Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's official: I'm now 28 years old. It must be true because my Blogger profile says so, having magically updated my age when the clock struck midnight last night. It's weird, because I don't feel at all like a 28-year-old. For years I've felt like I'm 24. I don't know what it is about 24, but that's what I feel like I am.

It's been a nice day. In the morning while John was at camp, I got a F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S "ultimate" pedicure and manicure that included a 5-minute chair massage. It was all really relaxing and left my feet and fingers looking lovely. After that I got a glazed donut at Dunkin' Donuts (one of my longtime guilty pleasures. Those things are dang good!). I'm also wearing a special birthday outfit (nope, not my birthday suit. Ha ha): a new skirt that I've coveted for a few years (I finally bought it this month when it went on sale), with a new pima cotton shirt in a pretty shade of blue. In the afternoon I took time to read my book and relax out on the patio as I sipped a freshly made banana-blueberry smoothie. Tonight I'm ordering a mushroom pizza for dinner, and when Peter gets home he and John are going to decorate a cake for me. I'm hoping Peter has a few presents in tow an iPod!

I feel like today is the calm before the storm, because tomorrow is going to be busy, busy, busy. There are a lot of things to do before we leave for our vacation on Saturday. But I'm trying not to stress out about that today. It's my birthday and I'm going to relax and let it all go!

Later tonight or tomorrow check back here, because I'm going to post pictures of the cake that Peter and John make and any other relevant birthday-related things!

Here they are!

My pedicured toes and pampered feet. The nail polish shade is "Nantucket Mist." I chose it in part because I'm going to Cape Cod next week, and Nantucket is an island there.

Here are the cake decorators in action. John loved shaking those sprinkles, so it was a very sprinkly cake!

The cake was made with love and was sweet and delicious. (Unfortunately the camera wasn't focused properly here!)

My little helper John helped me blow out the candles.

Here I am with one of my greatest gifts, and the person behind the camera is another one of my greatest gifts. I was wearing my glasses because my contacts were hurting my eyes that afternoon. I guess they didn't know that it was my birthday.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Veepstakes

It's time to talk, er, write politics because it's been on my mind lately as the political scene has begun heating up again. In the next few weeks, John McCain and Barack Obama will be naming their Vice Presidential candidates. McCain's announcement could come as soon as this week, which would give him some attention while Obama is becoming the world's darling out in the Middle East and Europe. (What's up with that? Why is he behaving like and being treated like he's already the President?)

I think the running mate can have a significant impact on whether or not the presidential candidate gets elected, and to me, that's one of the most important roles of the Vice President before they're even in office: to help get the presidential candidate to the White House. So it usually comes down to a matter of strategy when choosing a running mate, and therefore my picks for the V.P. candidates are mostly strategic. Here they are:

1) Barack Obama should choose Hillary Clinton. A lot of people, mostly women, like her a lot and will vote for Obama in a heartbeat if she's on the ticket. It's being said that women in general are a highly coveted group for the candidates to win in this election. Some say he needs to choose a white man who is more middle-of-the-road, and that's not a bad idea, but I think an Obama-Clinton ticket would be powerful. Clinton has many, many resources at her disposal, and I think she has good, solid experience as a Senator and as de facto Vice Prez while Bill was in office. Speaking of Bill, I think he'll be on his best behavior, at least until they win. And I do think Obama-Clinton would win.

2) John McCain. Sigh. I'm going to be shocked if he defeats Obama. I don't think his running mate, no matter how good, will be able to overcome the odds McCain is facing. You all know that I was a Mitt Romney supporter when he was running. I'm still disappointed that he didn't get the nomination because it's very clear to me that he was definitely the best in the field from both parties. I think he would be brilliant as V.P., and from a strategic standpoint he would be great on the ticket when it comes to the economy, which is a major source of concern right now for Americans. But there are too many people who don't like or trust him or know him well enough, plus it would be two white men running together, which would be a direct contrast to the historic matter of Obama running. Though I've heard that McCain and Romney have been getting along well now that they're not competing with each other, I don't think it's very likely that McCain will choose him.

So, I think McCain should choose Condoleeza Rice for his running mate. I have long admired the Secretary of State for her intelligence and articulateness; she resembles Romney in that regard. The Republican ticket would instantly become a historic one with Rice on it. She's black and she's a woman. That's Obama and Clinton rolled into one. It would be a first-time ever thing if they were elected, and people would vote for them because of that. Both women and blacks would be more drawn to the Republican ticket, especially if Obama chooses a man for his running mate. I tested out this theory on my Democratic mother awhile ago and she said that I was right; she would be a lot more likely to vote for McCain if Rice were his running mate. I have a feeling that a lot of people would, including moderate Democrats and disgruntled Republicans who don't really like McCain but do approve of Rice. I know I'd be a lot more likely to vote for McCain if Rice were on the ticket.

There are some drawbacks to Condi. She's strongly associated with President Bush, which isn't a good thing given his low approval ratings. Some would say that she doesn't have enough experience, but I think she has better experience than Obama. However, it's pretty unlikely that Rice is going to be chosen. She has said she's not interested in the job, and she and McCain don't seem all that "tight." It's unfortunate, but apparently true.

As for me, I'm still undecided as to who to vote for in November. I'm really interested in how things will turn out in the next few months. I could be swayed either way. I don't really like either man all that much, although there are things that I do like about each of them. I might still just write in Mitt Romney's name. Hey, I live in Connecticut, which is going to go Democratic anyway, so it doesn't really matter. If I lived in a swing state, then maybe I'd vote more responsibly.

What do you think? Agree, disagree? Who are your V.P. picks? Don't be shy; leave a comment and let your voice be heard (er, read)!

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Weekend of Old Friends

Last weekend was a good one for seeing some great friends from the past. On Saturday, July 19th, two of my best friends from high school, Amy and Stacey, came down from Mass. to visit for a few hours. I hadn't seen them since Stacey's wedding in October of 2006. I've missed them, so it was really nice to get together again.

Stacey, me, and Amy, posing for the camera.
This is what happens when I ask Peter to take pictures. He takes pics like this. I was hoping he'd get some good candid shots of us, but no. PETER!! (On a side note, you can see my arm, which has some fairly good shape to it. If you don't know what I'm talking about, see my previous post.)

Amy was one of my bridesmaids when I got married. She and I had a lot of fun in high school. When I think back on it I realize that we were the silliest girls sometimes. We did some really funny things. At least they were funny to us. A few examples:

  • We were obsessed with the movie Titanic during our senior year and so we went to see it every week for at least a month while it was out in the theaters. One time I accidentally left my headlights on and so, three hours later, my car was totally dead when the movie got out. My Dad had to come and jump-start the battery.
  • Amy was witness to some of the most embarrassing things ever to happen to me when we went on a disastrous (for me) ski trip together in New Hampshire in 11th grade. I haven't been skiing since and I don't think I'll ever do it again. It was that bad.
  • We used to go cruising around in her mom's cool green minivan before either of us had our own car. Good times, good times.
  • I went on a plane ride for the first time in my life with Amy. It was Spring Break of our junior year, and we went down to Florida, where we stayed with her sweet and amusing grandparents. We went to the beach a lot and of course, to Disney World. So much fun!
  • We were just about the only girls at the prom who wore short dresses. Amy and I had good runner's legs, so we wanted to show them off. Everyone else wore long, elegant gowns, but not us.
  • We both quit the track team our senior year within a week of each other. We had Physics class together and the teacher was the track coach. He didn't like us very much after that. It was awkward, but at least we had each other!
  • And many, many more things that I could probably write an entertaining teenage novel about.
Bridesmaid Amy in action

That's Amy in the middle of the picture, surrounded by my other bridesmaids: my sisters Elizabeth and Jennifer and my niece Hayley. I've always really liked this picture.

Stacey and I endured a truly horrible Chemistry class together in 11th grade. I have no idea how the teacher, Mrs. Bent, ever got hired by the school district. We left that class knowing next to nothing about Chemistry. This probably explains why I had such a tough time with it in college. Thanks a lot, Mrs. Bent! Stacey understands. She and I both married a guy with the last name of Carlson, so we're each "Mrs. Carlson" now. Also, when she got married almost two years ago, her wedding dress was one of the most gorgeous I've ever seen. She looked like a princess bride in it.

The beautiful bride in her beautiful gown...

Mr. and Mrs. Carlson. Now we're family!

Weekend Old Friend Incident #2. My mother came down later on Saturday because we were invited over to the Starr's house for a special lunch on Sunday afternoon. The Starrs are a family in our ward at church. Shortly after we moved here, Cathy Starr and I were chatting and discovered a cool, very surprising connection--she and my mother had known each other as teenagers in Massachusetts when my mother first joined the church. Cathy's family, particularly her parents, helped my mother out a lot during that time. Her mother, LaRae Lowry, was someone I grew up hearing about, and LaRae was visiting this weekend, so she and my mother got to see each other again after many, many years, and I got to meet her. It was really neat and we had such a nice time visiting over there.

So it was a great weekend with some special friends. It's really nice to maintain connections over the years with people who mean a lot to you. I hope these connections will last a lifetime, perhaps even longer. Next weekend I'll be getting together with some other friends from high school. One of the great things about summer is that it's the best time for reunions!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Summer Goals

I have three of them and I've been working on them since the beginning of June.

1) Yardwork and gardening. Work on our landscaping and finally plant a vegetable garden!
2) Start regularly exercising again.

3) Read lots of books for pleasure.

I'm happy to report that I've been doing quite well on the first two. I will post pictures soon of the work I've done in my yard and the vegetable garden that I successfully planted. In June I worked about a half-hour a day in the yard and now I'm doing about 20 minutes a day, except for Sundays. It's good to be out in the sun working with nature and attempting to beautify our surroundings.

Exercise!: After years of not working out, I got tired of my increasingly untoned bod and finally started exercising again. I love it! I get pretty quick results from exercise, which is gratifying and helps me continue going. I've been doing about five days a week, just 20 minutes a day. I use a wonderful Pilates video that I bought at Target back in January. My focus has been on strengthening and toning my arms and shoulders, and I'm really happy with the results. They've never looked better in my whole life. Not only do I feel better physically, but I think it's also helping me emotionally and spiritually. Plus I feel like I'm fighting off lots of diseases and sicknesses.

Reading: I have a bad habit of not making enough time to read for pleasure in my life, even though reading has long been one of my greatest joys. I try harder in the summer to loosen up and read more, but old habits die hard and I find myself always trying to get things done or work on a project so that I can get it done. So far this summer, I'm still letting too many other things take up my time and attention over reading (I read newspapers and magazines daily, but I'm talking about good old-fashioned books--the best kind of reading out there). I've read three books so far this summer. One of them was a potty-training book so I guess that doesn't really count, since that pertains to my job of mother rather than a book for me. I have a stack of the ones I want to read before the fall on my desk. So I'm going to focus on reading for pleasure more. I think it's just as important as the previous two things.

As I said earlier, I'll post pictures sometime soon of my yardwork and garden. Maybe if someone begs me I'll post a picture of myself flexing my increasingly awesome arms and shoulders. Ha ha! I'm kidding about that one. And I'll report in August if I got through my stack of summer books. I hope everyone who reads this is having a good summer!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Cat's Life

Sometimes I wish I were a cat. This is what they can spend all day doing, if they so desire. What a life!

No responsibilities, no nagging To Do list, no serious matters to deal with, just plain old relaxing and living life. Someday, I'm going to try living like a cat for a week, simply sleeping, eating, and grooming myself. Maybe for leisure I'll throw in some reading time instead of chasing bugs around. It sounds like a pretty ideal life to me, at least for a little while. I wish I could do it right now!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Art is Good for the Heart

Well, Peter isn't too crazy about my last post regarding PMS, so to make him stop PMSing at me about it, I'm going to put something new up. (Ha ha, I couldn't resist that one!) As an aside, since this is a post I meant to do weeks ago, there are many things I'd like to write about or post pictures of on my blog that I never get to do. If I spent time doing everything I wish I could do with the blog, I would have to neglect my son and my house and making dinner and several other things. So I just have to fit in blog posts when I can. I really wish there were more hours in the day!

Anyway, a few weeks ago on a rainy weekday afternoon, John actually did some artwork. Hooray! With the exception of my amateur photography hobby, neither Peter nor I are all that artistic, and I'm afraid that as a result our child doesn't seem to be very artistic either. He hasn't shown too much interest in art except for a brief, messy love affair with finger painting last summer. So I was very pleased on that rainy day when I asked him if he wanted to paint and he said yes. He made some nice pictures that I then hung up on the fridge to dry and display. He enjoyed it, and I'm now motivated to make this a more regular part of his life. My plan is to make art projects fun and interesting for him, because it is important and it's a good way for a child to learn to express himself. (Thank you, Alyson and Caroline, for inspiring me to bring the joy of art into his life!)

"Hey! I actually like doing this!"

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Other Things PMS Stands For

1. Psychotic Mood Swings

2. Pardon My Sobbing

3. Puffy Mid Section

4. Pass My Shotgun

5. Pimples May Surface

6. Pack My Stuff

7. Potential Murder Suspect

These are so funny, because they are SO TRUE!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Life Without the Internet...

It stinks! We were without Internet access at our house for almost ten days until it was finally restored today. It turns out that our modem was dead, possibly hit by lightning. I am so glad that it's all fixed now. I found life without the Internet to be isolating and very inconvenient. I couldn't go check the news and my e-mail and blogs and weather and anything else I felt like doing. For example, I was watching a Red Sox-Yankees game and the announcers said something about A-Rod being in the news again for something he allegedly did, but they didn't say what it was, and I couldn't go run to the Internet to find out. Another time I needed to get directions for an appointment and couldn't go on to mapquest them. Aargh! It made me realize how much I've come to rely on the Internet in my daily life.

The good things about no Internet were that I was able to get some other things done in place of the time I would have spent on the computer, and Peter and I spent more time together than we usually do in the evenings. So that was nice. But we're certainly happy to be connected to the world again via the World Wide Web. I've missed you, my blogging friends, and I've missed reading your blogs. Now, I need to go tackle the over 300 messages in my e-mail that have been waiting for me...