Monday, November 28, 2011

New post-Thanksgiving tradition?

I enjoy shopping. I’m certainly not an extreme shopper by any means, but it’s a pastime I typically find pleasure in. A few years ago I braved the crowds for the ultimate shopping experience—my first Black Friday. And you know what? I’ve kind of been hooked ever since.
I totally get sucked into the BIG DEALS mentality that these retailers are shooting for. The rational side of me knows very well that—at least most of the time—they’re luring you into spending more money than you normally would. The deals seem too good to miss, yet, they’re often not as great as they seem.

But I do it anyway. I have so much fun scouring through the ads, picking out my favorites and making a list of everything I’d get if my wallet was bottomless. I love the thrill of weaving through the throngs of equally crazy shoppers in the wee hours of the morning. I get a bit of a buzz from the counter-balance of shopping endorphins and plain ol’ exhaustion.

I’ve had my share of Black Friday success and disappointment. Three years ago Sean and I became the proud owners of a 50” flat screen TV, thanks entirely to his brother. When the doors opened at WalMart, he (literally) pushed his way to the front of the line (knocking over coffees in his wake) and sprinted to the back of the store, throwing himself over the very last box of our soon-to-be prized possession. Completely against the Black Friday etiquette that’s since emerged, but it was brilliant and Sean and I were (and still are) very grateful.

The following year we were less successful. Or I was less successful, I should say (and selfishly, that’s all I care about, duh!). I was on the hunt for a TV for our bedroom but failed miserably. Sean and his brothers got some good deals though, including a GPS system that Sean still uses on a regular basis. I guess it was just a disappointing year for me, then.

But this year, I’d have to say, was my favorite year yet. It’s going to be hard to top it, but if it becomes the tradition we hope it will be then we’ll definitely give it a run for its money.

At about 7:00 Thanksgiving night, my mom, sister, and I decided we’d give Black Friday a go. WalMart deals were starting at 10. By 9:30, the 3 of us (in our unplanned, practically matching outfits of leggings and oversized sweatshirts) were in a mad-dash for the Xbox line. My mom got the very last one – a surprise my brother will be very excited about. The rest of the night was a whirlwind—bouncing from store to store, stopping only a few times to get some food or wait for a store to open. At our last stop, I got the laptop I had been eyeing and researching for weeks (thanks to the online previews of Black Friday ads).

By 6:45 a.m. I was crawling back into my bed, just in time for Sean to start waking up from his long night’s sleep. I was up again by 8:30, and took only an hour nap later in the day. But surprisingly, I wasn’t terribly tried. I was probably still running on fumes from the fun and excitement I shared with my mom and sister. Maybe it was just the quality time we spent together, or the delirious state of pulling an all-nighter. Or it could have also had something to do with nabbing most of our sought-after items. Probably it was all of it.

My favorite night of the long holiday weekend, and a tradition I hope we continue for a long time!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

This morning, Sean and I started our Thanksgiving with delicious homemade mini cinnamon rolls (one of his mom’s traditional recipes) and a pile of Black Friday ads. Perfection! For the rest of the day, I’m looking forward to relaxing with family—and of course indulging it some delicious food.

But let’s talk about what today is really about: giving thanks. And boy do I have a lot to give thanks for this year.

  • Our incredible families.
  • My best friend and soon-to-be husband (1 day less than 7 months to go, but who’s counting?)
  • A home to call our own
  • Friends who have stood by us through everything
  • Health, for us and our families
  • And strength—for the times when things aren’t always as smooth as we’d like them to be
And it seems this only scratches the surface. I feel so blessed.

What are you thankful for this year?

Have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving weekend bliss

Today is day one of my five-day weekend. I'm thrilled to have some downtime with friends and family. And if the relaxation and productivity of today sets the tone for the rest of the weekend, I am going to be one happy girl.

My day started pretty early for a day without work, but I kind of like it that way. (I feel a lot more productive when I get a head start on the day.) On days when I'm still home before Sean leaves for work, I rely on him to wake me up. He comes and sits at the edge of the bed to and talks with me fore a few minutes before he has to go. It might just be one of the very best ways to start the day.

After he left, I watched the morning news and then caught up on some shows in the DVR. I eventually made my way to the gym, and headed straight for the mall from there (don't worry, I showered!). There were lots of great pre-Black Friday sales, but I managed to stay focused on the few things I came to find. I made a pit-stop at the grocery store on the way home and then did some holiday baking. We're having dinner with some of Sean's friends tonight (a tradition they started in high school), so I prepped our contributions and rocked out to Christmas music.

Looking forward to the rest of this great day - and it's only the beginning of a long, relaxing weekend. Love!

Happy almost Thanksgiving friends!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful - Part I

This week I’m focusing on giving thanks. Cliché I know, but so completely and overwhelmingly appropriate.

Things have been a bit crazy lately. Unfortunately, it’s meant that I started to lose sight of the simple pleasures that kept me sane – like writing in this blog. And I’m determined to change that. Without those things—the ones that keep me grounded and focused and happy—I get too wrapped up in the chaos. And chaos is not what I want to center my life around.

So here I am. Trying to get back on the wagon. And what a great week to start, since thinking about what I’m thankful for gives me an abundance of things to write about.

Today I’ll just share one. I’m thankful for my job. It feels almost petty and vain, but it really is important. And today I really need to remember that.

I love my job (most of time at least). I wouldn’t be doing it for 5+ years if I didn’t. But with the latest happenings around here, it’s been pretty dismal around there. A lot of us are struggling. We’re happy we didn’t lose our jobs, but feeling awful “survivor’s guilt” for even thinking about feeling that way. We miss our friends. We miss business-as-usual. It’s kind of ugly, actually.

But like I told someone today, I still love the people I work with—it just so happens there’s a hell-of-a-lot less of them now. So I’m thankful. Thankful to have the opportunity to keep doing something I enjoy. Thankful to wade through these muddy waters with coworkers I respect. Thankful—and let’s just be blunt here—to still have a paycheck.

It’s funny how much we can rely on a job. It’s our livelihood. For some it’s nothing more than a place of employment, a time card. But for most of us, it’s almost always something we’re doing for someone or something else (in the best and worst ways). So the CEO can make his millions. So students have a place to grow and learn. So our families can thrive. So we can put our talents to use. So we can challenge ourselves. So we can feel like in some way, we’re making a difference.

So for that—the opportunity to keep doing those things through better and worse—I'm thankful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Impending doom

Today my company announced that, for the second time this year, they'll be doing layoffs again. Starting today.

Our department has been told that no decisions will be communicated today, and that we should know by end of day tomorrow who is affected.

We sort of had a feeling this was coming, but it doesn't make the stress and frustration any easier. When this happened earlier this year, we had to go almost 2 weeks before we knew if we were affected, so at least it's only 48 hours this time.

The problem is, I am one of the most anxious people I know. I can hardly standing waiting, especially when it's coupled with fear and stress. I have such physical reactions to emotional stress that I work myself into a total tizzy.

I've already broken my no-crying-at-work rule today. I can probably guarantee you I willl not sleep tonight (unless aided by my dear friend Advil PM), and my stomach will be in permanent knots until closing time tomorrow.  No matter how much I talk myself into being "safe," there's still no way of knowing. And no matter what happens, it just plain sucks. People will be losing their jobs, people who I am used to seeing every day.

Worlds will be turned upside down in the next 48 hours. Please God, just don't let it be mine. (And yet, I feel guilty for praying for my own job security when it means someone else may not get the same.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

On wedding planning

{Via Style Me Pretty - and also lyrics from one of my favorite songs!}
In about 7 months Sean and I will finally say, “I do.” It seems like an eternity, but I’m not wishing time away just yet. I am getting very anxious to be his wife. And I’m excited for the wedding too of course; it’s sure to be a good time!

The wedding plans are coming along, but sometimes I feel like we haven’t done very much. Many of the big things are checked off our list—we have a date, church, reception venue, DJ, and limo, and we’ve picked out a color scheme, my dress, the bridesmaid dresses, and Save the Dates.

I realize there’s still a lot to be done, but I tend to feel like I have all the time in the world (mistake #1?). Then I have these moments—mostly sparked by conversations with others—where I feel like I’m not doing enough. So far it hasn’t been terribly time consuming or stressful, and I get the impression from some people that they expect it to be. So far, the entire process has been really laid back and enjoyable (the only thing I find stressful are the price tags). Am I missing something?

These are the top 3 things that seem to be working for me so far:

Staying organized. This is huge. Thanks in large part to the friends who have done this before me, I’ve managed to stay pretty organized. I have a binder with paperwork, ideas, and notes for every aspect of the wedding. I have countless spreadsheets and word documents full of information I either know or need to know. If I can stay on track with all of this, I think I’ll be golden.

Taking a little at a time. Sometimes, I wish I was doing more wedding stuff—it’s a lot of fun after all. But taking care of things in small steps has definitely helped keep my stress levels low. I assume as we get closer to the big day it will get a bit harder to put things off and spread things out, but for now, this is working really well. Besides, I work better under pressure, so I’ll probably be fine, right?

Ask others. I’m probably one of the most indecisive people you will ever meet. I can spend 20 minutes trying on a single sweater in a dressing room just because I can’t make up my mind. So when it comes to wedding plans, I so value the opinions of my family and friends around me. My mom, Sean’s mom, and my bridesmaids have all been wonderfully helpful. Sean’s helpful too, when he needs to be. I don’t blame him for caring less about fabric color or invitation designs. The cake? Now that he’ll care about!

If you have any suggestions, do share! I’m always happy to hear tips and ideas from people who have done this before.