Saturday, January 30, 2010

Escape to Wisconsin: Fun with HistoryGirlie and Kitty

By now I'd surprised pretty much my whole family, but there was one honorary family member that still needed a shock...

Mom called HistoryGirlie (my former teacher colleague/sister from a different womb/wedding day lady-in-waiting/future History Channel commentator) on Friday afternoon. We needed a way to surprise her with my visit, but we couldn't risk just driving up to her house (45 minutes north) and finding out she wasn't home or goodness knows what. So, Mom sold HG on the idea that she was going to Appleton to shop, and wanted to see HistoryGirlie and her daughter Kitty because Mom missed them and wanted to see HG's baby bump and so on and so forth. Luckily, HG a) wasn't busy Saturday morning, and b) is easy prey for Catholic mother guilt, and immediately agreed to meet Mom at Archiver's Scrapbooking store.

The whole conversation took place with me sitting on the couch next to Mom, stifling giggles and trying to figure out what must have been going through HG's head. Her hubby said after the fact that he thought something must have been up, but HG swore up and down that she really just thought Mom wanted a shopping buddy since her own daughters had selfishly moved thousands of miles away :)

Saturday morning we set out for Appleton. After a quick stop for Mom's gas station coffee (keep this tidbit in the back of your brain for later), we made it to Appleton in record time and discovered that Archiver's wasn't open until after we'd planned to meet HG! Mom quickly called HistoryGirlie and moved the meeting place to Atlanta Bread (a yummy breakfast and sandwich place nearby). Since HG is currently in a "delicate condition" (random tangent - when did we lose those cutesy phrases for being pregnant... they're so much more fun to say than to call someone "knocked up" - end tangent)... anyhoo, since HG is with child, I figured it might be a little evil to give her a full-on surprise, so we decided to stage me at a table in the restaurant with my back to the door, and Mom would meet HG and Kitty at the entrance and lead them over... giving HG a chance to recognize my jacket and/or back, and start to put the whole thing together.

If I didn't already have several viable book ideas, I'd add "How to Surprise People" to the list... cuz I rock at it! HG was bowled over - and Kitty (her two year old doll of a daughter) came right up and hugged me!!! She remembered me! So exciting :) HG, Kitty, Mom, and I caught up at the restaurant, then attacked Archiver's for a bit. HistoryGirlie had a term paper to write and a house to clean, so we made plans to hang out more after school on Monday night.

(I told you - doll!! Kitty at the dinner table on Monday night.)

While HistoryGirlie went home to be productive, Mom and I opted to hit up a few more stores, then tour College Avenue (the main drag in Appleton) to see what changes they had dared make in my absence. (I don't do change. At all. Ask anyone.) The real problems didn't arise until we got to the Kimberly side of the Fox Cities...


Friday, January 29, 2010

Escape to Wisconsin: SURPRISE!

If you've never surprised someone before, you've simply got to try it. It's exhilarating. Plan a surprise party, or just show up somewhere unannounced - trust me, it's a legal high you'll want to experience again and again.

Our timeline left us at 10:40, Friday morning, en route to Mom's classroom. I was armed with my Culver's fries, a stealth plan, and nerves of steel. If all had gone to plan, Mom would be in her classroom, obliviously surfing the internet and snacking grading papers and planning inspiring lessons, none the wiser that her eldest daughter was creeping through the halls (torturing middle schoolers with the scent of french fry grease), ready to give her mother a heart attack. My own heart was racing as I turned the corner towards her room; if she had chosen today to call in "sick" I was never going to forgive her.

I peeked around the doorjam and looked into her room as silent as a mouse. Perfect. Hard at work at her desk, completely engrossed in spelling sheets or some such nonsense.

"Anyone up for Culver's for lunch?" I held up my bag 'o fries and flashed my killer smile.

I had contemplated taking a photo of Mom's face the moment I walked in, but a) she hates pictures, b) she'd probably be confused enough to see her daughter randomly standing in her doorway that the flashbulb might put her over the edge, and c) did I mention she hates pictures? Anyway, there's no real way to describe her face. I swear it flashed from "who is that?" to "is that my daughter?" to "oh god, what happened to NavyGuy!!?!?" to "wait, she wouldn't come here to tell me he fell out of his airplane" to "OH MY GOD!"

There were screams, tears, hugs, and a few loving smacks at my arm resulting from her indignation that I would fly into town unannounced. I swear she was a little disappointed that I'd denied her the motherly joy of counting down the days until she'd see her progeny (and her singular joy at watching flight tracker and seeing my little plane jump across the country). But she got over it. And when she found out I was staying until Wednesday, she got all weepy again :)

Mom was not the only one to get a shock though. Once I'd surprised her and seen how much fun it is (it's great for your self-esteem when every person you see screams your name and exclaims how happy they are to see you), I decided the fun must continue! The remainder of Friday was spent surprising the rest of the family...

-Mom and I ran over to the bank where Auntie T works, under the pretense of needing to drop something off for her. I walked into her office like I owned the place and we had round two of shock and awe.

-Next up was Grandma and Grandpa. Grandpa bolted out of his chair, and Grandma popped right up and recognized me! (She's battling Alzheimer's so I wasn't sure she'd be having a good enough day to know what was going on.) And they force fed me peanut M&Ms. Gotta love grandparents.

-Dinner was a surprise visit to Cousin MOH's Friday night waitressing job. MOH had no clue I was coming, but her husband was there with their daughter Lily (who I hadn't met until this point), as well as Auntie T, Uncle J, Grandma, Grandpa, and Mom. MOH had her back to me as I snuck in, so I tapped her on the shoulder and said, "um when you have a minute can I have a refill on my water please?" Poor girl almost dropped her tray. More hugs, more tears, and once baby Lily awoke from her nap and got her first look at me, I got a giant grin! Melt my heart... :)

(You would not believe how hard it is to get a good photo of a six month old. No kidding - this was the best photo of the whole weekend. Trust me, her smile's adorable.)

-The surprises kept on comin'. Auntie E and Uncle D were out to dinner at a nearby restaurant, so I popped in on them. Then Mom and I headed out to their kids who were home watching a movie - another successful surprise!

By this point on Friday night, I was ready to drop. All this surprising was exhilarating, but exhausting! I needed to rest up because I had one more big surprise to pull the next morning...


Escape to Wisconsin: Travel Itinerary

Thursday, 7:00pm - Board airporter shuttle for a two hour trip down to SeaTac airport.

9:10pm - Arrive at airport and get checked in for flight.

9:20pm - Survive TSA security checkpoint with minimal irritation.

9:30pm - Settle in for a three hour wait for my flight (the 7pm shuttle is the latest option, so I had no choice but to get to the airport way early).

12:06am - Board. Remember that I booked late and got left with a middle seat. Bah. (Luckily I'm a pro and can sleep anywhere, anytime.)

(We're into Friday now...)

3:30am - Land in Minneapolis. Switch to central time zone... so it's now 5:30am.

5:45am - Walk 1/2 a mile through the airport to get to my terminal for the connecting flight. Stop for a tea from the Sbux.

6:15am - See Mom has commented on my blog and wants me to come home and shovel... oh if only she knew!

6:17am - Debate calling her and breaking the surprise early. Restrain myself.

6:30am - Board my second flight. More sleeping.

8:30am - Land in Milwaukee, WI! Collect my luggage, find the rental car counter, chat up Joe the rental car dude, get suckered into insurance for the car (whoops), and head out for Fondy.

9:46am - Again, debate calling Mom and spilling the beans. Reason that I can make it one more hour, I'm so close, don't do it! I throw my cell phone in the backseat where I can't reach it to prevent a last minute will-power break.

10:30am - Pull into Culver's in Fondy. Walk out with hot, fresh french fries.

10:40am - Head over to Mom's school...


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Escape to Wisconsin: The Mission Commences

We left our story on Thursday afternoon. I had found a kennel for Tally pup. Scratch that - kennel is a misnomer. Perhaps bed and breakfast is a better phrase.

Because Tally is young, little, and not yet spayed, I was really concerned with making sure she stayed at a place where she'd be kept separate from other dogs, and not put in a position to have to defend her honor against some frisky boy puppy! The Canine Cozy Care Resort is a smaller, family run boarding facility, where each pooch has their own room (NavyGuy put the kibbash on upgrading Tally to the luxury suite with a window, and tv playing G-rated doggie movies). The dogs get many hours of playtime and love, and NavyGuy and I both could rest easy that our little peanut would be well taken care of.

The "resort" is 45 minutes south of us though, and I'd need to drop Tally off in the afternoon on Thursday before NavyGuy got home from work. I was reluctant to make her ride in a crate in the back of our car, so I nabbed a puppy "car seat" harness of sorts to keep her safely in the passenger seat and not on my lap while I was trying to drive. It took a few test drives around the neighborhood (and a steady supply of Cheerios), but she got the hang of the process.

Doesn't she look adorable/ridiculous in her little harness? She's still not a huge fan of it, but she's made her peace. Oh by the by, have you ever tried packing for a five day puppy vacation? I thought it was tough to get myself packed! She needed food, treats, toys, everything labeled with her name - I suppose it's good practice for future travel with kids, but good grief. Damn dog is more high maintenance than I am!

Anyway, I got her down to the resort on Thursday afternoon, stopped at Best Buy to pick up a last-minute something or other that NavyGuy had ordered and desperately needed for his trip, and got back to the house around dinner time. Finished my packing, grabbed a quick bite to eat with NavyGuy, and then it was off to meet the airport shuttle around 7pm. My journey home was only beginning...


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Escape to Wisconsin: The Plan is Hatched

So... as soon as we confirmed that NavyGuy would be spending the last week of January training with his squadron in Las Vegas (more on this later), I knew there was no way I would be moping around the house by myself the whole time. I could have gone down to Vegas to visit him, but why go to beautiful Vegas in January when I could go to beautiful Wisconsin in January?!?!?

The plan began to take shape. How fun would it be for me to sneak into Fond du Lac (under cover of darkness via a red-eye flight), run through a Culver's drive-thru to snab some french fries, and then show up at my mom's classroom all, "yeah, I just got bored and really wanted some custard and some cold weather, so I came home for the weekend!" Answer - wicked fun. As soon as I told NavyGuy my plot, he agreed that it could work, and that it would be a pretty awesome surprise for everyone.

I had to do some reconnaissance though before the mission could take place. First up, I put Sister in charge of chatting up Mom and making sure that she didn't have any major plans for the weekend in question (she didn't - she'd planned to get her taxes done... which clearly is way less fun than having her favorite daughter visit). Next I needed a babysitter for Tally pup, since both NavyGuy and I would be gone, and much as Mom may have liked a visit from her grandpuppy, there was no way I going to try to travel alone with the Tally. Third, I contacted an ally at Mom's school (one of her teaching partners) to nail down the bell schedule, where Mom would be at what time, etc. etc. Lastly, I had to not tell anyone! SO HARD!!! (But so worth it.)

So by last Thursday, we were ready to rock'n'roll...


Monday, January 25, 2010

Why So Quiet?

Because I'm home in Fond du Lac!

Lots more details to come, but the short story is that last week Thursday night, I took a red-eye back to Wisconsin, rented a car, and surprised the snot out of my family and friends. I'll return to Washington on Wednesday, and I promise I'll give a full recap then, but in the meantime, I'm having too much fun visiting, shivering, and eating my weight in Culver's custard!

Hope everyone else had as fabulous a weekend as I did!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Weather Rant

I have lost all patience with this nonsense.

Yesterday, I got home from work and decided to take Tally for a walk. We had a nice stroll through the neighborhood and even ventured up into the woods for some off-roading. Doesn't that sound like a nice picture? An adorable puppy dog and a woman in a short sleeve t-shirt and jeans taking in the late morning air... I'll wait. Go ahead and reread that sentence. Um, yeah.

I went for a walk yesterday - January 20th - in a short-sleeve t-shirt. SHORT SLEEVES! SHORT SLEEVES!!! No mittens, no hat, no scarf, no boots, no freezing boogers in my nose. No frost-bitten fingers, no blustery wind, no snow, no ice, no jacket. No material covering my forearms!

That was the last straw. I want seasons back. Where the hell is winter? I am sick to death of spring weather in January. I know I know - most of you readers have been mired in frigid temps and snowy winter for months, so how dare I complain about our 50 degree days. But seriously - this is ridiculous. January should not feel the same as April, June, and October! I've worn the same clothing for the past year. There's no switching out summer clothes for winter clothes; you just add or take off a raincoat depending on the hour of the day. There's no rush of excitement when the temps reach 40 and it's starting to feel like winter may be reaching it's end. There's no scorching, humid summer day when your butt is sweating and your makeup is melting off your face, and you find an air-conditioned place that provides a solace like no other. There's no joy in the first crisp fall day when you get to pull out your favorite sweater and have some soul-warming oatmeal for breakfast.

I haven't decided on a course of action yet... but something must be done...


Cheers and Jeers

Jeers... to having to do bathroom checks at work now. Apparently, in order to "save money," the talking heads at Target came up with the brilliant plan to have the Starbucks girls do the mid-day bathroom cleaning. So now along with "steamed milk" and "poured coffee," I'll be able to add "scrubbed toilets" to my resume! (Sense the sarcasm... let it roll around in your ears for a minute.)

Jeers... to missing Stamp Club because NavyGuy had a night flight. Tally had already spent most of the day by herself, so I had to come home and be with her instead of getting my craft on. Grrr.

(Tiny) Jeers... to Tally. For acting like an actual dog, not the perfect puppy we've been honeymooning with for the last three months. After being cooped up all day, it's not surprising that she's been driving me nutty all night long with the jumping, and the nipping, and the stepping on my laptop, and the frantic tearing around the house like a toddler on a sugar high on Christmas. (Of course now that I've typed this, she's decided to curl up on my lap and look adorable. Damn puppy dog eyes. They'll get'cha every time.)

Cheers... to having Pillsbury cinnamon rolls for breakfast. That's all I got for cheers. It was really more of a jeerful day. Bah.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Flight Suit Up!

Out with the olive...

... and in with the sand. NavyGuy's squadron starts wearing tan-colored flight suits tomorrow. It's what they'll wear when they deploy, so apparently they have to start practicing now...? Maybe they need to break them in? Or figure out which accessories go best with the new color?


Weekend Update

Not a whole heck of a lot to report to be frank.

Friday - 8 hours at the 'Bucks.

Saturday - 8 hours at the 'Bucks.

Sunday - 8 hours at the 'Bucks.

I know - tres exciting. Aside from all the coffee-ing, NavyGuy and I went out to dinner with another couple on Sunday night (yummo bloomin' onion at Outback!), and that's about it.

Please tell me someone else had a more interesting weekend than us...?


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wild for You

A simple layout, but nice and colorful. Both the lion and the sentiment were stamped in black; then I used markers to color the lion image.



Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Book Review: Freakonomics

Freakonomics; A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
by Steven D. Levitt and Steven J. Dubner

The Least You Need to Know... the book that made economics about more than just math, interest rates, and the stock market.

Reminds me of... Blink, The Tipping Point, and The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

General Thesis...
If morality represents how people would like the world to work, then economics shows how it actually does work.

Pros... Easy to read, engaging, and almost totally devoid of tables, graphs, or yucky math type stuff. Presents eye-opening (and controversial) arguments like "Roe v. Wade was the biggest cause of the crime decline in the 1990s" or "what parents do matters less when it comes to raising their children than who parents essentially are."

Cons... No unifying theme; authors occasionally raise questions without ever providing answers which, when the questions were interesting, was frustrating.

Bottom Line... This is a super well known book (you should at least recognize the term "freakonomics") that you would be wise to have on your radar. If you'd like to get some of their insights and ideas in smaller doses, there's a Freakonomics blog you can check out.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tally pup helped me clean out the large storage closet in the basement last night. She was crazy helpful... she gnawed at packing peanuts, continually stepped on items I tried to pull out, and eventually opted for the "I'll just stand in the closet and watch until someone lures me out with a treat..."


Christmas Cards

I can't take credit for this idea, but I'm certainly going to pass it on.

NavyGuy was a bit horrified to find out I had cut up all the holiday cards (yes, those are all bits of cards we actually got), but I think the plan is brilliant. What would we do with all of them otherwise? This way, their essence is preserved. (And I won't be on Hoarders in 20 years with seventy five boxes of holiday cards that I just couldn't bear to part with...)

The idea came from this post by Ali Edwards (a scrapbooking celebrity of sorts). Each of my card cut-outs is a 2 in by 2 in square, with the corners rounded. Some of the photo cards I cropped longer in order to not exclude people. I think both pages turned out really neat; I especially like how they're symmetrical, but also really colorful and unique. It's fun to see the photo cards of course, but also the different styles of cards people sent.

The journaling strips were typed on the computer and printed on white cardstock.

What do you with your cards once the Christmas season is over? (Friends of mine in real life... can you find your card snippet?)


Monday, January 11, 2010

Definitely the last Star Wars post for quite some time...

We've had a three-night marathon of the Star Wars flicks. As a reward for me sitting through all six hours of death star-wookiee-stormtrooper-Jabba-droid-geekery, NavyGuy came up with this guest post highlighting WHY these movies are so amazing...

The Top 10 Reasons Guys of our Generation Love the Original Star Wars Trilogy...

10. Ton-Tons: they'll keep you warm in the frigid Hoth night.

9. John Williams is a musical genius.

8. No hokey CGI animation. Instead, we get hokey latex creatures, but at least they're actually made of matter.

7. As if flying down a trench around the equator of the Death Star wasn't good enough, they fly INTO the damn thing in "Return of the Jedi."

6. Yoda (the little green guy to you non-believers) starts an entire manner of speaking by putting parts of speech in odd places in the sentence.

5. Imagine all the things an adolescent boy could do with the "Force."

4. TIE fighters, star destroyers, X-Wings, Calamari cruisers, and the Millennium Falcon. They all make noise in a vacuum somehow, but it's still cool.

3. Vader is his dad, c'mon. You can't tell me the first time you saw "Empire Strikes Back," you saw that coming at all.

2. Carrie Fischer in a steel bikini.

1. Light sabers. 'Nuff said.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tally Makes Herself Comfy

Like writing an essay about the advantages and disadvantages of case studies in research wasn't difficult enough...

But Mom, I'd rather sit with you than anywhere else... especially when you're trying to play with that big black thingy that I like to step on...


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Saturday Night Movie Night

I do not - and will not ever - understand my husband's obsession and unconditional love for Star Wars. I've seen the film several times now, and I just cannot understand the appeal. The whole "force" thing is kinda cool, and yeah okay, light sabers - woot - and I suppose Harrison Ford helps, but really? Is it because I didn't see it as a young child and therefore don't have the unexplainable, nostalgic, sentimental connection to it (like I do to say, Goonies, Harry and the Hendersons, Flight of the Navigator, and The Little Mermaid)? Clearly, it's a popular movie with tons of followers, but I just can't get psyched about it. Don't get me wrong - I don't hate it. I just don't get the fanatical love that boys of a certain age seem to have for it.

Exhibit A: How I Met Your Mother, Ted and his new girlfriend discuss Star Wars

Exhibit B: HIMYM, after Ted's girlfriend has seen Star Wars for the first time

Am I alone here? I think I may really have something going though with my theory of "cult movies you didn't seen a zillion times as a child don't hold up well 20 years down the road"... (I'll give you another personal example - didn't see The Never-Ending Story until college... what's all the fuss about? It's WEIRD!) C'mon, who's with me? Which of you will admit to having no inclination to bust out your VHS copy of Return of the Jedi just cuz of reading this post? Are there any cult films that peeps our age are nutty about that you have no love for?

P.S. I wrote this thing on Saturday night movie night... as we were watching Star Wars. Cuz that's how we roll on a Saturday night.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Bits and Pieces

*The espresso machine (fancy name = Verissimo) went beserko all over itself at work today. My co-worker Jennifer was in the process of making a drink when the Verissimo started making the most god-awful grinding sound. We opened the contraption to take a look, and the beast gave a loud pop and a spark! She and I nearly had simultaneous heart attacks, and then read the message screen on the machine: piston error. Lucky for me, this all went down about eight minutes before my shift ended, so it became completely not my problem. Ah the joys of just being a minimum wage worker bee... (no, I did feel bad that I had to leave them with a Starbucks incapable of making any beverage with espresso shots... but not bad enough that I was going to stay and fight the Verissimo!)

*There was also the memorable customer who walked up to the counter, looked at the menu boards (which say Starbucks), looked at my apron (which says Starbucks), and looked at the entire coffee area (which SCREAMS Starbucks), and promptly asked in a forlorn voice, "Oh, is this Starbucks coffee?". I wanted to say no, but I was afraid that might make her stay. (Unfortunately, she stayed even after I said yes and then proceeded to bitch about Starbucks coffee during the entire transaction.)

*NavyGuy got his H1N1 vaccine yesterday, and apparently the hospital on base was also handing out anthrax vaccines like candy, so he got himself hooked up. I can't decide whether to be relieved that he's theoretically safe from an anthrax attack, or disturbed that he needs a vaccine to prevent him from a potential anthrax attack.

*Also, just in case you didn't have enough doubts about the United States Navy, let me paint you a picture... Yesterday, NavyGuy was sitting in his jet waiting to take off on a flight. Apparently, some valve on the plane wasn't working. So the mechanics were called in to trouble shoot. And their solution? Bang on the valve with a broom stick. Yup. A broom stick. Isn't it nice to know your tax dollars are being spent wisely?

*I will be completely unreachable between the hours of 11am and 1pm tomorrow. UNreachable. The world can end around me, and I will still be relaxing at the spa getting a massage. No, seriously, not a metaphor - I have a massage tomorrow! NavyGuy's parents got me a spa gift certificate for my birthday last year and I'm finally getting around to using it. And it's gonna be legendary.

*Tally pup also has a big day tomorrow. In anticipation of NavyGuy hopefully getting some time off before he deploys, we want to find a place to board Tally, so we can relax and know she's in good hands while we're gone. I found a "canine resort" that seems awesome, but they require a meeting with potential doggies ahead of time, as well as a temperament test. So Tally has to be on her best behavior tomorrow and win over the resort folk - wish her luck.

What's up with you guys? :)


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Trio of Love Cards

My next big card sending holiday is Valentine's Day, and the goal is to have most of the cards made by the end of January... so I can actually get them in the mail and to my friends and loved ones by February 14th!

Here's the first trio of cards I came up with. The first one was inspired by a Becky Higgins' sketch.


I "love" how this one turned out. I punched random circles of coordinating patterned paper, used my Cricut to cut out the letters for the main sentiment, and used a black sharpie to write the rest of the greeting.


The connecting threads between all three cards are the colors (pink, white, black, and grey), a simple layout, and the black doodling around the outside of each card as well as some of the other elements.


The third card gets its interest from the mix of capital and lowercase letters in the sentiment.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Study Says Women with Mate Get Heavier

And I finally have justification for blaming NavyGuy for my increased volume since May 23, 2009...

From The New York Times

Published: January 4, 2010

It is widely known that women tend to gain weight after giving birth, but now a large study has found evidence that even among childless women, those who live with a mate put on more pounds than those who live without one...

Click here for the rest of the story.

I've heard this information before, with complaints from recently married women, and I can testify that I'm now one of them, irritated that my newlywed bliss is being weighed down (literally) by some extra poundage.

But why? The article doesn't give much in the way of analysis or explanation for their findings. The article points out that, "there is no reason to believe that having a partner causes metabolic changes," so it must be some kind of behavioral change. Why does living with a boy make us girls gain a few pounds? Do we subconsciously (or consciously) let ourselves go a little once we get that ring on our finger? Do our eating habits change? Do we exercise less and spend more time snuggling on the couch watching marathons of House? Or is there some other phenomenon going on?

What do we think ladies (and gentlemen)? Do you agree with the premise that women tend to gain weight once they're happily coupled/co-habitating/married? Got any theories as to why this seems to happen?


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2010 Book Challenge Updates

HistoryGirlie asked: can we reread books that we love, or are we going with ones that are a first time around only?

An important guideline that I failed to establish from the get go. For myself, I'm going to declare that any books I reread won't count... but it's really up to everyone to decide for themselves.


Next bit of business - I finished my first book for the year!

(Cue the Hallelujah chorus)

Patricia B. McConnell is an animal behaviorist, author, professor, ethologist, radio personality, columnist, (and Madison, Wisconsin resident!) who has written tons of books and articles on dogs, their relationships with humans, and well, dogs. NavyGuy and I got one of her books before Christmas and it was a nice easy read to get the year rolling. Tales of Two Species; Essays on Loving and Living with Dogs bounces from what dogs can mentally understand to the psychology of training methods to why our dogs probably think we're crazy much of the time :)

McConnell really does a great job of making the more complex science-y stuff approachable, and inserting lots of fun stories and anecdotes. I like her general attitudes towards training and living with dogs, in that she advocates moderation and common sense, not any of the extreme training philosophies that are popular these days (she doesn't cite him by name, but she definitely has issues with Cesar Milan's ideas that dogs are just like wolves and should be dominated by "pack leaders," their owners). The short essays are nice little bits of info to swallow and my interest has been piqued enough to read some of her other books.

Keep on reading everyone! And let everyone know once you've gotten book number one under your belt!


Monday, January 4, 2010

2010 Projects

The term resolutions is so "first-decade-of-the-twenty-first-century," you know? ;)

And really, all of these projects on my list are just that - projects. They won't be completed in one day, they won't all be fully finished by the end of the year, many of them are ongoing activities that I'd simply like to focus on more. In no particular order, here are the Projects for 2010:

1. Record wedding memories. Ideally I'd get the physical scrapbooks done and the blogging, but realistically, I'd like to at least get all the blog recaps written while the memories are still (relatively) fresh. That way, I can work my way through the scrapbooking at an enjoyable pace, knowing that the bulk of the journaling is done and preserved here for whenever I finally get around to the glue and stickers.

2. Ignore the rules and just scrapbook. I'm done trying to make pages in perfect chronological order; if I feel like making the page about this year's Thanksgiving (even though Thanksgiving 2008 isn't done), so be it. If I feel like putting random pictures from June 2009 on one page and calling that month's events done, so be it. I miss the fun of scrapbooking and I want it back! (So be it.)

3. Secure Washington state teaching license. Apparently, the state will only give you two temporary licenses before they force you to pony up and pay for the state tests required for a permanent license. Blargh. Unfortunately, I can't sub anymore until I take the tests and get my official teaching license. So, I signed up, forked over the requisite test fees, and now I just have to review some world history and econ, and hopefully I'll have this one checked off the list soon.

4. Finish the grad class I've been avoiding and move on in the program. Statistics sucks. Sorry all you math folks, but it's boring, tedious, and I've been putzing through the course for almost a year. Yes, embarrassing to admit but true. It's gotten so bad that the university has come a callin' a couple times to find out if I'm still enrolled... or even alive (um, as long as I keep sending you people checks do you really care that I've been opting to do pretty much anything besides read a statistics textbook?) Anyway, all of the other courses I need to complete are actually directly related to education and sound interesting, so I need to just finish this damn statistics requirement and put it behind me.

5. The 2010 Book Challenge. (Duh.)

That's it. No major proclamations of getting healthy, cutting out pizza rolls or ice cream, exercising five times a week, losing 10 pounds, or completing a marathon (though I'm sure this is on Sister's list and you go girl!). As much as I value setting goals and having things to work for, I just refuse to set myself up for failure this year. NavyGuy will be deployed for six months. I'll be living by myself, raising a crazy dog, and keeping everything together one day at a time. I have no way to predict how those six months are going to go. I'd rather be pleasantly surprised at the end of 2010, as opposed to disappointed because I wanted to be perfect when NavyGuy returned and instead I gained five pounds of (chocolate/wine/pizza roll) weight.

What resolutions/goals/projects for 2010 are you willing to announce to the blogosphere?


2010 Book Challenge

I've made my decision on the book challenge.
Bring. It. ON!

Yup, I'm going for it. Well, I have been going for it since Friday, but I've been too busy reading to blog about it :) Despite NavyGuy's protestations, and demands that he create the rules for the challenge (and thus name himself "Book Challenge Commissioner"), I am instituting the following guidelines for myself for the year:
1. Read (and finish) 50 books by 11:59pm, December 31st, 2010.

2. Any category of books is acceptable - fiction, nonfiction, mystery, young adult lit - except picture books.

3. Books on CD are also acceptable. (If you can read in the car without getting ill, more power too you.)

4. I do not need to "pre-list" which books I'm going to read. That's dull. And doesn't allow for the kind of flexibility I require.

5. Crossover books (aka, books I have to read for some other purpose... i.e. grad program) count.

That's it. Basically, try to read 50 books in the year 2010. Ideally, the challenge will a) encourage me to read more, b) encourage me to turn off the tv, c) allow me to actually get through more of the unread books I have on my bookshelves, d) give me bragging rights over NavyGuy (always a plus). (If only I could get Pizza Hut sponsorship and score a free pizza "Book-It" style for every five books I read, then I'd really be motivated!)

So anyway, I'm off and running reading. Right now I'm reading two books.* They're both dog books that NavyGuy and I have received as gifts in the past month.
Now it's your turn - who's accepting the challenge with me? Obviously, you can choose whatever goal number you want, and amend any of the guidelines as necessary, but let me know what you're shooting for!

You'll notice a new link list in the right sidebar ("What Should I Read Next?") where I'm going to keep a compilation of book possibilities. Each title will link to the book's Amazon page so you can check out the title and see if it's something that might interest you. Some are ones I already own and have been meaning to read, some are ones friends have suggested, and some are just random titles that grab me. Always feel free to comment or email with suggestions and I'll do my best to keep the list updated... so no one can use the excuse that they can't find anything good to read! And as soon as I get my first book of the year done, you all will be the first to know :)

*I've quickly discovered that reading several books at once is going to be key to my success. The reasoning is twofold: 1) if I have several books going at once, I can leave them strategically throughout the house and therefore always have a book within reach (one upstairs, one downstairs, one in the car for during breaks at work, one in the bathroom... oh don't judge, you know you do it too!). The second reason is that a major downfall to my reading is I tend to get bogged down in a book; if it's not grabbing my attention right away, then I dawdle my way through it - and I ain't got time to play that game this year if I'm gonna reach the magic number. So, if one book is slowing me down, then I can take breaks with some of the other options I have going.


Sunday, January 3, 2010


We spent much of the day removing all the traces of holiday from the house. I put NavyGuy in charge of the tree, (which I do every year because I hate taking off all the ornaments), and every year I swear I'll never let him near it again because he inevitably screws something up. (Sorry, hun, I love you... but you do.)

This year he broke an ornament (luckily it was one of his own so we avoided bloodshed), and put all of the ornaments into the new ornament storage boxes that I found at Storables.

Which could be confusing because aside from the clumsiness, it sounds like he did everything correctly. Except many of our ornaments already have their own boxes - you know, those nicely labeled Hallmark boxes - which I keep year after year... can you guess where I'm going?

Yup, those boxes are all sitting empty in a rubbermaid container because I failed to supervise NavyGuy closely enough and did not notice that he hadn't put the ornaments in their Hallmark boxes until after he had emptied the entire tree. Had I been more motivated, I would have taken all the ornaments out and re-done the system; instead, the mistake will be corrected come Christmas 2010.


The outside lights still need to come down, and there's a few miscellaneous items that I missed in the first sweep of the house, but for the most part, Christmas is over. Kind of depressing, what with the house looking all empty and boring again. But, it's a chance to bring back all the fun home accessories that have been stored away!

Who else dreads taking down their holiday decorations? Any secrets to making the process less hell-ish?


Saturday, January 2, 2010

First Movie of 2010: Avatar

Oh James Cameron... must you make your movies 2 1/2 hours long? Why? Why do you insist on torturing me like that? You know I can't go 160 minutes without having something to drink, and therefore, I can't make it through your movies in the theater without performing advanced yoga moves while trying to escape my middle-of-the-row (with less leg room and aisle space than an airplane) seat and make it to the bathroom during what I hope will be the most boring, non-crucial-plot-point of the second act...

At least this movie was set in a forest. Albeit a crazy otherworldly forest with super tall blue people running around. The last time I saw a Cameron movie in the theater it was 1997... and there was a sinking boat. And just a couple drops of RUSHING WATER.

You pull this crap one more time James, and I'm gonna force six gallons of Mountain Dew down your throat, then tie you up next to a babbling brook, just down river from a ROARING WATERFALL.


Friday, January 1, 2010

... Hello 2010!

And my first step into this new decade is a little technology update.

That's right - after ignoring NavyGuy's sound advice for over a year, I finally joined the real blogosphere and got myself a "yournamehere(dot)com" all my own. is my new home. Don't worry - if you have the blogspot address in your bookmarks or favorites, you don't have to change anything; the original blog URL will just redirect you here.

There's not much significance to the change, it just seemed about time. Time to secure my url, just in case I eventually want to expand my brand and take over the universe. Gotta keep my options open :)

Other than that, NavyGuy and I spent our New Year's Eve watching movies and sippin' a little bubbly. Who knew science fiction movies could be so entertaining when washed down with champagne? :) How did you ring in the new year?

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