Cyber Monday Shopping

Our new bedding Klein
Mj has been saying for a while that we need a duvet cover for our King down comforter we got as a wedding gift.  When he says we need a duvet cover or anything else housewares related that usually means that I need to find it.  Not in a huge rush to spend more money I kept forgetting to check it out but it has been getting colder so I finally remembered last night.  I browsed a few websites and then it dawned on me.  It's Cyber Monday!  Anyone who has ever bought bedding knows how ridiculously expensive it can be. King sized bed sets can cost $300 or more!  The way it usually works is, I scroll through the inventory and when I find something I like I ask Mj if he likes it.  If he says no then I keep looking until I find something he says yes to. 

I'm not really into the whole holiday shopping craze. I haven't seen anything I want or don't even know what I want.  I'm just not motivated to expend the energy it takes to get out there this time of year.  Sometimes it's even hard to know if you are really getting a special deal or not.  I  mean, it's probably going to be on sale for the same old price tomorrow and this whole Cyber Monday or Black Friday thing is just the store's way of increasing urgency to bring customers in.  Well, I guess this Cyber Monday thing is for real.  At least for what I got at Macy'  Mj finally said yes to this bedding set so I ran out to my car where I keep all my coupons and dug out a $50 off coupon on $200 + purchase. I resisted the urge to buy those cute little decorative pillows that match.  We only have two with our other bedroom set and they spend most of the time in the corner on the floor.  So this is what I got. 
  • Calvin Klein Cut Flowers Duvet set (Duvet + 2 shams) $99.99
  • Calvin Klein Cut Flowers King Sheet Set ( 1 flat/fitted, 2 cases) $59.99
  • Calvin Klein European Sham $24.99 ea X 2 $49.98 
Total: $209.96.  I paid $182.53 total with tax including $17.95 for shipping.

I log onto Macy' today to check out prices and these are the post Cyber Monday prices I found:
  • Cut Flowers Duvet $162.99
  • King Sheet Set $89.99
  • European Sham $32.99 X 2 $65.98
Total:  $318.96

It was the real deal!  I saved a whopping $109 with Cyber Monday prices and another $50 on top of that with the coupon I had.  Not bad for someone who wasn't even planning on buying anything.  So I'm loving that I got such an awesome deal on an amazing 300 thread count complete bedding set but a little bit disgruntled over the fact that I just spent almost two hundred bucks on our second set of bedding when there are still so many other things we need for the house.  We STILL have mostly blank walls and have hardly any decorating done.  I still need to get that darn patio furniture set I want from Walmart!  Jeez....maybe I should have checked out the Cyber Monday prices on that.

It's so strange how I was totally shopped out feeling broke and didn't really have any desire or sense of urgency to do any more shopping (even though the house still needs work) but with this one purchase my shopping juices got flowing a little bit and now I want to stop at Pier 1 TODAY to get something I saw online.  Le sigh.

Relationships are so Hard

I was reading a friend's facebook status.  She posted "Relationships are so hard."   It's almost a no brainer to me as to why.  She sort of signed up for hard.  She is a 20 something who has shouldered the burden of being the main provider for herself and her 40 something year old boyfriend.  Not only can her boyfriend not fully take care of himself he is also unable to take care of his eight year old daughter so guess who supports her too?  Not only that but there is a crazy baby mama in the mix.  Then she tells me that she is actually the instigator in a lot of their fights.  I guess they deserve each other.  No wonder her relationship is hard but it got me thinking....are relationships really that hard?  Is my relationship "hard?"

My two previous relationships were in fact very hard but I have since come to realize the reason for that is because I was with the wrong person.  With both relationships they either started out hard or got there pretty quick which was clearly a sign even though I didn't want to see it.  Thank goodness those days are over.  My relationship with Mj has been smooth sailing from the start.  We met, we clicked and we were together.  No trust issues, no petty arguments and no ridiculous miscommunication blunders.  No drama.  We compliment each other and are on the same page.  When I am in a bad mood and feeling like a total bitch I just tell him not take it out on him.  He let's me get through my "mood" and to this day we have never had an argument.  We also keep the lines of communication open.  Our relationship is still young but the same is true of my friend and her boyfriend.  If you can't manage to get along and find a solid level of bliss early on do you really think it's magically just going to come later?  If it's "hard" now then what will it be in five years?  People who struggle and remain in difficult relationships are mostly kidding themselves.  I know because I did it myself.  If he doesn't call you, if you can't trust him, if you argue a lot for no reason or if every other day feels like a new battle then consider the possibility that this is not the person for you.  Unless some major things change the relationship certainly is not going to improve and if you can see that there are no changes taking place then it's probably best to move on.

Find someone who is right for you and eliminate the struggle.  Someone you don't have to question or wonder about. Someone who doesn't add stress to your life.  Everyone says relationships are hard work and I believe it but am happy to say that thus far mine has not been hard or work at all in any way. Unless you count having to be apart for 11 months which was indeed hard but had nothing to do with flaws in our relationship or how we interact with each other.  That separation presented many challenges but we dealt with them well.  Together.  Given time we may find that things become harder and we have to put in some of that work I keep hearing about to stay strong but I'm really glad to say that at least we didn't have to start out that way.  This reconfirms for me just how right for each other we are.  We have an amazing foundation and when the going gets rough we can draw on that to get through it.  In the meantime I will enjoy my not hard relationship and continue to tell my friend that unless they can change the dynamics of their relationship she needs to move on.  Chances are she will continue to not listen to me and I can only hope that one day she wakes up and realizes it doesn't have to be that way.  Like I did.

This whole weekend has been great.  Fri-Sun we mostly just hung out, watched movies and watched TV together with just a few little errands and outings and some housework thrown in here and there.  Today was yet another example of a wonderful day with hubby.  We were practically attached at the hip all day as we lounged around, cuddled and watched football all day enjoying our last day of the long weekend.  I love being with him.  There is nothing hard about that.

Thanksgiving Day Shenanigans

I love my Cousin B but let's just say that promptness is not one of her strong points.  She arrived at our wedding AFTER the ceremony and normally shows up to family gatherings a couple hours late.   It was with the expectation that nothing would go according to plan that I arrived on her doorstep and I was not disappointed.

Our presence was requested at 3:00 pm for Thanksgiving dinner.

2:10 pm- Mj is rushing to finish his bread dough and we make it out of the house only 10 minutes late. We have the furthest drive so my mom offered for us to drive to their house and they would drive the rest of the way to B's.  They want to leave the house by 2:45 pm.

2:25 pm- I get a call from my mom informing me that we would not be riding with them after all.  My aunt, uncle and nephew have asked to ride up with them and we have just been bumped.  Annoyed, I get the address from my mom and punch it into the GPS so we can just continue on and drive straight there.  I am even more annoyed to find that dad is just waking up and my aunt and uncle are getting dressed. were they supposed to leave at 2:30???  I already know dinner won't be at 3pm.  We could've taken our sweet time instead of rushing out of the house.

3:30 pm- We arrive at my cousin's house just as my sister, husband and nephew do as well.  Cousin B answers the door in her bathrobe and is still finishing up with her cleaning.  We walk in, take a seat and wait.

4:00 pm-The hors d'oeuvres are put out for us to munch on.  They obviously just came out of a very low temperature refrigerator and some of them are slightly frozen.  Mj won't eat the wraps.  He eats four of my sister's deviled eggs instead but I love wraps and a little ice doesn't bother me so I eat them anyways.

4:30 pm-My mom, dad and the rest of the gang FINALLY arrive with the rest of Thanksgiving dinner and more deviled eggs.  They sit down and we chat. Our hostess has gone up to take a shower and get dressed.  We sit and chat and continue to munch on hor's dourves while watching the rest of the football game.

5:30 pm-My dad is shaking his head and complaining loudly about how he should have stayed home because she doesn't even have the NFL channel and now he can't watch the Bengals VS The Jets. According to my dad if she agreed to host Thanksgiving she should have had the right channel.  So as to not upset the masses my cousin gets on the phone in a jiffy and calls Direct TV to order the channel so that dad will not be deprived of watching a second game on Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, we still don't know what's going on with dinner.  The kitchen is suspiciously absent of any food aroma's, the hostess is no where near the kitchen and all the food we brought is still sitting there. We wander in to figure out what we can do to facilitate the process of eating sometime soon. In the kitchen we find Cousin B's boxed mashed potatoes sitting on the counter and corned beef and green beans sitting on the stove.  Big sis and Mj cook and season up the mashed potatoes to try to give them some flavor and fire up the stove to start heating up everything else. Mom brought turkey, corn bread and cranberry sauce.  She realizes that she forgot to bring the yams. My sister brought greens and my aunt brought mac and cheese.  Our contribution was three desserts and homemade bread.  Turns out Cousin B didn't get a chance to make the boxed stuffing she bought.  I don't like stuffing so I don't care but everyone else is a fan so we had to use the stuffing that my mom brought from home especially for Mj.

Mom and I
6:30 pm-  Due to the time delay Mj's bread has swelled to 2 times it's expected size.  He realizes that it's still sitting there so he goes in and turns on the oven so he can get it baked.  Unfortunately,  the oven is in some state of disrepair and won't get hot.  The oven is on and he still can touch the grate with his bare hand!  The bread doesn't turn out as well as he wanted it to but we make do.

Aunt B is asking about the frozen wantons and crab cakes she'd left out.  I had already crammed them back into the shockingly packed fridge.  It was well past appetizer time and if she hadn't made them yet there was no reason to do so now.  We didn't need to make one more thing that would delay dinner. Besides....I don't even know if her oven would have cooked the darn things and the microwave was being used as storage.

7:00 pm-My younger cousin was so hungry by this time he had a headache. We finally find ourselves standing around the kitchen table saying a blessing so we can eat.  We were all starving so we dig in and go to town on filling up our hungry bellies with some good food.  We can only wonder what she will do with the left overs considering her refrigerator is packed with not even an inch to spare.

Big sis and lil nephew
The whole situation was more funny then anything else and I just couldn't resist sharing such a comedy of errors.  Cousin B is smart and capable but hostessing just may not be her thing.  I'm still not sure why she wanted to host Thanksgiving.  I have never seen a house so crammed with extra stuff, her kitchen wasn't exactly functional, and she didn't do much cooking. She has a heart of gold and she means well so ultimately I didn't let anything about the sequence of events leading up to dinner bother me too much.  There may have been a few bumps along the way but she was still nice enough to invite everyone over so I can't be too mad about it.  I still had fun.  I was with my family hanging out and I got to hold my little nephew half the night.  We were all together and even though it took a while we still enjoyed some good food and each other which is really what matters most.

Giving Thanks

This is the time of year that we all need to take stock of what we have in our lives that we are grateful for.  Making a list like this is probably harder for some then others.  There are a great many people in this world who are unhappy, struggling, and simply got a raw deal in life.   When I think about all the bad there is in the world out there I know that no matter how far I am from where I wish I was I am damn lucky to be where I am and have plenty to be thankful for.
  • My husband:  I seriously don't know where I would be without this man.  He changed my life.  This time last year he was just coming home from a long 11 month separation.  I'm glad he's home for least for now.
  • My family:  I love them so very much.  I am grateful  that my big sis lives closer now for at least the next five years and that we will get to watch my nephew grow up and that my mom is the best mom I could ever ask for.
  • My job:  I have been so hard on myself in the past for not "being" something better then I am.  But really, when it comes down to it I am lucky to have a job that I like with great health insurance benefits, all the holidays off AND that keeps the bills paid.  Getting a promotion has been a much needed boost for my self confidence and my wallet.  I can only be grateful for that.  There are people in their 6o's working low wage manual labor jobs that basically keep them in poverty.  How difficult must it be to get out of bed and face that every day? I am glad that I don't have to.
  • My health:  I don't get sick a lot.  I don't put into my body everything I should.  I don't exercise enough and I am ever critical of it's appearance but even so it has never failed me. 
  • My home:  Even when I was bursting at the seams in my tiny studio I was always grateful that I had a roof over my head.  Many people in this world dream of having any home at all and I feel so fortunate that we were able to buy our first house together.
  • Finances:  Of course I wish I were rich but I am glad that my finances are in order enough to the point that I have good credit, money saved, and a 403b.  Despite what a big year we had with the house, wedding, and honeymoon we are debt free.  No drowning in debt or high interest rates for us.  I have always lived within my means and didn't have to learn that lesson the hard way.
I'll be spending Thanksgiving with almost my whole family.  We will miss lil' sis.  She couldn't make it down here again for today but hopefully we will see her at Christmas.   My cousin wanted to host this year so we will be making the drive up there to her house.  I am still in my pajamas and I'm looking forward to a wonderful day of relaxation and hanging out with family.  If I feel this relaxed now...wait until the food coma hits!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wedding Wednesday: The Reception

We've arrived!  Let's get this party started

My little do it yourself centerpieces turned out OK
[July 10, 2010] The reception was truly the funnest part of the whole day.  By the time we were standing outside the doors waiting for our "grand entrance" I was so ready.  We danced into the room after our bridal party to the tunes of "I Gotta Feeling" and it just got better and better as the night went on.
Greeting our guests
We both sat down and ate dinner.   I wouldn't have it any other way as we did in fact pay for it!  I loved sitting there at the front and watching everyone eating and chatting and enjoying themselves.  Then we went around the room to every single table and greeted our guests while everyone was finishing up dinner which was really fun.  I am not normally a social butterfly so I can't believe I did this!  On your wedding night you kinda have to be social and I actually found that it came naturally and I enjoyed it.
Cheers to US
After dinner we went right into open mic for toasts. Often times only designated people make speeches during the reception and for some reason it didn't really cross my mind to do that.  I just told the DJ to open it up to anyone who wanted to speak which could go really badly....but in our case it worked out fine.  It went on longer then we expected but it was really special to hear what people had to say.  And the tears just kept on flowing. I absolutely did not realize just how emotional this would be.  Having people you know and love stand up there and share there well wishes on your wedding day is awesome.  You know people care about you but how often do those words actually come out? Not very often, so it was just awesome to give everyone that chance here.
Toast time was emotional.  I was sobbing!
After that we went straight into the cake cutting.  I simply had to ignore the fact that my cake was the wrong color or else I would have been mad and I did not want that emotion to invade my wonderful time.  No cake shoving allowed but we did have fun feeding each other.

That's not my cake!

Nice and easy
One of my favorite moments of the entire reception was our dance. I felt like we were in our own little world even though everyone was watching. We whispered, laughed, kissed and hugged through most of it and enjoyed it to the very last note.  The words from "I Turn To You" (Whitney Houston) were PERFECT!!

 Savoring The Moment

After that I danced with my dad to "Can You Feel The Love Tonight."  Mj and his mom joined in about 1/3 of the way through the song.  Then, we opened the dance floor up to everyone and boogied the night away.  It was the most magical night of my life and I didn't want it to ever end.

Our First Party!

Appetizer platter
We invited people over for dinner at 6.  By 6:15 they started rolling in and we Mj had dinner ready to serve by 7:20 pm.  It was a rainy cold night but 10 people still made it out to come hang out with us and we had a really great time.  We put out tortilla chips with salsa and a really fancy schmanchy looking cheese, cracker and fruit platter for snacking on.  Then for dinner it was a really yummy chicken that hubby dreamed up.  Breaded chicken with an arugula mix and tomatoes covered with melted mozzarella cheese on top.  You put your marinara sauce on the bottom and the chicken goes on top.  He served it with pasta on the side and it was extremely tasty.

My awesome hubby host extrordinaire!

I was drinking and chatting and having a good old time after dinner when suddenly I realized...I'm a host too and I can't let my dear husband do all the work.  So I hopped up and kicked him out of the kitchen and finished up the dishes.  Everything was washed or put in the dishwasher by the time dessert rolled around.  We used these really cute clear square plastic plates so the only thing that really needed washing was silverware and glasses.  Plenty of glasses for all of the wine and drinks we offered.  We had three kinds of beer, wine and a variety of mixed drink options.  Dessert was made from scratch brownies (by Mj of course) which we warmed up right before eating and had ice cream to put on top.  One of our guests bought some cheesecake and another brought some wine and more beer so there was plenty to go around.  The first guest didn't leave until around 10, the last ones left around 10:30 pm and we had the kitchen all cleaned up by 11 ish.  Mj is so awesome.  He really was the one who put everything together and I just made sure that I helped with whatever he needed.  
Time for dessert
What struck me the most is that it really didn't feel like work at all.  It's a party!  It's fun.  I clean regularly so we mostly just had tidying up to do to get the house ready for guests.  The cooking and any other prepping we had to do was for something fun and I found that I just didn't mind it at all.  The clean up wasn't bad either.  You just roll up your sleeves and jump in there and before you know it everything is done.  I was so happy that everyone had fun and that everything went so well that I hardly even noticed what I was doing.  Oh, and still being a little tipsy from the drinks made it fly by.  The good thing about having a party at your house is that you don't have to go anywhere.  Everyone comes to you and it's your party so you get to have what you want.  I got to have my hard alcohol of choice, Grand Marnier which I mixed with orange juice.

Mj told them it wasn't a house warming.  We were just having folks over for dinner and we were not soliciting gifts but they decided to chip in and get us something off of our wedding registry.  The Cuisinart stainless steel wine cellar!  It's a wine chiller that holds 8 bottles of wine.  Another couple got us a really cool drink dispenser that will come in handy for future parties.  They are so sweet.  I think everyone had a really good time.  I'm glad we did it and I never thought I'd see the day when I'd say this but....I loved it and am actually excited about the idea of doing it again sometime.   Who knows, by this time next year I might even be ready to host Thanksgiving.

On Entertaining

Entertaining is a bit of a foreign concept for me. My bridal shower was at my house but I just provided the space and my lovely hostesses did all the work.  I can't count how many times I've watched HGTV and heard a prospective home buyer chirp, "Ohhhh and I love how open it is.  Perfect for entertaining!" or "We just looove entertaining!"  Sure, I thought now that I don't live in a shoebox I can invite someone over but actual full on entertaining....not so much.  My thought process was more like "How spacious....I should actually have enough space to keep my house neat."  In that case, throwing a party seems more like a conflict of interest then anything else.

I have never hosted any kind of gathering at my house.  Ever.
  • First of all I don't have a gaggle of friends.  You kind of need those to invite a bunch of folks over to entertain.  The ones I do have aren't part of the same circle and I'm kind of a homebody loner type if left to my own devices.  For me, I figured at most it would be a friend or two here or a friend there.  Back in the old days I had even less friends then I do now and was in a lackluster relationship.  Entertaining like some shiny happy couple that we weren't was the last thing on my mind.   
  • Second, I haven't exactly unlocked the joy of cooking.  I am making an effort to get in the kitchen because I want to be a good wife.  I haven't found it awful but I'm just not sure it'll ever be something that I look forward to or want to do more then once or twice a week.  For a party I could easily solve that problem with Pat & Oscars or El Pollo Loco-What did you think I'd resort to Pizza?-but hubby is decidedly more "hands on." 
  • Thirdly, it can be a lot of work and money.  You have to prepare by shopping, cleaning, and cooking.  You have to consider Hor's Dourves, desserts and drinks.  You want everyone to have a good time so you have to put some effort and thought into that.  Then there is more cleaning and dish washing late into the night after everyone goes home.  And what if someone spills something? is this fun?  Normal Saturday nights include chillin' in my pj's eating popcorn, watching a DVD and dozing off to sleep by 11pm.  Easy and free 99.
  • Lastly, I have only ever lived in tiny and/or drab bare walled apartments that I honestly never really took much pride in.  More recently I lived in the tiniest place yet.  The maximum occupancy was 5 and because it was a studio having people over was sort of like inviting a group of people into your bedroom.  I had 0 wine glasses and exactly 4 plates.  My most frequent guests were mom and dad.  Knowing that I was not equipped with food or proper cooking materials we either went out or my mom would bring something in.  I rarely had any other visitors at all. 
Mj has plenty of friends who get together and do all kinds of things throughout the year and we have been invited on multiple occasions to some of their homes for dinner.  Now that we are for the most part settled into our home we naturally want to reciprocate so our first dinner party ever is..... tomorrow night!  Originally, I thought he was just going to invite about 2-3 couples, six people max but come to find out that number has swelled to about 13.  He even sent out an e vite!  He is definitely running the show and as usual when it comes to anything kitchen related I will assist.  No ordering take out on his watch.  He's planned out the menu and will start cooking tonight.  He already started on the mixed drinks and did the shopping for it last night.  He is so organized...well when it comes to this stuff that is.

I like his friends.  I like the idea having them over to see our new home and hang out but this is all just so new to me.  Martha Stewart I clearly am not.  NOT EVEN CLOSE.  I dearly want to be but I just seem to be missing that gene.  I have not done any holiday decorating, I balked at the idea of hosting Thanksgiving, i'm not doing holiday cards and am even debating if we should get a tree!  I'm just the lowly assistant along for the ride but even so I am technically hosting a dinner party...dahling!  At first it really just felt like work but Mj's enthusiasm is catching and now even I am starting to get excited.

Wedding Wednesday: Bridal Party & Family Shots

[July 10, 2010]  We walked down the aisle as husband and wife and right into a little private room stocked with champagne, cheese and crackers.  The cocktail hour came to us so I wasn't as upset about having to use this time for pics.  I wanted my cheese and crackers too!  We had about 10 minutes to ourselves to laugh, kiss, drink champagne, munch on cheese n crackers and revel in the huge moment that just took place.  Eb came in and brought me a mirror and some lipstick so I could touch up my make up and it was time to head out for group shots.

The only thing missing was the red carpet!
 We started out with family shots and then moved into bridal party shots.  Isn't it funny how the photog wanted solo shots of  the bride but not the groom? Yes it's a shared wedding but as the bride I kinda get to be the star of the show.  And why not?  The groom is handsome in his tux and all but it can't compare to that cascading pretty white dress. 

Me and my family
Mj and family
This part was really fun.  Everyone was talking, laughing and getting their drinks.  The sun had come out, I was just starting to get a little tipsy and I could hear the cocktail CD with our favorite songs playing over the sound system. 
Handsome Groomsmen

Lovely Bridesmaids
Time continued to march on quicker then I ever thought possible and before I knew it our guests were being ushered inside for the reception.  We lingered a bit before heading to the double doors leading inside our ballroom and all lined up for our grand entrance.  I was so anxious to get inside and see everything and everyone.

The Reception........

Let There Be Kitchen Tiers

I mentioned my all out hunt for kitchen tiers in a previous post.  I finally gave up and called JC Penny's to look into getting them custom made.  Might as well see if there was any chance in hell that we could afford it and if there were any patterns on earth that we actually like since the stores sure didn't seem to have any.  I didn't want solids and I just wasn't all that thrilled with having tiny little teapots and rustic bowls of grapes dancing around my kitchen.  After the rep came out deciding on a fabric wasn't too hard.  There were actually 3 that I really liked.  Mj was out of town but I narrowed it down to a few selections and we agreed on one.  The price was more then I expected to pay but we needed some curtains already and I didn't want to settle for some I didn't really want so that was that.

It's so hard to visualize how those squares of fabric are actually going to translate into a window treatment but I am very happy to say that I really like the finished product.  It was nice that we didn't even have to put them up-the guy came out and did it in about 30 minutes.  They are bright and modern without being too obnoxious.  Our kitchen is open to everything else so we had to make sure they wouldn't clash.  I love stripes but I wanted something different.  Originally I was going for Reds and this isn't primarily Red but I still got some in there.  The colors go well with the light green walls we already have going in the living and dining areas and we even found wall art for the dining area that compliments them well.  They are good colors that we can easily build around.  The curtains themselves are very full and I love the hardware.  Those large silver balls (also known as finials) at the ends of the rods give them a nice touch of elegance.  We opted for a simple tension rod for the bottom tiers.  I never imagined that it would take six months to get kitchen curtains in this house.  Just one more thing to check off our list of household projects....and many more to go!

You Never Know

I can pin point the exact moment my stomach started to rebel.  Monday night about an hour after dinner I ate a piece of string cheese and was munching on some grapes.  My stomach started to feel bloated and I looked pregnant.  Then came the nausea and I lost my appetite for anything except laying down.  I fell into bed feeling run down and didn't sleep well making the next morning even more hellish.  I felt achy and slightly dizzy as I plopped myself into my car Tuesday morning to head for work.  I contemplating calling in but decided to tough it out.  Armed with my tervis tumbler filled with ice cold water which is the only thing I could stomach I tiredly drove to work.  I sat at my desk and logged into my computer wondering how I was going to make it through the day.  I couldn't focus.   Annoyed and defeated I finally just told my supervisor I wasn't feeling well and wanted to go home.  It just didn't feel like it was worth it to sit there and suffer.  I walked into my house around 11:15 am got undressed and immediately slipped under my cool sheets and went to sleep.

Before falling asleep I thought of my friend who had texted me a week ago that he had been battling a stomach virus for about 3 weeks.  "How ya feeling," I texted him.  Knowing that I probably can't feel half as bad as he's been feeling.  "Going back to the hospital try to find out what's wrong with my stomach."  Poor guy.  He said he's lost 20 lbs already because he can't keep food down.

Mj came home from work and served me soup and 1/2 grilled cheese in bed.  I'd spent most of the day in that bed and laying on the couch.  I still felt a little on the crappy side and had hardly any appetite by the time I went back to bed that night.  I felt better when I woke up Wednesday morning.  Still a bit "off" but at least glad to be feeling "functional."  Around 4pm I get a text from my friend.  "I might have stomach cancer."  I am shocked.  He is under 40 and just retired from active duty military.  He was so excited about living life as a civilian and worked so hard only to have to deal with this?  You never know when life as you know it is going to change.

Life really looses it's luster when you don't feel well.  That day I was useless at work and that night I had little enthusiasm for anything.  I just wanted to feel normal so I could enjoy and carry on with my life as usual. Whatever mini  bug it was had passed and by Thursday I was feeling 100%.  I am back to my happy normal functioning self but my friend is still in the hospital.  He doesn't get to spend 40 hours a week at work.  When he doesn't get enough sleep he won't get to dread work and count the minutes until it's time to get off.  He won't hit that stupid traffic jam on the way home today and feel that nagging twinge of annoyance at only having about 4 1/2 hours at night to eat dinner, relax a little, and go to bed only to get up and do it all over again the next day.  I'm sure he'd actually be quite thrilled with all of those things right about now.  Things we sometimes take for granted.  It was just another reminder to me of how important our health is, how fleeting it can be and just how lucky I am to be well enough just to live my life.  Every aspect of it including the parts I complain about.

Honeymoon Highlights

Vacations are great for couples and I'm so glad we got to have such a nice long one.  I had a fantastic time in Hawaii and here are some of the highlights.
Fun in the sun at Waikiki Beach

  •  Quality time with Mj.  The cell phone was mostly in case we needed to know the time and concerns of the real world were left behind.  Mj destroyed his iPhone in the pool helping matters! We had laptops but didn't use them much.  As always we had lots of fun together.  It was just us all day every day with little distraction and it was nice to just BE with each other and not have to worry about anything else. 
In the water at Hanauma Bay

  •  Au natural bliss.  I brought along all of my tools of the trade but didn't use them.  My best accessory on this trip was my lip gloss and lotion. The sun was my hairdryer and my tan was the only bronzer I needed.  I ran around with a salt stiffened pony tail half the day washed it and let it do whatever it was going to do. Half the time my hair was wet or drying!  I simply could not be bothered with make up and could care less that my hair was all over the place which was nice.  Even better was despite that I still felt beautiful 'cause hubby told me so. 
My signature pose
  • Timeless relaxation.  We'd lay around and play in the water half the day and have no idea what time it was and not even care.  We did have some things scheduled for certain times but for the most part we didn't pay too much attention to the time and it was nice not to have to.  Our time really was our own.  I truly believe being on vacation is the life I was meant to lead and I'm still trying to figure out what went wrong that I can't do it all the time!  
Lounging.  What time is it?...Who cares!
  • Fun full days and early nights.  Waikiki is not a party town.  There are plenty of things to do but no night life to speak of that I could find and I didn't want one anyways.  We were usually done with our activities and back to the room by 7 or 8:30pm.  We were tired and in bed by 10 but that was OK.  We were able to wake up early, spend a full day out and about and then spend relaxing nights together at "home."  We spent two nights watching a movie and usually watched TV together in bed before falling asleep.
  • Food fest fun.  I have a tendency to be pretty strict with my diet when eating at home.  I do indulge here and there but overall I try to always make the "right" choices and over eating is a big no no punishable by guilt.  When I'm on vacation I don't give a damn about calories and I love it!  We did get 4 days of physical activity in which was great but I ate desserts and most anything else I wanted and did not feel an ounce of guilt over it.  For the record I gained 3 pounds!!

Enjoying full fat ice cream!!
  • Two bathroom bonus.  We only got the 2br 2 ba because that's what was available but having that extra bathroom actually worked out pretty nice.  The guest bathroom turned into "Mj's bathroom" where he was free to throw his wet trunks and towels all over the place and I didn't have to see it.  Except when I'd walk by and shake my head!!
  • No overcrowding.  This is probably a good time of year to go because it really wasn't that crowded which was nice. 
  • Over packing follies.  Yes...I seriously over packed on all fronts.  Out of our 8 days 5 of them were mostly spent in a bathing suit.  I lived in a bikini, cover up and flips flops. The vibe there is so relaxed and casual.  I didn't really care too much about coordinated outfits and jewelry once I got there.

My basic wardrobe for the week
  • Discounts.   Military ID saved us money on those evil baggage check fees while traveling and got us some discounts on food, places and activities while we were there.  The $200 Hilton bucks we earned doing our timeshare meeting went towards our couples massage. Hilton gives you coupons and a discount card when you get there-you just have to take advantage of them.  We got some free food items with that. I did a pretty good job of not focusing on the money and just letting myself have fun.  I laughed about the inflated prices of which $11 drinks, $23 medium pizzas and $4 scoops of ice cream were among the highlights.  They can and do take advantage of having a steady flow of tourists.  I didn't let it prevent me from doing what I wanted and was glad to still be able to take advantage of at least some bargains.
At the guest Check In/Out Lounge on our last day.  Free Coffee!
  •  Hilton resorts are the bomb!  I totally enjoyed my experience and it was only enhanced by the wonderful staff and facilities.  There were plenty of concierge people on hand to assist with everything and answer questions. Along with your coupons they gave us a little beach bag.  They have everything you need right there including complimentary laundry on each floor.  They offer free Internet access (though we didn't use it much).  Our room was amazing.  They made check out day so easy with the check in/check out lounge.  This allowed us to really maximize our last day by spending it at the beach and being able to use the facilities to shower and get ready for our flight.  The snacks and drinks were just a bonus.  It feel like they really care that guests are happy and have everything they need based on the way everything was set up. 
  •  Hawaii is beautiful!!!  Enough said.

Mahalo Hawaii Day 7-8

DRIVE AROUND THE ISLAND [Day 7- Friday, Oct 29]
We woke up and went to breakfast so Mj could get his Hawaiian Bananas Foster French toast he's been wanting all week.  His was $14 and my simple Belgian Waffle was $12!  And again with the no sides thing!  What is it with these restaurants?  After that we walked across the street to get our rental car so we could spend the day driving around the island.  By we I mean that Mj does all the driving and I sit on the passenger side with the map and attempt to help navigate.

According to our map it is only 90 miles around but for an island there seems to be quite a bit of traffic and some of the highway speed limits are as low as 50 MPH.  We took our time though and with 3 stops we were on the road from 10:30 am until about 5:00 pm.  That's 5 1/2 hours!  It was also the wettest day of the whole week but it was better it be our road day then a beach day. 

Creepy Kaneana Caves

We stopped at the Kaneana Caves which is just off the highway.  We would have missed it if we hadn't seen people walking over there.  It's like something out of an awful horror movie.  There were deep dark crevices that you couldn't really see into so it was pretty creepy but as long as their were no knife wielding psycho killers I liked it!!  

We also stopped at the Dole Pineapple plantation and browsed around a bit.  We saw Pineapples growing off of a tree which I'd never actually seen before.

You can see that pineapple sitting straight up
on this bush
That night was really special.  After we got back to the hotel we ate our slightly soggy left over sandwiches that we were too full to eat the day before, our left over chocolate cake and drank a bottle of wine together on our patio.  
Mj surprised me with this.  Our love of pretzels
was just one more thing we realized we had in common
when we met
I decided that now was as good a time as any to do what I call our "state of the union address" as we looked out over the balcony.  It's basically a time for us to just speak our mind and chat about what's good and anything that's bothering us in the relationship.  Communication is so important and I couldn't think of a better time and place to speak honestly and just be real with each other.    I went to bed a little tipsy and drifted into another deep sleep all cuddled up with Mj.  The moment we were dreaded came too fast...our last night in Oahu.

We woke up, finished packing, took our luggage to the bell stand and headed straight for the beach.  It was our last day and I wanted to spend every last moment soakin' up the sun and relaxing.  

Waikkiki Beach
Lagoon Tower Pool
Eating icecream at Kalia Tower Pool
We hit up all of our favorite waterside lounging spots.  First Waikiki beach, then we went back to the Lagoon tower pool where we did the water slides again and relaxed in the jacuzzi.  We stopped for ice cream then went over to the quieter Kalia tower pool and hung out some more.  I couldn't think of a better way to spend our last day.

We stayed as long as we could then went to the bell stand to get our bag with our clothes and toiletries in it.  We went to the check in/check out lounge at the Waikiki tower to shower and get ready for our flight.  They have a really nice locker room and lounge area.  They even provide snacks and drinks!  Then all too soon it was time to get the rest of our luggage and head out to the pick up area to wait for our bus.  
Waiting for our bus
I absolutely was not ready to go home yet but at the same time was glad that it didn't feel like the whole trip went too fast.  Eight days is a good amount of time, any less and I'd probably have felt short changed.  We really squeezed out every bit of fun and joy from each day and I had a fantastic time.  Each and every day and night was perfect.  Since I have to go home at least I can do so knowing that this honeymoon was everything I hoped it would be  and more.

Our Honeymoon Day 5-6

DIAMOND HEAD [Day 5-Wednesday, Oct 27]

The early part of the hike
We got up and left the hotel around 10:30am to catch the city bus to Diamond Head.  This would be our final work out of our vacation 'cause we had no plans of going back to the gym!  Once we got there we just followed the trail of people up the hill paid our $1 entry fee and got to hiking.
Still chugging along
This is basically an extinct volcano with mostly dirt trails that lead you to the top.  There were so many stairs!  About 3 sets in all.  At one point I turned a corner and my mouth dropped when I saw another stairway that seemed to be going straight up.  

I never thought this hike would include a spiral staircase!
The view at the top was worth the effort though, not to mention the good work out we got in.  It's .8 miles each way and it took us about 1 1/2 hours total.  At one point we had to climb up this latter and through this crevice.  We were both sweating at the end.  I saw an older couple going slowly up the hill and thought "uh, oh..are they gonna make it?"  This hike is not for the old and/or infirm, and I couldn't believe I saw people doing this in flip flops.

We made it to the top!
It took our bus forever to come.  We saw the #8 about 5 times and the #24 rolled past but we didn't see the #23 for about an hour.  We had just enough time to go to the hotel, shower and then head to the Mandara Spa at Kalia Tower for our couples massage which we strategically planned right after our hike.  It was nice to come here to relax instead of sweat.  They ushered us into separate locker rooms where we were issued robes and sandals.  I had a few minutes to recline in this cushy chair with my feet up before I was escorted down to the treatment waiting area where Mj was already waiting in his matching white robe.  We were lead into this beautiful room where we laid down side by side on our own table for our 50 minute massage.  It felt absolutely wonderful!  We then had 30 minutes together in this huge jacuzzi tub.  My skin felt so soft again after being dried up from the sun all day.

After that we walked to Cheeseburger Waikiki for dinner.  I really liked it how half of the building was open so we were inside but could still be outside in the warm night air.  Mj insisted on getting this double cheeseburger the size of his head and failed miserably at eating it all.  I had a bleu cheese burger and chowed down on the fries.  This place is awesome!  The food was good.  We caught their happy hour, they gave us a 15% military discount AND a free dessert because we were honeymooners.  We ate every single bite of this giant Maui mud pie.  I don't think either one of us have ever been so full in our life!
Our complimentary honeymoooner dessert.
The dessert to end all desserts!
We arranged to have the shuttle pick us up bright and early at 7:30am for Hanauma Bay.  It's one of the best locations for snorkeling in all of Hawaii and they want to make sure us tourists who come in droves don't destroy it.  It's been designated as a nature preserve and they require everyone to watch a video before heading down.
The bay was beautiful!!
It was raining off and on so far through the week so we weren't sure what to expect but it was perfect.  The sun was shining and the view of Hanauma Bay was spectacular.  We got our towels from the hotel and bought our munchies the night before so we'd be ready for our early pick up.  We saved $7 each because we were able to get in free with Military ID.

I knew snorkeling was not for me and I wanted no part of it.  Fish freak me out so I stayed close to the shore to avoid any possible fish encounters.  Mj was adamant that I have my very own snorkeling adventure anyways. Which lasted for about 2 minutes.  I put on his mask and got a chance to see and breathe underwater.  It was actually pretty cool until a section of the sand that seemed to be moving caught my eye.  As I stared at it and saw that in fact the sand was moving and not really sand at all but probably a fish I was up and running for land within seconds.   That was basically the extent of my snorkeling experience.  Mj on the other hand had lots of fun with it.

Mj snorkel [one of his underwater pics]
It was another great day of lounging at the beach.  We were so full from the night before that neither one of us had an appetite for those sandwiches we'd packed but we were both hungry by Luau time.

Me lay down.  I couldn't et enough of this
We went back to the hotel showered and changed for our Luau at the Hale Koa Hotel.  We got a complimentary drink (well not really, we technically paid for it with our tickets!) and a shell necklace when we arrived. They had a cocktail hour and show at the beginning where I volunteered for a group hula lesson. I was already feeling the Mai Tai so I figured why not!
Hula lesson anyone?
Dinner is served
Next they brought out the pig and then seated us for dinner. This pig looked kinda icky coming straight out of the ground but when it showed up on my dinner plate I ate it right up. I was a good sport and tried everything including sea weed (surprisingly spicy and good) and accidentally ate raw salmon and Poi.  Well, the Poi wasn't really an accident.  At least not on my part.  Mj tricked me into eating this stuff, which basically looked like grayish purple pudding, by putting it on a piece of pineapple.  What part of "I don't want to try it" did he not get?

The Polynesian performers were amazing-particularly the fire dancers, the food was good and it was another fun night.