Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Happy Birthday, Ashley!

To My Baby Sister,
I thought about getting you a card and writing you a letter.  I considered sending you an email, or facebook mail.  Just writing on your timeline was not an option, considering the fact I know how much you stress about having to thank everyone properly. ;)  So, I decided to make use of our failed blog to wish you a happy 27th birthday .  And as I write this, I’m already worried that I forgot our username and password to post a blog…but I will deal with that when I’m done with my birthday wishes for you(ignore any grammar mistakes, please).
I don’t know the point when you went from being my little sister to also one of my best friends, but I’m thankful for every moment I’ve had with you.  When I was 11/12 and mom told me she was expecting, I was so excited with the thought of having a baby in the house, and not being an only child anymore.  I would get to help feed you, and dress you and put you to sleep.  The newness of that wore off not long after you were born.  Then another baby…then another baby....
Anyway…I don’t remember a specific point our relationship changed, but things I do remember:
  • ·         I remember holding you in Mequon (in the upstairs of the house), and taking you to the window and watching it snow. 
  • ·         When we moved downstairs in Mequon, I remember watching you during the summer with the Kuzmic  girls there, too, and singing Good Night, Sweetheart over and over and over to try to get you to nap. 
  • ·         After moving to Alabama, and our brothers being born, I remember sharing a bedroom with you (and spending time in the bathroom doing my homework so you could sleep).  
  • ·         Telling you I had mousetraps in my car (sorry).
  • ·         The day I moved out of the house, and you crying and crying and crying…..I didn’t want to leave you, I promise. It was very heartbreaking for me, I didn’t expect that reaction. 
  • ·         Being with you and seeing you laugh out loud and hysterically for the first time while watching The Lion King.  When Timon dressed in drag and did the hula.  I still remember your face.  I love the Lion King still…but that will always be my favorite moment watching it.   
  • ·         The first time you didn’t like a shirt I bought you.  And realizing you were growing up and getting your own taste in clothes.
  • ·        
    Buying you a cd with an explicit lyrics warning.  Really, is No Scrubs so bad?  I corrupted you.
  • ·         Going with you to receive you state award from the essay you wrote for PALS.  And then to a writing tea…I think…which I didn’t remember until this past month that I only went to because of the guilt you placed on me for not attending.  Regardless, I’m glad I went.  
  • ·         Then I remember getting a MySpace page so I could spy on you….
  • ·         …chasing you still…I got a Facebook page.  Btw, I know we are great stalkers now, it was during those times I picked up a lot of my skills.  Just fyi.
  • ·         Off and on I remember you living with me, and I remember fighting with you some during that
    Sometimes you don't want to be touched or hugged,
    but when it matters, you accept it.
      You deserved my scolding, young lady. ;)
  • ·         My child thinks you were her daycare growing up…that you taught her everything to get her ready for school.   You did an amazing job ;)   I’m grateful for every moment you have spent with her since she was born.  She is so lucky to have you.
  • ·        
    Our trip to Savannah on your 18th birthday.  One of my favorite vacations ever.  I’m so happy to still have the pic of your face when the lights went out in the Moroccan restaurant before the belly dancer pulled you up to try to dance, too.
  • ·         Although I tried to be sneaky, I’m so thankful I saw you and John walking from the courthouse to your car after you got married.  I can’t say enough how happy I am for you to have someone by your side that I know loves you and will take care of you, and can handle all the times you worry about missing a vitamin, or a mark on your neck or a bump growing in your mouth.
  • ·         I feel I’m blessed more than many to have the memory of seeing you hold your first child, and knowing without a doubt what wonderful parents you and John will be.
  • ·         I thought a sister beach trip would be amazing…and it was great in its own way.  I enjoyed spending time taking care of you off and on.  Checking on you over and over to make sure you were still moving.   There were fun times there, as well.  Amy was able to visit and spend the night, and you were well enough one night to walk to the beach with me.  Well….we almost made it to the beach.  We sort of ran back to the room.
  • ·         And today….I will never forget the phone call I just received.  I woke up so excited to find out if I am going to have another niece or nephew.  Now I know!!!!!!!

More recently, I could say a million things .   Josie said she wants to videotape and YouTube our conversations.  I think that wouldn’t be a good idea for us.  There aren’t many people I’m as open with as you….I don’t ever have to walk on eggshells, or worry about hurt feelings when I talk to you.  I can be totally myself, because you know me and all my flaws and love me anyway.  I feel the same about you.  To me, you are a perfect sister. 
Happy birthday, Ash!

Love, Jess

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Unsocial Sister??

Chris and I ushering on our 15th anniversary.
Wow, it's been a crazy couple of weeks. I know, as a mom, that I don't have it harder than any other mom out there.  In fact, I have it made:  I have only one child and a supportive husband.  Regardless, the last two weeks, coming back from Wisconsin, working, getting my home ready for my parents visit, midnight ending Oz rehearsals, the complete run of 11 performances, revival, church, work, work, work......all of it piled up on us.  Even the days that I had plenty of sleep (rare), I still found myself exhausted.  Through all of this, we had an amazing run of The Wizard of Oz, a great revival (or so I heard), and a visit from our parents which is always wonderful. 

Like I said, the performances were over the top super.  Josie performed as a Flying Monkey and a Munchkin.  There were a total of 11 shows.  We had tickets for two performances, I worked in the "munchkin room" (the room where all the munchkins/flying monkeys stayed and dressed during the show....about 40 kids) three times, and I served as an usher at all the remaining performances.  Chris was in revival,  so he joined me as an usher during two of the shows.  

This was a wonderful time to examine my unsocialness....or introversion.   For two weeks, I've
Josie, Leah, and the most amazing Lion ever.
examined myself and examined others, and I think I can consider myself a social introvert, as opposed to "unsocial".  We aren't changing our blog name though....I think "one unsocial sister and one social introvert sister" doesn't have the same ring.  

Have you read the book Quiet, by Susan Cain?  If not, you should.  Whether you  find yourself hiding in a corner at events strewn with people, or love, love, love to talk to people, it's a wonderful book.  She speaks a lot regarding the fact that although some people may seem like extroverts, they may actually be introverts.  I'm not going to go into detail....sometimes I start writing and get to a point that I have no idea where I'm going and I don't know how to stop it.  So, I'll stop now and get back to the shows.  Just read her book.

First, the "munchkin room" was exhausting, but at least I really didn't have to socialize.  It seemed appropriate for me to just sit there and help kids as needed.  No awkwardness in sitting alone....the way I like it..  In saying that, I must say, I was thrilled when my last night in the munchkin room came around.  40 kids is about 39 more than I can handle. I'm used to one...and one calm, mature, peaceful one.   Power to all the moms who volunteered to stay in there for each performance!
Can you see the crowd behind them....I wish I took a pic of it.  Crazy.
I loved getting to sit down and watch the performances (yet, I hated exiting the theater with hundreds of people trying to make their way to their favorite performer----but I think that is a different problem all together). Socializing in the sense that I really don't have to make casual conversation with people is great.  I also loved ushering, which is a social job.  I loved when I was able to hand people programs and tell them to enjoy the show. I loved asking people if I could help them find their seats and showing them where to go.  I loved selling the concessions at intermission.  I would do those kind of social tasks all day (provided I had some alone time throughout the day).  

 What I did not like were the nights ushering when there were many volunteers socializing in the
Flattering photo with our  almost invisible"monkey kisses".
 lobby during the performances.   I "hate, hate, hate" (quoting the Wicked Witch for any of you who saw the show) trying to make casual conversation.  I don't know where to step in, which circle to I make my way to, do I step in a circle at all, do I just sit back and look awkward by myself (which I would generally prefer)? I ended up going to my car and reading during the "down" time. It was a smart move. Now, the nights when there were just a few of us in the lobby, those nights I liked.  Just a few of us quieter people.  I also liked the nights when my husband was there---because he is my security blanket---and I don't care who is around when he is there...Chris can do the talking. 

I have found that the people I am most comfortable around are people who tend to be like me.  They are ok saying a few words, then just sitting quietly. Those are the times I don't feel awkward, when I feel the other people like not talking as much as I do.  I realize, although I am friends with some amazing extroverted people (one I married), it takes me longer to really open up to those people.  Even with my husband, we were friends for years before we dated.  Now he is my very best I'm not saying I can't be friends with an extrovert, I'm just more uncomfortable with their outgoing personalities to begin with.  I'd prefer to  all just sit in silence and pretend that's how it is supposed to be....we can talk later.  

Overall, I loved the social situations when I had a job to do.  Tell me to do something specific, don't make me socialize...and I like the public. But, and it's a big but (so I cannot lie), I need to decompress from socializing much more than my husband.  Right now is the first couple of hours I have had alone in weeks......and I REALLY, REALLY, needed it.   Chris thrives on being with others, I thrive on being alone.  I don't mind being around people, in fact, I really like it most times, as long as I have time to recover after the fact. 

I think I still need a few more days of quiet before stepping out in public again.  Probably won't happen, but it would be nice.  How are you in social situations?  

Nice, quiet, peaceful lobby.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bulu Box Review

    This month's Bulu Box has arrived! I got it for free using the promo code, DISCOVER. Although I am not all fitness-y/healthy, I know some people who are. I wanted to try out this box to see if it would make a good gift.

     Now, this box is not super fancy, but it is only 10 bucks a month. You can choose between the regular Bulu Box or Bulu Box Weight Loss. This review is of the regular box. The first two items that we have are two PowerBar Performance Energy Blends in banana blueberry and apple mango. 

     Second, we have a caffeine alertness aid called Vivarin. Nathan immediately claimed this one for his late night to early morning World of Warcraft extravaganzas.

     Next, we have Zellies xylitol gum in three flavors. These are mine :)

    This little sample is from Erba Vita for digestive system health. It is an acid dietary supplement.

     I don't drink coffee, but my little brother was interested in this one. It is called Ripped Cream lean vanilla bean protein coffee creamer.

     Finally, we have Shapeology burn blend to help you lose weight. There are 14 capsules in this bottle!

     While I would not be personally interested in purchasing a box like this for myself, I was satisfied with the contents. I  will definitely be buying a gift subscription! This box is an awesome idea. Remember, your first box is free with promo code, DISCOVER!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Monopoly -- It's Back!

Unfourtunaly, the one menu item I order on a regular basis
is a large unsweet tea in a styrophoam cup.  Yep, no
Monopoly pieces on this cup. 
I love games.  Quite a bit.  Despite my quiet exterior, people who really know me, know that I can get pretty competitive over a friendly game of ....anything.  I'm not a bad loser, but I do want to win.  Maybe that is where this obsession comes from:  I'm a sucker for McDonald's Monopoly game.
I swear, when they do their market research showing how how to best make a profit with this game, they must research me specifically.  I actually go to McDonald's more this time of the year, and I feel like I can't leave the stupid store with less than two game pieces (sorry McD's, 'stupid' was said out of anger and irritation at myself).
Maybe this complex of mine stems from my childhood.  I remember clearly being piled in the car with my mom, my Aunt, and my cousins going from McDonald's to McDonald's requesting game pieces (I think you had to buy one item to get two pieces, I distinctly remember caramel sundaes).  It was pretty exciting as a kid.  I never realized that there were so many McDonalds' in the city of Milwaukee.   I couldn't remember how old I was when these adventures took place, but after some research, I found that Monopoly started at McDonald's in 1987, and that must be the year I recall driving around, because in 1988 Ashley was born, which put an end to all the fun.  (Hahahaha....j/k....sort of)
This problem only continued over my years employed with the popular restaurant chain.  I began working there when I was 16.  It was one of the most difficult jobs I ever had (people are serious when it comes to their fast food), but it was a huge part of my late adolescence and young adult age, since I worked there until the age of 22.  I developed a great work ethic (so I like to think), and met some of my best friends and favorite people while employed there. Still, about 15 years later, I run into people who say they 'know me from somewhere'.  My first response is generally, "well, I worked at McDonald's in Boaz for six years".  More often than not, that is why I look familiar.
Regardless, when I worked there, I did love the Monopoly time of the year.  Yes, it caused headaches sometimes, but I loved seeing what people would win....even if I really couldn't actually win (officially), because I was employed with the chain.
So, I'm wondering first, have anyone of you won big in Monopoly, and I also want to know if I'm the only one with this obsession.  I know Ashley, despite not going from store to store with us....and never being employed by the restaurant, loves Monopoly, too.  Maybe it's in our blood, but probably, it's just great marketing.  I want to find out how much McDonald's profits increase during this time of the year, and I must state, if profits only increase  slightly, it must be because of my family.  I think we deserve some kind of compensation for this....right?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Wisconson Recap

     So, this long weekend seems like a blur, but it was all worth it.  I had to keep telling myself that, as my Wisconsin family would ask when I was leaving, and I said tomorrow with a sad face.  At least I was able to go on this adventure.  Of course, the highlight of the trip, and the reason we were there was the wedding.  My cousin Kyle married a beautiful school teacher, and Brewers Diamond Dancer (she's the same person, not two different people).  I've met Carissa several times, and liked her from the start. She has an infectious smile, and was one of the prettiest brides I have ever seen. Kyle is witty and has quite a way with words.  He also holds a special place in my heart because babysitting him was my first job.  :)  He is one of three boys, who, along with their parents, my Aunt Karen, and Uncle Neil, comprise and pretty amazing family.  I love them so much!
This wedding was so much fun.  I hate, hate, hate the fact that Chris and Josie weren't able to attend (Chris really couldn't get off work, and someone had to take Josie to play practice....opening night is Thursday).  There were so many little details in the wedding reception that were exceptional.
The seating for the dinner was one thing I appreciated.  I was seated at the same table as my mom, and dad,  but anyone else I am extremely close to were seated in other places.  At first (and being the "unsocial" person that I am), I was kind of unsure about this situation, but I was quickly reassured. Seated at the table with us was my cousin Lisa, and her husband, Lisa's sister (also my cousin, obviously) Melissa, and her fiance, and my cousin Ryan's girlfriend, Caitlin.  I rarely get time to spend with Melissa and Lisa, and I'm so thankful for the time talking with them, and officially meeting their respective 'others'.
Ryan was seated with the wedding party since he was a groomsman, and the brother of the groom.  Caitlin, his girlfriend, just so happens to play wheelchair basketball for the same school as Ryan.  This school happens to be a pretty great school, in a pretty great state.  Roll Tide!  It was a pleasure to not only finally meet Caitlin, but to actually get to talk to her for a while....which may not have happened if we didn't get to sit next to each other.  I felt like a fan, telling her that although I haven't met her before, my husband I and cheered her on when we were able to watch one of their televised games....yes, my Auburn loving husband cheered for Alabama.  Strange days.
Wedding coozies.

There is so much I want to say about this wedding reception, I feel like I could write page after page of the little details.  My phone died not long after arriving, so my photos are limited.  Oh, and my phone officially died before leaving Wisconsin.  I'm grateful to have a brother who had a spare phone sitting around, which I received upon arrival back in Alabama---but I'm looking forward to October when my phone is due for an upgrade.....also, thanks to Aunt Sheree and Uncle Matt who REALLY tried to help me get a new phone at the Verizon store in Wisconsin.  Can I say once again, on the chance that the Verizon lady is reading.  I promise, I am not a battered woman....I just have a very determined Aunt who would say what is needed to help me get a phone.  Hilarious.
Photo per details.
Back to the reception (ahhh, I wish I was back at the reception).   The schedule went something like this:  5:30 pm arrival and appetizers (I heard there was smoked salmon, but I skipped the appetizers), 7:00 pm dinner (which was great, by the way), and after the cake, a few rows of tables were removed, including ours, to clear space for the dance floor. 
The music and dancing were so much fun. This is the time when I felt awful that Josie couldn't make it. She would have had a ball with some of the music they played.  She loves to dance.
Early on in the dancing , the DJ called for all those from Alabama to come up----I bet you can't guess what song they played.  Of course, Sweet Home Alabama.  It was a joy to be up their with my Wisconsin family and Alabama family singing and dancing.
The wedding party entertained the crowd with a fun choreographed dance number, which ended with glow sticks.  Not just one, not just for the wedding party, but hundreds of them.  People were passing them out, people were throwing them, and I felt like a kid getting two of them.   
We stayed, and stayed, and stayed.  Eventually the caterers brought out pizza, which was another unique touch at a wedding and I would suggest it to anyone who is in the process of wedding planning.  In my head, I wanted to stay through the Wobble, the dance that the bride requested people to learn before the wedding (she even created a facebook event), but at one point I was getting tired.  I looked over to our Grandpa, who danced, and danced, and danced, and Ashley told me we can't let Grandpa stay longer than we did.  She was right, and I pushed passed my tiredness.
Towards the end of our evening, I was sleep deprived (stayed up too late the night before), and delirious, so we were up dancing to whatever came next.  Thankfully, we were back in the corner so everyone didn't have the opportunity to see our MAD dance skills.  Eventually, a song came on that I didn't recognize.  Although I was going to sit down, Ash encouraged me to stay for this ONE more. So, Ash and I danced to it for a good while before the chorus started.....and I looked back at the organized crowd behind us and realized it was the Wobble.   Oh well, we tried to follow along with the others, and held our own (we just keep telling ourselves that). 
Just a reminder: Before...leaving for Wisconsin.
After that, most of the people already ended their evening, including Grandpa, and it was our time to go, as well, since it was close to midnight!  When was the last time I was out at that time of the night....crazy!   We were at the reception for over six hours, and time just flew by.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.  How blessed are we to be able to spend over six hours with a portion of our amazing family.  I am so thankful for every person I hugged, danced with, and met for the first time, for every one I talked with, for the cousins that are my greatest friends, and for the distant cousins who knew me, but I just faintly remembered them.  I'm thankful for all of our socialization.  Of course, not only was I exhausted from the long day, but from the extra socializing....yet it was worth it. 
I'm counting the days to the next cousins' wedding.
Our next day's plans included getting up early to attend Maxwell Street Days, a local festival with an abundance of rummage sales (yard sales to my Alabama peeps).  Although I was up by 7:30am, I didn't want to be...and my road trip companions didn't wake until much, much  later.   Needless to say, we skipped Maxwell Street Days.  Maybe next time.
Forget Alabama, we're going to Mars!

After one more Goodwill and Culver's trip, we packed up our belongings (and I sat in in admiration towards Nathan, who packed everything into his was cramped when we left Alabama, but we only added a industrialized Kitchen-aid Stand Mixer, and bags and bags of goodwill items in Wisconsin....impressive, Nathan, impressive).  We thought we only had one more stop before leaving for Alabama, a get-together at our Uncle Lyle and Aunt Barb's house.

One more opportunity to visit with the family.  But, after leaving there, we, of course, decided to stop at Mars Cheese Castle on our way out of Wisconsin.  I don't know why it initially was called "castle", but they recently renovated the building (well, in the last several years), and now it actually looks like a  castle.  It is full of cheese, food, Wisconsin merchandise, a bakery, a deli and a restaurant.  We love ending our trips by stopping there.  We left with cheese curds, Sprecher's Root Beer, and popcorn kernels (which I still haven't found).
After....arriving home from Wisconsin. I did wake them up to give them an opportunity to smile.

 Overall, one packed car, one amazing wedding, and one fantastic family equaled a wonderful trip.  Who wants to join us next time?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Love With Food July 2013 Review

When I got home from Wisconsin, this was waiting for me.

     Well, actually it was waiting in my neighbor's house because I asked him to get my mail and made him promise not to eat it. From the moment I ordered it, I have been super excited to receive it. I can happily say, it is everything that I hoped it would be.


This month's theme was "Fun on the Boardwalk."

Packed Full of Food!

     Inside my box of goodies, I was excited to find a Hello Fresh gift card! I had previously found an online code, Hello30, to use at Hello Fresh. If you use the code Hello30, you get 30 percent off your order at Hello Fresh. This lovely little gift card gives an extra 4 to 5 dollars off! You can't use both codes on your Hello Fresh purchase, but 25 dollars is quite a bit of money to save on the food delivery service.

     The first item was Hawaiian salted caramel popocorn from Kukuruza. This popcorn was exceptional. The slight saltiness with the rich caramel flavor was absolutely fabulous.

     The peanuts by Rebel Mary Peanuts from Lord Nut Levington were not my favorite. They were a little bit too spicy for my taste.

     Next, came the beef stick. It was a BBQ beef stick from Vermont Smoke and Cure. Nathan took a bite, and he gave it to me on the condition that I "take only one tiny bite." It was delicious.

      The All Natural Orange Salt Water Taffy from Angel Mint is exactly what I expected from a taffy. I gave a bite to my dog. She liked it, too. The Necco wafers.... well...they are Necco Wafters after all. I am sure everyone knows what they taste like. They've been around since, like, 1847.

     When I saw these snack toppings from Twangerz, I was quite curious. I still haven't tried it because I'm going to give it to my sister. She was excited when I told her about it...especially the Pickle Salt.

      This handmade sourdough pretzel from Uncle Henry's was pretty good. It was incredibly crunchy.

       Lastly, we have a strawberry fig bar from Nature's Bakery. I really liked this, but I really like fig bars, so I am kind of biased. Overall, this month's Love With Food box was absolutely fabulous. It had such a wonderful assortment of snacks. I can't wait for next month!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Being Unsocial at the Reception!

We are at my cousin's wedding reception, and I'm being super unsocial by writing this right now. It is incredibly beautiful! Before we got here, we stopped for coffee and ice cream...wait, gelato! Nathan corrected me a million times, so I have to be sure to get the name right. The GELATO was from a lovely little place called SweetTrio. 
It won business of the year in Grafton, Wisconsin. Anyway, I'm going to keep
this short and just give you guys some pictures.