Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So Much To Love...

I recently read a friend’s blog about the negativity that surrounds us on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s the job market, the weather, family issues, work issues, food quality, service quality, etc. etc., people always have something to complain about and it seems to bring everyone down. As a generally happy and positive, yet overly emotional person I try very hard not to get roped into other people’s negativity. Over the years, I have learned that my happiness and the happiness of my family are what matter most and societal pressures are not worth living up to.

Sometimes it's too easy and inconsequential to come up with an "I don't like" or an "I wish" list, so in an effort to clear my mind of the negativity that often enters my head without permission, I put together an "I love" list…A list of some of my favorite things that make me happy no matter what.

I love the beach, and I’m not talking about the beaches of Lake Erie, I'm talking about clean beautiful beaches. I love that I am lucky enough to be married to my best friend. I love running. I love listening to the same song on repeat, especially when I’m running. I love that my husband adores me. I love vacation…oh, how I love vacation, especially beach vacations. I love my family. I love my husband's family. I especially love that my family loves my husband...and he loves them. I love sports, especially basketball and football. I love that some women just “don’t get me” and my love of sports. Regardless of what the rest of the world thinks, I love Brett Favre. I love food. I love wine. I love cooking. I especially love cooking with my husband. I love Costco. Despite its age, I love my house. I love that my family will always go the extra mile to help us with our house. I love that my in-laws have bought my husband and I tickets to the men’s Final Four for three straight years. I also love that my husband would always prefer to go with me than with one of his guy friends. I love that I live in a smoke-free state. I love a good night's sleep but wish I could do without it. I love all-inclusive resorts. I love taking walks without a destination in mind. I love that I was married at the beach and we have made countless memories at that same beach. I love planning and mapping bar crawls in different cities, but still cherish the original Madison crawl. I love finding new places in the city that I’ve lived in for 31 years. I love that I can walk to my brother's house and we often meet in the middle for dinner. I love trying to “Go Green” and reduce my carbon footprint with sustainability, even if I’m not always the best at it. I love getting new running shoes, even if I already have six (eight?) pairs. I love a good deal. I love that my husband and I share so much in common, yet we’re really not that much alike. I love my uncluttered life. I love that I work with my mom and we car pool almost daily (my car loves this too). I love my health. I love my happiness. I love to relax and do nothing, mostly because I’m always over-planning. I love that no one cares that I wear my hair in a ponytail for 350+ days of the year. I love lists so much that they’ve become a part of who I am. I love life as a DINK (Dual Income No Kids). I love to plan vacations (just ask Jenny) and I think I’m damn good at it. I love the Food Network, Travel Channel and ESPN. I love cheese. I love bacon. I love pizza. I love that all of the contents of my fridge have a purpose. I love to laugh. I love being a strong independent woman, but also love being taken care of. I love that over the 10 years that I’ve known my husband, I have grown, matured and changed so much, yet we’ve done this together and continue to love each other deeply. I usually love surprises, even though it may take me a little while to absorb it. I love to organize. I love that I’m compulsive and my husband couldn’t be less compulsive. I love to paint. I love that I'm still (kind of) the baby of the family. I love happy hour and can never resist a last minute invite to happy hour. I love cook-outs in our backyard and the company that it brings. I love pay days. I love date night, either at home or at a nice restaurant. I love my nieces and nephews regardless of how much or little I see them. I love that we’ll be two hours into a trip and my husband will remind me to bring something, even though he knows that I’ve been making lists for months and packing for days. I love random hole in the wall bars where you meet real and often seedy people…trendy bars make me feel dirty. I love myself. I love my husband. I love our life. Although there is so much to love, what I love most is being home.

This was fun and it feels good writing about the best things in my life.
You should give it a try…

Friday, September 10, 2010

Alexandria, VA ~ September 3-6, 2010

We make the six-hour drive or one-hour flight to Alexandria, VA at least once a year. If not to visit our friend Jon (Steve’s friend from college), then to participate in Steve’s annual fantasy football draft in which Jon is also a participant. This isn’t just any draft…They rent a banquet room and hold a live draft and with 15 teams and about two people per team, it’s pretty intense lasting at least five hours. Everyone brings beverage coolers and they order pizza following the 8th round…It’s like every fantasy football satire you’ve ever seen. Men who are angry, jealous, stupid, cruel, irrational, etc., etc. all in one room at one time. As you can imagine, it’s quite a sight to be seen and something that I wouldn’t suggest everyone witness.

You may ask yourself “How does Shannon know all of these details???” Being the football (a.k.a Brett Favre) obsessed and totally awesome wife that I am, I also serve as Steve’s sidekick, making me the only female at the draft. It sort of makes me feel like I’m a member of some club, but not a club that I would ever choose. You see, the huge majority of these men are married to their fantasy football team and not to actual women. I don’t intend to make fun of them (actually, yes I do), but they're just not the kind of guys that I want hanging out at my house on football Sunday.

I sure would like to hang out with this guy!!

If I didn’t have an odd obsession with Brett Favre (I admit that it is a bit much), Steve probably would not participate in a fantasy football draft of this caliber. I am totally happy hanging out on Sunday with my husband. We eat, we drink, we cheer, we high-five (yes, we high-five) and overall we have a whole lot of quality fun. It’s worth every penny we spend on the NFL Ticket and I guess every dime we spend on Steve’s FFB team. P.S. I reserve the right to change my mind after Brett actually does retire :)

Anyway, back to the trip…We made the drive on Friday night and arrived around 9:30 pm. Jon is always an accommodating host and had a frosted beverage waiting for us upon arrival. What we expected to be an early night ended up being a late night and we stayed up a lot longer than I want to admit.

The draft was held on Saturday. Steve ended up with the 13th pick and eventually drafted Brett Favre (thanks to my irrational threats…just kidding!) Our friends Todd & Gina were staying at the Westin across the street from the draft location so we met up with them for a drink before heading out with the rest of the group to O’Connell’s on King Street. Oddly enough, Todd & Gina live in Hudson which is only 30 minutes from where we live…Steve and I both worked with Todd at the Cavs and we have done our best to stay in touch with them since my departure. They now have three kids and were visiting Alexandria for their 10-year wedding anniversary. We’re not the best at getting together, so it’s ironic that Alexandria is where we would see each other again.

On Sunday afternoon we took a water taxi with Jon, Todd & Gina to Georgetown where we had some beers and enjoyed the perfect weather. While Todd & Gina went back to their hotel, we returned to Jon’s and had a few more drinks before calling it a night!

I had no part in choosing these outfits...They must have been playing dress-up because neither the hat or shirt are something that Steve owns.

The Monday drive home from Alexandria is always miserable…We stay up too late, drink more than we should and don’t want to return to work the next day, but overall it was a fun time and I wish I took more pictures!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The New and Improved "Gym Schur"

A few months ago we had a flood in our basement in what we called the “Basement Debacle” where close to six inches of water covered our entire basement floor. We had a lot of help from friends and family (thank you Britt, Lia, Sean, Alex, Rich & Greg!) with buckets, garbage cans, etc. to remove the water and then a company came in throughout the following week with dehumidifiers, fans and sanitizers to finish the job (hello electric bill!) After some further cleaning, we finally had the opportunity to freshen up the 160 square feet of finished space in our basement. We had previously used it as a place for my treadmill, an extra TV and mostly storage and since we have too much storage in the rest of our house, we decided to maximize the space and turn it into a home gym. We painted everything, had carpet installed and put up baseboards. We already had a treadmill, but also bought a Concept 2 rower, a pair of Powerblock weights (which are all-in-one dumbbells that range from 3-24 lbs), a medicine ball and a stability ball.

With the exception of the painting, we pretty much finished the room in one day. I arranged for the carpet to be installed on Tuesday, so Steve took the day off and I left work at 1 pm. My wonderful stepfather also came over to perform his electrician duties. Rich and his senior apprentice (a.k.a. Steve) added an outlet for the TV and also replaced all of the existing outlets with new pretty white ones. They also did some other electrical things that I can't really explain, other than they make my life easier and me happier (their words, not mine). I proceeded to install the baseboards, DirecTV came and installed our HD DVR box and then Steve and I set up the remainder of the room. Pretty long but super productive day!

We also bought a 42” plasma and surround sound that we got a great deal on at Costco. I guess you can say we have a little obsession with flat screen TV’s :)

Overall, it looks really nice and we’ve already utilized it twice in two days! I have maintained my membership at the YMCA simply because it's nice to get away from the office and it's only a block away from work. I also have a great weight room at work with a brand new Woodway Treadmill (the crème de la crème in treadmill country…seriously like running on clouds), so I guess I have a plethora of options and no excuses! We’ll see how it goes.

On a related note…I am back running and feeling good. I am on a pretty strict schedule that includes three days of running beginning with 2 miles and progressing weekly in ½ mile increments.

We leave Friday afternoon for a long weekend in Alexandria, Virginia and will report back when we return...That’s it for now!

Happy and Safe Travels!

Happy 8th Birthday Daniel James!

These kids grow up so fast! On September 3, 2010, Daniel will be EIGHT!! With Zachary, Kristin and Daniel all celebrating their birthday's over the past week, it's hard to believe where time has gone. I cannot believe Daniel is eight years old already :) Sorry we won't be there to celebrate, but know you'll have fun regardless! Happy Brithday Daniel!