Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas 2012 : A Christmas Gripe

I'm not one of those ungrateful a-holes who is going to gripe about their presents. I loved my gifts, and I'm so thankful for each and every one of them! And I'm also not going to gripe about not getting gifts from everyone I've ever known in my entire life. I don't care. If you wanted to get me something and you did, that's awesome. If you didn't, that's cool, too! 

No, my gripe, unfortunately, has to do with my family. Once again, I will say that I love my family. Dearly. I love hanging out with you all and having fun together. I love spending Christmas surrounded by those I love! But you know what I don't love on Christmas? Being pressured to have kids.

I know you all want a baby in the family. I get it. I just became an aunt rather recently, and I have another niece or nephew on the way, and I'm totally psyched about it!! So I feel you. But can you please respect the fact that my husband and I do not want children?

I was nice enough not to get overly sensitive about it on Christmas, but in case you want to know how I feel, here's what I wish I could have said.

Argument 1: "Your mom said the same thing!"
Response: Yes, I know. Allow me to point out that 1) I'm not actually my mother (regardless of how alike we can be) and 2) by my age, my parents had changed their minds. 

Argument 2: "That's what I said, too. You'll change your mind."
Response: Well, I think it's pretty common knowledge that some people's minds are sort of changed for them (unplanned pregnancy has a way of doing that). Just because your situation changed, doesn't mean mine is going to. However, should I someday change my mind, that decision is up to me and my husband. Period. No one else's input is going to play a significant role in that.

Argument 3: "Don't you want your mom to have grandkids?"
Response: Of course I do. But if I did everything in my life because someone else wanted me to, I wouldn't be a very happy person, would I? Besides, my mom has a granddog (that she loves very much) and gets to play with kids as part of her job. I don't think I'm depriving her too badly.

Argument 4: "We need a baby in the family!"
Response: Really? Babies grow up, so even if I decided to have a kid, you'd only have a baby in the family for a short time, because I'm not about to turn into a baby factory. Besides, people all over are having babies. Odds are someone in your life will have one in the foreseeable future, so I think you'll be OK.

Again, I love you all dearly, but whether you're friends, family or complete strangers, your opinions on my reproductive habits are not going to get me to just start popping out kids. I don't want kids. Nor does Hubby. If we change our minds someday, then so be it, but don't assume that we will or try to talk us into it. I know a lot of it's in jest, but it gets really old, really quickly, and can make a fun time turn sour. 

Christmas 2012: We Survived (Part 2)

After opening presents, we finally headed upstairs for dinner (probably around 8:30 or so). I look forward to this dinner all year. Why? Because my mom makes some killer prime rib. Sides come and go, but the prime rib is always the star of the show. We had a minor issue during the cooking process this year that led to opening some windows to dissipate some smoke, but all's well that ends well, right?

We sat down to a fabulous dinner of prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, Brussels sprouts, baby red potatoes and a tomato dish with fresh mozzarella. A few minutes into the meal, I had a plate full of amazing food and was about to dig in when my mom reached for something and knocked over her glass. Her champagne drink landed all over the right side of my lap. Mom started apologizing and Dad started working on clean up. In the meantime, I was told not to move, so I sat there, a little cold and wet, and waited. Meanwhile, Hubby and Mam-maw were trying to situate the rest of the food on the table when my rum & coke got bumped and promptly spilled all over the left side of my lap. What did I do? The only thing I could. I laughed. I laughed hysterically. Dad told me to go change, so I put on pajama pants and a dirty shirt (just in case) and headed back up to dinner. The rest of the meal was largely uneventful, but it was tasty and wonderful and I was happy (and dry).

After we cleaned up a bit, we headed downstairs to finish off the evening. When everyone else had headed to bed, Hubby and I grabbed the puppers and headed over to pick up K  to go through the local light display. Finally, a tradition that we could uphold! We went through twice, just because, and though it was short, it was nice to spend some more time with K. I slept a little better that night (probably because I started on the couch, instead of the floor), but morning still came too early for my liking.

Per our family tradition, Christmas morning is for Santa presents, so I handed out stockings and gifts for everyone (except the pooch; she'd already gotten all of her gifts). I got some fun socks and more puzzles (yay!!), and Hubby seemed happy with his new wallet and the sweet mouse shaped like a race car. There was little time to relax, though, as Mom's family was due over around two. After a quick shower and some setting up, we had a few minutes to breathe before the madness.

I should explain that I love my family to pieces. I don't mean to say that the madness was a bad thing. I'm just an introvert, and a group that big (all 14 or so of us) in one house (or sometimes in one room - eep!) can be a bit much for me. I tried to help Mom as much as I could (and as much as she'd let me), but there's only so much I could do in the kitchen with her. Around 2:30 or so we opened presents, and though the adults don't get much, I really liked what I did get. The ornaments that my cousin's kids helped make were adorable, and the hand warmers that my aunt made are perfect for shaking off a chill while I'm working. And, of course, the money from my Grampa is always appreciated. This year, we're using most of our Christmas money to go on a mini vacation up in Door County, just Hubby, the puppers and me. No work, no school, just us and a little cabin and whatever we want to do. :)

Even though she had cleaned the oven to prevent it, Mom had another cooking incident that led to windows and doors getting opened. This one was even smokier than Christmas Eve, and when Dad opened the garage door to get some air moving through, we definitely felt it downstairs. Even so, dinner was fantastic. Mom made a HUGE turkey (24 pounds!), lots of stuffing, potatoes, etc. We had left over salad and cheese from the funeral, one of my aunts brought rolls, my cousin brought green bean casserole, and with the massive amounts of cookies in the house, I strongly doubt anyone left hungry. 

After dinner, my cousin's kids wanted to play a game, so we played Words With Friends. Yep. They have a board game edition now. Picture Scrabble with a slightly smaller board, some differences in point assignments by letter, and change where the extra score points are. There you have it. We played with partners, for the most part. Me not so much, since Hubby sat on the couch and my aunt decided we were too mean to play with. We didn't keep score, but we still had fun.

By around 7 o'clock, it was back to the 5 of us (plus Maxi). We spent a little time chatting and unwinding from the day, but Hubby and I still had to drive back to Milwaukee, so we couldn't stay too long. The drive home wasn't too bad (at least I assume; I was sleeping for most of it). We got the car unpacked, but not much more. I was pretty tired, so I lounged a bit before heading to bed. Then it was lights out for Miss Riki.

Working the day after Christmas is always a bum deal, but at least it was mostly quiet. I still have some wrapping to do, since my Hubby's family Christmas is tomorrow, but at least I'm not helping to host anything else. As wonderful of a holiday as it was, I need a break from all that. In fact, tonight I plan to be my introverted self and enjoy some me time while Hubby goes to the cigar bar to use one of his gifts. :)

Hope you all had a great holiday, and that 2013 begins a new year with lots of love, health and happiness. <3

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas 2012: We Survived (Part 1)

Not the Mayan apocalypse; I already planned on surviving that. But the rest of the holiday, I just wasn't sure.

Let's go back to last Wednesday, the 19th. Things were going fine until I got a call from my mom. She had three things to tell me, and none of them were terribly positive. 

The first was that because of the snow Madison was about to get on Thursday, no one was going to be able to pick my Grampa up from the airport here in Milwaukee. OK, no big deal, we can handle that. Mom booked him a hotel room (we don't have a proper guest room, and I doubt Grampa wanted to sleep on our sleeper sofa or the futon) and all we had to do was pick him up when his flight landed on Thursday around 3:50. Sweet. Sad that Grampa would have to spend the night in a hotel in MKE, but at least we could help.

The second was that Mam-maw (my dad's mom) - who is staying with my parents right now - had gotten in on the 15th, but had already been in the hospital. Ugh. She was dehydrated and sick, but fortunately my dad was able to go pick her up that afternoon and take her back to their house. Again, not good that she was sick, but good that she was being released.

The third had no up-side. My aunt's husband (my uncle through marriage) had been in a car accident and had died. That one made my heart ache. My aunt is one of the nicest, sweetest people you could know (a lot like Mom) and to know something so terrible had happened made the world seem wrong. Even worse was when I found articles online about the accident; it wasn't really a car wreck, it was a "freak accident" that killed him. There are so many questions that might never get answered, and I'm afraid the hurt will stick around for a long, long time.

On Thursday, the snow storm hit Madison, but we only got rain here for most of the day. Regardless, Grampa's flight ended up getting canceled, and Mom had to make arrangements for him to stay at the airport in Orlando and to get another flight booked (which meant Mom was on hold for almost an hour and a half). After my lunch break, Hubby asked me to check our basement for flooding, since  a coworker of his was having some issues. I ran downstairs to check, didn't find any water, and came back to work, only to find that my internet was out. Poor Hubby spent about 2 hours trying to help me troubleshoot (via text and phone call), but to no avail. He called our provider, but they couldn't get out to the house until 2 PM on Friday. Great. There goes the rest of my work week.

Even better was when the guy came and figure out what had happened. Our internet amplifier is in the basement and, for whatever reason, is hooked up to a light switch in the back room. (See where this is going?) When I had gone down to check on the flooding situation, I had flipped the switch, but when nothing happened, I assumed the bulb was out and I just moved on. Instead, I had essentially turned off our connection. (Insert facepalm here.) Thankfully, it turned out that had been only part of the problem; we also had a cable that had gone bad, and had he not figured that out, I might've gone insane trying to make our internet work on my desktop. Aye yi yi.

On the plus side, I got to spend Friday wrapping presents and finishing up crafts. I watched a couple of movies on demand (Mr. Poppers Penguins was pretty sweet) and cleaned some things up a bit. That cleared up some time on Saturday, which means I had time to make all 3 kinds of cookies I'd set out to bake. I made Oreo truffles, peppermint pinwheels, and meringue cookies with mini M&Ms (they were out of the dark chocolate and mint pieces by the time we went shopping). Unlike last year's meringue cookies, these didn't turn out to be globs of gooey messiness, so that was nice. And the Oreo truffles are kind of like crack (my dad told my family that the first one's free, but the rest are $20 each). And Mom really liked the pinwheels, which made me happy. Saturday evening, K got into town, and that night, she and S came by and we went out for dinner. I love having time with my sisters, and dinner was just what I needed.

Sunday we drove into Madison. Our original plan was to have our traditional dinner and gift exchange with K that night, but instead we went to my uncle's visitation and funeral. It was actually nice to spend some time with my family and it wasn't nearly as uncomfortable as I'd imagined (except for the chairs, which were terribly uncomfortable; Hubby's leg even went numb at one point). We also got to have some awesome Italian food after the service (thank you, Biaggi's!), some of which we got to take home as leftovers. That night, we had a fire in the family room and sat around to enjoy it, just Mom, Dad, Hubby, Mam-maw and I. 

Christmas Eve Day meant more cookies! My mom made the traditional sugar cookie dough, and I rolled it out, used the cookie cutters and baked them up. While we let them sit, Hubby and I headed to grab some lunch (more Italian food; I'm not Italian, but I think my taste buds are) and then to the grocery store where K and S were ringing bells for the Salvation Army. Mom gave me $5 to donate (I give my money elsewhere) and we picked up some raisin bread for Mam-maw. When we got home, I made frosting and Hubby and I decorated the sugar cookies. We got to relax for a bit after that, and then eventually we opened presents (before dinner this year; another tradition broken). Hubby got me season 1 of Sherlock on DVD, Dumbo on blu-ray, and a couple other fun things. I also got a puzzle, a beautiful scarf, and we got a ginormous generator. Dad told us the idea was originally for camping, but that the unit he got was a bit bulkier than he anticipated, so we were given the option of keeping it or returning it to Gander Mountain and using the money for other camping stuff. (We're not 100% decided yet, but I think we're leaning toward returning it and getting a new tent and some other things.) Everyone seemed to be happy with their presents, and that's all I could really hope for.

More to come.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Morbid Memories

When I was maybe 5 or 6, my great grandpa died. He's the first relative I remember dying, and I wasn't all that sad. I'm ashamed to admit that I was afraid of him; my understanding is that he had Alzheimer's and spoke almost entirely in German, so I didn't understand a word he said, and he was in a wheelchair (which was completely new to me at the time). I didn't go to the funeral.

Maybe a year later (I don't know the timeline, since I was so young) my great grandma died (also my mom's family, but different side of that family). For her, I cried. My mom was so upset that she actually scolded me for crying because I hadn't cried when Great Grandpa had died. She doesn't even remember saying it, but I did stop crying. That was the first funeral I remember. We had to travel for it, and I don't remember much. It was an open casket, and I saw my great grandma one last time. Otherwise, me and my cousins were in the Curious George room at the funeral parlor, reading books and playing games. 

When my great granddaddy died (my dad's grandpa), I was a few years older. Middle school or even high school, I think. I was sad, but I hadn't known him very well since he lived in Mississippi. He was nice enough to me, though. He didn't talk much, but he let me play with a Mr. Potato Head when I visited, which I just thought was the coolest thing ever. When his wife eventually died, my parents forgot to tell me for months. They had found out while I had a sleepover, and they didn't want to upset me. I found out at dinner one night when they were talking about it in passing. She was a seriously sweet lady and I was really sad for my Grandpa since his mom and dad were both gone.

I'd been seriously lucky since then. My family was all relatively healthy and most were in the same state as me.

Fast forward. When I was 21, I was woken up one Saturday morning by my mom telling me that my Gramma (her mom) had died. I'd just visited her a week or so before, and even though she was on hospice, I was shocked. I called my best friend/pseudo-sister K and she came to pick me up and spent the day with me. I took two or three nights off of work so I could help in any way possible. I helped with the picture boards and kept my mom company. At the funeral, I bawled. The hardest part for me was when my cousin N lost it, but the most vivid memory I have is my cousin P's son asking where Great Gramma was and she told him to remember that we could only see her in pictures now.

6 years ago tomorrow, my cat died. He'd been my 13th birthday present, and though I've always been a dog person, I loved that damn cat more than anything. He was a bitch (blocked a few of my friends in the bathroom, hissed at people, bit some of them...), but he loved me. He was also a tubby tabby (22 pounds!), and probably died as a result (heart failure, maybe). Once again, I was woken up by my mom, this time to be told Zeus had died and to ask if I wanted them to do something with him or to cremate him and bring him home. I wanted him to come home. I tried to work that day, but I only made it a few hours in before I broke down and asked to go home. I had been dating Hubby for a few months at the time, and after work he drove all the way from Milwaukee to Madison to be there for me. He brought me potted flowers and if I hadn't already known he was a keeper, that sealed the deal.

Since then, I've been lucky enough to not lose any family. Friends? Yes. It's been a rough year or two for that, actually. But family was safe and sound.

Until yesterday, when my mom called to tell me that my uncle had died in a car accident. He's my uncle through marriage, but my uncle nonetheless, and I can't possibly imagine what my aunt is going through. We don't know details, nor when services will be or anything like that. Right now, it seems cold to even think about it. All I know is that our family lost someone that we hold dear, and just before Christmas at that. I know there's no good time to lose someone, but this is just shitty. 

I've experienced a decent amount of loss this year, and many others have suffered far more loss than I can possibly imagine. I can only hope that 2013 is a little kinder to those in my life. I hope it's kinder to us all.

Be thankful for your loved ones, and hold them close this time of year. Be grateful for the time you have with them and how they've touched your lives. It can be over far too quickly.

Friday, December 14, 2012

I may regret this...

But I feel like I can't concentrate on anything until I get my feelings out. Eh, who reads this anyway, right?

What's happening in CT is terrible. No, it goes so far beyond terrible that I'm pretty sure a word doesn't exist that adequately describes it. I know that the reports of how many are dead or wounded are all over the board right now, but it doesn't matter. The shooting itself is deplorable and makes this a tragedy. If one child loses a parent or teacher, or one parent loses a child, it's no less tragic than 27 dead (or 14 or 3 or whatever the final count comes to).

That being said, I keep seeing people who are screaming for gun control, declaring that guns should be abolished completely. I love that idea, I really do. I am NOT a gun person. Hubby has one that he keeps in the bedroom; does NOT make me a happy Riki. But really? In what world do you realistically see guns being done away with completely?

Make guns illegal? Sure. Because that works so well for drugs. And stealing. And hate crimes. And murder. These things are all illegal, and all still plague not just this country, but the world.

Get rid of guns all together? OK. Because prohibition worked so well for getting rid of booze. Even if we convinced the rest of the world to join us (which is terribly unlikely), I would imagine it would just create a more aggressive black market for weapons.

Do I think that guns should be handed out to everyone and their mother? Good god, no. Handing everyone a gun is the only thing I can think of that might be worse than getting rid of them all. There have been studies done that show that the mere presence of guns can make people think and/or act more aggressively. Giving guns to people who are already aggressive might make them that much more likely to act on their aggression and then we end up with more of these incidents. No thank you.

To own a gun, I think people should have to go through lots and lots of training, get background checks, be registered, etc. I know that there is no possible way to make sure that everyone who has a gun is OK to have a gun, even with regulations like 3-day waiting periods and certification for concealed carry. People who are responsible for these shootings are not at all well. They could have rage issues, mental illness, or any number of things, but they are not well. And since no one seems to see the shootings coming, these people were apparently able to hide that fact from others, so I'd imagine they could get a gun without anyone blinking twice.

What is the answer, then? I haven't a damn idea. I am as lost as I could possibly be. It's a scary world, but being over-reactive is not going to make anything better. At the same time, neither is complacency. So I've got nothing.

I know these thoughts aren't well organized, but that's kind of where I'm at right now. My brain's trying to sort out how I feel and what is going on. I'm struggling with it. And to top it all off, I have to get back to studying for finals. 

Come on, brain. Let's go look at some puppies and rainbows.

Friday, November 30, 2012

And so it ends

November, that is. So here we go.

Nov. 26 - I was thankful for...

Hot water.

It seems obvious, but sometimes I forget how lovely hot water can truly be. When it's cold out, and you get in the shower and it feels like a liquid blanket is covering you and you lose track of time and space for a bit... yeah, I love that. 

Nov. 27 - I was thankful for...

My camera.

During the school year, I don't get to play with my camera as much as I'd like, which blows. Hard. But, when I do have time for it, my camera becomes a part of me. If my house was on fire, and I could only save one thing (assuming Maxine was able to get out, or Hubby got her), I'd probably grab my camera (and/or my wedding and engagement rings, assuming I wasn't wearing them). I know it can be replaced, but when it's not around, I feel lost. Even if I don't have a lot of time to use it, I like to know it's there when I have the time. It's like my security blanket with a lens. And I'm definitely thankful for that.

Nov. 28 - I was thankful for...


If you know me, you know I can have a dry, somewhat twisted sense of humor at times. Or most of the time. Whatever. The point is, I love humor. I love to laugh. I love witty banter and a sharp tongue. I love randomness. I love puns. I love slapstick. I just love it all, from the (mostly) innocent humor of Disney to the wildly inappropriate slams on Tosh.0.

If you've checked out my "That's Entertainment!" page, then you know that I love comedy and comedians, too. I've seen Second City, Capitol Steps, Daniel Tosh, Jeff Dunham, Bill Cosby and the Henson Alternative, and next on my wish list are Gabriel Iglesias (Fluffy) and Lewis Black. I just can't get enough! Laughter is, of course, the best medicine, and for that I'm thankful.

Nov. 29 - I was thankful for...


Sometimes, it's just nice to have your food brought straight to you. Yesterday we found out we won one of the 2 million free Papa John's pizzas, and since we were a bit low on funds (today is payday; woohoo!), we decided it was a sign. We felt bad about just ordering a free pizza, though, so we got some cheese sticks and Mountain Dew to go with it. It took forever to get here, but I figure that's the tradeoff we sometimes make so that we don't have to go out in search of food, leaving the warmth and comfort of our house. 

Whether it's JJ's, pizza, Chinese, or whatever, I love having food delivered. We don't do it frequently, so it's a bit of a treat when food comes to me, instead of me going to it (or me/us having to prepare it). Paper plates and TV trays may not be classy, but there's something satisfying about it anyway. Plus, no dishes to clean. Booya. Definitely thankful for that (as I'm sure Hubby is, too)! 

Nov. 30 - I am thankful for...


I guess that might sound weird, but I'm coming to like the person that I am. I'm nowhere near perfect, and I still get self conscious pretty easily, but I'm smart and fun, and I'm a fairly capable person when it comes to my job, school, or whatever I really set my mind to. I've struggled a lot with self-esteem issues, so to finally be settling in and accepting who I am is sort of a big deal for me. And it feels a lot better than disliking myself or trying to constantly change to be what I think I should be. I'm thankful for that, and for everyone and everything who has helped me get here. 

So, there you have it. 30 days of things I'm thankful for. Phew! :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Weekend Thanks

Since next to no one is reading these anyway, I figure I'll just catch up at my own pace. Ahhh, the joys of being lazy.

Nov. 24 - On Saturday, I was thankful for...

Small businesses.

Hubby and I went Small Business Saturday shopping for the first year, and absolutely loved it. We headed up to Cedarburg (just north of Milwaukee), where we knew there was an adorable downtown shopping area that we'd been meaning to get to. We were not disappointed. 

We checked out a few stores, including a bike shop (Hubby's an addict, I swear), a toy store (where everything was made either locally or at least in the U.S.) and Penzey's (the spice place). We also got to eat lunch at a really cute pizzeria (they had Sprecher root beer on tap... YUM!!), where we got to warm up for awhile. On our way back south, we stopped at a cheese shop and got some delicious cheese* to take home (a 10-year cheddar and a really unique cheese that's sort of a combination cheddar and bleu cheese). We've eaten their cheese before, since they're always at Zoo Brew, but this was our first visit to their store. Again, we were NOT disappointed.

It was good to see people out and about supporting local businesses. We got some Christmas presents knocked off our list and managed to get a few things for ourselves. Most of all, we had a really nice day together, and for that, I'm definitely thankful.

*Maxi thought so, too. In fact, she stole some of our cheese. While we were sitting there. Little jerk.

Nov. 25 - I was thankful for...

My parents.

Growing up, I was as much of a Daddy's Girl as you could be. When I hit my pre-teens, I started fighting with my mom, and eventually pushed them both away (because they clearly had no idea what it was like to be me... or something...). Even after I graduated from high school, things were not pretty. It took me actually becoming a functioning adult to realize what an ass I'd been.

These days, I love visiting my parents. My mom is one of the most patient and loving people you'll ever meet, and my dad is a smart, funny guy. And they both love me and are proud of who I've become. I'm ultimately thankful that they never gave up on me and that they helped make me who I am now.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bring on the Turkey!

Nov. 22 - On Thanksgiving Day, I was thankful for...

Thanksgiving Day!

In my family, we don't really treat Thanksgiving like a big holiday. Once or twice we made an event of it, but more often than not, it was just my parents and me. These days that includes Hubby and Maxine, but the concept is the same. We watch the Macy's parade in the morning, then it's on to the dog show or football (depending on which seems more important at the time; this year the dog show won). We spend the afternoon lounging around and hanging out as a family. Then we have dinner around 7 or so and dessert after that. Ta-da!

This year we went out for a bit in the afternoon so Hubby could play disc golf. It was a beautiful day, but unfortunately 1) it was windy as hell and 2) the course didn't allow dogs. So he shot 3 or 4 holes and we headed back to the car. The one thing I'm disappointed about is that we didn't do our annual hand turkey drawings (you know what I'm talking about; tracing your hand and then decorating it until it loosely resembles a turkey). We have them from every year since 2006, but this year I totally forgot. :( 

It was still a successful and relaxing day, though, so I can't be too upset. It was an excuse to hang out with my parents, have a fire in the fireplace, lounge around and eat a ton of great food. Definitely thankful for that.

Nov. 23 - On Friday, I was thankful for...


If you don't have glasses, you probably don't understand. If you do, then hopefully you feel the same way.

I wanted glasses SO BAD when I was a kid. Silly me. I didn't really need them; I had some astigmatism, but my sight was mostly fine. In high school, I wore them for 6 months straight on an agreement with my parents that at the end of the 6 months, I could get colored contacts. I went through 3 or 4 glasses cases (they kept breaking in my backpack) and at least 2 sets of frames, but I made it. I don't think they knew how badly I wanted those contacts...  Anywhoozles, I got these crazy aqua contacts (I wanted brown, but when my pupils constricted, you could see the grey of my eyes and it looked weird). People were always complimenting my eyes, and I loved it. For awhile. 

Then I got tired of contacts, and just went without. I'd slip them on occasionally when I was on the computer for a long time or if I was driving somewhere unfamiliar at night. Otherwise, they just sat in their case (a nice, strong one). I started wearing them more frequently when I got my job in 2005, and in 2007, I decided to get a new pair. Hubby helped pick them out, and I've been wearing them since.

Now when I take my glasses off, I'm reminded of how nice it is to be able to see clearly. Sure, they get smudged, and I wish they had wipers for rain and snow. And they slip down my nose when I'm sweating. And if I want to wear sunglasses, I have to change into my (non-colored) contacts. But they let me see the world the way it's meant to be seen; crisp and clear and colorful. Everything is easier to read, and glasses are WAY more attractive than squinting all the time. Plus, they help get rid of some of my headaches, which is worth a post all by itself!

So, yes, I'm stuck with glasses. Probably for the rest of my life. But I can see, and for that, I'm thankful.  

P.S. As an alternative, I'm also thankful that I'm not crazy enough to participate in Black Friday. Sleeping in FTW! :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

To Read or Not To Read

Nov. 21 - Today I am thankful for...


I guess I could say that I'm thankful for literature in all of its forms, but I'm particularly fond of books. 

I've always been a reader. I grew up being read to, and eventually doing some of the reading myself. In second grade, I was reading aloud with my mom and she asked me to re-read a word. I didn't want to, because I knew what she wanted to hear. I had a speech impediment. When you make an "s" sound, your lips purse a little and air comes straight out from between your teeth, right? (Go ahead. Try it out.) Well, when I made an "s" sound, my tongue kind of took up the front of my mouth and the air came out both sides of my mouth. I sounded kind of like Sylvester, but with much less slobber.

That incident actually lead to me getting involved in speech therapy at school, which I thought would be terrible, but was actually pretty awesome. In third and fourth grade, I got pulled out of class for appointments with Dr. Scott, who was probably the nicest therapist I could have had. I got to play computer games and sometimes had sessions with other students. No trace of it these days, so it definitely paid off. And if I hadn't been reading aloud with my mom, who knows when it would've been caught.

Anywhoozles, that totally wasn't the point of this post. Moving on.

I love to read. Movies and video games are great, but if I truly want to escape, all I need is a good book and a quiet room. I can visit places, meet people, and experience things without leaving my house, and when I want to visit again, all I have to do is pick the book back up and read some more. It's a magical concept if you think about it.

I'm one of those people who won't get a Kindle because I like the smell of a new book and the feel of an old one. I have a habit of re-reading books; I've read my favorite book from my teen years at least 6 times, and I've read The Princess Bride (the abridged version) 4 or 5 times. Take me to a book store and I can spend all day (and a TON of money) there. Few things make me as happy as getting a new book to read. And for that, I'm very thankful. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Football, Friends and Food

Nov. 18 - On Sunday, I was thankful for...

(Packers) Football season.

Since Hubby was gone hunting this weekend, it was just me and the puppers in the house. Once I got done with homework, there were few options for things to do. I took a nap. I played on the PS3. I read. I played with my puzzle. 

I got bored.

And then it was time for football. Hallelujah! 

Football season doesn't just get me through the day when Hubby's gone; it's a family affair at our house when he's home. The three of us (yes, that includes Maxine) wear our jerseys, grab some snacks, and curl up on the couch to cheer on the Packers whenever they play. It's one of my favorite family activities, and it even comes with its own traditions (like double high fives for touch downs, a tradition I learned from my parents). A win means a good week ahead; a loss means grumbling, outrage, and moments of panic (unless we're already doing terribly, in which case, not really any need for panic). I always hope that we'll make it to the post-season, not just for the glory, but also because it means a longer football season! :)

As long the Packers are playing, I am thankful for football season. When they aren't playing... well, there's only so many months until spring training for baseball! ;)

Nov. 19 - Yesterday, I was thankful for...

My friends.

Normally I would write a long, gushy post about how much my friends mean to me and how they're always around when I need them, blah blah blah. But instead, I'm going to keep this shorter and more to the point.

I'm thankful that my friends understand what I brat I can be, and don't hold it against me that I don't make phone calls and prefer to talk online or in person. I'm thankful that my friends make me laugh and let me cry. I'm thankful that they're as weird as I am and don't get scared off when I say something crazy. I'm thankful that my friends are all different and that I can learn so many things from each of them. 

Mostly, though, I'm thankful for who they are and how they make me feel like a better person, just by having them in my life. Thanks to you all. <3

Nov. 20 - Today I am thankful for...


If you know me, you know I love food. (You don't get this physique from not loving food.) And what's not to love? It keeps us alive, happy and (somewhat) healthy. And not everyone has access to it like I'm fortunate enough to. Too frequently I take for granted that I don't have to worry about where my next meal will come from or when I'll be able to get food again. 

Preparing food can be a lot of fun, and so can shopping for it (I always grocery shop with Hubby, and we make it fun). Going out to eat, ordering in, carrying out, or making it yourself all have different benefits and are all different ways to experience food. We have it at celebrations, we have it when mourning. It can calm our stomachs, or make us think we'll never eat again (you know, when you feel like Violet from Willy Wonka and someone damn near has to roll you out of the room). We have favorites, and we have things we won't touch with a 10-foot pole. The options are seemingly endless, and finding a perfect pairing or an unexpected new favorite makes our mouths, minds, and stomachs happy campers.

So, for all that (and more reasons, I'm sure), I am thankful for food. Om nom nom!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Working on it...

I keep trying to get caught up, but as soon as I start, something seems to come up. Here goes nothing.

Nov. 16 - On Friday, I was thankful for...

My hubby. 

Lately I seem to have been encountering more and more people my age getting divorced (hell, I even know someone who's been divorced twice already). I mean, yeah, I know it makes sense and that as I get older, even more people I know will get divorced. But it's surprising to me that it's happening at such a young age. When I was younger, I didn't even figure I'd be married yet at 28, so the thought of divorce at this age (or there about) hadn't ever crossed my mind.

I'm sure I've been over the story of me and Hubby several times already, so I'll try to summarize for y'all.

Girl meets boy in middle school and has massive crush.
Girl "dates" boy briefly at the end of high school, then forgets about him.
Girl finds boy on Facebook 3-4 years later.
Girl "dates" boy again.
Girl talks to boy's best friend, who makes her realize that things are not working with boy.
Girl breaks things off with boy.
Girl dates, and eventually marries, boy's best friend.

There, now you're caught up.

Until I met Hubby, I had a "type" that I was drawn to. Typically, I liked tall, skinny guys. Usually with bad attitudes. Usually underachievers or troublemakers. It was kind of my thing. (Note that not all of my boyfriends fit all of these, but most fit at least half. Oh, and I had a different "type" when it came to girls, too. Shorter than me, for sure. And no twigs; I didn't want to break anyone. Anyway, I digress.) So when I realized that I liked Hubby - who is the same height as me, super sweet, and not just a skeleton with skin and hair - no one was more surprised than I was. But, as people so often say, it just felt right.

With anyone else, I was constantly trying to gain approval and affection. I was always trying to be what I thought they wanted and would give everything I had to get to that point. With Hubby, it's always just been about being myself. I don't know anyone I can relax with and be silly with better than I can with him. That means more to me than just about anything.

So, yes, I'm thankful for my husband (and all the events that led me to him, even if they weren't always the most pleasant experiences). I'm thankful that he loves me, that he asked me to marry him, that we enjoy being together and that he doesn't give up on me (even when I'm a huge pain in the ass). 

I love you, Roozles. :-*

Nov. 17 - On Saturday, I was thankful for...

Good news.

Good news can make a good day better and a bad day tolerable (or close to). At the very least, at least it isn't another thing to rain on your parade. Huzzah!

On Saturday, my good news was that my Mam-maw (my dad's mom) is coming to Wisconsin for Christmas!! She's going to be at my parents' for 3 whole weeks, because (the second part of the good news) she's moving back to the state!! YAY!!! That was definitely a welcomed break in my day. :)

Trust me. If you knew my Mam-maw, you'd be excited, too. She's definitely not your typical grandma. (For that I had my mom's mom. But I won't get into that right now. Best left for another time.) This is the woman who wanted to visit a brothel (she lived in Nevada at the time, so there were some near her) just to talk with the women who worked there. This is the woman who wants to visit a psychic, who insisted she and I take an old timey photo together in Virginia City, and who isn't afraid to approach anyone at anytime (if you know me, just ask about the time we were at the mall and she got her nails polished; or about when she got her medical marijuana prescription... that one's just great).

So, yeah. Good news. Definitely thankful for it! More to come...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Our House.

Nov. 15 - Yesterday, I was thankful for...

My house.

It's certainly nothing fancy, and paying mortgage sucks, but I am so thankful for our house. When Hubby and I moved in together (early 2008), the apartment we shared never felt much like home. It was the first place I lived aside from my childhood home, school, or camp, so it was kind of a big deal for me. And while the apartment was nice and we were glad to be living together, it just never really clicked.

In 2009, Hubby started talking about wanting a house, and how it was a good time to buy. I wasn't sure I was ready for all of that, and had to do a lot of thinking. While on a trip with my sisters in August of that year, I decided that we should give it a shot. I bought Hubby a sign for the garage our house would have and gave that to him to show I was ready.

We found probably 60 houses online that were contenders. Research got rid of some and others were off the market before we could blink. Of those left, we drove past at least half, which whittled the list down some more. We visited probably 10-15 houses and had it narrowed down to two. The other one we were considering was a lot like the house I grew up in; ranch style, 3-4 bedrooms, hallways, a big yard... It really was a great house, and I hope whoever bought it is just as thankful for it as we are for this house. 

This house won out for a whole lot of reasons (and also fell short for a few reasons, too; 1 tiny bathroom without an exhaust fan... 'nuff said), but there are 3 reasons I know pushed it over the top.

First, the garage. Hubby works on cars, and having a garage was a big reason for buying a house. Our garage is 2.5 cars and has all sorts of room for stuff. There's even this crazy attic thing! We don't use it, but it's kind of cool. 

Next, the kitchen. Like most apartments, ours had a galley kitchen; it was small and narrow and hard to maneuver. Our kitchen in the house is really open, with lots of space to move around and store things (though, I can always use more storage space). There wasn't a dishwasher, but my parents got us a portable one that works just fine. And my dad installed a garbage disposal for us, which is awesome. 

The third reason is two floors (plus a basement). The upstairs is small, since it's just an attic space that got converted into bedrooms, but that's enough. I knew that if I was going to be studying and working at home, I would need to be able to send Hubby somewhere in the house where he wasn't a distraction. So, my workspace is here on the main floor, and his computer room is upstairs where he can game and drool over cars without me having to give him an evil glare. It works out best for us both.

I love a lot of other things about the house, too. I mean, without it, we couldn't have gotten Maxine (our apartment didn't allow dogs). And though it's split into two parts, we have a long backyard with a couple spots for gardens. And I love our big, open living room (which is also my workspace and our dining area). 

We closed on the house on Oct. 2, 2009 and have been living here since mid-October of that year. It's hard to believe we've been here for 3 years, but we always agree that it's also hard to remember a time before this. The apartment feels like a distant memory, and forget about when we both used to live at home! This is where Hubby proposed to me, and where our married life began; it's where we became a family, just us and Maxi. It's our home. And for that, I'm thankful. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Happy Happy, Joy Joy!

Nov. 13 - Yesterday I was thankful for...


That may sound silly to you, but I am thankful for all things Disney. Growing up, I was always begging for the latest Disney video (I actually screamed when I got Beauty & The Beast from my Mam-maw for Christmas). I never missed a Disney movie in the theatre. In fact, I saw Aladdin in the theatre 3 times on its first go. I've seen Nightmare and Nemo twice each; once the first time around and once in 3D later in life. My room as a baby through age 3 or 4 was Winnie the Pooh themed. I've been to Disney World 5 times and already have WAY in advance plans for a 6th trip (our 5th anniversary in 2015) and a first trip to Disneyland with my bestie after that.

In college, I was known for my love of Disney. My roommate bought me Finding Nemo the very day it was released on video, and friends would bring me little toys from McD's or from cereal boxes if they were Disney related. I watch the Disney Channel (no, I don't care that I'm 28) and have an entire piano book full of Disney songs. I'm working on a Disney wall for our bedroom and looking around the living room, I can see at least two Perrys (from Phineas & Ferb), a Fantasia hippo, Mickey & Minnie ears, Disney Trivial Pursuit, and more.

Now, my love of Disney pales in comparison to my bestie. (Thankfully, this isn't a contest; I would lose.) But compared to most people I know, I'm a bit of a fanatic. Everything I've listed above makes me so genuinely happy! I know there are a lot of people who dislike Disney (or downright hate it), and there are people who think it's just for kids. They're entitled to believe that, but they are TOTALLY missing out on something that brings so much joy to so many people. I can always count on something Disney to lift my spirits, and for that, I'm thankful.

Nov. 14 - Today I am thankful for...


If you've read my blog before, you know I've struggled with anxiety, depression and some tendencies of OCD. It's not a super fun topic, but these things are very, very real and very, very serious. It's a little different for everyone, I suppose, but I would imagine most people would agree that living with a mental disorder can be hard and lonely.

Thankfully for me, my medications make life much nicer and more manageable. I'm personally on fluoxetine (Prozac) and bupropion (Wellbutrin), and these two little drugs have made a world of difference in my life. I will probably always need them, and that's OK. I'd rather my quality of life be better than be too proud to be "dependent" on pills.

Am I 100% with the pills? Of course not. I still have my days and my quirks (like not being able to make phone calls without feeling like I'm going to vomit the whole time), but when compared to life without the pills, things are a million times better. And for that, I'm thankful.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Here we go!

Nov. 10 - On Saturday, I was thankful for...


When I have a day full of homework ahead of me, it's nice to have the power of caffeine to back me up. I don't do coffee. I know, I know. But I don't like it. I would love to like it! Just hasn't happened yet. Mt Dew (also known to me as the sweet, sweet elixir of life and the nectar of the gods) is my caffeine of choice, and whether it's the actual effect of the caffeine or a placebo effect, it helps keep me going. I'm definitely thankful for that.

And, of course, I am thankful for its other use in my life: relieving headaches. I get a lot of headaches (it runs in the family), and sometimes there's no relief to be found. But, for some headaches, a healthy dose of caffeine can be just the thing to save me from ramming my head into the nearest wall or trying to bash my own skull in with a hammer in hopes of easing the pain.

Nov. 11 - On Sunday, I was thankful for...


It's the obvious choice for Veterans Day, I know, but it's also an important thing to be grateful for. I'm not one to frequently swell with pride in my country, but I try to remember that freedom is not actually free. It comes at a cost; sometimes a high one. 

I'm thankful for the men and women who have fought for my freedom, who have paid the price for that freedom without even knowing me. I'm thankful for the families that support them and the strength they have to share their loved ones with us all. Truly, I am.

Nov. 12 - Today I am thankful for...


Hubby and I love to settle in and watch TV together, but it's not always easy to catch shows as they air. And by not always easy, I mean damn near impossible. We're busy people who like to get out and enjoy life, so the option to sit at home to wait for the newest episode of [insert popular TV show here] is not usually the one we take. 

In fact, we've been so busy lately that we were WAY backlogged on our recorded shows! And when we had some issues with our cable and found out we might lose everything on our DVR, I about flipped my shit. Thankfully that didn't happen, so last night we burned through several hours worth of shows from the last few weeks. 

I'm sure people think it's a silly thing to be thankful for, but I really love having that time to spend with my husband and my dog. It's relaxing and entertaining, and it always feels amazing to veg out on the couch with my family after a long day of work or homework. And that, to me, is worth being thankful for.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A little behind...

Sorry about that. I'm working on it though!

Nov. 9 - On Friday, I was thankful for...


I love music. There isn't a day that goes by without music in some way. I listen to it while I work, sing it in the shower, rock out to the car stereo... I was in choir in high school (two choirs my senior year), and have played piano, oboe and violin. In the car with my mom, I grew up listening to Carole King, James Taylor and Peter, Paul & Mary (whom I saw perform live not once, but twice). My dad taught me to love the Beatles and Queen, two bands that I hold in the highest regard. I love musicals and pop, rock and hiphop, and even some country (though, it took awhile; I used to whine about country all the time). Music lives inside me and I couldn't kick it out even if I wanted to.

On Thursday night, Hubby and I went to Madison to see Pentatonix perform. For those not in the know, Pentatonix is an a cappella group. They won the last season of The Sing-Off, an all a cappella competition on NBC (which, sadly, has since been canceled; Heaven forbid we have a show that displays actual talent...). To say they're amazing is an understatement, and they certainly didn't disappoint the other night. 

For those who watched The Sing-Off, they performed the Britney medley, Born To Be Wild, Let's Get It On, Dog Days Are Over, Love Lockdown, OMG, Stuck Like Glue, Video Killed the Radio Star and Telephone (which was their audition piece). For those with their album, they performed Baddest Girl, Aha!, We Are Young, and Somebody I Used To Know (but they didn't do "Love You Long Time" - booooo!). They did a few other songs as well (check out their Youtube channel if you're interested; if you love a cappella, you should fall in love pretty quickly), and were on stage for a surprising amount of time! We even got to sing with Avi and Kevin for a bit while the core trio took a little break. Sooooo fun!

PTX is just one of many concerts I've been to in my life (check out my Musicality page for a taste), and I am so grateful that talented people like them (and their opener, SJ) are willing to travel all across the country (and even the world) to share their musicality with other music-loving folks like yours truly. I'm thankful that music is so prevalent in my life and that if I want to listen to some, all I have to do is open iTunes or head to Youtube and I have a plethora of music to choose from. I'm thankful for music that relaxes me and music that energizes me. I'm thankful for meaningful songs that touch my heart and I'm thankful for catchy pop tunes that just make me feel good. 

All around, I am thankful for music and everything it does for me. In fact, I think I'll go listen to some now. :)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

We Are...

Nov. 8 - Today I am thankful for...

Penn State's World Campus (and online education in general)

My first attempt at college wasn't exactly spectacular. I made some fantastic friends and had some great experiences, but in terms of actual education, I didn't gain much ground. 

I left traditional school behind in 2004. It wasn't until 2009 that I really decided to try again, and I figured that this time I'd try something different. I checked into online colleges, did my research and ended up applying to Penn State, hoping to become a part of their World Campus program. I was accepted and started taking classes that fall.

In the past three years, I have learned more than I can possibly share. And it goes beyond the content of the courses. By taking classes online, I've learned how to more successfully manage my time (which is key when you work full time, take classes part time and would still like to sleep occasionally). I've learned which study habits work best for me (like taking LOTS of notes when I read) and which ones don't (like staying up for an all-night cram session when I have work the next day). Most importantly, I've learned that hard work really does pay off; I have a 3.97 GPA, currently have A's in both of my fall courses and will be a second-semester Junior this spring.

Do I think that online learning is best for everyone? No. Nothing is going to be best for everyone. It's like trying to make everyone happy. It's just not possible.

Do I think that online learning is best for me? Absolutely. World Campus not only gave me a second chance to get my degree, but did so in a way that lets me work independently (without too much interruption) without ever feeling like I'm alone.

For that, I really am thankful.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

For what it's worth

Nov. 7 - Today I am thankful for...

Human decency and compassion for others.

Every day there are terrible people doing terrible things. Like setting a puppy on fire and leaving it to die, reacting to election results with hate and disrespect, or any number of awful things. And it breaks my heart every time. I can't understand how people can be so horrible, or why they'd even want to be. (Whenever I bring this up to Hubby, he tells me that there's nothing to understand, or that it's just not possible to understand that kind of mentality; he's probably right, but I can't help but wonder.)

So screw 'em. Forget about the terrible people and the horrendous things they do and say, think and feel... They aren't worth the time or energy. Instead, I focus on the good people and things, and I'm thankful for them.

Like the tons of people who donated to help Phoenix, the puppy someone set on fire. People were so generous that the cost of his care has already been exceeded. 

Or the states that proudly voted for gay marriage in yesterday's election, moving us closer to equality and further from ignorance. 

Or the people who help make our lives better or nicer in small, almost unnoticeable ways every day; the ones who hold doors or smile when you pass them or let you in so you don't miss your exit.

I'm thankful that I was brought up in a family that taught love and acceptance, so that I am one of those good people. And I'm thankful that most of the people in my life are really good people, too. I'm thankful that so many people are decent, compassionate humans, and that those people truly are the majority when it's so easy to feel like they're the minority.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Nov. 6 - Today I am thankful for...

Maxine McPupperkins! :)

Today is Miss Maxi's "Gotcha" day. Three years ago today, we drove to Bichon & Little Buddies rescue to pick up Maxine and bring her back to her forever home. We had already gotten her a bed, some toys, a leash, food and water bowls, food itself and probably some other stuff that I can't remember right now, so it was just a matter of bringing her home and loving her forever.

This is the first picture I took of Maxi. That night was full of new experiences for all of us. Maxine was hesitant to come onto the couch with us (boy, did that one change quickly) and wasn't sure about coming upstairs. She didn't quite know how to handle being in her crate all night, and I didn't know how to keep my heart from breaking when she whined and cried. But somehow we got through it.

The past three years have been wonderful, in no small amount due to Maxine. She makes our house a home and she makes us smile every single day. Her couch cuddles are the best, and she can bust a move like none other. And when Hubby's gone overnight, she's better than any alarm system, and sometimes even sleeps in bed with me for extra security.

Sure, she steals the occasional block of cheese or steak, and she doesn't always listen to us the first 17 times we say something, but we have no doubt that she loves us, and we certainly love her.

So yes, I am very thankful for Maxine, today and always. Love you, puppers!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Catching Up

Nov. 4 - Yesterday I was thankful for...

Indoor plumbing.

As it gets colder out, I find myself more and more thankful that I get to pee inside. I'm assuming the dog's cool with it (or at least has come to terms with it), but when I take her out and feel how cold it is, I am ever so grateful that I don't have to do any of my business out there with her.

Also, let's be honest. When you wake up at 6-something and REALLY have to piss, you already don't want to get out of bed to walk down the hall. Imagine if you had to go outside! Eff that.

Nov. 5 - Today I am thankful for...

Air conditioning. OK, that sounds weird, I know. First, let it be said that I am not currently running my a/c. When the high is in the 40s, I'm good with my heat, thank you. BUT, I would be missing a very important item if I left a/c out of this list. 

Apparently, I take after my dad in this respect. If I had my way, our a/c would probably be running from April through part of October, and the house would be a beautiful 70 during the day and probably about 63 or 64 at night (mama likes it cold so she can curl up with blankets). 

Ahhhh, if only. Our a/c doesn't really agree with me ("I see you've set me to 72... That means you want it to be 78, right?"), nor does our budget. It may not be perfect, but I still love our a/c and everything it does for us. Riki + heat + humidity = nothing good. But Riki + heat + humidity + a/c = lack of homicidal rage.

My dad always says he'd like to build a shrine to the guy who invented a/c (which, per Wikipedia, is this guy) and I can't say that I'm opposed to that idea. I could see worshiping him as the god of modern a/c, thanking him for keeping me from sticking to things (and myself) and praying to him when the unit is struggling to keep us cool. 

Hmmmm... Maybe next summer...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sooooooooo ready...

I had this whole idea for today's post, but homework (for which I am not so thankful) has kept me far too busy to go into detail. Alas, I shall save it for another day.

Instead... 11/3 - I am thankful for...

Long weekends. 

I cannot freakin' WAIT for Thanksgiving weekend! I have no school assignments that week, which means I can spend the whole 4-day weekend relaxing. Even if I did have some homework, it would still be 4 days without work, which makes getting homework done WAY easier.

4-day weekends are a magical, wonderful things. Seriously. Does anyone out there NOT like having four days in a row off?? (I'm picturing someone somewhere saying they don't like it, but I still don't believe them. It's 4 days without work. Even if you love your job, it's still awesome to have 4 "me" days!).

Anywhoozles, that's all I have time to post for now. Gotta get studied up for an exam in Psych and get some homework done for Logic. Wooooooo...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mmmmm... toasty

Nov 2 - I am thankful for...


My crazy hubby is going camping this weekend. Yep. You read that right. Camping. In November. In Wisconsin. (It was originally meant to be a 2-day backpacking excursion, but some unfortunate circumstances have shortened it to an overnight camping trip.)

The high temperature for the weekend where he's going is at most 40, and the lows are in the 20s. Brrrrrrrr! I've gone winter camping, and it's an interesting experience that I'm glad I participated in, but having done it once, I can say with certainty that I prefer camping in warmer weather.

So today, as I think about Hubby sleeping in the cold tomorrow night, I am thankful for warmth. I love the heat our furnace provides. I love snuggling up in blankets. I love the way a fire feels. I love grabbing laundry straight from the dryer. It's all just lovely. 

Note that I am not saying I am thankful for heat. In the summer, it sometimes gets so hot that it's hard to sleep. I don't really care for that (though it's still a bajillion times better than freezing my tits off). But warmth... that I love, and that I am thankful for. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Happy belated Halloween! Hope everyone had a lovely day. :-) I watched Nightmare Before Christmas (of course) and Hubby took me on a "Halloween drive" to see some of the awesome decorating people do around here. We had pumpkin pie blizzards from DQ and we watched the new episode of Criminal Minds. It was a good day indeed!

However, every year I forget (and am abruptly reminded) that there is a down side to Halloween; the next day is November.

While it's true that November does mean good things (Thanksgiving, semester ends next month, etc), it also means that winter is on its way and that another year is quickly coming to an end. I'm not necessarily opposed to this, it just kind of freaks me out. Wasn't it just summer? Weren't we just talking about how hot it was? Didn't I just change my clocks an hour forward!? WHAT KIND OF CRUEL JOKE IS THIS?!

Ahem. Sorry about that.

Anywhoozles, I'm going to try something for this November, to try and keep things positive and forget about the impending madness of winter in Wisconsin. With Thanksgiving in mind, I'm going to try to write a quick post each day about something I'm thankful for. At the end of the month, I should have a nice list of things I'm lucky to have to remind myself of whenever I get down. Or a list of really random things that makes me question my sanity and/or priorities. Seems like a win-win.

And so, here we go.

November 1st - I am thankful for...

Online shopping.

OK, this seems like a weird one to start with, but hear me out. I am, as many of you know, a very shy person. Some might call me anti-social. Some DO call me anti-social. In addition, I pretty much refuse to drive in Milwaukee. I've had my share of getting lost around here, and I am by NO means an aggressive driver (which usually means I'm the one who gets screwed over), so other drivers scare the crap out of me. Add those up and I don't get out much on my own.

While Hubby is great at taking me places and going shopping with me, I don't always want to bug him and he's not always available. Enter online shopping. Amazon has been my savior for years now, and I love my Amazon Prime account. (No, I'm not being paid to say that. I really just freakin' love it!) They don't have everything, of course, but more than enough for this gal. 

Besides, there are so many other sites out there! If I need stuff for the dog, BaxterBoo is amazing. If I need clothes, I head to OneStopPlus (big girls need clothes, too). If I want to browse random stuff, I head to places like Shopko, ThinkGeek, or Disney Store. And whenever I'm struggling with present ideas, is awesome. Even if I don't find the perfect present, it never fails to give me some awesome ideas.

The benefits are almost endless. I don't have to go anywhere. I don't have to look presentable or even be fully clothed. If I change my mind, removing something from my cart is as easy as clicking a button. There are always deals to be found. Things get delivered right to my house. And a lot of stores will even let you return things (for free or the price of shipping) with little to no hassle.

So, yes, I am thankful for online shopping. It sounds silly, but it makes my life a lot easier and lot more pleasant. And that's worth a ton to me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sweets & Treats

Halloween: It's all about the candy.

OK, not entirely true. It's about dressing up, having fun, carving pumpkins, getting scared (in a fun way), hanging out with friends, and (in the Midwest anyway) having one last hurrah before winter comes in and puts the kibosh on fall fun.

But the treats are where it's really at.

If you were big into trick-or-treating like yours truly, you usually had some kind of game plan. You knew which houses to avoid (like the dentist who always gave out those plastic vampire teeth and - not even kidding - toothbrushes) and which to hit early in the night (the awesome couple who gave out full or king size candy bars every year). To ensure maximum candy collection, you might have decided ahead of time who would ring the doorbell at each house or might have gotten the largest pillowcase you could find in hopes of filling it to the top (a goal that I sadly never reached). No matter what, the highlight of Halloween was checking out the loot at the end of the night.

Being a particularly quirky kid, I didn't settle for pouring out my candy and eating it right then and there. No, I had other plans. I would pour out the candy, grab a pen and paper, and tally up all the goods. I'd make piles of each brand and mark them down as I went. By the end, I knew exactly how many Reeses cups or Twizzlers I had and knew the overall candy count from the night's haul. 

Why? Two reasons. First is that I'm just OCD. I love making lists and taking inventory. Seriously. Second reason was for trading purposes. If someone had something I wanted, I knew how many of which candies I had to barter with. Say someone had a delicious 100 Grand bar. I could check my list and see that I had plenty of Kit-Kats to spare (which, while tasty, are not among my favorites). Likewise, if someone wanted my Nestle Crunch and I only had 2, I knew that trading wasn't an option (love me some Crunch!).

My parents never had to worry about me eating candy while out and about that night because it would have thrown off my overall count, and I couldn't have that. (How did my parents not realize I was OCD??) So whenever those stories came out about kids eating candy that had needles in them, my parents got to relax, knowing they would be able to check my stash before any of it was consumed.

That having been said, today I will share with you my top 5 tips for successful trick-or-treating. You might be "too old" to go for yourself, but you can pass these along to any kids or teens who may want the inside scoop from a seasoned veteran.

1) Start early, stay late. This comes with a few caveats. Don't start before it's dark; that's when the little guys and gals get their turns. Likewise, if you know a family has little ones, they might not be home when you first start, so plan accordingly. And don't go too late. Remember the golden rule of trick-or-treating: If the lights are on, you're good to go; if the lights are gone, the answer's no. My best advice is to head out just after it gets dark (use whatever gauge you want; I like to use the street lights as my guide) and go no later than 9. Most houses will be done closer to 8, but any that are still going after that are likely to give you more candy since the night is winding down.

2) Keep your group smaller. I know, you have a huge group of friends and you all want to go together. That's fine, but it may slow you down. Slow = less candy. If you have a big group, consider breaking into two smaller groups as you go down the street. One group can start on one side and the other on the opposite side. When you're at the end, switch and meet back up at the other end. You don't have to keep the same groups every street, and you can typically move faster when there are fewer people to get through the process at each house.

3) Be polite. It doesn't sound like much, but think about it. If there's a group of younger kids heading to the same house as you, and you rush up to beat them, do you really think you're going to get more candy? No way. Let the little ones go first. They usually don't take much candy (so they're probably not going to run out before they get to you) AND the treat-givers are more likely to be generous if they see that you let the others go first. This is especially important the older (or taller) you are. Some people are weird about older kids on Halloween, so being nice and polite will give you the best odds at candy collection. Oh, and remember to thank people for candy. They don't have to give it to you.

4) Be enthusiastic! Seriously. If you show up at my door and mumble, "Trick or treat" or just stand there and look at me while holding your bag out or grabbing at the bowl in my hands, I'm not going to be inclined to shower you with candy. Same if you show up with little to no costume on (a scary mask while you're wearing a sweatshirt and jeans is not a costume). Put some effort into the night; it's a holiday for crying out loud! It's almost as much for the candy givers as the candy takers. I didn't realize that until I was an adult, but it's true. I love to see the creativity that comes along on Halloween, and I get a kick out of kids who are beyond thrilled to be at my door just for a few pieces of chocolate. 

5) Strategy. In most cases time is money; on Halloween, time is candy. Like I said earlier, knowing who is going to ring the bell BEFORE you get to the door helps you be more efficient. I'm not saying you should have a set schedule, but sharing the responsibility makes it more fun (who doesn't love to ring a doorbell?) and saves time in the long run. And knowing which houses you can skip will also save you some time (and some disappointment). Also, I suggest taking a bag/container with handles. Pillowcases are fun and I admire the goal of filling them, but they aren't that easy to carry around, especially as the night goes on. Handles give you a better grip, and a smaller bag will make it seem like you got more candy. Use some common sense; if a house is swamped when you get to it, head across the street instead. By the time you're done there, the crowd will probably have subsided.

So, there you have it. Do I miss trick-or-treating? You're damn right I do. But I'm all for helping kids get more out of their Halloween experience. :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Costumes of Halloweens Past

Oof. I know, it's been awhile. A month, actually. Things have been... sort of stressful, eventful, and crazy. Another friend (this one a camp friend from my CBH days) died far, far too young. Exams and quizzes have come and gone. Went to a Packers game and one last Brewers game for the season. Got to see my sister. Participated in the AIDS Walk WI. Not all in order, but that's essentially the last month in a nutshell.

Moving on.

Halloween is a mere 15 days away. As most are aware, I am a big fan of Halloween and have written several posts about the best holiday ever.

Halloween has always been embraced in my family. My dad was always really involved in the Halloween festivities at my elementary school, so I usually got to help set up. Too bad the haunted "house" (OK, it was the locker rooms) scared the bejesus out of me, even after having helped set up. I tried going through the first year (I was 6), but I was so terrified by the end that my own dad - in the costume I watched him put on - pushed me over the edge. I was crying uncontrollably and my dad had to come out and show me that everything was OK. I tried going through again when I was 10, but I only made it through one of the locker rooms (it spanned both the boys' and girls') before I was more than done.

My parents also used to host a Halloween party at their house every year. Most years they sent me to stay with my cousins during the party, but I always got to see pictures and hear about the awesome costumes. 

And I always helped decorate the house, inside and out. When Halloween finally came around, I was always excited. We had jack-o-lanterns and ghosts, a coffin and skeletons... We even had a cassette tape of spooky noises that we'd play out the window so trick-or-treaters could hear it when they came to the door. It wasn't the most elaborate set up, but it was always fun and in the spirit.

So, naturally, my parents started dressing me up in costumes and taking me out for events from an early age. My very first costume was a bunny when I was about 3. My mom made it herself and I ended up wearing it for at least 3 years.

Yep. There I am. (Sans head in this picture, of course.) One of my favorite Halloween games was trying to eat marshmallows from a string. I've never enjoyed bobbing for apples, but this I loved. Probably because I've always loved marshmallows.

Ahhh, there we go. Full bunny makeup and costume. Excellent.

Anywhoozles, after a few years, I wanted something different. I'm not sure exactly in what order these came, but one year I was Dracula (with FULL face paint; that was a bitch to wash off), another I was an angel (ha!), another I was a wizard (re-purposed the angel costume with a lot of puffy paint and glitter)... At some point I was a cheerleader, and once I was a cat. One year it was too hot to wear a costume, so my friends and I just went as girls at a sleepover. Oh, and my freshman year of high school I wore my dad's old paintball outfit and tried to pull off some girly version of army wear. (Yeah. I thought I had a pic, but I can't seem to find it. Oh darn.)

Now, I was never really the kind of girl to use Halloween as an excuse to get skankified. (I never really felt I needed an excuse.) The closest I got was the Halloween dance my sophomore year (I think?) when I wore a short, black dress and used the angel wings I had from when I was younger to go as the angel of darkness. By the end of the night I had lost my wings (they were passed around and trampled on the dance floor) and probably did just look skanky. But, it was fun anyway. 

(Now that I think about it, I might've worn the same dress to my freshman and sophomore dances, just without the wings the other time; I don't recall... I think I'm actually glad there aren't pictures of those years...)

Getting dressed up as an adult is a different thing entirely. You get to be clever and creative (or lazy as hell; to each his own) and have a lot of fun; usually with lots of booze and big crowds of strangers (which normally aren't my thing, but hey, it's a holiday). The last few years I haven't had such luck, but when Hubby and I first started dating, I went as a dead prom queen:

(Really, I just love any excuse to wear a tiara.)

And in years since I've done myself up as a punk rock chick, a witch and a cereal killer:

I was supposed to go as Flo last year, but we didn't have anywhere to go, so the costume never got finished. Le sigh.

The most fun, though, is dressing up the dog. :)  And with that thought, I'll leave you with some adorable dog pictures. TTFN!