Friday, May 28, 2010

Update: this week

It's been a good week. Biggest accomplishment? Not eating out. AT ALL. It's like a record for us. Now let's see if I can make it through this weekend at work - I always face intense pressure on Sundays to eat out with the rest of the girls :) Most of the time I give in. Hopefully I can be strong this week...

We're trying really hard to not spend money - it's been a little tight recently, because of our vacation and me not feeling well right afterwards and having to leave work early a couple Sundays ago. I love my Baylor schedule, but the only part that really sucks is no paid time off, including sick time. So ... because of all that, we're trying to pinch pennies.

I've cooked some yummy meals this week, including a cobb salad, a new curry dish I tried (and I've figured out some things to try next time to make it even better!), and tonight we had my mom's standard, spaghetti :) It's her own recipe, and not much makes me happier than that.

Otherwise, I've gotten somewhat caught up with the massive amounts of scrapbooking I have to do, as well as the massive amounts of laundry that are currently littering my bedroom floor. I talked to my mom for a good while on the phone today and found out all the happenings at their house lately. I'm planning a fun week when my sister comes to visit (10 days!) And I've gotten to relax and goof off and spend some quality time with the hubby.

I think I'll take that. And I just realized - I have an extra day of work on Tuesday :) Which means more money in the bank ... and that's definitely a good thing!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I guess you can't have everything...

I have such a love/hate relationship with my weekend schedule. (Well ... mostly love. I'd say 85% love/15% hate...) Today, I'm feeling both. In Nashville next weekend, there is a wonderful event called UglyProm that one of my friends has organized - and because it's a Saturday, I can't go. And now that Elissa's working during the week rather than weekends, she does get to go, and I don't get to see her as much either. It's a very, very sad thing. (I hope hope hope that Mark can find a job in Nashville we he graduates!!!)

But, what makes me happy about working weekends is my five days off in the middle. It's Thursday. Which means I still have an entire 2 days off before working for just 2, and 5 off again. It's nice. I have lots and lots of wiggle room for goofing off, and still having time to get things done during the week.

This week, my productivity has centered around catching up with my scrapbooking. (Oh, if I only felt as ardently about mopping floors as I do about this! My house would be spotless!) I'm making some pretty decent progress - Christmas is finished (FINALLY), I'm through with New Years' when Kelly came to visit, and I'm nearly done with our Gatlinburg trip. After that will be birthdays! (And visits to Nashville) - always a fun thing to scrapbook :)

Fact: my bottom lip ALWAYS gets chapped when I scrapbook for any decent amount of time. I tend to chew on it constantly anytime I'm doing anything crafty or artsy. Nervous habit?

Do you guys like to scrapbook? And what nervous habits do you have?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I love you when you dance...

"...I love you when you dance,
when you freestyle in trance,
So pure, such an expression"
Alanis Morissette, "So Pure"

Watching DWTS this season has made me really, really miss dancing. I know I've mentioned on here once or twice that Mark and I were in a swing dancing group in college - but I decided to actually do a post on my dancing days, and how much I absolutely love to dance.

If you've never done it before, you don't know what you're missing out on. There's not much in this world that I find more thrilling and exhilirating than letting my hair down and just swinging and kicking and spinning to some really really awesome Big Band music. My favorite thing to swing dance to is the real thing - Count Basie, Benny Goodman, stuff from the late 30's to early 40's. That's really one of my only qualms with DWTS ... the music leaves a lot to be desired. I know they're trying to reach a mainstream audience and all that, but still...

Anyway, off my soapbox. I started dancing my freshman year of college ... the first Swing Kids I attended was the second anniversary of 9/11, which was I think the third week of school. (Not that I'm remembering all this that specifically ... I had a little help from my journal back then....) It rocked my world. I DO remember that feeling - the feeling of never, ever, ever wanting to leave. Swing Kids became my ultimate college experience pretty quickly - when I went to college, I wanted to do New, Wonderful things, things I'd Never Done Before, things that were Out of My Comfort Zone. And, being the gawky, nerdy, awkward, shy person I was - dancing with a bunch of perfect strangers seemed like the perfect fit for me :) Before long, I was absolutely hooked. And not long after that I realized something - I was pretty darn good at this dancing thing.

I credit my Swing Kids days with a lot of things. It allowed me to see that I am, in fact, good at things other than being smart. It allowed me to meet some really awesome people. It allowed me to learn a little bit about boys (let's be honest - it's REALLY easy to develop a crush on somebody when they're a really good dancer, and they like to dance with you...). I fell in really deep like with a guy named David (like, the second I saw him. It was kind of pathetic, really.) And I think part of my heart was starting to fall in love with Mark when I was teaching him how to dance. It was an amazing part of my life. Very emotional. I have some really, really strong memories tied to the songs that we danced to - mostly good, but some not-so-great. And I wouldn't change any of it.

Without further ado ... pictures! (My sincere apologies about the awful quality and the cropped nature of them - they're from my old scrapbooks, back before I had a digital camera, and I had to scan them in.)

Jan Term, freshman year - at my house. Mark and I are showing off in the living room :)

After the Step Sing Exhibition (lovingly dubbed Step Swing by the Swing Kids) - not the best costumes ever (note my monkey arms hanging out of the too-short sleeves), and Amy Beth was dropped the last night of our performance ... but we still had a pretty good time :)

This is David. My uber-crush from freshman year. Dancing with me, on the quad, at spring fling, in front of people. I nearly had an out-of-body experience.

One of the finest moments of my freshman year :)

But as fun as David is to dance with ... this guy is my forever favorite dance partner :) This was before we were dating, when I was teaching him how to dance. It was my favorite night of the week :)

My last picture with David before he graduated

Fall break of our sophomore year - after lots of whining and being not-very-nice (which I'm still ashamed of), I convinced everybody to go to a ballroom dancing club in Chattanooga. Aside from the electric slide, Mark and I were the only ones dancing. (Why should that have surprised me?) It was not a good night - but the dancing was still awesome.

That was one of my favorite dresses to dance in - the skirt was swirly, and the fabric was stretchy and cool. And those shoes I'm wearing - just plain Nine West pumps - were my "official" dancing shoes. You can still see the slants on the rubber part of the heels from floor spins and wearing from my backsteps :)

Mark, at swing one night. I had SUCH a crush on him!!

This was my favorite night of swing dancing that I can remember. Mark bought that pink suit from the thrift store specifically for the occasion - we stayed until somewhere around 1am, and he was silly and laughing and perfect.

I wish the quality of this picture was better. It is my favorite picture of Mark that exists to this day. Ever. I mean, honestly - he's wearing pink pants, he's carrying an umbrella, his sleeves are rolled up (I have a thing with forearms...) and he is completely, ridiculously, indescribably happy. This is who I fell in love with, right here.

Before step sing sophomore year - dancing for my parents in the dorm lobby

And fast-forward to December of '06, our senior year. We'd just gotten engaged, and are at the Christmas Ballroom Dance in Florence, AL with Elissa and her friends and family. I'm teaching the boys how to foxtrot, I think. (Or the basic swing step?)

Check out that frame, man :)

Oh, I do miss it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 5: Day at Sea, and Day 6: Heading home

Sadly, this post brings me to the end of our vacation (which I desperately want to pack up and go back to!). This post will be considerably shorter, as all we did the last day of our cruise (LITERALLY) was eat and sleep and read. We got up for breakfast, ate, and came back to take a nap/watch tv. Then we dragged ourselves to the main dining room for lunch. After lunch, we went back to the room again - I read a book, Mark napped. We watched some tv. Then we showered and got ready for our last dinner with our cruise friends. :(

Our group picture: Me and Mark on the left, Steve and Meredith in the middle, and Adrian and Chantel on the right. They were really awesome table-mates, and made that part of the cruise so much fun!

Our table with our servers, Warren and Marvin

Me and the hubby at our last dinner on the cruise :(

After dinner, we rushed back to the room to pack before the shows. We found this - my favorite towel animal! What a cute little stingray :)

That night, our whole table met up for the last big show on the ship - and sadly, it left something to be desired. The first show was pretty good, I thought, showcasing different music and dance styles from different decades. This one was something about Paris, and was just ... weird, in parts. The dancing was still good ... just ... weird.

So then, Steve and Meredith and Mark and I all headed over to the lounge to watch the comedy show - it was, again, alright. At least we were able to find a seat. After that, we headed back to the room, finished some last minute packing, and sadly went to bed.

The next morning came pretty early, and we weren't very excited about leaving. We headed up to the deck to grab a bite to eat and take a few last pictures on deck in the Port of Miami.

We had SUCH a great vacation.

And we were SO sad to leave!!

From there, we went through customs, got a taxi back to the airport, and flew into Atlanta. We stayed in Griffin one more day, and then came home.

We had SUCH a great time, and I would totally cruise again :)

(Now I just need to get all these pictures printed and see if I can scrapbook them - I am SO far behind! That is my project for this summer - catch up on scrapbooking. I'm just finishing up Christmas, so I'm about 5 months behind - and I need to re-do all of my college scrapbooks in acid-free books so the pictures won't be ruined. So much to do!)

Hope everybody's having a great week so far!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day 4: Grand Cayman Island

I've had an eventful 3 days, and am sorry about not posting but you all should be used to my lack of weekend posting ... I just don't have the energy when I get home from work.) Also, last night's LOST finale - OMG! I couldn't decide last night whether I liked it or not. This morning, after sleeping on it and thinking about it more, I like it a bit better. Still have a sort-of love/hate relationship with the whole show, because I'm a closure person, and there isn't much of that. Ever.

Anyway, onto the fun stuff!

On Tuesday, morning dawned early, and I went up on deck to watch the sunrise. Mornings are my favorite time always, mainly because it's so quiet. Mornings for me are quiet like nights can never be - nighttime is either EXHAUSTION or has a quiet sense of thrill and adventure for me. Mornings are calm. I am centered. It's something about the newness of the day, the potential that day has, how un-crowded mornings tend to be...

Anyway, the sunrise was gorgeous. I took pictures while my hubby was back in our cabin, fast asleep.

After my calm, beautiful morning, I headed back to the cabin, got Mark up and dressed, grabbed breakfast in the Sun and Sea restaurant (the big buffet), and headed down to board our tender. There isn't a big dock in Grand Cayman, so we "docked" in the ocean and took tenders to shore.

Once we got there, we had a while to wait for our snorkeling excursion - we had booked a spot at Stingray City, and were planning to swim and snorkel for about 3 hours that day.

Hanging out in the shade, waiting (we got into a mini-argument about dental work and doctors.)

So, we went to the Captain Marvin ticket booth, and much to our dismay, our excursion had been canceled due to rough waters. So sad! We ended up booking a bus tour instead, and a snorkeling excursion that was right off shore, where the water wasn't so rough.

Our first stop on the bus tour - a really pretty dock off what I think was part of the 7-mile beach - ladies were selling jewelry, and it was a gorgeous place to take pictures :)

If I thought the water was blue in Jamaica, this was PERFECT. I have never been to a place more beautiful in my life. It was amazing.

So then we went to Hell, the tourist trap on the island. Basically it's a limestone rock formation (pretty cool, I thought) where they built a post office where you can send postcards "From Hell" and buy all sorts of expensive souvenirs (less cool, I thought.) It was pretty corny and hokey, and we weren't as excited about it as the rest of the places we went.

Next on our stop was a shop selling Tortuga rum cakes and rum. We went in and fought the mob to get samples. I had a taste of pineapple rum cake (yummy!) and mango rum, which about knocked me over. I'm not one to take my alcohol straight, and it was some STRONG stuff.

Out back was another really beautiful rock formation where everybody was climbing and playing and taking pictures.

Honestly, the pictures do not do this place justice. It's one of those things you have to see for yourself - it just can't translate as well on film (or digital, in our case)

Our last stop on the bus tour was what I was most excited about: the Turtle Farm! It was basically a place where they brought sea turtles from the wild, bred them, and let them back out to sea. They were AMAZING.

My favorite part: getting to hold a 6-month-old baby sea turtle. They had the itty bitty ones swimming around too, but we didn't get to hold them.


They're so funny - when you hold them, their little flippers go CRAZY, and to get them to calm down, you rub their necks. When you stop rubbing, they start flapping. It's hilarious.

Seriously, is that not the cutest thing you've ever seen?

So after our bus tour was over, we headed back to Captain Marvin's for our snorkeling adventure. I was starting to get nervous.
Now, keep in mind that I am not a strong swimmer. I don't like to have my face in the water. I get freaked out when I have to hold my breath. I don't like water in my ears, or nose, or any other orifice for that matter. But, I figured, how many times am I going to get to snorkel in the Caribbean? Not many. So I sucked it up and told Mark that I did want to go snorkeling (plus, I knew he'd be a bit disappointed if we didn't get to go.)

So we got on the boat, and my heart starts racing. What if we don't get life vests? What if the current is strong? What if I hate it? What if I DROWN???

Shaking, I put on my flippers and try to figure out my mask and snorkel, and thank God they did have life jackets if you wanted one, so I got all my gear together and slipped into the water. After getting a mouthful of salt water and figuring out how to breathe through the thing (and that breathing through your nose does NOT work out), I put my face in - and nearly died of happiness.

Me, snorkeling...

I felt like I was in another world. I felt like something out of the Little Mermaid. I could move through the water really well with my flippers, and other than the few times when I tried to turn my head to look at Mark and my snorkel went underwater, I could BREATHE! And I could see, and open my eyes, and it was beautiful. I LOVED IT.

Mark, in his snorkel gear. The mask is totally squishing his face. He was SO great, and the first time we went in, he wore a life vest too (even though he's a really strong swimmer), to make me feel better :)

The underwater paradise

If you look in the middle of the picture, that dark blue blob is a school of fish. They really do swim around in schools together!

The underwater camera was a lot better than I was expecting, but it didn't quite register color as well as I had hoped. There was so much COLOR on this little piece of reef :)

Me in my snorkel gear, looking dorky, but feeling amazing.

I'm so glad I got to experience this for the first time with Mark :)

Our snorkel tour actually had two stops - the first at the coral reef, and the second at a shipwreck right off the coast. Whether it was an actual shipwreck or not, I don't know, but it looked awfully cool - I felt like I was on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean!

The little stripe-y fish were so friendly! They would swim right up to you, and try to nibble on you

This second stop, Mark didn't use his life jacket. I really wish I had taken mine off too, at some point, because the salt water was so buoyant, and with my flippers I could actually swim better than normal. (Plus, the snorkel helped with the breathing part...)

There were some people snuba diving where we were as well

I'm not sure why this one is sideways, but Mark took it from the boat that we were on.

That day was so busy, we didn't even have time to eat lunch! Right after our snorkel session, we headed straight back to get in line for the tenders.

Headed back to our ship :)

The Carnival Destiny, from our tender

The first thing I wanted to do was take a shower - salt water is so sticky!! So we got all pretty, took a nap, and then went to dinner :)

Our waiters danced to Apple Bottom Jeans that night - it was hilarious :)

We went to a comedy show that night with our friends from dinner (it was alright - left a lot of laughter to be desired, unfortunately) and then headed back to our room, for bed.

our obligatory towel animal picture!

This was probably my favorite day of our vacation. We had SO much fun - I would love to go to one of the resorts on Grand Cayman and stay there for a whole week sometime :)