Wednesday, January 29, 2014

And then we decided to go on vacation...

For a few weeks, Sean and I have been tossing around the idea of going on vacation. He only has a few days off to work with, so our options have been kind of limited. We changed our minds almost daily – thinking one day we didn’t need to spend the money and the next day that we needed warmer weather STAT!

Well last night, Sean and I were texting while he was at work. (Sidenote: I’m beginning to notice this is our primary form of communication lately. Stupid work schedule.) I was sharing with him the latest options I had found, which has really become a weekly thing for us. But this time was different. Because right away, he responded with:

“Ok, let’s go.”  

And just like that, we were going on vacation. I must have asked him 10 times if he was really sure we should do it, but he was. And with a racing heart, I hit “confirm” and booked our trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
This kind of decision making is so very typical of us – largely because this is how he works. And we're a team so we make these decisions together. He thinks very thoughtfully about things. Considers all of his options. Sits on it for what feels like forever (just ask how this went when I was waiting for us to get engaged). And then boom, makes up his mind in an instant and sticks to it. I think most of our major life purchases or decisions have gone this way – buying a house, getting engaged, planning vacations, deciding to start trying for babies, picking a restaurant for dinner. You know, the important stuff.

So, um, apparently we’re going on vacation. And with a forecast like this – I just have to say that the sun and sand cannot come soon enough! 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Surprise Me

My birthday is coming up in a few short weeks, and it’s a big one. While many of my friends have dreaded (or are dreading) their 30th birthdays, I’m actually looking forward to mine. For some reason, 30 just feels right to me. I’m ready!

And since it’s a big birthday, it only makes sense to do something fun to celebrate. Sean’s work schedule has been making that a little difficult though. He works every weekend in February and can’t get time off. So, being the nearly 30-year-old that I am, I’ve spent the last few weeks whining about it. Very mature.

But I can stop acting like a toddler and whining about my birthday now - because on Friday night, Sean and our families and friends threw me a surprise party!

We were planning – or so I thought – to have dinner with his family at his mom’s place. She said she had something after work so wanted to eat a little later, around 7 or so. I didn’t even think twice about it. We left our house a little early – around 6:30 – and only a few blocks from home, Sean decided to stop at the gas station to go to the bathroom. I was a little annoyed, but again, didn’t think a thing of it.

We pulled up in front of his mom’s building and parked behind his uncle’s car. I said something like, “Oh Scott’s here!” It didn’t faze me because he often joins us for family dinners, but apparently it made Sean’s heart beat even faster than it had been because he was worried I’d start to notice other cars, too. A car was just pulling into the garage and Sean joked about following it in to escape the snowy cold sooner. I found out later it was to distract me from looking around at these other cars, but like all of the other things before it, I didn’t even think twice about it.  

When we got up to his mom’s condo, Sean let me walk through the door first and I saw his mom and brother’s girlfriend right away. They started to sing happy birthday. My first thought was that we were celebrating with his family early, until the birthday chorus was suddenly amplified and people started coming out of every nook and cranny - out of bedroom doors, down from the loft upstairs. My brain was trying so hard to process what was going on that I wasn’t even sure what was happening at first.

They got me. They got me good!

I am usually a very suspicious person – often guessing things or thinking critically about the most random decisions or behaviors. Apparently my mom and others had been planning it for weeks! So I am shocked that the idea didn’t even cross my mind. And even more shocked that Sean managed to keep such a good secret (he’s not usually so great at that). 
My mom and sister and me.
It was such a fun night! Our families were there, and our closest friends. A few people couldn’t make it at the last minute because of the snowy weather, but I was honored that so many people made it out to celebrate with me. I couldn’t stop smiling all night long.
I usually have my camera with me everywhere I go, but didn't expect to need it for family dinner, so I only managed to get a few cell-phone quality photos. I wish I had gotten some of Sean and I, his family, and of the party in general but I was busy having too much fun, I guess :)
I woke up Saturday morning reminded again of how lucky I am to have so many incredible people in my life. It’s funny what some quality time with the ones you love can make you a sappy mess—and also a truly happier person. I can’t thank everyone enough who helped to pull it off. I think 30 is going to be a great year! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Is it supposed to make sense?

Last night, while having a mini meltdown for the most absurd reasons, I was texting with Sean (he was at work) seeking solace. I should know by now that he’s generally not the first person to go to when I’m in a state like this and looking for someone to talk to. For comfort? He’s the one. He’ll tell me he’s sorry I’m upset and that it’s all going to be OK. But I was looking for more of a two-way conversation – for him to humor me in my hysterics and agree with all of the clearly rational things I’d suddenly declared about the world.

You can guess where this is going. That’s not quite what I got from him. But what he did have to say was better. Because it got me thinking, and still has me pondering it today.

“It just doesn’t make sense!” I typed, feeling fed up and frustrated. His response?

“Is it supposed to make sense?”

I didn’t know how to respond. At first, I was angry. Yes, of course it is! Life is supposed to be logical and reasonable and fair. We should be able to expect things, plan for things, control things. Right?

Wrong. Life doesn’t always make sense. We’re not supposed to be able to be in control of everything, or to always have things the way we think they should be. But then why do I spend so much time trying to understand it? I hate feeling  frustrated when something in life doesn’t go a way that I expect it to or that even seems fair. 

But by believing that life isn't fair, that would mean that some people do "have it all," and I know that's not true. Everyone is fighting their own battles. We all have our own versions of an unfair, misunderstood life. Some are just a lot better at moving past it and embracing the beauty of the blessed lives we're given (I'm trying!).

Sean’s question was really nothing more than him dealing with my irrationality of the moment by looking at it from a very rationale perspective. But it was what I needed to stop and ask myself, “is this really worth crying about?” Yep, sometimes it is. (I am, in fact, a firm believer in a very good cry every once in a while.) But I can’t feel that way forever.

I have to remember that things aren’t always going to make sense. There’s no code to crack, no formula I am one day going to magically discover for making life easy or understandable. I need to learn to have faith, hope, and less judgment. Let go, and let God. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

I'm dating my husband

I’ve been seeing a blog post floating around my social networks these last few weeks: “I’m dating someone even though I’m married.” While it’s intentionally (but playfully) deceptive at first, the moral of the story is a good one. Even after you’re married, it’s important to still date. Your spouse that is.

Sean and I are notoriously not very good at this. Sure, we go out to dinner or a catch a movie from time to time. But we rarely make anything special of it. Even just your mindset about it can make the difference. So we’re trying to do better. And now that Sean’s work schedule means we spend a little less time together, it’s all the more reason to make the best of the times we do have together.

This weekend was one long date, and it was so much fun. Sean has to work most weekends in February, so we decided to use a Christmas present for a night’s stay at a historic hotel as a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day and my birthday a little early.

Our hotel reservations were for Saturday night. Earlier in the day, we had a stupid fight and were hardly talking each other. I even offered up the option of skipping the night all together, but we went anyway. And I’m so glad we did. Within minutes of arriving, we smiled at each other, said our apologies, and completely forgot about it. And I think it made us appreciate our time together even more.
We checked in Saturday afternoon and got settled into our suite. It was gorgeous – two rooms, a canopy bed, a fireplace, Jacuzzi tub, and views of the St. Croix River. We walked a few blocks to explore Main Street, a quaint little area with shops and small restaurants. We settled on an Irish pub for dinner and then headed back to our hotel. We brought a bag of snacks and spent the night cozy by the fire, eating junk food and watching bad TV and funny videos on YouTube. It wasn’t much unlike a night at home, except we had made something special of it. And we had a great time.

Breakfast was included in our gift certificate, so Sunday morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast buffet. We went back to our room and read the Sunday paper by the fire (can I please get a fireplace at home now?). 
On our way home, we stopped to see Lone Survivor at a theater our friends have been raving about. All of the seats are recliners, called Dream Loungers, but otherwise it’s your basic movie theater. But it was still worth it! I think we’ll be going there a lot more now. After the movie, we did some shopping, picked up the dog from grandma’s house, and took a family cat nap on the couch.
I don’t mean to sound trite, but by Sunday night, my heart felt so full. I loved spending quality time together without the monotony of our day-to-day routines. Of course, this date might have been a bit more involved than most, but even the small things we do to spend more quality time together can make a difference. We communicate more – better – and take the time to really appreciate one another’s company. And I’m looking forward to making it a regular part of our routine.

I know many of you have talked about doing the same thing lately, so if you have ideas for great date nights (big and small) – feel free to send them my way!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My latest breakfast obsession

My breakfast routine is not always the most ideal, or not the way a trainer or nutritionist might tell me to do it. But it works for me. During the week, I go to the gym before work. Since it’s pretty much the butt crack of dawn, eating before the gym just isn’t easy for me. Most people recommend eating before a workout, but I just can’t seem to do it so early in the morning. If I am hungry, I might have a banana, but usually my body does just fine waiting until post-workout.

I get ready for work at the gym and then hop a bust to downtown Minneapolis. As soon as I get there, it's breakfast time.

I eat while I’m getting settled for the day – checking email, organizing for the day, things like that. For a long time, I’ve typically been having one of two things for breakfast – either a yogurt or 2 hard-boiled eggs (eating the egg whites only). Occasionally, I’ll have oatmeal instead. (And on Fridays, when my work has free bagels, muffins, and donuts, I chain myself to my desk to avoid the delicious temptation. Except for when I don’t. Because how can you say no to bagels or muffins, especially free ones?)

But lately, my breakfasts have been feeling really boring. So much so that, some days, I’d rather skip it all together than eat the same thing again. And we all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

That’s when I decided to try something different. And I’ve been loving it so much, I decided to share the recipe with all of you. I have to say, recipe seems like an exaggeration because this is SO easy. And you can really customize it to be anything you want.

I line a muffin pan with silicone muffin cups (you don’t need them; you could just spray the pan) and put a very small amount of shredded cheese in each cup. Then I mix egg whites with a dash of milk (optional) and salt and pepper. I pour the egg whites into the muffin cups. And here is where you can add WHATEVER YOU WANT (or maybe even nothing at all). One week I did nothing else but some green onions. This week I took a cue from a recipe for an egg white omelet I recently found in a magazine and added a little pico de gallo to each muffin cup. Delicious! But honestly - whatever sounds good to you. Broccoli, bacon, peppers, or maybe even nothing else at all.
Then, just bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes and you’re done. Freeze or refrigerate and take them out as you need them. They heat up super fast for an easy, healthy breakfast anytime.