Saturday, May 31, 2008

I'm such a rebel

Quick quiz question. What does this picture represent?

a) an unmade bed
b) sweet and long-awaited liberation for an obsessive bed-maker
c) the sight that caused Husband to cheer
d) all of the above

You’re right, it’s d.

I finally have taken the first act of freedom, by loosening my firm grip on my obsessive cleaning habits.

I’ve always been a consistent bed-maker. My mom, the queen of clean herself, trained me that way. I’ll admit that it’s a good habit, and it keeps everything looking neat and orderly.

Last fall when we were selling our condo, I took my bed-making duties even more seriously. I made it as soon as I got up, even going as far as fluffing the pillows and smoothing the comforter. The bed looked like it had popped out of the pages of a home magazine.

But now, as I take my final grad school classes and I train for a marathon, bed-making has slipped on the priority list.

And, in an act defiant of all cleaning rules, I decided not to make the bed last week.

Husband came home from work, saw the unmade bed, and audibly rejoiced. He knew what a big deal it was for me.

I’m really probably saving only 60 seconds from not making the bed. But somehow I’m contributing to my sanity. An unmade bed never felt so good.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Marathon Training! Week 1

Ok, so this is the third time I’m writing this post about the first week of my official marathon training. The first post was overly positive (Training is great! I’m following my dreams!), while the second was overly negative (I’m out of shape after Hawaii! It’s crazy hot here!). The reality probably lies somewhere in between. It’s true that I’m excited to be actually taking the steps – literally – towards a challenging goal. It’s also true that it’s just plain hard, and I’m having to let go of my previous, unrealistic expectations. [And, it’s just as true that it’s insanely hot here, which will require me to make friends with even earlier morning runs and treadmills in air-conditioned gyms.] I’m really trying to take everything for what it is. One bad run doesn’t mean I’m going to fail, just like one good run doesn’t mean I’ll automatically succeed. It sounds cliché, but there’s so much wisdom in saying to take it one step at a time. So here I start with a few small, but significant steps. And I’ll rejoice not because I’m breezing through the steps, but because I somehow found the courage to take the steps at all.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A new amiga

I’ve made a new friend – from Spain! She is the wife of an exchange officer (also from Spain) that works with my husband. The first time I met her, my heart went out to her. She stays at home with 3 small children, and she doesn’t know many people in the area nor does she know much English except for a few words. (Not to mention that she is far from all her family and friends.) We decided to meet up for lunch yesterday, and she hosted at her home. I wasn’t sure if the lunch might turn into a mini-English lesson, so I went armed with my English-Spanish dictionary and an English-Spanish picture book, just in case. She won me over immediately with her buffet of Spanish food. She served a few different dishes of pasta, seafood salad, potatoes, and beef. It was so fabulous that I wondered if she might adopt me as her fourth child. (Por favor?) But I didn’t know how to say all of that in Spanish, so I decided just to tell her that the food was delicious. I know more Spanish than she knows English, so we spoke the whole time in Spanish. I’m not exactly fluent in Spanish, but I know enough to say simple sentences. (Unfortunately, the ones I learned in school like “Donde esta la biblioteca?” didn’t really apply in this situation.) After the lunch, we spent most of the time looking at pictures and chatting. The pictures turned out to be a great way to talk about friends, family, places we’ve visited, holidays, and other customs. I learned that January 6th, the feast of the Three Kings, is a big holiday in Spain with presents and festivities. I learned that my Spanish, though I often stumble and make mistakes, is at least good enough for 3 hours (!) of conversation. And I learned that hospitality and kindness translate easily into any language or culture. I didn’t really teach her much yesterday, except for one very important English word: “brownies.” I figured the least I could do was to bring her the best dessert that America has to offer.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Happy Memorial Anniversary Father’s Marathon-Starting Day

Husband’s parents came to visit this past weekend, and we had plenty to celebrate. We had a belated celebration for their anniversary, as well as an early celebration for Father’s Day. We celebrated Memorial Day. Husband and I also celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary! [Has it really been a year? I so clearly remember our honeymoon cruise when we could say how long we had been married in days, instead of months or years.] I also celebrated my first day of marathon training with my mother-in-law. We went for a run around our neighborhood and admired all the homes. By some miracle, we were able to avoid the heat, which made for a very pleasant run. We celebrated the opening of the new Indiana Jones movie with a matinee showing and some stale Twizzlers. I recommend it. (The movie, that is, not the stale Twizzlers.) We did not, however, celebrate that our air conditioner started leaking profusely, but we did celebrate that it is covered by our home warranty. Overall, it was fun to celebrate, and my stomach appreciated all the good food that was involved, thanks mostly to Husband’s new-found skill of grilling. But, more importantly, these reasons to celebrate made me realize how lucky we are. Lucky to have wonderful parents that serve as examples of happy marriages. Lucky to be following their path, after enjoying our first year of marriage. And lucky to live in a country where people are willing to serve in the military and make the sacrifices to protect our freedoms. I’m guessing that most people didn’t celebrate “Memorial Anniversary Father’s Marathon-Starting” this weekend, but I hope everyone still had some reason to celebrate.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Holy Ants

We were excited to become godparents for our friends’ son in Hawaii, although we were unsure all that was involved. We had no idea that killing ants would be the first task.

The church itself was a beautiful old building, where our friend’s parents were married years ago. The best part about the church was the outdoor seating area with some weathered wooden pews. We gladly took our seats outside in the warm sunshine. The scenery outside with the palm trees swaying was so gorgeous that it was almost distracting, making me want to pray, “Please let us stay in Hawaii forever!”

But a few minutes after we took our seats, our friend pointed to a few ants that we crawling on our pew. We moved down the pew to avoid the area with the ants.

But then we realized that they were everywhere. Crawling on my purse. Crawling on Husband’s pants. Even crawling on my legs!

Evidently the ants had never heard of the 11th Commandment, “Thou Shalt Not Bite.” They were crawling all over us and biting us, too.

I fidgeted around in my sleeveless blue dress, trying to get the ants off of me without causing a scene. Perhaps there is a way to discreetly kill ants when they are attempting to crawl up your dress during church, but I guess I never learned how.

Eventually we moved into an entirely different pew. A few ants still followed us, but we were able to make it through without incident.

The baptism followed and went really well. I was afraid that our godson would cry when I held him (I have that effect on kids), but he remained happy through everything.

We truly are honored to be godparents, and we’d do it again in a heartbeat. We’d just make sure we bring the ant spray next time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We Found "Lost!"

Of all our Hawaii adventures, I know I should write first about something important, like the baptism. But, I just have to share this exciting story - we found the set of the TV show Lost!

The way we found it went something like this… Our friends’ cousin’s husband’s neighbor’s friend (no joke!) knew of the beach where it was. We drove to the north part of the island, passed through a very nice neighborhood, parked our car on the street, and then walked for about 15 minutes until we got to the beach where it was.

The set was roped off, but we still got to see a lot of it. Only a lone security guard was there, making sure that crazy fans (like us) didn’t storm onto the set and touch everything. He was very nice, though, and he patiently answered all of our questions. Including important ones like, “Are they filming later today??” (unfortunately, no) and “Will Jack and Kate be our friends?” (probably not).

We probably exceeded the allotted excitement levels for seeing the set. In fact, our giddiness for seeing it probably puts us in the same category as the beloved Trekkies who religiously attend Star Trek Conventions. But, we’ll gladly accept our geek status because look at these great pictures!

One of the tents, complete with a very realistic-looking piece of an airplane.

A view of the camp site. If you look closely in the background, you’ll see the familiar black and white Dharma Initiative logo on the cans of food.

Another view of the camp.

It’s Mr. Eko’s Chapel!

Here is the gorgeous beach right by the set. If you watch the show regularly, it might look familiar to you.

The only celebrity we managed to see was this old (but very cute) sea turtle. I tried, but he wouldn’t give me his autograph. Instead, he blinked a few times and very slowly made his way back to the water.

The beach was so beautiful, and we spent a few hours there relaxing on the beach and playing in the waves. What can I say? It’s tough living the TV life, but we managed to survive – and get a tan in the process.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hawaii Highlights

Hawaii was more beautiful than I remembered, and our vacation there was even better than the last. We saw our friends, became godparents, hiked, swam in the ocean, hung out at the beach, went to a luau, saw sea turtles, visited Maui, ate a lot of sushi, and more.

The trip went so well, until something really strange happened. We were having a great time relaxing on a beach in Waikiki, and the next thing I know we were on a plane heading home. It was quite the cruel trick.

Apparently when I booked the dates for our trip, I forgot to put the return date as never. And even though I knew the trip was supposed to be for just 10 days, I thought that somehow it might turn into something longer, like say, forever.

Regardless, we had an amazing time. And I took a lot of pictures. (And by a lot, I mean 221, plus 2 mini-videos.)

Here are a few of the highlights:

A great view overlooking Honolulu.

A sunset near our hotel on Waikiki.

Of course, I had to post at least one beach picture.

And finally, here is one of my happy (yet sandy) feet. I realize I must be getting really brave to show the entire internet my feet. (Perhaps the warm Hawaiian heat has fried my good judgment, along with Husband’s now sunburned shoulders.)

More pictures and stories to follow…

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Happy (very early) Mother’s Day

I probably won’t be blogging in Hawaii (and I’m not computer-savvy enough to know how to set a post to publish on a future date), so I’m posting these Mother’s Day wishes early. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Thanks for… the endless support and encouragement the chats (also known as my free therapy via phone) the laughs the gardening advice the great meals our faith the many batches of (to-die-for) brownies the walks on the beach making sure I got the most mail when I was deployed vacations together visiting me in every place I’ve lived that cute pink purse you gave me that I always get compliments on encouraging me to read as a kid encouraging me to keep a supply of cookies in the house fun Christmas traditions celebrating each milestone, big or small, with signs and cards showing me how to be generous the nickname you gave me as a kid that became my blog name :) love, your Tootie

Ready, Set, Aloha

We are just about ready to go. If you heard some loud cheering yesterday, it was me. Because I finished ALL of my homework. This term of my grad school is done! We started packing today. So far, it’s pretty easy. Anything that is a bathing suit, tank top, shorts, or sandals went into the suitcase. That leaves a lonely winter parka in the closet by itself. (Don’t feel too sorry for it - it has the company of a couple winter hats as well.) I’m just plain excited. Excited about Hawaii and seeing our friends. Excited about the beach and the beautiful scenery that wows me every time. All of that is a given. But, strangely, I’m also excited because I know when I return I will continue on the path to reaching my goals for this year! I’ll start my very last term of grad school. And I’ll start my official marathon training program. Both goals seem like they are much closer in reach, and it’s both humbling and inspiring. I also know that I’ll have many Hawaii pictures and stories to share with you when I return. In the meantime, have a wonderful couple weeks, and I’ll try to send some warm Hawaii weather your way. (Unless you already have warm weather, and in that case, I’ll try to just send an ocean breeze.) Regardless, a warm Aloha to all!

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Just writing about Hawaii the other day and reading everyone’s comments has gotten me even more excited about the trip. (If that is even possible, considering the sky high levels of excitement I had before.)

Unfortunately, with Hawaii on the brain, I’m having that much more trouble doing work for my classes. Because it’s much easier daydreaming about the beaches of Hawaii, than say, researching the unemployment rate of Nigeria. (You think I’m joking, but that was actually part of my research. The answer is 5.8%, if you were curious. I didn’t think so. Moving on.)

Anyway, I have quite a bit of schoolwork to do because the term doesn’t end for another couple weeks, and I’m trying to get everything done before the trip. Because writing a term paper doesn’t fit anywhere into my vision of sipping Mai Tai’s on the beach.

But, I’m slowly and steadily getting through the schoolwork. Because though Hawaii gives me a reason to daydream, it gives me an even stronger incentive to get some work done.

And it will all be worth it when I’m basking in the Hawaii sun, eating pineapple, and sitting on the set of the TV show “Lost” ready to make first-ever TV appearance. I know the last one is a stretch. I guess I can’t let all of the daydreaming go.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Oh deer

I knew our new landscaping looked nice. But, I guess it was a little too attractive for the neighborhood deer.

We woke up this morning and noticed that ALL of the leaves were missing on our plants. Apparently, the deer think that our landscaping is an all-you-can-eat buffet. And, though usually I’m flattered if anyone finds something I serve tasty enough to eat, that doesn’t apply to the offerings on the front lawn.

I think I’ve found a solution, though. We’ll be adding moth balls to the landscaping menu. Hopefully that will make the deer move on to find a better-smelling buffet.
Exhibit A: The remains of the deer's midnight snack

Thursday, May 1, 2008

7 days to Aloha!

In exactly one week, Husband and I will be in gorgeous Hawaii for a 10-day trip.

Now, before you start thinking that this is a vacation, let me clarify that we have important business there. Our friends invited us to be the godparents for their son’s baptism. (Clearly we have fooled them in thinking that we are responsible enough for such an honor.) So, we are going to Hawaii in the name of godparenthood.

While we are there, we might happen to relax on the beach, plunge into the waves, sip Mai Tai’s, search for Magnum, P.I (ok, maybe that’s just me), try to swim with dolphins, eat pineapple, and go to a luau. But, we are willing to make such sacrifices to be part of this important spiritual milestone for our soon-to-be godson.

I know what you’re about to ask. And the answer is yes. We would love to be your child’s godparents as well. Especially if you happen to live in Hawaii, Fiji, or some other island paradise.