Monday, February 28, 2011

Habit 1: Be Proactive

I've had the opportunity to attend two amazing professional developments in the past year.  Last week,  I spent a whirlwind experience at a summit in Phoenix.  I am searching for the words to describe how much I learned and how excited I am to put my new knowledge into place.  The second was earlier this fall when our school was trained in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (a Stephen Covey training). 

After both trainings, I  have come home and pretty much word vomited all over Jay about what I learned. I'm just like that, I can't contain myself.  He is such a trooper and listens intently (or acts like he does).  He even allows me to solve his problems by using my Covey methods, sometimes he's aware of it - sometimes he's not. When he doesn't know it we call that "Coveying his a**" - my specialty. : )

So tonight I thought I'd share Habit #1 with you. 

Habit 1: Be Proactive.

Your life doesn't just "happen." Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you. The choices, after all, are yours. You choose happiness. You choose sadness. You choose decisiveness. You choose ambivalence. You choose success. You choose failure. You choose courage. You choose fear. Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.

Tonight, I am proactive.  I am carefully designing how to spend my time.  I choose to sit on my couch and cuddle with my puppy. I choose to leave the dishes in the sink and shamelessly watch the Bachelor.   And I will intermittently text Jay weird, funny, and flirty things while he's at his boring statistics class in an attempt to make him smile.   Isn't that proactively pursuing a life where I allow myself to relax a little, enjoy the small things, and make my husband happy?  Does that qualify? I think so. : )

Sunday, February 27, 2011

No Focus

I'm glad Kelsey finally came home Friday night because I noticed something when she was gone this week: I can't focus on any one thing. I had several things I planned to do while I was Mr. Bachelor this last week. I was going to finish the book I was reading (Infinite Jest). I was going to watch two movies: The Kids are All Right and True Grit (the new version). I planned to start Dave Ramsey's new book. I wanted to clean out the unfinished area of the basement (or start to).

What did I do?

None of the above. When Kelsey is here, I have no problem reading...but I didn't get any reading done while she was gone. I couldn't concentrate because whenever I'd start reading I'd think, "I should be doing one of the activities I can't do when Kelsey is around (ie watch a loud movie)." But then I'd start a movie and think, "what a waste of time."

So I'm glad Kelsey is back. It's easier to focus when she's here. I'd make a terrible bachelor.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The More Things Change...

With Kelsey being gone this week, I had to fill my time somehow. Normally I fill my time by talking to and hanging out with there was definitely a void. I decided to call one of my good friends (who is now an illustrious veteran of our United States Marines) Justin and see him on Tuesday night.

Justin was arguably my closest friend in high school. At any rate, I probably spent more time with him than anyone else. Then college happened. I went to Iowa State (after a brief sojourn in Mankato). He went to Iowa. We've kept in touch, but going from seeing someone every day to seeing/talking to someone once or twice a year changes the dynamics of a friendship. No more is time able to be spent just sitting around in comfortable silence. Time needs to be filled with the act of, "catching up."

This was quite a change for Justin and me because we spent most of our time together in high school watching TV, and by TV, I mean WWF wrestling. Before you judge, realize that wrestling was insanely popular when we were in high school. I mean, the ROCK was still a wrestler and not a great actor in bad movies. Well for those of you that haven't heard (which is probably all of you), on Valentine's Day the Rock came back to the world of professional wrestling. Hollywood must not be making a Tooth Fairy 2.

Since Justin graduated (for the lack of a better term) from the Marines, he's been living in Cedar Falls for a bit while he looks for a job (if anyone wants to hire an intelligent, college educated Marine for something, anything, please let me know). This has afforded us the opportunity to see each other more often and move past the "catching up." When we talked about what we wanted to do after dinner, I mentioned that I'd DVR'd WWF from the night before--since the Rock might be on again. I asked if he wanted to watch it. He said of course he did.

He then mentioned another friend from high school, Brian, was in town. Earlier, I said Justin was arguably my closest friend in high school. The only reason it is an argument is because a case could be made for Brian. I occupied most of my time in high school with one of these two or both. I haven't kept in very good touch with Brian. I've received passing updates on his life from those who have kept in touch with him. But he was in town, so sure, come on over Brian.

Let's flashback to a typical (and by typical I mean every single) Monday night in high school. Justin would come over. We would turn on pro wrestling. We would worry about details of the show for some reason. We got very upset if the people we liked, lost, because it mattered for some reason? Brian would stop by at some point a half hour to an hour into the broadcast. He would pretend he wasn't interested in the show and start making fun of everything...even though he secretly liked it. We did all this in the confines of my basement. I'd be drinking water from this yellow cup:

The best cup ever. I have two. I'd pay top dollar for more of them.
Let's flashback to Tuesday. Justin came over. We turned on pro wrestling. We didn't really worry about the details of the show. We didn't even know who was winning or losing. It didn't matter. Brian stopped by at some point a half hour into the broadcast. He pretended he wasn't interested in the show and started making fun of everything...even though he was secretly enjoying it as much as Justin and me. We did all this in the confines of my basement. I was drinking water from the same yellow cup (which I stole from my parent's upon graduating high school).

We watched some other TV that night. We talked about jobs and adult stuff. We mostly just made fun of each other the way people do who like being around other just because. My understanding of the last ten year's of Brian's life are sketchy at best. I think he moved to California for a spell. He recently lived in Minnesota. Justin has been to Iraq and Afghanistan and done work he can't even talk about. He's lived in Texas and California. But there we were: the three of us in a basement, as if nothing had changed.

And really, nothing (and everything) has.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It Was Bed Time

With Kelsey gone this week, I'm supposed to be on blog duty. I failed that endeavor tonight. I got home from class, played with my poor dog who has been home alone all day (except for the twenty minutes I had between class and work), and went to bed. I did that rather thoroughly, so I suppose that fits for Thorough Thursdays. For the second consecutive week I don't really have a project I completed to write about. Except...

This past weekend I was finally able to take Christmas lights down. It was sort of sad in a way. I like Christmas lights and am not really sure our use of them makes any sense. I wish we had them lit longer. For some reason we put them up in December, a month where no one is outside to enjoy the lights, and we stop turning the lights on in January. This confuses me because we can't take the lights off our houses until sometime near March when the weather warms up.

While this blog probably won't change the world, I'd like it to change every single person in America's approach to Christmas lights. Here is what I propose:

One, we put Christmas lights up in May and keep them there until September. People actually sit outside during the summer. It would be nice to have some extra light. Just think about all those hot summer nights in the big city. You'd feel much safer with a bunch of twinkling LED light strands. We would continue to call the lights, "Christmas lights," even though they are now technically summer lights. Future generations will forget why they call the summer lights Christmas lights when Christmas is six months later. We will have been on the ground level of a delightful anachronism. Good for us.

Hey are you guys there? It sure is a nice summer night, but it is so dark. I wish I could see you.
Two, for the dark winter months that make everyone sad and depressed, we will put a lot of inflatables that dance in sync to various pop hits from the eighties. Music can be piped in through the tornado sirens. Wouldn't it be great to drive into a neighborhood during the second week of December and have a motorcycle riding Santa Claus inflatable bobbing his head to Cutting Crew's I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight? Obviously it would.

Three, during the summer months no nativity sets will be allowed. We don't need a lot of plastic baby Jesuses all over peoples' yards. There are actual babies and kids outside in the summer. If we put a lot of fake babies outside, it would just confuse people. Besides, the sun would just fade the paint and the heat would probably crack the plastic.

The summer heat will crack me my child. Please leave me indoors.
Four, all the inflatables will be kept inflated throughout the winter. The music will stop piping through tornado sirens on New Year's Day when Americans and the inflatables dance in unison to Auld Lang Syne. It will be up to each individual city's mayor to declare a "take down the inflatables day." If there is a mid-January weekend with unseasonable warmth that will be declared Deflate Day and the yards will be cleaned up. NO EXCEPTIONS. NO EXCUSES. NO FEAR.
So yeah, I took the Christmas lights down this past weekend, and I'm very proud of that. I'm also proud of how I just revolutionized what I call Yard Art. I'll try accomplish a real project between here and next Thursday!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Does This Make You Want to Buy Coffee?

This blog took a weird turn. Originally, I was going to write about the following commercial, and how I don't understand what in the world it has to do with coffee:

This is no secret: I love commercials. I also hate commercials. I like good advertising and, in my opinion, the above is not good advertising. Is it an entertaining commercial? Yeah, sure. Their hands move really fast, but tell me again, what was the new coffee product they were advertising. It had whip cream on it. That's all I remember. All coffee products have whip cream on them now. I don't like this commercial because it doesn't do the one thing a commercial is supposed to do: sell you something.

I was going to write more about commercials, but when trying to find the above commercial on Youtube I discovered the strange hand dancers have identities. They are Up and Over It: a strange, hypnotic Irish Dance troupe. Also, they are awesome. Here's another video of them doing their thing, which, as mentioned, is being awesome:

There are many more videos which can be found on the website I linked above. I'm not sure what any of this has to do with Tasty and Tortuous Tuesdays other than McDonalds sort of serves food sometimes, but cool right?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Leadership Monday

One of the managers from my last job at John Deere sends out weekly thoughts each Sunday night/Monday morning. They are usually little leadership fables, tales, or what have you. For whatever reason, today's email stuck out to me. Between the bolded words is the email in its entirety:


A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business.

Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you. "The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. "I am going to give each one of you a seed today - one very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO."

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Every day, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.

Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing.

By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure.

Six months went by -- still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however, he just kept watering and fertilizing the soil - He so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection.

Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful -- in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives.

Jim just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the CEO. “Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!”

All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, “The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!”

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed - Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, “Behold your next Chief Executive Officer!  His name is Jim!”  Jim couldn't believe it.  Jim couldn't even grow his seed.

“How could he be the new CEO?” the others said.

Then the CEO said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead - it was not possible for them to grow.”

“All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!”

* If you plant honesty, you will reap trust

* If you plant goodness, you will reap friends

* If you plant humility, you will reap greatness

* If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment

* If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective

* If you plant hard work, you will reap success

* If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later.
--Author Unknown


Now sure, this story's premise is absurd, but I do like the message. I've seen countless times at various places I've worked where people try to hide every problem from those in charge in order to make themselves look better, more in control. This can create a culture of systemic lying. I hide information from my boss, who hides information from his boss, who does the same, etc. At some point, everyone is more worried about hiding whatever problems exist than actually fixing the problems. I personally don't understand this type of thinking at all. One, we're taught not to lie from a very young least we should be. Two, in a world of scarce resources, if you don't let people know you have problems, you'll never get the help you need to fix them until the proverbial poo has hit the proverbial fan.

Ultimately, I think this story struck a cord with me because I've been told countless times at work that I'm, "too honest." Don't misunderstand me, I don't raise the red flag at every problem. Managers don't need to know every little bad thing that happened on any given day. In fact, they don't need to know any of the daily fires that occur. If I told my managers about every little daily fire, it would just cause them to worry about details they don't need to worry about, and it would make me look like someone who creates nothing but problems. That said, if there are actual long-term problems I'm addressing, I have no problem telling anyone who asks me. If the current culture of my team is garbage, I will say that. I will also list the five or six steps I'm taking to address the broken culture. While I might make a few people nervous by telling the truth, it's much better to let people know the plant won't grow early, rather than dealing with a large, fake plant years later.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekend Checklist

This weekend has been full of checklists. To me, there is nothing more satisfying then making a list, then checking things off as they get accomplished.  Well, actually, there are plenty of things I like more than checklists, but I do like making lists - okay? 

Jay and I hashed out our weekend in checklist form when he came home from work on Friday, and the rest of the weekend we divided and conquered.  I think this weekend was the perfect combination of chores, errands, fun, quality time, friends, and all the good stuff in between.  That's what weekends are all about.

So here's the cliff's notes version of our weekend in checklist form.  Booyah!  

Thursday: (What? your weekend doesn't start on Thursday?)
- Conferences
- debriefing of conferences with colleagues over refreshing beverages

- Sleep in late... because I can!
- Breakfast and a Sam's club run with mom because she's cool and I love her! 
- Clean house in the afternoon... get distracted by the dog laying in the sunshine
- Cuddle with Dottie in the sunshine while watching bad television like "Say Yes to the Dress"
- Diner date with Mr. Shinyforehead
- a small enough amount of shopping that Shinyforehead doesn't mind
- Quality time with the hubby, the Dottie, and the DVR

- Clean the house for company - why don't we always keep our house this clean?
- Jay pick up mounds and mounds of poop now that the snow has melted (gag, gag...)
- Jay take down Christmas lights
- Pick up cupcakes downtown and smile because I  
- Dottie run in the backyard like a little fool!  
- Fareway! 
- Guys have their "shower"  and do manly things
- Stay home with the neighborhood ladies and kiddos and chat all night

- Sub plans for next week's trip
- Sunday Carlos lunch with Jayber
- Baby shower with the best neighbors around
- Finish the submarine plans and take a big sigh of relief!
- Go to bed early because I'm exhausted!

I love weekends!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Baby Fever

In a few weeks, we will have a new itty-bitty neighbor across the street. We love our neighbors, and everyone in the 'hood can't wait for her arrival!

This Sunday, the girls of the neighborhood will hold a baby shower in her honor.  I've been working on the details with another neighbor of ours, and it's shaping up to be a fun afternoon!  As the snow is melting, and everyone is thinking of spring, it's not too difficult to find springy colors and girly details to add to the party.  Why is planning for baby girls so much easier than planning for baby boys?

The guys in the neighborhood also have plans for a "shower" (if you can call it that) to happen this Saturday.  They have been tirelessly planning their shower since, well, yesterday,  and no detail will go unnoticed, I'm sure. 

Here are some of the party details we've envisioned:


The Girls:
This was sent out a long time ago, ordered from a professional, created with care.
The Guys:
This was delivered via cryptic envelopes marked, "Open Soon: Time Sensitive Material Inside."

fondue fun!
Scratch Bakery Cupcakes - to die for! 
Cookies and other desserts - they won't look this cute, trust me. 
Uh...I like Mulligans
The OP is good...
Maybe head downtown?
The decorations and details...

Onesies and itty-bitty things
flowery and girl stuff
Bring your favorite children's book!

Bring diapers, so we can pretend our night out drinking beer has something to do with the baby.
Clearly the guys have once again outplanned and outworked the women. We can't wait for you to arrive, baby Feldick! : )

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I'm Feeling Better, Kelsey's Conferences are Done, and Our Couches are Clean

Today's blog will be very short. Yesterday I woke up feeling as though a million hot blades stabbed every part of my body. My head felt like it was both caving in and exploding. It hurt to move. I couldn't eat. Blah blah blah. I feel better now. I felt bad again this morning. Then I gradually started to feel better. I went and bought a McFlurry for lunch. Then I felt even better. Then I got cocky and tried to be productive. Then I threw up a McFlurry. A thrown up McFlurry looks just like an actual McFlurry. I don't think I'm going to eat another McFlurry for a while. The weird thing: after throwing up, I felt great.

This is a picture of a couch.
Unfortunately during my debilitating illness, Kelsey couldn't wait on me hand and foot because she had conferences. I never get sick, and when I did, I got sick during Kelsey's busiest week of the year. I had to fend for myself.

This is a picture of a love-seat.
Because of this, nothing really thorough got done this week. Nothing I can blog about anyway. I cleaned the bathrooms earlier this week, but I'll spare you pictures and details. The only thorough thing of note from the last two days is that we cleaned our couches...via checkbook. We paid Professional Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning to clean them. After a few moves and a lot of dogs, the couches were starting to look ratty. After today, they look brand new! In the pictures they appear to be ordinary looking couches, but they're not. They're ordinary looking CLEAN couches. I hope you all enjoy pictures of our furniture.

This is a picture of an intergalactic spaceship to the planet Zirbuxia.
Also, the house now smells like cleaning solution, and Dottie isn't sure she likes the couches anymore.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Soup Success

Three weeks ago Kelsey attempted to make a vegetarian chili. The recipe called for two jalapenos from a diced can of jalapenos. Kelsey followed the whole recipe: added on can of chick peas, one can of kidney beans, diced a green pepper, sliced a carrot, etc etc. I don't know the whole recipe. I couldn't tell you all she did right, but I could tell you what she did wrong: she decided to add an entire can of jalapenos instead of just two peppers.

As the soup cooked, our house started to smell like the inside of volcanic taco. Kelsey couldn't smell the peppers. She was too close. She'd been in the kitchen as the smell grew from a baby odor to a tyrannous stench. Meanwhile, I was dying. I feared the smell would be firmly in charge of our house for months, years, forever. I even made up errands just to get out of the house.

Kelsey figured out something was wrong when she served the soup. We each had a bite, put on a fake smile, and tried to choke down the rest. I don't remember who said what, but here was our conversation: "Do you think it's too hot?" "Oh it's good." "Yeah. It has flavor." "Yes. A hot flavor." "Too hot?" "No."

We lied. It was WAY too hot. It was impossible to eat. I left that night for a bit and when I came back, the house still stunk.

Neither Kelsey nor I enjoy hot, spicy foods. We'll eat the occasional spicy food, but nowhere in our palate does "lots of jalapenos" exist. But Kelsey didn't quit. She never does. She made the soup again yesterday. This time she left out any and all jalapenos. It was delicious. I've already had three bowls.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Roll Hard Through the Streets and the Culdesacs...

2 years ago for Valentine's Day, Jay and I spent the weekend in Galena.  It was a weekend of milestones for us.  First, Jay got called to interview for his job in Cedar Falls, which later led to some major life changes for us.  Second, and obviously more importantly, Jay's car hit 100,000 miles! So we stopped in the middle of the road and celebrated.

We par-tay for weird reasons!
His car has been a really nice car for us.  But it's starting to get a bit beaten up, and now has been with us for roughly 123,083 miles or so.

The mirror cover has been gone for over 2 years now, and not replaced.

Obviously someone ran down the side of the road with a white paintbrush.
More dents and boo-boos
So this Valentine's weekend, we made a goal.  By the time Jay is done with grad school, we want to have saved enough money for him to get a "new" car. (I use the word "new" loosely, because for us in carworld "new" means a very nice, reliable, like-new-but-used car. Not a brand-spankin' new one! We're not rich, yo.)

We would both really like for him to have a car that handles better in the snowy weather and that has a little more room.  He's got his eye on some vehicles like this:


I like this one. : )
Just kidding! :)
So...if his car already has lots of miles on it, and is already kinda beat up, then why not buy a new car now? We don't believe that to be terribly practical.  I'll give you two (and only two) reasons why. 

1. His Altima gets great gas mileage. Switching to a gas hog when he'll be traveling back and forth to Cedar Rapids for the next 2-3 years just doesn't make sense.

2. We don't want a car payment.  Call us cheapos, but we'd rather spend a few years to save the money to buy a vehicle outright than to have to make a payment each month.

Okay, you want one more reason? Fine.

3.  Jay secretly loves minivans. I really think he is going to hold on to that Altima until it is socially acceptable for him to drive a van.  If he bought a new vehicle now, he'd have to buy an SUV, because it would be weird for him to own a van. That's just my opinion.  I mean, I'm only his wife - what do I know?

My money's on Jay's "graduation gift" looking more like this:

Hells yeah!!! it's a Swagger Wagon!

In the meantime, we're going to go get old Alty all spiffed up and looking nice. And I told Jay to splurge and get one of those ipod wires installed to help with all of the roadtrips in his future. Hopefully that will help to tide him over until the Swagger Wagon! : )

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Trip, One Week Late

All week long we've alluded to a trip we took to Minneapolis last weekend. In fact, last weekend there was even a blog that was supposed to be updated with pictures and notes from the trip. It wasn't. Seeing as I have about eight cups of coffee in me, and my brain needs a break from stat homework, let me recap:

Last weekend we drove up to Minneapolis because I had foolishly purchased concert tickets for a February 6th concert for a band you should all listen to called the Decemberists. When purchasing the tickets I thought the concert was going to be on a Saturday night. When I received the non-refundable ticket confirmation email it said, "Sunday, February 6th." I suppose I should learn how to read calendars. As the concert approached, which I was very excited for, I realized that was Super Bowl Sunday. Oh good. Kelsey and I decided to go through with the concert anyways because: 1) we've watched about two games worth of football combined all year and 2) it's the Decemberists, and they rock.

It also gave us a good reason to take a quick trip to one of the best cities in these United States of America: Minneapolis.

We arrived in town a little earlier than expected last Saturday. We had dinner plans with Kelsey's best friend Allison and Allison's husband Brent. We decided to drive to the restaurant and bum around for a bit. Luckily for us there was a Container Store to occupy our time. I'd never been to a Container Store, but I'd always wanted to go there. I could really care less about containers, but both my undergraduate courses and now my graduate school courses talk about this place as a model business. Evidently people really like working there. It was a neat place--containers everywhere--but I can't for the life of me understand why their employees are so happy, friendly, and helpful. It lived up to the hype and whatever Kool-aid the Container Store's management is serving should be served at every job everywhere.

Kelsey wants our pantry to look like this.
After buying an array of exciting products: a new sink mat, portable cereal containers, wire shelves, and a laundry bin, we met Allison and Brent at a restaurant called Pin Stripes--a bistro, bowling, and bocce ball establishment (obviously). Since Kelsey and I were new to the whole gluten free thing, Allison made sure she found a restaurant that had a gluten free menu. Allison does these sorts of things because Allison is awesome. Brent's awesome too, but he definitely married up (no offense Brent--I did too). I won't describe in excessive detail the food (good) or the restaurant (also good), but I will say this: Allison, Brent, and Kelsey are horrific bowlers. They all scored much lower than my impressive and unreachable 100.

The ladies
The dudes
Jay - 100, Brent - 80, Allison - 71, Kelsey...err...40.  So bad.
The next day Kelsey and I realized we had no plans, so we Malled of Americaed it. I caved and bought a new PC tablet/laptop for grad school. I love my trusty MacBook, but unfortunately the world of business spreadsheets does not.

I also bought new shoes because it was time to retire my old pair of magic Sketchers I bought in California in May of 2005. I put on my new pair of shoes and it was like walking on air. Who knew shoes had padding? The salesman tried to sell me Shape-Ups because I look a lot like Kim Kardashian. I probably would have bought them to if it weren't for that meddling wife and her disapproving looks.

This is one of two pictures I took in Minneapolis. These shoes lasted six years. Kudos to them.
After the mall we went to the concert. The Decemberists, as always, rocked. Like I said, you should listen to them. Here's a song of theirs for you, but beware, it might start you down the Youtube rabbit hole (a phrase I stole from Kevin), and you might spend all day listening to Decemberists songs:

So good. Thankfully the Decemberists gave us Super Bowl updates throughout the concert. They told us all about the ten-point deduction penalty the Steelers had and how they had to shoot a free throw at the end of the game. Unfortunately for Steelers fans, they still lost 115 to -23. I never bothered to check ESPN to see if any of that was accurate. It seemed reasonable enough.

As a side note, it was actually sort of relaxing not having to worry about the Super Bowl. Kelsey and I never really care that much about the game but feel obligated to watch it out of some sort of American guilt. Really the only thing people should feel obligated to watch on television is the World Series.

Kelsey mentioned our trip to Trader Joe's in another blog (I'm officially a damned hippie now), but I will tell you this: organic, gluten-free cheesy tortilla chips (hippie Doritos) are great. It's good to know you can take part in strange diets and still eat unhealthy foods.

The happy hippie :)
I think that about wraps this up for the night. I'm sorry for the lack of pictures. Hopefully Kelsey can add some Monday night (DONE!). All of the good pictures are on her phone which is on the nightstand next to our bed, where Kelsey currently sleeps. Hopefully the coffee wears off soon, because I want to sleep soon too. If not, I'm going to need a lot of coffee tomorrow to help curb the hangover from today's coffee. It's a vicious cycle.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy Early Valentine's Day

I like Valentine's Day. I fully understand that it's a holiday created by Corporate America with the sole intent of increasing sales of expensive items during the slowest shopping month of the year, but I still like it. The message behind it is good: tell someone you love that you love them. Be extra nice to the person you love. Eat chocolate. Drink wine.

Consumerism aside, why do we need Valentine's Day to surprise our wives with flowers? Why do extra sappy Kay Jewelers commercials remind us to buy jewelry? If someone in your life is special, really really special, shouldn't you be telling them that every day? It doesn't always have to be with words. I had a bad day at work Wednesday and Kelsey brought home supper right away. She came through the door smiling and cheered me right up. She knew I needed that. That's why she is my valentine.

I'm by no means saying people should ignore extra special traditions on "special days" (lord knows I've gone overboard a time or two on Valentine's Day surprises).  I just don't think anyone should let the "special days" be the only days that are special.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Winter Blues

Have you ever heard the advice: "create a life for yourself you don't need to escape from?"  I have, and for the most part I feel like I live a life I don't need to escape.  But when it's been -30 windchill for weeks, and we've had indoor recess for four straight days, I'm looking forward to getting out of here!
Luckily, Jay and I have quite a few warm places in our futures.  Here's where I'm dreaming of these days...

Phoenix, Arizona:  I (Kelsey) will be in sunny Arizona in 2 short weeks.  I'm going for a conference for work, so I'm sure I won't be spending much time outside. But I am looking forward to a change of scenery, and hearing from some cool keynote speakers in education.

Orange Beach, Alabama:  My mom and I will be traveling to Orange Beach for our annual spring break trip in exactly 1 month and 2 days. (That countdown is for you, Rachael) This is by far my favorite week of the year and Orange Beach is our home away from home.   Ahhh, I love it.

Los Angeles, California:  The Jayman will be heading to LA the end of March for an extended weekend extravaganza to visit our friend Jeff.  He's going with my brother and a group of guys and they're doing manly things like drink beer and go to every sporting event possible.

Las Vegas, Nevada:  I've never been to Vegas before, and I'm hoping (barring no more snow days) that I'll be rocking Vegas for the first time for my friend Barb's bachelorette party the beginning of June.  It could get crazy folks.  Please no more snow days!!!

Dreaming of warmer places tonight and thankful we've built a life where we can escape when we want to.  : )

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Confessions of a Breadaholic

Dear Blog World,

My name is Kelsey, and I love bread.  No seriously, I do, it's my favorite food.  I love any kind of bread.  Toasted, dipped in oil, on a sandwich, buns, bagels, baguettes...okay, you get the idea, and quite frankly, I'm making myself hungry.

That being said, it will shock you to know that I have been gluten-free for 3 weeks.  (Jay has too, can I hear a big "WOOT WOOT" to supportive husbands!?!?) I haven't told you, I know, please don't be offended.  I guess I felt a little crazy admitting it.  I was worried, being the bread lover that I am, that we wouldn't be able to stick with it.

Here's the deal: this isn't a diet thing.  This is just something we're trying. It's about the fact that there's a bunch of research out there about people who've cut gluten from their diets and had crazy good results like no more migraines, no stomach issues, increased energy, and unexplained infertility go away.  Hey wait, that was the one that caught my attention.  I figure we've been prescribed just about any other thing in the book, why not try this?

So...anyhoo, this has been a huge "learn as we go" experience and I want to claim right now that I still feel as though I know pretty much nothing about being gluten free (or gf for you acronym lovers).  I look a lot of things up online, I eat nothing of unknown contents, and I read a bunch of words I don't understand on labels.  Going out to eat can get very interesting.

But this weekend we took a trip to the big cities where they had a multitude of gf options.

Allison and Brent brought us to this swanky place (which we'll blog more about later) with a yummy gf menu on Saturday night.  

I ate pizza!  Oh my, I miss pizza the most.  (Godfathers actually has a gf pizza here in Cedar Falls, but it's just not the same!)

I had gf chocolate chip pancakes...with whipped cream on top.  (As if that was necessary)

And we went to Trader Joe's where everything gluten free was marked with a handy little symbol right near the price tag.  I've loved Trader Joe's for about 5 years now since my friend Anne, who I'm pretty sure doesn't read my blog, introduced it to me.  They recently opened one in Des Moines, which I'm pretty sure we'll be frequenting.  Jay drank the Trader Joe's koolaid as soon as he walked in the door, and I'm pretty sure we might see an all-organic Jay in our futures.  Hair sold separately.

So Mr. Hippie Jay made us his favorite meal tonight for dinner brought to us by Trader Joe's.  All organic, all gluten free, all delicious.

Spaghetti anyone?  Yes, Schmitzes are weird.  They eat their spaghetti with peas on top.

Well blog world, it's been real.  I always feel better when I am just 100% honest with you.  I know you wish us well in our gluten free journeys, and if you have any recipes whose ingredients don't include the words wheat, barley, rye, oats, malts, triticale, maltodextrine, dextrine, or dextrose - pass them my way!!