's powerful, catchy, and inspires me to vacate the couch and take a walk around the block :)

Let the Games begin!


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dream Dress Shopping

Brace yourselves folks.  I'm not showing you a picture of the dress.

Before you start either blasting me with hate mail or abandoning the blog altogether, hear me out.  I have many rationales:
1) NavyGuy (otherwise known as, the GROOM), reads this blog, and despite his enormous willpower, I refuse to risk him being tempted in a moment of weakness, to sneak a peak.
2) My MOH and sister were not there to help pick it out, and I feel bad about that.  I did not intend to find a dress the day I was out with mom, my future mother-in-law (MIL), and future sister-in-law/bridesmaid (SIL), but when lightning strikes, you have to go with it.
3) I'm sharing almost every other detail about this wedding with any blog readers, friends, family, strangers on the street, etc., so I want to keep this one thing quiet.  It will be a great surprise that day, and I'll give you all more than enough details to get a suitable picture in your head.
4) I'm the bride.  (This statement is essentially a bridezilla-free-pass comeback, developed by my personal attendant, test-driven by my sister, and soon to be perfected by me.  It allows the bride to say and do slightly crazy things, and not have an actual legitimate excuse.  For instance, "I will only have my photo taken if I can continue to eat this granola bar.  I'm the bride."  See.  It's the equivalent of a mother's "Because I said so" response.)

Anyhoo, I hope everyone understands, and will still appreciate the story of finding the dress, and hearing lots and lots of details about it.  I have included links to dress style pages to help you get a better picture.

Off we go!  Most importantly, the dress description.  It is a Spring 2008 gown, so it's fairly new.  The top is strapless, but has a slight scoop to it.  Not really a sweetheart neckline, but not straight across.  I, and my shopping companions, found it very flattering.  (Again, remember the links are only for the specific aspect of the dress I'm referring to; ignore the crazy ruffly floofing at the bottom of this gown, and focus on the shape of the neckline :)

Next, the material is satin, with layers of organza overlay (the model is holding a layer of organza in her hand).  Then across the bodice and down the front in a light pattern is alencon lace.  I love it.  I'm crazy about lace, and I knew that was going to be a part of my dress, but many other gowns I was trying on had too much lace and it really made the dresses heavy.

The shape is a modified trumpet silhouette... meaning, it's fitted over my bust and down through the waist, and then begins to spread out into an A-line, so it swishes gloriously at the bottom.  Don't be alarmed - this is not a 1984 Miss America mermaid dress!  It's not skin tight to the knees, where the material then juts out at a terrifying angle, making it impossible to walk or even bend your knees.  This dress shape is the perfect marriage of an A-line and a sheath.  (And as my bridal consultant at the store remarked, "if you can wear it, flaunt it!").  This sample shows a little better how this silhouette looks when it doesn't stay as fitted down toward the knees, but instead begins flaring out around one's zipper area: Trumpet Sample #2 
Martha Stewart offers a brilliant tutorial in dress silhouettes here.  You can scan through lots of different trumpet styles and see how much nicer the ones that spread out above the knees are.

The train is made up of the satin and organza layers, chapel length (it spreads out about 2-3 feet behind me).  Because it's lighter material, the bustle won't add too much junk to my trunk.  I just love the dress.  It's the first one that I put on and felt like a grown-up who could actually be getting married; all of the others looked like I was playing dress up, or going to prom in a white dress.  I haven't narrowed down the veil yet, but I am certain that I will go simple on the jewelry so I don't detract from the lace on the dress (likely just a pair of fabulous earrings, and maybe a bracelet, but I don't want anything that will catch on the lace/organza).

I cannot wait for it to be finished (it's being made in Asia somewhere... I know, I know - hopefully not a sweatshop), and it should be shipped to the dress shop in Madison by Christmas!  The other reason I knew it was the one was because I didn't want to take it off.  I think we may have to go somewhere really really fancy for our honeymoon... cuz I might still have it on!


The excitement continues!

More good news!  I got accepted into my grad program... AND... they're going to send me the exams for two of the courses and if I pass those - I get those classes without doing any work or paying anything!!!!!!!

NavyGuy has one flight left to go and then he will officially be done with flight school and ready to be winged!!!!

Sheesh.  With all this good news, I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop... ;)

Editor's Note: Yes, people, the dress details are coming, but I had to catch up on last night's Project Runway, as well as help my mother find a dress for the next wedding we're attending (my college roommie).



I have a wedding dress!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Story and select details to follow... ;)


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Wedding Planning... Fun?

That's right.  Sister's wedding is done.  I have given my mother a week to recover, and it's off to the races again.  For those of who you have been following her wedding recap, I thought I would do a small comparison between the two of us, that should give you a good idea of the 180 degree turn we'll be taking when planning this one...

Favorite Colors
Sister - Red, Black, White
Me - Pink, Cream, Champagne, White, Brown, Latte, Blush...

Favorite Flowers
Sister - roses
Me - roses, peonies, tulips, cherry blossoms, lilacs...

Wedding Dresses Tried On 
Sister - one.
Me - 12 dresses, 3 stores, 4 trips... and we're still going...

Pre-Wedding Pampering
Sister - forced pedicure (kind of like an arranged marriage for toenails ;)
Me - mani, pedi, facial, hair consulation, make-up consultation...

Response to the word "bride"
Sister - gag reflex
Me - sheer glee

Um, yeah.  So, clearly, I'm not only significantly more girly, I'm also waaaaaay more indecisive, and frankly - high maintenance.  I don't tend to have favorites - except for NavyGuy - so choosing things for this wedding is going to be a lot harder than it was for Sister (who knew exactly what she wanted thankyouverymuch!).

I thought as a way to ease us into the alleged purpose for this blog, I would just start off with some fun online wedding things.  I have found some, and my unofficial wedding planner (aka Macy's Mom) has contributed a few. 

Spin the color wheel to find endless color combos; you can select specific colors, opt for contrasting accents, or just go nuts with the whole wheel.

With the click of a button, you can design your (almost) dream dress.  You can also have fun changing the 2D model's shape to "match" yours....

Sample Question: Which TV character proposed by spelling out "I Love You" with his socks?

Handmade invitations.  Online gift registries.  Tipping.  It's a crazy world out there, and the "rules" are changing with every new wedding season.  Try this quiz to see what faux pauxs to avoid (seriously - it's tougher than you'd think).


Kindergarten Humor

Last night's phone conversation with NavyGuy:

Me: So whatcha gonna do tomorrow?

NavyGuy: Well, I have a 5:45am brief, followed by two flights.

Me: Yeah, but whatcha gonna do after that?

NavyGuy: [Sigh.]  Well, I have to go to Walmart because I'm almost out of toilet paper.

Me: Yuck.  Walmart.

NavyGuy:  Yeah, well, "poop" happens.  [Edited for my younger readers]

Me:  [Pause... thinking].  Hehehe... yeah, and that's why you have to go to Walmart!  [exuberant belly laughing topped off with a snort]

Sometimes, I don't think NavyGuy gets enough credit.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Mugs Must List

Now that the wedding is fully recapped, I can return to regularly scheduled programming.  Here are my suggestions for the coming week:

Originally a series of great young teen books, "The Pants" movie picks up where the first movie left off with the four main girls (Lena, Bridget, Carmen, and Tibby) heading off to college after spending a wonderful summer together (and apart).  They keep their friendships alive by sharing a pair of magical jeans; the magic appears in the fact that each different girl fits into this same pair of pants (a true miracle considering that in the course of one day I sometimes don't fit in the same pair of pants).  Either rent the first movie, or just start with number 2 in the series; a great movie to go see with mom, or your best group of girls.

Say what you will about the politics, pollution, and possible USA gold-medal-count upset - nothing beats the Olympics.  I get high just listening to the advertising music NBC has been using to introduce every Today Show segment previewing the games.  Tune in Friday night when the Opening Ceremony kicks it all off.  Who will light the torch?  How will it be lit?  Which athletes will skip the opening to spare their lungs?  People.  People.  Stop being cynical.  THIS is the ultimate reality tv!  If you can't stand the personal stories of hard work and heartbreak (shoved down your throat to fill the time while some random country's athletes compete on the rings), you have to at least check out the "Bird's Nest" Olympic Stadium and "Water Cube" swimming facilities.  (Word of warning for my fellow fans who like to actually wait it out and see who wins the medals - because Beijing is 12 hours ahead, steer clear of any major internet home pages on the days when swimmers and gymnasts compete, unless you want the surprise to be spoiled... because trust me - they will spoil it for you.  In fact, I think they take glee in it.)

My favorite annual issue of NavyGuy's tech magazine features a "how to" guide ranging from the useful technological skills to the more sarcastic life skills.  For example, how to...
- become student body president
- get your album on iTunes
- build an army of followers
- feign sincerity
- win at rock, paper, scissors
Or my personal favorite: Be Geekier Than Thou 

Happy 1st Week of August (a.k.a. National Clown Week)


Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Final Wedding Recap - Reception (and Recuperation)

For the final recap of Sister's wedding, I am choosing to bullet point the highlights.  There's simply too much to go through a chronological description of the events, and this way, I can focus on the funny.

~ My one sentence summary of the reception is as follows: "I'm off wine."  

~ Picture taking post ceremony consisted of Sister glaring at the photographer, either the MOH or myself blinking in a picture, the photog attempting to wrangle 6 girls, 1 flower girl, and nearly 25 boys into some semblence of posed / casual pic.  We took a few inside the Capitol building, and a few outside.  [My favorite is included in this post.]

~ The infamous trolley (the transportation from the Capitol to Monona Terrace for the reception) started out rocky.  The trolley drive was refusing to drive up close to the Capitol because he was trying to avoid the vans and stalls of farmers lining the Square in Madison (note to self... summer Saturdays in downtown Madison = hippies buying organic veggies at the farmer's market).  Anyhoo, after threats from my mother, the trolley guy got in line, and post ceremony was shuttling guests over to the Terrace whilst the wedding party suffered through photo agony.  By the time I arrived at the reception site, everything was fine, but I can only imagine the holy hell that would have arisen had any other trolley problems ensued.

~ Aunt #1 and Aunt #2 were in charge of set-up at the Terrace.  Despite dealing with a less than chipper staff, they pulled off their tasks fantastically.  It was not, however, until two days after the wedding, that we learned they had misplaced an entire pack of escort cards... approximately 50 of the groom's family (they rival the Kennedy's in terms of fecundity).  Before the clan showed up, the cards were located and properly arranged on the table in the cocktail area, but that could have been a hot diplomatic mess for Sister to deal with.

~ As hinted at earlier, I began my bridesmaid-ly drinking and mingling duties with a nice Riesling, and some distant family relatives.  Despite introducing a cousin-in-law of my mother's by the wrong name, I held my own in the small talk division quite well (I am planning to keep my amateur status for the Olympics).  

~ My grandpa met and chatted with my future in-laws for a substantial amount of time.  NavyGuy hinted that the conversation revolved around airplanes, and that no unpleasant childhood stories surfaced, but he could be lying.  (His parents also met the rest of my family; as far as I know, our wedding is still on.)

~ The wine continued.  (By 6:00, I was on glass #3)

~ The MOH put together a slide show of the bride and groom (which, incidentally, she was still working on on her laptop as we sat in the parlor pre-ceremony... it just wouldn't be a family photo project if it wasn't being finished dangerously close to the deadline!).  

~ Dinner was an awesome chicken saltimbocca (which the bride opted to remove the ham from; taste was still good, and she saved $1 per plate!), potatoes, and green beans.  Our head table made the (un)fortunate discovery that as wedding party members, we were allowed both types of wine at dinner (7:15pm - glasses #4 and 5).  A bridal party wine race commenced.  (For a bunch of college educated women, we sure can be dumb.)

~ In order to get the bride and groom to kiss, you had to tell a humorous or heartwarming story about the couple.  I of course, being halfway in the bag, volunteered to get the ball rolling with a story that hopefully explained Sister cutting her own hair as a young child.  I think I was trying to show her independence... the best I can hope for now is that I wasn't slurring, and that I got the groom's name right (again, NavyGuy swears I did fine...  I have a sinking suspicion that I will no longer be offered wine during holiday dinners at his home.)

~ Good cake.  Red velvet, with buttercream and fondant frosting.  According to the bride, it lacked the moistness present in her taste test months ago, but I moistened it with glass #6 and ate my own piece as well as the bride's.  Thanks sis. :)

~ Dancing began.  Bridesmaids shook their groove thang.  And then, the best part of the night... the great dress switcheroo!  Sister had roped me in as an accomplice as soon as she arrived in Wisconsin.  Only the groom and myself knew that she had purchased a saucy, short, Havana-Nights-esque red party dress to change into so she could dance the rest of the night away.  We snuck off to her room, switched outfits, moved some stuff up to the honeymoon suite, and prepared to make her grand re-entrance.

~ Needless to say, mom was shocked (I suspect slightly annoyed to be left out of the surprise), and Sister began kicking up her heels, visiting with Baltimore friends, etc., and generally having a great rest of the night.  [Again, check out the photos link in a different post to see all of this good stuff.]

~ By this point, the night was significantly blurry, and NavyGuy wisely ended my evening.  We stayed at his house that evening, because he had to get up early for his flight back to Florida (and he didn't want to share a room with my mom... such a chicken ;).  I crashed immediately when we got back, making my first mistake of neglecting the hangover precaution of water and crackers before bed.

~ Somewhere around 3:00am I woke up, and all I could think was, "Why is someone kicking me in the skull with steel boots, and how do I make them stop without opening my eyes or moving?"  This should have been a sign of how Sunday was going to go, but I eventually fell back asleep, only to get up again four hours later, to get NavyGuy ready to fly home.

~ I returned to the hotel around 9:00am in a sorry state.  I was wearing sweatpants, Navy hat, a green shirt proclaiming "Keg Security" (size XL), flip flops, and humiliation.  Despite brushing my teeth twice, my tongue still tasted like grapes and feet.  I had taken some drugs for the head, but they clearly had not yet kicked in, and my stomach was questioning the combination of three different types of wine.  When my mother opened her hotel room door, she said (loudly): "Oh.  Are we off wine now?"  A feeble nod, and I pushed her aside to crash into the nearest bed.  Had I had my wits, I would have run through McDonald's for an EggMcGrease sandwich, which would have started to solve my problems.  Alas, my only option was sleep.

~ I awoke again to a small child tapping on my head.  Had she not been a cute relative, she could have been at risk for a sharp slap.  People were arriving to say good bye (and I think, gawk at the "responsible, mature," 26-year-old wino lounging like a dying manatee on the bed). 

~ Long story short, I felt fine by 1:00 when we were driving home.  The hangover cure?  1) Chocolate (I munched on the stale puppy chow from the bachelorette party).  2) Gatorade (or any other powerade/vitamin water/etc variety available).  3) Grease.  As stated earlier, McBiscuit/muffin/sandwich works well, but in a pinch, get a king size bag of regular potato chips from a gas station.  I swear - if this does not stave off a headache, nausea, spinning, irritability, and feeling like your arms and legs are going to detach from your body - then you haven't had enough to drink :)

~ Sunday evening, we dined at the grooms' house and watched the newlyweds open their gifts.  I got quite excited at the sight of a portable pyrex dish set; Sister wasn't sure if it was dishes or some kind of fancy planter.  (Seriously, all things domestic are totally lost on her.  I'm still amazed she's able to clean her own clothes.  Cooking rice baffles her.  She can travel through a foreign country using only her language skills and charm to survive, but clean a window?  Not a chance.)  Other "fun" gifts: a 10 pound glass picture frame, and a Nativity set (for the atheists).  Actual FUN gifts: a beautiful, personalized wedding quilt from the groom's godmother in red, white, and black, and a small rat/elephant/buddha statue (it symbolizes harmony or something, but came from the adopted child of close friends, and has sentimental meaning).

And so concludes our mini series "Sister's Wedding Extravaganza."  Oh no, wait.  One more tidbit.  My mother rear ended me as we were driving out of the hotel parking ramp.  Apparently, waiting for my change from the high school parking attendant was extravagant and time-consuming.  (No one was hurt, no car damage - before I get an angry rebuttal from said mother.)  Alas, check one wedding off the list.  Sister and Brother-in-Law (and little puppy/"niece" Lucy) are living happily ever after in California.  Mom and I are still recovering, but we have to get better quick because...

...the countdown clock begins for next May... (according to I have 294 days...agh!!!)


Letter to a First Apartment

Dear 1st Apartment,

Wow.  I just can't believe we aren't together anymore.  I knew the day was coming when we would have to part, but I didn't think turning over my keys to the office would be as painful as it was.  You were my first big girl apartment, and even though our relationship had its ups and downs, I will always have a special place in my heart for you because you were the first.

Like all couples, we started off in a honeymoon phase.  I loved your vaulted ceilings in the livingroom, the large storage closet, your proximity to stores and restaurants and work, and the fact that you were all mine.  We shared some good times those first months - do you remember the time my friends and I took 4 hours to build a desk in the spare bedroom... and the bottom drawer never quite closed right?  Ah, so many laughs.  Soon all of my family came to meet you, and we took pictures together wanting to capture those early joyful days.

Sadly, as we moved through the years, your sheen began to wear off.  I discovered that your air conditioner was a cranky, volatile beast that would make noises like it was working, even when it was spewing nothing close to resembling cold air.  Your refrigerator made constant, unexplainable clucking noises.  You cost me an arm and a leg to heat in the winter (hot air does rise... right out my roof!).  However, the most upsetting discovery didn't come until two years into our relationship; after endless baking disasters, and salmonella-ridden chicken breasts, it finally became apparent that your oven needed a good hour to pre-heat, and even then may not have reached the desired temperature (oh, the ruined pecan pie, and Christmas cookies were the hardest to bear).

It takes two to tango however, and I brought my own share of issues to the marriage.  I'm sorry for the 32oz. Sprite that I spilled on the carpet.  I'm sorry for the pizza roll I dropped on the carpet mere days before we parted.  I'm sorry for the nail polish I spilled on the bedroom carpet (and I'm even sorrier that nail polish remover did not remove the cherry berry pink stain).  I forced you to endure countless furniture shifts, weeks without cleaning, and that unfortunate incident with the toilet and a certain someone (who was afterwards banned from using said toilet for anything other than #1).  

Thank you for all the fun Christmas parties and for accepting my attempts at holiday decorating (even when you were embarrassed to be seen with garland strung from the cupboards in June).  Thank you for letting NavyGuy crash there many a times (and again, I'm sorry he always got the bathroom mat wet - we're still working on that).  Thank you for having good cell phone reception, nice clean white walls, a working dishwasher, two big closets in the bedroom, somewhat reliable snow plowing, and much patience.  Thank you for never telling anyone that I threw my first real Christmas tree over your balcony on December 26th (after it had already been dead for probably a week), and did not clean up the needles that fell in the sliding door track for possibly 8-9 months.

You were a good little apartment.  You held all of my books, my movies, my first big apartment purchase (queen sized bed!), my cook books that gathered dust while I made Lean Cuisines, and my first four years of memories as a real live adult.  If you're ever in the neighborhood, feel free to call me for a drink - we'll reminisce about the good ole days, and wonder why we ever broke up.

All my love to the hallway and garage,
Tenant Mugs ('04-'08)


Wedding Photos

Per several requests, I am going to link the photos that the personal attendant took from the entire wedding.  She posted all of them on and it will be significantly easier for people to view them there (as opposed to me going through the hoopla of inserting one or two photos into each post).


Warning: There are 341 photos, so don't be alarmed if it takes a bit to load.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Wedding Recap #6 - Ceremony

Mr. Brother-in-Law and Ms. Sister tied the knot in the Assembly Chambers of the Wisconsin State Capitol (where the state assembly meets).  There was no better place for them; they're both unique politicos who wanted the entire wedding to feel like them.  Plus the Capitol building is freaking gorgeous - marble everywhere, gorgeous art, great lighting.  My mother's only disappointment was that we were not allowed to turn on the electronic "vote board" in order to cast our official opinions on the union ;)

Prior to the ceremony, the bridal party and various family members lounged in the parlor attached to the chambers (where the old mustachioed representatives used to smoke cigars and make "back room" deals).  There was a near meltdown when I realized NavyGuy had showed up downtown without the iPod speakers that I had promised the bride.  He managed to remember to bring them from Florida, but somehow they didn't make it in the car from his house to downtown!  After some panicked cell phone calls (god bless your patience, babe), his dad dropped off the speakers - NavyGuy Sr. to the rescue!

Of course the drama couldn't end there.  As we were setting up the makeshift sound system, I remembered that I had used the speakers on my U-Haul trip down to Pensacola with Mom... so who knows how much juice the batteries had left.  I had a fleeting vision of the sound giving out as the bride was strolling down the aisle, and either someone horrendously bursting into impromptu humming to fill the unbearable silence - or the bride glaring so fiercely at me that I dropped dead in front of the entire wedding.  Luckily, I had a flash of brilliance - the extra batteries I had stowed in my Mary-Poppin's-esque satchel!  

Of course... the batteries I had in the satchel were AA.  Guess what was in the speakers?  (Obviously, not AAs or else this story would be very anti-climatic.)  Groomsman "Beav" saved the day with a quick trip to I-don't-even-know-where, to purchase additional AAA batteries.  And the choirs of angels (or in this case awesome pop musicians) rang out uninterrupted throughout the entire ceremony.  God Lord.  

Meanwhile, whilst this drama was unfolding, the plot was thickening in the parlor.  Sister was unsuccessfully trying to practice her vows.  I had forgotten her sappy gene that kicks in at inopportune times.  She could barely get through half a sentence and she'd be welling up and sniffling like she was watching the end of Titanic!  So then the nerves kicked in slightly, which she tried desperately to ignore, and instead released by eating a granola bar and giving the photographer a minor stroke by refusing to participate in any photos that did not feel "natural" (yes, there will be professional photos of her standing by the beautiful window in the parlor, holding the granola bar that was used to bribe her into the pic).  Truth be told, the photog was still quite sweaty, and I can't blame her for not wanting to be anywhere near that kind of hot mess.

Finally it was time for the show to begin.  The flowergirl tossed her red rose petals out of her dress pockets, and the bridal party timed our walk down the aisle perfectly!  (Rough rehearsal, great opening night.)  The bride entered, smiled, poised, and floated down the aisle on a sea of rose petals.... hehehe... sorry, different kind of bride, different kind of wedding.  Our bride did smile and look poised, but there was no graceful floating or any such nonsense.  She knew what she was there to do that day, and the sooner she got it done, the sooner we could all eat the expensive appetizers!  So she strode confidently down the aisle, stopped to peck Mom on the cheek, winked mischievously at all five bridesmaids, and then got herself married. :)

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