Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Holiday Vacation

Happy holidays!

We ended up leaving DC the Saturday before Christmas so that we could avoid all the snow storms that were pounding the northeast. We arrived in NY fresh off the Friday storm that left everything blanketed in beautiful white snow. It snowed again that Sunday, adding to the already high piles. That snow has since melted as a result of a 50 degree heat wave from this past Saturday, but last night a new layer fell and all is white again. I have lots of pictures to share once we are back in DC.

As for what we have been doing....

We spent a few days at my parent's house, a couple nights at Alson's parent's house, a night visiting Alson's college roommate and his wife, and are now back at my parent's house. Busy busy! In between all our travels we have spent a lot of time reading, playing our new Wii games (on my parent's new Wii), learning Spanish (yay Rosetta Stone!), shopping, eating, sleeping, snuggling, and playing in the snow. So relaxing!

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays as much as we are!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Espanol, Here I come!

Last night Alson and I invested in the Spanish version of Rosetta Stone. We have been wanting it for a while; especially after moving to DC and feeling like the only monolingual people in the city. I took Spanish in high school and for three semesters in college, but I am certainly not fluent.

Hopefully this will give us a boost when we are both applying for jobs in the coming year. As an intern, my contract is up at the end of the school year, so I have to apply to become a full-time employee in my district. In the past, interns are usually hired wherever they intern, but because of the tumbling economy and the serious budget and job cuts in my district, that may not be the case next school year. Looks like I will be applying to all the districts in Metro DC. I may even apply to some private and charter schools. So, anything to set myself apart is a plus! There are currently only 2 (out of 101) bilingual school psychologists in my district. That is not proportional to the number of Spanish speaking students! You get the idea..

Alson will be applying for summer associate positions in the fall, and the same idea applies...he has to set himself apart.

We saved a bundle by buying all three levels at once and by purchasing it through eBay. I can't wait until it arrives and I can get started. It will give me something to do in my free time and will up my stock!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Kids Say the Cutest Things...

I meant to post this last week, but forgot...

A small group of boys are coloring various pages from a take-home story book I was reading to them. One boy has a cow in his picture, and as he grabs a brown crayon, he asks the other boys...

Boy 1: "Can a cow be brown?"
Boy 2: "Duh, where do you think chocolate milk comes from."
Boy 3 and Boy 4: (nod heads in agreement)
Boy 1: "Oh yeah, I knew that."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Weather Whoas

My parents were supposed to visit us this weekend, but they are currently getting socked with snow. The forecast is calling for 12 inches overnight and they probably will not be able to drive down from NY. Although I am sad they won't be making a winter trip to DC, at least I get to see them in less than two weeks when we are back in NY for Christmas!

ETA: The storm wasn't too terrible where they live (Northeast standards, of course) so they were able to leave later on Friday and make it down for the weekend!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

You Know It is Finals Week in Law School When.....

A few months back I joined a gym. More for something to do rather than a necessity. I can probably count on two hands how many times I have been since joining. For someone who has suddenly become so frugal, this waste of money has really started to bother me. Especially after I received a notice in the mail letting me know an extra $25 would be tacked onto my membership fee this month because of money problems at the gym. I vowed to go at least 3 times this week so that I wasn't completely wasting our money. Plus, I am determined to not gain weight during my first year of marriage. So far, so good...but, it has only been 5 months. Okay, this whole paragraph is a digression...moving on.

Today I finally dragged my butt to the gym. I had no desire to go, but Alson said he would come with me, so I went. I was given 6 guest passes when I joined and they expire Dec. 31st, so we figure we might as well use them up and hit up the gym together while we can.

And now we venture into how you can tell it is finals week in law school.....

After Alson said he would come I told him to go get ready so we could leave right away. My window for being motivated to exercise is small, so I have to go when I am ready. I don't usually order him around like that. Okay, maybe I do. But, he still loves me. Anyway, he headed into the bedroom, and while changing, I heard him singing "All I Wanna Do" by Sheryl Crow. Like in a high pitched voice. It was quite amusing! And very out of character. He is more of a My Chemical Romance man than a Sheryl Crow man.

Once he was changed and his singing had subsided, I handed him the guest pass and asked him to fill it out. It has lines for the member name, the guest name, and the date. He put down my maiden name on the guest pass. He caught himself as he was doing it, and said something along the lines of "Oh man, my brain is fried...I just put down your maiden name". He then filled out his name without a problem. Next, the date. He said, "I don't even know what day it is anymore". I told him it was the 10th.

We left and walked to the gym. When we arrived we found that the gym was having an open house and he didn't need the guest pass to enter the gym; we could save it for another day. The manager asked if we already filled it out, because he would give us a new one. Alson pulled it out and handed it to me; I saw that it said 12/11/2008. Really? I just told him it was the 10th. Silly, silly Alson. They gave him a day pass so he could get a locker and we kept the guest pass...it basically locks us in to going to the gym tomorrow as well (I suppose that is a good thing).

We then ventured up the stairs. When we reached the doorway to the 2nd floor, where the men's locker room is housed, I stopped, figuring Alson would head into the locker room, while I vwent up to the 6th floor, where the women's locker room is housed. Our conversation went something like this:

J: Are you going to go get a locker?
A: What?
J: They gave you that card so you can get a locker if you want.
A: (no response)
J: Or you can just give me your jacket and I can put it in my locker.
A: (turning around in a circle) Okay.
J: I'll take your jacket. I'm not even sure if I should leave you unattended.

I can't wait until tomorrow night, when he has finished his last final and he will stop being a zombie. Really though, I am so proud of him for being a study machine and making it through the first three finals like a champ! I can take a scatter brained husband and some loopiness once every 6 months ;)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Pumpkin Recipe Sneak Attack

My mom loves to grocery shop. My family jokes that she goes to the store at least once a day, always coming home with more food than she knows what to do with. There is always something she needs at the store.

When I was in college she would go grocery shopping for me about once a month, stocking my fridge and cupboards with healthy and easy to make food. Now that I live far away, this luxury only comes when we visit them or they visit us. She sent us back with lots of good stuff after Thanksgiving, including a box of Pillsbury Pumpkin Quick Bread. When I first unpacked it last Sunday I was less than excited. For me, pumpkin season ends with Thanksgiving. She gave us so much stuff I had to line it all up on our bar because we don't yet have room for it in our cupboard (yes only one) or on the two shelves in our closet. The other day as I was clearing room and trying to put some things away, I noticed a recipe on the side of the box. I immediately wanted to start baking up a storm.

The recipe is for Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins and is absolutely to die for. It requires a little bit of elbow grease, but nothing too difficult. Prep time takes about 30 minutes. I mean seriously, don't these look delicious?


I tweaked the recipe a little by adding some extra batter on top of the cream cheese filling (I had extra) and sprinkling a combo of nutmeg and ground cinnamon on top of the crumbles. Definitely try this recipe before the holidays are over!

Officially an Outlaw

I was planning to post about my second run in with the law over the weekend, but I was too busy feeling sorry for myself. Yes, that's right. I got ANOTHER ticket.

On Friday night I drove back from NC and was feeling less than fabulous after the school psychology Christmas party on Thursday night and a long internship meeting Friday morning. Luckily I made it back to DC safe and sound around 8 pm. Although Alson was home all evening following his 2nd final, he didn't check the mail until I got home. Smushed between a few catalogs and Christmas cards was a notice from the Metropolitan Police Department. According to the notice, there is a speed camera on New York Ave NE, a road that I drive twice a day, and it caught me going 48 MPH in a 35 MPH zone. Super, just what I needed to end a long and mostly terrible week.

Although I accept responsibility for speeding, I would like to provide an excuse: sooo many people speed on that road. I was just following the flow of traffic. I would feel better knowing that 3195301358 people also got tickets in the mail for doing the exact same thing that I did. UGH.

I have since been following speed limits and braking at yellow lights. Too bad for me, everyone else still drives like crazy people and I am the lone person (or one of the few people) following the laws. This makes me a target for lots of road rage. A honk, mouthed words I am glad I can't hear, a shaking fist, and/or finger are directed towards me once every few minutes. I wish I could put a sign in my window explaining my law abiding behavior, but I am pretty sure no one would see it as they fly by me going 50+ MPH.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Run-in With Scrooge

This afternoon I was sitting at a red light in NW DC while on my way home from work. On my right was a parked police car; two officers were standing beside the police car writing a ticket. One of the officers turned around and looked at me, so I gave a brief smile to acknowledge her. Next thing I know she is walking over to my driver side window. I roll down my window and she asks to see my license. She then tells me that it is a violation to wear a seat belt improperly.

Say what?

I had my seat belt on and buckled. However, instead of it cutting me across the neck, I had it tucked under my left arm. It basically hits me in all the same places, with the exception of my neck. I didn't know that this was against the law!

Well, apparently that doesn't matter. The officer wasn't feeling any holiday cheer. She wrote me a $50 ticket that tacks two points onto my license. I think a warning would have been appropriate. Especially since I have no tickets.

Thanks Scrooge, you ruined my day!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Curious Incident of the Smell in the Car

Warning! The next story is not for the faint stomached....it is funny though.

It started on Tuesday. We drove up to NY around 2pm, and were immediately hit with heavy traffic. We thought we were being crafty (and safe...winter storms were forecast for Wednesday) by leaving after work instead of waiting until Wednesday morning. Wrong. Apparently other people had that idea too. It was thick and slow for almost 4 hours. Once we got into the mountains of PA it thinned out, but then traffic jammed up again in Northern PA. Boo!

Of course, we brought Kona with us on our trip. She has a harness that hooks onto the seat belt that prevents her from roaming around the car. She usually does okay when we are cruising along the highway, but in stop and go traffic she gets antsy and whines/sighs a lot. I decided to pull her into the front seat and hook her onto my seat belt, hoping that a little snuggle time and a few belly rubs were make her happy. Next thing I know Alson and I are sniffing the air. Something smelled awful. We thought maybe it was her breath, it had been a little stinky the last few days. We kept trying to smell her breath, but it didn't seem to stink. But, we were stumped (or were perhaps subconsciously blocking) as to where else the stink would come from and concluded it must be her breath. After about 30 minutes the stink became so intoxicating that we exited off the highway and found the nearest Petsmart. I went into the store to buy some breath freshening bones while Alson took Kona to go to the bathroom. While I am standing in an aisle examining the many different fresh breath options, Alson comes running in telling me to smell his pants. In the middle of the store. I looked around to make sure no one would see me bend over and smell my husband's crotch. As soon as I did I could smell concentrated stink. He then started sniffing my crotch and midsection. He almost gagged. I really hope no one saw us. Anyway, all this sniffing helped us realize that Kona's behind was probably the problem. We then headed over to the cleaning section to grab some bath wipes and deodorizing/disinfecting spray. I also bought some breath freshening bones just in case her breath was also an issue. We then stand in the parking lot while we both strip off our coats (luckily we both had fleeces in our bags) and douse them in the cleanser, wipe the seats and center console, and then get to work on Kona. Alson lifts her in the air while I wipe her stinky behind. During this process I find a little surprise stuck in her hair. Luckily I had a pair of scissors from a (human) grooming kit I brought in my make-up bag. I cut a few pieces of her hair and thankfully got the poo off her. At this point three or four people had walked by laughing, some encouraging us with "I do that too!". Lovely. We left the store 38 dollars poorer and with a little less dignity. Anyway, we were convinced that it would smell better in the car, but to no avail. More on this story to come....

We stopped at my parents house (it is closer) instead of driving up to Alson's parents as planned, so that we could give Kona a bath and schedule a grooming appointment for the next day. She smelled much better after the bath, but her long hair could again be an issue after any potty break. Luckily there was an opening for a hair cut the next day, and all problems would soon be resolved. In regards to Kona that is.

After dropping Kona off at the groomer on Wednesday morning, we drove up to Ithaca to visit Alson's parents. The hour long trip was again plagued with the stink, but we could not figure out where it was coming from. I have leather seats in my car so they are easy to clean and usually do not hold smells. We had cleaned and wiped down the car about 4 times at this point...it should not smell anymore! We were stumped. I decided to drive to Ithaca because I was convinced it smelled in the passenger seat, whereas Alson, the initial driver claimed it was in my head when we got in the car that morning. When he got in the passenger side he finally agreed that it smelled over there, but we still couldn't figure out why. I digress...so I am driving, and of course the weather got bad. It was snowing/sleeting and my windshield wipers just weren't cutting it. We had to stop at an Auto Zone and buy new windshield wipers; another 30 dollars gone.

After an uneventful (thankfully) afternoon and evening with Alson's parents, we decided to drive Alson's mom to the drugstore so that she could pick up her pictures from a recent trip to Hawaii, and so she could be an unbiased "smeller". I was in the passenger seat this time, and went to reach down and button my coat when I was overwhelmed by the scent. I finally figured it out. The only fabric part of my car....the seat belt! Kona must have rubbed her behind on it while she was strapped in. Of course we never could identify the smell when we were out of the car sniffing around and cleaning because the seat belt was inside the side of the car (the cloth part of my seat belts disappear, basically) and not buckled.

Once we started disinfecting and cleaning the seat belt every couple of hours, the smell finally disappeared, but not without a 36 hour fight.

On Thursday morning we drove back to my parent's house and greeted Kona with lots of hugs and kisses because she looked so cute with her new haircut and smelled so fresh and so clean. Good thing we don't hold grudges!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm Alive!

I swear I didn't fall off the face of the earth. Here is what I have been doing instead of blogging:

Working: Report cards came out a couple weeks ago, which resulted in lots of parents/teachers referring their children for testing. That means I have many new cases and lots to keep me busy during the day...and sometimes at night. It's okay though, I would rather be busy than sit at the office all day watching the clock tick. Remind me of this in April, when I am pulling my hair out.

Being Sick: On election day my district had off, so after voting, I went back to the doctor. I was feeling sick again and my cough was back in full force. They determined I had walking pneumonia and needed a Nebulizer treatment, some stronger antibiotics, a steroid, an inhaler, and some more cough medicine/codeine. Here I am in the doctor's office:

All those drugs seemed to do the trick. My cough is now sporadic and I am not nearly as tired as I was a few weeks ago. When I went back to the doctor last week for follow up, and he suggested I have some blood work done. So then I went BACK to the doctor this past Saturday for blood work. Luckily it only took 10 minutes. I'm still waiting to hear about my results; hopefully I won't have to go back when I get them. In the past month I have been to the doctor's 4 times. Let's hope my insurance doesn't drop me!

Reading: On Saturday Britni and I went to brunch and she graciously lent me a few books, including Twilight. The rest of the weekend I pretty much had my nose in the book. I finished it the other night and can't wait to see the movie with her tomorrow! After that I will start reading New Moon, the second book in the Twilight series. I'm officially hooked!

Playing Wii Fit: On Tuesday I headed out to Virginia for Katie's Wii Fit party and had a blast! We played Wii Fit, enjoyed healthy food and drinks, and left with THE BEST goodie bag ever. You can read about the night (and our goodies) here. While you are at Katie's blog, be sure to enter the giveaway for a Wii and a Wii Fit! Although we already have a Wii Fit, I plan on putting my free one(!) to good use and giving it to my parents for Christmas. They have wanted one since they played ours a few months ago so this worked out perfectly! Oh, and I got to meet Katie. She is just as cool and sweet as she seems on her blog!

Clipping Coupons: I finally got sucked into the coupon world and am now CVS-ing like it's my job. It is actually quite fun and it helps to keep my brain working! The other day I bought 2 Glade scented oil candles (had a b1g1 coupon and a $2/1), 3 Glade scented oil candle refills (had a b2g1), 2 Glade scented oil plug ins (had a b1g1), and a Glade scented oil refill. The original price for all these Glade products was $29.83. I also bought 2 toothpastes (b1g1) and only paid $2.38 out of pocket with all the sale prices courtesy of my CVS card, my coupons, and the $15 in ECB's I had from the Duracell batteries I bought earlier this week. I got $10 in ECB's back to use next time. Since I am still new at this, I didn't add up the right prices and ended up 17 cents (I should have spent $30 insteadof $29.83) away from getting another $5 in ECB's. I think if I go back this week and buy another cheap Glade product it should get me those $5 in ECB's, but I don't know for sure. I guess we will find out! Anyway, if you are interested in how to "CVS" visit Money Saving Mom's blog; she has a section on the right side of her blog titled "Start Here".

Prepping for the Holidays: Can you believe it is almost Thanksgiving? When we return from NY after Thanksgiving it will already be December. Then Alson has two weeks of finals, I have three weeks left of the 2008 part of the school year, and it is Christmas vacation for both of us! Since our time will most certainly fly in the coming weeks, I have been trying to accumulate/buy as many presents as I can. Alson's family decided to do a "recycled" Christmas this year (i.e. gifts must be used items or new items from recycled materials) so we have been gathering used books from random sales around our neighborhood since we moved here. Last week I bought a few other things for his family members so I am so close to being done with their Christmas shopping. After getting all their gifts, I wrapped them in newspaper (at the MIL's request) and put them under the decorative tree in our living room/dining nook. My family is almost done as well; we bought a lot of stuff at the outlets when we went to the beach a few weeks ago.

Cooking: To try and save money, I have been cooking dinner almost every night. Although I cooked a lot before, we also went out 2-3 times a week. We now are trying to limit ourselves to one night a week (including weekends), so that means I am in the kitchen cooking up a storm most nights. Plus, we've got a nice little system; I cook, Alson cleans. I have been taking pictures of some of our meals, so stay tuned for some recipes and pictures.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Winner....Finally!

I just realized I haven't posted at all, about anything, in over a week. Anyone else feel like the last few weeks have FLOWN by? It's almost Thanksgiving!

I didn't forgot about the giveaway, I swear!

Today I finally got a chance to run a bunch of errands and pick up a $10 gift card to Borders.
Anyway, my lovely husband just assisted me in drawing a name and the winner is.....

...Britni!

Thank you to everyone that left me a recommendation...I have already mooched a bunch of books and can't wait to dive into them all this winter!

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Natural Antidepressant

I haven't really talked about it on my blog, but I spent most of September in kind of a funk, particularly during the week, as my somberness was definitely related to work. I was having a hard time transitioning into a new district, especially a much larger, more urban district, with a generally "tougher" population of students. It was really hard to hear the terrible stories and backgrounds of the students I was working with, on top of all the difficulties I was having as a new, young person in the schools. Bottom line.....The policies, procedures, and casework were all very different, and I was not feeling comfortable and confident in my new job.

This past month I participated in Mission: Put Together, a challenge to be creative and thoughtful in my dressing each morning, as well as a way to chronicle my outfits. I decided to take part in the challenge because I thought it would give me something exciting to do on the weekdays. I generally enjoy getting all gussied up, but most days (during my funk) resorted to khakis and cable sweaters because I felt uninspired and dreaded going to work each day. Although I still love a classic khaki and cable sweater ensemble, wearing it daily was a little boring.

Following my first day of participation in M:PT, I immediately perked up and was excited to head to work in my spiffy little outfit each day. The comments and inspiration provided by the other M:PT members really helped to boost my spirits. Although I am sure getting used to my job and finally feeling as though I could handle the stress associated with working in my district were also at play, I think M:PT provided the kick in the butt I needed to feel like myself again. So thank you M:PT (including OPH and RA), the challenge and everyone's amazing comments helped improve my overall mood!

You can view my M:PT outfits here. Yes, I did wear a lot of jumpers ;)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My First Giveaway!

Tonight I met with some book club friends, and as a result of our conversation, I decided to join BookMooch. The site has you list books you are willing to send to members, and in return you can mooch books off other members. But first, I have to make a wish list of books I want to read.

So my friends, I am in need of book recommendations. If you would please leave me a comment with amazing books you have read, I will enter you in my first giveaway! Be sure to leave some kind of contact information as well. A randomly selected winner will receive a $10 gift card to Borders.

This giveaway is open to US and Canada residents only and will close at 9:00 PM EST on Sunday, November 9th.

To assist you with your recommendations, I will leave you with a list of the last few books I have read:

Little Children by Tom Perrotta
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
Cross by James Patterson
Not So Snow White by Donna Kauffman

I can't wait to hear your recommendations!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

We Did It!

I did it! I completed the Marine Corps Marathon 10k! And my husband did too!

ALSON XXXX (10K) | Bib #XXXX | DC - USA | Age 24 | M
START: 8:26:04 AM
Finish: 01:15:06
TIME Net: 01:15:06 Chip Time: 01:14:07 Pace: 12:05

JACKIE XXXX (10K) | Bib #XXXX | DC - USA | Age 23 | F
START: 8:26:03 AM
Finish: 01:15:10
TIME Net: 01:15:10 Chip Time: 01:14:11 Pace: 12:05

The best part...we ran the ENTIRE time. I was really afraid that I would have to walk after a while, especially since I have bronchitis and we didn't train hardcore the last 3 weeks, but we pushed through and didn't stop until the end. I started coughing pretty bad around mile 4, but a little water and my husband's sleeve for my runny nose (true love, I know) helped keep me going.

Our time wasn't bad, especially since I was convinced it would take us an hour and a half to two hours. Alson is a good sport too. He is almost a foot taller than me and has a ginormous stride, so he could have finished a lot faster, but chose to run with me instead. I really appreciate that! Next time I hope to be a little faster, but I am okay with baby steps for the next few months.

I almost tossed my cookies (actually, a banana) at the end of the race. There is a really steep hill right at the finish line and it almost did me in, but nothing came up so I was okay (sorry, TMI). It was still a little embarrassing though, so I hope to not experience that next time!

Anyway, I am so proud that we completed a race. I have been wanting to run something, anything, for almost 2 years. Now I can cross that off my list!

Next up...Jingle All the Way 10k on Dec. 14th. Any other DC runners planning to run this race? I know Heidi is planning to run. It should be fun!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happy!

I have lots to be happy about....

I have had a nasty cough for almost three weeks. Being sick is just a fact of life when you work in public schools (especially the first year), so I hammered on and figured it would get better. It didn't. I felt terrible yesterday and finally went to a walk-in clinic last night. I apparently have bronchitis and was given a Z pack and some Tussinex. Last night was the first time in weeks that I slept through the night without waking up coughing. I feel tons better today and my cough is almost extinct!

I got my MacBook yesterday! And I am using it right now. The graphics and screen clarity are unbelievable. I am still getting used to all the differences (I miss you right click...), but overall I am super pleased!

Tomorrow we are running the Marine Corps Marathon 10k. We trained pretty consistently for almost two months, but once my cough started we didn't run as frequently. We aren't as prepared as we would like to be, but as long as we cross the finish line we'll be happy!

The couple that motivated us to sign up for the 10k is in town (they are also running) and we are going to dinner tonight. They are both extraordinary people and I love spending time with them, especially when we reminisce about camp. It should be fun!

This is my 116th post! I didn't make a big deal about my 100th post because I wasn't being or feeling very bloggy the last few weeks, but since 116 is my favorite number, I thought I would celebrate today!

I hope everyone is having a great day! Happy Saturday!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Frugal Family

One of the perks of having a hypoallergenic puppy is no shedding. Because Kona doesn't shed, we are supposed to get her hair cut every couple of months. We used to be very vigilant about her haircuts because she will pull out chunks of hair that are matted. It was easy to be vigilant in North Carolina when her haircuts were only $30 - $40. Here in DC they are much more expensive, and we just can't rationalize spending $100+ to have it done.

So what is a frugal family to do? DIY dog grooming! Alson went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and bought a $30 clipper set with a leftover wedding gift card. We set to work (2 hours of work to be exact) and the results were not too shabby!

We started in the (windowless) bathroom with the door closed, but the day we decided to cut her hair was also the date DC Tenant Law requires that heat be available. Thus, no air conditioning on an 80 degree day (Hellooo, global warming! Push the date into November!) required that we leave doors and windows open for optimal air circulation. Slowly Kona moved farther and farther from the bathroom...

Don't worry, we weren't hurting her!

I think she actually liked it!
Hair from the first go 'round (we had to go back a second time to get it the right length)

My turn to cut (now I am in the bathroom...haha). Sorry about Alson's photography skills!
All finished! (Poor quality cell phone pic...)


We still plan to get her professionally groomed every once in a while, just because they do things we can't; perhaps when we are back in NY for Thanksgiving or Christmas and then when we are in NC for my graduation in May. After that, I will have a real salary and we may be able to budget in DC grooming every once in a while. For now, the clippers work wonders!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Boo! (Not Halloween Related)

I missed the first delivery attempt for my Macbook. Alson didn't have class until 11:30 this morning, so he stuck around to get the package. Of course, the attempt was made at 11:59.

Boo!

How does anyone in DC get packages? Don't most people work all day? I see those little orange and brown flags on many a door every day.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mac for Me!

My college laptop kicked the can right after we moved to DC. It actually started having issues a while ago (slow, slow, slow), and it was basically worthless after Kona chewed through my battery cord. I still desperately needed it (grad school/thesis glued me to my computer all night, every night) and we couldn't afford to buy a new one, so I had to order a replacement battery and cord from some random website. It wasn't the exact same one, so if the cord wasn't plugged into the computer just right it would randomly turn off. It also never charged the battery, so it had to be plugged in in order for the laptop to be used.

Alson had to buy a new laptop for law school, so he "gave" me his trusty Dell from college earlier this summer. I'm not sure what has happened to the Dell, but it now gets the "Blue Screen of Death". BSOD is a screen that randomly comes up telling us a major error has occured and a physical dump of memory has taken place. We tried following the Microsoft suggestions for repair, but BSOD continued to happen over and over. Finally I had had it! I have been out of college for almost 2.5 years, and I refused to use laptops that were manufactured in 2002. Of course, I can always use Alson's new laptop when he is not doing work and/or studying, but I really need my own to do work and hobbie things, and most importantly, finish up my portfolio and the final draft of my thesis so I can finally be done with grad school and have said thesis bound and placed in the library.
Anyway, this past Friday Alson was on fall break following and I was off for a Superintendent's day. We were discussing BSOD since it had happened twice that morning, and how we really needed to chuck this laptop (not really, but at least stop using it). I started looking for reasonable laptops; our neighbor recently bought one of those "child-sized" ones (9 inch screen) for only $400. We could easily afford that! I wanted to be thrifty and get one of these computers (either a Lenovo or Dell), but what I REALLY wanted and (I thought) I was too cheap to actually buy....was a Macbook.

After many calculations and a mental pro/con list, we finally caved (!) and a Macbook should be delivered tomorrow! I CAN'T WAIT!!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Beach Bound

Our trip to the mountains was cancelled, but don't fret...we are off to the beach instead!

The man who was going to rent the cabin to us called yesterday to say their septic system broke. Yuck! Needless to say, that trip was cancelled. We started researching for a new mini-vacation destination because we desperately need a break from the city. Luckily there was a cancellation at a place in Rehoboth and a beach house was available for tonight and Saturday. We jumped on the opening!

Can't wait for our little getaway!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mountain Momma

This weekend we are venturing out to West Virginia for a quick getaway with our neighbors. I can't wait for a little R & R, especially after a stressful week at work for me and a midterm for Alson. We deserve a break from the city!

Only two more work days (Superintendent's Day Friday, yay!) until this:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Easiest Pumpkin Cheesecake....EVER

I was not a fan of pumpkin flavored foods or drinks until a couple years ago. When I was home for Thanksgiving a while back and eating at our favorite diner back in NY, I decided to be adventurous and ordered a piece of pumpkin cheesecake. I had heard over and over from my family (as in extended family...we roll as a crowd) that the pumpkin cheesecake was awesome, but being the picky eater that I was, I never felt inclined to try any. Surprise, I loved it! I now actively seek out pumpkin cheesecake during the fall season.

Fast forward to the other day...I saw on Kappa Prep's blog that Ben & Jerry's has limited edition pumpkin cheesecake ice cream available at select stores. Our local Safeway did not have any of the ice cream, so I decided to make my own pumpkin cheesecake (how many times can I saw pumpkin cheesecake?). I started with a recipe, but after finding a ready to eat cheesecake filling, I decided to wing it and make my own pumpkin cheesecake. So without further ado....here is my recipe!

Easiest Pumpkin Cheesecake....Ever:


Mix one tub Philadelphia Ready to Eat Cheesecake filling with a 12oz. can of 100% pure pumpkin, two teaspoons of ground cinnamon, and a half teaspoon of ground nutmeg. Pour into graham cracker crust and top with cinnamon sugar. Refrigerate for an hour.

In the words of the 6 year olds I work with...Easy Peasy!


I definitely plan on making this when we are back in NY for Thanksgiving this year. I will wow my relatives with my newly honed domestic skills!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

If I Was Rich...

Back in July, my mom and brother were in DC to drop off Kona after our honeymoon. Before they headed back to NY, we ventured down Connecticut Ave. so that we could all do a little back to school shopping. We live about 5 or 6 blocks from a Brooks Brothers, but have only gone in once JUST to look around. We certainly can't afford their clothes on my intern salary, and since Alson is in law school, I get to be the sole breadwinner.

Of course, my brother wanted to go in....so we followed. Alson ended up finding a sweater on sale for $40. Not bad, considering it was originially over $100. When he paid for the sweater, he must have given the salesperson our home address because now we receive their catalogs in the mail. Today the Winter issue arrived, and I literally drooled all over the pages as I flipped through.

I. want. everything.

Men's, Women's, Children's.

I want it all!

Alson would die of sheer joy if a package arrived with their entire winter collection. Our future children (I guess they would all be boys because they don't have girls clothing) would look so adorable in their little sweaters and corduroys. Plus, I would just be the classiest women in town; all prim and proper! Granted, I would probably mix and match their clothing with some more modern pieces to make it my own look (because let's be honest, if I walked into my schools looking like the models in the catalog, I would get torn to shreds by the students...and probably the teachers too), but their preppy staples are so timeless and classic.

Maybe someday!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Family of Nalgenes

While we were packing up a bag for the Humane Society Walk the other day, this photo opportunity arose:



Papa Nalgene, Mama Nalgene, and Baby Nalgene.

And yes, Kona is our baby!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Give a Free Mammogram...for Free!

The Breast Cancer Site is donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. Go to the site and click on 'Click Here to Give - it's FREE' (the pink button). You can help this cause by clicking the pink button daily.

The best part....it doesn't cost you a thing! Corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate a mammogram in exchange for advertising.

Here is the web site: http://www.thebreastcancersite.com


Pass it along to people you know in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month!

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Walk? With Dogs? By Monuments? For a Good Cause? I'm In!

On Sunday our family will be partaking in the Humane Society Walk for the Animals. Kona can't wait!


If you are in DC and have a dog, you should join us! It is $25 to enter, and all proceeds benefit the Washington Humane Society and the Humane Society of the United States. We did a walk for the Humane Society for Eastern Carolina back in May, as photo journaled here, and it was so fun!

Here are the details if you would like to take part:

Date:
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Time:
Check-in starts at 10 am; pre-walk activities begin at 11 am.
The walk begins at noon
Location:
Constitution Gardens, next to the World War II Memorial
Street:
Constitution Ave. and 17th St. NW
City/Town:
Washington, DC

For more information click here.

We are planning to walk down in the morning, snag a spot on the mall, then relax and eat lunch before the walk. Kona will be in doggy heaven!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Our Wedding Day...In Pictures

I have finally sat down and picked out a few (okay maybe more than a few) of my favorite wedding pictures. So without further ado.....

Getting laced up

Hard at work

The chapel

Arriving at the chapel (the rain stopped!)
Peeking into the sanctuary
About to walk down the aisle with my dad
The give away
Vows
My aunt and uncle singing the Lord's Prayer (they sang a duet before the ceremony as well, and also sang at my parent's wedding 25 years ago!)
Bubbles!
Relaxing after the ceremony
So happy!
The girls (look at that blue sky!)
The boys (my brother, of course, is not looking at the camera...making this picture perfect. He always does that!)
Cheers!
The Carolina Hotel
Arriving at the hotel
Wasting time before our introduction
First dance
Dancing with my dad
Somehow the flower girl got a hold of a bouquet
Our families (No...our mom's did not plan to wear the same color, and we did not plan to symbolize our union by sitting in front of each others family)
Dancing with my grandpa
Enjoying the rock concert
Our beautiful cake
Our rings
Last shot of the night
Such a wonderful day! Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

All photos: Courtney Gray

Everything Happens for a Reason

Sorta Spoiler Alert....Four months later...

When Sex and the City: The Movie came out back in May I wanted to see it so bad it wasn't even funny. I was an avid watcher of the series; I started watching during Season 4, and acquired all the DVDs so I could catch up on the episodes I missed prior to having HBO. Love love love it. I still watch repeats and aspire to be as well dressed as Charlotte. Needless to say, I was hooting and hollering when I found out they were finally making the movie!

When the release date was first announced, the girls from my grad program made a date to see the movie together the weekend it came out...with dinner and cosmos before, of course. Unfortunately, we moved right before the movie was in theaters, so I wasn't able to attend the soiree. I was going to go with a couple girls from my book club, but I had some other obligation and couldn't make it. I also thought about dragging Alson to go see it, but ultimately felt bad about making him go when he had no interest whatsoever. I then planned on watching it with my mom while I was back in NY over the summer, and finally, on multiple occasions, thought about hitting up the movies by myself one day when Alson was at work. Alas, I didn't see it until the other night.

And it's funny how the universe works in mysterious ways.... I was really sad that I didn't get to see the movie when it first came out, but after watching it...I am so glad I waited to see it until after I was married. Especially since I would have likely seen it only a couple weeks (or days?!) before my wedding. Not that the movie would have changed my mind or made me think that Alson didn't want to marry me, but it just would have left me feeling uneasy and anxious on my wedding day.

Perhaps I am reading too far into it, and I really wouldn't have been concerned about some movie on the best day of my life....but it made me grateful that I didn't see it until this week. Just one of those "everything happens for a reason" moments.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ohhh High Schools

Just a funny little excerpt from my day:

Today I had to test at a high school. I don't have my own office at this school so I set up shop wherever there is free space. Today they put me in a random office that no one was using at the moment. I assumed it was the speech pathologist's office; they usually have offices that are not being used. Sigh.

Anyway, I was busy getting all my materials ready and only briefly noticed the wall art. I did register that all these really cute monkeys with bananas were hanging on the wall, as well as sparkly letters and posters everywhere. The monkeys with bananas were things that a lot of elementary school teachers use to showcase who is in their class. Know what I mean?

After a while I tuned in more closely. This is when I realized I was in the probation officer's office. Yes, the high school apparently has a probation officer on staff.


I then decided to investigate the wall art more thoroughly. Written on the bananas were things like "pay court costs", "electronic monitoring", "CHARGES", "no re-offending", "obey all laws", "pay restitution", "complete community service", as well as plenty of other motivational and informative phrases and words related to being arrested. Lovely.


I can't speak from experience, but I don't think the kids on probation really want to see monkeys with bananas. It's a little age inappropriate!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TV and a Christmas Preview

The Biggest Loser is back! I love this show so much! I find it both heartwarming and motivating. It will coincide perfectly with the rest of our 10k training. Just what I need to help keep me working hard and preparing for the big race.

The only problem....the second half of the show is at the same time as Fringe, the new JJ Abrams series. As a dedicated LOST fan, I tuned in last week to see what the show was about.... and I'm hooked. It is SO captivating. If you like Sci-Fi I suggest you check it out.

For us non-DVR folk, we have no choice but to pick one show over the other. Although I love the Biggest Loser, we will definitely be switching over to Fox at 9pm.

Tangent....in the first hour of the Biggest Loser there was a preview for Four Christmases, starring Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaugn. OMG I can't wait to see it! It looks so cute. I am a sucker for any Christmas movie (two of my all time favorite movies are Elf and Love, Actually), as well as Christmas in general. I saw somewhere today it is only 100 days until Christmas. I am not sure if it is true, but I can't wait either way!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Busy Bee!

I can't believe I haven't posted in over a week!

In fact, I last posted when I was in NC for my internship meeting. After that trip, which also coincided with Hurricane Hanna, I was exhausted. My lovely husband had a glass of wine and three movies waiting for me when I arrived home last weekend, so those (thumbs up - Vantage Point and Entourage Season 3 Part 2, thumbs down - Fool's Gold), coupled with the arrival of our wedding picture proofs and college football (Go Pirates!), equal me being too busy to post last weekend.

Then, of course, I got wrapped up in the work week. Like I've said before, I am bouncing around between schools and working with students throughout the day, so I don't have the opportunity or time to do any posting during the work day. Once I get home, I have about two hours to decompress and relax before Alson gets home. This is when I catch up on my Google Reader and usually get a chance to post. This past week I was immersed in Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld and picked up the book as soon as I walked in the door, reading for an hour or two. Then we went running, ate dinner (or just ate if it wasn't a training day), and then settled in for some QT together before ultimately heading to bed. Rinse and repeat. Interestingly, I find comfort in the predictability.

As for the coming week.....my parents are coming to visit this weekend; it's my mom's 50th birthday on Saturday! I will probably spend my free moments cleaning our apartment, but I will definitely try to post more frequently than I have in recent weeks!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Worth the Wait


I am too busy crying (tears of joy) and playing it over and over to comment.

This is just a snippet of our day, so once I get all the pictures I will post my favorites!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Domestic Bliss

Yesterday was one of those strangely perfect days. To some people our day would sound like a lot of work, but to me it was calming and comforting.

We spent the morning cleaning our bedroom, doing laundry, and organizing for fall. I really like a clean house, but don't do such a great job upkeeping said clean house. So when we do take the time to clean it, I always feel a lot better.

Also, I was a cooking machine. I wasn't planning on making three meals and a dessert, but for some reason I did. And I liked it. For breakfast I made French toast, for lunch I made Caribbean chicken fingers and Parmesan green beans (which was one of the Let's Dish meals I blogged about here), and for dinner I made NY strip steaks with Caprice salad (with the leftover mozzarella from the farmer's market) and sugar snap peas. Good thing Alson is a trooper, because all that cooking meant lots of clean up (his chore). I know he loved all the home cooked meals so he wasn't complaining.

I also baked an apple pie yesterday. It was, surprisingly, not that difficult to make. It required just a few ingredients:

The only laborious part (since I used pre-made pie crust) was peeling and cutting the apples. I made it a little easier by using an apple corer/slicer. Despite the work, seeing this appley cinnamony sugary mixture...made it all worthwhile:

The smell when the pie came out of the oven was out of this world:

The finished product:


Doesn't it look delicious? Totally worth the effort!

To offset all the eating, we went for a 2 mile run while the pie was baking. It felt great. I wasn't about to die at the end of the run, so it was definitely a success. Alson was having some pretty serious shin splints so today we decided to invest in some good running shoes. We went to Fleet Feet in Adams Morgan, and after fittings for both of us we were in business. I chose Brooks sneakers, which I had not heard of until Melanie and Heidi mentioned them on their blogs. They were the best fit for me feet (apparently I need arch support) and definitely felt better than the 4 year old pair I was wearing. I wore them home and around the city today, but I can't wait to really break them in tomorrow! We also found out that Alson's sister got engaged this weekend! I guess that means a trip to California (or maybe Hawaii?!) for her wedding. Yay!

Friday, August 29, 2008

MmMmm Treats!

Have you had Vitakraft Yogurt Drops?

No?

Me neither.

But, I really want to try them.

They smell and look like candy!!

It is taking all the willpower in the world to not eat them.

And that is because...they are dog treats.

But let me back up...

My Mom loves to spoil Kona. Whenever we go back to NY or she comes to visit us, we always end up with at least one grocery bag full of treats, toys, and food. That is why we have two shelves dedicated to Kona's stuff in our only storage closet. She buys the things I never would, either because they are too expensive or because they aren't good, old fashioned bones. At some point we acquired Vitakraft Yogurt Drops, which we opened this past weekend while we were giving Kona a much needed bath. They look and smell so delicious! If I ate one, would you still be my friend? Have you ever eaten something wacky?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

No TV in the Bedroom = Happy Couple (At Least this Couple)

When we moved into our apartment in DC we decided against putting a TV in our bedroom. The decision was partially due to lack of space for the TV and difficulty wiring cable into the bedroom, but also because we wanted to spend time reading and talking before bed.

After reading this article from MSN about the things super happy couples do daily, and hearing about some of the things they do (especially the igloo)...I realized we have our own weekday nighttime routine that makes us both super happy.

I think not having TV in the bedroom has helped us establish this routine. We get in bed around 10ish, read for a bit, talk about our day/life/qualms/whatever (which usually includes warm fuzzies at the end of the conversation, which always make me super happy), and then fall asleep pretty quickly feeling happy and content. It's definitely one of my favorite parts of the day!

In addition to giving us a little ritual, I think it has helped our sleeping habits as well. Alson has never had trouble falling asleep (he is out as soon as his head hits the pillow), but I would always stay up until at least 12am, usually watching Sex & the City and Will & Grace reruns on the CW. When I did finally try to sleep, my tossing and turning would wake Alson up, thus disrupting his sleep. Not good. We were always tired and zombie-like. I can't say for sure whether removing a TV from our bedroom is solely responsible for alleviate these problems (there are multiple confounding factors...living in a new place, being finished with grad coursework, reduction in anxiety due to formerly looming life changes, getting married, etc.), but I have definitely been sleeping better. And let's be honest, I have already seen every episode of SATC and W&G...no need to watch the reruns every night.

Side note: During the Olympics I wished we had the TV in our bedroom, especially on the nights when gymnastics and swimming were on past 1am! Good thing they only come around once every 2 years (I love winter Olympics too!) and only last two weeks.

Do you have a TV in your bedroom? How does it effect your sleeping habits? What makes you (as an individual or as a couple) super happy?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I <3 Running

Now that Alson and I are training to run the Marine Corps 10k, I have become obsessed with all things running. I really hope that this enthusiasm carries me through the end of October!

We are planning to follow this 8 week training program. Since the 10k is 9 and a half weeks away, this week we are just trying to get our stamina up since we lost some in the months since we stopped running.

First dilemma we ran into...I didn't know how we were supposed to figure out how many miles we ran. Back in the day I used to only run at the gym and/or at a track...which obviously are both make it easy to measure mileage. Also, when we were following the Couch to 5k program in the spring, it always gave minutes as well as miles {ex. Brisk five-minute warm-up walk, then jog 2.5 miles (or 25 minutes)}, so it was easy to measure our time (instead of mileage) with a watch. Our 10k program only gives miles measurements....enter Google.

I found Map My Run, which....maps your run. You just click the route you took, or what you would like to take, and it will spit out the mileage. For example, here is a route that someone created in DC:



When you are actually creating the map you can zoom in and out and all that fun stuff.

There are also lots of cool features, like a training log, calorie calculator, goal and challenge setter, etc. Maybe after the 10k I will sign up for the "Run 100 Miles in a Month Challenge". Super cool! All the features are free after you sign up, and although there are a lot of banners that are kind of annoying, it is definitely keeping me super motivated!