Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Conversations with a 3-year Old

During my brother's wedding weekend, there were many times when my 3-year old niece was more or less my responsibility. Other than getting her down the aisle at the wedding, the most notable time that I spent with her was the car ride on Sunday. While Shawn flew back from Raleigh to Seattle, I drove with my parents and my niece to Ohio. I took a relatively short shift driving, but except for that, I was in the backseat with my niece for the 13-hour drive.

Now that she's 3, she's pretty fun to hang out with. She has some very interesting (read that: funny) things to say. I really wish that I'd been writing her comments down all weekend long as she said them, but there were a few things that stuck with me that I thought I'd share here. As you can see, lots of our conversations centered around Uncle Shawn. :)

When first seeing Shawn:
Me: "This is Uncle Shawn. Can you say hi?"
Her: "Uncle Shawn has scruff."

On Sunday, she wanted to know if Uncle Shawn was going to ride in the car with us to Ohio.
Me: "Uncle Shawn is going to get on an airplane and fly back to our house."
Her: "Is he going to fly to infinity and beyond like Buzz Lightyear?"

While we were waiting for the wedding ceremony to start, someone brought us the basket full of flower petals a little early.
Her: "I want to hold the flower basket."
Me: "If I let you hold the basket now, do you promise not to throw the flowers until I tell you it's time?"
Her: "No."

We were in the car on Sunday evening. At this point, she's probably asked us at least 10 times "Where's Uncle Shawn?"
Her: "Where's Carrie's Uncle Shawn?"
Me: "Well, he's not my uncle Shawn; he's yours. See, I'm your Aunt Carrie, and since he's my husband, that makes him your Uncle Shawn."
Her: (with wide eyes and a big smile) "He's MY Uncle Shawn??"
Me: "Yep, he's your Uncle Shawn."
Her: He's MY really big Uncle Shawn??"

At Wendy's, we got her a kid's meal, which came in a bag that had pictures of sports equipment on it. I was asking her if she knew what the different balls were.
Me: "Yep, that's a basketball. Now do you know what this is? (pointing to a football)"
Her: "Buckeye!" After a few second pause, "Football!"
**Yes...her father is an Ohio State fan.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

1st Wedding Weekend, Part Two

My brother's wedding was on Saturday. Shawn and I ended up sleeping in rather late, so there really wasn't anyone around by the time we got moving. We decided to go back to the beach for an hour or two by ourselves, but when we got there, it was so crowded that we couldn't find a place to park. After driving around for awhile, we finally gave up and went back to the hotel. Shawn worked out in the hotel's super air conditioned fitness center while I hung out at the hotel pool. I had a good system going...get in the pool for a few minutes, get out and lay on the lounge chair until I got dry and hot, then get back in the pool for a few minutes. I also got some reading done.

When I went back up to our room to start getting ready for the wedding, I found my brother panicking in our (mine and Shawn's) room. I'm not 100% sure why, but he was getting dressed for the wedding in there, and there was a problem with his tie. It's a very long story, but the end result was having Shawn drive to a Men's Wearhouse in Wilmington and borrowing another white tie from a display shelf for my brother to wear. I was pretty impressed that MW just trusted that Shawn would return it the next day...they didn't take his credit card info or ID or anything.

We got to the beach (where the ceremony was taking place) around 5:25. The wedding should've started at 6:00. Have I mentioned yet what the temperature was like? Saturday was, of course, the hottest day of the week. The high temperature was supposed to be 98, and I'm positive it went at least that high! It was also very humid. Of course, being on the beach, there was no shade. Fortunately, I had thought to suggest that my dad bring an umbrella to make his own shade (which he did, since he does not do well in the heat), and Leslie's dad thought to bring a cooler full of ice cold water bottles. We did some photos before the ceremony, which ended up being delayed as we waited for a set of Leslie's grandparents to arrive.

By the time the wedding started at 6:30, the sun had actually gone behind some high clouds, and a nice little breeze had picked up. It was actually almost comfortable by then!

Shawn was given the job of videographer, so the few pictures he took of the ceremony were really from the viewpoint of the officiant (who happened to be Leslie's sister). I was given the job of "flower girl wrangler," so while waiting for the ceremony to start, my job was to occupy my niece and do my best to keep her white dress more or less clean. I gave up on keeping her hair looking nice. I was very pleasantly surprised that my niece waited fairly patiently for her turn to walk down the aisle, and once she started, she did a good job. Of course, once she saw her daddy at the front of the aisle, she took off running towards him and stopped throwing flower petals. Once she got down to the front, she threw her last handful of petals at the feet of the officiant, and then proceeded to spike the basket onto the sand. I wish Shawn had gotten a picture of that. :)

The ceremony itself was beautiful. You couldn't have painted a prettier backdrop than the sand dunes with the tall grasses and the ocean just behind them. During the sand ceremony, 3 pelicans flew over the water in front of us...which Leslie's dad pointed out was kind of significant since there were now 3 of them becoming a family.

Here are a bunch of pictures from the ceremony (and getting ready for it). Our camera battery died pretty much as we got to the reception, so we don't have any pictures from there. But it was pretty, too. :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

1st Wedding Weekend, Part One

Our trip to Raleigh was fairly uneventful...which is good! The only slight hitch was when we arrived at the car rental counter and were told we didn't have a reservation. We didn't have the confirmation number (note to self...get the conf. # for the next rental), but they were able to rent us a car. And they threw in a free GPS for the weekend, which was nice.

On Thursday, we hung out with my brother, his fiance, my niece, and some of their friends. Thursday night was Leslie's bachelorette party, which I attended. Despite a few awkward moments (of the "this is my brother you're all talking about" variety), I had a really good time with the girls. Shawn spent that evening hanging out with my brother, a groomsman of his, and my niece. It was wild and crazy, I'm sure. :)

On Friday, we followed Brent and Leslie to the beach! We actually went straight there without even checking in to the hotel. Have I mentioned my slight fear of the ocean? Yeah...I get super nervous in natural bodies of water when the water is murky enough that I can't see my feet. If I don't know what may be swimming around me, I tend to freak out. So that being said...I was very proud of myself for actually getting in the ocean! Shawn and I swam around a little bit, and we took on some waves for awhile. After jumping in the waves (and getting knocked over a few times), we found my niece playing in the sand. She took one look at me and said, "What happened to your hair? It's crazy!" :)
Friday night was the rehearsal at the beach and the rehearsal dinner. It was a pretty typical rehearsal, except for the fact that my job was to get the flower girl (my niece) down the aisle at the rehearsal and she did NOT want to do it! There was quite the meltdown that evening. I think it was mainly because it was HOT outside (upper 90s and humid) and she was surrounded by a bunch of people she really didn't know. Things were definitely looking up at the rehearsal dinner, though, when Uncle Shawn gave her one of those glow sticks (the kind you shake and then "crack" to make them start glowing a really bright green light).
I'm not sure why we didn't take more pictures on Friday...those two were the best two from the rehearsal dinner. Shawn got better ones at the actually wedding...I'll make a separate post tomorrow about the rest of our weekend and post a few wedding pictures.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

All Packed!

Well, at least I'm all packed. Shawn is still at work, so he'll need to pack quickly as soon as he gets home. At this point, I don't know exactly what I've blogged and what I haven't, so let me sum up what will be going on over the next few weeks.

Tonight, Shawn and I are flying to Raleigh. We have an overnight flight to Atlanta, and we'll arrive in Raleigh tomorrow morning. My brother and his fiance will be there, and our plans are to more or less spend the day with them. Tomorrow night, in fact, Shawn will be hanging out with my brother and some of his friends (and his 3 year old daughter, so there won't exactly be much wild and crazy "bachelor party" type things going on). I, on the other hand, will be going to my future sister-in-law's bachelorette party. I know where we're going, and lets just say that I'm pretty sure I'm not nearly cool enough to go out to this place. So we'll see how this goes. :)

On Friday, we'll be heading south towards the beach where my brother will be getting married on Saturday! I'm sure that Friday and Saturday will be somewhat busy with wedding preparations, but we're also really hoping to be able to spend at least some time just lounging around on the beach.

On Sunday, Shawn will be flying back to Seattle so that he can spend next week at work. How fun for him! While he's flying, I'll be driving with my parents and my 3-year old niece to Ohio. That should be interesting. :) After a few days in Ohio, I'll be flying to St. Louis, where one of my good college friends is getting married next weekend. Shawn will meet me in St. Louis (why can I not resist phrasing it that way?), and then after the wedding (and college girlfriend reunion!), we'll fly together to Denver. We're planning on being in Colorado for about a week before flying back to Seattle.

So over the next two and a half weeks, I'll be a little busy. :) I plan on taking LOTS of pictures, and I'll do my best to keep up with the blogging. It sounds like I might actually have some interesting things to blog about for once!

The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, 1963 (244 pages)

I knew almost nothing about this book when I picked it up. I thought it was pretty good, but I didn't love it.

The Bell Jar is the story of a young college girl who becomes suicidal. It basically follows her mental descent, her suicide attempt, and her stay at an asylum before becoming "cured." Much of the story is actually autobiographical, which definitely adds an interesting element to the narration.

I occasionally found myself forgetting who some of the characters were (as they'd be mentioned only briefly, then many chapters later would come back into the story with no re-introduction), and there were a few places where the story seemed to jump very abruptly. However, I think this was probably intentional, as it seemed to happen the most when the character was beginning to slip out of sanity.

Although the most obvious element of the book is seeing what it is truly like to experience mental illness, suicidal thoughts, treatment, and a "cure," feminism is definitely a major theme throughout the book. Plath is certainly known as a feminist writer, and it's easy to see how she feels about the role of women in society, the way men treat women, and what it should mean for a woman to be independent.

It was definitely an interesting book, and one worth reading. Knowing that the author committed suicide very shortly after the book was published in London gives the story an even more tragic tone.


Total number of books read in 2009: 26
Total number of pages read in 2009: 9553

Monday, June 15, 2009

Going Once...Twice...Sold!

On Saturday night, Shawn and I went to a fundraising dinner/auction. It was to raise money for a local crisis pregnancy center, and we weren't planning on going until Thursday night. A friend of a friend had actually bought two full tables for the dinner, and he still had some open spots on Thursday. So Shawn and I were invited and we decided to go (especially since dinner would be free!).

Once we got to the auction, we decided to go ahead and bid on a few smaller items that were in the silent auction. Unfortunately, we didn't win anything. We also bought a ticket for the "case of cash" ($1000 in cash), but we didn't win that either. Once dinner was over, the live auction began. I thought it was actually pretty interesting that the live auction began with bidding for dessert! It's amazing how much someone will pay for a cheesecake (over $500) when they know the money is going to a good cause. :) Those of us who didn't bid on or win a "special" dessert got slices of cake.

During dinner, Shawn and I had looked through the catalog of items that would be up for bid during the live auction, and we agreed to bid on a few things. However, we absolutely assumed that we would be outbid on everything we were interested in. For example, there were a pair of Mariners tickets that I said I'd be willing to pay $150 for. The opening bid was $200.

However...Shawn decided to bid on a "date night" package, and he actually won it! He did spend a good chunk of money, but A) it went to a good cause, and B) it was actually less than what the entire package was worth. Here's what we won:
  • a gift basket that included 4 bottles of wine (from a local winery), 2 wine glasses, a corkscrew, and chocolates
  • Gift certificates to four different restaurants (they're different amounts, but each certificate is plenty to cover dinner for two adults)
  • Two lower level tickets to a Mariners game towards the end of the season
  • Gift certificate to a really cool bowling alley
  • Certificate good for two tickets to any show in the 2009-2010 season at the Seattle Public Theater
  • Gift card for Regal Cinemas (enough for two tickets and some popcorn)

We're really excited to start using this stuff! I know that the idea behind the package is that we can have four separate date nights...but honestly, I'm thinking we can easily stretch it out to more than that! For example, I don't need to go out to dinner the night we go to the Mariners game. I'm happy just eating hot dogs at the stadium.

I really loved that Shawn decided to bid on this. We actually bid on and won another item later in the evening, but I'll have to post about that later. :) I wanted to make sure that this awesome gift from my husband got its own post! I'll have to write about our experiences when we start using the certificates.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Let's Go Fly a Kite!

Okay, I realize that I still have said almost nothing about our Memorial Day weekend trip down to the Oregon Coast. I keep thinking that I don't want to blog about it until I have pictures to post. And every time I think to do it, Shawn has the camera. So tonight, I finally remembered to take out the camera!

Before we ever went down to Oregon, I read in multiple places that kite flying is a popular activity in Seaside and Cannon Beach. So on Sunday afternoon, we bought ourselves a kite! There were a couple fun little kite shops in Cannon Beach, so we actually splurged and bought ourselves a pretty nice kite. No grocery store plastic kite for us! This is what we got:
Shawn also wanted to get longer string, so we actually bought a spool with 500 feet! It was super windy on the beach the entire weekend, so Shawn had no problem getting the kite off the ground by himself. And once it was up, I'm pretty sure that our kite was by far flying higher than any other kite on the beach!I took a turn with the kite, too. I think it'll be really fun to take the kite over to Gas Works park one of these days. There's also a kite flying hill at Magnuson Park, where most of Shawn's rugby games will be played now (the rugby pitch is brand new).The entire time we were flying the kite, I had that song from Mary Poppins stuck in my head. It was a little annoying since I really only know one or two lines from the song. :) But so that it can get stuck in your you go!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

One More Day!

Tomorrow is my last day at my long-term sub job!! I'm so excited for summer to "officially" start! I've been really busy this week, trying to get all my grading done. The kids still have school all next week, but I'm basically giving them their final grades. The "real" teacher isn't going to accept any late assignments (if I assigned it, she's not grading it), so I need to finish all my grading before I'm done. I've finally finished grading all the tests that they took on Tuesday, and I still need to record them. Then I've got one more assignment to grade, plus all the late work that students turned in over the last week or so. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that I'll get it all graded and entered on the computerized gradebook before 2:30 tomorrow...otherwise I'll be working for free!

Over the last week or two, I've been busy trying to make lots of travel plans! At this time next week, Shawn and I will be in North Carolina. My brother is getting married there next weekend! We'll be down there for a few days, and we've been trying to figure out the details about who needs to be where when. We've gotten hotel rooms in two different cities, a rental car, airline tickets, and plans for a bachelorette party, bachelor party (sort of), hanging out on the beach, a rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, baby-sitting, decorating for the reception, chauffering the bride and groom...and oh yeah, attending the wedding and reception!

And that's just the beginning. North Carolina is just the first 4 or 5 days of a two and a half week trip for me! I'll have to explain the rest of the trip later. :)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Secret History

The Secret History by Donna Tartt, 1992 (524 pages)

I actually put this book on my "to be read" list last fall, when the local library book club discussed it. I definitely didn't have time amidst moving in to our apartment to find and read the book, let alone go to the meeting to discuss it, but I thought it sounded good.

This is the story of a group of college friends. They attend a small, private school in Vermont, and they all study Greek. In fact, they take the vast majority of their classes from one professor, and there are only 6 of them in this group. The narrator, Richard, transfers in to the school, and so he is new to the group. As the inside flap of the book explains, "Mesmerized by his new comrades, Richard is unaware of the crime which they have committed in his dreamy, unwitting presence. But once taken into their confidence, he and the others slowly and inevitably begin to believe in the necessity of murdering the one classmate and friend who might betray both their secret and their future."

For some reason, it took me quite awhile to read this book. It was actually a fairly unique story, unlike anything I can remember reading. I enjoyed all the references to the learning of Greek and the love of this classic culture that the students have. I really don't know why I didn't get more into it. I think I would've enjoyed it more if I had simple been able to sit down more often and read large portions of it at once. The author lets you know in the Prologue the basics of what happened, and then the rest of the book is filling in the blanks. Although it was interesting trying to predict when and how it would happen, I think I might've liked it better if I hadn't known this major detail up front. In the third section of the book (it's divided into 3 sections), the reader doesn't know at all what's going on, and I found it more intriguing than the rest of the book. Overall, I'd give it 3.5 stars out of 5.


Total number of books read in 2009: 25

Total number of pages read in 2009: 9309

This Weekend

I really have no idea why I haven't been blogging very much lately. Other than the fact that not much is going on these days, I don't have a good explanation! I haven't even posted any other info about our trip to Oregon a couple weeks ago, and for that, I apologize.

This weekend's been pretty good. On Friday night, Shawn and I went to his rugby team's End-of-Season banquet. This seems to be a fairly traditional thing for rugby clubs to do. So Friday afternoon, Shawn came home a little early from work. We got all dressed up, which is always fun to do. I had to pick up Shawn's suit on Friday afternoon, since he had to have it altered. This is the suit that we bought Shawn last April. If you haven't noticed from the pictures on this site over the last year or so, Shawn has lost quite a bit of weight, and the suit was too big. I'm not sure about the jacket, but the tailor had to take in Shawn's pants seven inches at the waist! We had a good time at the banquet, which was held at a rowing club on Lake Union, across the lake from downtown Seattle. Unfortunately, we didn't take our camera, so the only picture we have from Friday night is one of me at home before we left.

On Saturday, we spent the day being lazy at home, and then in the evening, we got together with some friends from church. All the guys went to one house for a poker night, and all the girls went to another house for a girls' night in. I don't know much about what went on at the guys' house, other than the fact that they each brough their own meat to grill, and Shawn lost $20. At the girls' night, we basically just sat around with a bunch of food and chatted all night long. It was actually quite fun. :)

Today, we got up early (for a Sunday, at least) and went to 8:00am Mass. After swinging through the McDonald's drive thru for breakfast, Shawn dropped me off at home before heading out for a rugby game. Of course, I normally go to all the games, but this one was a little different. First of all, it was a 90-minute drive just to get to the town where it's being played. And the game doesn't really "count" for anything...Shawn's team is simply playing the regional college "all-stars" team to help the college guys get ready for a tournament they'll be playing in soon.

And that's pretty much our weekend! I'm very excited about this week, since it's my last week of teaching! The teacher I've been subbing for will be back in the building on Friday, so she and I will actually overlap by a day. I'm definitely ready to stop waking up at 5:00am every morning!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why I'd Like a House

Shawn and I have been somewhat seriously talking lately about the possibility of buying a house later this year. (Read that sentence's that for commitment for ya'?) That nice $8000 tax credit for first time homebuyers is certainly appealing, but honestly, there are a number of other reasons that we'd really like to own our own place. I think that we both feel a little like late bloomers when we think about certain aspects of our lives. We didn't get married until we were 29 and 30 (the current average age at marriage in the U.S. is 26.8 for men and 25.1 for women). Obviously, we don't have kids yet, so we'll be in the "later" category for that, too. (The average age of a first-time mom in the U.S. is 25.2. Hmmmm...notice how close that is to the average age at marriage?) Although according to the National Association of Home Builders, the average age of a first time homebuyer is 33, we still have lots of friends who have already purchased their first (or second) home.

All those statistics aside, there are definitely some things that Shawn and I are looking forward to about actually owning the place where we live. Here are just a few things I've been thinking of lately:
  • Paint: I actually really enjoy painting walls. I haven't been able to do it since I lived with my parents, with the exception of helping my friend Matt paint a bedroom when he bought his condo.
  • Remodel/redecorate: We watch enough design shows that we'd really like to purchase a house that needs some updating and then spend the time and effort together to make those changes. We think it would be fun!
  • A yard: I realize that it takes a certain amount of upkeep, but it would be so nice to be able to step outside and stand on grass (or even just dirt!) that actually belongs to us!
  • A dog: We'd like to get a dog. Okay, admittedly, I'd like to get a cat...but since that's not going to happen, I'll go with a dog. However, we don't think it would be fair to get a dog when we live in an apartment, so until we have that yard I just mentioned, it's no dog for us.
  • No communal parking: It's really annoying to have to deal with a communal parking lot. If we had a driveway (or even a garage!) where we could park, it would make so many things just a tiny bit simpler.
  • No flights of stairs: I just had to carry in the groceries. It's 32 stairs from the parking lot to our apartment (and that's after walking a little ways from the assigned parking spot). I'm really looking forward to the day when I can just carry the groceries from the car to the kitchen without having to climb multiple flights of stairs or go up in an elevator and walk down long hallways. (Although I have gotten really good at carrying up to 7 bags of groceries in one hand!)
  • Privacy: At this point, I'm very grateful not to have anyone living above us! That's one nice thing about living on the top floor. We also don't share any walls with neighbors in this building, which is awesome. I do, however, occasionally wonder if we ever bother the people living below us. And I don't always love listening to the bass line of whatever song the guy downstairs is playing loudly.

I think I'll stop there. :) Obviously, there are some perks to renting (like the apartment complex pool...which we have yet to use...and the maintenance guy that we don't have to pay when he comes to fix things). But I am excited to start looking for a house to buy. It probably won't happen for a couple more months (especially since our lease isn't up until October), but I'm still looking forward to it.