Thursday, December 31, 2009

Challenges to Start the New Year

I don't usually make new year's resolutions, but I have stumbled across a couple of cool challenges and have decided to take part in two of them to start 2010.

First is a one week challenge created by John Mayer, coined the "Digital Cleanse". As outlined on his blog:

I’ll be defragmenting my mental and psychological hard drive during the first seven days of the new year, and I invite you all to participate.

The cleanse will begin at 9am on January 1. This gives everyone a chance to text and tweet their new year’s well wishes, and theoretically begins upon waking up the morning of January 1. The cleanse will end at 9am on January 8.
  • Guidelines:

    *email only from laptop or desktop computers

    *cell phones can only be used to make calls, and no text messages or e-mails are allowed - if you receive a text, you must reply in voice over the phone. E-mails must be returned from a laptop or desktop computer.

    *no use of Twitter or any other social networking site - this includes reading as well as posting.

    *no visiting of any entertainment or gossip sites. (No need to detail which ones - you know what they are.)

I think I can do it. Actually, I know I can do it. Texting and social networking make it way too easy to avoid talking to others. It also isolates me from my husband. I know he gets annoyed when we are doing something together and I stop talking and get lost with whatever I am doing with my phone. As for phone calls, I normally avoid calling people like the plague, but it makes me antisocial and distant from my friends and family...so I need to slowly bring it back into my everyday life. This will be good for me. Will you join in too?

The second challenge, Improve Yourself! 2010 was created by Dustin at Engaged Marriage.



As described on his blog:
  1. You will choose one area of your life to improve over the first 8 weeks of 2010 (January 3rd through February 27th). This is completely open based on your desires, but some suggestions would include the areas of fitness, personal finances, spirituality, communication with your spouse, parenting, career, education, romance, etc.
  2. You will set your own goals for what you intend to accomplish over the course of eight weeks. Goal-setting is incredibly important, so I will publish a post soon (now found here) to help you establish specific and effective goals.
  3. Each week, I will publish a post that focuses on self-improvement and motivation, and I’ll report on my own personal progress toward my goals. You must comment on each weekly post to report your progress and remain accountable.
  4. At the end of eights weeks, I will choose the top three finishers based on who I feel made the most meaningful progress in self-improvement. At this time, I will also “call out” all those who did NOT finish all eight weeks (to add a little more accountability)!
  5. The final three contestants will summarize their progress in a short write-up, and you (their fellow competitors) will vote to choose the best overall success story.
You can participate too by leaving a comment here by January 5th.

My goal is to save money for a down payment for our first home. We are planning to buy something in the summer of 2011, after AJ graduates from law school. I recently payed off my credit card debt and since I am sans student loans I figured it is the perfect time to start allocating money to something important rather than blowing all my disposable income on dinners and drinks out and shoes/clothes/bags I don't need. We opened an ING Direct Orange savings account specifically for our down payment and have already saved almost $2,000 in just one week! (BTW, if you want to open an account let me know and I can send you a referral. You'll get $25 from ING when you deposit $250 and I'll get a $10 referral bonus. Win-win!)

So those are my goals to start the new year. Let me know if you decide to participate in either of these challenges!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Peak into Our Home

Last week Lacey participated in a Holiday Homes Tour, and although I missed the chance to formally participate, I thought I would still give you a glimpse into our home.

Here is the holiday wreath that I made a few weeks ago. When I bought the ribbon I didn't realize that it was so narrow and it was really difficult making a big bow. I don't love how the wreath turned out, but it still looked pretty enough to hang on the door. I still have ribbon left over so I may redo the bow next year.


Here is our living room. This was the first year we bought a real tree, and as I mentioned here, it was quite an adventure getting it home. We also ordered swag for our fireplace from the Boy Scout troop at our church. I changed out the generic red bow with the polka dot ribbon to tie into my polka dot Christmas theme.




I bought these flowers two weeks ago at Safeway and can't believe they are still alive. There originally were red roses in the bunch, but they died after a few days, so I just pulled them out since the other stuff still looked pretty!


We also have a fireplace in the second bedroom so we hung our first stockings (created with glitter glue just like Lacey!) and put lights on our decorative tree.


I hope you enjoyed a peak into our home! My district canceled school for today and Wednesday so we are headed back to NY today instead of Christmas Eve. Yay!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas is Almost Here!

Well what a week it has been. I have been so busy with Christmas parties and various Christmas related activities that I didn't get a chance to post about the many things that have been happening around here. Of course now I can't remember everything I wanted to post about, and since I am off today thanks to the two million inches of snow that fell over the weekend, I don't really feel like racking my brain right now. So I'll just fill you in on a few highlights....

On Wednesday I got together with my favorite blog friends turned real life friends, Landlocked Mermaid, Ms. Mindless, and Pink Pearls and Muddy Sneakers. We had a small gift exchange and among other awesome things, Ms. Mindless gave me this totally over the top bow headband. What do you think?


I wanted to wear it to work, but was too chicken. I may try and wear it on New Year's. I could pull it off then, right?

On Friday I met up with one of my BFF's from high school. She is currently a grad student at Temple, but will be in the DC area for a few months while she is on internship. I am so excited! We had dinner at a hole in the wall Italian restaurant around the corner and then came home and drank wine by the fire since it began snowing while we were at dinner. It was so nice to catch up and chat about how much we have changed over the years. There is just something about being with a friend that has known you forever that is comforting.

Because of the storm she ended up spending the night, but luckily was able to make it back to Maryland Saturday morning before the storm really kicked in. Here is what it looked like when we first woke up:

And here is what it looked like a few hours later:

Insane! We haven't seen a snowstorm like this since we moved from New York, so it was quite fun to experience it again. We spent most of the day cuddled up inside, but went on a couple walks to curb our cabin fever. In the afternoon we walked down to E. Capitol St. and down to the Capitol, which was quite a scene. There were tons of people in the middle of the street, pulling kids in sleds, cross country skiing, and walking in snowshoes. Something about seeing everyone out there was so amazing. I took a bunch of videos, but most of them are quite shaky since we were walking too. Note to self: when taking video....stand still.

Yesterday I went around the corner to Landlocked Mermaid's house where we baked 3 batches of chocolate chip cookies. We were baking machines. LM packaged her cookies in monogrammed baking boxes and even sent a pretty box home with me. This is what they looked like:

Aren't they so pretty!? I came home and put my box on the dining room table. BIG MISTAKE. We went to dinner later last night with another couple and when we returned home this is what we saw:


I about had a heart attack. There were probably 6-8 chocolate chip cookies in there! Kona looked more guilty than sick so we jumped online to see if we needed to take her to the emergency vet. The websites we found said semisweet chocolate is toxic to a 50 pound dog when they ingest 15 ounces. Kona is 22 pounds so we figured about 7 ounces would be toxic for her. A full bag of semisweet chocolate is 12 ounces and that makes about 60 cookies so I don't think she had a toxic dose. We are just waiting for her to get it all out of her system so I can stop freaking out! If you are the praying kind, please pray for her to get well soon!

If they clean up the roads I will be back at work tomorrow and Wednesday and then we are heading back to NY on Christmas Eve. I hope to post a couple more times before Christmas, but I never know how life is going to pan out so if I don't make it back...Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jingle Jammies

Have you seen the Old Navy commercial where they advertise "Jingle Jammies"? If not, you can watch it on You Tube here.

Now substitute "Jingle Jammies" for "Single Ladies" in the song by Beyonce and you know what has been repeating over and over in my head since Saturday.

You're welcome.

And it wasn't me that first started singing this.....it was the other person in our household! Yikes.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Babies

It has been a popular week for celebrity births!

Kendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett's son was born last Friday, Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen had their baby Tuesday, and the Duggars welcomed their 19th child yesterday. Thanks for bombarding me with baby stories, People!

Why am I so jealous? I know it is not the right time for us, but I can't seem to shake this feeling. Boo!

It probably doesn't help that my aunt keeps sending my pictures and videos of her super cute 4 month old....

Gah! I want one!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Busiest Week Ever!

I can probably count on one hand the hours I spent home and awake this past week. Okay, maybe not one hand, but definitely two. Monday was the only night I didn't have something! It was the busiest week I have had in a long, long time....but it was totally worth it.

On Tuesday I worked my normal 7.5 hours, had cheer practice for 2 hours, came home to take Kona out, and then headed to a restaurant to meet with some girls to discuss Olive Kitteridge. Have you read the book? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts. I loved the book, but didn't like the story. Does that make sense? I don't want to give it away if you haven't read the book, but a bunch of the things about the story didn't sit right with me. However, the book is very well written and is presented as short stories, which I liked.

Wednesday felt like the longest day of my life. We hosted our first home basketball game, so after I work I had to supervise my girls in study hall and then prepare them for the game. The were so giddy and nervous; it was adorable. They did a great job considering it was the first game. The game was supposed to start at 5, but didn't actually start until 5:30, so I didn't get home until 7. That is a 12 hour workday! I don't know how those of you that regularly work 12 hour days do it! I was so tempted to stop and pick something up, but knew that we had food waiting to be cooked in the refrigerator. When I arrived home I cooked a couple steaks, some mushrooms, and broccoli, quickly ate, then patted myself on the back and promptly headed to bed.

On Thursday I left work a few minutes early so that we could get in line for the National Christmas Tree Lighting. Last month AJ and I both entered the lottery for tickets to the event and we luckily scored two seated tickets!

The event was hosted by Randy Jackson (who was broadcasting about 20 feet ahead of us) and included performances by Jordin Sparks, Sheryl Crow, Common and the PS 22 chorus, Celtic Woman, and a few other people. President Obama gave a Christmas message, Mrs. Obama read The Night Before Christmas, and Santa and Mrs. Claus made a quick cameo too. Here is video of the tree lighting!




By Friday I was pretty much spent, but a teacher at my school gave me tickets for the opening night of Zoolights at the National Zoo.

I wanted to go last year so I was actually really excited when she offered me the tickets. It was a lot of fun and good exercise so I am really glad we went. Ever punctual, we were able to see the opening ceremony which included "dancing lights". We of course videoed the dancing lights, but that video is 3 and a half minutes long and I am not about to try and upload that to blogger. If we are facebook friends you can see it on my page there. It is really neat....the lights flash with the music (obviously I am easily amused).


Yesterday morning I headed back to school at 7 am. I wanted to cry when the alarm went off. The three other coaches and I took the cheer girls to see a cheer competition out in Maryland and it started at 8 am. It was a great experience for the girls though and I think it motivated them to get their booties in gear. On the way home from the competition it started snowing! I came home, put on my sweatpants and did not move off the couch for the rest of the day. It was glorious.

Today we went to church, hit up the grocery store, and got our Christmas tree. Of course, getting our tree wasn't without a mishap. I refused to put the tree in my car (it probably wouldn't have fit anyway), so we decided to tie it to the roof. Everyone in the parking lot was doing it! I asked AJ if he knew how to go about this, and he assured me that he did. I followed his directions, put all the windows down and started tying that sucker down. However, we ran into a little problem. Let's look at this picture.....


Can you tell what's wrong here? No? Us either. Until we tried to get into the car. Yes, we tied the doors shut! I wanted to untie everything and start over, but AJ refused....so we CLIMBED THROUGH THE WINDOWS in the middle of The Home Depot parking lot on a busy Sunday morning. Obviously I took video of this!



Ignore my hyena laugh, please. Yes, this is my life.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Keys to Success

The keys to a successful weekend living in a mountain home with your parents and in-laws:

  • Two dogs that never tire of walks
  • A hot tub
  • Apples to Apples and other games
  • College football
  • A casino
  • Ruth's Chris Steak House
  • An outlet mall (especially when you go twice)
  • A celebrity scandal (it gives everyone something to talk about!)
  • Thick skin (because someone is inevitbly going to say something that is offensive and/or annoying)
  • Lots of wine