Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Baby shower recap!

A few weeks ago I shared some inspiration ideas I had for the baby shower we were throwing for two of our best friends.

Well this past weekend, we had the shower. We only used a couple of the ideas I posted about, but nonetheless, everything went off without a hitch!

These are the parents-to-be:
We’ve been friends with these 2 (and all of our other friends) for a long time. The semi short story is this. The mama and I have been friends since 4th grade. I'm not counting, but that's a really long time. In fact, most of our girlfriends have all known each other since elementary or high school. It's funny because the same is true of many of our guy friends, too. The papa was a year behind us in high school (although his brother was our age), but the mama and papa didn't technically meet and start dating until a couple years into college. Since many of his friends were also from growing up, it just so happens that a large majority of us have attended the same school(s) and/or known each other in a variety of capacities for many, many years. (And let me tell you, it makes for great friendships.)

So because of this large, close-knit group of friends, especially the papa and his guys, we decided to do a co-ed shower. It turned out to be a great idea, because when all was said and done, everyone had a great time.

We served strawberry lemonade and Chicago-mix popcorn as a pre-dinner snack, even though the popcorn really didn’t get eaten until later in the night.
I found the popcorn idea on Pinterest, and adapted it a little. I bought the pink and white striped bags from this store on Etsy (they come in lots of colors), and had a friend at work design a sticker label to put on them. Then we filled the bags with popcorn from our local Candyland. They turned out so cute and were really simple!
For dinner, we served lasagna, salad, and bread. It was an easy, affordable group meal and popular with the guys and the gals.
After dinner we opened gifts. Our friend Meggan created a bingo game, where guests checked off items on their bingo card if the guests of honor received it as a gift. It was quite hilarious to see some of the men ask questions like, “is that a bassinet” (as mom holds up a dress) or “are burp cloths the same thing as blankets?” In their defense, these are among our first friends to have babies, so these guys don’t yet need to know the answers to these questions. They’ll learn quickly one day, that’s for sure.
Our friend Molly (another one on the shower planning team) had a brilliant idea for a baby-changing game. Guests went up against each other in a race to see who could diaper and dress a baby the fastest. We started with the soon-to-be parents, and then paired people from there. In the end, we had two winners, a guy and a girl, who were the 2 fastest in the entire group. It generated lots of laughter. Even the guys were getting into it. Certainly a fun game for any shower, especially a co-ed one.
After games we served dessert. Take a look at this adorable cake that Meggan made – from scratch! It was delicious and super cute (From this angle it looks like it says "Abby," but it says "Baby." The picture doesn't do it justice).
After dessert the boys retreated to lounge and watch football, while the ladies sat on the patio and chatted away. It was a beautiful night.

We ended the night crowded around the kitchen table, looking through old yearbooks and laughing at photos that seem like they’re from a lifetime ago.

All in all, the night was wonderful. It was full of some of the best things in life. Happiness in its purest form. A cool summer night. Laughter that makes your belly ache. Celebration in honor of 2 people who couldn’t be more deserving and who are going to make incredible parents.

I had so much fun helping to throw this shower. I definitely had fun ideas that I didn’t get to put to use this time. I can’t wait for even more in the years to come.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tune in Tuesdays

A random collection of small frustrations have left me feeling stressed to the max lately. I keep waiting for that turning point, that break in the chaos where I can catch my breath and feel refreshed and ready for the next challenge.

I'm finally starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. And this week's lyrics remind me to not stress so much along the way. In the grand scheme of things, these obstacles are hardly worth fretting about. It's only ____ (fill in the blank). Work? Money? Confidence? It's only life. And life happens. It can't always be good. So take the bad with a grain of salt and keep pushing forward. Because it's rarely as bad as it seems. At least when it comes to stress like this. And chances are, when you really look closely, the good outweighs the bad.

Happy Tuesday!

Want to know what Tune in Tuesdays is all about? Read more here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Weekend in review

I’m in a bit of denial that September is just a few days away. Where in the world did this summer go?

But we’re not letting that stop us from enjoying every last bit of it. This past weekend included.

Friday night we went to the great Minnesota Get Together – the State Fair! The Minnesota State Fair is one of the largest and most-attended fairs in the country, and we’re big fans. I know lots of people who avoid it at all costs, saying it’s too expensive, too crowded, or simply not worth it. But not us. We go every year. At least once.

This year we went with 9 of our other friends. Sticking together through the crowds was challenging at times, but it didn’t stop us from having a lot of fun.
The food choices at the fair are overwhelming. Everyone has their favorites, but we try and limit it to a few things we like to get every year, like the fried ravioli, shaved ice, or Sweet Martha’s chocolate chip cookies.
One of my all-time favorite things to have is a shake from the dairy building. It’s a treat I look forward to practically year-round. So when we went Friday, I carefully planned the rest of my consumption so that I could indulge on an ice-cold chocolate shake when we finally made our way to that end of the fair. By the time we did, though, it was 9 o’clock and the building had closed. No shake for me. I felt like the fat kid of all fat kids. I was very disappointed I didn’t get my treat. I mean, I could've practically cried.

But it’s ok. It’s just another good excuse to go again next weekend!

Saturday was another fun day. With the help of a few other friends, we threw a co-ed baby shower for two of our friends who are expecting their first born in less than a month.
{Cake was homemade - and delicious - by our friend Meggan}
The boys were a bit apprehensive about attending a baby shower, but I think they actually had quite a good time. And the soon-to-be parents did too, which is really most important. 

I’ll share all the shower details later this week. I promise!

Sunday was a much-needed lazy day. Short of a quick trip to the grocery store and dinner with Sean’s family, we stuck close to home. It was wonderful.

Work is still crazy so I’m a little anxious for the week ahead but already looking forward to the long weekend (even if it does mean it’s Labor Day and summer will really be coming to a close).

How was your weekend? Any fun things to look forward to this week or weekend?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'm alive...

...but buried underneath mountains of work, to-do lists, and stress.
So you'll have to excuse my lack of regular activity this week. Hoping by the end of this weekend things will have settled down I'll be ready to get back to blogging.

Till then, I'll leave you with this photo from our wonderful weekend up north (a recap I will get to eventually, even though my camera ate about 40 of the pictures and I'm not up for paying $40 for the software to recover them*).

Its' heaven up there I tell 'ya. Wish we could all go back and do it all over again right now.

Hope you're all having a great week!

*Side note: If you have magical technical secrets for recovering lost photos - do share! I've tried almost every free recovery software out there, but the only ones that have found the particular pictures I'm looking for are the ones you have to pay for if you actually want to recover the photos.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The 3 amigas

For my first 2 years of college, I went to school in Wisconsin, about 90 miles from home. Being the homebody that I am, it was difficult, to say the least. But while the experience was challenging in many ways, I wouldn't trade it for the world. I made unforgettable memories, and more importantly, lifelong friends.

These 2 girls in particular:

The funny thing is, Beth (on the left) didn't even go to the same school as Lacie (on the right) and me. Beth and Lacie went to high school together. In fact, a LOT of my friends from college went to the same high school. I started feeling like I went to high school with them too. But without launching into a story that would take days to tell, the bottom line is this: Lacie was my best friend at school. Beth was her best friend from home. With plenty of visits, the 3 of us became very close.

Now that we live 250 miles apart (me in Minnesota, the 2 of them in their hometown) we don't get to talk or see each other nearly as often as we'd like. But whenever we get together, it doesn't take long to fall back into the comfortable banter, the casual laughter, and the familiar camaraderie of old friends.

This past weekend Sean and I went to visit them. The 2 days flew by. The six of us (us 3 girls and our other halves) got along great. We went to the farmer's market, played games, walked around for hours, and spent quality time catching up.  

I was sad to pull out of the driveway on Sunday knowing it will be months before I see them again. I can't even count on one hand how many times Sean or I have turned to each other since we've been home and said, "Why can't we live closer to them?" But they're already talking about coming to town for our wedding next summer. It makes me even more excited for the big day!

Friends are a true blessing. We have childhood friends. High school friends. College friends. Work friends. You name it. But no matter where they came from in our life, true friends are the ones who always hold a special place in your life, whether you see each other every day or once a year. If you can pick up right where you left off, you know that's a friendship of a lifetime. Couldn't be truer of these 3 amigas.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tune in Tuesdays

We're hitting the road again this weekend and I couldn't be more excited. We're headed north, to one of my favorite areas in Minnesota, to kick back and relax with friends.

Last year was full of laughter, sun, and memories. It was also the jumpstart I needed to finally start a blog. I'm sure this weekend won't disappoint. There's lots of fun to be had! 

Now if only Friday could come a little sooner...

Want to know what Tune in Tuesdays is all about? Read more here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Friday friends!

Another summer week has flown by. That’s good and bad all wrapped up into one, if you ask me.

Before you curse me for even daring to say that I’m happy that summer is inevitably one week closer to being over, hear me out. This week we had some mildly cooler temps and I got a tiny reminder of what it’s like to feel a cool breeze move through the house. It may have, even just a little, gotten me excited for fall.

You can’t tell me that the idea of hoodies, hot cocoa, fall boots, and crisp fall air (or whatever your fall faves might be) don’t sound appealing. Just sayin’.

Plus, summer or not, work was feeling a little overwhelming this week. So I’m happy to be putting the week behind me.

Moving on…

One of my favorite bloggers has a tradition she likes to call Friday Phone Dump.

(Sidenote: I feel the need to clarify that this ah-mazing blogger probably doesn’t know I exist. We aren’t friends. She doesn’t know me! And how could she? She has, like, a million readers because she’s that awesome. But she has an incredible way with words, a beautiful family, and an inspiring talent with the camera. In fact, you probably already know of her blog anyway. But long story short, I mentioned her because I love her blog, and I linked to her so that you can, too. That’s all folks.)

So taking some inspiration from her, here’s my Friday thought dump…all the crazy, random things racing through my brain as we head into the weekend (with photo accompaniments when possible).

My favorite, trusty red pen has officially bitten the dust (and I’m currently lacking the motivation to go get new ones). Sad day. 

This afternoon Sean and I are packing up the car and heading to exotic Madison, WI. I’m looking forward to road trip music, car snacks, and travel games. Even more, I’m looking forward to spending the weekend with these 2 ladies (I’ll tell you more about them next week).

I’m excited to get away for the weekend but always get sad leaving my little man. I think he’ll be just fine, seeing as how he gets to spend a few days with grandma and uncle Murphy, his best (and only) doggy friend.

Tomorrow will mark the 6 year anniversary since my aunt Kelly died. SIX YEARS. I can’t believe it’s been that long. I remember it so vividly. Kelly was one of a kind—a hilarious, vibrant, and loving woman who adored her nieces and nephews. I can still remember her distinct laugh, her love for spicy food, and her passion for adventure. We miss you Kelly! 

As I've probably mentioned, Sean works for the police department. He went to school to be a police officer and is working toward becoming one with this department (He's got all the credentials, now he just has to wait his turn. It's sort of complicated). Anyway, last night was graduation for the latest academy of new officers. A few of Sean's good friends and former co-workers were part of it. It was so exciting to watch them get their badges last night. Sean was teasing me because I told him the ceremony made me feel like crying. It was just so inspiring and I swelled with pride for our friends and for the men and women who will be serving the very community we live in.. I'd be lying if I didn't say it also made me a little jealous that Sean wasn't up there. But it's ok. He loves working for the department and I know he'll get his turn. We're so proud of all of the newest officers. Congrats to them!

What's on your mind today? Hope you all have a wonderful weekend...happy Friday!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

When did I get old?

Several things have caught my attention lately and made me wonder, when exactly did I turn into an old woman?

I could go on for hours explaining all of the behavioral awareness that has led me to this conclusion. But for today, I’ll start with just one example. Reason #21 I’m an old woman—I need my sleep, and I sure get cranky without it.

We’ve been working on a big project at work and this week we were putting some of our materials in front of people at focus groups to get some feedback. Last night, we were invited, and encouraged, to come observe the focus groups for at least one of the sessions. There were 3 sessions: 3:30, 5:30, and 7:30. I was fully on board with the first two. But even just the thought of not getting home until 9:30 or later made me yawn. That’s past my bedtime, you know.

So I went right away at 3:30 and stayed for the first two sessions. My bus stops running around 7, so I really had to get going anyway (lest I be stranded in downtown Minneapolis overnight, in which case I’d really be tired and cranky).

I walked in the door shortly before 7:30 and quickly finished watching Big Brother with Sean. Before I knew it, the familiar toll rang out—the sound of the TV turning off. “Time for bed!” Sean announced.

I reluctantly started my series of nightly tasks. Let the dog out. Get my breakfast ready. Pack my gym bag. Wash my face. Brush my teeth.

And suddenly it was after 8:30 and I was finally crawling into bed (later than usual, I might add), full of exhaustion and ready to crash.

And crash I did. For about 45 minutes.

At which point the stupid dog decided he needed an extra potty break. So back downstairs we went. All the while, I’m lecturing him (the dog, the one who doesn’t understand me and wouldn’t know the difference if I was speaking to him in English or Russian). It’s all very logical, you see.

“Now remember when I let you out about an hour ago? See that’s supposed to be your last potty break of the night. And remember how we were all snuggled in bed with the lights out and the fan on and the covers tucked perfectly under our chins? See that’s called bed time. And we’re not supposed to get out of bed until tomorrow morning, after the alarm goes off and not a second earlier. Comprende?”

Clearly he didn’t listen because an hour later he was back at it, this time begging to go downstairs for a water break. Damn dog.

I fully realize I better get used to this if I ever plan to bring children into this world. Potty-break Puppy is a breeze compared to the midnight feedings and screaming babies that I hope will one day be in my future (why would anyone wish for that?).

Before you go thinking I’m crazy, I know that being tired, or wanting a lot of sleep, doesn’t make you old. But there once was a time in my life where I could function on very little sleep. Where I would lay in bed for hours watching movies or TV shows for hours on end before falling asleep in the wee hours of the dark night.

So nights like last night make me stop and wonder when I grew up. When I got old. Even if it’s a bit irrational.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Baby shower ideas

I may have mentioned it before, but my best friend and her husband are having their first baby this fall. To say I'm excited is an understatement - I can't wait to meet their beautiful baby girl!

So later this month we're throwing them a baby shower. We're all part of a big group of friends, and to help us all celebrate their upcoming parenthood together, it will be a co-ed shower. I'm really looking forward to the chance to all come together to honor the parents-to-be and shower them with gifts to prepare for their little one.

I had every intention of getting custom invitations, but ran out of time and ended up picking up a standard invite and getting them in the mail.

So now I have a few weeks and a million ideas to make the shower special. There are so many fun ideas. If money were no object, I'd do every single one of them. But I'm certainly going to try a few. Here are a few of my favorites, all care of Pinterest of course!

So many fun ideas, and this is only the beginning! Have you thrown a baby shower? I'm open to all suggestions and ideas!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Teeing off in memory

Sean’s family is blessed to have made many lifelong friends over the years. Their love and appreciation for each other has probably been most evident in the ways they’ve stood by Sean’s family in the wake of his dad’s death 2 and ½ years ago.

One of the most notable ways is the annual golf tournament they started. A few of his dad’s good friends thought it would be a great way to come together and honor his memory while sharing in one of his favorite pastimes. So for the last 2 years, Sean, his mom, his brothers and I have worked closely with a few of his family’s closest friends to plan this fun event.  

And yesterday was the day!  

Just like last year, we had beautiful weather. There was hardly a cloud in the sky and despite the scorching sun, no one could complain. It was the perfect weather to be gathered on a golf course, surrounded by people who shared one very special thing in common—a love for Sean’s dad and his entire family.
At the end of the event, as we handed out prizes and thanked everyone for coming, they even threw in a “shout out” to our upcoming nuptials, certainly causing Sean and I to blush a bit. His mom had a great point, though. Standing in front of a crowd of people with all eyes on us was good practice for the big day, given that Sean and I are both not-so-good at being the center of attention.
We’re all quite a bit sun-kissed today, some of us more than others, but it was all worth it.

By the end of the night, I was exhausted—and I didn’t even golf! It was the kind of exhaustion that comes with all kind of emotions, so it was no surprise that I came home and collapsed on the couch, fighting back tears. I know I wasn’t the only one, but for some reason this year felt a little more emotional, a little more bittersweet. Of course we’re so thrilled and excited to be sharing this day with everyone, but it’s always a reminder of the still-fresh grief in our hearts. We miss him. Plain and simple.

I had the day off today so Sean came into the bedroom to wake me up and say goodbye before he left for work. As I woke up, I immediately remembered a dream I had, where Sean’s dad walked into the room full of people at the golf tournament. Everyone looked around in shock as he explained that he had been “lost” and now found. It was so hard to wake up and know it wasn’t true. So as soon as I remembered it and recalled the dream to Sean, I was overcome with tears, a steady stream of big, silent tears.

It sounds silly, but when bad things happen in life (whether big or small) my very first instinct is denial. To think, “wait, something will change and it won’t be final.” For (a simple) example, when a favorite team loses a big game in overtime, I immediately think about how the winning score can be called back or changed.

I wish a lot of things in life could be that way. They say denial is a part of grief, and I guess this shows it's kind of true. I want to deny that something awful is happening, and be hopeful that something, anything—even a miracle—can happen and make it all better.

So last night’s dream fit right in with my thoughts. But waking up to reality makes me sad, because there are some things in life that no miracle can fix. So instead you let yourself be sad. You learn to get through it. And you rely on your dreams for the glimpses into the impossible.   

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

August already?

Mark my words…this month is going to fly by. It’s the first of the month and I’m already fearing the end of it. We have lots of fun things planned for this month, most of which will probably add to the “speediness” that always seems to be the month of August.

We did have a very nice time saying goodbye to July though. Friday afternoon I finished my grocery shopping and baked somewhere in the ballpark of 4 dozen cookies. (What was I thinking?) Thankfully, I had plenty of excuses to bring the cookies elsewhere so that Sean and I didn’t instantly gain 20 pounds this weekend (recipe to come later this week).

Friday was also the last night of summer softball. We closed out the season with 2 wins, followed by a pool party and bonfire. I’d say it doesn’t get a whole lot better than that. (I could have, however, done without the 23 mosquito bites on my lower extremities.)
Saturday morning I met 2 friends at the gym and we took a long walk outside. I had been dreading the fluorescent lighting and monotonous elliptical machine, so it was the perfect change of pace. We returned to the gym for quick showers and then made our way to get pedicures. Glorious, I tell ‘ya!

That afternoon, Sean decided he wanted to make new bags for his cornhole set (We don’t actually call it cornhole. To us and most others in Minnesota, it’s simply “bags.” But it seems “cornhole” is most recognizable to others). After going store-to-store to get materials, Sean’s mom helped us sew them. And by helped, I mean, she did everything. I cut the fabric and Sean measured and poured the beans, but you don’t want either of us near a sewing machine. She was a huge help, and very patient with a sewing machine that didn’t always want to cooperate.

When we were done, we got some dinner and headed to our friend’s house. We had every intention of doing something, but it wasn’t meant to be. Many of the guys had spent the day in the hot sun playing softball and were sunburned and sleepy. So we gathered in the living room and watched Philadelphia until the Twins game started. Once the baseball game was on, we alternated between rooting for the team and reminiscing on embarrassing and hilarious stories from college.

Sunday we were feeling ambitious, so we rented a carpet cleaner for our living room and stairs (the only place we have rugs/carpet). Once again Sean did most of the work and I helped with the preparation and clean up. I supervised. Hey, it’s not like it takes 2 people to push it around! Later, we had dinner with Sean’s family and headed to bed early.

Another weekend gone too fast!

This week is a short one; I have Thursday and Friday off work and am looking forward to a long weekend!