Apr 27, 2011

Just Another Day at the Old Job

Last Friday Ross had the biggest fire he's fought to date. And he was one of the guys with the hose and thus was responsible for putting out about a fourth of it. Even one of the veterans commented to him how well he did.

Here's one of the pics taken as part of their documentation.

GFD April 22

I'm very proud of him for doing such great work and being so good at it.


I thought this was so funny that yes, I am taking a second from work to blog about it.

Y'all Anna set up a Twitter hashtag for her wedding! Isn't that hilarious? I fully intend to use it...like during the ceremony. I'm envisioning a live Twitter feed of "Here comes the bride #benannawedding" and "Ben's on the spot! Will he say I do? #benannawedding"

Some things in life are just too funny. If you are traveling to #benannawedding this weekend, make sure you use the tag and follow it. Hehe, this weekend just got even better.

Apr 25, 2011

It's my birthday and I'm kinda a big deal

And no, I'm not really that cocky. I only say that because I wrote this little blog today about donating my birthday (the big 2-6 y'all) to the Breast Cancer Resource Center via Causes, a Facebook app for micro-giving and Causes actually picked it up and posted it on their website. And Causes is kinda a big deal so by proxy, I am also kinda a big deal. Sweet.

By the way, if you are wondering, my Birthday Wish for the BCRC has raised $336 so far. Woohoo! Thanks y'all!

PS I've been snacking at my desk while surfing the Internets and consequently, feeding Lexi little bites. She's become so spoiled that if I go too long between bites for her, she's started pawing at me as a reminder that she's here. As if the furry face and slobbery mouth weren't reminder enough.

Apr 24, 2011

Graphic V-Easter-Birthday Weekend Wrap Up

As you can see, it was a big weekend in Austin. Mom & Dad drove in Saturday to spend it with us. Here's what we did (pics to follow, Mom is emailing them to me).

  • Bark Park: Took Lexi & Sweetie up to G-town to run out some of their energy. Very good idea.
  • NxNW: The four of us went out for my birthday dinner to one of mine and Ross's favorite restaurants. The skillet grilled cornbread with goat cheese and mushrooms was outstanding. Right as we were finishing dinner the power went out. Very sad for the restaurant but really worked in our favor since they took 50% off the bill as their apology. Nicely done NxNW, nicely done.
  • Graphic V: The Breast Cancer Resource Center fundraiser at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. It was great! One of the things I thought was really funny was pre-event when I asked about the attire it was described as "trendy." I didn't really know what to expect but they were spot on, trendy was the only way to describe the bunch. Loved it. Highlights from the night include a very successful live auction with a trip to Bali going for $11,000 (we'd been hoping for $8,000) and lots of other items going higher than we expected. The models were also beautiful and the video they showed was so touching it made me cry. And my personal highlight (other than being mentioned in the program twice for writing the script, a nice surprise recognition), winning my silent auction item which will be Grandma's Mother's Day present. But I won't tell you what it is. It's too good and I'm 100% convinced that in 85 years of life, nobody has ever given her this gift before.
  • Easter: We packed up the puppies and all of us headed to Jack & Nancy's for the biggest Turner-Black-Colehower holiday on record. Lowes still hold the all-time record but this gave us a run for our money. We had 15 people, including 3 kiddos and you know, kiddos always make holidays more fun. And I really liked having a big Easter. Despite not being very religious and so in honesty, probably not appreciating the day fully for its real meaning, it is really nice to have a spring holiday. A good way to spice up the year instead of cramming all holidays into 4 weeks in fall/winter. It was also the Cheryl & Ryan birthday combo celebration complete with cake balls from Holy Cacao. I definitely ate more than my fair share.
  • Travel: Well Mom & Dad traveled to us but we're also getting ready for a little travel of our own. Anna & Ben's wedding is Saturday! So we made Lexi arrangements with Nancy and Jack (they've had her so often this month it is practically a custody arrangement) and I looked at our plane tickets to know what airline we're on and when exactly Friday we leave. Now I'm going to look into our Charleston horse-drawn carriage tour a little more. And I'll probably also start day dreaming about our August trip to Canada since while visiting this weekend, Mom pointed out that Niagara Falls is right there so we can see that too. Score! I love to travel :)

Apr 20, 2011

Hippopotamus Monologue

This morning's husband monologue

"Honey, when you are in Minneapolis today, I'm gonna need you to pick up a hippopotamus hat. A pink hippopotamus hat. (I start to say "OK but why do we need...") You might ask why we need a pink hippo hat. I'll tell you why we need a pink hippo hat. We need a pink hippo hat so when one of us gets on the other's ass about something like...say...cleaning the kitchen (insert over-the-top arm motions indicating that he is in fact, cleaning the kitchen) that they themselves do not do...they can wear the HIPPO-CRYTE hat to announce that they themselves are being a bit of a hypocrite."

My husband has never made a point more cleverly.

Apr 19, 2011


I've really dropped the ball on my book reviews but that doesn't mean I've dropped the ball on my reading.

On the flight home from Atlanta last month I finished The Deep End of the Ocean. The basis of the book is a mother takes her three kids to her high school reunion. Her best friend is holding the baby and she tells the other two (3 and 5 years old) to stay put while she checks into the hotel. After check in she walks back and the three year old is missing. The rest of the story is told from the perspectives of the mother, the father and the five year old who was told to hold his brother's hand. EXCELLENT read. I can't imagine how much more I'd be able to relate if I had kids but the author does such a good job that my heart broke at all the right times, healed at the right times and smiled at the right times.

Mid-travels on the same trip I picked up The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown while in the NOLA airport. I figured Dan Brown is usually pretty interesting, a page turner if nothing else and heck, it was only $10. Big freakin flop. Last week - as in 3 full weeks later - I finally made it to page 120-something and after struggling through another chapter just decided I was done with it. So what, I essentially lost $10. I can deal with it. No go y'all, no go.

After giving up on that book I cracked open The Help which I'd heard nothing but good things about. It's been about a week (with the birthday party in the middle so kinda a slow week reading wise) and I'm on page 80ish. I love it. Fantastic. The book is told by three women: two black housemaids and a single white woman who despite being just all of 23 is practically considered an old maid since its 1962 and white women were supposed to go to college for their Mrs. (Imagine her parents' disappointment when she came home with a BA instead, about the same way my parents would have felt if I had forgone the BA for an Mrs. and the BU debt) Their common denominator is their frustration with the status quo. Now I'm not sure yet if its going to be the way things are regarding race exclusively or if there's going to be some girl power in here too. But dang, it's so good so far. One thing I really like is that it is written with each character's dialect. That is one of my favorite writing styles. If I ever write a novel, that'd be my stylistic aspiration.

Go forth and read (just not The Lost Symbol)!

Apr 17, 2011

Blue Boy Birthday

We had Ross's birthday bash at the Blue Boy Inn this weekend and as evidence that it was a good party, I'm exhausted. I'd say we had about 20-25 people out there over the course of the day/evening. And to give you some highlights... 
Meg is really excited about how much Ross loves me

It started with boys fishing. Ross, Jon and Ryan all caught something.

We ate lots of delicious BBQ sausage and the best Omaha steaks brand hotdogs on the planet.

Meg, Ross's sister, came out and partied later than I've ever seen her party before.

Ross fell asleep fairly early and I thought it best he stay asleep. So I guarded his bedroom door for him...just to be told after 15 minutes of guarding that "Pancho's on the deck," meaning my hubby, wearing a poncho (because that's the more fun version of a jacket) had climbed out the window of our room to rejoin the party. Why he didn't go out the door which was unlocked, we're not sure.

Rick and Ryan got Ross good for his birthday...and by got him good I mean woke him up from sleeping and wrestled him to the ground.

Rick slept in Ryan's bed. Why? We don't know either. They were in a room with two double beds and Rick's girlfriend Megan was alone in one and Rick was in the other with Ryan. And they stayed this way all night. (Note: this really made me want to play "Who's in your bed?" and actually just the thought of texting that to Ryan made me laugh out loud but then I realized nobody else would get it. It except about half my blog readers, hence the inclusion.)

We all woke up this morning saying "It's been since college..."

See, all evidence of a good night. Happy birthday honey!

Apr 15, 2011

More Excellent Customer Service

I feel like people usually only talk about customer service when its bad. But in addition to this week's earlier excellent Conair service, I've had even more excellent customer service. And I am going to tell you about it because sharing good things and recommending companies is always more fun than ranting.

Netflix: A certain husband who shall remain nameless foolishly mailed my Pilates DVD to Netflix last week instead of the Tudors DVD. I was very bummed when I wanted to do Pilates after my run. However today when we checked the mail not only was our next series of the Tudors in it but Netflix also mailed back my Pilates DVD. Wow! Love it. Very pleased with Netflix. It is now high on the $8 per month well spent list.

Bank of America: BofA and I have had our differences. They once lost hundreds of dollars in Australian currency and also once lost the funds from a CD I cashed. However in both of those instances, the situation was resolved and I ultimately came out on top. But tonight, BofA gets a win that did not require a frustrating process first. Our mortgage payment had gone up for the second time. We know there will always be fluctuations with taxes and insurance but going up again to now almost $100 more than the original payment seemed like a bit much. Tonight at 9 p.m. I finally remembered to call them. First win: they were available and it only took two answer-by-touch questions to get me to a real person. Second win: she suggested two things we could change in our mortgage payment to lower it. The lovely BofA lady just saved us about $1100 a year and she did it in less than 25 minutes. I've been a BofA fan for the convenience of having an ATM on every corner and for the glorious 5% interest rate on our mortgage, but now I think I can add customer service to the list of reasons I like BofA. (Oh and their Twitter customer support is excellent. Had a couple questions/issues resolved that way. In fact, I think I'll show them a little love by tweeting this blog post.)

Have you had great customer service lately?

Apr 14, 2011

Happy 30th Hubby!

Hubby turned 30 yesterday!

Unfortunately he had to work so the birthday extravaganza did not begin until this evening. And believe it or not, when this picture was taken, he had not had anything to drink yet.

Goofing off as I try to take a picture

And the video below is from this evening too. However it is nothing unique. This is just about every night at home with Ross and Lexi. He carries her around and kisses her all the time. Clearly you can see why I am so in love with my life.

Happy birthday hubby! I'm excited to share this first milestone birthday together and look forward to many more in our perfectly wonderful normal life!

Apr 12, 2011

Big News I've Neglected to Share

In the midst of flat iron drama, I've neglected to share several items that qualify as BIG NEWS. This post won't do them justice but at least I will no longer be such a neglectful blogger.
  • Kevin is being stationed in San Diego for two years. Yay! On shore, safe and someplace we're all looking forward to visiting. Nicely done little bro.
  • Ross turns 30 tomorrow! Wowzas! Party this weekend.
  • Mom & Dad are visiting for Easter. Hurray! It also doubles as Graphic 5 weekend and my birthday weekend. Talk about three birds with one stone.
  • Lexi had her first swim over the weekend. She caved to peer pressure when while at the dog park, she was left out of the water-based fetch game.

I heart Conair

Over the weekend a very sad thing happened: my flat iron died. I plugged it in, the power light turned on but the heat never came. This is a bummer 1) because styling my hair is now a whole new challenge and 2) because I had the best yet not expensive flat iron known to man. (Thanks Jane for introducing me to it in college.)

Last night I went to THREE stores seeking a replacement flat iron. Requirements: well under $100, more like $30, with a comb and looked not-cheap. No dice y'all, no dice.

Slightly distraught I returned home and promptly went to conair.com. Did you even know that existed? Or that you could order flat irons on it? I didn't but man was I pleased.

I perused a little, looks like they discontinued the amazing flat iron I had, and found one that looked like a winner. Then at 9:30 p.m. I called customer service to learn about their return policy. As I'm dialing I'm thinking "Duh Cheryl, its 9:30 p.m. I'm sure Conair doesn't have customer service people there this late" and BAM the phone was answered by a real-live customer service lady.

Real live person! At 9:30 p.m. to offer me customer service with flat irons, obviously a very important topic in my life. And this customer service lady, she was great. We looked at flat irons together, discussed them, reviewed the warranty and return policy and then I made my purchase. It cost $31.99, includes a removable comb, is pink and will be here in 7-14 business days.

And that is why I heart Conair.

Now I am crossing my fingers that Starbucks will reply so quickly to my inquiry about my free birthday drink. (To the 'buck: all my life savings goes to you. Please don't stiff me on my free birthday drink. It totally made my month last year.)

PS Why am I blogging at 7:30 a.m.? Well because without a flat iron I wash and wear my hair curly to work each morning which requires air drying. Had to do something to give it a little more time to dry so I don't go to the office like a wet dog.

Apr 9, 2011

Last meal

Two blog posts in one day - I know, hold on to your hats y'all.

To wind down my evening I was doing a little Texas Monthly reading and there was a food feature with little sidebars about famous Texans' last meal wishes. (Fried was a common theme, as in fried chicken, fried chicken wings, chicken fried steak...why anyone would fry a steak is beyond me but alas, I digress.)

As a person who loves food (seriously, YUM) it got me thinking about my last meal. I think mine would be as follows

  • Lobster bisque
  • Brenda & Mike's ceasar salad
  • Guacamole and Chuy's jalapeno dip (with chips of course and don't ask what kind. "Chips" as a stand alone always refers to tortilla chips, duh.)
  • Salmon stuffed with shrimp, crab and lobster (I really dig crustaceans; perhaps I should become a crustaceanian)
  • Some kinda mushroom and artichoke side dish
  • Filet Mignon
  • Asparagus
  • Pumpkin bread
  • Cheesecake Factory chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake
  • Chardonnay
  • Mexican Martini
That's a big meal. And I can't say it all goes together. Who mixes guacamole and pumpkin bread? It's like Thanksgiving and Cinco de Mayo had a baby.

But I really like food and all those items sound DELICIOUS. It might take me three hours to eat but if it were my last meal, I'd like to give it my best shot.

What would your last meal consist of?

My hubby is fantastic

My hubby is fantastic. Earlier this week he suggested we have a little dinner date night before going to my boss' surprise 30th birthday party last night. Excellent, sounds like a plan I said.

When I got home from work yesterday I asked what the plan was for date night. Holy cow did this man have a plan!

First we went to dinner at a little German place here in Pville we'd been looking to try. (My meal was OK, his was delicious. Next time I'm ordering the sausage.)

Then we went to a new bar that replaced one of our old standbys for a quick drink before heading out to the main event: Capital City Comedy Club.

I've not been to many comedy shows - I think this makes number 3 or 4 - so I was really excited. Something different and fun to do! And the show was great. From the opening act to the headliner, it was really funny. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing during the headliner. My favorite part was when he was describing a voicemail from his five year old nephew. Obviously I can't do it justice but what's not funny about a voicemail from a five year old?

And then when the comedy show ended, we were conveniently just a couple miles from the surprise party so we headed over there to make our appearance. Ross met my coworkers, who all commented on how good looking he is (duh) and we had a couple drinks. It was lovely!

Such a great date night! Yay date night! Way to go hubby!

And here in a few minutes we're heading out to the dog park with Lexi and to grab sandwiches for lunch. I love dog park adventures and am so excited he suggested we take one today.

After the puppy dog adventure, Fantastic Hubby is going to drop me off at Brittany's new apartment for an afternoon of girl pool time. And then Britt, Kendra and I will head downtown for a wine tasting class, then they'll drop me off at the mall to pick up my engagement ring (loose stone, I've been engagement ring-less for about week, very sad) and hubby will pick me up and we'll have dinner with his folks.

Such a wonderful perfect weekend at home!

Apr 7, 2011

Watch out! Political rant on the horizon

For the past few nights, the news has been saturated with stories about the pending government shut down. I'm going to venture out on a limb and say most of us do not want the government to shut down. Besides the services we'd lose and the people who wouldn't be getting paid, it can't look good to the international community. All around a bad idea.

My first thought is to do an all around budget cut. Using teeny tiny numbers for an example if our expenses are $100 and we only have $98, then just cut 2% of everything. Done.

But maybe that wouldn't work. Maybe there is a segment or two of our government that just cannot have 2% of its budget cut. (I kinda don't really believe this but I suppose it could be the case.)

So let's cut 2% of everything that is nonessential. But now you have the can of worms about what is essential v. nonessential. I have some ideas of what those nonessential items are (as in 99% of the budget) but I won't go into that here.

What I'm saying is I don't really have a solution, not one that is truly actionable for Congress at least.

What I do have is one serious objection.

Paying yourself (Congress, Mr. President) while you figure it out, or in this case fail to figure it out, but not paying the other federal employees who are doing their jobs just fine, is not OK. Most especially it is not OK to withhold pay from military personnel.

I know and agree that Congress and the Pres have big important jobs. I have no objections to their annual salaries (really, I honestly do not). But come on! Military personnel who are in danger are expected to keep being in danger for zero compensation? Meanwhile their families back home are putting the mortgage on a credit card while Mr. Fancy Pants Congressman figures out the budget?

In what world does the guy failing at his job get paid while the guy doing his job get to work unpaid?

I doubt there will be much of it but I whole-heartedly hope that Congressmen and the President will either not accept their salaries during a government shut down or will prompt donate the whole darn check to charity.

Or maybe they'll just figure out the budget in time to not have a government shut down. I sure hope so because the alternative, specifically the who will get paid and who will not, is a travesty.

Apr 6, 2011

An Email From Val

Today I got an email from Val that sent me over the moon. Over the moon I tell you!

She emailed me about my plans for the weekend of Anna's wedding. She emailed me about that because it is getting so darn close that it is time to make plans for a weekend of fun together.


I knew Anna's wedding was soon but it wasn't until I got Val's email that I realized just how soon. 24 days soon to be exact. I am going to see all the deltas in 24 days!

I promptly started dancing in my chair at work and squealing in excitment to my coworkers as I tried to explain why I was dancing with excitement. Yay yay yay!

Pictures we get to recreate with an Anna twist this month

Amandas Wedding


Apr 4, 2011

Birthday Wish!

As you may be know, this spring I started volunteering with the Breast Cancer Resource Center here in Austin. I first heard of them through a volunteer committee member/friend who also served on their board. I'm so glad she told me about the organization.

The BCRC does many things but most prominently it helps women battling breast cancer sort through everything (that's probably way over simplifying). When my Grandma was going through her treatment, my aunt became her personal secretary/nurse and had a whole team of aunt and uncles behind her. My aunt went with her to doctor's appointments, took notes, called back for more information and led the care-taking charge after Grandma's masectomy. My family was very lucky that my aunt didn't need to work and could assume the full time role of caretaker and let Grandma focus on one thing and one thing only: getting healthy. But not every family has that opportunity available to them and even if they do, an expert who knows the ropes would be very helpful. And that's what the BCRC does. They provide the educational resources, support system, guidance and a whole lot more so that the woman only has to do one thing, GET HEALTHY.

This month is their big fundraiser, GRAPHIC V. While I have to be honest, I don't really know the story behind why the event is called "GRAPHIC" I can tell you it's a cool event. The evening revolves around an art bra fashion show in which all the models are survivors. The models/survivors are part of the event committee and support group known as the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls. The group is especially for young women battling and beating breast cancer. But, I digress.

So for GRAPHIC I am writing the event script. Yup, going back to my roots of nonprofit communications. I've been working on it off and on for about a week now. Every time I open that Word doc I have the exact same experience: moved to the verge of tears. The story that made me tear up the most came from a mom. The BCRC had given her and her two kids pillows while she was going through treatment. Her kids took them everywhere because hugging one of those pillow was just like hugging mom.

And that's why this month for my birthday I have set up a Causes Wish to raise $500 for the Breast Cancer Resource Center. I'm 2% of the way there and I hope you'll consider making a donation to support all the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls, young in body or like my Grandma, young at heart.

I think she's got a little cowgirl in her

Apr 3, 2011

Opening Weekend!

Sox fans gotta stick together
Baseball opening weekend! Woohoo! The dreary weeks after football but before baseball are officially over. We are back in season for a sport we care about and love. Hurray!

Only so many times in life is your team opening against your hubby's team on a weekend where you are free to travel to one of the games. This was one of those times.

Yesterday we piled with Erin and Jon into my car and started the trek north on I-35 to DFW for opening weekend. Many points from the weekend.

First, wow. Perfect weather for baseball. Warm but not sticky. Perfect.

Second, Rangers Ballpark at Arlington is a really nice park. Ross had never been (I went once) and we really liked being at a nice, clean park that was jammed packed with thousands of rowdy fans. Awesome.

 Third, we had two MLB virgins with us. Neither Patty nor Ryan had ever been to an MLB game. I'm willing to cut them a little slack since they both grew up in San Antonio which doesn't have a team and I know at least Ryan isn't a huge baseball person. (Frankly I'm not even sure how well versed he is on the rules.)

Fourth...well we won't talk about the score. Suffice it to say, Ross had a fantastic time.

Fifth, our seats were great. First baseline. Nice.

Sixth, well it was just a really fun adventure to DFW. I'm so glad we splurged and took this little mini vacation with our friends!
For the "Ross & Cheryl See the World" album. Ryan decided to make a guest appearance.

PS I got a kick out of Jess' blog post about how she just is not into baseball and opening day. I must say, I feel the exact opposite of her. I LOVE IT!