Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dinner Menu

Book Club is at our house this month, tomorrow night, so we're going to be busy cooking today so there's hopefully minimal chaos tomorrow. Only 9 people total, so not too bad.  Hubby will help me today, and my neighbor is going to come over during the day tomorrow to help more.  I feel kind of bad asking her to help since she's not staying for dinner, but I know her well enough to know she won't mind -- cooking and hanging out will be fun.

Thought I'd share the menu.  Since our book club operates to let whoever hosts pick that month's book, it was my choice this month, and so I picked a WWII non-fiction book.  From what I've heard, most people who read it liked it a lot.  I thought it was pretty good.  Anyway, I figured I'd go with a menu I found online -- it's what that funny woman who cooks on the Today show made for the former man of my dreams and his new wife (Wills and Kate) when they were in the US a couple weeks ago.  Figured considering the Brits were our allies, it was logical. 

To start, pea crostini (from her menu).  And I'm also going to put out two kinds of cheese, crackers, and likely a cannellini-garlic dip that I love making.

Entree is going to be individual corn lasagna (I need to swing by Crate & Barrel in a couple hours to buy 4 more ramekins, I only have 6), accompanied by roasted tomatoes and asparagus (I hate tomatoes, so I won't be eating those!).  All that was on her royalty menu.

Then salad.  Not sure yet what I'm doing exactly -- mixed greens, red onion, pear, and cranberry I think.  With balsalmic and oil.

For dessert, it's the tarragon and merlot truffles (from the menu) and lemon pie. 

Still thinking of doing some kind of a signature drink, just need to think a little more and get some of the advance work done.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Treading Lightly Around the Big D

So marathon training is officially underway.  And I thought my first day was mildly amusing.  I had not one, not two, but three awkward conversations.  Actually only two were with running, the other one was at dinner the same night.

First, I got to training early b/c the first day is always chaotic.  I happened to see a guy that I used to run with -- maybe a year or two ago.  We've always gotten along well and are facebook friends, so I feel like I was mildly in the loop on his life.  I'm trying to remember the last time I saw him.  I think we ran together a bit last fall, so it's been more than 6 months.  When I first met him in maybe 08 he'd just gotten married and I was in wedding planning mode so I remember asking him a lot of questions about his wedding. 

So I saw him this week before we started running and we chatted for a little while.  He looked great.  I could tell he looked more fit, toned up, maybe had lost a little weight, but he mostly looked just insanely smiley and happy.  We're chatting, I asked him what's going on, he said not much, just happy to be getting geared up for another season.  Just chatting.  Then he asked me if I wanted to walk to his car with him to put something away.  I said sure and aborted my other conversation and walked with him.  As soon as we were away from the group, I asked what was up, what was really going on.  He said nothing, life was good.  I was like, "no man, really, you seem so happy, what's going on?  baby?"  He laughed and said "baby?  no, divorce."  Yikes!  He was happy to chat about it, not at all a sensitive subject.  He said they'd been having some problems and then he found out she was having an affair and that made it quite easy to end things.  I guess it's not necessarily something you'd post on facebook, but wow, I felt completely out of the loop and so bad for raising what could have been such a sensitive subject.

Well, then I step in it again not 15 minutes later.  I started running with my group, some people I knew and one new guy.  After a few minutes, we're trying to get the basic story on the new guy.  How many marathons, where he's from, what he does for work, where he lives, married, kids, etc.  And as soon as I asked "married?  kids?", there was enough of a pause that I knew I wanted to retract the question.  He said he has two kids, both young, and that he and his wife were separated.  Yes, I'm just apparently trying to raise all the painful thoughts possible...  But maybe they'll work things out.  When he talked about how they met and stuff, it seemed like the affection was still there, but I know it takes more than that.  It just didn't sound like he was talking about an ex.

So then I go through my day as usual.  At night, we had a fundraising dinner to go to.  Hubby was going to meet me there.  As it was close to time to head over, I was surprised to realize he hadn't called me yet to say he was leaving work, so I called him.  Surprise.  Crisis and he was going to be at least a couple hours late.  So I figured I'd go to the dinner alone and there would probably be a few people I knew there. 

I got to the dinner late and everyone I knew who was going had already left except the guy who had organized it, and he was the center of attention so surrounded by people and not exactly someone I could sit with.  I ended up just picking a random table of people and asking if I could join them.  Turns out I picked the table of all lawyers, of course.  They were all nice guys but most of them were getting ready to leave.  After a while, the table pretty much cleared out except for me and one of the younger guys (he was 34; the others had been in their 50s or 60s, and there was one in his 20s).  I knew he was wearing a wedding ring, so I assumed he was married.  We were sitting there chatting, mostly about law schools, firms, the practice of law, etc. and then eventually the topic changed to kids (b/c we'd started talking about the fundraiser).  I asked if he had kids and he said something like no, I'm not quite ready to say it's the end of my life yet and devote myself to that completely.  I said something vague about how I agreed, when you have kids it seems like your life as you know it is basically over.  He said that it was odd I'd say that as a woman b/c usually they're the ones who want the kids.  I asked where his wife was on the subject.  He said she's a contract attorney and had originally not wanted kids, but had started to change her mind not that long ago.  They've been married just over 3 years and he said they started talking about having kids, then they went through some marital problems.  I don't know if it was the beer or if I seemed sympathetic or what, but suddenly, out came the details.  Keep in mind this is someone I've known less than 2 hours -- and Dallas is a big city, but attorney circles are actually much smaller than I think.  He said his wife had started hitting on her boss.  Apparently it never went beyond making out, but he didn't sound like he was wholly convinced that was true.  She was ready to leave her husband and then apparently realized that she reallly didn't have anywhere to go, a job that's not steady and w/o benefits.  So they're still together.  He's not sure if she's there b/c she loves him and wants to work it out, or b/c he's the only economically viable alternative.  Yikes!  I asked if they'd gone to counseling, so I heard about that (sounds like it was not a good counselor).  Wonder how it will all unfold.  He gave me his card so it's conceivable I'll meet him again through work or at another fundraiser for this same cause, so maybe I'll find out.

But it just felt crazy that three times in one day I'd hear about very recently ended or likely ending marriages.  Sad, especially for the second conversation since they have two young kids.  But I do think it's better for kids to grow up with two happy divorced parents than two miserable parents who hate each other and just stay together for the kids.  Hope it will work out for the best for all of them.  And hope I don't put anyone else in the awkward position of having to answer a painful question anytime soon!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

New chocolate

I’m not generally a big chocolate-eater.  I don’t ever eat chocolate mixed with dairy (like chocolate shakes, chocolate ice cream, etc.).  I don’t ever choose chocolate cake (though if that’s the only option, I usually will still eat it).  I keep a container of hershey’s kisses on my desk at work to share, primarily because I know they’re safe from me.  I eat maybe one of those kisses per month.

I’ll sometimes eat a chocolate dessert when I’m out (like a molten chocolate cake or something).  And at home the only chocolate I eat is the occasional white chocolate chips on top of my greek yogurt dessert, and every once in a blue moon, a frozen caramel brownie.  Last year I ate one brownie after each of my long runs if the run was over about 16 miles (don’t remember what my exact threshold was).  This year, I made a pan of the brownies for the bachelorette party a few weeks ago, and there were a couple left at the end of the weekend that I brought home and froze.  I ate one after a long run (but not 16 miles, maybe 12?) a week or so ago, and I have one left.  I’m sure I’ll eventually eat and enjoy it.

But when it’s time to snack at work, I don’t go for chocolate.  I’m far more tempted by sweet things like cookies or cakes or donuts, or, more likely, by something salty like crackers or popcorn.

But it may all be changing now after my brother’s wedding. There were about a million sweet touches to their weekend, but the relevant one right now is the gift bags that we got at the hotel upon check-in, which I think all out of town guests got.

It was in a reusable Detroit Tigers bag and included various Michigan consumable products.  Things like Better Made potato chips and Kelloggs rice krispy treats, all of which I already ate w/o photographing.

The picture above shows the Kelloggs cereal bars (both of which I enjoyed).  And the two kinds of chocolate.

First, hubby and I each got a mini-Michigan. 

Plain milk chocolate.  Tasted okay.  I just ate mine yesterday.  I'd given the other one to a co-worker as a little treat.  Incidentally, based on this, I can see why they call Michigan the mitten state, but it makes no sense -- what about the rest of Michigan you fools???!!!  The ENTIRE state of Wisconsin looks like a mitten -- but only the bottom part of Michigan does.  There is no way Michigan can claim to be the mitten state.

In my middle little brother's wedding toast, he was talking about my now sister-in-law and his history on this debate.  He said they were both at a party once, and engaged in completely separate conversations.  He was talking to someone about where someplace in Wisconsin was.  He made a mitten-like shape with his hand and said, so you mean, near the thumb of the mitten?  And he was shocked that his brother's girlfriend shrieked "what??!!!" across the room and came charging over, declaring that Michigan was the mitten state and asserting that the description could never be used for Wisconsin.  He said they'd have to agree to disagree on that.

Anyway, that's all beside the point.  Also in the bag was this (and a dark chocolate version, which I've eaten without photographing):

Just turn your head sideways, I don't know how to rotate pictures. 

Anyway, I haven't eaten the one pictured above, but the Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels may well be my favorite kind of chocolate EVER. 

I looked up the product description from their website:
Product Description

A NEW take on the smooth caramels you love! Enrobed in dark chocolate accented with sea salt, this elegant confection satisfies both sweet and salty cravings.
And I'm going to hold off hopefully a few more days before I eat the milk chocolate one, but then most assuredly, I will be ordering a box of my choice to enjoy! 

My new favorite Michigan product.  Aside from my sister-in-law of course!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wedding Party Gifts

Since I’m wearing part of my wedding party gift today, figured I’d post about that.
My brother’s rehearsal dinner was a little bigger than planned, which is solely my mom’s fault. My new sister-in-law gave my mom the entire wedding guest list for the rehearsal dinner and marked in red the names that were close family, wedding party, or out-of-town guests, and my mom was supposed to invite the names in red. I bet you can see where this is going.

When I got to Michigan for the bachelorette party, the mother-of-the-bride had been hearing from several unexpected people about how lovely and unexpected the invite was – of course they were RSVPing to my folks, but she was quite aware that many of these people were locals, like her husband’s colleagues, and wouldn’t be expected to be invited.

As it turned out, my mom had forgotten about the color coding and invited all the wedding guests. Fortunately I suppose for my parents’ sake (they hosted the rehearsal dinner), many local guests politely declined – which I can see. If your colleague’s daughter’s getting married, you’d go to the wedding, but you wouldn’t be keen to give up both nights of the weekend for the festivities.

So the rehearsal ended up being larger than planned, but still not too huge. I already shared some details of the night, including the keg stands, but I didn’t post about when my bro and his bride-to-be brought the wedding party into the main room and gave us each a sweet card with a gift.

I can’t remember exactly what the guys got – a tie to wear for the wedding, a Detroit Athletic Club t-shirt, an engraved bottle opener, and monogrammed cuff-links. I think that’s it (which is a lot).

Those of us standing up on the bride’s side got a monogrammed tote bag, a Detroit Athletic Club t-shirt, cute flip-flops (which I forgot to photograph) to wear when our wedding shoes got to be too much (little shimmery flower kind of thing on them), earrings to wear in the wedding, and a cute little Coach wristlet to use for lipstick, phone, etc. at the reception.

That last pic isn’t very good, but I was trying to show the detail on the wristlet.

I’ll have to try to remember to take a pic of the flip-flops and supplement this post later.

Quite sweet of the bride and I'm going to have to email her today to tell her I'm wearing the earrings! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lazy Weekend

I'm feeling quite content and very ready for the week ahead.  Not much of an exciting post but nothing exciting on my mind to share.  So I figured a weekend recap is okay for a Monday.

We got to spend part of the weekend with my college roommate, her husband and their 2 kids (ages 7 and 4.5 it turns out).  I wouldn't exactly call the kids well-behaved, but actually they kind of were.  They were just very energetic and had been cooped up in the car all day (I guess that's what happens when you're on a 6500 mile road trip for the summer), so they seemed a little crazy invading our little home for 2... 

I ended up leaving the rug in place and I got very nervous when they came near it with large bottles of red and blue gatorade, but without even looking at my face, their mom sent them straight back to the kitchen to drink.  Whew!

We went out for Mexican food one night, and I managed to sneak her away from hubbies and kids for lunch at a vegan restaurant one day.  That was so nice.  I wish we'd been able to eat more adventurously, but her kids are really picky.  Though honestly, even when the younger one got exactly what she wanted (as in, we went someplace where she could get chicken fingers and fries), she still barely picked at it.  It's no doubt hereditary -- her mom was picky as could be in college, though she could eat like a horse when it came to something she liked!  And she's still rail thin of course and eats tons of what I'd call junk food and never works out, but stays completely thin!  We just had so much fun catching up.  I even pulled out a photo album and have decided that by their next visit I want to have all the college photos into albums.

Besides their visit, the weekend was a lot of nothing.  Things like uploading photos from the wedding and sharing them with family, doing the paperwork to roll my old 401k to a new investment rep, watching a netflix movie, running a couple errands, running (though very little, the least miles I've run over a 3 day period while in this country probably all year!), and best of all in my mind, organizing.

I have my outfits picked out for the next two weeks of work.  All of our laundry is done, even the sheets and towels from the guest bedroom.  I have my fruit washed and bagged for the first few days of the week.  I made my snack for one day to pack for work.  I took a huge load of stuff to the donation center -- and I remembered to photograph it all first to save for our taxes.  I had time to read a bit more of my pick for book club (Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand) and to read over the recipes that I'm making next weekend when it's my turn to host.  I have been working on creating my own recipe book -- months ago I put all the pages into sheet protectors and attempted to group them appropriately, and over the weekend I managed to type out a list of all the contents (though I still have to number the pages and all).  But it's stuff like that that leaves me feeling so happy and prepared for the week ahead.

Contented sigh...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Newlywed Quiz

Oops, this is an old post that I wrote a few weeks ago and for some reason it didn't post!  So I'm going to add an update at the end and post it now anyway. 

Going back to right before the bachelorette party for my baby-bro's then fiancee...

Since I was the most senior person in the wedding party on the bride’s side (by like 10 years), I guessed I’d end up with a little more of the bill for the bachelorette party than others, but that caused absolutely no problem for me. I remember being 25 and not having money to spare. I technically started work right after I turned 25, and it was at a big firm so the money was good, but I don’t think that’s the typical experience so I instead remember what life was like when I was about 22 and had virtually no cash to spare.  So seriously, knowing most of these girls were about 25-27, I didn't mind being hit with a larger share of the bill.  But since I'm out of town, I'm not doing much of the planning.  Instead I volunteered to help with the grocery and liquor shopping in town, to plan one game, to bring homemade brownies, and to help with clean-up on Sunday after the bachelorette weekend festivities wind down (before I have to go back to Detroit to fly home).
Anyway, I’d organized this game for a few bachelorette parties I’d been to before where I was in the wedding party. It’s kind of like the newlywed show. Basically, I’d make a list of questions (various levels of raciness, things like "what size shoes do you wear" to "what’s your favorite dessert and has he ever eaten it off of you)". Then shortly before the party, I'd spend some time asking the groom-to-be the questions and writing his answers on the note card for each question. Then the questions are kind of ranked (round 1 being plain vanilla, safe to play in front of grandma, round 5 (or whatever) being the questions you want to save for after many shots have been consumed). Then when we’re ready to play, the questions are passed out to everyone except the bride-to-be, and we all take turns asking questions and seeing if she gets it right. Usually when we’ve played, if she gets it wrong, she has to put a piece of bubblicious in her mouth – if she gets it right, no additional bubble gum. If she gets a bonus question right, she gets to spit out all the gum in her mouth. I think this time we’re going to play where she can do a shot instead of a piece of gum, or do a shot to get to spit out all the gum in her mouth.

The best part though about offering to be the one to organize this part of the shower – I get to choose all the questions. So that means no getting creeped out by thinking too much of what she and my sweet baby brother do behind closed doors. One of the funniest questions we’ve done with some of my best friends was: is he usually on top? And the absolute funniest thing was that with one friend, I knew it was going to be interesting b/c when I was talking to her fiancĂ©, he said, well, what do you mean, that’s kind of hard to answer. I said I don’t want to know the details, this is just how the question will be posed and you need to give me a yes or a no. I can’t remember what he said – I think he said no. But by the time we got to ask my friend that question that night, she was 3 sheets to the wind and she gave way too much away – she also said something like, well, that question doesn’t really apply to us because usually we…

OMG. TMI. It was absolutely hilarious, and we were all laughing so hard we were falling down.

But I get to decide if that’s a question I can handle asking my baby bro, and then having his fiancĂ©e answer!

UPDATED July 2011:  Sorry for not posting this.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that costs for the bachelorette party were shared almost equally among the bride's side of the wedding party.  And the game was good.  I decided to go with the standard range of questions and I'd just pretend it wasn't my brother when I was getting some of the answers.  But what I did not realize was that the bride's mother would be staying throughout dinner when we played the game (she wasn't in town for the bachelorette party, but she and her friend (the woman who owned the cottage) came up for dinner on Sat night).  And of course I was just passing out the questions w/o thinking.  There should have been alarm bells when I realized she got one of the last questions, but I'd been drinking most of the day at that point, and I guess I just wasn't thinking about it.  Oops.  She got "You guys have or have not made love while standing up."  And on the back of the card was my brother's answer:  "Have."  Oh dear lord!  Fortunately for everyone involved, the bride's mom seemed to be a lot less uptight about that question than even I was when I had to ask my brother!  The bride thought it was hysterical, her mom was cracking up laughing, and it ended up being fine.  And on that question, the bride DID NOT have to take a shot -- she got it right.  Again, OMG, TMI...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Houseguest Delay

This week has been long-anticipated for me.  My brother and his wife had set their wedding date of 7-16-11 last fall, and then several months ago my college roommate and I locked in plans for her and her family to come visit us beginning today.  So basically mid-July has been all marked up in bold on my calendar for the better part of 2011.

My college roommate and her husband are both teachers, so they kind of travel around the country for the summer with their kids, visiting friends and seeing the sights.  They include Dallas on their summer itinerary about every other year.  They live in central Pennsylvania, and sadly we don't make it there to visit them often enough.  This year, they're going to stay with us while they're in Dallas, which will be awesome -- it will give her and me much more time to catch up casually instead of being at a restaurant or out doing something. 

Hubby's been nervous about having kids in the house.  Our house is the opposite of baby-proof, but her kids aren't really babies, so hopefully it will be okay.  I'd be hard pressed to tell you exactly how old they are though.  Both under age 10, both potty-trained.  And the younger one was starting to walk in fall 2008, so she's got to be at least 4 I'd say.  I'm halfway thinking of rolling up my prized rug from my trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand several years ago -- it's one of those possessions that I treasure so much and I'd be mega-pissed if someone had a major spill on it, so rather than risking getting really bummed about something a kid does, even if it's just an accident, it may be smartest to just remove it and leave the room looking awkward.

Anyway, they were planning to arrive today and we just found out they're about 2 days behind schedule.  So this is even better!  A little extra time to get the house ready, get a little more organized from returning from the wedding, time to stock the fridge, etc. 

Plus, now they'll be here for the weekend, which means I'll get to spend a lot more time hanging out with them! 

She and I were so different when we started college, and I can say with absolute certainty that she had a big impact on how my personality developed in college.  We spent so much time together freshman year -- at school, on long weekend trips, and visiting our families together.  We saw each other through lots of drunken nights, random parties, a few boyfriends each, early cooking experiences, shared wardrobes, etc.  Then we decided to live together the next year too.  We didn't get along very briefly at the beginning of our sophomore year as we'd taken completely separate paths over the summer (I'd worked as a law clerk in a law firm, she'd gone on tour following the Grateful Dead).  But after a few weeks, we were back to our happy compromise.  Unfortunately, she had to transfer to a local public school for her final two years b/c of some financial stuff with her parents, but we've stayed friends. 

And now, no matter how much time passes, it feels like we can pick right back up where we left off.  Can't wait to get to spend time with her, her great husband and their two kids -- hopefully sweet, well-behaved and very careful with stuff purchased by people who never expected to have it touched by anyone under 21...

Monday, July 18, 2011

What a Wedding!

There is no way to describe this past wedding weekend other than to say it was absolutely amazing!  First a few fun and relaxing days visiting our Dallas neighbors at their Michigan residence, including a fun day trip to Canada, lots of great meals, long Italian card games, and lots of time together.  On Friday afternoon, they dropped us in Detroit for a few family- and friend-filled days of wedding festivities.  All the wedding events were so wonderful, a good mix of formal and fun, perfect reflections of my brother and my new sister. 

The rehearsal on Friday was as chaotic, tardy and unorganized as almost all rehearsals are, but it worked -- we all knew what to do on Saturday.  The rehearsal dinner was a big barbeque at a park in the town where the bride's parents live.  So nice to see my family and friends. 

As with basically all weddings in my family, by the end of the night, there were multiple keg stands.  Including notably, my husband for his first one ever (which surprised me), and the bride (because she's just that kind of gal!).  Not notably, two of my three brothers who were there (I guess maybe it's surprising it was only 2 instead of all 3, but I had no doubt when I saw the keg that at least one of them would be on it by the end of the night), the bride's brother, the bride's cousins, and many family friends.

The bride getting her dress tied before her keg stand, you know, it's the ladylike approach!:

One of the many keg stands, the bride's had a bit too much cleavage to post (it wouldn't be X-rated, but I wouldn't want to embarass her).  This is one of the guys:

After the rehearsal dinner ended, we took the party to a bar. That was interesting. The drive showed some really scary parts of Detroit. And the walk from our hotel to the bar was also scary, despite the fact that we'd crammed 6 or 7 people into my bro's tiny car, including 4 or 5 guys so we were well protected. We walked past a huge group of very scary looking guys in front of a strip club called The Grind. Gotta love Detroit...

Hubby and I thought about inviting people come back to our mac-daddy suite after that, but it was just too late for us to hang.  But our suite was incredible.  A shot of our suite's bar area, taken from the living room:

Fun times Fri night meant many yawns due to the early start on Saturday.  The guys all went for hot shaves and then spent a lot of time hanging out.  The girls all went to the salon for hair and make-up, then back to the bride's house for lunch and changing into our dresses, and some pics, then the party bus to the ceremony site. 

At the salon, awaiting hair and make-up.  The bride gave all of us tank tops displaying our roles -- bridesmaid, mother of the groom, maid of honor, etc.  Quite cute!

Getting her hair done:

And one photo of the bride that I took during shots at her house, just to show the photog didn't photoshop or touch these up, she is just beautiful! 

I'm going to copy some pics from their official photog since I didn't have my camera for much of the day -- he (Jeffrey, the photographer) did such an amazing job!  Of course it didn't hurt that I think they make a stunning couple! 

I'd never seen a hanger like the one used for her dress -- complete with date! 

The bride, in her parents' backyard (her necklace was her wedding gift from her folks, and the earrings were her wedding gift from my bro): 

The groom at the Detroit Athletic Club, where the guys got ready (the watch was his wedding gift from her parents):

Beautiful ceremony.  I didn't cry too much, which was a huge relief.  I was feeling so emotional! 

One shot of everyone waiting for the ceremony to start:

Had to include a rings picture, since that's always one of my fave wedding photos:

After that, it was lots of pictures, then the bridal party took the party bus around for some Detroit pics and as transit to the reception. 

Possibly my fave of their post-ceremony (bride and groom together) photos:

She was happy since she got to show off her Jimmy Choo shoes, which she was calling her Baby Choos.  I think it was her favorite part of all her wedding attire.  She's a shoe girl!

And a cool Detroit pic: 

The reception was awesome.  Great toasts (though they had 3, which seemed like one too many, but I couldn't really say which one should have been cut -- I guess it should be best man and maid of honor, but the bride's brother also gave one and it was sweet).  Good food.  Great drinks.  Full dance floor all night.  Funny photo booth -- we even got together all the girls from the bachelorette party for a couple shots in the photo booth. 

The cake was particularly good -- raspberry filling...: 

This one doesn't show the full dance floor, but that's only b/c it was their first dance.  After that one, then the mother-son and the father-daughter dances, the floor was open and pieno (that's Italian for full):

One of my pictures showing the full dance floor, incidentally showing many of my favorite uncles, aunts, siblings, etc. dancing the night away:

My bro and his new wife left the reception briefly to take some rooftop pics before she changed into her second dress (more f a party dress, pretty, strapless, knee-length):

I didn't think I had one of her second dress, but here it is:

Some people went out for an after-party, but we were way too beat...

A completely and totally amazing weekend, and insanely happy for my sweet baby brother and his wonderful new bride!  I'm very lucky to have such a wonderful family, and my new sister will fit right in.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ah, Michigan!

I love being on vacation!  I mean, I definitely love my job and our life in Dallas, but it's just so much fun to get out of dodge sometimes.  The weather here is glorious.  I don't worry my intestines are baking inside of me if I'm outside for 10 minutes in the afternoon.  We're hanging out with our neighbors mostly so far (staying with them at their house here in Michigan), and in a few hours, heading to the hotel to meet up with my family.

My best explanation of how nice it is to be here:  I woke up yesterday (and today actually) with no alarm at about 6:45 Michigan time (5:45 at home, so about 45 mins-1 hour later than I usually get up during the week).  I got dressed to go running and got rough directions from our neighbors. 

But non-runner sometimes aren't good about telling you where to go run.  They suggested I stay in the neighborhood, which was very nice, and would be just right if I only wanted to run for a mile or two.  But since I wanted a minimum of 6, I decided I'd be bored to tears if I just kept running around a suburban kind of subdivision, so I just ran toward a busy street with a sidewalk, ran along that a little, and then, after I'd run for about a mile and a half, happened upon Troy High School.  I decided to see if there was a track, and there was.  And since the weather is so great, I decided to run a few mile repeats.  It was like I just couldn't pass up the opportunity -- I knew I'd be running so much faster here than I do at home -- that's what dropping 20-30 degrees will do for your speed! 

There was one other guy out there running.  I did 3 mile repeats, with a quarter mile recovery after each, and I loved to see my times.  I was definitely getting fatigued, but I managed to stay pretty steady and actually got progressively faster.  The best part was, my heart rate was completely under control.  And when I got back to our neighbors' house, I was still relatively dry.  When I run at home lately, I have to hang my clothing in the bathroom and usually a small pool of liquid drains out of the clothes before they get dry. 

Ah, it's so nice to have cool morning temps.  Anyway, yesterday we went over to Canada.  We had lunch in Windsor's version of Little Italy -- it's called Via Italia, or Erie Street, and has a bunch of Italian restaurants and shops.  We got gaskets for our espresso pots, which I'm sure we could buy online or maybe at some shop in Dallas, but we usually pick up in Italy -- but we'd forgotten this year.  We also went to this island on the US side called Belle Isle, which was fun.  Lots of people loitering and picnicking, but we just kind of drove through and stopped for occasional photos. 

I ran again this morning, considerably slower than yesterday b/c my legs were tired.  It was actually raining when I started out, but it stopped within about 2.5 miles.  I can't even remember the last time it rained in Dallas.  Anyway, got back to the house and we all had a big breakfast.  I'm about to jump in the shower I think, then I'm going to get my nails done.  Bride wants us to do French mani/pedi.  Then we'll have lunch with our neighbors and they'll take us downtown to the hotel where we'll meet up with my folks, brothers, uncles, aunts, etc. 

Yesterday my neighbor sewed my strapless bra into the dress for the wedding and I'm so much happier now.  I don't know why but it was almost like there should have been some elastic around the top of the bust of the dress -- it was not well fitted at all and would sometimes gape away from my body (not to say the dress is loose, it's insanely tight and makes me wish I'd lost at least 5 pounds over the last couple weeks, but it's loose above my chest).  But now with the bra attached, the dress is one million times better.  It's still tight, tight, tight, but I won't have to worry about flashing my bra or anything, which is going to make me so much more comfortable.  I even practiced dancing around in it with my arms up and everything stayed right in place.

I'm so excited for the rehearsal dinner tonight and then all of the festivities tomorrow!! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Downside of Marriage

That whole compromise thing, especially on major decisions, it’s not usually a problem for us, but it is a potential downside of marriage. The weird thing is, this major decision is such a remote possibility, there’s really no reason to argue about it. But yet argue we did.  It's like arguing about what you'd do if you won the lottery or something -- is there really any point in arguing until you've got at least 2 ticket numbers that match or something?  So pointless, but argh, we had the hypothetical argument. 
I don’t want to go into details. It’s definitely something I’d share if it happens, but it’s so speculative. Basically, we’ve kind of talked about it before once this summer. I told him what I was thinking but there was no real discussion.

This morning, I brought it up again – who knows why – to make sure we were on the same page. So, while being vague, here’s the debate:

If X happens (fairly unlikely, has nothing to do with us), and Y happens (somewhat unlikely, but possible, has to do with me), and I am asked to do Z, I would absolutely say yes.

But I recognize that doing Z is a big deal, and we’d have to be on the same page. Very big decision. Very unlikely I’ll have to make that big decision, given that X and Y would have to happen, but possible.

Hubby’s response was that I should absolutely say no. And the way he said it, he just wasn't open to discussion. I can see his logic – big decision, not fun, some risks. But he’s not seeing what I see at the end – something that would make someone else about whom I care a lot very, very happy. But I was really bothered by the fact that he wouldn’t even entertain a dialogue with me on this subject.

Setting aside the issue at hand, not being able to carry on a dialogue would definitely guarantee problems down the road. After basically pouting for a while (my version of this is going upstairs, kind of avoiding him, and being snippy when we did talk), I finally told him how upset I was about his reaction and told him I want to be able to talk about it. He said that’s fine but still indicated he doesn’t see himself changing his mind. But in my heart, I really need to feel like if X and Y happen, we will have to think, discuss, weigh, ponder, dare I say pray?, research, and decide together on whether I’ll do Z.

There’s no real reason for me to be upset about it – X and Y are unlikely. But I need to feel like Z will be something we can consider, and it won’t be an automatic no on his end. It very well could be that I’d agree the right answer would be no. But I’d like to know that if I really believe Y is better, that he’ll be open to considering it. Sigh. He’s generally quite open-minded and has a generally agreeable nature.

I need to decide if it’s something I should broach again while it’s on my mind, though X wouldn’t happen for at least a year I’d think, or if I should just put the topic to bed for now and reconsider if X happens. The latter is probably smarter. Why waste the effort of trying hard to convince him that Z might be okay if he really believes for now that it isn’t, and it in all likelihood won’t even matter what either of us think because X is so unlikely. I guess technically he agreed we could talk about it, so I might as well drop it for now. Probably for good, which is also fine with me. Like I said, X is totally out of our hands.

Oh well, just what’s on my mind right now. Sometimes it’s easier to make decisions for one. I wouldn’t trade my marriage for anything, but it’s definitely not always easy.

Not the happiest thought as I'm packing up for my baby brother's wedding this weekend.  On the upside -- I know I'll drop this speculative argument soon, and shift the focus to nearly a week's vacation with hubby and sharing in my baby bro's joy as he and his fiancee take the plunge! 

Monday, July 11, 2011

What a Race

I think I'm finally recovered from the race yesterday.  It's called Too Hot to Handle and it lived up to its name!  15k, aka 9.3 miles.  Started at 7:30 a.m., at which time the temp was already 84 and humidity 56%, and it only got warmer.  Ugh!  Maybe it should be called Too Hot to Enjoy. 

So I've run this race a bunch of times.  Until last year, I had this cool streak going -- my finish time was always faster than the previous year at the same race.  Then last year I missed my 09 time by about a minute and a half.  But last year was a late start (some issue with a water stop delayed the starting gun about 20 minutes, which means several degrees in Dallas in July) and 09 was surprisingly pleasant for July (hot to be sure, but at least it was overcast that year).  I was thoroughly bummed to end my course record streak. 

This year I managed to beat last year by 2010.  If you do the math, that means I missed my personal course record by almost 30 seconds.  Argh!  Such frustration.

I knew a PR was not possible.  I don't think I'm ever going to get a PR in July at a race that I've raced in cooler temps any time in the last few years.  But I was hoping I'd hit a new course record.

Oh well, maybe it was a streak of 5 years with constant improvement, and then I started a new streak in 2010? 

But the race is always fun in that shared misery way.  Only about 2,000 runners, and an out-and-back now (used to be a lake loop), so you get to see your speedy friends on their way back before you hit the u-turn.  A lot of people I know run it, and then everyone hangs out for a while afterward -- beer and pizza. 

And yes, I had a beer, again before noon.  Oh my!  I guess I have 3 exceptions to when I drink before noon -- after a race sometimes, Christmas morning eggnog sometimes, and bachelorette weekends sometimes. 

I hung out most of the time with one of the guys from my current weekend group.  I thought we were going to run together, but he took off right at the start and I had no desire to try to keep up.  He said he ended up struggling, which I believe.  Very easy to go out too fast on a race like this -- I did it too.  So he only finished about 2 minutes in front of me, which is surprising considering how quickly we separated.  When I saw him on his way back, I could see he was slowing down, but I was still expecting him to beat me by over 5 minutes. 

So another non-PR race under my belt.  I'm really sucking the last year or so, PRs just aren't that common for me these days.  But I have to keep going back to Boston.  I got a PR that I cared about.  It was funny b/c I mentioned to hubby when I called him post-race that I'd gotten passed by a girl from boot camp in the last .3 miles yesterday.  She's fast, definitely faster than me, but I somehow beat her in Boston by about a minute.  He was sweet -- he said, well, that's okay, you got her when it counted.  Haha.  I'm not really competitive at all with other people -- in my age group, friends, anyone, except for dear Adam.  So I wasn't actually bummed that she beat me.  It seems that most my friends are faster than me, but I kind of like it that way since it gives me an incentive to push myself. 

Anyway, all this to say it was a well-earned (pre-wedding too) pedicure!  But of course, I went and picked a toned down shade of pink, then late last night I got an email from the bride saying she wants all of us to do French manis/pedis.  Oops.  So it will be 2 pedicures for me in about 5 days, but who would really complain about that? 

And I almost never get manicures.  It's funny b/c I got tips for my wedding and one of the first things I notice when I look at my wedding pictures are how great my nails look.  So it will be nice to have pretty finger nails again.  I have NO IDEA how they're going to do a French pedicure on me -- remember, I've had one toenail that's been dead since September, and then I lost 2.5 more at Boston in April.  Only one of them has come off completely, but it will be a real challenge to paint all 4 of the affected toes. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

On the Wagon!

So a couple days ago I posted my fave moments in photos from the bachelorette party.  Well, later in the day that day, while I was at work, I was reading a test for alcohol/drug dependency.  I was actually reviewing someone else's responses, but I was shocked and appalled at what my own score would have been, based primarily on the alcohol consumption over the course of the long weekend.

For the record, I'm not even mildly concerned that I have a drinking problem.  In the summer, I probably have about 2 drinks per week on average.  Sometimes both on the same night, sometimes two separate nights.  I rarely drink at home, hubby is far more likely to have a glass of wine with dinner than I am.  In December, I'm probably closer to 4 drinks per week.  But during the rest of the year, I average less than 1, barring unusual circumstances -- such as being on vacation, when usually I'll drink wine most days, or basically being at a bachelorette party (or I suppose being deep into marathon training, when I don't really drink at all). 

Anyway, I felt like one weekend with heavy (and heavier-than-planned) alcohol consumption yielded very scary answers on this test.  Some of my favorite questions or statements with which the test-taker is supposed to agree or disagree:

Substance taken in larger amounts or over longer period than the person intended (I planned to drink only a bit in the afternoon on Sat and more Sat night, had no idea I’d also drink all day Fri, Sat morning, and some even on Sunday).

Persistent desire or one or more unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use (it has been a persistent desire to not drink since I got home).

A great deal of time spent in activities necessary to get the substance, taking the substance or recovering from its effects (flew all the way to Michigan, spent the morning going to grocery and liquor stores w/ the other bridesmaids to stock up on provisions, spent much of the weekend drinking, and spent several days recovering from effects).

Continued use despite knowledge of problem that is caused by use (knew I was already drunk but still kept right on sipping…)

Do you sometimes drink before noon? (couldn’t have said how long ago was the last time I did that, but happened on multiple days over the long wknd)

Have you taken a drink in the morning? (see above!)

I drank more than I planned. (Absolutely, I should have just planned on drinking a lot all day every day I was there, then this one wouldn’t have counted)

Do you sometimes get drunk when you didn’t start out to? (Mimosa in the morning, plus my low tolerance, plus sun, plus more alcohol meant drunk unintentionally)

I have ended up drinking more than I planned w/o realizing it. (True, shocked to realize how tipsy I felt by mid-afternoon on Sat)

Recently I have attempted to control problems resulting from alcohol by quitting but then started using again. (Not sure on this one. I definitely stopped drinking after that wknd. And I’ve been to two social runs, one wedding-watching party, one fireworks-watching party, one law school happy hour, and probably a couple other things I don’t remember, and I haven’t had anything to drink. But I know I’m going to drink next weekend at the wedding – so I’ll be “using” again.)

Do you sometimes try to cut down on your drinking? (Yes, doing it right now – water at happy hour Tuesday night, and more water after the social run last night.)

I have felt a need to abstain from drinking for a period of time. (TRUE! So don’t want to have any alcohol anytime soon.)

Have you neglected your obligations, your family, or your work for two or more days in a row because you were drinking? (Yes, and b/c of poor cell phone reception. But I took the entire weekend off from work emails, and I barely got to spend any time on the phone w/ hubby – partly b/c of the alcohol, partly b/c it would have been rude to not hang out w/ the party, partly b/c I wanted to spend more time w/ my future sister-in-law, and partly b/c of the cell phone reception)

My drinking behavior has caused me embarrassment but I have continued to drink. (Oh yes, there was a dance party, and I danced and danced, likely while singing very loudly – always embarrassing if alcohol is involved)

My ability to understand and remember things is not as good as it used to be. (True, but I’d always attributed that to getting older and becoming a list fanatic rather than anything related to alcohol)

Do you associate with friends who drink? (Most of my friends drink at least sometimes – I think my dad and two former colleagues are the only teetotalers in my life, plus the occasional preggo friend)

Most of my friends drink just like I do. (True, most of my friends these days are also runners, so we have very similar patterns of having a beer after a social run sometimes, but not drinking close to a big race. But I’d believe that most all of them would have drank much of the wknd if at the same bachelorette party I was at)

Have you awakened the morning after some drinking the night before and found you couldn’t remember a part of the evening before? (Yep. But at least some of this should be attributed to general poor memory or old age. I can’t remember the name of the summer associate I met at the law school happy hour Tuesday night, and I didn’t drink a drop. I also can’t remember with any certainty what our waitress looked like, what color shirt my friend was wearing, or what music was playing)

Have you ever gotten into trouble at home b/c of drinking? (My husband was so peeved about 5 yrs ago when I fell asleep next to our bed and he couldn’t find me and thought I was missing, but that's outside the 12 month time-frame for the test)

Oh my!  So basically if I hadn't gone to the bachelorette party, I'd have basically said that over the last year, I'd have only had to answer affirmatively the questions about being forgetful, cutting down my drinking (i.e., making sure I don't drink at all for about 3 weeks before a marathon), and having friends who drink and drink in similar quantities to me.  And I also had eggnog on Christmas morning, but I'm 90% certain I asked for virgin eggnog.  But anyway, the weekend pretty much blew all my responses!  Such a fun weekend nonetheless (though of course a serious alcohol problem would not be fun at all, I'd be quite unhappy if I'd had to answer in the affirmative the questions about seeking help, losing a job, being arrested, fighting when drunk, etc.).

These last few questions I had to answer in the affirmative really don't seem to belong on this test.  Are these really indicative of someone being an alcholic??? 

Do you ever try to limit your drinking to certain places or certain times of the day? (Yes, even w/o the bachelorette party, I’d say yes to this one. As a rule, I limit my drinking to the evenings when I’m with others. Not big on morning drinking in general, or drinking at home ever unless it’s during a dinner party.)
I am afraid I will soon experience a major loss (eg., divorce, death, job loss, etc.). (True, but again, unrelated to the bachelorette party. Especially lately. I’ve always worried that my husband will someday realize that he’s a much better person than I am, and now I completely love my job that I’d be crushed if I lost it (but I think any job loss, even from a job I didn’t like, would scare me). And knock on wood, my family has been very healthy lately. I have two grandparents who are old, and I’m fully aware that they are likely to predecease me, and I suppose my folks might too, but that seems very remote in time. Hubby’s folks are older and not in great health, so that could happen someday. But as I hear about colleagues and friends lately with sick parents, I’m afraid of someday having that death stick hit my family. Oh, and by the way, we got pounded with it (the death stick) in 1996, 3 major deaths in my close family, and then a grandpa in 2002, and pretty much none since, so yes, part of me fears it.  I am definitely afraid I will soon suffer a major loss.  But I should note that this isn’t a life-shaping fear, and has nothing to do w/ whether or not I’ve had a drink in the last 12 months. My life is good and I’m insanely blessed and undeserving, and I worry someday some of my personality flaws, like internal snide comments, or being argumentative, will mean that some of the great things that make me so happy are better than I deserve in the big picture and won't be mind forever.  It would be much nicer if I knew everyone I love would live at least as long as me.)

It is hard for me to change my views once my mind is made up. (True, again, unrelated to the bachelorette party. I think that’s probably true since I was about 15, so before I consumed any alcohol other than sips at communion.)

Either way, when I read this test, the guy whose answers I was reviewing had real problems (all that stuff about being arrested for things related to alcohol or drugs, etc.), and I don't think I do, but it was still interesting to see how one weekend changed my answers. 
Staying on the wagon until I get back to Michigan next week to begin the official wedding festivities!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Anniversary Lunch

I have special lunch plans today.  My hubby is being honored at a lunch at his work for his 10th anniversary.  It's the longest he's worked for a single employer (beating out the U.S. Marines by about a year).  And his employer makes a big deal out of every 5 years of work, so he and a couple others are being celebrated today, and I'm invited too! 

I'm very excited and so proud of him.  I've never worked anywhere 10 years -- the longest was about 7 years at my first job out of law school at a big firm.  But since I like my job so much now, I could absolutely see being there for 10 or 20 years, but it's not such a big deal where I work.  They mark your anniversary every year with the "quarterly cake" -- basically a big cake for everyone that has a list of all the quarter's birthdays and anniversaries.  He likes his job too most days, so I can imagine going to another of these lunches in another 5 years, and then again in 2021, after which I'd guess he'll retire if he hasn't already.  He doesn't want to do his job when he gets too old, he'd rather find something else, but for now it's a very good fit for him.  It brings out many of the best aspects of his personality, he finds it interesting most days, it motivates and challenges him, and he can't imagine doing anything else. 

So today I get to go to work with him at lunch and clap and be proud of him.  Should be fun! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Bachelorette Bash

So, I've finally recovered in most senses from the 3-day bachelorette weekend extravaganza in Michigan.  I am so lucky that my two youngest brothers are both getting married this year to women that I think are wonderful.  I've spent a lot more time with one of them (the October wedding) since she and my brother have been dating for close to 10 yrs.  My baby brother is marrying someone he's been dating for about 7 years I think, but this weekend was the first time I got to spend a lot of time with her.  Whereas the other fiancee (October wedding) has been home with us for Christmas many years, I've been around Europe with her, we've road-tripped together, we've been around the US together -- from Seattle and Portland to Upstate New York.  So there's no question I love her.  And I could tell I liked my baby bro's fiancee, I just haven't spent anywhere near that much time with her. 

The bachelorette weekend changed all that.  Both of them were there, I was with them pretty much 24/7, and wow, my brothers have both done so well!  They're great guys.  The baby is seriously insanely sweet and agreeable.  That kind of made me think there was absolutely no chance that anyone he ever married would be good enough for him in my book.  Well, I think he's found someone who can measure up to my high standards. 

She's so friendly and upbeat.  So sweet, so generous.  I think they're going to be a great match.  A few of my favorite aspects of the weekend, captured in photos:

First, the cottage where the party was.  Belongs to the parents of one of the bride's childhood friends, and it was ours for the weekend. 

Inside the cottage, the bride getting ready to celebrate.

Friday night's crowd was a little smaller, 8 of them plus me, trying to figure out how to work the timer on the camera so I could be in the picture too.

We weren't very good at tapping the keg.  Way too much foam.  This is the bride's cousin and the woman whose parents own the cottage, bride's childhood friend. 

The backseat of the Denali going out to dinner Fri night -- I think there were 12 of us, all in one car.  My husband probably would have been pissed at me if he'd known we did that (glad he doesn't read this!), he's big on people being buckled. 

Bride to be laughing and laughing and laughing.  Very good sign that the wknd was full of that.

Her special princess glass for the wknd, complete with a penis straw.

Sleeping arrangements on the less crowded night -- believe it or not, it was substantially more crowded the following night. 

Most of the alcohol for the wknd.  Those kids could drink...

My future sister in law. 

Playing beer pong. 

Woman who is married to one of the sons of the people who owned the cottage, passing out the penis straws.

She's getting ready for her first keg stand.

Completely upright for her second keg stand.  Crazy. 

Getting ready for the panty-party and gifts. 

But first, we all took turns dancing for the bride.  This was one of the craziest girls that wknd, one of the bride's college friends.  She was so much fun.  And though she drank tons, she still got up and ran with me!  And she was fast! 

So the panty game is where everyone brings a pair of panties and the bride has to guess who each pair is from.  For one reason or another, she decided to put on every pair.

Oh, I meant she put on every pair at the same time. 

So by the end, she was wearing about 15 pairs of panties at the same time.  I guess it went with the "excess" theme of the weekend!

And she modeled the lingerie she got.

She cracked up that I gave her something very conservative and full coverage -- but it's my baby brother, what did she expect???

But of course, she wore all of it at the same time.

Going to dinner Sat night -- this time with 16 people in the Denali.  Again, not something I'll tell my husband.

Arriving at dinner Sat night.

There just so happened to be a group of 20 or so guys with reservations at the same time, at the same restaurant.  And we knew in advance they'd be there, and that they were a German or Russian sports team.  We had high hopes.  Little did we know they were all substantially older than even me, and they were a German handball team.  But they were so much fun!  And of course they loved the bride!  Though they didn't really speak English. 

Waitress bringing mudslides for everyone.

My future sis and a bunch of her friends (one college, one childhood, two high school, and her mom).

One of the Germans who spoke English, most did not, giving the bride some advice for a happy marriage.

Dance party at the house after dinner.

And then a bonfire, where we eventually sat around playing "I Never."  Fortunately I was sufficiently intoxicated that I have no recollection of what she did or did not drink to! 

Her bachelorette weekend cake -- pretty and tasty!

A bunch of people laid out on Sunday for most of the day, I mostly walked the beach.

A pretty view of the Lake. 

So there you have it, the weekend in pictures!  I had so much fun, despite all the alcohol!