Monday, December 31, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* finding a few cute tops at EXPRESS for Key West. I'm wearing one tonight for NYE.
* Kevin, Jenn & Ashlyn arriving safely from Long Island. Ashlyn is so cute!
* a nice time catching up with drinks and apps while I made dinner.
* a really nice NYE dinner. I made chicken picatta, green beans almondine, mashed potatoes and a salad. Andy was a big help with cooking and did all of the dishes.
* the fun NYE hats, tierras and noise makers I bought for tonight. We all wore them and had fun listening to music, talking, laughing, watching the NYE coverage on TV and of course had a bunch of drinks to celebrate 2013's arrival.
* learning that we don't need a big party or big plans to have an awesome NYE. Last year we decided we'd stay home from now on and invite friends/family over. Whoever takes us up on the offer is who we celebrate with--it worked perfectly this year. We loved having the Burke's here with us. Ashlyn was a party animal and stayed up past midnight with us!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* Jess trying to help find the Philly DMB poster I've been looking for.
* watching some football this afternoon and posting a bunch of pictures from this month. I didn't really care about the game but it was Andy Reid's last game so we had to watch.
* Andy agreeing to join Conshohocken Health & Fitness with me this year. I really liked the trainer we met and plan on buying some sessions to get started. I am looking forward to Andy & I doing this together.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* taking Jeffrey & James to Arnold's Family Fun Center. I was a little nervous driving there in the snow but Andy got us all there and back safe and sound. We had so much fun with them! We did bowling, bumper cards, mini-golf arcade games and video games. The cannonball game was a favorite for everyone! The adventure was a part of Jeffrey's Christmas present (James benefited too)! I love DOING things with them rather than just adding another toy to the pile (we did that too but it was small.)
* a great get together at Jeff & Megan's with the Miners and Roth's. There was lots of good food, drinks, conversation and laughs.
* watching some more HIMYM Season 7.
* finding TED Talks: Chew on This on Netflix. Andy had fallen asleep and I was looking for something to watch. It's a series of lectures from all different food experts. I liked hearing what they had to say and it helped me start thinking of "healthy eating" again. Lots of goals for 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* talking with Debbie about something that was bothering me from the day of the Philly show, and then having the courage to address it with the person even though I was extremely uncomfortable.
* feeling well enough to go to KOP tonight. The CT Roth's arrived this afternoon for the weekend. Alison & Kyle came by and so did Jeff w/the kids. We had pizzas and cheesesteaks and did gifts with the kids. It was a really nice night. Chris & Kem gave us a beautiful bamboo cutting board with an engraved "R".

Thursday, December 27, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* the message from Uncle John thanking me for the new hat he bought with his birthday gift card. :-)
* being able to take it easy today. I'm feeling worse than yesterday---very tired, achy, no appetite, weak, etc. Like other times I've been sick, I am so thankful for my overall health. I can't imagine REALLY being sick with something like cancer or another horrible disease.
* watching HIMYM episodes with Andy tonight.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* the fact that I work from home. I woke up feeling awful this morning and it took everything for me to get out of bed and turn on my laptop. I spent most of my day prospecting and preparing for our sales meeting on 1/7. I'm hoping whatever I have doesn't last long.
* being able to rearrange our flights so we can fly out of Ft. Lauderdale. Now we don't have to drive from Key West back to Orlando.
* the lady from VonG Art emailing me about the keychains. I'm so bummed--she said they arrived and the quality is so poor she refuses to send them out. She offered a refund and I'll use it towards one of the 26 acts of kindness I plan on doing over the next few months. I was excited to surprise a few good friends with them--oh well.
* finding The Lumineers and Phillip Phillips albums on Amazon for $3.99. They're both really good!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* feeling thankful for all of the great people and fortunes I have in my life. There has been so much sadness in our world lately.
* our breakfast and gift exchange with Mrs. Roth this morning. Today felt much more relaxing compared to the insanity yesterday.
* Mom, Dad, Kelly & Alex arriving safely this afternoon. We put out a bunch of apps and had some drinks and hung out for a while before our Secret Santa exchange.
* a fun time doing our gift exchange. We each buy a $50 gift for one person and take turns giving and opening. I loved all of the thoughtful things Kelly gave me and I think she liked what I gave her too.
* making snowflakes for Sandy Hook as a family. We made 20 snowflakes, one for each little angel that was so senselessly killed on 12/14.
* the crock-pot ham coming out so well. We also had roasted potatoes, green bean casserole, baked beans, carrots and salad. Everything was great!
* relaxing after dinner---we had dessert, tea & coffee and spent some more time talking about Kelly's teaching and wedding.
* Andy & I exchanging gifts with each other after everyone left. We kept things pretty simple this year but still managed to find thoughtful and needed things to give each other. My favorite was the cooking class he got for me---he knows I'd never spend the $$ on something like that. I'm going to use it for a knife skills class. He also bought me two more knives to add to our set.
* making it this long before getting sick. I started feeling a sore throat coming on this afternoon and I'm pretty sure it's a cold coming on.

Monday, December 24, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* firefighters, police and other first responders that help keep us safe. Although it's easy to get annoyed when we get speeding tickets (especially as often as I have recently), it's important to remember how much they are risking everytime they put on their uniform or respond to a call. I'm speechless about the shootings of the firefighters this morning. Senseless acts of violence like this are happening too often. What is going on in our crazy world?
* getting out early. I went to the mall and found a cut sweater dress to wear for tonight, stopped at Old Navy to exchange a few things and went to Produce Junction. I luckily had a spare $10 bill in my car because I forgot my cash at home. I barely had enough to buy the flowers I wanted for the tables but I used change and had 10 cents to spare, haha.
* the speakers Andy set up in the kitchen-it made working in the kitchen all day more fun.
* my love of cooking. I spent all day (10-5) in the kitchen making bread, pasta primavera, chicken marsala, baked ziti, spinach dip, salsa, guacamole, bruschetta and zucchini bites. It was A TON of work but I felt very proud to serve a fantastic meal tonight as we celebrated Christmas Eve.
* a beautiful Christmas Eve dinner in our cozy little home. The trees were up, candles were lit in all of our windows and Christmas music played throughout the house. The kids were great and Santa even came on the fire engine outside! Everyone seemed to like dinner and we had a huge display of desserts as well.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* Chipotle for lunch with Andy.
* deciding to go to Key West for a few days when we're in FL. We booked a hotel today and got a pretty decent rate.
* making two salad dressings from scratch and dough for two loaves of bread for tomorrow night's dinner.
* Andy's help with cleaning up the house and getting everything set up for Christmas Eve & Christmas dinner. We are excited to host both families this year. The Roth's on Christmas Eve and McTague's on Christmas Day.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
*remembering Dad Roth today. It's so hard to believe it's been 4 years
since he passed away.

* watching Ellen this morning on DVR- it was her first recording since the shooting in Newtown, CT. It was also the first time I broke down and cried and really let myself experience the overwhelming sadness this horrible tragedy brings to all of us. I loved what she said, she is always so genuine.
"Today we’re taping our first show since the events that took place in Connecticut. My goal for this show every day is to make you happy and make you feel good for an hour. I want it to be a safe zone. I want it to be light and filled with joy.I want you to know that you can watch with your family. It won’t be mean or sad. I want it to be uplifting and I want to celebrate all that’s good in life. We’re holding you in our hearts, and today’s show is dedicated to you."

* Matt & Christa giving us a ride down to the stadium.
* fun times pre-gaming at Victory Beer Hall with: Julie, Greg, Josh,
Ben, Matt & Christa, Brad & Mindy, Scott & Michelle, Tash Laura, Jeff
and a few other people I don't know that well.
* going in early to see The Lumineers. Love them!
* getting a great spot about 1/4 way back on the floor.
* DMB putting on an awesome show! Loved Pig and so many others. It was
probably the best show I've seen since June. I had fun dancing and
singing with Andy, Josh, Ben, Michelle, Melissa & Tash.

Friday, December 21, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* finally filling out my Camellia Network profile.
* finding out The Killers have rescheduled for May 19th!
* going to Totaro's for the last time tonight for dinner. We saw
Andrew and got to thank him for all of our fantastic meals there. So
sad it's closing.
* experimenting with the Vita-Mix tonight; I made peanut butter
cookies with homemade peanut butter. They took forever to make but
came out great.
* making birthday cupcakes for John. We bought a mini muffin pan
tonight and they came out so cute!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* Tony A's pizza for dinner. I was out running around and it was the
easiest thing since we had nothing planned.
* making appointments to go look at dresses for Kelly's wedding on 12/28!
* the beautiful dove key chains I bought from Von G Art. She had them
made to support Sandy Hook rebuilding efforts (for their new school).
They were $10 each--I bought 5 to give to Debbie, Megan, Jillian,
Kelly and me. :-)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* finally emailing Dan (from Aruba). We wanted to make sure we stayed
in touch with them.
* making a reservation at the Victory Beer Hall for Sat. before the
DMB show in Philly.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* getting lots done for work and around the house today.
* creating a new email address for when I change my name. :-)
* figuring out airfare (again) for our FL trip.
* lunch at OOKA with Ian & Cathy Gicker. It was great to see them both!
* a great girls night with Lori, Viki, Lorin and Jane! I made our
Christmas dinner (split pea soup & garlic chicken pasta primavera). We of course went through a few bottles of wine and had great laughs and conversation. The "Favorite Things" exchange was a
hit and we had a lot of fun with it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* excellent service at Infiniti of Ardmore. I brought the car there
for an oil change this morning. They were very friendly and took my
coupon. :-)
* going with Megan to the gym. She showed me some of what she does
with weights and we did the elliptical for 45 minutes.
* finding out we earned the Discover $500 Cashback bonus for this
year. Woohoo! I was worried because we were short on the spending
minimum one month.
* having a BJ's Wholesale Club so close by. It's so convenient and I
love being able to get money saving "staples" there.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* a yum breakfast at the hotel again this morning.
* the sweet email Dave sent us after he left this morning. I love
having friends visit, especially from this group!
* our visit with the Roth's in Haymarket on our way home. We picked up
a few pizzas and hung out with John, Jillian & the kids. We found out
Lily has a crush on Andy! Jillian texted me tonight and said "she's
walking around with a 'pretend Andy'.
* finally ordering our photobooks from '08, '09 and '10.
* an easy drive home even though it was long and I was very tired. Too many 2am nights in a row for this old lady. :-)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* chatting with Debbie for a bit this morning.
* getting a reservation for dinner tonight in town.
* a great breakfast in the hotel dining room. It was nice to have
breakfast included--I really enjoyed the fruit.
* having stores close by to the hotel. We ran out this morning and
picked up an SD card for the camera since I left both of ours at home.
* lunch with Andy, Dave & Ben at Chipotle (yes, again). See reasons
listed yesterday as to why we go there so much.
* visiting Blenheim Vineyards this afternoon. Of course we were hoping
Dave would make an appearance. We tasted a handful of wines, bought
t-shirts and took a few pictures of the land. It was beautiful.
* John & Jillian having an easy trip to C'Ville and for them picking
us up at the hotel so we didn't have to take 2 cars.
* a great time at Michael's Bistro in Charlottesville. We created our
own "beer tasting" and ordered a bucket of all different beers.
Everyone loved their food and it was a nice atmosphere. Glad to have
picked a winner.
* another awesome show tonight. It was so much fun to all be
together-Andy, Dave, Ben, John, Jillian, Ian, Ashley and me.
Highlights were Best of What's Around, Nancies, Granny & Rapunzel!
* the sea of people waiting outside of our hotel. Boyd was doing a
meet and greet there, it was crazy! We went straight to our room and
ordered pizzas. It was fun to hang out again after the show listening
to music.

Friday, December 14, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* making breakfast when we got up in the morning. French toast, bacon,
scrambled eggs and English muffins.
* having help packing the car with all of our crap for this weekend. Usually I'm doing it all myself.

                      ***Thoughts about Sandy Hook Elementary***
As we were on our way to pick up Andy from his office Ben mentioned there had been a shooting at an elementary school in CT. My first thoughts were of our nieces and nephew in Greenwich but I quickly learned the shooting did not take place in Greenwich. Then I thought to myself "are little kids bringing guns to school and shooting each other? That can't be possible." followed by "this was an adult, this was some psychotic adult that barged into a school and started shooting. Maybe it was a parent gone mad?" It's amazing how many thoughts you can have running through your mind in so little time.
We learned bits and pieces of what happened as time went on---some of the information initially reported was incorrect. It didn't matter. 20 children, 5 teachers and 1 principal were killed...senselessly, for no reason at all. I just can't imagine. It's numbing, it made me feel sick inside. We are all feeling the same way.
How can I say there was anything good about this day? How can I when 20 sets of parents lost their babies this morning? How can I be excited about a road trip to C'Ville with friends to see our favorite band? That I get to work from home and I was able to work while being in the car on our way to a really fun weekend?
I wasn't sure what I was going to write today for my gratitude entry. But I guess the whole point is finding the good in our days, even when they are dark. Being thankful for every happy moment we have and knowing it can all end in an instant. Appreciating time with friends & family and having the means to do things like travel and go to concerts. My gratitude blog is to record what I am grateful for---the little things that happen every day that remind me there is always good somewhere out there.
My heart is crushed for the families and friends of those that were killed. I ache for their community and our society as a whole. There is too much that is broken and we need to help heal each other. I don't know what else to say right now, and I know this will weigh on me indefinitely, as it will so many others. 
Below are the things I was grateful for today after we heard about the shooting. Some of them are silly like a great hoagie for lunch. I am always grateful for the people in my life that love and support me, and bring fun and light to my days.

* Primos for lunch
* hitting minimal traffic during our drive to Charlottesville.
* having some time to relax before we left for dinner/show. I was
tired all day from staying up so late the last two nights.
* Chipotle---quick, fresh, easy, inexpensive and so good!
* a great time at the show! Loved the set and had a great time with
Andy, Dave, Ben, Ian and Ashley.
* Dave mentioning the shooting before playing Mercy. That song gets to me on so many levels. I wrote about it when Hurricane Sandy was happening and it seems to hit home even more after what happened today in CT. I think we all felt comforted when he acknowledged what had happened---it was a very weird feeling to be having such a good time knowing there are so many people grieving tonight.
* hanging out after the show in our hotel room--listening to music and
eating junk food (those calories don't count after midnight, right?)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* not feeling too disappointed when we found out The Killers show was
postponed. I felt bad Dave came all the way here for the show and now
it's pushed back to an unknown date. I came up with a few ideas for
tonight though.
* going to LA Fitness with Dave. I only did the elliptical and
abs/stretching but it felt good to exercise.
* the candles Mrs. Roth gave us to try out for our windows. They're
battery operated but look really nice!
* lunch at Plaza Azteca with Dave. I love that place, it's fun to take
people there.
* dinner at Nectar with Dave & Ben. I'm really going to miss gift
cards once I completely run out. We had a nice bottle of wine---they
had sushi and rice bowls and I had veggie spring rolls and filet
* good times at Falls Taproom to see Popejoy play. Andrea was there
and we had a great time drinking beers and listening to music. We
stayed until the bar closed. Thankful for Ben driving us home too.
* leftover Mexican after-the-bar food!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* a great session with Hannelore today. I really felt like I was able
to relax and zone out a bit. I decided we'll give Dad a session for
* a nice time visiting with the Ft. Washington office. I crashed their
Christmas party since I was missing the Chicago office's party. They
had lunch catered by an Italian restaurant and we did the Yankee Swap
gift exchange. I ended up with a Target gift card---can never go wrong
with that.
* Dave arriving to PHL on time. It worked out great, dropping Casey
off and picking Dave up.
* a fun night at our place. Ben came over and we had some drinks,
apps, and I made a chicken parm bake for dinner. We watched the
12-12-12 concert (and almost made it to the very end.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* remembering our 2 year engagement anniversary. I still say that was the best night of my life.
* going to Totaro's for dinner with Andy. They are closing on NYE and
we are totally bummed. We talked with his cousin Jackie (she's been
there forever and I never knew she was a part of the family). She was
so nice and is into holistic health and Reiki!
* making the brownies for tomorrow's office Christmas party and the
chicken for tomorrow night's dinner when we got home.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* finally getting the extra DMB tickets sold. It was a big pain in the
ass and took way too much time but it's finally done. I was able to
sell the N2 C'Ville tix on Stubhub for face value. I wish I would have
thought of doing that a couple of weeks ago. We're not going to get
anything for the N1's.
* finally redeeming the Prancing Peacock Living Social deal I bought.
Now I have until mid-Feb to go 5x. Yeah right.
* going to Weis and picking up stuff to make dinners later this week
and the Christmas ham.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* online shopping--shopped for some Christmas gifts today
* finding a cool recipe for the ham using a crockpot. I'm going to try
it on Christmas day!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* working on getting the house cleaned up and ready for Christmas decorations
* Bertucci's take out pizza for lunch
* finally ordering the book "The Touch of Healing" from Amazon.
Hannelore recommended it months ago.
* going to Ashley & Sean's engagement party in DE.
* stopping at Total Wine on the way home and picking up a case of wine
to have at the house.

Friday, December 7, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* Starbuck's iced coffee---I've been loving it lately.
* spending a few hours in the office today catching up with case managers and getting to know them a little better.
* lunch at White Chocolate Grille with Lauren, Jim, Marty & Bernard. It was nice to talk with them outside the office and I feel like they got to know me a little better.
* talking with Lauren about DMB. She goes to Alpine every year and didn't know about the Chicago show. I wish I knew she wanted to go. We talked about all of their unreleased songs and the new album. I'm going to make her a CD with MP3's of the unreleased playlist I made.
* no traffic on the way to O'Hare. It seems every city I go to has horrendous traffic, I can't even choose a "worst traffic in the country" winner anymore. Every city is awful!
* the guy checking my bag letting me go when it was 52 lbs---2 lbs over the limit.
* Andy finding a way for me to pay for Silver status on US Air. It has saved hundreds of dollars in baggage fees, upgraded me twice to first class and probable saved me at least 30 minutes in the security line this afternoon. Well worth the $200, especially when I hit the 7,500 miles by mid-January. Then I will have Silver status until January 2014!
* an on time departure and early arrival in Philly.
* spending the night at home with Andy. We had Carrabba's takeout and watched the last couple episodes of Homeland. It was so good!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* the meet and greet going well with Sears-Sedgwick today. I think we have real potential to strengthen our relationship with this client and I'm already scheduling to go back in January.
* Bob allowing me to go straight to the hotel after the meeting. It was nice to settle in early, catch up on email and not be running around or driving for hours today.
* talking with Ian for a while about some work stuff (mainly our commissions) and how it will hopefully improve next year.
* an awesome dinner at . It's this little hole in the wall Mexican place in Lisle and it was so good.
* catching up on my personal emails, coming up with some fun Christmas gift ideas and watching Parenthood, Grey's Anatomy, Nashville and Private Practice. Yes, I was a TV junkie tonight and it was wonderful.
* Royal Caribbean being flexible about possibly changing our cruise dates; we're still not sure what we're going to do but at least it's an option.
* finding the blog Single Dad Laughing---he's writing is incredible and he has a story that everyone should read. Maybe we'd all come away being a little less judgmental.
* all of Dad's emails with book suggestions and info on the do-it-yourself MBA. I've gotten into reading non-fiction, especially books like The Turning Point and Outliers. I am trying to focus on sharpening my skills, learning more about business in general and my specific industry/company/product. I have lots of goals for the coming year and I'm trying to lay a foundation over the next month so I can make 2013 a great year!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* feeling ok after only getting four hours sleep. I showered and was on the road by 8:15. Got to Champaign early so I stopped at Starbuck's and did some research on CN.
* a pretty good lunch meeting with Brad from CN and for Bob coming along.
* Jess deciding to buy our C'Ville N2 tickets. Happy she and John will be coming now!
* working hard to sell our Philly and C'Ville N1 extras---I think I worked out a deal with someone who is dying for the Philly GA's. I like when they go to people that really appreciate them.
* having pretty good luck with traffic and getting back to Chicago by 5.
* a fun time at Haymarket Brewery with Becker, Jon & Lori and Robin & Scott before the show. I tried their beer sampler and they were all pretty good.
* Robin giving us a ride to the show.
* Becker finding me a GA ticket for the show tonight---I tried to make the best of it even though I'm starting to really question the band's song selections. They just keep playing the same songs over and over and seem to have shelved much of their catalog. As a long time fan who loves going to several shows a tour, it's becoming extremely frustrating. I do try to appreciate each show, the company I'm with and acknowledge some day they won't be touring at all.
* leaving the floor for a few songs to hang out with Daniella and her friend Matt.
* talking with Becker for a while before we went to bed, and for him letting me crash at his place.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* spending time working from the hotel this morning/early afternoon. They granted me a late check out and I got a ton of stuff done before leaving for Chicago.
* listening to the new Mumford & Sons album as well as some DMB. I LOVE the new Mumford & Sons album and can't wait to see them in Feb. My favorite song is Love of the Light. I also enjoyed listening to some classic DMB that I'm 99% certain I have no chance of hearing tomorrow.
* a great night with Lea. We talked for a while about both of our job situations for a while before heading out to a yoga class at her gym. It was a yoga stretch class--it was a little different but I enjoyed being exposed to something new. From there we grabbed some Mexican food for dinner and headed back to her house. We went through two bottles of wine and talked till 3:30am. I'll be regretting that tomorrow morning but it has been cool reconnecting with her and having so much to talk about.
* talking with Andy for a bit tonight and for him feeling a little better.
* being blessed with an amazing father. I know I've written this over and over again. I had another friend tell me about the struggle she has had with her father. I can't imagine not hearing "I love you" or "I'm proud of you". I share so much with my dad---love of music, nature, business, learning, writing, doing good for others---I can't imagine life without him.

Monday, December 3, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* no delays flying from Orlando to Detroit or from Detroit to Madison. The fog was really bad in Detroit and I was afraid we were going to have to wait for it to clear out.
* memories of Rachel & I traveling together to the University of Illinois. Running through the airport with our bags trying not to miss our connecting flight. It's hard to believe that was 9 years ago!
* not getting upset when I traveled to WI for no reason due to the client canceling our meeting. I was disappointed because I lost the opportunity to present GlobalOptions (for now). I respectfully made it clear I flew in for our meeting, and that it wasn't just a 10 minute drive. It didn't seem to matter and there was nothing I could do about it. Sometimes I feel people in business have no regard for other people's time, but it's part of the game. I feel fortunate this is the first time it's happened since I started with GO.
* a nice dinner at . The food was very good and I spent some time writing my Don't Judge blog post about dining alone (often.)
* walking around the mall for a little bit and then stopping in to Target & Kohl's. For some reason I didn't pack a shirt to wear to the DMB show Wednesday night so I picked up one and bought the boots from Target (with no heels) I've been wanting.
* the girl at Origins giving me a few samples of the face wash I use since I forgot to bring mine. I don't like using bar soap on my face.

Don't Judge...

Disclaimer: This post is in no way meant to offend the wonderful friends of mine who are servers/bartenders. I know they would never treat people this way. Also, I was a server once too. :-)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* getting to the pool before 10am considering we were out last night until 3:30am (and I was up till almost 4.)
* a gorgeous day relaxing by the pool in sunny FL. I had thought about going to Downtown Disney or something else fun in the area but decided I just wanted to relax. I finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed and started Outliers.
* removing myself from the rude and annoying people that invaded my space at the pool today. I was the only one out there and had my iPad playing music real low. The rest of tables and chairs were available---for some reason they decided to sit right next to me and proceeded to start playing their own music. Couldn't quite understand that one. After a while I went to the other side of the pool because I couldn't even concentrate on my book anymore.
* soup and salad with chips & guac and salsa at Chili's for lunch. The selection of restaurants within walking distance from the hotel are all chains and I tried to make a decent choice.
* talking a walk around the lake near the hotel.
* catching up with Andy for a while, we'd hardly talked since I left on Fri.
* going to the gym and doing 45 minutes on the elliptical, a little bit of weights and yoga and then 10 minutes in the hot tub.
* an easy (and good!) dinner at Sonny's BBQ across the street from the hotel.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

* everything I got out of our sales & ops meeting today. It was a long day---8:30-5:45, but I learned so much. There are lots of exciting things happening within our company and I think there is a lot of opportunity for growth. I was happy to see they used my flyer from last week as the holiday flyer for the entire company. It made me feel like I do in fact (somewhat) know what I'm doing.
* talking with Andy for a few minutes before dinner. I was worried because I hadn't heard from him all day. Turned out something was wrong with his phone and he wasn't feeling well.
* feeling good in the dress I bought yesterday for the party.
* a nice time at the Christmas dinner. I met some new people from the FL office---I was also happy John was with me for dinner because we lost out on seats at the table with everyone we're friends with.
* a fun time at the hotel bar after the party. It was a good opportunity to talk with people we don't get to see very often. A few of us closed it down, we were there until 2am or so.
* going to Denny's with Ian and John. I (of course) was hungry by the time we left the bar and there was nothing else open. I haven't been to a Denny's since the 2nd year of Memphis and it's always an interesting experience.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* getting my ass out of bed at 6am to wait in line to reserve a palapa. It really wasn't that bad and I met some nice people while waiting. We got a great spot right in front like I had hoped. After I put our towels down I went back to bed for a while.
* my breakfast (grilled cheese) at Scott's Brats. They are a couple from Wisconsin that picked up and moved to Aruba. They sell brats and sausage sandwiches as well as breakfast out of a hut on the beach. I think it's cool how so many people move here. I talked with owners for a bit about moving here and starting a business.
* finishing the Meghan McCain book. I really like learning about her perspective and agree with a lot of what she says. I wish more republicans (elected republicans) were as open as she is. I do believe that most people are in the middle most of the time, why can't the men/women in congress try harder at working together?
* lunch with Andy at Scott's Brats. We each had a sausage with peppers & onions. They were very good.
* learning about a Christmas Party being planned in NJ for families affected by the hurricane. It's on Dec. 8th and I definitely want to volunteer to help that day. I also know now how I can help with making Christmas better for these families. I will help with collecting gifts/gift cards for this event. Everything will go directly to families who need it, and that's what I wanted to do!
* meeting LeeAnn & Dan (from Canada) and Steve & Joanna (from DE). I met LeeAnn in line this morning and then her husband in the morning. They had met Steve & Joanna a few days prior. We ended up spending all afternoon with them. It's such a small world- Andy & Joanna both went to Villanova and graduated the same year. Steve is from Delaware County. We had a great time in the water talking and getting to know each other. Then we went to the pool, went down the slide a couple times, and drank a few beers in the hot tub.
* the six of us deciding to have dinner together. We went to Gianni's and had a fantastic itallian meal. Even better was the company and conversation.
* going to bed early and taking a break from having drinks. My stomach was bothering me (it wasn't that the food was bad, just something wasn't agreeing with me).
* waking up at 1:30am to see Villanova win their game and Andy win $20. :-)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* getting up around 8 and reserving a palapa on the beach before breakfast. We learned people get in line before 6am to claim the best ones on the beach! I'm going to try to do that tomorrow so we have one in the front.
* breakfast at Salt & Pepper. We had the sweetest waitress, Sharon. She alone made me want to go back there. The food was good like we remembered and we both enjoyed talking with Sharon.
* a relaxing day at the beach. We played Scrabble on the Kindle, I read more of my book and we went in and out of the water with floats. We absolutely love it here and I'm determined to plan a group trip for sometime in 2013 or 2014.
* Happy Hour at Bugaloe. We sat at the bar and had a few drinks along with their chicken satay platter (it was very good)! We met a nice couple from Chicago and enjoyed talking with them while we were at the bar.
* a fun night walking around town. Andy had a burger at Aruba's version of Five Guys (owned by a couple from Boston). Then we went to a bar upstairs for a beer. There was no one there but we sat outside and watched all of the action below. The music was entertaining---no joke, one of the songs playing was called "I want to f*** you in the ass". Whaaaaat? It was so weird and we couldn't help but laugh. I can't imagine parents of young kids or older people walking by and hearing a song like that. We left after one beer. I doubt they'll be in business next time we're here.
* attempting to go to the new bar, Zombie Room. They supposedly have live music every night but it was dead when we walked over. We didn't even go inside.
* playing some more video poker again in the casino. Andy did pretty well and I did better than last night but not great. We walked away about $25 up tonight.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* sleeping in a little this morning. I've been sleeping great here!
* a late breakfast/early lunch at Pizza Hut. Yes, I hate going to American chains when we're traveling but there are no good breakfast places around the hotel that serve anything other than eggs/omelets etc. We wanted something quick and easy before heading to the island for the last time.
* soaking in every minute we could at on the island before having to check out. They gave us a late check out (2pm) so that was nice. We spent a lot of time in the water, it was very hot today.
* being able to check-in early at The Hyatt this afternoon. We're excited to be back at this gorgeous hotel. The grounds are so beautiful and so is their beach area. It really felt like we were just here! They greeted us with champagne just like last time.
* Steve sharing his friends & family code with us, I know he is only able to give it out to a few people. We would have never been able to stay here if it weren't for him, the least expensive rooms at this hotel are $300+ per night!
* dinner at Smokey Joe's. Both of our meals were very good and we met two nice couple's who we chatted with for a bit.
* walking along the path from our hotel down to The Westin. We went in for Andy to place a sports bet and then ended up at Bugaloe. Why didn't we go there last year?? We had so much fun seeing Joyride, a live band that plays all over down here. People were dancing and having a great time. We were disappointed that they stopped playing at 9:30.
* going to the casino for a little while. We played some video poker and had a couple drinks. Andy did well, I did not. In the end we walked away up $20 or so.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* Iced coffee from Starbuck's. I don't drink regular coffee at all but love an iced coffee once in a while.
* spending the morning on the island. I love how quiet it is and how they have so many chairs and hammocks. I finished "The Language of Flowers". It was such a great book and really opened my eyes to what it's like to go through the foster care system. :-(
* lunch at Iguana Joe's. Andy & I shared nachos and they were excellent!
* spending the afternoon at the pool at the Marina hotel. It's adults only and overlooks the water. I remember it being one of my favorite parts of the hotel last time and it certainly did not disappoint this time.
* starting "America, You Sexy Bitch" by Meghan McCain & Michael Ian Black. It's great so far! They went out on the road in an RV across America earlier this year and wrote about their different perspectives on all of the major issues. They also incorporate all of the people they encounter along the way. So far I really like it and appreciate a lot of what they both have to say.
* meeting Andrew at the pool. He noticed Andy's Phillies hat and started talking to him. The 3 of us ended up talking in the pool for at least an hour. He grew up in Ft. Washington and played ice hockey. I love meeting new people on trips!
* going to the Ocean Suites bar for a couple drinks after we got ready for dinner. Gotta love the 2 for 1 Happy Hour!
* an amazing dinner at Yumanga!! I've been dreaming of their potato soup for 3 1/2 hours and it was as incredible as I remembered. We ordered a bottle of wine and shared a steak entree. The meal came with rice & beans, potatoes and veggies; more than enough food for two people after eating the soup. I've become more comfortable with sharing entrees on this trip. The portions are usually big enough for two people and it's silly to order two entrees when there's no way to eat the leftovers.
* getting pictures in front of the I Love Aruba sign after dinner.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* another beautiful day in Aruba. We walked around Oranjestad for a while, picked up some waters in one of the shops and then headed to the island. We rented a float and spent the whole day on the beach. We had lunch and drinks at the restaurant on the private island. I love how so many restaurants have great views of the water!
* going to the Ocean Suites pool for happy hour this afternoon. We met a few people at the bar that were here for a wedding. It reminded us of the fun times we had when Jess & Chris got married. The groom was from NY and the other couple was from TX. We watched football and had a few margaritas.
* an easy dinner at Casa Tua. We shared a salad and thin crust pizza. There was a guitar player and singer playing music on the "stage" across from the restaurant. They weren't that good but fun to listen to and watch.
* relaxing after dinner and watching Revenge.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* Mrs. Roth picking us up early this morning to take us to the airport.
* safely arriving to Aruba and being back at the Renaissance in Oranjestad, Aruba! I've been looking forward to this trip for months and it's finally here!
* lunch at The Paddock. The food was just ok but it was the first place we went to in Aruba 3 1/2 years ago so we decided to go back. It does have a great view!
* a fun afternoon on the private island and a great dinner at Iguana Joe's.
* the cute newlyweds we met on the boat coming back from the private island. It was their first time here and we told them about some of our favorite restaurants and things to do on the island.
* dinner at Iguana Joe's, we didn't go there last time. Andy got fajitas and I got a wrap, the food was good and it was cool overlooking the street upstairs. We both got fun drinks too. :-)

Friday, November 9, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* Andy pulling pit tickets for the Mumford & Sons concert in February and for their new album arriving in the mail before our trip!                                        * having good birthday gift ideas for Uncle Gary & Grandpa. A Maggiano's gift card for Uncle Gary and a personal soft sided cooler for Grandpa. I thought it would be funny since we always run out of beer in Holden Beach. Now he can have his own cooler!                                                                                     * Mom & Dad dealing with Friday traffic and driving to our place for dinner. It's been a month since I've seen them, too long! Mom, Dad, Andy & I went to Bertucci's and had a great dinner. The server was a cute young kid, he gave us their "signature grilled veggies" because Mom & Dad were first time guests.     * having a bunch of fun, cute dresses to take on our trip. I love getting dressed up and rarely do so at the shore so I packed a bunch of my summer dresses for Aruba.                                                                                                         *  Mom & Dad taking a suitcase for us with sweaters, coats and my UGGS for Thanksgiving. I really didn't want to have to lug all of that stuff to Aruba.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
*everything working out with the delivery of today's lunch, I messed up and forgot to confirm with the office and got nervous they weren't expecting me. It all worked out and everyone was very friendly at the ESIS office today. I wasn't very happy with Qdoba's catering. They food was very good but it was barely enough for 15 people. Looks like I'll be using On The Border from now on. I wish Chipotle catered.                                                                                          * finding several XS dresses at NY& Co. I've found traveling with dresses is easiest and needed a few for fall/winter. I had a $70 off $150 coupon and all of them were at least 50% off to begin with so I ended up with 5 dresses for $70 because I had a gift card too. Woohoo!                                                           * giving myself plenty of time to return the car and get through the airport for my trip home. It took forever. The airports/rental car pickup & returns stink in TX!                                                                                                  * making it through another trip without getting killed driving in TX. I know it's partly because I'm not familiar with the roads, but the way they are set up are insane to me. Someone also almost slammed into me as I was in stopped traffic and I have no idea how they missed me. I can't wait until Saturday when we're sitting on a beach with a frozen drink!                                                                                                           * getting home safely and having tomorrow to catch up on office work and pack before we leave on Sat.                                                                    * watching Sunday's episode of Homeland. It was late but we were both dying to see it. I'll say it again, that show is incredible!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* watching the morning news and feeling relief that President Obama was re-elected.
* McDonald's fries- I know they are bad and I don't like supporting McDonald's but they really do cure my hangovers. I don't allow myself to eat McD's anymore except for times like this morning when I really needed them.
* a great lunch meeting at Union Pacific. Everyone was so friendly and fun to talk to.
* meeting Kaitlin for dinner at El Tiempo Cantina. It was so cool to see her and hear all about her life over the last 15 years. I think the last time we saw each other was in 4th grade. She moved around a lot growing up. Times like this are when I am so appreciative of Facebook. We would have never reconnected, nor would she have known I was going to be in Houston. I'm looking forward to my next visit so I can meet her husband and kids.
* the makeup Kaitlin gave me. She works for Laura Mercier and she brought me a lipstick, lipgloss, eyeshadow and blush. I'm going to try them out and see if their line can help with my redness.
* being able to see the true colors of some, resulting from this election. I can't believe the amount of hatred and ridiculous generalizations that some are making. I take strong offense to people that call all liberals, democrats, Obama supporters, etc. lazy free-loaders who don't give a shit about this country. Do these people truly believe that? I've tried not to let ignorant comments on Facebook get to me but I lost my cool today after reading Jon Carmen's status. I'll chalk it up to brainwashing---because no one in their right mind, republican or democrat, would have the nerve to say some of the things he and his parents said today.
* the hilarious episodes of The Daily Show & The Colbert Report tonight, they were much needed.
* Grandma's voicemail checking to make sure we're all ok with this crazy weather. NJ, PA & NY all got snow today! Just what these poor people who either have no power or no home need.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Today I have gratitude for...
* Walmart conveniently being next to my hotel. I usually try to avoid giving Walmart my money at all costs, but I was in a hurry this morning and it was nice to know I could run in and pick up a fruit tray and doughnuts for my meeting without having to drive around finding somewhere else. One thing I've noticed in TX---no bakeries.
* talking with Alyssa & Cindi about cleanses and apps they like. I'm going to check out the Livestrong app that Alyssa uses. I'm at a breaking point, I have to snap out of this unhealthy, no working out, getting fat again stage. I feel disgusting. I thought I would have looked my best for Aruba and instead I feel like it's been a downward spiral for months. My new goal is our FL trip in January. I WILL be feeling as good as I was last fall, at 115 lbs and toned!!! I bought a Groupon for a yoga studio in Conshe and can't wait to get back into it. It just doesn't make sense for me to pay for a membership at Ryah with all of the traveling.
* meeting Terrell and Steve from Kansas City Southern this morning. They were both really nice and gave me some good feedback. I even left with a case.
* finding a restaurant with an outdoor patio for lunch. I had soup & salad and checked with the server to make sure she wouldn't mind if I stayed for a while and worked. She was very friendly (it was empty) and said it was no problem. I stayed for a couple hours and caught up on emails. It was gorgeous out!
* the helpful girls at the Macy's makeup counters today. I'm still trying to find something that helps with my redness because Bare Minerals hasn't been giving me the same coverage as it did when I first started using it. The girls told me about a few different options and gave me some samples to try.
* Henry & Christine offering for me to stay at their house tonight. I called the Marriott at 4pm and they let me cancel, I couldn't believe it. I rushed back and got my stuff out of the room, picked up soda for the lunches tomorrow & Thursday and wine for tonight. I bought a bottle of Dreaming Tree for good luck. :-)
* having the best time tonight at Henry & Christine's! I met their girls Catherine and Jacqueline. I also met a few of their friends (Matt & Holly and Paul.) Matt & Holly brought their kids over (1 year old twins and Dominick, their 5 year old.) The twins were so cute, Liam let me hold him for quite some time. They made a mexican dinner and margaritas. We anxiously watched as they started calling the states. I kept saying "and that # is without CA??" It felt like forever but around 10:20pm (Central time) they called the election for Obama. Relief!! It ended up not even being that close (electoral votes wise.) We popped the champagne and stayed up until 2am to watch the commentary and the speeches. I have to say Romney's speech was very good--to me it was the most genuine he's ever seemed. He almost seemed relieved. This is what I had to say after they announced the results.
Thankful tonight that the less fortunate in our country have a better chance to succeed in our world, that women will still maintain control of their bodies, and hope our congress will work toward the change we need..
* wine, margaritas, and champagne helping us feel more relaxed as we watched the election play out. I really liked the Dreaming Tree wine!
* Dad's enthusiastic text at 10:28pm. "OBAMA WINS. THANK YOU JESUS. USA.....STILL THE GREATEST COUNTRY. HAVE FUN IN TEXAS :-)....LOVE DAD" You gotta love the all caps.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* having a decent amount of supplies to donate to hurricane victims. Julie is helping with delivery of items to shelters at the shore this week. I wish I was going to be around so I could go with her but I know people will need help for months as they rebuild their homes and lives. We donated sleeping bags, sheets, comforters, toiletries, food and clothes.
* Mrs. Roth giving me a ride to the airport this afternoon.
* the TSA giving me advice on how to get my carry on garment bag through security. I was really annoyed because it's the same bag I've been using for a year to carry on and today they told me it was too big and I had to check it (which cost $35.) Then, when boarding the plane, I saw another guy with the same exact bag and he was carrying it on! Supposedly the key is to go to another terminal---I'll be trying that next time.
* my noise cancelling headphones. I understand it's hard to travel with children but allowing your child (2-3 years old) to yell and scream the entire 3 1/2 hour flight is unacceptable. The mom didn't have any toys or activities for the kid, nor did she stop him from kicking my seat the entire time! So thankful for those headphones, they're worth every penny!
* Andy rushing to FedEx after work to overnight my phone. When I was rushing around before going to the airport today I set it down and left it at home, along with some other things I needed for my client visits this week. I really need to slow down sometimes.
* dinner at Willie's Ice House next to my hotel. It was open-air which was nice, the food was ok, nothing special. I watched some of the pathetic Eagles game while I was there.
* finding a blue t-shirt at Walmart (shhh, don't tell anyone I gave my $ to the devil). I've wanted to buy an Obama t-shirt but was afraid it would jinx the election so I bought a blue t-shirt and I'm putting my bumper sticker I received in the mail the other day on the front of it.
* the voicemail John left today to say thank you to Andy & me for coming to see him play on Saturday.
* making dinner plans with Kaitlin for Wednesday night. I think the last time we saw each other was in 5th grade!
* and their on-line selection of full episodes. I watched Revenge and the CMA's on my iPad since there was nothing on TV.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy (from a distance): Part II

Don’t give up, I know you can see
All the world and the mess that we’re making
Can’t give up and hope God will intercede
Come on back, imagine that we could get it together

Stand up for what we need to be
‘Cause crime won’t save or feed a hungry child
Can’t lay down and wait for a miracle to change things
So lift up your eyes, lift up your heart

Mercy, will we overcome this
Oh, one by one, could we turn it around
Maybe carry on just a little bit longer
And I’ll try to give you what you need

Me and you, and you, and you
just wanna be free, yeah, yeah
But you see
all the world is just as we’ve made it
And until we got a new world I’ve got to say
That love is not a whisper or a weakness
No, love is strong, and we got to get together
Yeah, gotta get, gotta get, gotta get
‘Til there is no reason to fight

Mercy, will we overcome this
Yeah, one by one, could we turn it around
Maybe carry on just a little bit longer
And I’ll try to give you what you need

Mercy, will we overcome this
Have we come too far to turn it around
Is it ask too much to be a little bit stronger
‘Cause I wanna give you what you need

Mercy, what will become of us
Yeah, one by one, could we turn it around
Maybe carry on just a little bit longer
And I’ll try to give you what you need
~Dave Matthews
When I first really listened to the lyrics of this song, I knew they would end up representing something big. I said to Andy "this song is about changing the world." Little did I know it would be the world in our own backyard. I heard this song today driving from Austin to Dallas on the open highway on a bright sunny day. I've been big time homesick this week. People have said to me I was lucky to get away before the storm, I disagree. I've probably slept less than most people at home because I can not stop watching CNN and coverage of NY & NJ. Although I definitely consider PA home now, part of me belongs to NY and part of me belongs to NJ. I feel so helpless and I can't wait to do something. It is truly nauseating to see the destruction all along Sandy's path. I think this song should be our anthem right now, we can turn it all around together.

Monday, October 29, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* having Hurricane Sandy coverage on most local stations this morning. I slept with the TV on last night and woke up several times to hear the storm was progressing. After 9am I switched to CNN and was horrified to see how aggressive this hurricane is going to be.
* a late breakfast at Cindi's New York Delicatessen, Restaurant & Bakery. I took the time to reflect on my feeling about this hurricane and my being so far away.
* the brave reporters from Seven Mile Times in Avalon, NJ. They were out all day reporting on the hurricane and uploading pictures to Facebook. I think it was really helpful for home owner's to be aware of what was happening. It was heart wrenching to look at these pictures, but at least people now know what to expect.
* peeling myself away from the news and going out to pick up Halloween treat bags and candy for my office visits this week. I will be stapling my business card and handing one out to each adjuster.
* TCBY for lunch. I sat outside and answered some emails. I was still pretty full from breakfast so I didn't really need lunch today.
* spending some time by the pool after I finished work for the day. It was already pretty chilly but I draped a towel over me and enjoyed some fresh air. I talked with Kelly, Mom & Dad. 
* forcing myself to get my butt to the fitness center. I've fallen off the wagon with both eating healthy and exercising and it's not good. I can't believe we leave for Aruba in less than two weeks. 
* Andy having power all day and not losing power until 11pm EST. 
* a really great dinner at Ravenna Italian Restaurant. I had bruschetta, chicken florentine and two glasses of (much needed) cab. I feel like I've overdosed on hurricane coverage to make up for the fact that I'm not there. 
* Aunt Kathy's email today saying she was thinking of the Roth family and Avalon. I told her we felt the same way about Brian's house and so many others too. 
* everyone I know staying safe (as I far as I know) during this horrific storm.                                                                           

Hurricane Sandy (from a distance): Part I

I am eating at a place in Dallas called "Cindi's New York Delicatessen, Restaurant & Bakery". I finally peeled my eyes off the TV coverage of Hurricane Sandy. I slept with the TV on last night, and didn't really sleep much at all. It feels weird to be in a sunny, warm place.  In fact, you couldn't ask for a more  beautiful day. Everyone is acting normal, no panic in TX. 

I am used to watching hurricane coverage from afar, because they just don't directly hit the northeast. This time it's different, this time the hurricane is coming for us. The victims that lose their homes, pets, businesses---they will be our friends, family and neighbors. I remember what it felt like to watch the coverage of Katrina, Irene, Gustav, Felix, etc. Sitting there watching the reporters on TV---seeing people in shelters, not knowing whether their homes would survive, or where their pets were, or even the whereabouts of some family members. It was heart-wrenching, there was nothing I, or anyone else could do. Mother Nature is one of few things we as humans, have 0% control over. 

I am 1,500 miles away, but my heart is at home. I'm thinking about my sister in New York City, the Roth family beach houses in Avalon, the Hensler's in LBI, Vanessa & Keith near the water on Long Island, Brian's house in Sandy Hook, and so many more. I'm hoping and praying our loved ones stay safe, and that our homes can weather this storm. I feel helpless, and being this far away makes the helplessness that much more intense. I realize I wouldn't be able to do anything more if was home than I can do here. But, I'd be with Andy, I could help make sure everything was secure and help waterproof our things in the basement. And in some weird (and maybe twisted way), I kind of feel like I'm missing out on the experience. I feel like years from now, people will be reminiscing about Hurricane Sandy and everything that came with her---I won't be able to relate. I ran out of town, being left with news reporters to deliver the updates on the destruction and loss where we live. 

The pictures coming in from Avalon are leaving me speechless. I don't know what to say. They resemble the same hurricane pictures we've seen over & over again, but now we can relate to them. We know the street signs, the floating benches, broken docks. We can imagine what that streets will look like when people are able to return and access the damage. 

It has been hard for me to concentrate today. I didn't have appointments because I wasn't supposed to arrive until tomorrow afternoon. I tried to get as much work done as I could, but I will admit it wasn't a whole lot. I was glued to CNN and Facebook. Praying people are making smart decisions, that the damage isn't as bad as we think it will be and that we can quickly start rebuilding. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* sleeping in until 11am! The room was so dark from the gloomy weather outside and it was the perfect morning to stay in bed. I don't even feel guilty about it---I have a crazy week coming up and it's probably best that I got a really good night's sleep. 
* Steve & Kate still being able to go to the game even though we had to cancel on them. They loved the seats, too bad the Eagles lost again!
* Andy discovering the US Airways Silver Preferred program. It gives me Silver status until Jan, and if I fly 7,500 miles by then (which I definitely will) I will be Silver Preferred until Jan 2014. I also get to check bags for free and I was upgraded to first-class on my flight to Dallas!
* Andy filling both cars with gas while I packed for my trip. Who knows what chaos Hurricane Sandy will bring. It feels funny leaving town---like I'm abandoning our area or something. Praying all my friends & family stay safe and that our beaches are spared. 
* learning to adjust to all of the nuances of flying often. It is what it is...I thought we were so lucky to be leaving for Dallas on-time. Then the engine had a problem, we had to deplane, waited an hour in the airport, boarded the next place and then sat until 6:40, when we finally took off. We were supposed to leave at 3:55. I am thankful we weren't on an unsafe plane though. These little things can be annoying, but every time I get on a place I think "what if this is it?" I am not afraid of flying, but do realize freak things can happen and I say a little prayer for a safe arrival. 
* very nice flight attendants. I always feel bad for them when they have annoyed passengers because there's nothing they can do about delays, weather, mechanical problems, etc. No one was being rude to them that I noticed, but I'd imagine it's a trying job in general and they are usually still very friendly.
* being smart enough to ask for directions after I picked up my rental car because   lots of times GPS takes too long to work and I never know where to go leaving the airport. I'm glad I asked because the car charger wasn't working, my phone was 100% dead and I wouldn't have had any idea how to get to the hotel. I still wasn't exactly sure where I was going after I got off the highway and pretty much figured it out (amazing, because I have no sense of direction.)
* the chips and salsa with guacamole I ordered when I arrived to the hotel. The kitchen was closing in 10 min and I didn't want something too heavy. They were really good!
* talking with Andy when I got here for a bit, things are getting crazy at home with this hurricane!

Observations of a Traveling Nomad

10/28-11/2: Dallas, TX ~ Austin, TX
~ don't get too excited when your flight is miraculously on time even though there is a hurricane scheduled to pummel your city. Inevitably there will be an engine problem, you will have to deplane, wait 45 minutes, board a new plane and sit on the runway for another 45 minutes before you take off. 
~ it will take the counter attendant a minimum of 10 minutes to decide it will be ok to let the passengers go through gate A6 because the door to gate A8 is locked, and for some reason will not unlock. Your flight may already be running 2+ hours late and you will receive an apology saying "We apologize for the inconvenience and we are sorry you have to go out of the way" (by  a whopping 2 feet). Probably not the inconvenience they should be apologizing for. 
~ you may sit next to someone in the first row, in first class (AKA closest to the cockpit) that starts to creep you out because they keep staring at people but they don't say a word. Not even when everyone around them is talking about the pending hurricane, delay, lack of in-flight internet service, etc. You may start telling yourself your seat partner is the freak that's going to try to take down the plane or something like that. Then you may hear him on his cell phone speaking another language and realize he does not speak English.
~ getting your rental car can be an hour+ process on a Sunday night after 9pm, who woulda thought? Between waiting for the rental car shuttle, driving to rental car building, waiting in line forever (ok, probably more like 30 minutes but it felt like forever), inspecting the car with rental car agent and finding your way the hell out of Dallas airport. Dallas needs to figure out a way to have on-sight car rentals, just sayin. 
~ you may find your sense of direction just when you're about to lose any patience that may still be lingering within you. Your cell phone will be dead, your car charger won't work and you will have to figure out how to get to the highway and then the hotel without GPS. You always thought you born with no sense of direction, but now there is a teeny, tiny glimmer of hope. You will be thankful you have a 5% charge when you get off downtown, just enough to tell you you're only .4 miles away, yippie!
~  when in Texas, you will likely pass a huge billboard with bright while letters against a black background that say "GUN SHOW- GET YOUR GUNS BEFORE THE ELECTION" and pictures of guns. Now this just made me laugh, and I wish taking a picture wouldn't have put my life at risk (I was, in fact, driving) because evidently Texans don't know Obama's lenient (much too lenient in my opinion) stance on gun control. There goes that Obama guy again, taking all your rights away. 
~ after a trip like this you will arrive to your hotel hungry, but you will have no idea if you're in a "good" or "not so good" part of town, and either way, you probably aren't going to walk around alone looking for food. will order chips & salsa with guacamole to hold you over until tomorrow. While waiting for your order you will see the "chef" squeeze the 'fresh' guacamole out of a huge plastic bag. You are now convinced the majority of restaurants do the same thing (except for the authentic Mexican places that make it right in front of you.) Those Wholly Guacamole packets have always seemed "familiar" and now you know why! 
~ driving here is horrible, we'll just leave it at that. 
~ if you tend to have a lead foot you will surely enjoy the 75 mph speed limit along a good portion of highway. However, TX and VA both seem to think it's fun to change the speed limits (what feels like) every 4 minutes. It goes kinda like 75-->65--->70--->60--->75 and so one. So unless you are really focusing on speed limit signs, you never know if you're doing the correct speed limit. Also, you may want to use cruise control, I found it handy on my 6+ hours of driving in the last day. 
~ you will find it hard to tell if downtown is safe or not. Sadly there are a lot of homeless people, and I strongly feel everyone has a story and hate to see people so down on their luck. However, you will also see several crazies yelling out loud and dumping over garbage cans. This doesn't make anyone, especially a female, very comfortable. There are not a lot of people around so it's very different from NYC or Center City, Phila. So you will spend too much time trying to decide where to go to dinner while considering how close the restaurant is to the hotel, if there's parking nearby, if it's safe to walk and if there's something on the menu you actually want. So.....
~ you will go somewhere .8 miles from the hotel, but it's not safe to walk at night, so you drive, and it takes 45 freaking minutes to get back because all of the streets are one ways and merging getting on/off main road is a nightmare in this city!!!!
~ you learn dining at the Spaghetti Warehouse one time is more than enough and will actually take Yelp's review more seriously next time. I had to go for "the experience" since it sounded fun and it's the original location.
~ 5 days in Dallas is more than enough for a lifetime. Its best assets (for me) was Dealy Plaza and Sonny Bryan's BBQ.
~ your love affair with the ALoft will probably subside after being in one with a poorly lit parking lot in an unsafe area & broken elevators and another with no hot water. In light of everything that happened this week I didn't really even care that much but I don't know how long the fun decor will keep me coming back.

~ you will appreciate the extra room in first class, but will wonder how anyone can possibly eat the "meals" they serve on-board. The smell is nauseating and they look less appetizing than a TV dinner.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I have gratitude today for...
* my hot stone massage at Breathe Salon with Lori. I usually don't like talking at all during massages but we ended up chatting during the first half quite a bit. I enjoyed the two hot stone massages but I think I like regular massage better. 
* Kelley & Steve's gorgeous wedding ceremony. It was at the Catholic church in Conshohocken so we didn't have to go far. She looked so beautiful and was radiating with happiness. I liked the priest too, although he dragged things out a little bit. I also enjoyed thinking back to our ceremony and how perfect it was for us. 
* having time in between the ceremony and reception to go home, change and take the train into Philly instead of driving. 
* a fun time at Kelley & Steve's reception (at the Marriott downtown.) The ballroom was beautiful and did not feel like a typical hotel ballroom. There was also a balcony where you could go for fresh air. A special moment for me was when they played "You Raise Me Up" (Steve & his mom danced to it.) It made me think of dancing with Dad on our wedding day. 
* introducing ourselves to some of their friends and enjoying the people at our table. We felt a little funny because we didn't know anyone (well, I know Liz & Jen but they were both in the bridal party.) 
* taking the early train home (11:30). We thought about staying until the 1am but I was really tired and knew I had to pack for tomorrow's trip to Dallas in the morning.