Night Out On The Town VIP Style

Wine Tasting In The City

It's Sunday night and we have just spent a nice evening together watching football and making pizza which rivaled any that I've ever had in a restaurant. I turn around and see him sleeping peacefully on the bed behind me and I can hardly believe that he is here. When he wraps his strong warm arms around me I close my eyes and sigh thinking that it just doesn't get much better then this. This is what I've been missing all of these months. This is what I needed to help put myself back together again. He's been home for exactly one week and I have truly enjoyed each and every day.

Last night the limo came to pick us up at 5 pm on the dot. I knew that it was coming because I have been planning this for quite a while but he didn't realize it until the limo driver called to tell me he had arrived. We climbed into our black chariot for the night and immediately popped open the bottle of wine chilling in the fully stocked limousine bar. Off we went. Where to, only I and the limo driver knew!

First stop was wine tasting in the city at a very quaint and homey Wine and Culinary Arts Center downtown. We each had 3 tastes of wine lined up in front of us along with a meat and cheese platter. We took our time sampling the the various cheeses and wines. My favorite was the white but Mj liked one of the reds. When we were ready to go we called our driver. I like the way that sounds!! And we were off to dinner at another location carefully selected by me. I considered numerous restaurants for our dinner. I checked out menus online. I read reviews-which hardly ever helps because there are always conflicting ones. I had chosen a place downtown but he had just went out there the night before so I wanted us to go somewhere different. A co worker had given me a pack of cards with restaurant coupons and I looked through the stack one more time just hours before we left and decided that one of those looked perfect.

I was immediately pleased when we walked into the cozy restaurant which was a cross between a swanky downtown lounge and a sports bar. We were seated right away at a white leather booth by the window facing about 3 flat screen TV's. Mj immediately found a crab cake appetizer and a seafood pasta dish he liked and it didn't take me long to settle on a cheeseburger and fries-calories be damned. The combination of feeling like a VIP seeing as how I have a driver and all, being deliriously happy to be out with my man, and being more then half way to buzzed apparently went straight to my head. Despite the fact that I can't remember the last time I ordered a burger or fries in a restaurant I knew right away that it's exactly what I needed to really live it up. We both enjoyed our meal but there were doggy bags for both of us on the way out. Oh, and did I mention dessert? Only my favorite chocolate molten lava cake with vanilla ice cream. I'd gone off to the ladies room and came back to find out that Mj knew just what to order. We each grabbed a spoon and dug in. It couldn't have been a more perfect meal. Go me for picking what turned out to be the perfect restaurant.

To cap off the night I had the driver take us to the beach which was about 15 minutes from the restaurant. We held hands as we walked along the sidewalk over looking the water and watched the white waves stand out against the black night as they crashed against the dark shadowy rocks that we could barely make out. The otters on the beach looked more like clumps of seaweed against the sand until Mj pointed out to me one that was moving. Inching it's way slowly across the sand as all of the others slept. I wondered if that one had insomnia! We have been there twice for daytime picnics but it was something different to be there at night.

We made our way back to the limo and enjoyed a mixed drink on the ride back home. Mj is such an amazing guy and he is so good to me. He told me what a great time he had and that I did a great job of planning our night out and that is exactly what I was hoping for. I really wanted to wine and dine him as he has so often done for me. I've been agonizing over money lately, but once we were on our way out that night none of that mattered to me. I was so glad to be there with him and I just wanted us to have a good time. It made me happy that I could do something special for him and for us. We have waited a long time to be together and it's been one year since we decided that we wanted to be together forever. This was a great way to celebrate. Cheers to us....and to more fun times ahead of us.

I am Thankful

I may not always have everything I want but I certainly have the things that I need and this is what I am thankful for:
  • My wonderful friends and family.
  • My fiance is home, and just in time for the holidays.
  • I have a stable job with benefits, especially at a time when so many don't.
  • I am healthy.
  • I have some great things to look forward to next year.
I have been so extremely stressed out lately and it's so easy to loose sight of what is important at times like that. Now that Mj is here I am feeling better already. When I am alone I tend to over think everything and for me that is not such a good thing.

It was not only Thanksgiving but our 1 year anniversary. One year ago today we decided to spend the rest of our lives together. He got me the most beautiful diamond earrings and a really sweet card. I told him he had a $50 limit but did he listen? Nope!! We haven't really been doing a whole lot but have been just enjoying spending time together. I have a super special night on the town planned for Saturday that he knows absolutely nothing about. It'll be a nice surprise and my gift to him for just being such a great guy and to celebrate his homecoming.

We spent thanksgiving at my parent's house which is just a 45 minute drive away. We walked in the door just as my dad was opening it and were greeted by my mom shortly thereafter. She had a bunch of pre dinner snacks nicely displayed on a side table. We were starving of course so we started snacking and watching football while my mom finished up dinner. My aunt and uncle came over and it was time to dig in. I got a little bit of everything I wanted and didn't pay too much attention to every bite which was nice. I just enjoyed it. After I helped my mom clean up the kitchen we watched a movie with my parents. They were snuggled up together on the recliner while Mj and I snuggled up on the couch. My parents just celebrated their 36 year anniversary themselves and I hope that Mj and I are still as in love as they 3 decades from now.

It was a nice yet simple and relaxing thanksgiving. I really just wanted us all to enjoy the day and each other. I am very thankful because that's exactly what we did.

He's Finally Coming Home

I will be going to pick Mj up from the airport tomorrow and I still don't really believe that he is coming home. This time last year he was working non stop and gone for most of December getting ready for his deployment. We got engaged, had Thanksgiving, Christmas and then he was gone. It's been such a long time coming but almost a year later he is finally coming home for good. I am so excited that we are finally going to get to actually be together. I have missed him so much. It's been way too long.

Four years nine months of living alone and eleven months without my fiance is coming to an end. Tomorrow his arms will be around me again and I already know it's been well worth the wait.
No more care packages, cyber dates, or frustrating lunch break phone conversations. No more wishing he were here. Instead of watching him sleep inside my computer he will be sleeping right beside me. I'll have a hand to hold, lips to kiss, and a wonderful man to share my life with. I've been kind of a mess for about the last month and am hoping that just being with Mj again is going to help to ease my restless anxious mind.
This day has flown by. I've kept myself occupied by hanging out with a friend and doing a few errands. I have made it this long; I can make it one more day. It's only 8:30 on a Saturday night but I just want to go to bed now so that tomorrow will come that much sooner.

America's Next Top Model Cycle 13 Petites: Nicole vs Laura

Nicole & Laura at the Final Runway Show

This was the first cycle ever dedicated to petite models 5'7" and under only. I thought it was great to see having always been a "short" model myself. I think it proves that you don't have to be 5'10" to look amazing in a high fashion photo. The fashion industry is stubborn so I don't see the industry standards changing any time soon but it's a start. You don't even have to win America's Next Top Model to become a successful working model. Tyra Banks has gotten so many models discovered and working who might otherwise have gotten lost in the shuffle. Her show has been a great innovator in terms of pushing the industry towards acceptance of different looks, plus size and now she is doing it again with petites.

The stakes were really high this season. There are always tears in the initial episode where the group that actually competes to be the top model is decided but this time it was even more devastating for these girls. Short models face an uphill battle and for many of them this was their one shot to ever have a chance of making it.

Nicole's transformation from beginning to end was nothing short of incredible. In the early episodes she talked like a stoner and had the personality of a rock. Her monotone voice showed even less expression then her face and she was so socially awkward. The lights were on but nobody was home. Compare that to the final episode where she is bubbly, laughing, confident, and full of smiles as she challenges for the top spot in the final runway show. She seems like a totally different person. She takes beautiful photos and once she came out of her shell there was no stopping her. Being on the show not only turned her into a model but a well adjusted woman with confidence that simply wasn't there before.

Laura is a sweetheart. She's your down home small town girl with dreams and a heart of gold. She truly is just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside and that is such a rare and special quality. Her personal style was just about the worst ever seen in Top Model history but her personality was so charming and endearing that she made it to the final two anyways. It was amazing to watch her overcome her dyslexia and deliver such a likable Cover Girl commercial. Her commercial from last week's episode was horrible but she totally turned it around surprising everyone.

Neither one are exceptional on the runway and being 5'7" that probably doesn't matter so much anyways. They did a good job in the final runway show but I couldn't see either one in fashion week and not because they are petite. It would have been nice if the first petite top model winner was also amazing on the runway so she could challenge in that area as well. Looking at their photos from all prior shoots in panel it was clear to me that Nicole took better pictures and has greater range then Laura because of her high fashion edge. She is just a natural model with a fierceness in her eyes and carriage of her body that stands out in photos.

Although, I do think that Nicole is the better model based upon photos and range Laura was my sentimental favorite to win the whole thing. Also beautiful, Laura has this Polyanna like happiness and innocence about her that I envy. Nicole has the red hair but Laura is the Annie who believes that the sun will come out tomorrow. In her own words she is poor, from a small town, and has been told she is stupid yet has gone farther then anyone ever expected her to. It's a great story and it was so sad to watch her burst into tears as Nicole was announced the winner.

What a life changing and wonderful opportunity. Both girls are so lucky and fortunate to have this chance and I think they will both be very successful in their careers.

I have watched every single episode of every single cycle of America's Next Top model and Cycle 13 was no exception. I never grow tired of watching dreams come true and that is exactly what happens on this show. Reality TV has a bad rap for a lot of really good reasons. Some shows on the air are absolutely ridiculous. There are some really bad shows out there that I watch anyways but shows like this are different. Who can really trash talk a show that gives people a chance to have their dream? To me, this is the upside and the true potential of reality TV from American Idol to Project Runway or Top Chef. Sometimes people just need a chance and these shows give it to them.

Just Say Yes

I stumbled upon Yes Man on Cinemax this morning. Due to an error with Blockbuster online I ended up with zero movies for my long 3 day weekend. I look forward to having a movie to watch on weekends I stay in alone and so I'd been channel surfing trying to find something good to watch that I haven't already seen. Although, not a first round draft pick it turned out that I had really missed out because this movie was good and funny. It had a great message and it came at a time when I needed to hear it.

Zooey Deschanel's character Allison makes a comment that "life is a playground but as we grow up we forget about that along the way." Well, true but there is a reason for that. Children don't have responsibilities so life is essentially their playground. As we grow up we no longer have that luxury. We don't so much as forget we just have no choice but to grow up. Life can't be a playground when there is work, bills, and other such annoying distractions to take us away from the things we really want to do. It was never explained how Allison pays her bills by teaching a running photography class and playing in a band called Munchhausen By Proxy.

Jim Carrey's character Carl has a bank job where he's been for years without promotion. We know how he pays his bills but we also know he isn't happy. A devastating break up had caused him to sort of check out of life. He avoided friends and frequents the movie rental store so he can go home and watch movies alone instead of getting out and living life. Well, he went to a seminar and started saying yes to things he normally wouldn't and suddenly a whole new world opens up for him. One that he'd been hiding from. He meets a fun, offbeat woman (Allison) who he would have never dated at a band performance he would have never gone to. He learns to speak a new language, takes up flying lessons, and starts volunteering at homeless shelters just because. Each yes led him down a path he wouldn't have normally been on but which ultimately landed him a promotion, the ability to get over his ex, a new girlfriend, and a reconnection with friends who he had shut out. He got his life back.

I am definitely guilty of coming from a place of no. No, I can't go out downtown because the drinks are expensive and I don't want to pay for parking. No, I can't get together that night because it's a work night and I have to get home so I can get to bed. No, I can't eat that incredibly delicious looking dessert because if I go over a certain amount of calories then the world will end. Ha!! A lot of times it's simply because I am so caught up in my daily routine and feel so trapped by my limitations that I won't let myself venture out. I mean, what is the worse that could happen really? What might I be missing out on that I don't even know about?

I've been guilty of shutting the world out in the past. Choosing instead to isolate myself because it felt easier then venturing out and facing things and people that I didn't feel equipped or even willing to handle. Thankfully, my mind set has improved and along with it so have I, however there are times when I find myself slipping back and sticking to routine just because it's safe. Ultimately, I can only do what I can do. I can't quit my job in favor of traveling across Europe just because it's something I've always wanted to do but even if it's just being more open minded, less fearful and more positive that's a step in the right direction.

The Time Change Agrees With Me

It's only been a full week since the time change and I have noticed a change in my sleep patterns already. I don't know for certain that it's because of the time change but it literally just started this week so I suspect it just might have something to do with it. And I am so glad! I have been getting to sleep in a timely manner AND waking up feeling rested. Instead of darkness I wake to sunshine seeping through the slats in my mini blinds. Instead of not sleeping at all or waking up hours before my alarm and feeling totally wrecked I am waking up at or just a little before my alarm and feeling like a person that actually got some sleep. I am still taking the sleeping pills. There is a good chance that I no longer need them but I am afraid to go without. I am enjoying this whole getting a good night's sleep thing way too much to risk it.

In other news....Mj comes home NEXT WEEK!! We will be in the same time zone by Sunday and in the same zip code by Thursday or Friday at the latest. It really snuck up on me because it literally wasn't until this week that I knew this for sure. As a coping mechanism I have learned to not really think about it too much when all I have is a general timeframe that can get changed at any moment by the powers that be. Somehow not really conceptualizing it allows me to long for it a little less which is helpful now because he's been gone for so darn long. At the beginning the end was all I thought about but eventually my aching heart got worn out. It already felt like there was no end in sight and not ever really knowing the date didn't help. So, not thinking about that actual end has kept me in the here and now which is where I needed to be to cope.

There are so many emotions coming at me all at the same time. We have been away from each other more then we have been together during our relationship seeing as how we had 8 months together before he left and he's been gone for about 11. This is our first time living together and actually getting to really BE together. It's almost surreal that he is actually going to come home and he won't be leaving again. No more way too short weekends together or missing him like crazy for months on end. I have so much faith in our love and our relationship that I doubt anything can shake it but I can't help but feel a little nervous. I've been waiting and dreaming about my future with this man and next week it will finally be real.

They Think She's Chunky?

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders "Making The Team Season 4" on the CMT channel
photo credit

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are for the most part gorgeous. There is no pretense about the fact that in order to be on the team you have to look good. Sure, they are talented dancers but NFL cheerleader's are also meant to be eye candy. Your appearance counts equally as much as your actual dancing ability and the DCC director Kelli and Judy the choreographer make no bones about it. That tiny uniform will not be extended to fit the girl. The girl must fit the uniform and you will not make the team without passing Kelli and Judy's physical inspection.

The girls dance and gyrate in their tiny little boy shorts and sports bra's during each intense rehearsal. Rookies in pink and vets in Navy. Full hair and make up. These girls are not just pretty Barbie Dolls though. They sweat on top of that hair and make up because dancing your heart out in front of Kelli and Judy is no walk in the park. Their eagle eyes see everything. There are standards. Which, I think is great and what makes DCC the amazing organization that it is. They have a great reputation and the competition to be a part of the squad is probably the fiercest out of any NFL cheer squad.

I was really surprised when Grace, who is one of the rookie DCC training camp candidates, was singled out as "looking big." She seems to be a petite girl. Likely 5'3" or less. She appears athletic with a flat belly and toned legs. At the end of every practice the girls on the chopping block are called into the office to either be cut or given more time to improve. Grace was told that most of the other girls her size are 112 lbs or so and that at 123 lbs she needs to slim down a little. She eagerly accepted the criticism and agreed that she would hit the cardio hard to try to loose some weight.

Every season there always seem to be a couple girls that are singled out as having "weight problems." Usually, I can kind of see what they mean. Though in great shape for normal standards you have to consider that the uniform is quite unforgiving and it does take a small very close to perfect figure to make it look good. They aren't necessarily looking for skinnie minnies either though. Most of the girls while slim still look healthy and fit. I was shocked to see a girl that looks as fit as Grace actually referred to as looking "chunky."  I can only imagine what kind of message it might send to young girls watching to see a tiny girl like this referred to as overweight.

I love the show as I do all things dance and cheerleading related.  I enjoy seeing the process of what it takes to be a DCC from auditions all the way to the first game.    

A Kidney For My Dad

Great news today from my mom. They found a donor kidney for my dad. It is supposed to arrive around 3pm today and he is scheduled for surgery around 5pm. My dad started Dialysis earlier this year. His kidneys finally shut down on him after many years of poor eating and exercise habits that ultimately led to Diabetes. He was on insulin for a while before the kidney's finally quit altogether. He is AB+ so they didn't expect the wait to be long and it wasn't. Thank goodness.

He is so happy and I am so happy for him. He's been doing Dialysis 3 days a week for four hours at a time. It is time consuming and can be painful. Ultimately, Dialysis simply can't do what a real kidney can. He sees people walking into the Dialysis center looking progressively sicker and more worn down then the week before. On more then one occasion a patient has been taken from the Dialysis center to the hospital due to complications and he doesn't want to be next. He receives his Dialysis through a surgically created fistula connecting two of his veins together. It left some scarring and when touched you can literally feel the blood rushing beneath his skin. I still don't understand the actual mechanics of it all. It's been hard to see him looking so thin and weak. Dialysis takes its toll on the body after a while but thanks to this transplant he can leave all of that behind.

My eyes welled up with tears when my mom told me. I am happy that this is finally happening but it is also very scary. That kidney HAS to work. I am just hoping that everything goes well and that my dad can be on the road to better health again very soon.

  • Bad news. My mom called me around 3 pm and said the transplant is off. Apparently, my dad was the 2nd one offered the kidney. The first couldn't accept it due to some medical reason and so by the time they got it prepped for my dad they felt the kidney was not fresh enough. What a roller coaster. My poor dad is so disappointed. They were at the hospital and getting prepped for the surgery. I can only hope that another comes up for him very soon.

Diet Fanatic

My fav "Lasagna Classico" at Olive Garden. I order it EVERY time I go.
I don't care about the rumors that it comes from a microwave.

I was talking to my big sis over the weekend and she was telling me about these insane new exercise video's that she bought that are in fact called the Shaun T "Insanity" workout and rightfully so based on what she told me. They are boot camp style drills and exercises where even the hard bodies in the background can't finish it and have to quit and take breaks. How often do you see that in work out videos? Not in any I've ever done. Apparently the work out is impossible and Shaun T himself is the only one on the planet who might be able to get through it.

Anyhow, she has been on a mission to loose weight for a while now. She was successful with Weight Watchers some years ago but since then the weight has crept back on and she has been almost powerless to stop it. She can and does exercise with the best of them but the problem that always stops her from reaching her goal is that she can't control her eating habits. She is somewhat of an emotional eater and like so many people, just loves food. She struggles with having the willpower she needs to get where she wants to to be.

It struck me that while she and so many in this world seem to be addicted to food I find that I have the opposite problem. People who know me also know that I am "weird" about food. It's something that has kind of followed me over the years and seems to be a part of who I am. My addiction is to dieting and like it or not I seem to be pretty good at it. It is a strange realization but based on my past it must be true. Some people might say they wish they had my problem and while it may sound desirable it comes with it's own set of negative pitfalls and consequences that are undesirable.

I have some kind of "fat phobia" and I have a love hate relationship with food. Its delicious, fun, and nourishes my body but it is also sometimes my enemy for reasons that I have not fully ever understood. I tend to be a picky eater to begin with but on top of that I really have a strong aversion to eating too many calories. Make no mistake about it. I love candy, Chocolate Molten lava cake with hot fudge and vanilla ice cream dessert, pizza, [light] beer and cheesy fried appetizers. There are days where this little fixation flies out the window and I eat mindlessly but the majority of the time I am annoyingly and acutely aware of everything I put into my mouth. It is natural to eat when you are hungry. The symptoms of hunger such as growling stomach or headache ensue and we eat right? Well, for me there is some kind of disconnect. In my case, I either don't fully recognize these cues or I ignore them altogether.

I do not have an eating disorder. You have only to look at me to see that I am of "normal" size proportions. I haven't been to the gym in a long time (though I need to). I have my weaknesses like cheese and bread. I am not "afraid" of food or eating in public. I just don't like eating too much of it and I do fixate on weight. I have to be very careful to ensure that I get enough nutritional value out of what I do eat. I must admit that more often then not I fail miserably particularly when I am alone to the point where I am under eating. I've lost some weight as a result. When Mj comes home I am hoping that he can help me to get back on track with better eating habits. I want to be healthy and I am not so sure that I am doing such a good job of that on my own.

I think it's just a quirk of my personality. I mean, I obsess over finances too!! So, my all time ultimate splurge meal is a McDonald's #2 (If that's still it's assigned's been so long). It's the value meal with 2 cheeseburgers, french fries, and a soda. My freshman year in college I used to eat that meal super sized along with an overabundance of Domino's Pizza and Cup O Noodles. And yes, that is where my freshman 15 came from! Thankfully, it is long gone and then some. I'm going to order that #2 again some day just to say "to hell with it" and when I do, I'll be sure to write about every greasy delicious bite.