Tis the season!

Wrapping up one year and looking forward to the next. What an interesting process. I remember many years where I couldn’t wait for the fresh start that a new year would bring. Funny how optimistic I always am at this time of year considering I live in Wisconsin and the new year just means 4 more months of cold weather. 

This year however I am just truly thankful and blessed to have experienced all the days in this year so far. I’ve experienced so much growth in so many areas. 

This year marked 5 years of togetherness with my husband and 2 years of marriage. It has seriously flown by.  I’m so thankful for us and hope we continue to share many more trips around the sun together. 

I attended a life and business coaching group for 9 months out of the year that totally changed my perspective on many areas of my life. It’s helped me declutter, repriorotize, rediscover and challenge my thoughts and beliefs. 

I enjoyed my 2nd full year of consulting on my own. It’s been such a rewarding experience and opportunity to work on different projects with different people. Definitely a different kind of education. I’ve really started to appreciate and acknowledge what I can add to a team and project. Being my own cheerleader has been such a blessing. 

My step-son turned 14 and watching him grow and discover himself is something I’m thankful to be a part of every day. He’s such a blessing and gives me perspective and many learning experiences. 

We spent the year focusing on our finances and now find ourselves debt free (except for our home). This is such a freeing accomplishment and it takes so much pressure of our career choices and really allows us to enjoy our 9-5’s more since we don’t feel trapped by them. 

I was diagnosed with Ménière’s disease in August. An inner ear disorder that causes ear ringing, vertigo and nausea. By cutting out caffeine and sodium I’ve managed to control the symptoms (and my anxiety around the sparadic nature of the episodes). So, yay. 

I traveled to Napa (CA), Orlando (FL), Mexico, Lake Placid (NY), Door County (WI), Rockville (MD) and of course Cleveland and Cincinnati for work. I enjoyed every trip and was lucky enough to spend time with great people and make wonderful memories at each location. Not to mention some good food too. 

We took down a wall (thanks HGTV for the words “open concept”, repainted most of the main level, filled a dumpster of crap to declutter the house, and put in new vinyl wood planks instead of the old carpet. 

I started and cancelled a wine club. I started and cancelled a fitness subscription. I gave up giving up Nutella. 

And so many other wonderful things… with wonderful people. 

With only two weeks left in this year, I have nothing but gratitude and love for 2016 and can only imagine what 2017 will bring… and I look forward to finding out. 

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Snapshots of Summer 2013

This one goes out…

to Colorado :)

It seems like just yesterday that I got engaged, and yet my hair is getting longer and my teeth are getting straighter… so my friends… time is indeed flying by.

Let me regail you with a particularly hilarious story from a week or so ago.  After watching a particularly interesting round of BMX starring the fast and furious v. ciano… I curled up in bed with a very impressive migraine.  As I lay there, waiting for the sweet release of death, one spry young man comes galloping into our bedroom and jumps up onto the bed.  This would be less terrifying had I not been lying there in not much more than what god gave me beneath the sheets.  I instantly just smile and start curling the sheets into my fists and tucking them under my butt.

Jason comes to the rescue and drags him off kicking and screaming.  This now becomes a game (quite obviously).  The next half hour was one incident after another of rampant giggles and me making myself into a sheet burrito chanting to myself, “oh god, oh god, oh god… don’t touch me, don’t touch me, don’t touch me…. how am I going to explain this… i didn’t make you, you can’t see my parts?”  However outside I was just giggling like a possessed person and my eyeballs popping out of my head.

Thankfully he finally grew tired of the game and I was able to fort knox myself into the bedroom.

So, even though life has been crazy busy… it’s moments like that which reminds me things could be worse.  My soon-to-be step-son could be hating me and locking me out of rooms… instead of trying to break into them.  I’m flattered (and slightly terrified)… mostly flattered.

Through it all, I am so blessed to have friends and family that love me even though they only seem to see me quarterly recently.  I am also blessed for a fiance who loves me regardless of my crazy, constant worries about maintaining my waist line to fit into my dress that should be here any week now… despite my loves for chocolate and wine (totally counter-productive to waist-watching… f.y.i) and someone that makes a mean steamed cauliflower.

I’ll try and be less of a strange…r.

I know I’m getting older when…

I say I don’t want/need anything for my birthday and I mean it.  I am truly able of getting most of the stuff I want and no longer need to wait until birthdays or christmas to ask for those things.  Unless it’s cash.  If you want to give me cash, that’s great.  Or scarves, funny socks, canvases or wood with sayings on them (obsessed) or something handmade.  So, okay maybe I only 76% mean it when I say I don’t need anything, however I am truly happy just spending time with family and friends on my birthday…. and eating cake.  Maybe this wasn’t a good starting point for this post.

I went to bed at 8:30 the other night.  Eight… thirty.  And I was happy about it. 

I despise being hung over.  Is till like a good few glasses of wine though, which sometimes leads to a hangover.  Quite the pickle I find myself in some days.  Generally speaking after 1 glass of wine I remember that I don’t want to be hung over.  After 3 glasses I think I’m rich, can shake my hips like Elvis and am immune to hangovers.  Yup, only 3 glasses… O.L.D.

I invited my friends over recently to drink wine and learn to crochet.  Enough said. — Except that I had an immense amount of fun.

I often say to myself, “My parents were right…”

Time is starting to go faster, whether I’m having fun or not.  Where did April go? 

I find myself truly enjoying my time with my family because I understand that it is limited and precious.  Every day I am thankful to be here, be healthy and to have my family in the same condition.

The “oldies” station is starting to play songs that my parents don’t know because they are too “new”. 

All these things mark the passing of time… I am however still a big fan of Oreos, naps, giggling, stringing together adjectives that make sailors blush and randomly adding tattoos to my body (that Dad and God gave me and I chose to alter — I’ll save Dad the speech and put it here) and I fart… more than a lady should… but it’s scientifically proven that if I don’t fart… I’ll blow up.

Me... I still look like this when I get excited... many moons later.

Me… I still look like this when I get excited… many moons later.

Thanksgiving Weekend

There is much to be thankful for this holiday season (and it’s just starting)!

Meatloaf success!

I created this meatloaf creation on Tuesday night and it was a huge success!  I did have some constructive feedback from the little man that next time no onions would be a great alternative way to make it.  I assured him we would go ahead and nix the onions from the next recipe for both his sanity and mine.  I don’t enjoy watching someone spit half their meatloaf back out because he discovered a rogue onion in his mouth… So, let’s remove the onion surprise of it all next time!  Check.

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Pumpkin pie madness!

I made my first pumpkin pie maybe 1 month ago… I can’t remember when but I do remember the complete satisfaction and happiness of both the boys in the house and the compliments.  The little guy actually said, “there is no way this is your first pumpkin pie, it is so good!”.  My heart glowed that I could make his stomach happy.  Just the little things sometimes.

Since this initial success, I have made 3 more pumpkin pies.  1 more for the house, which was promised to be gone by thanksgiving by the little pie eater, and his prediction was correct.  2 additional pies were made to take to my Aunt’s house for thanksgiving where there were over 20 hungry relatives (just a small gathering).  1 of those pies did come home with us (Jason was a little too excited about that) due to the abundance of other desserts.  Fudge (1 pan with nuts, 1 without), chocolate bread, cranberry orange bread, chocolate almond bread, homemade cheese cake, store bought cheese cake, 2 additional pumpkin pies, carrot soufflé (okay, maybe that’s not a dessert, but the way Aunt Connie made it… it could have been… mmmm… mmmm.. good!) and more.

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Certification Awesomeness!

After much training and even more hours studying, I have the results of 2 out of my 3 exams and scored well into the 90’s on both setting me up with 2 certificates so far.  I am on my way to being a application coordinator (1 result away) and next week Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll be back out in Verona for a couple more days of training and another certification “opportunity” — read — “more studying until I see cross eyed and my brain goes fuzzy”

Flexing Crafting Muscles!

Thanksgiving day at my mom’s consisted of delicious treats. I made these no bake cookies and took them there. It was my second attempt at these cookies.  The first time I did not have cocoa powder and substituted nutella.  Needless to say they never reached a solid state.  The whole recipe had to be thrown away… more because I couldn’t be trusted with batter that I could just lick off the wax paper than that the recipe tasted bad.  Also, Rob made a pumpkin pie and a pecan pie… both of which looked a-maz-ing.  Since we had the feast waiting for us at Aunt Ginny’s we didn’t eat at moms.  We did however take a container home of the cheesy potatoes for Jason… he was a little heart broken he wasn’t able to partake in them.

Now on to the Crafting section.  Mom had some awesome crafting supplies and ideas waiting for us and we spent hours pre-meal creating and crafting and followed up the meal with a trip back to mom’s where I resumed my seat next to my lovely sister and continued our crafting marathon!  We are all such creative souls.  We love to make things sparkly, beautiful, pink, and awesome.  We were making most of them for gifts for other people so I can’t show you any of the pictures… yet.  But they are awesome.  Imagine awesome little crafty presents… then imagine them a little better.  You’ll be close ;)

Family Pictures!

I wanted a couple nice pictures of us all together.  We have a couple impromptu ones over the last year and 3 months… but wanted something a little more “on purpose”.  The boys really stepped up to the plate and put their game faces on.  It meant a lot to me that with very little complaints they sat down and smiled with me.  Made me very happy.  I also let Vince know that his smile and participation was all I needed for Christmas. It is the perfect trade off.

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Another great photo op came at my mothers with the rare instance where my step brother and his wife were in town fulminate California and our step sister made the drive home also! Alexandra was there obviously and with that, the kids were all in the house and photo ready! (As ready as they could be!).

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Who is going to Boston?

We are, we are. I can’t even tell you how excited this makes me. I have beards great things about Boston and I have been plotting a visit there for quite some time. The other day the stars aligned, airfares were cheap, the right questions were asked and viola! Boston trip? Booked! Now to do a little recon on the area and pick some fun activities and stops for our day. On my list of things to discover? Coffee shop, bakery, winery, cheers, anything else sparkly or awesome!

The best part of all these updates? Its only Saturday morning!! More awesomeness is bound to happen. Until then… Tata!

1 Year of Togetherness

364 Days ago I took the most beautiful person to his first Brewer Game.  At first, I thought he was perhaps a serial killer… never being to a brewer game and having grown up in Wisconsin.  Then I decided that he was only a spider killer, and a damn good one at that.

2 points.  1 = not serial killer. 1 = spider killer.

In the last year we have:

  • Taken a dream vacation to Lake Placid, NY and spent the week with my beautiful family.
  • Celebrated history in Bristol, IL at the infamous Renaissance Faire.
  • Continued history lessons in Schaumburg, IL at the also popular Medieval Times.  Castle, knights, roses, front row, heroes and villains.
  • Discovered and proclaimed our love for each other.
  • Moved in together.
  • Celebrated birthdays, holidays and weekends.
  • Went to 2 Madison Mallards Games.
  • Hiked at Devils Lake.
  • Toured Wollersheim Winery and became case club members.
  • Went to a Badger Hockey Game.
  • Took in a Roller Derby at the Alliant Energy Center.
  • We each had nieces who were baptized and became godparents.
  • Spent a memorable weekend with Andy and Amy in Minocqua at Bear Lake.  (“Everyone in da club is tits” – Andy)
  • We have gone to fish fry’s at Lockwoods Longshots, grilled our own steak at Hooker’s Resort, had sandwiches at Lake Side, sweet potato fries at Thirsty Moose
  • Took Vince to his first Demolition Derby at the Lodi Fair.
  • Had pool parties.
  • Made “Zuma-ing” a common word around this house.
  • I fell in love with a man and a boy, their fish and their husky.  We are now a family.
  • Vince met Donald Driver at a event at Henry Vilas Zoo.
  • I have been to Jason’s Hockey games, Vince’s baseball games, Vince’s basketball games and soon Vince’s football games (practices so far).
  • Jason and I have played enough volleyball together to proudly say we still love each other.
  • I started Invisalign braces.
  • I went back to school for my Human Resources Management certificate (to be completed in November).  A nice addition to my BS degree.
  • I have made some true and lasting friendships.
    • Amy who I could just squeeze and put in my pocket.  She is the kindest, most altruistic, sensitive, empathetic person I know.  She is a wonderful cook, wife and kitty mom.  She inspires me to have the kind of love and life she shares with her husband Andy.  Andy likes to make up words to songs, gnomes, magic cards, butt charlies and the saying, “what what in the butt butt”.
    • Laura is a great person and she barely knows it. She, like me… is always striving to be better, grow and live our lives to the fullest. She already has so much going on for her.  Even when she thinks she is being negative, she is still more positive than most people I know.  She is so kind, beautiful and just a true soul.  I feel honored to count her among my friends.  Dan and Jason bond over knee pimples.  If you just cringed, thank you.  It’s not normal.
    • Terrisa, who has and always will be a person that does not pass judgement, will always (ALWAYS) be there for a friend and is beautiful… will always make me feel blessed to count her amount “mine”.  She has an effortless flair about her.  She can shake it like a polaroid picture like no other.  Whenever I have a problem I feel is too big to handle… I know she will be there with wine or sparkling grape juice (because she makes people… and is working on her 3rd).  Pat lives for softball, bowling, Terrisa and the boys (and soon a little princess too).  He is an extroverted, perverted and lovely person.  Loyal friend and good dad.  I’m pretty sure he owes me a drink for something… I’ll think of it.
    • And everyone else who touches my life constantly with good thoughts, greatness, awesomeness, sparkles, glitter and shine.  I’m truly a lucky girl to have people like Joni, Hillary, Jamie, Sarah, Kelly, Jennifer, Melissa and more I’m sure.
  • I watched Jason and some of his closest friends plant a tree for a friend lost, Randy.  It was emotional and touching and truly a testament to what a group of great people they are.
  • Jason surprised me with a tee time and we went golfing for the first time in years.  I was so sore for days, so was he.
  • We weeded the yard, several times.
  • I found a love I thought was only meant for movies and fairy tales.  I dream of wedding bells, rocking chairs and sharing private moments with the man of my dreams, for the rest of my life.
  • I’m a better person because of him.
  • His son teaches me something new everyday.  He is a kind soul, a great kid, sweet, honest, athletic… he hugs me.  It melts my heart.

Gosh, I’m sure there is more… but really it all comes down to the fact that the last year of my life has been one of the best.  I have shared it with the man of my dreams, my family, and my friends.  I feel like I’ve grown more as a person than in many other years combined.  I have re-prioritized things and find that what’s important… really is as easy as the people in front of you.

I’ve got a lot to learn.  More to grow.  I look forward to every moment of this learning experience.  It hasn’t always been easy.  I’ve had moments of pull my hair out frustrations, screaming into the pillow hormonal meltdowns, marveling moments of how a bathroom can get that gross when such a little human uses it.  It has been some of the hardest times, but so rewarding, so worth it.

I’m sure there will be so much more in our future, I’m excited about the possibilities!

Us.

Weekend Recap: July 20-22

Friday

I worked.

Now on to the reason I work, Life.  I made a quick stop on the way home from work to find some special items to add to our dinner.  Jason and I had already talked about having chicken alfredo for dinner, but I wanted to add some sprinkles of awesomeness.  I was on the hunt for some wine to go with our dinner.  A buttery Chardonnay to be precise.  We love the Chardonnay from Wollersheim winery, but there wasn’t any at the store… so I had to check about 26 Chardonnay’s to find one that had buttery tones to it.  I know this sounds like a waste of time, but I had it in my mind that I wanted a buttery Chardonnay and nothing short of that would do.

I also did find a Pinot Noir that was imported from Italy, so I had to get that also (stock our emergency wine rack).

I wanted to get a special dessert for Jason.  I knew he liked Werthers so I was also looking for something with butterscotch flavors to have as a dessert.  I ended up getting an oatmeal cookie mix and some butterscotch chips (like chocolate chips, but not). I rounded up some flakey Pillsbury biscuits because they are his favorite and got myself some dark chocolate with raspberry filling Godiva chocolates because anything chocolate is my favorite.  I capped it all off with some pretty flowers to adorn the dining room table.

Dark Chocolate, Buttery Chardonnay and Italy Pinot Noir.

Pretty flowers and candles to set the table for a wonderful dinner cooked by Chef Ciano.

 

We ate a delicious dinner, had some wonderful buttery chardonnay and capped it off with heaven in our mouths… our new favorite cookies… the oatmeal butterscotch cookies.

Saturday

Ren Faire Day.

We met Amy and Andy at the park and ride at 7:10am.  Yup, we were getting an early start for this day of festivities and Awesomeness.  We headed out on our trek to Bristol for the Renaissance Faire.  On our way we stopped at the Daily Grind coffee shop in Cambridge, now a tradition on our Ren Faire Road Trip since we stopped there last year as well.  We got delicious scones and coffee and jumped back in the car to continue our trip.  Andy was the Driver, Jason was the navigator and Amy and I were backseat drivers.

We arrived at the faire around 9:15am.  The doors opened at 10:00 am so we got our tickets and settled in to watch the pre-faire show of Odiforous Thunderbottom. He was a humorous man who got some audience participation and killed time before the doors were opened.  Once inside we got to witness the different world that is the renaissance faire.  Couldn’t find anything to wear today besides animal fur, knights armor, chain mail bikini or a storm trooper uniform?  It’s okay, it’s the Ren Faire!  Come woodland fairy, come prince, come anyone and everyone.

Jason and I

Andy (being Andy) and Amy

 

We walked around and took it all in and then planned our day around the shows that were happening.  We got to see most of the shops around.  Didn’t bring your chalice to drink out of… no problem!  Need a new corset?  Check!  Need some very overpriced glass beads on a string, you’re in the right place!  Need mead, beer, and mixed drinks at every corner!  You’re in luck!  We ate giant turkey legs, mouth watering cheese balls, garlic mushrooms, corn on a stick and drank the local drinks.

Jason = Very excited about his ear o’ corn!

We took in the fire whip cracker (sigh), Moonie (a favorite) and caught several other acts during our day.  All in all we walked for about 5 and a half hours straight and by the time we left were completely exhausted and felt extremely underdressed and normal in comparison to everything we had witnessed.  This was Jason’s first Ren Faire and he loved it.  Even mentioned maybe coming back in costume next year.

Moonie sat with the boys for a bit during his performance… Andy can barely contain himself.

Audience participation isn’t free….

See you next year, Moonie!

As we parted ways back at the park and ride in Madison, Jason and I decided to live wild and fancy free and go have dinner at Olive Garden.  He had some Parmesan Crusted Chicken Alfredo and I had some (absolutely divine) Portabella Ravioli.  We also had some wonderful Chardonnay (shocking, I know) and had to take our Triple Chocolate Layer Cake dessert home with us.  We were full to the brim!

Needless to say that we got home, watched about an hour of tv and on a Saturday night without any parenting responsibilities, we were in bed and asleep by 9:00pm.  Exhausted?  Yes.

Sunday

We slept in.  We slept for 11 hours.  We could have slept longer.

We got up around 8:00am and I made us a bountiful breakfast of coffee and peanut butter toast.  I had about 2.5 extra pounds on me from the weekend (according to my dumb scale) and we were still having a little food hangover from the previous day.  We then cuddled up on the couch and watched the movie Cowboys and Aliens.  I really enjoyed it.  I also enjoyed the relaxing couch time.  Seems like we haven’t had much of that lately with all the sports and social obligations.  We were lazy, lazy bums until after lunch, which was grilled cheese, fritos (the devil) and that triple layer chocolate cake from the night before.  Mmmmm…..

Jason had to work in the afternoon so I got all prepared to Zumba.  I was lacking motivation and hoped it would kick me in the right direction.  I zumba’d for about an hour and then walked on the treadmill for about 2 miles while catching some sex and the city on tv (indulgent secret love).  After that I decided to go out and pull the weeds that Jason had told me not to pull.  He wanted to help me… I wanted it done.  I don’t listen well… ask him, he knows.  By the end of that I was feeling pretty exhausted and a little faint.  Probably lack of water and still some ren faire hangover.

I sat on the couch and picked up my Staffing school book.  I read 14 pages and then napped for an hour.  Thrilling book, obviously.  I woke up and finished the first chapter just as Jason returned home from work.  He made another yummy dinner of chicken and broccoli and we had our respective desserts… Jason = Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies, Me = Dark Chocolate Raspberry Yum Yum.

Now he is playing his stupid game; my half-loving, half-loathing name for Battlefield 3… loving or loathing depends on the day and my mood and the position of the moon around the earth.  I’m blogging and we are still recovering from the Ren Faire.  Hopefully tomorrow we will be back on track.  I’m looking forward to a relaxing Monday night filled with… more homework!  Weeeeeeee…..

Ta ta…

PS…

Are you thinking about the things in life that make you feel rich?  You should be.  It’s a good warm fuzzy exercise.  Today’s feel rich things: Planning for a future with an amazing guy, Chocolate, A yard to do work in, Realizing my family is normal(er) than I used to think it was, Good friends that never miss a beat and are there for you regardless of time, geography or life events.  Just life.  Breathing. Walking. Writing.  You, reading this.