Thursday, September 30, 2010

Happy Champagne Friday, FINALLY!

I'm not sure where the past 3 Fridays have gone. I don't even think there was champagne consumed on those days. I mean, that's not to say there wasn't something else...sangria, Miller Lite, grog...just not champagne. That is a sad, sad story indeed. But today is different because we do have a bottle of champagne chillin' in the (dorm) fridge, thanks to Mama Virgo and her Happy Anniversary wishes. Nothing says Happy Anniversary like finally celebrating it, 2 weeks later.

So, to celebrate Champagne Friday this week, I bring you drunken photography. Pop a cork, put your feet up, and celebrate the weekend, my friends...for Monday comes way too soon!

Horse racing + lemon drops + track-side seats = drunk by 2 PM

Neal has a beer-induced lazy eye.

Nothing says "environmentally friendly" like boob windmills.

Neal totally missed his calling as a Chippendale...just sayin'...

I love it when dancing involves the hands, too.

Last one of the evening.


The Neighbors Have Eyes

Introducing the lovely and multi-talented KLZ from Taming Insanity. Read her. Love her. Follow her. I would follow her to the ends of the earth, but then, maybe that's just me....

We recently moved out of a one bedroom condo.

By "we" I mean, my husband, myself and our 11 month old.

Out of a 700 square foot, one-bedroom condo in a high rise in downtown Chicago.

Yeah, good times.

But now that we're doing this suburban thing, I realize that there were certain luxuries about living downtown. For one? We were anonymous.

Sure, certain people might know us as those people who are stupid enough to live in a one bedroom with a baby but they lived on other floors. They had other schedules. They had other lives. In the condo, I could happily do whatever the hell I wanted and continue to be encapsulated in our suffocatingly small little place. The people living around us largely ignored us.

The neighbors were not the issue. Because in that condo, we had all the tension we could take already inside the walls.

So, now that we've moved to the suburbs, I'm slowly realizing that things are not so casual now. My neighbors know where I live. I'm no longer one of hundreds of people crammed into a four building complex. I'm one of three people living in a house.

This was never more evident than when I decided to clean out our fridge before garbage day. We had some Italian beef that needed to get trashed. I dump it into the garbage bag where it promptly begins to ooze out. Fantastic.

So, my new-homeowner self begins to freak. I crouch low to the ground and scurry with the bag so the mess will be kept in a confined space. I rush around the side of the house and hurl the bag into our garbage can. I fly back into the house to get paper towels to cleanse the beef juice from my garage floor.

As I do this I realize: the garage door is open. People are driving by. And I have enacted this insane garbage tossing ballet for the whole neighborhood to see.

While wearing plaid pajama pants. And turquoise knee-high socks. And an orange shirt that says "Don't need no credit card to ride this train".

So, yeah. Casual Friday is over. As is casual anytime they can see me. Because I have already established myself as the nutso of the neighborhood.

Or, I could just roll with it and prepare to host my own White Trash Bash.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Hats Off to the British and the French

To say that this past trip north has been stressful would be a magnificent understatement. The journey started out smoothly enough...I was only fifteen minutes late picking Neal up from work and Poppy only cried this time from Warner Robins to Atlanta...which is preferable to her crying from Warner Robins to Chattanooga. As usual, Lulu was asleep before we ever got off base. It's amazing how different sisters can be, even when they are of the feline species. I accidentally picked an exit with a Panera which meant I got to have their apple walnut salad instead of that disease-in-a-bowl that Wendy's tries to sell to the unsuspecting public. And we walked in the back door of Chez Vacation at 12:15 AM...only fifteen minutes past ETA....

Except that we walked into a warm and, unpleasantly, humid house. It had been almost a month since our last trip up but we both agreed that we remembered setting the thermostat to something other than Louisiana Swamp. Something was not right. While Neal checked the breaker box and flipped switches to God knows what on the furnace panel, I emptied the contents of our travel cooler into the fridge...the very warm, very not cold refrigerator. Wait, let me be more specific...the 7-year old, Jenn-Air, stainless steel refrigerator was not cold. Seven years old. My cats have outlived this refrigerator. In fact, the only thing this refrigerator has outlasted is my tenure at each of my 32 jobs and Lindsay Lohan's time in jail. The AC finally kicked on that night, but the refrigerator just sat there like the hulking dish cabinet it had become.

The next morning, Neal unplugged it and then plugged it back in. Lo and behold, it worked! The motor whirred to life and cold air shot from the vents. Hallelujah, we sang, as we did a victory dance around the kitchen island. Exactly 24 hours later, as I was shoving Fazoli's into my piehole and discussing wedding flowers with BFF Curly Sue, the damn thing just stopped. I sat at my beautiful new high-top dining room furniture and listened for any sound of life from Jenn-Crap. Nothing. I called a place who sent a man with a clipboard and a screwdriver. Seven minutes later he declared the compressor ruined and suggested a $900 fix. I stifled my laugh and wrote him a check for his time and expertise (a check that Neal is still grumbling about...perhaps he should learn to fix refrigerators instead of drive tanks...).

We spent our Anniversary Do-Over on Sunday looking for a new refrigerator. Ironically, the 4th anniversary gift is appliances. Or linen. Linen if you're a traditionalist, appliances if you want to get the diamond a lot earlier than the golden 50th (and I'm a realist...that would make Neal 87. We are going the Modern road). I thought we had bought each other Droid X's. Apparently, it was Droid X's and a Samsung french-door refrigerator. Happy Anniversary to us! I've been waiting for it to arrive for approximately 3 days now and I've learned the following things about myself regarding refrigeration:

1. I could never be French. Going to the store everyday is exhausting and time-consuming...even if I can almost see it from my house. Granted, my vegetables are not fresh off the truck, but I have a horrible habit of looking for signs of mold before diving into leftovers. So maybe fresh is not particularly important to me.

2. When you are operating out of a dorm fridge, it brings into focus what you deem valuable enough to occupy prime real estate. I, for example, have a 3-pack of egg substitute, a package of buffalo chicken deli meat, a container of hummus, a bottle of International Delight creamer, 2 beers, and a bottle of champagne.

3. You never know how much you much you need ice until it's no longer an option. I realize the British have been doing this for years, but what is the point of having iced tea without ice? How can you put a bottle of champagne on ice without ice? If I fell down the stairs and sprained my ankle, I would have to run it under cold water and hope that kept the swelling down. And nothing freezes ice like a matter how much you pray over the ice tray and dorm fridge.

What I'm saying is, we have come a long way since the invention of refrigeration and I'm pretty sure that any cavewoman or frontier cowgirl tendencies I may have had at birth are long gone. Mama needs something with twin cooling, a separate drawer for her wine, and an endless supply of ice!

Purely to Announce Someone Else

You will have to excuse me in my brevity today. Apparently my laptop and my pinkie finger are conspiring against me in an attempt to end all blogging activities. I just typed an entire post, full of wit, wisdom, and sarcasm, only to have it deleted when my computer unexpectedly shut down to install updates. Normally, this not an issue as Blogger saves about every 2.7 seconds. Not today. It didn't save squat. Ever. And then, as I was mid-way into retyping everything that was no longer "off the top of my head," my pinkie reached over and deleted the. whole. thing. Clearly, it's time for a V8 or another cup of coffee or warmer socks. So, let me just say that tomorrow, I'm featuring a guest blogger who is going to discuss the very opposite of the predicament we find ourselves in. While we have gone from suburbia to the middle of everything, she has gone from the middle of everything to suburbia. And just the first couple sentences made me giggle with absolute understanding.

This guest post was going to be extra-perfect because I am supposed to be in suburban Chicago rightthisveryminute, were it not for the complete come-apart of a certain JennAir product in our kitchen. An important product...that keeps my wine and chocolate cool and my Weight Watchers ice cream bars frozen...and is currently being replaced by something other than JennAir.

Dear Maytag,
In case you missed my FaceBook post, JennAir sucks.
Disappointed in Da Townhouse

Thus, I am cleaning the previous owner's short and curlies out of my bathroom vents and not drinking Bloody Marys for breakfast with Queen Elizabeth. Sometimes life is ruthless. As I continue to clean, unpack boxes, and buy out Target's entire selection of lamps, please enjoy my guest blogger tomorrow and make her feel welcome! After all, she is one of us!

Cheers and Bottoms Up...just 48 more hours...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Samsonite: Party of Two

Let me just put it out there that as much as y'all may have missed me, I've missed you more. Since my last post (golly gee, how 19 days pass so quickly), we have been to Kentucky, Atlanta, Charleston, and, emotionally, to Hell and back. We have been living out of duffle bags and fueling up the Prius more than twice a month. And we have celebrated birthdays and anniversaries...some were highly anticipated, some were anxiety-filled.

Birthday Week was a huge success! Over the course of 7 (OK, Neal...eight days), I received Major Hugs, an Army teddy bear who stands on my desk and keeps watch over his troops, an Army wife car decal (which I will affix as soon as we move off of the Air Force base), 3 iTunes gift cards (Dear CNN: Seriously? $1.99 for an app? Is that money going to feed Pakistan or get clean drinking water to the Haitians? Because it better not be funding your Christmas party), a tiny pink MagLight, a bouquet of flowers, and finally, my iPod docking station/speaker system. Yes...I am spoiled, but I'm a pretty princess and deserve to be showered with Apple products.

Exactly one week later, Neal and I jaunted off to Atlanta for the night, mostly to distract me from Shep's 1-year "birthday," which falls on 15 September. Neal was Julie the Cruise director for that trip and from the moment we checked into our hotel, which had a lovely view of CNN Headquarters from our window, to the VIP tours of CNN that he purchased in advance, I was completely distracted. Meeting Rick Sanchez didn't hurt, either.

(Yes, that's me leaning towards Rick. I was just waiting for him to catch a whiff of the Star Power that I constantly emanate. Instead, I think he caught a whiff of La Tourists de Summer.)

And, of course, Andersondahling met me with open arms. We've been separated for so seems like my men are always leaving for war-torn countries.
Anderson said he understood the separation was difficult and he would work harder to be home more. What? He didn't have to speak those words, he told me with his eyes. We're connected like that.

Did the 15th suck a lot? Yes, but the 14th sucked harder...not really knowing how I would feel the next day. I could look at the clock and say "A year ago right now, my water broke." or "A year ago this very minute, I delivered Shepherd...a silent baby surrounded by crying ones." But Neal packed so much into last Wednesday that I forgot to look at the clock. Sometimes mortals work miracles.

And now, I can no longer say "This time last year, I was pregnant." A year can change your life and occasionally, a year can suture a shattered heart.

We were home for barely 24 hours when it was time to hit the highway again. Since Neal will be deployed next year for our 5-year wedding anniversary, we took the opportunity to celebrate this year in Charleston...home of the Citadel and a large Civil War population who refuses to cross over. Well, Charleston does provide a more hospitable climate for haunting.

Now, we are headed back to Kentucky, where Neal will head on to his first of two conferences in Indianapolis. He will come home for a couple days and I will leave with him for the second one, continuing on to see Queen Elizabeth in Chicago. At the end of the week, we will travel back to Georgia for the October battle assembly and two days later, Neal will mobilize to Ft. McCoy for the month. I told you...there has been a lot of travel and very little home cooking over the past 3 weeks. That is not going to change any time soon.

I want to thank everyone for the plethora of birthday wishes. I would tell you about the first time I actually felt 32, but that's TMI-overload. So, let's just say that 32 is not the new 23. And thank you for your thoughts, prayers, comments and texts about Shepherd's birthday. We feel so elevated by your positive energy and support. Neal and I feel incredibly blessed to have each other, but we also have bottomless gratitude for our friends and family who have reached out to us.

Tomorrow, we will celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary, so I may, again, be noticeably absent. But then he'll be conferencing and I'll be waiting on furniture to arrive. What better time to surf around the blogisphere? AND...I've decided to launch one more blog...because I have so much extra time on my hands. And I'm going to let you all pick what it's going to be! So, vote now because it's going up in 2 weeks!

A) I want to hear more about your Army Life! I live in suburbia and think it would be intoxicating to be surrounded by men in flight suits all the time. Also...does the commissary really have the best sushi? Make it Army for me!

B) I realize that you have traveled a lot in the past 20 years. While some of these places are less desirable (hello, Macon GA), I would love to know what it was like to have espresso in Rome and high tea in Scotland! Make it travel for me!

And if you would like to suggest a blog title for this new project, there is a chance (OK, a very good chance) that it will win you some Daisy & Elm swag. (And by swag, I don't mean a plastic pen emblazoned with my logo or a business card magnet...I mean actual jewelry of your choosing).

Thank you, to all 96 of my followers, for hanging tough with me through the month of September. I can only hope that October will bring less highway miles and more blogging!

Oh, and check out my guest post for Krysten @ After I Do! I blogged while she moved. Happy Birthday, Krysten! I hope you've unpacked the box with all of your gifts!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Two-Word Wednesday: Birthday Week

Today is 1 September, which, for those of you playing at home know, is the first day of Birthday Week. Neal tried to argue last night that, technically, a week is 7 days and if you count Wednesday to Wednesday, that is 8 days. Therefore, Birthday Week should not start until tomorrow. I had to explain to him, using small words and speaking slowly, that Wednesday to Wednesday is one week and therefore Birthday Week starts today. He finally relented, mostly because he fell asleep mid-sentence. If you are a Birthday Week hater or you would like to argue Neal's case for him, I will kindly point you in the direction of his blog, as your kind are no longer welcome here. Birthday Week starts today. Period.

And to prepare for such an event, I have located birthday pictures from the past 3 years. I'm not sure where the others are stored, but they aren't on the external hard drive and since I'm supposed to be packing and not blogging, it will just have to wait. Without further ado, the last 3 years:

This is me, Curly Sue, and our waitress at Don Pablo's. Apparently said waitress was a carrying a small case of the Bubonic Plague because sometime around midnight, I began to feel like I had been run over, backed over, and then run back over by a semi. Two days later, as I stumbled into the UTC, wheezing, sneezing, and leaking from all of my holes, I ran into Curly Sue sitting in the waiting room. There are not that many illnesses/injuries that will push you to the head of the line at a UTC. Low oxygen count is one of them. Come to find out I had pneumonia.

Actually, it was double pneumonia which, as it turns out, is not double the fun. Breathing treatments are the pits, especially when they refuse to give you a dragon face for your inhaler because you're "too old" or some such crapola. Happy 29th Birthday to me!

The next year, I fared better....
Dinner at The Black Tulip, before it met its untimely demise. Curly Sue and Mama Virgo and not pictured: Army Dad, Suzy Stepmom, and Grandma Gaga.

I was also treated to fondue with the girls. Any reason to eat at The Melting Pot seems like a stellar reason to me. The food is so good, we had out-of-body experiences, apparently. Neal is noticeably absent from these photos as he was in Kuwait for that year. So, double pneumonia last year, husband at war this year.

Neal thinks this photo is almost 17 weeks pregnant, I was feeling a little like a beached whale...although Motherhood Maternity does a pretty decent job of selling clothing that makes you look less like one. We took a week trip to Philly and Baltimore to celebrate my birthday and our first stop was this Museum of Sciences in Philadelphia. As soon as I stepped in front of the fat mirror, Neal was firing off photos. Such a loving husband. Exactly 7 days later, Shepherd was delivered. If I had known then what I know now, I would have never made it past the state line.

I am infatuated with my birthday. I don't get hung up on numbers or what it all means to be "in my 30's." I'm often mistaken for someone 5 years younger, so what does it matter how old I am when I am not pegged for being in my 30's? Aside from the whole "biological clock" thing that has gone from a windchime to Uncle Ben in the past 6 months, I'm pleased as peaches to be turning 32 next week. I can't imagine being any other age. Besides, now that the average life expectancy has exceeded 70, I still have more than half of my life ahead of me. And what better day to start celebrating than today? Oompah! It's Birthday Week!