Monday, July 31, 2017

a new nephew

A few weeks ago my brother and I decided to do another photo challenge.  When I asked him what day he wanted to send me his pictures, he said, "How about July 31st?"  

Well, here we are, on July 31st, and Phil didn't send me his pictures.  So, I could just post mine and win by forfeit.

Or, I could give him a pass, because he has a pretty good excuse, a new baby.

And baby pics always beat everything else.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

maybe the popcast will do an episode about the michael phelps shark race

Well, I started this week feeling totally let down by the whole Michael Phelps vs. the great white shark special.  I marked the date down when I heard about the big race and have been looking forward to it ever since.  You want to know who completely bought into the hype and thought Michael Phelps would actually swim in the shark infested South African waters alongside a great white?

Gullible, party of one.

I'd thought about how he could possibly pull it off.  I figured they must have created some sort of movable cage that would move along with Phelps' speed but still keep him protected from his predatory opponent.

Imagine my disappointment when Phelps dove into the water and the shark was COMPUTER GENERATED.

Also, Phelps wore a shark-type flipper, which isn't as terrible as some sort of illegal performance enhancing drug, but come on.

And then, to top it off, PHELPS LOST.

In the end it was a bunch of mathematical equations that could have been done in the Discovery Channel offices.


Switching gears, I am a big fan of podcasts and I've written about one of my favorites before, the Popcast.  The hosts, Knox and Jamie, talk for one hour a week about "the things that entertain but do not matter," which are my favorite kinds of things.  I wrote a post years ago about Matt's belief that the words to The Circle of Life are "oh my God, a penguin and a llama." and then how I submitted his interpretation to their episode about misheard song lyrics and it stole the show.

Well, The Popcast posted this picture from their live show a few weeks ago.  Two fans actually took Matt's misheard lyrics, put them on a shirt, AND WORE THEM TO THE SHOW.

I've never met any of the people in this photo but I feel like I need to frame it and hang it in our living room.


A few weeks ago my mom and Emily and I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  As we walked in my mom said, "Oh girls, I meant to tell you, I've decided to like elephants," which was perfect because the first thing we saw was a wildlife photography exhibit with elephants aplenty.

I don't know much about art, but I know what I think is pretty.  We wandered around for a few hours, had lunch in the little cafe, and then decided to check out the modern art before we headed home.

Modern art is something that I don't really understand.

Apparently I'm not the only one, because the guard at one exhibit said to us, "Please don't ask me any questions about these pieces.  I don't even understand them.  That one is just a piece of rope hanging from the ceiling.  It's called 'Rope Hanging From the Ceiling.'  Do you believe that?  I really just want to go home."

My mom is a fourth grade teacher, and when she saw this one, she said, "If one of my students left the chalkboard looking like that, I'd tell them it's unacceptable, go clap those erasers and do it again."

Also, while we were there Emily got a breaking news alert that Beyonce had named her twins, Rumi and Sir.  My mom said, "You know what Beyonce needs to do?  She needs to go grocery shopping and clean a toilet and then tell me what she names her kids."

Someone needs to put that on a t-shirt.

Friday, July 21, 2017

can't play a playa. or a girl in the midst of a fitbit challenge

Well, here it is on Friday and I didn't write one blog post all week.  Work was crazier than it's been in months and one night I even came home and sat down on the bed to take my shoes off and woke up an hour and a half later.  
Apparently, I was exhausted.

Tonight I was so looking forward to a relaxing Friday night, and then our dishwasher died.  So that's fun.  Matt looked up the serial number to see if we could find a replacement part, and he said, "This dishwasher is from 2002! It's almost as old as I am!"

Well, not quite.  We're older than we used to be.

It's also been eight thousand degrees around here the last few days.  Our kitchen has a fancy and super modern thermometer and this is what it said last night.  

Our 1980's air conditioner has met its match this week.

I walked into the kitchen at one point and Matt was standing in front of the open freezer.

Speaking of walking, Matt got a Fitbit on Prime Day, and I'm not sure our relationship will ever be the same.

The Fitbit arrived on Tuesday night and on Wednesday morning I checked my phone after a meeting and had invitations to a Daily Showdown, Weekend Warrior, Goal Day Challenge, about 500 taunts, and a text that said, "Oh golly, I think I'll go for a mid-morning stroll."


Since he's my husband, we're usually a team.  One the same side.  But both of us having Fitbits has introduced a whole new dynamic to our relationship.

While Matt's job might allow him to take a mid-day stroll, mine isn't always so flexible. so I look forward to going on a walk almost every single night.  It is my favorite time of the day, no matter the temperature.  I'm happy for Matt to go with me, but I really love going alone.  I listen to my music or a podcast and watch the sun set and don't have to talk to anyone for 45 whole minutes and as someone who is 100 percent introverted, this makes my whole day.

I was determined to win the Daily Challenge at least once this week so I braved the heat, wandered the neighborhood, and took in a beautiful sunset.

When I got home, Matt was in the kitchen, sneakers laced up, walking laps around our gigantic kitchen. 

As someone who was forced to work from home every day last winter, I know for a fact that round trip, front door to kitchen island, is sixty steps.  I actually said to Matt, "CAN'T PLAY A PLAYA."

I just hope Fitbit counts dish washing, because I'm going to be doing a lot of that in the coming weeks.

Monday, July 17, 2017

i have a feeling victor is going to become a big part of our life this year

Last night I made this thai pork stir fry for dinner.  Matt prefers brown rice, so I made that for him, and basmati rice for myself.

(Side note, normally I am the one to create alternate pronunciations for things, but Matt calls basmati rice "bas-MATT-i rice" and it cracks me up.

Anyway, the full cup measuring cup was dirty, so I had to use the half cup, and therefore, conduct some math calculations.  I thought I'd done it correctly but when we Matt took his first bite of rice, his facial expression spoke a thousand words.

I asked him what was wrong, and listen, that is RISKY TERRITORY, because I'm of the belief that if you have a problem with the meal, you can go right on ahead and become the chef.  Matt thought for a minute and then said, "Nothing's wrong.  It's just that my rice is a little bit...crunchy."

Naturally, I was annoyed, until I thought back and realized that I'd only filled the measuring cup twice.  I always fill it twice for rice but that's because I'm usually using the full cup measure.  So instead of cooking the rice in two cups of water I cooked it in one, and therefore was half raw.  


I took a bite and it was totally disgusting, like a mixture of clay and sand.

Look for me on for on the next season of Iron Chef.

On Friday it was a trillion degrees so we decided that we'd ditch the original dinner plan and I'd stop at Fresh Market after work for watermelon and potato salad and some burgers for Matt to grill.  Part of the road to Fresh Market is a small bridge, which is being repaired, so the four lanes are down to only two.  Friday was the first day of the road closure and traffic was a nightmare.  I texted Matt about the unfortunate turn of events and joked that I had to ditch the car in the Ashley Furniture parking lot and walked to Fresh market for the burgers.  

Later on, when we sat down to eat, Matt said, "I can't believe you walked to get these."

Apparently my sarcasm did not translate through text.

The rest of the weekend was a success.  We had a meeting with Lowe's about the future of our kitchen, which I can assure you is brighter and more modern than the current state.

Matt put in recessed lighting a few weeks ago and now that it's actually bright in there I can see how truly bad it is.  Also, the designer at Lowe's, Victor, kept saying things like "You know how your grandmother had _____ in her kitchen," or "You know how you see pictures of kitchens from the seventies and you see _____."

Oh yes, Victor, we know.  Our kitchen could be in the Smithsonian Museum of American History in an exhibit called HELLO, NINETEEN SEVENTY.

There's nowhere to go but up, right?

We also got some goodies from our garden.
And Matt caught the raccoon that's been terrorizing gardens near and far.  The neighbors heard the good news and on Sunday one of them brought over this coonskin cap and dubbed Matt "the raccoon master of the neighborhood."

We're going to hang it up in the new kitchen.


Victor would never allow that.

Friday, July 14, 2017

literally everything but the kitchen sink

I've been getting alerts on my phone for weeks now telling me that my storage is almost full.  I've handled it the way I do with most tech-related problems.  Totally ignore it.

But, last night it got so bad that it took five minutes to send a text and I could not even open any apps.  I just got a message that said "Error! No memory."

So, it was time to face the music.  Or, the 867 pictures on my phone.

I saved the ones worth saving, and deleted the ones that weren't.  Like the 23 nearly identical shots of the same flower.  

But I also came across this gem.  My sister and mom saw this guy at an intersection, and said he was actually playing the guitar while he waited at the red light.

If my car radio ever breaks, I'll just get a guitar.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

life's a beach. or, a parking garage with rats.

Well, here I am with another post about nothing.

Yesterday was Amazon Prime Day, which is basically a national holiday in Matt's mind.  By mid-morning there were a few things in our cart and then just when I thought the purchasing was over, I saw that Matt had added one more thing.

A "super loud powerful train sound truck horn."  Of course. Totally necessary and likely illegal.

Someone had gone a little Prime Day crazy.  Not to worry, after dinner last night Matt's fiscally responsible side prevailed and he canceled the horn purchase.

Today was chugging along as an average Wednesday until I went out to my car on my lunch break and there was a pit bull in the lobby of my office.  And I don't mean the rapper.  Also, I don't work at a vet, just an old building in the center of a questionable neighborhood with a very sensitive automatic sliding door.

There was a man holding a leash half-halfheartedly calling after the dog, apparently named Sugar, but I hightailed it to the parking garage because I am wary of dogs I don't know, and Sugar appear strong and not well-trained.

As the elevator opened on the third floor of the parking garage, I glanced at the trashcan beside the door and do you know what was sitting on top of it?  

A RAT.  

A giant, disgusting rat, its beady eyes staring right at me.  The tail was at least 8 inches long and the body was nearly the size of Sugar.  You could have put Sugar's leash on it and taken it for a walk.

I rushed to my car, locked the doors, and contemplated never returning to the office again.

But someone's gotta help pay those Amazon bills.

This is also my first full week of work since May, thanks to my strategy of saving most of my PTO for the weeks between Memorial Day and July 4th.  I think I'm going to struggle with the whole five day thing.  Last week I had to work for four whole days and by Thursday morning I decided to just phone it in in the hair department and wear it in a ponytail.  I NEVER do that, and then I couldn't decide which earrings to wear, so I put a different one in each ear and told myself I'd make a decision before I left the house.

You can probably see which unfortunate direction this is headed.

That decision did not get made until I did a final lip gloss check in the rear view mirror before I went into the office and realized I was still wearing two different earrings.  Thank goodness I caught it then because I had an employee evaluation first thing and I can only imagine how I'd feel if my boss gave me my annual review while wearing a pearl in one ear and some snazzy fake rhinestones in the other.

So, I spent last Thursday night and Friday at my in-laws' shore house.

I was so excited to spend the whole day sitting on the beach, and even though it was raining, I walked down to the beach and set up my chair in the pouring rain while wearing a sweatshirt because I was DETERMINED.  Eventually the huge storm clouds blew over, as I knew they would, and it turned out to be a beautiful afternoon.  

I read my book and took a long walk in the surf and shared an entire bag of Twizzlers with my sister-in-law and "jumped" my nephew over the waves until my shoulders were sore.

It was very relaxing and I didn't spend one second thinking about my earrings.

Or rats.

I might need to spend this Friday at the beach too.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

what i read in june

It's time for another Show Us Your Books with Steph and Jana.  I read five books this month.

First up, Unstuffed by Ruth Soukup.

I'd heard a lot about this book and found it at Ollie's for $2.99 so I decided to give it a try.  I really liked the beginning, when the author shared lots of tips and strategies for decluttering.  Sometimes I wonder how we went from living in a 700 square foot apartment to a big house and it's full! Where did all this stuff come from? I was so inspired that I cleaned out our closets and scheduled a Purple Heart pickup for tomorrow morning!  As far as decluttering my mind and soul, I feel like they're in pretty good shape already, so I read those sections fairly quickly.

Under One Roof, by Barry Martin

Everyone knew what was going on in Ballard, Washington: developers were building a giant shopping mall, but a house belonging to a feisty octogenarian named Edith Wilson Macefield was in the way. They offered her a million dollars. She told them to take a hike.
Everyone knew that Barry Martin, head of the construction project, was involved in the push to get her out of the house so that the project could proceed without further delay.
Everyone was wrong.
When Barry took the job as construction supervisor for the shopping mall that was being erected around Edith's little house, he determined to make things as easy for her as he could. He didn't expect that she'd ask him to drive her to a hair appointment―but he did offer to help, after all. And it was in that one small gesture that an unlikely friendship was sparked, one that changed them both forever.
The story of Barry Martin and Edith Macefield is a tale of balance and compassion, of giving enough without giving too much, of helping our elderly loved ones through the tough times without taking away their dignity. In the end, Under One Roof is a tale of grace, and one from which all of us can take solace and strength. From Barry and Edith we have much to learn about love and letting go and, just possibly, about seeing through fading light to find great joy.

I found this book at the dollar store and picked it up, because, $1.00.  It also had an interesting premise, as it was written by a developer who was in charge of building a big shopping mall outside of Seattle.  All of the homes in the area were razed to make room for the mall, but old Edith Macefield refused to sell and leave her home.  So, the developers built the mall around it.  You can see the photo below.

Throughout the construction, the developer and Edith forged an unlikely friendship.  She didn't have any family and needed someone to care for her, and he appreciated her unique life and determined attitude.  I really enjoyed the story, but towards the end the author went into a lot of detail about Edith's aging and health struggles, and I just felt like maybe all of that shouldn't have been shared.  But other than that, I enjoyed it and for $1.00, I got my money's worth.

Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom

Several people recommended this after I read The Last Lecture a few months ago.  It was a similar story and I loved it.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

I've read this before, and I love it.  It completely cracks me up and I re-read it every few years.  She is so funny and I love funny.

Smart Girl by Rachel Hollis

Brilliant designer Miko Jin is a hopeless romantic. She’s spent most of her life falling in love over and over again…with the men she finds in the pages of her favorite novels.
When Miko meets Liam Ashton, it’s love at first sight. At least, for her. Sure, the two of them are polar opposites, and yes, he seems to be dating someone new each week. But Miko knows what true love is and that you can’t rush it—after all, what she lacks in real-world experience, she makes up for in book smarts. With novels as her guide, and her best friends by her side, she knows she can get Liam to love her back. But just like any good romance novel, fate has a few plot twists in store. Will Miko get her own happy ending? Will she find the strength to stand up for what she deserves even if it means breaking her own heart?

This is the third book in a series by Rachel Hollis.  I read the first two this year and finished this one
while laying in the hammock on Sunday afternoon.  It was a cute story, an easy read, and a perfect summer afternoon read.

Have you read anything I need to add to my list?

Saturday, July 8, 2017

a birthday and a plethora of produce

Tomorrow, Annabelle turns two.  It's hard to believe because it seems like just yesterday she was a teeny, tiny little baby.

And now she's going fishing with a little pink fishing pole my dad made just for her.

They didn't catch anything in the pool, but maybe next time.

Annabelle was at our house last weekend and we walked around the corner to the playground.  It was then that I realized that helicopter parents might have a valid case, and also, I have no idea what the physical capabilities of an almost two year old are.  Can she go down the side alone?  Is the rope bridge too advanced?  Will her tiny little self fly right off the swing if I give her an enthusiastic push and an UNDERDOGGG?

Let's just say I climbed on that jungle gym more than any kid at that park and as for my tunnel crawling and corkscrew ladder climbing skills?

Still got 'em.

Afterwards we came back and we went out back to play in the yard and visit the chickens.

The corn was knee high by the 4th of July.

Speaking of corn, if you're wondering what Matt and I will be eating for the rest of summer, it's corn and tomatoes.

July is shaping up to be a good month.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

we celebrated july 4th weekend like our forefathers. with no electricity.

I spent last week at a work conference at the biggest indoor water park in the nation.  My job unfortunately has nothing to do with aquatic leisure activities, but there's also a convention center at the resort where we spent most of our time.  The resort is safari themed, so the employees wore mostly black with animal print accents.

I always say that I hate it when I stop at Target and realize I'm wearing my khakis and red polo shirt.  This is a joke, because I never in my life wear khakis and a red polo shirt.

However, one day at the resort, I unintentionally wore a black blouse and dress pants and my leopard print peep toe heels, and blended right in with the staff.

No bare feet in the lobby, folks, and the water park closes at 10!

I got home on Friday night, and on Saturday we decided, for a variety of reasons, that instead of refinishing the old hardwood floors in the living room, we would put down a new floor.  We went to Home Depot to make the purchase and they were giving away free hot dogs outside.

If you've ever wondered if I'm too proud to eat a free hot dog from Home Depot, the answer is no, no I'm not.

It was delicious.  

A big storm was rolling in as we arrived home, so we settled in on the back patio to watch, because there's nothing better than a summer thunderstorm.  Things got pretty bad pretty quickly, so we moved inside, only to look out a while later and see a perfect rainbow.  

I only wish there had been an actual pot of gold at the end of it, because did I mention new hardwood floor$?

It ended up to be a beautiful evening, so it was very odd that the power went off around 9:30, hours after the rain stopped.  I thought it might be a fluke, but when it didn't come back on after a few minutes, we checked the electric company's website to see it was expected to return by 1 a.m.

Matt and I laid in bed watching the minutes tick by, and Matt took that moment to share with me that "You know, this is the most common time for homes to get robbed.  When the power is out.  It's dark, phone lines are dead, you can't turn a light on to see what's going on."

On that comforting note, I tried to fall asleep but our room was only getting hotter by the minute. At one point around midnight, Matt sighed and said, "Okay, let's talk about things.  Where are the rations?"

When 1 a.m. came and went with no power, Matt said, "Laura, my survivability rate is about a 2.  You might have to go on without me."

That escalated quickly.

At 2 a.m., we were fanning ourselves with (ironically) the user's manual for the air conditioner that I keep in my nightstand drawer, and  Matt said, "Let's play a game to make time go faster.  How about I Spy?"


I wish I could say the power came back on in the morning, but it didn't.  We went out for breakfast, and COFFEE, and then Matt borrowed a generator from his dad so we could keep the fridge going.  And then I took off for the land of central air and electricity, aka my parents' house, and then went shopping with my sister.

Meanwhile, Matt stayed home in the sweltering house and INSTALLED THE HARDWOOD FLOOR.  It was 94 degrees with 1000% humidity.

He's tougher than he acts in the middle of the night.

I cannot even explain to you how hot our house was.  You know how people say you can fry an egg on the sidewalk during hot summer days?  Eggs were practically leaping out of our refrigerator and scrambling themselves.  It was miserable.

By dinnertime on Sunday we were just getting mad.  After we ate I went back to lay in the hammock and Matt brought out a lawn chair, a citronella candle, and his ham radio.  He was in it for the long haul.  Around 8:00 I headed back to the house so I could paint my nails before the sun set (priorities).  I asked Matt if he was coming and he said, "Nope.  I'm not moving until the power comes back on."

The power returned around 1 a.m. on Monday (Matt was inside by then!) and I've never been happier to do laundry.

This weekend marks nine years since Matt and I went on our first date.  I probably wouldn't have guessed then that this is where we would be nine years later, but I'm so glad it is.

I'm also glad he can install hardwood floors.
(Still need to paint and re-carpet the stairs, so feel free to share color ideas!)