Monday, August 18, 2014

New Babies and Old Friends

What. A. Weekend.

Friday afternoon I left work an hour early because my best friend Colleen had her baby. I almost missed it because she had the fastest labor ever. I'm so proud of her and Jordan. They are great parents.

Benjamin was born at 4:24pm and after all the family and everything, I got to meet him around 7:15! I felt so lucky to be one of the first people to hold sweet Benjamin and congratulate his parents. I went in at the same time as his Godmother, Hanna, who was over the moon to meet her Godson! So precious.

My mom and Jordan's mom were best friends when we were younger and Jordan is like family to me. We were really close as kids and most of my 'cousin' memories are with him. I would follow him around their dairy and he taught me how to drive a golf cart. We would play and climb in the cotton and when were really young, we'd play power rangers and cops and robbers. We'd get together almost every Saturday as kids and get donuts and play. Best memories ever!

Many of you know that Colleen and I became very close before and during I was pregnant and she has been very important to my overall sanity my first year and a half of marriage. What you may not know is that her Dad was my Dad's best man when my mom and dad got hitched! Our families have known each other for a long, long time but we never really ran in the same circles.

How lucky am I that Colleen and I became close and that her husband and I have been family forever! And now, a new layer, knowing Benjamin and envisioning our boys playing cops and robbers together and eating donuts. I'm so honored to be a part of their life and I can't wait for our boys to drive us nuts and cause all kinds of mayhem.

Speaking of Hanna, Saturday morning was her bridal shower! We got to spend some girl time together and eat really yummy food. My hair was actually really pretty and curly that day but I just look awful in general in this picture. Ugh! Hopefully Colleen's mom, who snapped a picture of us, took a better one. Cause mine is rough. Eeek.

Sunday, we...wait for it... went to church! Whaaaat. Yeah, we're going to church again. Apparently. Hopefully it sticks. I enjoyed being there and Shepherd loved his class. :)

After church we put Shepherd down for his nap and I put the finishing touches on a homework assignment that was due. We watched TV, took naps... it was a really nice afternoon. Then we met up with my childhood friend, Ryan, for some pizza and beer.

 Ryan and I have been friends since fourth grade and I adore him. He's a great person and it was nice to see him in the flesh. Right now, he's stationed in Louisiana and his last visit we didn't get to see each other. The last time I saw him was summer in 2009.

Crazy. This is a picture we took at the fair in 2009! I can't believe it had been five years. Jeesh. It was great to see him interact with Shepherd and chat with Bryan. There isn't really a better feeling that when one of your best friends gets to know the people you love most in the world... ya know?

Bryan and I ended Sunday with a really good discussion about life. We have a lot of moving parts these days and it was nice to talk about whats going on and where we are headed. More on that in another blog. :)

Hope ya'll had a great weekend!

Friday, August 15, 2014

KJUG Free Summer Concert Series: Scotty McCreery

I haven't watched American Idol for a few years now, but I've managed to stay in the "know" of who's who on the show. To be perfectly honest, I'm in a weird rap/rock music phase and although country is near and dear to my heart, I've been by-passing the country stations for quite some time now.

When Bryan asked if I wanted to go see Scotty McCreery I was pretty meh. about it. With work and school I just couldn't muster up the get-up-and-go but he insisted. He had been stuck in the house and needed to be around adults out in public. So off we went. 

It was packed. Like... Sardines in a can packed. 

This is not even remotely close to the entire crowd, either. We sat with Rick in a spot he had saved from earlier in the day by the tree to the very right. Most of the time we couldn't see Scotty, even though we were close. Most of the people stood right in the front which pretty much blocked anyone else from seeing anything at all. I shot up to take a few photos and then sat right back down so others could do the same. The lady with the Sons of Anarchy shirt ended up putting her child on her husbands shoulders which blocked the view even further. 

Not what I would classify as good concert-in-a-park etiquette but whatever. 

Papa ended up sitting and playing with Shepherd for most of the time which seemed to be perfectly fine with both of them. Two peas in a pod, those two. Papa got extra points for helping him eat his applesauce pouch. The weather was REALLY nice that night which was great considering we've been having some cloud cover and humidity. The humidity makes our 100+ degree days impossible to deal with. I think everyone there appreciated the cooler night and tried to make the best of it. There was even a nice breeze but everyone was still sweating from being so close together.

The concert was only for an hour or so. We left a few songs before it ended so that we didn't have to deal with the crowds and could get Shepherd down at his normal bedtime. Although I'm not sure it was worth all the effort, it was a nice night and I enjoyed Scotty. He had a great personality and was engaging with the crowd. He also doesn't sing every song in that super deep register of his and he busted out a few classics from Johnny Cash, Elvis and a few others that I can't remember. I was pleasantly surprised. 

I did manage to take a little video. Shepherd was playing with the cane of Rick's girlfriends Moms and kept almost hitting her with it. She was very gracious about it but it made me panicky. You could tell he felt quite bad about it the first time it happened, but then did it again towards the end of the video. 

He's such a sweet boy. I adore him! All in all, I'm glad Bryan encouraged us to go. We had a good time and it was nice to be out with the community!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Value of A Moment

When I go through major life changes, I tend to get nostalgic for the past. Am I the only one who does that? Probably not. But it's a ritual of mine. I seek out memories that stir up those good emotions, feeling loved, safe, happy and I surround myself in them while continuing to charge forward into the unknown.

I have a few memories that I recall every time and one in particular reflects on time spent with my Vavo. My dad's mom spoke very little English. Half the time she did not understand what we were saying and would just shrug her shoulders and shake her head.

I think in that moment she was silently cursing my parents and the fact that they didn't teach us Portuguese. Maybe I'm just projecting.

Anyways, I miss her. I miss her pats on my shoulder. She was the only grandmother that was close to us as kids. She was at every function. I remember being young and going to stay with her on the weekends. I would always be upset that I had to "babysit" Vavo. But I'd get there and we'd watch shows and she'd give me her diabetic-friendly cookies. I'd heat us up dinner and ultimately fall asleep on her leather couch. She'd always put one of her stale smelling afghan blankets on me and go to bed. 

Those are precious moments now. Even though I would get mad at my parents as a kid, I had no way of knowing that I would recall those memories as an adult during times that I felt unsettled and apprehensive about my life. I think that is how it is with everything. Bryan and I have friends and family members going through specific life stages and we remember going through them ourselves. We see now the steps we took to create a bad situation and know what we should have done instead. To see people we love making some of those tell-tale choices is heartbreaking for us. We want to shake their shoulders and try to reason with them. Look at the big picture! You have no idea the mess you are making, we know, we've been there. 

Instead, we just wait and watch. Praying that they get through it the way we did. Praying we get through what we're going through now the way people before us did. It's all a cycle. In my old age (har har), I've learned that once these events pass you by, they are gone. You'll wish for them back. You'll want to hold on to that moment or recreate ones that you stupidly missed. 

I've only been on earth for (almost) 27 years. In that short time I have missed a lot of experiences because I was too busy focusing on something else. I'm trying not to do that even though I'm in a really busy season of life. I know that while I'm desperately attempting not to miss certain moments that I'll miss other ones. It's a hard balance to strike.

How do you decide what is worth all your attention and what isn't?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Weekend Recap: Bryan's 10 Year Class Reunion (+ Mini Quiche Recipe)

My weekend started on Thursday night when I went to dinner with my sister and her family. I got the sweetest video of Shepherd and my nephew Owen. They haven't been able to hang out for quite some time now and they missed each other. It was adorable:

On Friday after work, Shep and I went over to Colleen and Jordan's to hang out. I can't wait for Baby Brown to make his appearance and it's so cute to ask Shepherd where the baby is! He points right to Colleen's belly. It's adorable. 

Saturday, I woke up really early for whatever reason, so I decided to go hit up some yard sales while the boys slept. When I got home they woke up and we ran errands and just hung around the house. Saturday evening we went to Bryan's 10 year class reunion, which was small but fun! I got to catch up with Andrea about motherhood, babies and life in general, then made the rounds with everyone else. One of the highlights was when Amanda came up to me and said that I inspired her to start a blog! She and her boyfriend just bought a house in SLO and they are gutting it and starting over. I caught up on all the posts last night and I can't WAIT to see how it all comes together! 

Bryan and I also had a great discussion with Kara about music, journalism, social media/networking. It was really interesting. It is not often that someone from Hanford moves to New York and actually makes it. I've followed her writings on the Daily Beast over the years. Kara and I were on staff at the high school newspaper (so high brow) and now she's writing full-time. What a dream! 

Anyways, we skipped out right before 11 so we could get home to our boy. I wish more of the graduating class had attended, but luckily there were a lot of people that showed up that I haven't talked to in a long time so it worked out. 

Today we slept in and I ended up getting a migraine. I hate those dumb things. They are the worst! So it ate up most of my afternoon. When I woke up, I felt so weak and disoriented all I did was lay on the couch. Finally around 7pm I kicked into gear. I just knew that I had a busy week this week that I couldn't not get some grocery shopping and meal prep done. 

Bryan took a nap and Shepherd and I loaded up to go to the great Bullseye, Target. After spending way too much skrilla, yes I said skrilla, I called in a pizza at Boston House of Pizza in the parking lot and had just enough time to drop off the cold stuff in the fridge from Target and hit up the grocery store before walking over to grab the pizza. It was perfect. We got home, ate, and I started teriyaki chicken in the crock pot and made twelve mini quiches for breakfast in the mornings over the next few days. 

You know what is stupid? Photographing food. UGH. A food blogger, I am not. The quiches have a pie crust bottom, zucchini, spinach, bell pepper, ham, a little feta and a little cheddar cheese. I used the scalloped end of a biscuit cutter (that was about the size of a 1/4 measuring scoop wide) on the pie crust and put that in a muffin pan which was sprayed with baking spray. I fill scooped the veggie mixture in and topped with 9 eggs mixed with a bit of milk so that it was about 3/4 of the way full. Are you asking yourself why I specifically mentioned that I used a scalloped biscuit cutter on the pie crust? Well I'll tell you, because A. it's prettier and 2. I feel like the egg attaches better to the scalloped edges and it holds together better. Does it make sense? Maybe. If you aren't sold on the science behind it just refer to my first point. It's prettier. The second point is just a plus if its true. And I'm 99.4% positive I'm right. 

Anyways, I baked them for about 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven. I was going to cut up tomato but usually the simpler the better with these.  Once cooled, pop them in a ziplock bag and heat them in the oven, microwave or toaster oven (which is my preference because the crust gets crunchy again) in the morning before running out the door. Perfect, healthy breakfast. You're welcome. 

Life hack:  If you ever have some veggie/ham mixture left, save it and throw it on a salad with some strawberries, blue berries and Raspberry vinaigrette. YUM. Way to make two meals out of one. GO YOU!

I have class tonight and a group meeting tomorrow night and Wednesday is the first day of school at work! Not to mention homework. Eeek! Sometime this week I have to make it over to Visalia to pick up a bridal shower gift for the event on Saturday which I'm one two days late RSVPing for because I didn't read the entire invitation. I hate me. 

Hope you guys had a great weekend and a happy Monday! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Random Morning Blurbs + August Challenge!

I'm trying this new thing where I get up early. It's nice and quiet in the house and I have a few moments to think and still. 

I woke up early on Monday and went for a walk. I felt great all day! Then, on Monday night we walked to our local drugstore because Bryan wanted cookies. I also had my first online class for my program so it was a really long day.

Yesterday, I couldn't get out of bed. I just didn't have it in me to go for a walk, so I just got up early and started to curl my hair. Because... Why not? I figure, even if I don't get up to work out early, just getting up early extends my day and burns more calories. Winning.

School is gearing up again and I have a lot of last minute work to do. I can't believe how fast the summer passed. Probably because I was gone most of June.

Speaking of June... Did I ever post my Hawaii pictures? I honestly don't have any idea. I think I did. Maybe I didn't. I'll have to research that. I know I don't have very many. Maybe I should ask Bryan to do a guest post with all of his pictures from his computer. That would save me from having to actually rehash the trip and load images. Diabolical.

HEY! Speaking of things on the blog, I haven't done my August challenge. Let's just pretend that I had June and July challenges and that I did beautifully. Thank you.

August challenge is waking up early! Ya know...since I'm doing it anyway. It's not cheating it's winning strategically.

Yes. The challenge it so wake up early. There are no set parameters on what to do with said time. Just do something. Read a book, watch a show, workout, write on my blog or write in my journal. Just have a few moments in the day that are just mine before the baby wakes up or Bryan rolls out of bed.

The quiet is nice. Right now the only sounds I hear are my fingers tapping on the laptop and the whirring of the fan in the computer. Even the dogs who are prowling around in the backyard are silent.

There is beauty in the stillness before a day starts. The only thing that could make it better is if I could hear birds chirping and I had a cup of coffee in my hand.

Coffee makes everything better.

Monday, August 4, 2014

It Could Happen to Anyone...Right?

On Saturday, we had plans to meet with my mom and Larry for a quick lunch at In-N-Out. My mom just got back from the Azores and wanted it before going home to crash. During Shepherds nap, we put in a movie and I played around with my makeup... Trying new techniques, you know. The usual. (Except not really.)

I had joked to Bryan and his brother Seth, who was staying with us, that I would go out of the house with two different eye looks going on. And then I did. Oh man. On my way to lunch I realized that I had, in fact, walked out of the house with bright teal on one eye and one gray and gold. I was horrified. Everyone had a really good laugh at that one. Luckily I had sunglasses with me and I wore them the entire time. Jeez.


Today is my first school session and I needed to have headphones with a microphone piece. So yesterday, I video called Denise to make sure it all worked, and luckily for me, she was just having dinner and her friends workplace. One that is know for its Jewish fare.

As we are talking, I joke that I don't know where to put the microphone and I fiddle with it to make really close to my lips, which looks like a mustache. I then crack a few jokes about it looking like a Hitler 'stache. AND THEN I REMEMBER THE JEWISH PART. So, Denise and I start laughing until we are crying and again, mortified. I think she was sitting by herself, so I'm praying no one heard.

I can't be the only one that this kind of stuff happens to....right?

Friday, August 1, 2014

What if I Had Gone to College?

This past week, our boot camp was on the USC campus. It was a lot quieter than I suspect a normal semester would be in college; even though there were various summer programs running.

I trekked from the parking structure to our dorm room which was about two and a half blocks away. I had to make two trips because I had too much stuff: a suitcase, a tote full of water bottles and Starbucks vanilla Frappuccinos, some fruit and other snacks, my laptop case with notebooks, pens and highlighters and finally, my purse. As I walked, I pictured an alternate version of my life. One where I was fresh out of high school, unloading my stuff as my sisters fussed about where I'd put my mini-fridge and how to organize my closet and reassuring me that I wouldn't hate my roommates... My mom and dad would be misty-eyed because their last baby was all grown up and off to college.

When I got to my dorm room and started to unpack, I couldn't help but wonder what my life would have been like if I had been able to go to college, if I had experienced on-campus living. Going way back, what if my childhood had been different? What if my Dad wasn't an alcoholic? What if my high school career hadn't been about surviving and more about thriving? What if my parents had stayed together and made sure I had that college experience? Would my sisters have showed up to get me settled? What type of friends would I have made? Would some of us still be friends, walking this journey into marriage and motherhood together? What would I have majored in? What would I be doing now? Would Bryan and I have reconnected, gotten married and had Shepherd? 

Having this experience made me wonder about a life that had been outside of my reach. It made me yearn for things to have been different so I could have been different... which doesn't really do much anyone much good. But, I've always been the type to peer at the "other side" of the fence and think it looks better than mine. Luckily, I've always been smart enough to know that looks can be deceiving and I am where I am for a reason.

As I clutched my book bag and zoomed about campus to wherever I needed to be next, I looked at the students riding their bikes to get from A to B. I took notice of the large brick buildings and the kids sitting on the steps, talking about who knows what, showing each other whatever crazy thing was tweeted, sitting under trees doing homework or nursing a headache from previous nights activities. I was sad. I was sad that it wasn't necessarily a matter of choice that I didn't go to college or live in the dorm. It was a matter of practicality.

I was on my own when I turned 17. Everything I did, I figured it out. I had to get a job and support myself. I was productive and not-at-all a partier. I worked, I lived, I worked. I didn’t hit up bars or drink too much. I never went clubbing. My idea of a hoppin’ Friday night was to grab dinner and see a movie. Woooo! Out of control! I didn't meet up with people at Starbucks to work on homework or to exchange notes. I was happy that I didn't have to study for finals or worry about grades.

A large part of me knew that I wasn’t ready to go to college. I knew what the plan was. Step 1: Gain more and better work experience. Step 2: Get a good job. Step 3: Use good job to pay for college later in life. I always knew I would go back to school. It was never out of the question. When people would ask me, I would tell them that I'd be the person that went back later in life to finish up my schooling. I'd get some funny looks but I just knew that it was a path that was right for me, even if unconventional. What I didn’t know is that by waiting to attend college, I was giving up a certain type of college experience. It’s a lot harder to be 27+ and connect to the 18+ year olds that are your peers. It’s hard to be a wife and a mom and find other wives and moms that are in college.

Going to boot camp for this program gave me a taste of that. I had dorm roommates (we all got our own room though) and we shared two bathrooms between the three of us. We gathered at night for group projects and sat huddled on our computers trying to make sense of it all. We laughed to break tension and we mediated when people got a little crazy. We extended help to other groups and they did the same.

After a grueling project the night before, our instructors gave us Saturday night without homework, so we hit the local pizza place and then moseyed on over to a bar or two. Most of our group had cocktails while I had a decaf coffee and just enjoyed the atmosphere. It was a little taste of something I had to miss as a youngster and even though it was different, it was good.

It was nice to sample what could have been. It was even better going back home.

**Pictures of USC buildings from Google. In order: Parkside Arts and Humanities dorm where we stayed;  Dorm room layout (my room is on the right side); View of the Ronald Tutor Center, where most of our instruction was held, On our way back to the dorms after a night out, our group that stopped to play the piano by the Tutor building (Photo Credit: Claudine); My husband and son in costumes at our friends house in Hawaii.