Monday, November 26, 2012

The Dirty Thirty

I have officially been initiated into the Dirty Thirty club!  Almost two weeks ago, I hit the big seemed that many people expected me to experience a mid-life crisis when that birthday hit.  But I have to say, so far--so good.  No mid-life crisis...just yet!  Unless you count investing in massive amounts of anti-wrinkle eye cream and anti-cellulite cream...but that started a year ago ;-)  Prevention, baby.  Prevention.

It was quite an exciting birthday week, to say the least!  On the actual night of the big 3-0, Justin and I went to the KSU v. North Dakota Men's Basketball game.  As you can see, there was hardly a crowd...and our new coach is not nearly as entertaining to watch as Frank Martin was.  To be honest, it wasn't as exhilarating as other games we've been to, but it was nice to have some time together and watch the Cats play ball!

Earlier that day, we made purchased a significant birthday gift...well, sort of.  We swapped Justin's commuter car for another truck.  Why, you ask?

Well......things with the railroad weren't what we expected them to be.  When Justin first started, he commuted 1-hour each way and had an excellent Foreman.  Two weeks later, the Foreman accepted a position in another yard, so there was a major change in leadership.  And when I say major, it was like a night-and-day difference.  Justin tried his best to bite his tongue and wait it out until he could transfer to another yard.  But in the meantime, his yard was relocated and he had the option of commuting 3 hours every day, or living in a hotel all week long.  Some days, he commuted and worked 12-14 hours days.  If he didn't have anything that had to be dealt with back at home, he'd book a hotel somewhere and stay there all week.  In the meantime, he struggled with the new leadership.  With each passing day, he became more and more upset.  Lo and behold, just two days before his new-employee probation period ended, it became clear that the railroad was not meant to be.  Justin called his old boss at Asplundh and was enthusiastically returned back to his Foreman position.  I have to admit, I was a bit freaked out.  And in tears.  There was so much potential with the railroad and the benefits are amazing (if you can stick with it)...but I just had to trust that the good Lord knew what he was doing by keeping a position open for Justin at Asplundh.  Because, really, who am I kidding?  If Justin left Union Pacific to find himself unemployed, I would have had a very, very hard time understanding Jesus' sense of humor.  The last thing I would be okay with is a stay-at-home husband because, well, that means I wouldn't get anything done at work.  You see, Justin doesn't entertain himself very well when he's at home.  Every 30 minutes, he's calling..."I'm bored...what are you doing?  Oh, you're working?  Well, guess what just happened in this movie I'm watching?!  It was the craziest thing ever!"  Blah, blah, blah...Love him to death, but he can't be a stay-at-home husband :-)

That said, there was no need for the commuter.  Ironically enough, a local dealership had the exact truck that Justin had been looking for earlier this Summer.  We were able to swap out his itty-bitty Hyuandi and he brought home his new manly, beastly truck!  To be honest, I was really worried about how Justin would handle the realization that something he wanted so badly, and for so long, wasn't meant to be.  But you know what?  He's happier than I have seen him in a loooooooooong time.  He looks forward to going to work, he's happy (but still tired!) when he gets off work and he can step-up his freelance tree business again!

But back to the, my 30 birthday was off to a good start.  No mid-life crisis, a basketball game, Justin was home (which, is a big deal considering he's been gone in years past) to celebrate, things were going really well.

The part that I was really looking forward to, though? Some time with my girls!  The night after my birthday, it was Girls' Night and we all met up at our local Jamaican joint for dinner, then we crashed Jennifer's place to watch the K-State football game and have a drink...or two!
The following weekend, was even MORE girl time!  I'm telling ya, I go for what seems like forever without seeing my friends, then it all comes at once--I love it! This time around, I was able to celebrate with my college roommate! Jill and I lived together during our Sophomore year at Creighton, then we were going to live together again our Junior year--but then I decided to transfer to K-State and ruined the plan.  In the past 11 years, we've pounded the pavement from Manhattan to Omaha to make sure we get to see each other.  In my opinion, we don't see near enough of one another but with work, family, etc it just gets chaotic at times!

Anyhow, we managed to find a weekend that we were BOTH available!  Nov 17, 2012...and yes, we had to start planning waaaaaay back in July.  See, I told you it's difficult to get together!  Jill was going to be in Kansas City for a race and I didn't have any commitments.  Thus, it was deemed "Girls' Weekend" and we would celebrate our 30th birthdays together!

The big weekend was finally here.  We both pulled into Kansas City just before bedtime on Friday night.  After a long week at work, we both crashed.  The next morning we got up and went shopping with Jill's sister, Megan, and a former co-worker of Jill's, also named Jill.  It was great to see all the ladies and catch up!  Another gal joined us for the day of shopping, a movie and a steak dinner at the Hereford House....yum!

The next morning we were up bright and early so that the girls could run their race!  Jill, Jill Deuce and Megan decided to run the 5k due to some recent injuries...and Katie ran the half-marathon.  And what did I do?  I stood on the sidelines and cheered them on!  It was the PERFECT way to experience a race and celebrate my Dirty Thirty :-)

Friday, November 23, 2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Today's Black Friday...and you couldn't pay me to go stand in lines during all hours of the night, just to get a good deal.  Granted, I am all about getting a good deal, but it's more enjoyable when I'm fully awake and not getting trampled by the masses!
So today, we're decking the halls and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
The outdoor Fall decorations are coming down.  Lights will be hung, wreaths hung on the windows and garland draped across our porch.  The one thing I enjoy about having a very traditional home style is that it's very easy to decorate it for the holidays! 
This morning we were greeted with very chilly temperatures.  Until it warms up enough to work outside, we're (well, just myself, really!  Like I'd let Justin do any interior decorating!) busy bringing decorations up from the basement and making it feel a little more like Christmas!
As much as I'd like to have a house that looks like Christmas threw-up in every room of the house, that just doesn't happen.  One, that's a lot of work!  And two, you know how much that would cost?!  Yeah, right!
But there are three must-haves for decking the halls.  The nativity scene MUST be set-up.  My console table must be decorated.  And the Christmas tree must go up.
Ohhh, the dreaded Christmas tree.  I have always wanted a tree that looked like it came from a Department store.  In college, I had miniature trees and they were fun--but not spectacular.  Then Justin and I bought our first tree together at Ace Hardware.  It served us well for several years and I even tried to jazz it up a bit.  Last year, I created an "urn base" for my tree...but I think it just made it look even more lame!  Oh, and it didn't help that our Black angel was disproportionately too big for the tree, either!!
For me, a Christmas tree isn't a place to put presents.  In fact, did you notice that there was not a SINGLE present under the tree?!  Told ya so...Instead, as I spend time decorating the tree,  I'm allowed some time to stop and reflect on the holiday season.  What it's really about.  And how thankful I should be for everything that is given to me.
But that still doesn't stop me from wanting a BEAUTIFUL tree!  lol...I guess it's my way of paying homage to our Good Lord.  I'm not good at coming up with prayers, devotions etc to share praise, so I just express it in a way that's comfortable to me!  And if it means using my creative outlets, then so be it :-)
Last year, I stalked the JCPenny after-Christmas sales and scored a $300+ tree for about $80.  I was ecstatic!  The tree finally arrived, I opened the box to make sure that there indeed was a tree in there--and once that was verified, it went to the basement for the next 10.5 months.  All the while, I just hoped that the tree would be decent once it was set-up!
Earlier this week, the tree came upstairs.  Decorations were purchased.  And I would sit back and wait until Friday to decorate it.
Yeah, riiiiiight.
By Wednesday night, I couldn't hold back.  The tree went in last year's urn.  Decorations were opened.
It was all over. 
And I justified it by saying I needed to "get it out of the way" so we could spend Friday decorating outside!  Ha!
After it was all said and done, I must say that it's the best Christmas tree I've decorated yet!  I used lots of gold, silver, white and champagne colored picks, ornaments and beads.  I was worried about the monochromatic theme because, well, I love color.  But it actually worked really well--it's a great balance to our turquoise walls!
Now, it's time to wrap up the rest of the decorating.  Next weekend begins the Advent season and I'll be able to sit back and truly enjoy (and reflect on) what the season's all about!

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Past 3 Weeks...

Man, I feel like such a slacker lately!  My posts are becoming fewer and farther between...I prefer to keep my posts short and sweet (ha!), but that would also require me to be by a computer--with free time--on a regular basis...and that's obviously the problem!
October continued to be an extremely busy month for us--and I knew that it would be waaaaaaaaaaaay back during the first part of September.  And honestly, things probably won't slow down much until after Thanksgiving...but it is what it is!
Several weekends ago, Justin and I took our Youth Group to a local pumpkin patch for a bonfire roast and flash-light lit cornmaze.  I had no idea what we'd be getting ourselves into, but it turned out to be a gorgeous evening full of fun activities (beyond turning marshmallows into flaming balls of fire or scaring yourself to death in a dark cornfield!)
When we arrived at the pumpkin patch, there was the most incredible sunset! 
And a super-huge slide that the kids loved going down while it was still light out... 

And we even managed to talk Big J into going down it a time or two!
Speaking of Big J...this picture cracks me up! 
 By the time we wrapped up the Pumpkin Patch, I was exhausted...after all, I made an impromptu appearance EARLY that morning for The United Way of Riley County and had to get dressed-up on my day off!  I do love me some clothes, but I highly dislike waking up, putting on dress clothes and doing my hair if I don't have to work!  But in all reality, I'm very honored to be the Campaign Chair for the 2013 United Way Campaign and look forward to talking with numerous businesses about supporting the United Way and the local agencies that benefit from the funding!
The home-improvement projects seem to continue on...the roof and new guttering is done, so it's time to tear something else up, right? :-)  We had a contractor come by to look at the bathroom...and the garage...and the ventilation in our dormer...Now we're just waiting to see how much the damage will be...eeeeeeeeeek!  I really don't want to part with our money but we will be in our house for several more years, so we might as well change out the things we can't stand!
Oh, and speaking of money--we ended up trading in my Altima...for another Altima!  The heater in my old one wouldn't turn on until the car had been driven for at least 10 minutes and cosmetically speaking, the body was getting BEAT UP!  The goal was to hold onto it for another year or so...but it was going to cost more to repair everything than what the car was worth, so we swapped it while it still had some value.  Fortunately, we timed our decision just right--the new body style is now on the market so they were running some good deals...AND Justin's discount with Union Pacific saved us about another 10%.  Even though his schedule may suck a times, there ARE some benefits :-)

So, I know this part is absolutely, insanely, riduculous--but we bought Mitzi a car seat for the new car!  At least, it will keep her little nails from tearing up the leather upholstery :-/  Oh--the even better part?  It keeps her in one spot, too, while I drive!
Speaking of Justin's chaotic schedule, we have learned one lesson about working for the railroad.  DO NOT schedule things for weeknights.  Earlier this summer, it was announced that Dr. John and The Blind Boys of Alabama were coming to McCain in October--we bought the tickets as our 2-year wedding anniversary gift to each other and looked forward to the concert all Fall.  The problem?  The concert started at 7:30pm.  Justin got home from work at 10:00pm.  On a Friday night.  Happy belated-anniversary to us...NOT!  But, at least we still have each other.  And a local store that carries Dr. John's newest album on vinyl :-)
On a happier note... :-)  Mom had my niece for the day a few weeks ago and they made a trip down to the Little Apple.  I watched Marcella (in reality, we had our own little dance party!) while Mom ran errands and then went to lunch together.  Is it bad that I would kidnap the little girl if my brother and his wife let me?!  Marcella melted my heart on Day 1 and I still can't get enough of her--she's constantly growing and learning so much new stuff!  Oh, and she still is crazy about Mitzi :-)

Speaking of babes, our friends David and Joyce gave birth to a beautiful baby girl a few weeks ago.  Justin and I went out to their farm to deliver meals and meet baby Elena--and much to our surprise, David cranked up his "toy" tractor and let Justin behind the wheel!  Justin LOVED driving it!  Thankfully, we have nowhere to store one here in town, otherwise I imagine Justin would be on a tractor-kick!

Then, last weekend, we headed to Kansas City to celebrate the marriage of our friends, Jabin and Natalie.  Justin and Jabin lived together at K-State and to this day, they're still friends.  In fact, all four of the roommates are still friends!  Maybe it's a guy thing because I'm not sure if I know of female roommates who still ALL talk to each other, and stand up for each other in weddings.  Regardless, they all have a great friendship and it's always crazy when they're together.  They're like giggly 7-year old boys trapped in the bodies of young men :-)

Tying the knot--literally!

The brothers from a different mother!  Okay, not really...but it seems like it!
It's nearly impossible to get a "normal" picture of the guys when they're all together!

Guess who looks tired?!?!
Seriously, this is my most favorite picture(s) of Justin and I...EVER!  Pretty much sums up our interactions with each other :-)

And, FINALLY.  HALLOWEEN!!!  I love decorating for Halloween...if you can't tell ;-)  I was disappointed, though, because this year the doorbell only rang 3 times.  At 8:40, I called it a night and shut down the house...only to find out 20 minutes later that our friend tried to bring her 3 kids by!

So I kid you not--I told them that if they came back over last night, I'd give them all the candy!  And guess what?!  At 7:00 last night, I had a bumblebee, football player and Captain America standing on my front porch.  I LOVED it!!!  I'm pretty sure the people driving by were confused, but whatever :-)  Heather and the kids were game for it, and I thought it was great!  Oh, and it got all the leftover candy out of our house!!!