Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm going to be a horrible mother someday

It's been a weird day so far, a really weird day. And it's only 3:30, so there's probably plenty more where that came from.

First of all, I had so much work to do today, and rather than making me extra productive, this usually results in procrastination paralyzation. I sat there in my pajamas reading blogs for a good hour before I made myself take a shower, get dressed, and haul ass to Starbucks to get work done.

The particular Starbucks I go to is about a 15 minute drive. There are two (maybe more) that are actually closer to me, but this is the only one that I can "get in the zone at". I ordered my drink, got my table and propped open my Mac and . . . where is the internets? Internet man down. Ugh. 

So I went home and set up shop at my dining room table, vowing to actually be productive. But the dog had to go out. And then he had to come in. And then he had to howl at leaves blowing in the yard. So annoying. But then I remembered what I bought the other day:

Doggy downers. I bought these because we've been getting a lot of storms lately and Wilbur is terrified of thunder, and I thought these might help. Because he was crazy hyper today and I had so much work to do, I thought . . . why not? So I gave him a couple and he quickly drifted off into dreamland, where i'm sure he had some crazy drug-influenced dreams. 

With beagle safely sedated, I got to work on an article that is due tomorrow. Typity, type, type, EARTHQUAKE. 

Wtf? Of course, at the time I didn't know that it was an earthquake. Here is my stream of consciousness:

-Am I having a panic attack? Why do I feel like the room is shaking?
-Oh, the dog felt it too, I'm not imagining it. Is there a person trying to break in my house by drilling a giant hole through my roof?
-Must check Twitter!

That's literally what went through my head, in that order. Does this make you wonder about me?

Poor Wilbur, in his drug-induced haze, was jolted awake, kind of crouched low to the ground and then ran upstairs to hide. I have probably scarred him for life.

Anyway, here's a photo of the devastation, please send relief funds to my PayPal account:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Friendly Tips for Camping

You may not know this about me but I'm pretty high maintenance. I hate admitting that because I generally don't like high maintenance girls, but there it is, and I'm sure my husband will resoundingly agree. I'm basing this on a few facts: I rarely leave the house without makeup (and by rarely, I mean only if the house is on fire), I really like air conditioning and hate anything that makes me sweat, and I have a "product" for everything. I can't help it, I was raised in a climate controlled environment, didn't play sports, and have a naturally ugly face.

But surprisingly, I actually really like camping. I love being out in nature, cooking on a fire, pooping behind a log. I mean, I don't think I could go for more than a couple days or anything, but we always go camping a few times a year. I actually have a pretty impressive camping resume, considering my long Girl Scouts career and the fact that my best friend in high school had a trailer at a campground (the same place  where she would reveal, awkwardly, that she was a lesbian, as we slept in the same tent together. Great timing.)

This weekend, we went camping with my best friend, her fiance, and their group of friends. It was so much fun! But it wasn't real camping. The campground was actually labeled as a resort, and though we were sleeping in tents, there was an electricity hookup at every camp site, along with free wifi internet for the whole campground (??!!). This may sound appealing to most high maintenance people, but I really like to go balls to the wall when camping. None of this "official campground" nonsense, we usually just find a random spot in the woods nowhere near civilization. No electricity, no bathrooms, no people except the people you're with. It's like Survivor, but with young urban professionals, Eddie Bauer sleeping bags, and pontoon boats. I like falling asleep in terror to the sounds of rabid animals, not Jimmy Buffet tunes and the whirring of the blender from the cougars making margaritas next to our camp site.

But because I failed at taking any photos this weekend (it's kind of awkward to take pictures of people that you don't really know that well and then posting them on the internet, doesn't really set things off on the right foot), I'll leave you with my camping advice for high maintenance ladies:

1. Earplugs. Seriously, if I could bring one thing camping this would be it. I just started bringing earplugs with me when i sleep overnight anywhere and they are magical. I have trouble falling asleep if there is any kind of noise, and falling asleep to the sounds of wild animals gnashing their teeth on your cooler or retirees making frozen drinks way too late is almost impossible. I pop these earplugs in and I can sleep through anything.

2. Air mattress. I don't sleep on the ground. But the key to sleeping on an air mattress is to sleep on it with someone who is bigger than you. Because after a few uses, they start losing air throughout the night and you end on the ground anyway. My advice to you is to share an air mattress with your boyfriend/husband/fat friend so that they are the one that sinks, and you stay afloat on their displaced air.

3. Cleansing makeup remover cloths. If you don't have access to a bathroom, you can slip into your tent in the cover of night and take off your makeup before you go to sleep. That way no one will see your ugly face and think you are a woodland beast and try to poach you. 

4. "Natural" looking makeup. Even if you are the girl that wears makeup during camping, you don't want everyone else to know you're that girl. Bring a hand mirror and apply a "natural look" before you get out of the tent in the morning. A little swirl, tap, buff, of the bare minerals, a swipe of concealer and some mascara will do the trick. Then get out of the tent, yawning and stretching, like you just woke up looking like a hot piece.

This is what I look like without makeup, swearsies. 

5. All possibly-needed meds. I usually bring a sampler pack that contain one of each of the following: Advil, Pepto, allergy medicine, immodium, zoloft, tranquilizers. That way you will be prepared for anything. For example, this weekend, I got a pedicure from a shady place in the mall the day before we left to go camping. Once we were camping, I noticed one of my toes was looking infected where the nail lady went a little buck wild with her cuticle scissors. It's a good thing I had some Bactine and a band-aid, otherwise I would have probably thought I was going to get gangrene and would have made Frank drive me to the closest emergency room. We were pretty deep in the country, and I'm pretty sure the only option would have been Dr. Quinn medicine woman. 

6. Clothing for every climate. I whine if I'm too hot. I whine if I'm too cold. Bring a clothing option for every situation.

7. Get drunk and take a klonopin. Going to sleep, on the ground, in the great outdoors is enough to put me on edge. I like to self-medicate before bedtime so that when my head hits the pillow, I forget that there are bugs crawling all around me. Usually, a taking a couple Miller Lites to the face in rapid succession will be enough to get me to sleep, but if that doesn't work, I'll usually cap it off with a half a klonopin for good measure. (Please consult your doctor before mixing beer and seizure medication.)'

Got any more tips for going camping and looking like a natural?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's like fireworks and butterflies and champagne exploding inside you

That post title? It's a quote from a woman on High Stakes Sweepers, a show on TV about people that enter sweepstakes obsessively. Which I'm watching. For entertainment. Can you tell I'm bored?

Frank is at a preseason Steelers game with his friends which leaves me allllll alone. I actually don't mind, it gives me a chance to catch on paranormal tv shows and do some needless baking. And blog, apparently.

So I want to tell you about my favorite food. Something I crave all the time. It's not something I could eat every day because every time I eat it, it makes me violently ill for like a week. In the gut. I think of it as a 5 day cleanse. But I keep coming back because it hurts so good. I'm hoping that by continuing to eat it, my body will build up a resistance to it. 

Penang Coconut Curry Chicken. Yes, it is sweet delicious heaven. Typically I get it to go from this fancy gourmet grocery store up the street from me (it has a cafe) but you can get some version from most Thai joints. And it's always under a different name so you need to read the description to find it. It's chicken thighs (or shrimp, tofu, etc) in a sweet and spicy yellow curry and coconut sauce. There's always potatoes in it, either regular or sweet potatoes. One place I go to throws in pineapple chunks. Load it up with rice and a ton of cilantro (at my request) and its a magical unicorn explosion of flavor. The place I got this from is like a Thai India fusion and the naan on the side is warm, chewy, and carby heaven. Remember how I'm trying to lose weight again? Uh. 

So that's what I have ahead of me for the evening. I might do some baking, I might clean a little bit, I might do some work. But chances are I'm going to lay here digesting and watching Ghost Hunters International on DVR. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Today sucked.

Yesterday, my grandma was having chest pains so she called 911 and went to the hospital. They ran multiple tests and found no problems with her heart. But she was adamant that something wasn't right and she was in a lot of pain. They thought maybe it was her stomach and they kept her overnight.

The next morning, another test revealed that she had, in fact, had a heart attack. My older sister was at the hospital with her and called me to update me on the situation. They were going to do a catheter to check for any blockages in her heart. I finished up my work and drove to the hospital to meet my sister and my two aunts. 

We waited a couple hours and the doctor finally called us back to talk to us about the procedure. If you're unfamiliar with a heart catheterization, here is my highly unqualified and probably inaccurate explanation of it: the make an incision in your thigh and feed a long thing tube through one of your main arteries in your leg and feed it all the way through your heart. A tiny camera captures images. They found one 99% blockage in one of her arteries and two 80% blockages in another artery. Obviously, the 99% one is what caused her heart attack. The placed a stent in where the blockage was to open up the artery. In one month she will have to come back to have the other two done. 

She's fine. 

The scary part is that she had a stress test less than six months ago and it should have caught any problems. The reason that the stress tests and the preliminary tests in the emergency room didn't catch her blockage or heart attack has something to do with her pacemaker throwing off the results (I won't even pretend to understand this one). She had also been experiencing back pain directly behind her heart for almost a year. They had done all kind of therapy to try to make her back better including some kind of spinal injection that did nothing. This whole thing may have been because of her heart. 

So here's the moral of the story: you have to be your own healthcare advocate because no one else is going to do it for you. I don't want to think about what could have happened if they had sent her home when she went to the emergency room. But she persisted that she didn't feel right and that there was something wrong. She also requested to be moved to a different hospital, the one where her (very trusted) cardiologist worked. Her request was denied because she wasn't stable enough. However, they tried to assign a doctor to her that she had had before, one with a terrible reputation who had botched a procedure on her before. Instead, she consulted her consumer reports book about doctors to check them all out. The doctor that operated on her was rated as the best cardio surgeon in that healthcare group. And that's the doctor that fixed her heart.

If you think something isn't right and you want a second opinion, ask for it. If you have strong feelings about your care, ask someone to change it. Don't worry about looking bossy, bitchy, or paranoid, it's your life and it's the only one you have. Thank God my grandma was smart and persistent enough to ask for the care that she needed. And if you're not well enough, have someone else advocate for you, that you trust. My older sister is extremely close with my grandma and has worked in the healthcare system for a long time. One thing is for sure, she does not shut her mouth (in a good way!) when my grandma is in the hospital. She asks a lot of questions, demands answers, and makes clear instructions about how she wants the care handled. My grandma is really lucky to have her.

So that's the end of the story: be your own healthcare advocate. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Some stuff and things

My husband thinks he's all badass now that he has a Google Reader set up (which I set up for him) and he keeps saying he hasn't noticed my "feed" being updated lately. Ok smart ass. So here are some random updates with my life. I've also added some completely unrelated and random photos from my phone, because no one likes a blog post without pictures:

1. I incorporated my business, hooray! Now there's an Inc. at the end of the name and it's extra special. We  did it because our tax guy said he can save us 15% on taxes this way. I'll take it. Now I have to set up a business checking account, etc. I've been working on rebranding my business cards, web site, etc (and by rebranding, i mean adding the Inc. onto my logo. tada.).

We opened one of the bottles of wine we got in Napa for our 9th year dating anniversary. Is it weird that I place as much/maybe more importance on this date than our actual wedding? Maybe because we've been celebrating it for longer?

2. I just committed to a trip to southern Georgia to visit my dad's family. My grandma and her sister (who are both in their 90's) got into a car accident recently and have been in the hospital and in rehab. Grandma is out but my great aunt is still in rehab, out soon hopefully. They rear-ended someone while they were on their way to a peach orchard to pick peaches. How sad/sweet is that? Not much slows them down but this really threw a wrench in things. Anyway, my dad is planning to go visit in September. I wasn't going to go because I have a wedding to go to that weekend and the sheer boringness of sitting around and "visiting" with relatives that i'm not very close with (other than my grandma and great aunt), not to mention the cost of the flight, arranging my work schedule etc. And did I mention my extreme travel anxiety? Double gulp. But I'm going to go. And I'm also going to try to guilt my sister into going. Muah ha ha. 

My cat doesn't get enough love on this blog. Here ya go.

3. I'm training for an 8k. The Rothman 8k which is part of the Philadelphia Marathon weekend. I'm scared out of my mind to be honest. It took everything I had in me just to complete a 5k and that was a while ago. I've started training and I'm beginning to realize that running is a 90% mental game. My sister is going to do it with me and she's not a runner either, so I'm sure we'll take lots of walking breaks. We will be handsomely rewarded with cheesesteaks to the face.

My city. Did you know Batman is currently filming in Pittsburgh right now? My facebook wall has been crowded with Batmobile sightings and people lamenting the "Batman traffic" backups. We're pretty fancy here.

4. This one kind of goes with number 3. I'm trying to get back onto the diet and exercise wagon. With all the traveling we've been doing this summer, I've definitely fallen off. Pasta and pizza in Italy, cheesesteaks in Philly, ice cream at the beach, deep dish pizza in Chicago . . . I'm not good at eating healthy while traveling. But summer is winding down and I'll be home more often so I've been cooking more and making more of an effort to limit my intake. I've also been slacking in the cardio department, but hopefully I'll keep up with my race training.  I am proud to say though that I stuck with my lifting routine throughout the summer and I seriously love it. I've noticed such a change in my body since i've started seriously weight training. None of the half-assed stuff I used to do with the resistance machines. I'm so much stronger and I have more than doubled the weight i can move on some of my exercises. Even though I've been eating like crap, I've only gained about 4 lbs from my initial 18 lb weight loss. One of the best things about having more muscle is that it burns so much more calories. BUT, I want to take those four pounds back off and then some.

We walked around downtown and played tourists in our own city the other night. 

5. I have baby fever. Again.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

9 Years, 10 Photos

Once upon a time (9 years ago) a handsome (sweaty, slightly buzzed) prince met a beautiful princess (me, obviously) at a magical castle (sketchy under-21 dance club). I can't wait to tell my children that story some day. The rest is history. Yes, today is the 9 year anniversary of the day Frank and I met. (I'm just saying, for the record, we weren't club rats or anything. This was the first time that either of us had been to "Rock Jungle".) Here are ten photos, one from each year of our dating/marriage.

I wish I could find an older picture than this! I can't seem to locate the photos from when we had JUST started dating, they are probably in a box somewhere. This is our first Christmas together. 

2003, my sophomore year. We're at a Pitt football game. I actually hate this picture because we had a huge fight that day.

2004, my junior year. I can usually distinguish the years based on two things: apartments and Halloween costumes. Here I am looking like a total sloot.

2005 - Hanging out at our favorite bar. I'm hoping that my teeth weren't that yellow and its the tint of the photo.

2006 - my senior year. Another year, another trashy costume

2007 - We just got engaged a day or two before this photo. Out celebrating with friends!

2008 was a big year, we got married!

2009 - We bought our first house and our first puppy, all within a few days!

2010 - Our road trip down the west coast, take me back

2011 - When I said yes to marrying Frank, I had one stipulation: he had to promise to take me to Italy some day. Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Burning it at both ends.

I'm tired, like really tired. I've been sleeping embarrassing amounts each night, and I'm still tired during the day. Not the regular "I slept way too much so i'm groggy all day" thing, but around 3 pm or so I'm hit with this wall of exhaustion, almost a flu-like feeling. It happened in Chicago all three days and it just happened now. All of a sudden I feel like I can't even lift my head up and I need to throw up. I've been remedying it with coffee and Advil but I don't think that's really the best way to deal with it.

And headaches. I've been getting headaches almost daily for the past couple weeks. I'm attributing that to allergies. I'm going to start taking allergy meds every day and see if that helps. 

Frank told me to Google my symptoms, which is the dumbest thing to tell someone who has chronic anxiety. Dr. Google told me everything from pregnancy to fibromyalgia. But I know what the real problem is: I'm totally stressed out. We have been traveling non-stop all sumer, which is fun but exhausting. I've also gotten so much new work this summer, also a good thing but it adds a lot of pressure and stress. I have not had a weekend with nothing scheduled for the entire summer. And I already have something for every weekend from here until the end of September!  There have been so many weddings and bachelorette parties that i'll be happy if I never have to go to another one. Actually I can't even remember an EVENING where we didn't have something scheduled, its that bad. Frank's cousins are in town (the same ones we stayed with in Chicago, they decided to come out to Pittsburgh for a visit) and we have had plans with them every night.  I need a break.

Because we have had so much stuff going on, the house is a perpetual mess and nothing stresses me out more than a messy house. 

It's amazing how a mental thing like stress can affect your physical well-being. Going to pop an Advil and take a nap. 

Done complaining now. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hippy Shoes

If there is anything that I love more than putting shoes on the feet of poor kids in developing countries, it's putting those same shoes on my feet so that I can look all hipster and philanthropist-y at the same time.

I've kind of ALWAYS been on a search for shoes that meet the following criteria:
  • Are comfortable and heel-less
  • Match casual outfits but can also be worn to go out
Of course, in the summer sandals are the answer. But what do I do in winter when i don't feel like wearing boots, tennis shoes, or heels? (I should also note here that I am vehemently against wearing tennis shoes with jeans). In fifth grade my answer to this eternal debate was bedazzled denim Keds, but now I'm at a loss. TOMS are the perfect shoe!

So when I decided to finally pull the trigger, I thought I was being all hipster and trendy. You don't really see too many people wearing TOMS in Pittsburgh yet. We are about two years behind on the trends here. I think Pittsburgh was also recently voted one of the (maybe #1?) most unstylish cities in America. The height of fashion here is a brand new Steelers Jersey. Wanna get even edgier? Wear a vintage-style Penguins t-shirt and cut the shoulders off. 

So I ordered a pair of the classic canvas in ash, but when they came in the mail, they were two different sizes. Strike one TOMS (or maybe it was Nordstrom's fault). So I had to ship them back and order a new pair. I'm incredibly impatient, and I really wanted to have them in my possession by this past weekend so that I could something comfortable to wear while walking around Chicago. So what did I do? I bought another pair in Nordstrom on Michigan Ave. Classic canvas in red. Because I'm honestly the most impatient person in the world. I also ordered a pair for Frank, because I thought he would look cute in them and maybe the TOMS energy would soak into his cells and he would become a more liberal voter? So I'm left with this:

PS. I added the "hipster" effect from my iphone photo app to really drive the point home ;)

I thought I was being super cool. But then I went to Chicago this weekend and seriously, 50% of the people I saw on the streets were wearing TOMS or something cooler. It was just the norm there. Oh well, at least I'm semi(?) cool in Pittsburgh? 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Chi-town Adventure

Something unheard of is about to happen. I'm going to blog about something the day it happened. This is instead of just thinking about blogging about it and never getting around to it.

Today I checked another major city off my bucket list: Chicago! I have been to the Chicago area before, like the suburbs, but have never actually gone into the city. A lot of Frank's extended family lives there and his 17 year old cousin, also named Francis, has been begging him to come visit lately. So we made the super fun 7 hour drive from Pittsburgh on Thursday afternoon. Something crazy happened, I stayed awake for the entire car ride (I usually can sleep straight through) AND I drove for four consecutive hours of the trip. 

Today we went to a Cubs game at Wrigley field, walked around Wrigleyville, took the train into the downtown area, visited Millenium park and "The Bean", checked out the new Marilyn Monroe statue, ate deep dish pizza and became pregnant with a pizza baby, took lots of pictures, etc. 

Yayyyyy baseball. Actually, I get bored after about two innings, some nachos, and ice cream. But it was cool to go to Wrigley field.

The super glamorous Chicago Theater

Dinner at Giordano's the famous Chicago deep dish pizza chain. The site of the conception of my food baby.

Millenium park

The "bean" sculpture in Millenium park. 

Inside the bean

Doing our touristy stuff

Owling, duh.

Frank and his cousins' not so good attempt at planking

Crazy sculptural Millenium Park amphitheater

Giant Marilyn Monroe statue

When I asked Frank's cousin what the significance of this building was, he said it was in the most recent Transformers movie. That's what you get for letting a 17 year old boy be your tour guide.

There is more fun stuff scheduled for tomorrow and then a great big Filipino family reunion. More to come!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Pinterest Challenge!

Sherry and Jon from Young House Love and Katie Bower from Bower Power are kindddddd of like blogging celebrities to me, and I'm sure they are to a lot of you too. These were the first two blogs that I ever followed, before I even knew what a blog was, when I bookmarked things rather than put them in my Google Reader (or RSSOwl on my Macbook). So when I saw that they were joining forces to do the Pinterest Challenge, I almost peed my pants. Because I totally did that! They are both Pinterest-obsessed like so many of us and decided to challenge themselves and their readers to pick some project that they pinned and actually do them. I've done a few Pinterest projects but I've been waiting to blog about the most major one for a while.

Mainly because blogging about it meant that I would have to clean my room in order to take acceptable photos. But I got around to it, so here you go. 

This is the photo that I pinned, which originally came from here .  

She already wrote a great tutorial (and so do the sites she links to) so I don't need to do that but I will explain some things and share some tips that helped me do this.

This is the finished product. Yes, it was ridiculously tedious. I probably spent about 6 days on it, working for an hour or two each day. first I painted that whole back wall in a brown shade that was a little darker than the rest of the boring beige room, to make it pop.

See on the right how the wall comes out for some unknown reason? Yeah, that was fun.

I printed out the pattern, slightly enlarged, and traced it onto bristol board, which is a thick drawing paper. I used chalk to trace the entire pattern onto the wall before I broke out the paint. You can wipe off chalk, but definitely not paint. I took pictures of the process, but naturally, they are lost on my computer somewhere. 

The tutorial I used said to just eyeball the lines but I knew that there was just no way that was going to happen. So I made a plumb line by tying a heavy binder clip to the end of a piece of string, which was the height of the wall. Then I taped the top of the string to the ceiling, where it meets the wall. So the binder clip weighs the string down, and when the string stops swinging, it creates an exactly straight up and down line against the wall. I then taped the string in place at a few spots and traced the stencil, centered over top of the string. (Really wish I had those photos to explain this.) I traced the pattern one column at a time. 

When I saw the original photo of the project, I thought, there is no way that mine is going to look perfect like that. As you can see, there are tons of imperfections up close. But when you step back, it all blends together and looks awesome. 

I used Behr premium latex paint for both the brown and the white. I really suggest not skimping on paint quality, because the better the quality (and higher the price, usually) the thicker and more opaque the paint is, meaning it will look less streaky and you won't feel the need to paint over your lines. 

I love it! Now I just need something for above the bed. Ideas?