Tuesday, January 31, 2012

One Year.


One year ago, our world came crashing down around us with one phone call.


One year ago, I experienced heartbreak and sorrow like I never have before.

One year ago, I learned what it was like to support your spouse through unimaginable pain.

One year ago, we had to tell our kids that their incredible uncle was now watching over them from above.

One year ago, I discovered that I hated the phrase "I'm sorry for your loss.".

One year ago, I realized that my emotions come in all consuming waves at times I least expect it.


One year ago, I had to talk myself into believing it was true.

One year ago, I "what if'ed" and "if only" and "why'd" myself crazy.

One year ago, I didn't know how things would be in a year.

One year later, the hole in our lives is still ever present, but there is healing.

One year later, I am so happy to see how easily we talk about Verd.

One year later, we are remembering...we are reminiscing...we are laughing.

One year later, it is glaringly apparent how wonderful my husband's family is.


One year later, my sister-in-law K. continues to amaze me with her strength and grace.

One year later, we are surviving.

One year later, we are cherishing the memory of an incredible man and learning how to continue on his legacy.

We miss you Verd. We will always miss you. While the tears may not be as frequent, the memories from that day still sneak up and steal my breath away. The world lost an incredible man the night of your accident, but Heaven gained an amazing angel.

We love you Verd!


Monday, January 30, 2012

Mexican Randomness...


Sometimes, I look at these photos and just laugh. It's crazy that it's only been two weeks since the wedding...I feel like it's forever ago!

Our vacation...in random photos:

Somewhere over Mexico...


My "row-mate"...my mom wisely placed me between the Mr. and T...knowing that if anyone can talk me down from "OHMYGOSH THE PLANE IS GOING TO CRASH AND WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!", it is those two...

After every "show" the employees would get up on stage and dance to this "si, si, si/no, no, no/oo oo" dance. The guy in the front on the left? That's Diego...I'm still not sure if he's Dora's cousin or not, but anyway, my mom loved him. That girl in the middle with the turquoise show dress on? That's me. Okay, it's not, I was just her body double. ;) Seriously, those girls were IN SHAPE! Made me want to eat a burger and fries for them...


And then, my brother became a picture crasher! What I want to know is, why does he look so fabulous and I look so...psycho...when HE was the one who jumped into the photo milliseconds before the flash went off?!


The view of the hotel pool from the top floor...


Dancing...dancing...always dancing.


The following two pics are too funny to not post! I couldn't post them to Facebook (sigh...something about "professionals" and stuff...), but since no one knows them here...WOO HOO!!



The Mr and my baby bro...cuttin' a rug.


Here's what happens when you leave your camera on the floor of the disco...random people show up in your photos...no idea who these two are, but apparently the one on the left loves the picture taker!


And, for now, we'll end with this one...another whale watching pic. Love.



Head and Shoulders...Green Apple Style.

Okay, so, the story goes that there was a girl who used to think dandruff shampoo was...well, weird. Don't ask her why, she really doesn't know, but in any event, she just breezed right past that section of the shampoo aisle without a second glance to those "itchy scalp" shampoos.

Then, one day, she had the opportunity to try out some of that "weird" shampoo ...and LOW AND BEHOLD!! it actually, wasn't weird! It was...well...it was wonderful!

So, when that girl received a second opportunity to try out another version of that WONDERFUL shampoo, she jumped on it. (Psssst...yo. If you haven't caught on, that "girl" in the story above is moi. Over 'n out.)

BlogHer and Head and Shoulders provided me with some Green Apple Shampoo and Conditioner, and I've gotta say, Mama continues to be pleased!

Guys, the mop on top of my head? It's thick up there. And, when a girl's got thick, heavy hair, it takes a lot to get some bounce goin' on.

One of the very first things I noticed when I used the Head and Shoulders Green Apple Shampoo was the volume my hair had! It was so full of body, and felt so healthy; it was awesome!

I love finding shampoo that can give my hair a little lift, rather than adding a bunch of product to it.

Oh, and get this: Head and Shoulders is gentle enough to use every day on color treated and permed hair! Who needs that pricey salon stuff?!

I will be honest with you about something though; I have a bit of an aversion to green apple. Not the fruit, itself, but the artificial flavor/scent of green apple, so I was a little bit leery about the whole scent part of this review. I can say, truthfully, that the green apple scent in this shampoo is wonderful. It's a light, not over-powering scent that really just ends up smelling clean and fresh and citrus-y.

SO pleased to find that I didn't smell like I had just rubbed a green apple Jolly Rancher all up in my hair. Nope, just fresh smelling all day long!

So, would you like the chance to win a $50 Visa gift card?

Easy peasy...just leave me a comment telling me what scents make you feel beautiful and fresh to be entered for a chance to win!

(See, told ya it was easy...)

Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older.

Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail.

You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

This sweepstakes runs from 1/30 - 2/28.

The Official Rules are available here.

Be sure to visit the Promotions & Prizes page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win! And visit the Life Well Lived section on BlogHer.com for more great tips on looking your best.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Real Time...


Ahhhhh...bed.

Currently, in my life:

I'm lying beside a certain Baby Girl who is whining because my bedside lamp is on. To which I say, "Get in yer own dang bed, then!" ;)

Wondering why asparagus makes your pee smell. Grody.

Not looking forward to my three day work week. I know, I know THREE WHOLE DAYS, right? Yeah, well...it's one more than I usually work and one less with the family and boo.

Two people in our house are celebrating birthdays this week...anyone remember who?

Had a delicious supper at my parent's tonight...replete with DQ's for dessert! Yum. *burp*

Trying to decide which Mexico post to do next...random Mexico madness or Mama's Epic Meltdown? Hmmmmm...decisions, decisions.

Have a new BlogHer giveaway post coming up tomorrow...gotta get that all scheduled to post. Make sure you stop back tomorrow and enter!

Realizing that I need to pick back up on the Reader's Digest posts...those are fun for me.

Well...I think that's it. The "heartbeat" sound on my Baby's recently "re-discovered" sound machine thing-a-ma-jig is making me sleepy.

See you right back here in the morning! G'night y'all!


Friday, January 27, 2012

Five Question Friday!! 1/27/12


Whistle while you work...tweedle eet deet deet deet deet. Yup...off to welcome babies this morning, then HELLO WEEKEND! Gotta get a special little someone some presents for her birthday that's coming up.


Oh, and I suppose I should get Baby some, too. ;) Dang girl, stealing my birthday...I say that deserves an iPad, no?

Okay, so last night I was up until after 1 am uploading a mass quantity of photos from whale watching (did you read that epic novel? It's kind of fun...) and I'm BEAT today, so I'm gonna get right down to business and get this 5QF show on the road!

Welcome to Five Question Friday!! You've come to the right place if you want a fun, easy post or if you've suddenly discovered your muses have decided they are on strike for the weekend.

Rules for 5QF: Copy and paste the following questions to your blog post, answer them, then watch for the linky post to appear Friday morning and LINK UP!

Oh, and remember (pay close attention...this is the important one)...HAVE FUN!

Questions for Friday, January 27th: (Special thanks to
Pam (@trooppetrie) from Troop Petrie, Gasfamily (@gasfamily) from The Gas Family, Lindsay (@ninjalindsay) from Mac or Cheesy, Keely (@keely1978) from MannLand5 and Jolene (@joleneslavik) from the Just the 4 of Us for their question suggestions! I would love to link you in a future 5QF, so come on over to my community or watch for my Thursday afternoon shout out for questions on Twitter and offer up your best question suggestions! Remember to @5crookedhalos me and use hashtag #5QF if you go the Twitter route!)

1. Do you swim in the winter?

2. Do you love or hate winter?

3. Do you put makeup/actual clothes on when you know you're going to be home all day with just family?

4. How old were you when you had your first alcoholic beverage?

5. How many ill calls in a 12 month period do you think are acceptable?

----------------------------------------------

1. Do you swim in the winter?

Well, I try not to. It takes a lot of effort to swim in the winter around here...first you have to shovel the snow off the lake. Then you need to cut a gigantic whole in the ice.

Then you need to strip to your skivvies and psyche yourself up for the arctic plunge.

Okay, I jest. We don't swim in the lakes right now. (Like, totally...DUH!) Well, sorta. There is an annual fundraiser that takes place down near the Big City that's called the Polar Bear Plunge (after searching for that link, I've discovered it's not just a local fundraiser...huh, the things Google teaches you.) and as much as I'd love to support the Special Olympics...I just can't plunge myself into the depths of a frozen lake.

I'm certain I'd never warm up.

Ever.

2. Do you love or hate winter?

Mostly hate...but this winter? LOVE! So, normally our temps are pretty consistently in the "miserable" to "intolerable" range right about now. Translated to degrees Fahrenheit, that comes out to somewhere around a million to a bajillion degrees below zero.

Yes, consistently.

This year, however? We've had very sporadic, short lived "cold" days (around the 0*F or just below to 10*F above) with more mild 20's and then short lived (but fairly frequent) mid 30's. It's nothing short of a miracle.

Or, the end of the world.

You take your pick. But, I'll take a walk on the positive "non-rapture" side and go with miracle. I've always welcomed Global Warming with open arms...I'm finally getting my wish!

Now...if only we would've gotten that White Christmas, this winter would rank as close to "Perfect" as you can get!

3. Do you put makeup/actual clothes on when you know you're going to be home all day with just family?

Um.

No.

Okay, let me rephrase that. NO WAY!

If I'm grubbin' at home, with nowhere to be, no one coming over...you'll find me decked out in my yoga pants (Express brand, please and thank you), an oversized T-shirt and a gigantic (likely nearly shredded) sweatshirt and warm, fuzzy socks.

Without a lick of make-up on.

And, probably un-brushed teeth.

But I do change my undies every morning, so rest assured.

4. How old were you when you had your first alcoholic beverage?

Like, "my own" my own? I'm sure I inadvertently sipped a few alcoholic beverages well before I was actually meaning to.

I remember going to a party in probably 9th grade...you know, the kind where you walk in, buy a red solo cup, and help yourself to beer? Yeah, that kind.

Only, I hated beer. (Still do, for the most part...although, hand me a cold one in sunny Mexico and I'll enjoy most of it. Kinda.) So, I ended up drinking it REALLY fast, 'cuz, you know my only goal was to get drunk.

However, when one who is not used to drinking chugs beer in rapid succession, she goes from "not drunk" to "barfing" rather quickly.

So, yeah...I'd say I was probably in 9th grade. Which, now that I write that is OH EM GEE too young. Yikes.

5. How many ill calls in a 12 month period do you think are acceptable?

Have to laugh at this one...Jolene and I were discussing this on Twitter after she had an interview recently and was asked this question.

At my place of employment, we are "allowed" a certain % of ill calls. A basic rule of thumb is that we are allowed as many sick calls in a 12 month period as we are hired to work in a pay period.

So, for example...I work part time...my FTE, full time equivalent, is .5, which is 50% or 5, 8 hour shifts in a pay period, which is two weeks. That means I am allowed, roughly, 5 ill calls a year.

Which I think is pretty fair. To compare, if I worked full-time, I would be a .9 FTE (that's full-time where I work) which would mean I'd be allowed roughly 9 ill calls.

In the nearly 13 years that I've worked at the hospital, I've only come close to that max % once...and that was during a bad winter where illness never seemed to leave!

So that's my long, ramble-y answer...as many days as you are hired to work in a pay-period.

Amen.

------------------------------------------------

Have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday Night 5QF Sneak Peek!!


Thursday. Already. Wow. How does that happen? One minute it's Monday morning and I'm sad to have the weekend over and BAM the next minute, it's Thursday night and almost the weekend again.


So...everyone. Listen closely. Did you know that Blogger comments have a reply feature now? I have been replying like crazy...but I don't know if anyone gets my replies unless they come back and check in which case HELLO BLOGGER, how about adding a "notify" option?

Check it out. It's super fun.

Well...anyway...Welcome to Five Question Friday!! You've come to the right place if you want a fun, easy post or if you've suddenly discovered your muses have decided they are on strike for the weekend.

Rules for 5QF: Copy and paste the following questions to your blog post, answer them, then watch for the linky post to appear Friday morning and LINK UP!

Oh, and remember (pay close attention...this is the important one)...HAVE FUN!

Questions for Friday, January 27th: (Special thanks to
Pam (@trooppetrie) from Troop Petrie, Gasfamily (@gasfamily) from The Gas Family, Lindsay (@ninjalindsay) from Mac or Cheesy, Keely (@keely1978) from MannLand5 and Jolene (@joleneslavik) from the Just the 4 of Us for their question suggestions! I would love to link you in a future 5QF, so come on over to my community or watch for my Thursday afternoon shout out for questions on Twitter and offer up your best question suggestions! Remember to @5crookedhalos me and use hashtag #5QF if you go the Twitter route!)

1. Do you swim in the winter?

2. Do you love or hate winter?

3. Do you put makeup/actual clothes on when you know you're going to be home all day with just family?

4. How old were you when you had your first alcoholic beverage?

5. How many ill calls in a 12 month period do you think are acceptable?

-------------------------------------------------------

How's that? See you in the am!



Whale Watching in Bahia de Banderas


Warning...this post is long. BUT WAIT!! It is FUN and FULL of photos! So, read it, will you? I think you'll enjoy it...especially the part about my "Scottish" husband...

"Bahia de Banderas" or "Banderas Bay"...a "shark-free", mountain-lined, dolphin-filled winter home to humpback whales.

I put "shark-free" in quotes because you know what they say in Mexican markets, "for you senorita, almost free today". Their "free" seems to be just a bit different than our "free". But, that's what they claim.

Shark-free waters because of the (5? maybe more?) different species of dolphins that inhabit this bay...they supposedly keep the sharks away (word on the pier is that there has never been a shark spotted in the bay...) which in turn makes for fabulous breeding grounds for humpback whales.

No sharks to eat the baby whales. Gory, I know.

And now, aren't you so glad you know that little tidbit of information? Someday, if you win a million dollars because of it, you owe me 10%. Finders fee, or something. ;)

So...anyway...onto the story, Mama.


The morning of the wedding, we woke up bright and early...roused my aunt and cousin (whose clock was about 30 minutes behind and whom thought they could go back to bed for a bit...boy were they surprised when we told them they had approximately 4.7 minutes to get ready and get to the lobby to catch our taxi to the pier. Funny stuff...), gathered T. and began our voyage to "Paradise Pier".

Wait. Before I go any further, I have something to share with you. MUY IMPORTANTE, so listen up.

If you get any hint of motion sickness, you MUST procure yourself a scopolamine patch before engaging in any sort of potential motion sickness inducing activity. I wear them on flights, long car rides, whale watching expeditions ('cuz I do so many of those) and I am convinced that they saved me from any...NOT A SINGLE, ITTY BITTY HINT...of seasickness.

And let me tell you something else...I am one motion sick prone chica. Like, I get sick SWINGING, for Pete's sake. I changed my patch the night before our ship sailed from the pier into the choppy waters of Bahia de Banderas and I didn't feel the slightest twinge of barfiness.

Miraculous, I tell you. Thank you, dear inventor of scopolamine. (It does, however, give you the world's worst cotton mouth.)

Okay, continuing on...

So, as the sun peeked over the mountains (I have no idea what mountain range this is...but I do know that Nuevo and Puerto Vallarta apparently used to be in different time zones...basically, the city was split, and they recently both joined CST, the best time zone, but our phones still picked up the old time zone, Mountain time, which was terribly confusing to all of us...trivia for you. Same deal as above...10%.) we waited for our boat to arrive.


Fun story about the boat...the company that our hotel dude works with usually sends peeps out in a rubber raft (no lie) to whale watch. The day we wanted to go, the raft was full, so he worked a deal and got us in with another company, but "oh no" it's on a sailboat. For 20 bucks less per person.


Turns out that was the best thing that ever happened! The boat was an old Norwegian racing boat that won a bunch of races back in it's day. During one of the World Wars, Norway (I think it was Norway...this just in!! It was, indeed, NOT Norway. Holland, apparently. See comments below, thanks bestie!) was afraid their "treasure" would be looted and pillaged (or stolen, but looting and pillaging sounds so much more fun) so they filled it with mud and sank it in a lake.

After the war, they resurrected it, refurbished it and sent it off...and today it is a whale watching boat! Not sure if you know this about sailboats or not, but they have a galley. And I'm not sure if you know this about galleys or not, but they are teeny tiny kitchens.


And the fun thing about kitchens on boats is that they procure delicious drinks (more on this in a sec) and fresh guac and pico and chips from within.

Oh yes...so, remember? We were supposed to be booked on a rubber raft? (FYI...rubber rafts don't have galleys) For $20 bucks more? And instead, we "so sad" got booked on sailboat (with a history!!) AND got free drinks and snacks?

Hell ya!! Also, friends, meet Gil:



He was our very own personal "professional wildlife photographer" on board. Fun stuff. The following are his photos (between this paragraph and the next...I want to make sure to give him credit...but get cred for mine! Oh, and not all of these were from our watch...he keeps his best and adds ones from each expedition! We didn't see any whales breaching...saddness.):


Also, friends...meet my husband, who apparently becomes 1/16th Scottish (or so he claims...VERY loudly) after several (yes, I said SEVERAL) margaritas. Do you remember what I said earlier? About getting up really early? Yeah, so my Scottish husband had several margaritas WAY before noon. Which is WAY before it's 5 o'clock somewhere.


Even ask Jimmy Buffet. The time of day that my husband was downing tequila was probably even too early for Jimmy. Plus...remember what I said WAY at the beginning of this epic novel? The whole "morning of the wedding" thing? You know, that whole reason WHY we traveled to Mexico and left our children (which is a whole 'nother story) in the care of others, in the first place?

Yeah, THAT reason?

Well, I had visions of my newly Scottish husband passed out cold, unable to make it to the ceremony...and with the way my normally quiet and reserved husband was TALKING REALLY LOUD, I was certain we were headed in that direction.



So, I did what any controlling and overbearing wife would do...I asked for a sip of his drink and promptly tossed it into the depths of the ocean...handing him back an empty cup with a cute little "oops" attached.

He promptly (LOUDLY) ordered another. And...repeat above scene. And repeat the ordering.

I finally threw my hands up and thought, "Oh well!" at least I tried. Thankfully, we were on our way back to the pier by the time he was
really getting Scottish...at, you know, 11 am. (And why Scottish?) He kept saying things like, "I BUILT IT WITH MY OWN TWO HANDS!!!!" with a very thick and (have I mentioned LOUD?) Minnesooootan sounding Scottish brogue.


Weird.


Anyway...the whale watching was AMAZING! We talked about how even if we hadn't seen a single whale, it was worth it. Awesome crew, awesome weather, awesome scenery, awesome pico (and the Mr. would throw in a "awesome margaritas!" here)!


We even saw a couple of dolphins who came and swam alongside our boat for a bit...but I missed it. By the time I got up to the front, they swam off. :(


So...if you are traveling to the Nuevo/Puerto Vallarta area and want to do some whale watching...ask for the Pegaso tour/company. You will NOT be disappointed!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Our Aussies

I thought I'd mix things up a bit and talk about a country OTHER THAN Mexico for once. ;)

Oooooh, aren't you so excited?! So, instead of telling you about my Epic Mexican Meltdown, imma fill you in on our new "family".

Once upon a time, my husband was a young little whipper snapper. Full of adventure and grand ideas. Midway through his college career, he took himself half way around the world to work on a farm in Australia.

Now, I had certainly known about this Australian stint...dreamed about it, really, and the accent he surely must've had when he returned from 6 months Down Under. *swoon* However, it was just sort of a "story" to me...a "pre-me" thing that sounded like a lot of fun but not really "real" to me.

Over the years, he lost touch with his host family. He'd take out his photo albums every so often and tell stories to the kids (he's quite the story teller, that one) about his adventures and they'd ask all sorts of questions that he was happy to answer.

Then one day a few weeks ago, he got an email. An email from his host family telling him that they were not only going to be visiting the states but that they were going to be staying a mere 3ish hours from us.


After a bit of "oh no! What about Mexico?!" we nailed down a very loose, not at all solid plan and went to my brother's wedding, knowing we'd be seeing them at some point after we returned.


Well...the Saturday after we got back, we hosted THEM at OUR house for two nights! I'd totally be lying if I told you I wasn't a bit nervous. I was. To be hosting virtual strangers in my house for two nights? Yikes.

But, the minute they arrived, the reconnecting (or, in my case, CONNECTING) began. Jill and Paul are two of the nicest, warmest, most easy going people I've ever met!


We chatted over supper...looked at old photos, showed the kids where they lived on our atlas, chided my husband about his "dumbphone" (aka a Droid), and friended one another on Facebook.


Our kids (okay, and me too) were totally enchanted by their accent! I dug out some M&M's (apparently other countries don't get our fun flavors?!) for Jill's sweet tooth, introduced them to Mike's Lemonade ("lollywater"!!) and waffles, and provided them with (what they claim) was their best night's sleep!


We even pulled through and delivered a nice little snowfall for them...since they don't get this kind of weather in Australia...I know, aren't we the best hosts ever?


What? You mean you don't make your visitors from the other side of the globe shovel your snow? (Kidding...Paul asked if he could, "have a go at it" when Dubya was shoveling!)


I miss them already. I wish we could've had more time with them...two days just wasn't enough! My hubby has already suggested we open a bank account to start saving to take the family to see them in Oz! Gulp...if I freak out on a 4 hour flight to Mexico...what will I do on a 14 hour Transatlantic flight?!


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