Friday, December 23, 2011

A very Merry-land Christmas

Christmas in Maryland is drawing to a close (since we're leaving tomorrow for Tennessee, yay!) so I thought I would share some of the fun things we've been up to for the holiday season :)

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Check out our awesome Christmas tree! And please ignore the partially painted dining room wall.
Shane's parents got to visit the first weekend in December and brought it up here for us. I kinda went crazy decorating and put every ornament ever made on there. Shane's mom went home saying she needed more ornaments for their tree. When I look at it, all I can think is "Holy Christmas that's a lot of ornaments!"

 "Maybe just one more? And another? Well we *have* to hang this one up..."

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Meanwhile, we found some wild animals running around our house one day. Seriously, haven't their owners ever heard of hair cuts? 


Being the good people that we are, we decided to take them to the groomer. It was Sheldon's very first trip! Knowing him, that girl really earned her money that day. 

 After, and Christmassy:

I'm probably the only one who finds that funny, but let's face it, those little blank stares on their faces...all they're wondering is "where are the treats?"

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As it turns out, there are a lot of fun things to do in Baltimore around Christmas time.  Like going down to Hampden to see the Miracle on 34th Street. No, not the one where Kris Kringle goes to court for a competency hearing. This is the one with all the lights!

Miracle on 34th Street is a Baltimore tradition that has been going on since 1947. Which is actually the same year the movie came out. I'm sure that's just a coincidence. 

For one block, residents on both sides of 34th go crazy with lights, decorations, plastic Santas and more. It's probably just easier for me to show you rather than tell you. 

That's a lot of Christmas right there.

They had a parade too but it was kinda cold that day. We decided to stay home instead. 

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Shane participated in Tuba Christmas this year with the Ravens Marching Band, which was really fun. Tuba Christmas is a huge concert where the only instruments are, you guessed it, various types of tubas (yes there *is*  more than one kind). The final count of participants was somewhere in the 230s. And they play all Christmas songs! The whole crowd gets to sing along. And then they played one Hannukah song. No one knew the words to that one. 

Aww, doesn't he look adorable in his little uniform? 

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Well I think that's enough blabber, why don't you just check out this super awesome wonderful fantastic holiday video I made?

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And as a gift for all you wonderful people who have stuck it out til the end of this post, here's an early Christmas present from yours truly. You're welcome :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy (almost) Anniversary Shane!

It's hard to believe that this time three years ago, I was near mental and physical breakdown as I wrote myself a list and remembered I still hadn't embroidered the hankies for my mom and soon-to-be mother-in-law. 

That's right. Three years ago today, it was the night before my wedding. I'm not going to lie, planning a wedding is very stressful. Even though I had been engaged for three whole years, and really really planning the wedding for the last year, there were still so many things to get done the night before. Like sewing a table runner for your sweetheart table. And making survival baskets for groomsmen and bridesmaids in case they forget something (funny story, I was the only one who forgot anything, and it was safety pins. Guess what I forgot to include in the survival basket?). And while I did eventually cross that last, very important thing off my list (passed out for three hours on my parents' bonus room couch), it was all worth it, because the next day I got to marry my best friend in the whole world.

 We felt very strongly about not seeing each other before the wedding, but we did cheat a little bit and hold hands. I don't even remember what we talked about, probably lots of giggling and "I love you." Shane wanted to sneak a peek at me around the door, but he didn't. And how do I know? Because when I walked down that aisle, this is what was waiting for me on the other side:

It started as a excited, happy, surprised sort of look. Then turned to tears of joy. Lots of tears of joy. Shane might be embarrassed that I put this on here, but honestly it's my favorite moment of the whole wedding.

 Well, the part where we were pronounced man and wife was pretty special too :)

I could post a million more pictures of the cake and the flowers and the decorations and all that other stuff, but I'm not. All of those things are so important to you when you're planning the wedding. And really, those things are all for the guests. This is what is most important to me. Not the fact that my mom and I bought every silver and blue ornament in a 20 mile radius for centerpieces. Or that Shane and I didn't even get to eat our food and had to stop at McDonald's later. The memory I want to hold onto is this one right here, and these smiles on our faces:

Happy (almost) 3 years Shane. I love you so much, and I am the luckiest girl in the world to have you. Here's to 83 more!

P.S. And for everyone else, don't worry, I'm still going to post all those other pictures on Facebook ;)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A fun announcement!

So I'm sure all of you know this already, but I just wanted to say it again! 

Yep, you heard Mr. Carey right! Or is it "read him right?" hmm...must ponder. Oh wait, what was I talking about? OH YEAH, MY NEW JOB! 

If you couldn't tell, I'm pretty excited.  I started the other day as a legal secretary at a law office. The people are fabulous. The hours are great, and I'm guaranteed 40 hours a week (which was practically nonexistent in retail). I actually get time off too! And weekends off, which means that I get to actually do fun stuff with Shane instead of dealing with customers all Saturday and Sunday. As for the pay, well let's just say it's substantially better :)

It's not that I hated retail. It was more a hate/love/hate relationship. I loved (most) of the people I worked with. And I really enjoyed working on things like shipment and merchandising while there were no customers were in the store. But once you added shoppers into the mix, with all their various questions and complaints and coupons, things got a little less pleasant. Plus it was just exhausting. Standing on a concrete floor for 8 hours a day is no fun. Lifting boxes is no fun. Standing out in the weather counting said boxes is no fun. I would come home every day, pretty much worn out and just ready to go to bed, covered in scrapes and bruises. No use in painting your fingernails cause they would be ruined the next shipment. And you would not believe how much cardboard dries out your hands. I could never even dress nice without my clothes getting box dust all over them. 

Retail just wasn't the career path I felt like I wanted to stick to. The hours are crappy, there are lots of difficult people to deal with, and you always feel like you get paid way less than you should. Not to mention, in the six months I was at this particular store, I was never given my set of keys, or the code to the alarm, which were both things that were supposed to come with my position. I was half-trained, and it was getting old, fast. 

I am glad to say that my situation is looking up! I've only been at the law firm for two days and I already have my own key! Today they even threw me a lunch party and bought everyone sushi (I had chicken teriyaki, since sushi and I are not really friends). I am so thankful to have found this job. I know that I am really lucky to have found something so great, and I hope that I love it!

I mean, who wouldn't love nights and weekends off?

Now I'll have so much time for activities! And have the energy to do said activities. And money to pay for the activities! YAY!

P.S. Don't worry, now I will have so much more time for blog posts too! I have so many that I need to catch up on. In fact, I have one in the works about the worst shopper behaviors, and reasons why they make retail workers hate them. Check back soon!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Our crazy dogs

It is the highlight of my day to come home from work and find two white fuzzballs going psycho at the door waiting on me to come in. Sure, they've been barking since I locked my car and the horn honked, because they know what it sounds like when mommy and daddy come home, which hasn't put us in the best spot with our downstairs neighbors. But you know what? I don't care, because Charlie and Sheldon are awesome. And a little bit crazy. I guess the adopted apples don't fall far from the tree. Need proof? Don't worry, I have plenty. 

Charlie takes comfort in sitting in corners, hiding under tables, hanging out in the closet under the clothes (which is why all my clothes are perma-coated in Charlie fluff), just under stuff in general. It's his safe place. I assume he learned this trick when he lived with a household full of small children shortly before coming to live with us.
Here's a double whammy, against a corner and under the shelf. Everyone who has seen him do this comments on how weirdly he sits. 

He really enjoys the new side table we put in the guest room. At this point, he was hiding from the vacuum cleaner. 

One day I came home from work to find him hanging out in Sheldon's crate. Even though it is a little small for him, I guess since Sheldon could care less about going in there, Charlie has claimed it for himself. I think he goes in there to hide from Sheldon honestly.

Now let's take a brief intermission and look at a picture of Charlie being adorable. This is what he does 99.9% of his days. 
 And just look at how sweet he is cuddling that stuffed animal! Precious.

It's really rare for him to be that kind to a toy though. For the remaining 0.1% of his day, he obliterates every toy in his path (he doesn't chew on anything other than toys, which is awesome).
This was about 30 minutes after giving it to him. It really looked like he was going to be nice to that one, but he had us fooled. 

There has only been one toy that Charlie has ever loved, the vampire chicken. It was a rubber chicken bought from PetSmart around Halloween, and he picked it out all on his own. Really, he found it on the floor and carried it around the whole store. We tried to buy him something less ugly, but he wouldn't have it.  Unfortunately, over the years (yes, years, not hours) the vampire chicken got a bit destroyed. Not by Charlie, but by a dog we fostered in college, and our own little hell-raiser, Sheldon. Shane and I have looked high and low for a replacement, but nothing worked, until the bikini duck. Bought on clearance with the rest of the summer toys, it was exactly the same texture, size, everything as the vampire chicken, except this time it was a duck in a purple bikini. Should work, right?
 This is all that remains of the bikini duck. For weeks, Charlie protected her just like he did with the vampire chicken. He got angry whenever anyone stepped on it or squeaked it (he thought that hurt it) just like before. So what happened? I'm pretty sure that Charlie sacrificed her in a "if I can't have her, no one can" sort of effort. He got frustrated that Sheldon would steal the bikini duck from him, so he did the only thing he could do and took the duck out of the equation. 

So what has Sheldon been up to this whole time? Probably chewing up some paper somewhere, which is his favorite pastime. Or, maybe he's carrying some laundry around the house? 
 Dirty, clean, doesn't matter to Sheldon. As long as he can reach it (which is pretty much anywhere, since he has learned how to get on our bed), it is scattered in the floor somewhere. He even pulls dirty clothes through the holes in the laundry basket, since he is too small to reach them from the top. 

Oh yeah, he's learned how to climb up in chairs too. Charlie is scared of getting in the desk chair because it moves, but not Sheldon. If we don't move the chair away while not in use, he likes to either: a) hop up there and wake up the computer while we're trying to sleep, 
b) eat a whole box of Girl Scout cookies, or c) destroy your favorite pair of earbuds. I can only assume this is what it's like to have cats.
 Those Girl Scout cookies? Tagalongs. The chocolate and peanut butter kind. And he ate the whole box (minus the two I had eaten). I know, I know, chocolate is bad for dogs, but I didn't even know he had eaten them til much later. He didn't seem sick at all, just hyper as usual. I guess it is true, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

He also likes to hop up on the coffee table, just to chill out. He was actually asleep up there until I pulled out the camera, of course. He can't really get up there by himself, but if the ottoman is nearby or the table is pulled up close to the couch, you can bet Sheldon will be on the table. Just like Charlie's safe place is in corners and under stuff, Sheldon likes to sleep on cold, hard surfaces.

Since we've had Sheldon, Charlie just seems *so* big and heavy. I love Charlie, but with Sheldon, I can do the silly stuff you get to do with small dogs, like making my hoodie into a papoose.  

My sister gave Sheldon a sweater, which she had bought for my parent's dachshund but was too small. Sheldon didn't mind it so much, but he looked pretty silly with all that fluff.

Sheldon hasn't been to the groomer for his first hair cut yet because the first bath I gave him wasn't much of a success and I want to get a few more baths under both of our belts before I set him loose on some poor unsuspecting groomer. Considering a lot of Malteses look like this, his hair is actually pretty short by comparison. So in the meantime, to keep his hair out of his eyes, I have resorted to extreme measures.
 Hairbows don't work. He had this one out in two minutes. Hair bands don't work either. I think it might be time to make that appointment after all.

 Before we got Sheldon, I had dreams of Charlie taking care of a puppy, snuggling it at night, pretending like it's his own baby, whatever. Yes I know I'm delusional. But one night it really happened! 
 They're each on their own pillow, so it's not like they're really snuggling each other. And I covered them up with the blankets. But in my mind, even though this was a semi-manufactured moment, all I could see was an adorable puppy slumber party.

 Meanwhile, when they do this on their own, acting all innocent, I can't help but think they're up to some sort of trouble.
Hey wait, is that a piece of bikini duck stuck to Sheldon's mouth?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Because impatience is my middle name

I love Halloween. I mean, who doesn't? Everything about it is so much fun, the costumes, the candy, the parties, and every now and then a haunted house (no we didn't know those people). 

I think my absolute favorite part is carving jack-o-lanterns. I have carved one every year (except last year) for as long as I can remember. Now of course, since I am a perfectionist and not good with advance planning, they never turn out as cute as I want them to. I usually just start sawing away with one of those cheap little pumpkin carving knives until it turns into a smiley face. There are also a lot of pretty awesome jack-o-lanterns out there to compete with, which honestly I don't see how they do it. So this year I decided to get a smidge more complicated, and do a little copyright infringement.

Say hello to Pumpkin Kitty! Okay so her bow is a little lopsided, which probably no one but me would ever notice. Other than that, I think she is pretty cute. And believe me, it wasn't easy getting her to actually look like the real Hello Kitty (for me, anyways). First there was a paper sketch. Next, the dry erase markers came out, which I think was Shane's idea. I usually just use a pencil, which as it turns out doesn't erase well from pumpkins.

 Is that ear bigger than this one? Wait, I think her whiskers should be lower...

Even with that, she didn't turn out 100% as planned (stupid tiny pumpkin knives), but that's okay.

Shane was going to go for one of the paper designs they include with the pumpkin carving tools, but couldn't choose one he liked. I think he was having more fun taking pictures of his rock crawler anyways... he ended up with a cute jack-o-lantern face instead. He probably could've carved six of these, and roasted all the seeds, by the time I got done with mine. 

So here is where the impatient part comes in. That was all two weekends ago. I got so excited about Halloween that we carved those stupid things on October 1st.

This is what they look like today, October 21, with 10 days to go til Halloween: 

Okay a little gross and rotten, but she's holding in there. 

Shane's isn't holding up so well, but I think it gives him some character. 

But wait, this is the best part! 

Since we've had so much rain here lately, this is what they look like on the inside now: 
The little $3 strobe light has now turned into pond decor. Lovely. 

Maybe I'll learn a lesson and wait a bit before we carve them next year. But knowing me, probably not. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The true gentleman's sport

Forget football, soccer, and even fencing. If you want to see a real sport, something with full contact, speed, and lots of strategy, rugby is the way to go. It was an Olympic sport until 1924, which the US dominated. In fact, Charles Doe, a member of the last US team, once said about their win over France: 
"Our victory in '24 made the hockey win against the Soviets look like an everyday occurrence. If we had that kind of coverage rugby might be the great American pastime today." read more here
Rugby, despite its popularity in the rest of the world, fell out of style in the United States for a little while, but has been gaining followers since it's reemergence in the 1960s. Some famous players, also called "ruggers," from around the world include (in no particular order) George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Prince William and Prince Harry, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charlie Chaplin, Sean Connery, Daniel Radcliffe, Chris Farley, Daniel Craig, Russel Crowe, Che Guevara, John F. Kennedy, and Baltimore Raven Haloti Ngata

Shane started playing rugby at our high school when they formed the Powell High Rugby Club, and he loved it from day one. It was the perfect way for him to get lots of exercise, let out any aggression, and have a great time. Rugby can be dangerous and violent (imagine tackling people without any padding or helmets), but the players always strive for the highest level of sportsmanship. In fact, many teams celebrate by going to the pub with their opponents after a match. Shane never seemed to have time to go to a practice in college, and I could tell that he really missed it. Now that he has a little bit of free time, he has finally gotten involved again! 

This season, Shane joined the Baltimore Chesapeake RFC (aka the Brumbies). They were the first team south of the Mason-Dixon line, founded in 1960. They are a Men's Division I team and compete in the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union, or MARFU.

If you're new to rugby, you should know that watching a game match can be very confusing.  Their cleats are called 'boots,' the field is called a 'pitch,' and lots of odd-looking things go on during a match. Keep in mind that my knowledge of the rules is very limited (I told you it's confusing), but I will try my best to explain it, with a little help from Google of course. 

Regulation matches have two 40 minute halves with a 10 minute halftime. Unlike football, they don't "stop the clock" in between plays. There are also no time outs. The only time the clock stops is if someone is seriously injured and needs to be helped off the pitch. Each team has 15 players on the field, and each position has a name. Also, players don't choose their numbers at random. The number on their jersey (usually) correlates to what position they are playing. 

Here are some examples of things that happen during a match, again in no particular order that makes any sense: 

This is called a line out, and it's what happens after the ball goes out of bounds. 

 Wanna see that closer up? Yeah, they have to lift a guy in the air by his shorts/legs. Doesn't that look fun?

One of the fundamentals of the game is that the ball must always be passed backwards/sideways, never forward, as demonstrated here by the Old Boys team (35 yrs old and up)
Fun fact: the guy who is about to receive the pass is Shane's coach.

Sometimes the ball goes forward, whether it's because a player gets tackled or just drops it during a pass. That is called 'knocking-on.' To remedy this situation, a scrum occurs. 
In this picture, Shane is performing the role of loose head prop, which is position #1.
Both teams get into formation and bind together. The other team (the one who didn't drop the ball) throws the ball into the middle of the scrum in between the two front lines. The front line is made up of three people, a loose head prop, a hooker, and a tight head prop. The two props bind push against the other team's props, and the hookers try to kick the rugby ball behind them and out their side of the scrum.

Loose head prop is what position Shane played in high school and the one he has the most experience with. However, that particular day, several team members had gone to New Zealand and the team was a bit short on players, so he had to fill in for tight head prop at one point, and he also played on the second row a little bit. 
Shane is the one with the black socks in the very middle of the picture. 

 He doesn't particularly like second row, mainly because it's a dangerous place to be. If you're in the middle, your head goes in between the prop and the hooker's butts. Common injuries include cauliflower ear, and worse, getting your ear ripped right off. In fact, one of Shane's high school teammates got his ripped halfway off just during practice. Some players wear a scrum cap or wrap tape around their heads to prevent this.

Hey look! Shane has the ball! 

 Their attempt at tackling him.

 And he's down.
This is a ruck. It is used to gain possession of the ball, like after someone has been tackled and the ball goes to the ground. It's kinda like an informal scrum.

And what about tackling? There is definitely a method to the madness. The player tries to lead with their shoulders, aiming for the midsection of the person carrying the ball. Aim too high and they could get a penalty, too low and they might end up getting hurt. Next, they wrap their arms around them, squeeze, and try to bring them to the ground.
This is Shane's friend Sam (the one tackling). Can you believe that was his very first rugby match ever?

I don't have a good picture of it, but when they score, it's called a 'try.' The person carrying the ball has to take it into the try zone and then touch it to the ground. Each try is worth 5 points. After a try, there is a conversion kick for an additional 2 points. You can also kick for a goal at any time for 3 points.

You got all that?

And no, those aren't all of the rules. Just the ones that I know about.

Coming up this Saturday, October 8th, is the Brumbies' game for breast cancer awareness against Raleigh. Check out the website for more information, and then I will have some pictures up after the game of the guys decked out in pink!