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Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Day in the Past

In an attempt to explore Dallas and get in the Christmas spirit, we went to the Heritage Village of Dallas on Saturday. Let me just say .... it was so cool! There were about a dozen or so old buildings that had been moved and reassembled on the site. Dressed fully in period-correct clothing, volunteers would greet visitors in each building and give the information about the previous owners and the time period. Some houses were actually working... for example, the Blum house had a working kitchen, in which a cook was making potato latkes on an old wood stove for the visitors walking through. And, we had an extra treat since it is Christmastime. Vendors were selling warm sugar-covered pecans, hot chocolate, kettle corn, etc. We also enjoyed sitting in the old church and listening to a folk group with an awesome banjo player. Every house was decorated for Christmas as it would have been celebrated at the time. The whole experience was just so fun. Here are some highlights....



Old School House ... lunch pails all lined up

Although we didn't partake, donkey rides were a big hit

They even had a working farm of chickens and sheep. I suspect 
more animals are here in the summer, as there were many
empty rabbit cages and horse stalls.



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A New Post

It recently was brought to my attention that I haven't updated my blog in quite a while. Quite true. I sometimes have a difficult time finding topics to blog on when my life pretty much consists of work, eating, and sleeping.

However, with the holidays being a little different this year (this is the first year I'm not going home for Christmas to see see immediate family), I have a new project to blog about. Thanks to my sister's creative idea, I'm on the search for fun items to put in a Christmas present box. Instead of trading requested gifts for requested gifts, my sister thought it'd be fun for each of us to fill a box with items from our new homes. So, I'll be getting things from New Hampshire, and she'll get things from Texas. Fun!

This weekend, I'm attempting to find some of those little Texan treasures, so Randy and I will have to make it a point to go to fun places that represent Texas. While I wish I could send some good Mexican food or a Texas steak... it's not-a-gonna happen (rotten food/meat = not pleasant Christmas gift). Soooo.... I thought this place might have some fun treasures just waiting to be picked up....


It's the Dallas Heritage Village. It's a living history museum, complete with characters in costume and working buildings from 1840-1910. And this weekend is their Candlelight event.... check it out for more info!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chocolate Soft Serve

You might have remembered from a previous post our painting adventure in the great room. Well, with visitors coming for Thanksgiving this year, we decided to kick it in to high gear and get our master bedroom painted. We used the "chocolate soft serve" color that looked so atrocious in the great room next to our "katydid" green. Come to find out, the color is quite nice when it's all by itself. With such a big bedroom, the color adds a little bit of warmth. Now, all we need is a few more furniture pieces (e.g. a TV stand, bookcase) that match our new bedroom furniture.









Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Her Place

I know it's a bad habit. But she IS the alpha. And Randy's favorite. Often she's referred to as "the first one, and best one." (Don't feel bad for the other two... they have their own little loving names & references, too). But last night, at dinner time, Sophie hopped right up onto one of the empty chairs with a bone in her mouth. She set the bone on the table, as if she was saying, "Here I am. You can start now. What are we having to eat?" So funny, the personality on that one.

So, I just happened to have my camera. I love this girl.



And yes, we have pug salt and pepper shakers. They're adorable. And a little creepy, I'm sure, to non-pug people. But we love them.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Conquering the Beast

We've almost entirely moved in.... with the exception of one room. And with guests coming in T minus 3 weeks, I really want to get most of the boxes unpacked and outta here. So, this past weekend, Randy and I put our heads together to try and come up with the most efficient way of organizing the (dreaded) craft/music room. You know, it's the room that harbors all of our hobbies and enjoyments... but all of its contents don't really fit with the neat, tidy look of the other rooms. Having a sewing machine is great... but it doesn't really look too pleasing to the eye sitting in our great room.

May I present to you our solution (and I'm super excited about it)...


How could this possibly work as a crafting table? Wait for it...


It folds out into a handy work space for sewing and general crafting! It's on order and should arrive at Walmart in a week or so. Hooray! It got great reviews, and I love the fact that it is also a space saver. Can't wait to get it in the room. Perhaps then, we'll be inspired to finally unpack for good!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Here's Lookin' At You


I love how these mummy cupcakes turned out for a Halloween get-together at my grandparents' house. They were so fun to make... especially since I have a kitchen with lots of counter space. Such a luxury! It's nice to get back into baking. I have so much decorating stuff to use, and I don't have to go down into a dark basement to retrieve it. 

In other weekend news, Randy and I decided to get out and explore a little. We went to the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum and wax museum. Totally fun. We enjoyed seeing the odd and outrageous. Plus, we were able to fit in a quick chat with some old friends...



And Randy found some other stuff to take pictures of....
(and because they're kinda Halloween-ish, I added them)



Happy Halloween! 




Sunday, October 24, 2010

The mirror

Per request, here is the mirror on our mantel.







The Pictures

Here it is... done. (Just imagine beautiful hard wood floors... it'll be coming in the future)










Saturday, October 23, 2010

Third Time's a Charm

For some reason, painting this new house has been a dilemma for me for a while now. Usually, I come into a new space and know exactly what I want to do... in what colors... and it's done before you know it.

Not this time. After three trips to Walmart, two different "neutrals," and many achy body parts later, the painting is done for now. We decided that our color scheme was going to be a fun green (the paint chip is called "katydid"), brown accents (like our couches, drapes, pillows, etc), and a neutral color for the other walls. Well, our first neutral turned out to look like yellow. Soon after getting that color up on the walls, we had a banana theme of brown, green, and yellow. No thank you. Hate bananas to eat... hate bananas on my walls. So, Randy (blesshisheart) ran to Walmart to get more of a brownish/taupe (Yorkshire tan). After slapping that up on the walls... our house now had a beautiful green and (as Randy called it) "soft serve" brown. It looked exactly like soft serve ice cream... only in an unappetizing way against the green. Yuck. We quickly discovered that green, in general, is really hard to pair with another color.

So, we ended up with hazelnut cream.... a very neutral, but very complimentary color to our green. And it's done. Hallelujah!!!

And if you're wondering what we did with all the paint rejects...no worries, no paint will be wasted in our house. The Yorkshire tan will look really good with our black furniture in our master bedroom. And, the yellowish-green ended up working well in our guest room. So, we ended up painting the guest room... so score one for us getting more done than originally planned. Of course, it's past 10 at night, and we started painting at 9:30am. Hm. It's time for bed. Pictures will come tomorrow.

Monday, October 18, 2010

(Almost) Settled

Time for another picture... slowly but surely, I'll have more up. This weekend, I spent some good time putting up pictures and getting rid of more boxes just piled up in our dining room.

Our large (even though it doesn't look so in this picture) great room. I need help with ideas for paint colors. 
QUESTION:
What should we do with the great room?
a) paint the walls a color (we were thinking light green)
b) paint the walls a neutral color
c) paint the walls neutral, but make the fireplace wall an accent color
d) none of the above... I'll write my opinion in the comments section

our mantel 

In terms of paint, we were thinking a green that would compliment our wreath

Our guest room... just waiting for guests :)

Even our Henry Hippo is waiting to be a good host.






Monday, October 11, 2010

Hearty Potato Chowder

Fall is my favorite season, no doubt. And, I love the food of fall, too. In hopes of creating a little more fall-like atmosphere in the 80-degree weather of Texas, I made a hearty potato chowder tonight. It was, if I do say so myself, delicious. So, I thought I'd share the wealth.

Hearty Potato Chowder

16 oz. frozen potatoes o'brien
1 c. fat-free evaporated milk, divided
1/2 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3/4 c. skim milk
1/4 c. scallions, finely chopped (green part only)
6 oz. bacon bits (can be omitted for vegetarians)

1. Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Add potatoes and cook, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 c. of evaporated milk until well-blended. Remove from heat.

2. Remove half of potato mixture and puree in a blender. Add pureed potatoes back to saucepan with the other potatoes. Add remaining 1/2 c. of evaporated milk, salt, pepper, skim milk, scallion, & bacon. Stir well. Simmer for a few minutes to heat through and blend flavors. 

*Note: I, being the cheese-lover that I am, added a sprinkling of cheddar cheese to top it off. 

All in all, this recipe was super simple and quick. It's originally a weight watcher's recipe, so if you're in to that, it's 4 points for 1 cup. It makes about 4 cups. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Home.


After a day of buzzing around town doing house things, Randy and I had a choice to make: go to the state fair or go to dinner and a movie. Dinner and a movie won. I think we made a good choice. Our dinner was down by the harbor, so we got to enjoy the beautiful sunset. This is our new home.

One by one

I've slowly been decorating our new house. I started with the guest bath, because that just seemed less daunting to take on. So, here are the highly sought-after pics.... one room at a time.





Friday, September 24, 2010

And now, the end is near...

It's true. After almost six weeks, the end of our adventure is almost over. Randy will be a 26' (plus towing a car) monster on the road come Sunday. All of our things (especially, two very cute pugs) will be on that truck just waiting to start a new life in our new home in Texas.

It's been quite the journey... leaving our home in Illinois, taking up residence with my 80-something grandparents, starting a completely new job, and buying a new house. I'll probably never do it again (at least any time soon), but I'm really glad I did it. Taking the plunge and just going for something spontaneous has been a great life lesson. It goes to show that things work out. Maybe not on a planned timeline, but they find their place eventually.

I'll end my update with a little look back at some of the things I'll miss.... and a look forward to the things to come.

Aww... I'll miss:
* my dear friends, Christine & Heston, who quickly became family through our shared love of wine.
* band gigs... reasons for a married mid-twenty-something to be in a bar drinking
* Alton... yes, even Alton... especially in the fall.
* El Mezcal... you speak to my soul.

Hooray! Hello to the new...
* home... only a mere 5 years old. Such an improvement on our 60-year old house
* friends & family... I've never known what big family get-togethers were until now.
* job... I'm finally getting settled in and enjoying the (over double of what I took home in Alton) paycheck.
* lake... Rockwall is situated on a beautiful, huge lake that will eventually have our names written all over it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Old Dog, New Trick

video
Our Mabel was a little slow learning... well, it's hard when there's two other crazy dogs around her, but she finally learned how to sit before eating. I'm a proud mama.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Basic Differences between Texas and Illinois

For those of you who are familiar with the education system in Illinois (per my experience, at least)... and are curious as to how Texas's education system matches up, I introduce the following:

Texas: ARDs (a.k.a. IEP meetings) are well planned and articulated. Prior meetings are held to go over the student's file before parents are even involved. Yes... it's a bit of a "practice" to make sure every one is on top of things and on the same page. So, you know... everyone looks professional. In addition, ARD meetings are not held unless EVERYONE can make it (even including parents and administrators).
Illinois: Meetings are held at the school's convenience... the parent probably won't show up, so just hold the meeting anyway. Forget about administrators coming, unless you're worried these parents are knowledgeable in the legal system and will sue. Professionalism, what?

Texas: Students are taught discipline from day one. This includes learning "duck tails and bubble mouths" in the hallway. Duck tails means hands are put behind a child's back (sometimes the hands point out giving the appearance of duck tails). Bubble mouths mean that the smallest children (kindergarten, 1st grade, etc) are to blow air in their cheeks... after all, if you have air in your cheeks, you can't talk. Also, yes and no ma'am are required. I quote a teacher in Texas saying... "I better see bubbles in your mouths. I shouldn't have to remind you. You've been in school 3 days now!"
Illinois: Discipline is something that everyone hopes for, but consistency is lagging. Students are not held accountable for their actions, and going to the principals office is "fun." Students running and talking in the hallways are the norm. I would often hear, "You've been in school 6 months, and you still can't follow the rules!"

Texas: $$$$$. And, if you have a master's degree (regardless of it being required), you get $1,000 bonus. Speech therapists receive $500 stipend for materials.
Illinois: You have a master's degree? Stupid you... you should've been a dental hygienist. They make way more on a 2-year degree. And please, don't think about asking for materials. Those diagnostic tests from the '70's are still good.

Texas: SLPs are actually respected when it comes to room issues. I have a huge classroom with ample storage, 2 teacher's work areas, three children's tables/centers, and carpeted floors. And, within the first day of employment, I got keys to the buildings and rooms.
Illinois: You needed a space to work? The hallway won't do? Fine..... I guess you can have this closet with the fake, thin walls. But you'll have to fight the teacher who is using it for storage. It's okay when she yells at you in front of the kids. She does that to everyone. Write her up? Forget it! That never does any good. We're to scared of her. Oh, and you want keys? Well, maybe when the secretary who keeps the keys decides if she likes you or not, you can have them. Just don't make her mad. She'll never give you important messages or mail. She runs this school.

Texas: We have a surplus of money due to our laws that require us to have a balanced budget. Therefore, we're giving all the SLPs ipods to track data. And, we'll buy you business cards. Plus, we'll throw in a free memory stick. We also can afford to bring in speakers that will allow you to get all of your continuing education credits free of charge. In addition, we don't take out money for state income taxes or teacher's unions. We're a right-to-work state.
Illinois: We don't have money. The state owes us millions of dollars, but it probably all went to the crooked politicians. So, we'll actually have to cut all the younger staff, who actually lesson plan and care about the students they teach. Yep. We'll hang on to our tenured teachers who many of which don't give a crap about innovative ideas. They've had this stuff planned since the 1980's. Nothing major in education has changed anyway. At least we have a union that can't get the teachers a raise but will stand by when administrators get one.

Think I like it here? Yep. I do. 

 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Good Morning from Texas!

I realize I haven't been writing much, especially since the move down to Rockwall. However, this morning, I had my blog in mind. This was our wake-up call...

video
The Rockwall High School Marching Band! I thought it was so neat that they were parading through local neighborhoods in the morning. They came to our neighborhood around 9am, so it was early, but not crazy. Band Boosters also were running a "bucket brigade" to collect money for the upcoming season. It was so neat to sit out on the front steps of the house and watch them roll by.

Also, for your viewing pleasure... a picture from when my wonderful husband was here in Rockwall. They say everything is bigger in Texas.... everything!


Friday, August 13, 2010

helllloooo, Texas!

Howdy, ya'll! Randy and myself are just having a grand 'ole time here in the big, wonderful state of Texas!

Whew. How was that? I've been practicing my dialect to fit in with the locals. I think I'm doing okay, but I have pulled a few "sorry, I'm from Illinois" lines when I drive. I'm not used to the medium amount of traffic here compared to Alton. But, my old Chicago suburbs driving is all coming back to me, and I've been getting used to the tons of shopping available just 5 minutes away. It's so nice to think that this is actually the town I will live in and not just visit. This place does have everything, including amazing schools with facilities that rival colleges'.

Anyway, on to the fun news.... we made an offer on a house today! Ha! Surprised you, didnt I? Day 4 here and we might have a house. We went looking around at neighborhoods with our realtor and found one we really liked. It's a foreclosure with an interesting back story, but long story short, the couple that owned it wanted a foreclosure on purpose (?) so the wife could be a stay-at-home mom. They were expecting to be kicked out and were ready to move in with in-laws. Okay. Whatever. So, they took great care of the house, and it looks quite immaculate on the inside (minus stained carpet from 3 kids). Here are some pics & specs...



new kitchen cabinets & appliances... lots of counter space & cabinets

master bathroom w/ huge walk-in closet

master bedroom w/ walk-out to patio

 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Adios.

Today is the day. Or, perhaps tonight is the night... that I move to Texas. Last night was my last time sleeping in my house as an Illinois resident. Nothing has really hit me yet. I've had a few little twinges of realization, but nothing full blown. It got to me a little last night when I had to say good-bye to my best friends here, Christine and Heston. I feel like I'll see them next week for our Sunday night watching of True Blood. Or, it's like I'll still be seeing her around the school hallways. I'll miss their liberal kinship and hippy ways. But, their nomads, like us, so I'm sure we'll be seeing them around somewhere.

As for the agenda today... final packing of everyday stuff and cleaning the house for the week of showings and realtors. Yep. Our house is officially on the market. Hip hip hooray! I suppose it'd be extremely wishful thinking if we sold the house while we were on vacation in Texas.... right? Ha. Let's just hope it sells period. I'd be happy with that.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Preview

Here are some preliminary pictures of our house, soon to be on the market. A small preview, if you will. Our lives have consisted of cleaning, decluttering, and packing. I'm moving, after all, in four days.






Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's a long road, with many more miles to go

This week has been quite the exhausting week. Tuesday was supposed to be the big day when I was to find out if I got the job in Texas or not. I waited and waited.... no call. I figured it was just another potential employer's failure to contact the person they weren't interested in. Whatever. Annoying.

But then, Wednesday came around. It was just about the time that I decided I was going to stay in Alton another year and plan on moving in the summer of 2011. I was fine with the plan. No big deal. I already had a job, and the moving process would be a lot less rushed and much more planned. But I got a call from the lady asking for different reference numbers. The ones she had tried were not working. SO.... things immediately changed. Why would she want references for someone she was just going to turn down?

After a few more problems with the numbers and e-mails, references had been contacted, and I got the job. Crazy! In two weeks, I'm going to be a Texan, and I'm going to be working for a district that wants to pay me over $11,000 more than my current salary. Um. Okay!

So it's go time to be packing and looking up realtors. With 3 dogs, no apartment place will want to rent to us. And honestly, we're not renters at heart. I'll be living with my grandparents until Randy can sell our house and find a new job in Texas. It'll work out. Things always do.

Here's to bigger and better! I'll try not to get too annoyed with the Texas attitude. It'll probably just be something that is more amusing than anything. Houses are cheap. Jobs are aplenty. Family is close. I can't complain. Here's to change!

Friday, July 23, 2010

What did I just do?

Things have been quite crazy around our place lately. In our (my) usual fashion, I've gotten a bit impulsive and interviewed for a position with the Garland Independent School District in Garland, Texas. That, of course, means that I may be moving and starting a new job in, oh, 3 weeks. Yikes!

Unlike some of my previous impulsive decisions, my impulse to move to Texas was not without much thought, deliberation, and list-making of pros and cons. Randy's fully on board, as his job is dead-end. There's just a lot to do to get our house ready for the market. We're starting phase 1 of Project Get the Heck Outta Illinois by doing a yard sale and getting our stairs completely finished with wood end caps, railing, and new carpet. After that, it'll just be a bit of staging and photos will be taken. Then, we'll meet with some realtors to get their opinions. That is, IF I get the job.....  If no job offer, then we'll sit tight until next summer, when we'll definitely move.

As for the interview I just had, I feel really good about it. I'm not sure how many other applicants there were, but I feel confident with how the interview went. The lady interviewing me was extremely positive in her feedback, and she said that she was "excited that she was able to speak with me." Plus, the experience I've had in the classroom seemed to be of particular interest to her. So, we'll see. I'm very much of the idea that if we're supposed to be in Texas sooner than later, things will work out. They always do. Remember, we're the crazy kids that decided to move to St. Louis, apply for grad school, buy and renovate a house, relocate jobs, and get married all in one year. I think we can handle it. At least I'll have an income this time around!

So... stay tuned.

Friday, July 9, 2010

DOUBLE RAINBOW SONG!!

Surprising how catchy it is.... sing it with me...
"Double rainbow all the way across the sky...."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

This guy's nutso!

Now, don't get me wrong, double rainbows are lovely. But this guy.... he's got a thing for the double rainbows.... just watch. Catch some enthusiam!




My favorite part.... "What does this mean???"

Um... it means that there's a double reflection of the sunlight inside the raindrops. I'm pretty sure that's what it means.

A few things

I applied to a job opportunity in Rowlett, Texas today. I kinda really hope I get it. It'll mess things up a bit (i.e. Randy and I will probably live apart for a while), but we're young enough for things to be a little messy. Moving is never convenient, so why should I expect it to be now? I'm ready to take a job that I love for a salary that I love. It's out there, I just have to move to get there.

Yesterday I spent almost all day baking yummy things, like focaccia, honey wheat bread, and burnt sugar custard. If you're interested, I've posted some of the recipes for you to share with your family :)

Rosemary Focaccia
4 c. white bread flour
1 tbsp. instant dry yeast
1 tsp. salt (plus more to add to bread in final stages)
3 tbsp sprigs fresh rosemary
5 tbsp. olive oil


Put the flour & yeast in a large bowl with 1 tsp. salt. Stir in the 3 tbsp of oil and 2 cups of lukewarm water. Mix until the dough is soft, adding a little more water if the dough feels dry.

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Put in a lightly greased bowl & cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place for about 1 hour, until doubled in size

Preheat the over to 400 degrees. Turn out the dough on a floured surface and cut in half. Roll out each half until 10 inches round. Transfer to a greased baking sheet, cover lightly with plastic wrap/towel for 20 minute, until risen.

Press your fingers into the dough to make deep holes all over. Stick the fresh sprigs of rosemary in the holes, cover in sea salt. Sprinkle with water to keep the crust moist and bake for 25 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Wheat & Honey Bread (made in a breadmaker)
1 package yeast
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 1/2 c. bread flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. honey
1 egg
1 c. plus 1 tbsp. warm water


Put all ingredients in breadmaker according to company settings (usually wet ingredients first). Set breadmaker to dough cycle. After dough cycle is complete, shape dough to desired shape (note: makes enough for 2 french bread-type loaves). Let rise for 20 or so minutes. Bake at 350 degrees until golden.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Changes are a comin'

It's that time again. I'm getting the itch to make some changes. So many things have happened within the last couple of weeks. It really started with Randy finding this possible new job with Mitchell International. His interview is tomorrow, so we'll see what happens with that. If he gets the job, he'll be in for about 75% travel (traveling 3 out of the 4 weeks per month). The job isn't ideal, but we both agreed it would be a great experience and stepping stone for bigger things. Plus, the benefits and pay can't be beat. However, because he'd be taking care of the Missouri/Kansas area, we could be locked in to this area for at least a couple of years.


Then, my parents kind of sparked some interest in the idea of us moving to Texas. Now, don't get me wrong, I know Texas is not the best place for my liberal ideas to call home, and I'll have to get over the Texas attitude of "bigger is better." But, for $10,000 more a year, I could get over it pretty quickly. Yep. Speech therapists are in demand down there, so I could possibly get relocation help, great benefits, and awesome pay. More pay than I would make in Illinois after 10-15 years experience in the schools. It's a fact. Working for the state of Illinois is a dead end. There's no money. There's no desire to reform education. There's no desire to do what's right by the people. So, moving is inevitable. To where.... perhaps Texas. I have a lot of extended family in the Dallas area, so that's always a possibility. Austin has always been a place of intrigue for us. We'll see.

And just this week, Randy's boss put his 2-week notice in. He's quitting Team1 to go work for an insurance company. That leaves a lot up in the air for the auto body. Randy might move shops because a new estimator will need to be brought in. Plus, a new manager will need to be hired. Randy doesn't necessarily want the manager job, even though he's quite qualified for it. So many things to think about. Stay in the area? Move sooner than later? I'm ready for answers soon, but that's just my impatience talking. I guess we'll find out..... one way or another.

Monday, June 21, 2010

You can't make this stuff up...

This past Sunday, Randy and I went out to eat with his parents and brother, Jim, to celebrate Father's Day and our wedding anniversary. That's the only way we really see his family: out at a restaurant feeding our faces. On this particular visit, we were supposed to eat at a steakhouse, but Carol got there late due to church responsibilities. So, meeting at a steakhouse at 12:30 on Father's Day didn't work out so well. The wait was over 45 minutes and not worth it, so we decided to go to Fazoli's instead. For those of you who don't know what Fazoli's is, it can easily be understood in a simple analogy. Fazoli's is to the Italian food world as McDonald's is to the hamburger world. Fast, unhealthy, food-like substances.

So, we've done our ordering at the front counter of Fazoli's, and we're now sitting down waiting for our buzzers to go off to pick up the food. We're sitting silently at the table. Usually, if I don't make small talk, or Carol doesn't have something to say, silence will prevail. I didn't feel like being a chatty Cathy, and Carol, I guess, didn't have much to say at that moment. Silence. Then, Carol thinks of something. She's gotten us an anniversary card and wants Jim to go get it from the car. Jim retrieves it, and Randy opens it. There's $50 and a nice card. Geez. She doesn't need to do this. She never needs to do this. But she always does. She can't afford it. It's so unnecessary. We make more than double Don and Carol's combined incomes, so I feel bad taking the money. She insists. Thank you's are exchanged. Carol now becomes talkative, and this is how she begins the conversation...

"I'm mad at our President right now..." Great. I'm thinking there's going to be something about the oil spill or some crazy right-winged agenda that will soon follow that introduction. She goes on to say, "He didn't put a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier like all the other presidents have done." Hm. The poor guy (Obama) just can't make anyone happy, especially my mother-in-law. Yes, of all the crazy sh** that's going on in this world, that's a great thing to get mad about. Geez.

But we were saved from the rest of that conversation by Carol's phone ringing. It was Randy's other brother, Bob. Carol, who is one of those people who speak increasingly louder when she talks on cell phone, is practically broadcasting the conversation over the Fazoli's loudspeaker. Then, she ends the call with "Do you want to talk to Randy?" And promptly, without Bob's answer, hands the phone to Randy. Annoyed, Randy says, "I'll call you later." I know he's thinking it's ridiculous to hold a conversation with someone on a telephone during a lunch with others around. But, Carol interprets this as Randy having a secret agenda to discuss with Bob without the presence of his parents. She's always thinking that we get together with Bob and his family behind her back.

After that wonderful display, we go one to talk about other appropriate lunchtime topics: Jim's lack of health insurance, Jim's spending money at movie theaters every week, Carol's disgust with the school's sub list freeze, etc. At this time, we've gotten our food and have started to eat. Randy and I both got spaghetti. Carol is eating the platter meal, which comes with three large samples of food. She's already put down a salad. And she's got her hand on a breadstick. She takes a large bite of the undercooked, garlic butter-soaked breadstick and says, "These breadsticks are so luscious." At this point, I can't hold it in anymore. Randy can't either. We both laugh. Yes, Fazoli's, the fast-food Italian chain restaurant, is the definition of "luscious." I chime in with my sarcasm, "They're gourmet." I think I've heard it all.

I have to change the subject, or I'm going to die laughing. So, I go to my go-to phrase, "So, is there anything new with you guys? I haven't talked to you in a while." Randy automatically gives me "the look." This look means that I've committed the cardinal sin. I've opened up an opportunity for Don to discuss all of his problems.... and he doesn't disappoint. "Well," Don starts, "the doctors said my kidney is doing better. It was at 106. It was supposed to be at 102. Now, it's down to 104." *Whew* That could have been bad. I was thinking there would be talk about finding kidney stones in urine, having water-filled ankles, etc. But that was good news. No complaining, which is quite unusual. Okay. Not bad. "I do have this flaky skin that's on my arm. I keep picking it off, but it keeps coming back" Don says next. I hang my head. Oh God. In my mind, my plate of food soon becomes flaky skin pieces. I can't eat anymore. Where do these people come from? Who does that? My in-laws.

We stay and talk a bit longer, and I'm thankful that most of the other families around us have cleared out (was that because of us? can't be sure). Right before we go, Carol asks Jim to go up and get one more breadstick. "Would you eat one more?" She asks Don. He himhaws around and says yes. "GET TWO, JIMMY!" She yells across the restaurant, because Jim is almost up at the counter at this point. He brings back two. They inhale their 3rd (luscious) breadstick. And we're up to leave.

"How can we get your parents to live closer?" Randy says as we get into our car. "You need to get on that."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Watch out, Bill Gates...

I've had another successful farmers market. My sales rose to $68, so I'm getting ideas of what to make next now that I've cleared out a little bit of my inventory. It's been a really fun time chatting it up with the people that come and the other sellers at the market. Such a nice, easy way to make some cash on a Saturday.

Also, I'm officially certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) to practice speech therapy where ever I darn well choose, so that's a plus. Hopefully, I can rake in some moolah from working part time in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, too. Really, it's just a good way for me to keep all that medical stuff still fresh in my mind. All in all, it's been a great weekend. The best part.... it's not ever over yet!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Big Decision

For a while now, Randy's been talking about *maybe* looking for a new job opportunity. The place he's at now has been fine. Poor benefits. No option of a raise (ever.). No sick days. Dealing with ignorant, low-life customers who want something for nothing and can't understand why you can't give it to them. In return, however, he's had a pretty low-stress job with people he likes and a boss who just lets him be.

After trying out grad school for a while and realizing it wasn't for him, I think Randy's now always trying to find something else. A job that can be his career. It's just kinda time to move on. To grow a little more.

So, he kinda fell upon a job opportunity that is, quite literally, the job that he is 100% qualified for. Everything they were looking for was everything that Randy had experience in. Perfect. He sent in his resume. Two days later, they contacted him back with high interest in him. Today, he talked to the big wig hiring man about what the job entails. And....... with every job, there are positives and negatives. Positives include **major** raise with 10% possible bonuses each year, computer, phone, paid vacation/sick days, and other wonderful things. The only negative is the fact that the job is 60% travel. Major travel. Like he'll be covering 2 states. So, there's potential that Randy will need to be gone a week at a time, come home for the weekend, and be gone for another week. This could happen for three weeks in a row. Then, he's promised a week of working at home.

With this possible circumstance, certain questions come to mind. Will this be okay for our relationship? What happens when I need someone to kill a spider? Mow the grass? Do manly things around the house? Is the money worth it? Isn't this too good of an opportunity to pass up?

There's no doubt many things to think about. But, I know we're both leaning towards going for it. It's a great opportunity to get involved with a good company. The extra money would be hella nice (new house, perhaps? nice vacations around the globe? paying off pesky student loans?). I'm not sure, but I know we'll find out soon enough. For that time... think good thoughts for us, please. Much appreciated.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Woke up. Went grocery shopping. Bought a ......

POOL!

I'm an impulsive person. Always have been. It's kinda the fun, spunky side of my mostly perfectionist, follow-the-rules way-of-life. So, after we had laid around a bit in the morning, we decided to do our usual Sunday things (e.g. go grocery shopping, do laundry, etc).

We had stopped at Big Lots looking for a canopy for my farmers market stand. And while Big Lots didn't have what we wanted in that department, we had perused by a display of pools. Suddenly, I realized that we needed a pool. What a great thing to add to our home on a 90+ degree day. What was my favorite thing about summers as a kid? A pool!

So, after a quick price check around town, we came back to our good and trusty Big Lots to purchase our very own 15' round, metal framed pool.

The stars must be aligned, because right as we set it up, Mother Nature decided that she'd like to do her part in filling the pool. It began to downpour. All is good, though. We have our pool.



Monday, June 7, 2010

A common theme






Just a lazy pug Monday...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Success!

For my first farmers market, I'd say things went well. My goal was to sell 3 items, and I beat that goal by 1! Overall, I have $38 in my pocket (that's with the $10 fee taken out), so I'm a happy camper. The items that went over well were the wine topper and charms (they were bought for a wedding present... very fun, I think). Besides gaining a little revenue, I had fun just sitting and people watching. I chatted it up with passerby's. It was an easy day. Quick set-up and tear-down. I'd definitely do it again. Actually, I had a lot of people ask if I would be a regular at the farmers markets, and I was happy to say "yes, as much as I can be." Next week we'll be a no-show, because Randy and I are celebrating our 3-year wedding anniversary. But, after that, the schedule is wide open. Ready for business :)