Wednesday, October 10, 2012

That Time I Almost Died, back in September

"I don't want to die - I don't want to die - I don't want to die" The thought ran on repeat in my head as tears streamed down my face and my breath came in short gasps. 

Was I clinging to the edge of a cliff, or maybe in the middle of an armed robbery?

Nope, I was just about to get onto this:

Somehow, my dislike of flying transformed itself into a full on panic inducing phobia right before our trip out west for my mother-in-law's birthday, much to the consternation of both Ed and myself. If you know me, you know that my list of fears runs about a mile long, and includes the (in my opinion) sensible, like running solo on desert trails during rattlesnake season, to the absurd (moths freak me out a  bit, and used to cause yelp inducing panic). 

Plane rides, though, have gotten progressively worse. I've  found that with a drink and a dvd player, I'm usually alright, so I'd planned accordingly. However, when I found out that our plane only sat 50, it took my fear into new territory. Add that to the knowledge that a friend of my Dad's died in a plane crash at the airport we were landing at 30 years earlier, and  I could barely sleep the night before. I woke up early to research the plane and the plane company (because that is how I deal with fears :)). I was still in tears as Ed took me to work (thankfully it was a professional development day with no kids), and just tried to keep myself distracted. I even bought myself 3 new books over lunch to bring on the plane as an extra distraction. 

As you can imagine, by the time we were on the shuttle to the airport, I was a bit of a mess. By the time we were going through security, I was an embarrassing mess. So much so that after going through, one of the women working there came up to me to ask if I was okay. I could barely gulp out, "I'm scared" through my sobs, feeling like a complete idiot. But, what can you do. 

As soon as we got to the gate, I made a very good call, literally. I called my mom. She did her best to both distract and reassure me until it was time to get on the plane. 

As we took off, I may have been crying more than the little baby behind us, but once we were in the air, I pulled it together, got myself some wine, and put on Hairspray on my laptop. It was a short flight, and one of the smoothest I've been on. As we began our gentle descent, over the vineyards and beautiful golden California hills, I was glad I had decided to go, and was so happy to be back in my home state. 

Stepping off the plane and into the decidedly cool air, Ed and I knew it was going to be a great trip. We stopped in Morro Bay on the way home for dinner. The sun was just setting, and we took a moment to enjoy our first ocean view in a few months.

We had dinner in a beautiful restaurant on the water to pre-celebrate Sabine's birthday, and our arrival in California. It was lovely.

The next day was our main event. Ed and his brother (with some help from their respective spouses) had been working on their mom's 70th birthday party for months and it was exciting to put everything together. Keven and Noemi arrived in the morning, and we all got to work, setting up tables, decor and food. We convinced Sabine's good friend to take her for a hike so that she could be surprised with the final effect. A few hours later, she arrived and was  very happy with all of our hard work.

When you first enter the home, we had appetizers set up to tide everyone over until the late lunch. 

We also had the cake, a spot for cards, and our gift for Sabine - a digital frame loaded with lots of pictures from all of her sons and family. It was an Octoberfest theme (since Sabine is from Germany) so we had flags out to celebrate. 

Outside was where we put most of our effort, as that's where the main part of the party was happening. We decorated all the tables with beer steins and flowers to give it that Bavarian touch.

We decided to go for that more polished look and actually rent dishes and linens. It really dressed up our party and looked lovely. 

Brother in law Keven was the master griller of the day, and did an amazing job on the food!

Another Bavarian touch? Soft fresh pretzels.

This backyard party was the perfect layout. we had 5 tables full of happy, wonderful friends, all celebrating a great woman. We super lucked out with the weather, too, with beautiful 70s weather.

Everyone loved the food. It reminded me of our trip to Germany on our honeymoon. 

The excellent party planners:

The also excellent daughter-in-laws with a very special 70 year old!

After the party, Ed and I decided to go catch the sunset, so beautiful it almost took our breath away. 

Standing here made my heart ache for this beautiful state, both with sadness for having left, and happiness for getting to visit our wonderful families here. 

This is one couple very happy to be in California, even if it was just for a weekend. 

The next morning, we had one more thing on our California list - hitting those trails. 

We started in the fog, which was lovely compared to the hot Arizona runs we've had. 

Soon, though, we were up in the clear skies, enjoying the golden hills, cute deer and horses, and bright skies. While it was more hiking than running, we did run the whole last downhill section, which reminded me how much love I do have for trail running. 

A run in cambria wouldn't be complete without one last stop at the ocean. It was definitely cold, which was such a lovely change, and we soaked it all in. 

We had a nice relaxing day, just enjoying spending time outside with family. Around 2pm, we headed to our little airport. I did much better on the way back. Only a few tears were shed as we took off, and before we knew it, we were back to real life.

Feeling thankful for such a wonderful California weekend.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Randoms from a Break

Thank goodness, my fall break is finally here. I have to say, I so, so needed it. To be honest, I've worked every day except Sunday, so it arguably hasn't exactly been a break, but working on my own timetable (and knowing that every hour I put in over break means one fewer hour of work once school starts up) is pretty awesome. 

So far? It's been a productive break. It a generally sequential but somewhat random feeling recount - here's what we've been up to!

Our first day of break was an early one. Ed had his first trail race of the season, a 20k trail race about 45 minutes west in the Estrella mountains. Ed convinced me to go with him for company, and I love him so much that I woke up at 5am on my first day of vacation. So, we drove, and drove and finally arrived to find....a very quiet trail. 

Very casually, Ed asked me what the date was. I told him it was the 6th. Well, wouldn't you know the race was the 7th! We both laughed and laughed and laughed. How do you get the completely wrong date for the race! I couldn't be mad, it was too funny. The drive itself was nice (albeit a bit early), and Ed had a very successful race the next day. I did not join him the second time around :).

 At home, we had a few home "renovations" on our list that we've gotten done/started. 

First up? Getting rid of these lovely valences. They really gave our home a Mimi's Cafe feel, which wasn't quite the look we were going for. 

Without them, our home seems lighter, and just that bit more us.

While I am still fantasizing about the day we can hire painters to get rid of these red walls.

As I mentioned, work is still definitely happening. This scene here? My life lately. It's lovely having a huge table to do work, and I'm enjoying using both laptops so that I can watch a movie while working in here :). 

The best part of working in here is enjoying this view of my birthday presents (coffee table from mom-in-law Sabine and coffee table from Ed). I love, love, love this room. My brother in law says it looks like one of those rooms in magazines - maybe that's why I love it so much. It's nice to have a room that always looks pretty and mess free. I also love my pretty white pottery barn pumpkin I bought. I totally love all my little fall touches. 

Our big chore on Sunday (my "non-work" day) was figuring out our phones. Ed literally broke his phone last week (as in his flip phone broke into two pieces), so we really needed to get him a new phone. My phone also sucks (hangs up at lest one time during a phone call and randomly will log me onto the internet), so I decided that I should upgrade as well. It was quite the ordeal (45 minutes of waiting, until we gave up and grabbed some lunch and this great asian restaurant). 

We went back to find the same people still being helped an hour later. About 20 minutes after we got back, we finally got helped. Ed picked out another very simple flip phone (thus thwarting my promise to buy him a smart phone). Me? I am (in about 4 weeks when it comes in) going to be the proud owner of this:

We're joining the smartphone club with my very own iphone 4! It was a whole $0.99, so we're just paying an extra $20 a month for data. It was a tough call, but I think I'll really enjoy having it :) Since I have apple laptops, I'm very excited to sync them up. So, those on the other side of the smartphone world - any advice? Apps to download? 

The high point of this weekend was the arrival of my brother-in-law, Tom. We love have him visiting because, not only because he's awesome, but he also is incredibly handy. 

After we plied him with drinks and snacks, we convinced him to install my new birthday present from my parents - our ourdoor lights. 

 Our old lights were pretty ugly, in all their brassy glory, and didn't really light up.

Ed was very happy to say goodbye to them (almost as happy as I was!)

Tom talked about how easy they were to install, and that this used to be one way he made a lot of money as a handy-man. When he told us handymen like him like to charge around $150 for this kind of work, we felt super lucky to get off with just buying him a couple 8-packs of limeritas (a margarita in a can by bud-light). 

The finished product? Amazing!!

They produce so much light and make our house look so much more dressed up. Thanks mom and dad!

Ever since we installed them, Ed and I feel so happy when we pull up to our house. 

To celebrate, we broke out Tom's limeritas, which are apparently best when you throw them into the freezer until they become almost like a slushy, and pour them into a frozen glass. 

It froze as soon as it hit the glass, and was just as good as promised. 

It's so fun to see Ed with his brother - I love getting to see him in the little brother context. Tom is always being silly with him, just like big brothers are supposed to be. 

They really do look a lot alike :)

We went out to our arguably favorite place - our pizza/wine bar, which was great. 

We got a bottle of wine and a few pizzas, and had a really nice, relaxing time. The funniest part was towards the end when Tom, being Tom, decided that if he put his hand over the tea-light candle holder and "didn't hesitate" he could put out the flame without getting burned. Shockingly, he got burned. 

The funniest part, though, was that when I went to take his picture, he'd already removed the smudge. So, being the obliging brother-in-law he is, he ran over to another table to re-burn himself! All in the name of photography. 

He woke up early the next morning, fixed our sprinkler system and two light switches before he took off. It was a short but sweet trip. The next time we see him will be for his wedding!

Our (my) last project? Redoing our laundry room. So far, it's primed up and ready to go :) Can't wait to finish this room!

So, that's where I am as of Tuesday night. Tomorrow and Thursday, my plan is plenty more work, relaxing, painting, and other errand running. My sister, Kort, is coming on Thursday evening, so all of the work needs to be done by then. I can't wait for phase two of break to start :). 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Just Relaxing

I feel like lately my constant message on here is "I'm busy and tired," which has such a snowball effect. Because of this, when I do post, I feel like it's become this impersonal sort of retell that just recaps life, rather than really talks about it, you know? Almost too many pictures and not enough content. I suppose I'm just going with the whole, "a picture's worth a thousand words" philosophy, but I would like that to change. After all, one of the reasons I have a blog is to write about my life, not to just post pictures. I can't promise that this post will be earth shattering change, but hopefully it's a little better. I just hope it doesn't take me two weeks to finish it!

In light of the stress of this new job and new location, Ed and I have both been making a concerted effort to find ways to relax, much more so than we ever did before, even though there was plenty of stress in our our life, too. 

One of my favorite new routines is that Ed and I will carpool to work on Fridays (and usually another day besides). After work, we pretty much always go and hit up a happy hour. About half the time, it's with the other new ASU faculty (who are all really nice and around our age). If they aren't meeting, we just choose a place for the two of us. 

Ed and I keep talking about this - we can't decide if we didn't do this in the bay area because we were just less adventurous, or if it was just harder to find good, cheap happy hours close to us. In any event, we've found a lot of great places, including this mexican place (above), an irish pub (downtown Tempe), a pizza/wine bar (downtown Tempe), and a brewery (downtown Chandler). It's a great way to let off steam and get the weekend started right.

Now that our living room/dining room is nearing completion, we're also enjoying relaxing in there. We actually made our first trip to Whole Foods last weekend (it's not even too far away!) to treat ourselves to a fancy dinner. We had Bison steaks, with fresh corn and a great tomato, cucumber and avocado salad with basil and a balsamic vinaigrette. It's so nice to eat at our big table and enjoy the room that took so much work to finish. I feel like I've not been cooking as much as I used to (see busy job), but I'm hoping to get back into that routine soon.

Probably my favorite (and most consistent) relaxation routine though, involves this view:

I've made it a goal after I get home from work to immediately fix myself a snack and go to the living room to read (thus channeling my mom perfectly, as that's what she always did when I was growing up). After the noisiness of the classroom all day, just 30 minutes or so of peace and quiet is amazing. I may ask Ed to not watch TV if it's been a particularly rough day, and he's usually wonderful enough that the he obliges. 

This has been my go-to snack this past week - triscuits with cherry tomatoes, fresh parmesan, and fresh basil, along with a glass of sparkling water if we have it. It is probably my favorite part of the day and really helps refresh me for the evening. I am loving having a consistent reading time and watching less "mindless" tv (i.e. without a show in mind, just flipping channels). It's lovely. 

And, while these guys aren't technically about stress relief, they certainly make us smile. Meet our resident front porch pest control service:

We have 4 of these super cute geckos and have seen first hand their awesomeness when it comes to crickets and moths. We're hoping they tell their friends about the great dining here. 

This was by far our coolest resident, who sadly wasn't back today. A very cute, fuzzy bat! I'm still hoping he returns, as I know I could count on him to keep our bug count down, and he is quite cute looking (from a distance). 

So, that's what's going on every day, without special events or big plans. Just life.