Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Snuggle Time

Warning: Mushy post ahead!

There are few things in life that can bring you pure joy and a sense of peace. For me, and probably many of you, one of those things is quiet time with family. Notice I used the word "quiet." I always enjoy time with my family, but those peaceful and silent moments are just the best. Snuggling on the couch with my girl reading a book and watching my Sydney sleep are a few examples. I love those moments.

Now, of course, Sydney hasn't always been in my life and before her there was Marc. He's most certainly still in the picture, but with pace of crazy life, we are left catching hugs and kisses between caring for Sydney and chores. We rarely get those quiet moments.

I had a terrible time sleeping last night. I spent the majority of the early morning tossing and turning. I got up several times and finally decided to go to the place I knew I would be most comfortable: Marc's side of the bed. I walked around to the other side of the bed and nudged him over. Now, if he had done that to me, I'd probably move, but I'd most likely be a little grumpy about it, not him. He willingly made room for me and wrapped his arms around me. Within seconds his warm snuggle put me at ease. I forgot about the pain in my hip and the worries turning in my head. I drifted off to sleep and didn't move again until the sun came up.

No matter how much our family grows, Marc will still always be my rock and my comfort. I am so fortunate to have someone so special in my life. I'm thankful for each and every day we are together.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Unbelievable Loss!

I just finished watching the Redskins get beat by an 0-2 team (Giants). We had several chances to at least tie the game, but failed horribly! UGH! I cannot believe it. We should have won this game and we lost our first conference game of the season. BUMMER!

I'm off to get Syd's stuff ready for school this week. Fun! Fun! Fun! :)

I'll check in tomorrow.

Take care,


Home Alone!

I loved that movie! My sister, Ashley, and I must have watched five million times. I cannot help but think of it every time I'm home alone.

Yesterday morning, Marc and Sydney headed to Richmond to visit his mom, Loretta. I'm technically in jail. I've been practicing. That's what I'm calling it now that I am convinced that studying is not an appropriate word. Even though the task isn't fun, I've enjoyed the quiet. A little more and I'll be ready for my family to return.

They will be home in time for the game! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will go well today against the Giants.

Well, I'm off to my chore. I hope you are having a great weekend.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Happy Birthday, Fancy Hannah!

Happy Birthday to the silly girl that has touched so many! I've heard stories over the last few years about Han, from Rach's blog and Jess, and had always laughed at Hannah's actions. Specifically, I remember thinking to myself how brave Hannah was when she hopped onto The Big Bad Wolf at Busch Gardens. I could not believe it.

This morning the view from my office is spectacular. The sky is layered in colorful hues (dark blue, red, orange, yellow and sky blue). I know it is in honor of Hannah. A few short months ago, I may not have noticed such beauty on a workday. Hannah and Rachael changed that for me. Today, I try to see the wonder in all things, big and small. I remind myself each day that I may not be here tomorrow, to love with all my heart and to try not to sweat the small stuff. The latter is a very tall order, but I'm working on it. :)

I'm so fortunate to have the Gaulden and Davis families in my life. It certainly is so much richer because of their presence. Today, I'm thinking of them and sending them my love.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Hannah!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Kitchen Nightmares

Last night was the beginning of Kitchen Nightmares. Since you know that I am in love with Chef Ramsey, I had to check it out. The premise is that Chef Ramsey will assist a struggling restaurant by offering management and menu advice, new equipment and a bag of British insults.

The show last night showed Peter's, a NY restaurant, in sad sad shape. Actually, parts of the show were pretty disgusting. It makes you wonder what is in the kitchen of your favorite restaurant. I'm sure I DON'T WANT TO KNOW! By the way, if you ever find yourself eating out too much and you just can't help yourself, do some searches on your local health authority website. Trust me, it was enough to deter me from many!

If you like staring at Chef Ramsey, this is a great show to watch. If you are just looking for silly and mindless entertainment, check it out! Wednesday nights on FOX! :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Have a good day, birdie!

Mornings are typically stressful for me. I know I'm facing an ugly commute and that I have to be out the door right on time or I will be late. So, I don't take the time to stop and "smell the roses" and every movement is purposeful.

Sydney was in a very good mood this morning, which makes life so much easier on us. She was very compliant and did almost all of what she was asked. I even managed to get her to "race" to the car in exchange for wearing two of my favorite bracelets during the ride to school. She's held them before and just plays with them. Today, she decided to take off her shoes and socks and wear them on her ankles. I was a little frustrated when we arrived to school because it meant that I would have to put her shoes and socks back on. This means more time. I didn't really say anything to her about it because I know she's just a kid and she just wanted to play with her feet. I believe I said something like, "Syd, you need to leave your shoes on in the morning." I think she wasn't listening at all. She was kind of talking to herself.

At this point, both socks are on and almost one shoe when I hear her say, "Have a good day, birdie!" I had to stop what I was doing and look up. She was watching a flying bird. I couldn't help but melt. A huge smile came across my face and she grinned. I gave her a kiss and said, "You have a good day, Sydney-pants!" She laughed and said, "You have a good day, Mommy!" I just love her sparkly eyes when she smiles. She can be just soooo sweet. I'm so very lucky!

So, all of you, have a good day!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hail to the Redskins! Hail Victory!

The Redskins crushed the Eagles last night in a 20-12 win! The second win in a row for us! Woo hoo! I missed the second half of the game because I was snoring in bed. Monday night games are tough for a mommy that has to get up early, ya know? :)

I was startled awake this morning at 5:30am by a shrill scream coming from Sydney's room. I'm sure other moms, probably Tib, had already done three loads of laundry, walked the dog and started breakfast by that early hour, but NOT ME! I crossed the hall trying not to run into any door jams along the way. When I made it to her, she was sobbing. I tried to pick her up and cuddle her, but she wasn't having it. NOPE! She wanted DADDY. Make ME cry why don't you? So, getting her to go back to sleep for a half hour took a little longer than it probably would have taken Marc. Nonetheless, I did it successfully.

I headed back to my bed as quickly as possible and rolled back into my "snuggle zone." I had no sooner closed my eyes when Sydney's activity table started singing the ABCs over and over. No one had touched it. Now, I really hate stuff like that, mainly because it is preventing me from sleep. I had to get up and touch another button on the table to make it stop. I was annoyed, but it really made me think about Halloween and ghosts. I cannot help but wonder sometimes if Mr. Colby is hanging around with us. He would always knock stuff with his big tail. I'd like to think so.

What about ghosts and spirits in general? Do you believe in them? Since Halloween is right around the corner, I thought it would be a good topic. I'm curious to know what you think.

Have a great day today!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday, Monday, Ba da da da da da!

We had an amazing weekend! I hope you did too.

On Friday, we ordered pizza for dinner and cleaned up the house. Yes, this is the not-so-fabulous part of our weekend. It did end with us lounging on the couch watching tv for a short period of time before going to bed.

Saturday morning, Syd was up at 7am. We played in the basement before making breakfast and cleaning up (kitchen and ourselves). Then, we headed to Logan's for an early lunch. I was craving chicken tenders. Syd was a doll during lunch, which was greatly appreciated. We returned home and lazed around for a bit while Syd took a nap. Then, my mission began.

My parents and siblings were coming over to stay on Saturday night and in true Tiburon spirit, I prepared our Saturday indulgence! Tib, I totally thought of you while cooking after last week's post. It takes hours, which is why it is a rare event, but I made an apple pie and fried chicken. Of course, no chicken dinner is complete without green beans simmered with salted side meat, mashed potatoes and cornbread. Mmmm...wish I had leftovers! People are always asking me how to fry chicken. Finally! After all of these years, I've got it down! My grandma would be proud!

After dinner on Saturday night, my mom and I sat down to work on Syd's Halloween costume. I'm a total newbie at reading patterns so, her assistance was crucial. Most of the night consisted of her telling me what stitches to make and where to cut, etc. The good news is that the shirt is almost complete. The bad news, I'm left to finish it alone. That is scarier than Halloween itself. Ha ha! We'll see what happens.

Sunday morning was an early day. We all got up and I made french toast. I picked up a new flat skillet at Tuesday Morning for $11, which made life much easier. After breakfast, it was off to the park! The ball park. We watched the Nationals get beat by Atlanta (boo hoo). We all hung out in our chilly seats for the duration of the game munching on stadium food. MMMMMM! I love love stadium food. Sydney was, again, an angel! It was such a good day.

I'll have to post pics soon. I know, I know. I've got a million pics I need to post. I'm just a little short on time this month.

Have a great day! Oh yeah! BTW-Prison Break starts tonight and the Skins face the Eagles. What a tv night!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

2% What?

Good Morning! I don't know about you, but I just cannot believe that it is Thursday already! This week has just slipped right by me.

The traffic was merciful this morning and so I was able to stop by Starbucks for an early week treat. Typically, I do Fridays, but my week has been nutty enough already. So, I went in this morning to order my "usual" (decaf tall vanilla mocha) and stood against the wall waiting with everyone else. I am typically in and out of there and don't pay much attention to the menu boards or any other advertisements, but today I noticed a few things:

1. THE PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE IS BACK YA'LL! I really don't know why I get so excited about posting that since I have never even tried it! I guess it is because so many of my friends love it. I just love making them happy. Of course, to me, it is just another acknowledgement that Fall has arrived.

2. STARBUCKS HAS SUGGESTED FOOD PAIRINGS NOW. I actually think this is pretty neat. Similar in concept to pairing food and wine, Starbucks has issued suggestions of food pairings for their coffees. If you are hosting anything, this is great. Their website even provides recipes. You know how much I LOVE food! I wonder what goes well with french toast.

3. THE WORLD IS MOVING IN A HEALTHY DIRECTION! Ok, so as I am waiting for my drink I notice that now Starbucks defaults to 2% milk! My first reaction was complete horror! I hate to cut the fat out of anything. It always meant sacrificing flavor. I actually pouted for a minute because I thought my coffee would maybe even taste different. Much to my surprise, it didn't! It was simply heavenly, like always.

I notice that I give the impression that I don't worry about my health at all. This isn't the case. Of course, I must give my husband credit for the pushing. He's always been the driving force of health in our home. When we first got together, he wanted the 2% and I wanted whole. Pretty soon, I adjusted. There have been so many things like that over the years with the most recent being the war of bread. My husband prefers a whole grain variety while I like the white varieties (french, sourdough or just plain white loaf). Most of the time, I just get what he likes, but sometimes, we have two loaves of bread. Harris Teeter has very cute mini loaves that work very well. On my end, I like to push mixed green salad instead of just iceberg. Iceberg is not only disgusting (maybe that is too strong), but has zippy nutritional value. Also, I like to push fish regularly. I'm very careful on this one. My husband loves to watch fish swim in a tank, but he's not the first one in line with a plate.

I think it is wonderful that so many restaurants are offering healthier alternatives (i.e. fruit instead of fries, juices instead of soda, apples instead of chips, etc.). I won't always take them up on it, but it is good to know I have the option. Truly, I think a lot of it is just a matter of habit.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I'm around!

Hi! I'm getting crushed this week so far. There is so much going on. :) I'm checking in on you all! Just wanted to let you know that I am well, just busy.

I hope you are having a great week! I so enjoyed the sprinkles and clouds today.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Happy Happy Monday!

I hope everyone had a nice weekend.

Friday night we had a nice dinner at Logan's. I so LOVE their bread. We also rented Vacancy, which was less than so-so.

On Saturday, we got up and did some pick up. I went to Wal-Mart and picked up a sewing pattern for Sydney's Halloween costume. If all goes well, she'll be a doctor in cute little scrubs. I am a complete novice when it comes to sewing. So, I picked something marked easy in hopes that it will turn out wearable for Halloween. We'll see. :)

Later Saturday, we drove to Queenstown, MD for my company picnic. It is about two hours away and the traffic for most of the drive there was great, until we got a few miles outside the Memorial Bay Bridge. I HATE this bridge. It scares the crap out of me. Thank goodness, Marc was driving.

We got home around 8:15-8:30, put Sydney to bed and then, I started making chili for Sunday's game. WE LOVE FOOTBALL! Sunday was the first Skins game of the season and we had to prepare.

Sunday was a sleepy day for me. Later in the afternoon, Wes, our brother, came over with wings. We watched a portion of the game while we had lunch (chili, wings and garlic bread-tums anyone?). Then, Syd went down for a nap. The entire second half was missed by me because I had fallen asleep. I still blame the cough syrup! :) I did wake up in overtime to watch the Skins WIN! That was very exciting. Next Monday night we play the Eagles, who lost this week. Hopefully, that will be good for us.

Have a great day today! This will be a rough week for me at work. We are having a new phone system installed and it is VOIP. We have a few people in the office that are (ahem) technologically challenged. That is about as nice as it gets. :) I pray everyone brings their patience to work with them this week. I've already packed three weeks worth.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Dear Anonymous,

Tonight you said regarding the LSAT:

"Maybe if it's causing you so much stress, it's not the time for you to do it...It sounds like you have a great life already. There will be plenty of time for all of this in the future. Enjoy you life, kid(s) and husband in the meantime! You'll never get this time back....life's too short to fill it with things that aren't worth it. "

I absolutely have a great life. In fact, I truly couldn't ask for more. That is not in question. I suppose the question then is, "Is it worth it to pursue my dream?"

I struggled to finish college. It certainly isn't easy going part time and working full time. That is what I had to do to pay my bills and tuition. It was the road I chose and it was a hard one. I had lots of bumps along the way. I had two surgeries and a husband that went to Iraq. Then, we found out we were pregnant with Sydney. I had the worst morning sickness. I cannot tell you how many people told me over and over again to just quit because it would be easier. "You have a good job and a husband with a college degree. What do you care?" They just didn't get it. I had people telling me, "You'll never finish."

I had members of my family tell me that my desire to finish college was simply driven by "materialistic desires." Right! Didn't you know that I'm rich now that I've graduated? PUHLEASE! Very few people got it then and even less get it now. "You've got a degree. Why continue?" There are many reasons, but the biggest for me are:

-I want to show my children that education is important. I don't want to just TELL them it is important. I want to set the example. What is the saying? "Don't talk about it, be about it."

-If anything were to ever happen to Marc, and I pray it never does, I want to be able to support my family. Could I do it without grad school? ABSOLUTELY! There are many people out there that do so many amazing and incredible things with so much less than I have; however, it would just be easier to set myself up for success. Life without Marc would be hard enough for us.

-On a personal level, I'm full of potential. I feel like I have so much more to learn and accomplish. I have a desire to learn and to teach. I hope that one day I will have a positive impact, not only on my family, but my community. I want to inspire others to set goals and to reach them.

Anonymous, if I gave up on everything that caused me stress, I wouldn't have anything in life. Many people wouldn't. If I always chose the path of least resistance, I wouldn't be here today with my wonderful husband and my beautiful daughter. I wouldn't have finished college and I wouldn't even entertain the idea of grad school. I would have had a very very different life. I won't go into it, but you should trust me. I certainly do not think that everyone should choose my path or make their choices in the same fashion. It is a different cookie for everyone.

I question myself every day. If I didn't, I just wouldn't be me. I don't take the decisions in my life lightly. In fact, just the opposite. The bottom line is that, as long as my conditions can be met (i.e. full time school-home with family at night), I'm going for it. Will it be worth it? If my conditions can be met, I believe it is. Life is about balance. I've been juggling for YEARS! I've gotten so good at it. Why stop now? :) I just hope to get the chance to continue.

WOW! I have to thank you for your comment. It forced me into clarity.

Now, Syd's in bed and I'm off to study.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Ready, Aim, FIRE!

Someone please shoot me! Ok, well, not really. I guess it isn't that serious. This will be very conversational so, please ignore mistakes.

Things are pretty slow here at the office this morning and so, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to study. I've been studying at home, but it is always after Syd goes to bed and I'm pretty tired. I figured I would do better today since I'm wide awake. Right? WRONG! I might as well just close my eyes and point.

If you don't know anything about the LSAT, know this: it does not test any knowledge whatsoever. So, for those in my family that think I should breeze through this simply because I've had exposure to the system for seven years, think again! In fact, it makes no sense to me at all. There! I said it!

We passed the University of Mary Washington (Prof Studies Campus) this weekend on our way to Reedville and I immediately wanted to puke. I was instantly reminded of the upcoming exam and of my horrible day last Fall. It was a complete disaster.

Of course, I got little sleep the night before. This was in part due to nerves, but mainly because I was very sick. I had been dealing with a terrible hacking cough for almost two weeks and it seemed to only get worse. Next, I had to deal with intestinal issues. This was nerves entirely. It happens to me ALL THE TIME! Family curse. Then, I sat on the edge of my parents' bed (they live near the college) sobbing. This is all before 7:30am.

After I settled down, I got in the car and headed over. I found a space, went inside and hung out until they called us in. By the time I sat down, I actually felt okay and old. Seriously, I was sitting between two pimply college kids who had to be no older than nineteen. The proctor came around to check our stuff and noted my baggie of unwrapped cough drops (they make you do that you know-it is a SIN to make ANY noise during this test). By the way, you are NOT allowed to bring anything to drink at all, not even water. This was BAD for me.

Before I knew it, I heard the proctor call time and we were on our way. The first section was great, not a problem. I didn't finish all of them, but that is fairly normal. The next section immediately begins. It is a reading section and I'm fine. Then, I got a tickle in my throat. I tried so hard not to make noise. I kept swallowing trying to make it stop. I was turning red. So, I dove for the cough drops. I prayed, "please stop!" All the while, the clock is ticking. I start to cough. Of course I am not looking at my paper, I am looking around the room to see if anyone was throwing me eye darts. I wanted to die. "FOCUS, Jess!" I tried to redirect my attention, but it was no use. Now, I'm trying to stifle a cough and not choke on the cough drop. The proctor walks over to ask if I am okay. "Sorry, just a minute. I'm fine." I wasn't fine. That just made it worse. I saw her staring at me with the get-your-crap-together look. That did it! I was hacking like no one's business. I was distracting everyone. The proctor motioned for me to leave the room and the assistant had to stand in the hall with me.

I'm standing outside the room when I hear them call time. I had missed the entire section. I'm thinking that I have to get back inside, but I cannot stop coughing. The assistant leads me to a water fountain and tells me that she cannot let me back in until I stop coughing. By this point, I'm standing in the corner against the wall completely freaking out, crying and trying to stop the incessant cough. I was mortified. By the time I got back into the room, I had ten minutes to try to complete a game section. YEAH RIGHT!

I went back in and tried to focus for the remainder of the test, but it wasn't happening. All I could think was that I missed TWO sections of the test, which is a lot! I left feeling totally crushed, got in my car, made it to the stop sign and looked at the odometer that read 66666 and cried halfway home. I did send the text photo of the odometer to my sister. I returned to work on that Monday and cancelled my scores. I just didn't want to know.

Turns out two weeks later, I still had the freaking cough and broke a rib. I was told I had whooping cough and was given meds, including vicodin for the rib pain.

Now, what do I do? The test is in 23 days and I'm freaking out! There is a very real possiblity that I will bomb this exam. Then what?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Carnival Destiny 2007 (Port: Barbados)

Our next stop on the cruise was Barbados. We got up pretty early that morning, had breakfast and headed out to meet our tour guides. We took a five-star catamaran trip out to snorkel and swim with the turtles.

The morning started off pretty hazy and it showered periodically through the day, but overall the trip was sooo fun. The biggest disappointment was the lack of wildlife. They (fish and turtles) had all made a break for it when Hurricane Dean swept through. So, our underwater pics are a little bare. Also, the first snorkeling stop was too much for me. I'm hardly a fish when it comes to water. In fact, it takes me literally twenty minutes to calm myself in the water before I'll even put a mask on and put my face in. It is a long story, I'll spare you. When we stopped at this particular location I was disappointed to find that the water was over 33 ft deep, dark, cloudy and VERY choppy. I was in for about five minutes when someone had to be rescued. Not exactly reassuring. After that, I tried to stay close to the group, but ran into the problem of people accidentally kicking me in the belly. They were having too much fun trying to see something. Who could blame them? :) I gave up and got back on the boat where I felt more comfortable.

Later, we went to a more shallow and calm area where I lounged in the water and we took a walk on the beach. When we returned to the catamaran they served us an AWESOME lunch of flying fish, corn salad, scalloped potatoes and curried chicken. YUMMMM!

On the way back to the ship, the guides pointed out a few areas of interest on the coast including the fancy pants resort where Tiger Woods recently wed. The funny thing about Barbados is that all beaches are public. So, the driver told us we could go hang out in front of the resort area, but as along as we didn't walk on their path or sit in their chairs, there was nothing they could do. Personally, if I were paying 3K per night to stay there, I might get a little annoyed in a booze cruise pulled up with a bunch of drunk morons yelling and screaming. Additionally, if I owned a home on the beach, I'm not sure I'd like it either.

Barbados is the home of Malibu rum and they had tours available; however, given my current condition, we opted out.

It was a beautiful day and the best part is we met a couple from Stafford on that trip. We ran into them several times on the cruise and exchanged information. For those of you that don't know our area, that is about an hour drive from us. They also have small children, one is a little older than Sydney. We hope to get together with them soon. We understand the hubby will be leaving for Iraq in October. He is expected to be gone for a year. My heart goes out to them as I have been there before. At least in my case, I didn't have children.

Well, take a look at our Barbados photos below:

(BTW: The boats in the background are not ours. I cannot believe we failed to take a photo of our catamaran, but we did. Oh well!)

Above is the one turtle that stuck around for snacks! Guess the storm wasn't worth the travel for him. :)
I look at these photos and am amazed at how beautiful it is and it is hard to believe that I was just there. We are so fortunate to have had this experience.
Next stop: ST. LUCIA

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Carnival Destiny 2007 (Port: St. Thomas)

Finally, some vaca photos. I've actually been looking forward to viewing them myself. It seems like it has been a month. As you know our trip was threatened by Hurricane Dean, but you will find very little evidence that he even passed just a day or two before we arrived.

We landed in Puerto Rico around noon and made it onto the ship by 2:30pm. We were starving by then and had lunch at our first cruise buffet. I ate so much during the cruise. I really loved having food at my fingertips 24/7.

Our first stop was St. Thomas. We spent the day shopping, walking and we took a sky lift up for photos. I hate heights so, I was holding on for dear life during the ride up. Once we arrived, the view was beautiful. You'll see it below. We had lunch at a sweet little open cafe where Marc tried a mojito. Hmm...I tried the iced tea. It was pretty good. :) He had tacos and I had fajitas. Not exactly island food, but they were recommended and very very good.

It wasn't until AFTER I visited that I found out Blackbeard's castle was there. Oh well! I guess that can be an excuse for a return visit.

Sweet view of an alley in St. Thomas. I love these little alleys. They are so charming.

Look closely! There is a rooster hiding in a flower pot! He was so cute. I didn't even know he was there until I scared him.

A view from main street

A distant view of our floating hotel.

That is the cable car line we rode on. IKES!
Can you even see the cables?
Up up up

Almost there
Our ship from above
The town below
An amazing view!

Woa! We're really high!

Later, after dinner, we returned to find the first in a series of towel animals (elephant).

Our sorry attempt at a timed together photo. We cut off Marc's noggin.

BTW-the dress and the necklace were purchased in St. Thomas. Also, there isn't a picture here, but my hubby bought me some london topaz bling (ring, bracelet and earrings). We thought it was perfect given that we had just found out we were having a boy! :) Blue is the color, you know!
Notice we are still very white! Me especially. I went from whiter to white and then to burnt and peeling. No tanning luck for me!
Maybe tomorrow night we'll post Barbados!