Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thanksgivingmas? Go ahead, decorate!

I have not yet decorated for Christmas. But that is only because where I live, it was still 75* as of this past weekend and I just couldn't get into the spirit. Side note: I have had the best and longest summer ever! The summer in Philly was perfect and I moved just in time to enjoy 70s and 80s for two more months!

I digress. 

One of my BFFs sent me a text last week that said she was going out to buy a small tree and put it up. She has a 17-month-old. When she said "put up a tree," she literally meant it. Up on top of the counter, that is. 

A few others whom I follow on Instagram or Twitter have also decorated and I love seeing their photos. Of course, there are the naysayers who say it is too early.

But every. darn. year. don't we say how fast time goes and how fast the holiday season goes? So why the heck not, right? Go ahead, decorate! I won't judge. On this date last year, I had caved. We were living in Philly, it was cold. And I did it, my to my husband's dismay. 

Another topic that is working me the wrong way is the battle over the ability to shop on Thanksgiving. No, I don't think that we should. Give those people the day off. But what about those who DO have to work? News folks, paramedics, cops, firefighters, everyone in a tourist destination ... the reality is people have to work. This is the sixth Thanksgiving I've spent with my husband (and Christmas, too) and we've never had a Thanksgiving or Christmas day off together. This year will be the first for Christmas. Wait, that isn't true - we had Thanksgiving off together last year only because it fell on his normal day off.

So let's keep those who are protecting us, entertaining us or informing us in our minds too ... while we are or are not shopping.

I am not going to lie, once the temperature changed on Sunday I was ready to decorate. But since I am hosting Thanksgiving, I will spare my guests and stick to turkeys and pilgrims. This is my Thanksgiving set up from last year.

And this year ... (these are ceramics that my mom painted way back in the day when I was single-digits years old)

Since we don't have (m)any shelves or places to place much decor, I am not sure what Christmas will look like around here this year. I am in search of a lovely, pre-lit, fake 9-foot tree. Any ideas where to shop?

This is what it looked like in November of last year when I, yes, decorated before Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Time for No. 2?? Could it be?

When you're dating its "When are you getting married?" Once you get married, it is "When are you having kids?" The umbilical cord wasn't even clipped yet and I swear I heard, "When are you having number two?"

Spoiler alert: This has nothing to do with expanding our family just yet.

There is a saying about life happening while you are busy making other plans. A year ago, we were earlobe deep in planning a move to Philadelphia, PA. Something that was laid out as a goal, something that I supported my husband in as he accomplished it like a champ. While we were planning out all of the cities and sights we would visit, all of the museums we would peruse, all of short trips and visits to the beaches, God was making other plans for us.

That's right ... the Flos are making cross-country move No. 2. Once you get back on your chair or pick your jaw up from the floor, I will go on ....

Anyway, turns out that we were already where we were meant to be, but just didn't see it at the time. Yes, that means we are moving back to Las Vegas next month.

No, it isn't because of the record-breaking winter (though you don't have to twist any arms for me to not have to experience that again), it is because of opportunity. The opportunity for my husband to take a leadership role at the same place where he worked last year. If you've been following along for a while, you know that he is a meteorologist and he is going back to the news station he worked at while in Las Vegas. The opportunity to be closer to both sides of the family. How does that happen when my family is all east? Travel, the willingness to do it and flexibility with my job. :)

This decision did take quite some time of careful thought: we have a family now, is that where we want to raise our family? Bloom where you are planted I was told, so we will bloom. But my side of the family is all in PA, why would I leave them? Family and home are where the heart is. Truth be shared, I am really excited about the whole experience.  The husband and I will finally have weekends off together. In six-and-a-half years of being together, we have had maybe 15 or 20 weekends off together. My friends coming over to whine & wine, and bringing a little bit of what I love from the east back to the west.

Pennsylvania is where I grew up, but Vegas is now our home.

Phew! Am I glad that the secret is out now. It's been really rough for the last few weeks trying to keep this a secret while the details were solidified. I wanted to keep this short, but check back here often to follow along with our journey ... there are many more stories I have to share. I didn't blog much about our move to PA, but certainly hope to change that with this move. There are so many exciting things I want to share!

The lesson learned here: trust that at this moment you are where you need to be for the next moment.

Guess I can just reverse this picture, huh?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Flos do DC: A Photo Dump and Some Words

Before moving to the East Coast, the hubs and I swore we'd never be bored and we would pack our days full of things to do. Then every Saturday rolls around, the kiddo gets up from her nap and we look at each other and say, "What should we do today?" Yes, it is a bit different from being bored, but by the time we get out of the house, it is 3 p.m. or later, so many things are already closed.

A few weeks back, we decided to take some days off and head to Washington, DC. The hubs had never been there and it's been a decade + since I've been there. We hemmed and hawed on taking the little one with us, but we ultimately decided to leave her with her grandparents.

I am really good at planning trips. I am not really good at planning when to go. Case in point: We went to Vegas in April. The day we landed, it was the coldest day they had had since Feb. 17. The coldest days in two months, the day we get there. After 15 snow storms in PA, we get to Vegas and it was 54 degrees. So when we get to DC, it is no wonder that it is the hottest, most humid day of the year. And it should also come as no surprise that it was the last week of Harlow's school. Getting out the door was stressful, but we managed.

We took the train from the 'burbs to the city. So no driving into the city for a 9:30 a.m. train and our 5:00 p.m. arrival on a Friday. This was amazing, this train stop is about 8 minutes from our house and overnight parking is available a block or two away.

First, I had to leave this little love:

Then we waited for the train on a drizzly morning, but it wasn't too hot or humid yet. 

I'm on a train! If you follow me on Instagram then you've seen some of these images. 

I really don't know much about the Washington Monument. We didn't ride up to the top, but it is lovely to look at. Fun fact: our hotel was designed in 1839 by the same guy. I just love history and knowing that I am in a building that is almost 200 years old. 

Taking a pic of the hubs taking a pic of the White House. I remember seeing this as a kid and it seemed so much closer, no?

The Monument with the Capitol in the background.

The Lincoln Monument, this is always cool to see. Lincoln seemed like a pretty top-notch kind of guy.

Since we were so hot and schweaty, we didn't want any pics of our fronts and through this would make for a cool pic. The tourist who took the pic thought his finger would make a great pic. D'oh!

Me and Abe. Honest Abe. Schweaty Jennifer. 

While walking back to the hotel, we came across the Tropical Smoothie food truck. We ate there way too much when we lived in Las Vegas. This was the first one I've seen on the West Coast and we of course each ordered our faves. 

I am very brand loyal to Kimpton Hotels. One reason is the free wine hour they have from 5-6 p.m. daily. It was the perfect treat to a HOT and HUMID day of walking. Well, second perfect treat. Finding a Tropical Smoothie was the first best thing to happen. 

We stayed at the Hotel Monaco on7th and F. It is nearby a Metro stop, close to some great restaurants and Chinatown. Loved it. The decor was great, staff was wonderful and of course, the wine hour was perfection. 

The Capitol from the Newseum. The Newseum was fantastic! It was part history, part education, part entertainment. I loved it. Present company included, we are often so quick to blame "the media" and while yes that can sometimes be true, "the media" is also how we get our news and how we learn about the world. The sad part for me was re-watching some painful moments in history, particular the event coverage of 9/11. But the media brought us the news on that historic day. Being married to someone in the media, I see both sides of the debate: the public view and the media view. Never the less, this museum was great! 

I took my own turn at giving the hubs a run for his money on the "Anchorman" weather wall. 

It just so happened that one of my near and dear friends was in her hometown in NoVa at the same time. We were on the same study abroad program in Rome Italy in the fall of 1999. Yes, 1999, last century. This was the first time we've seen each other in maybe seven or eight years. She once came to Vegas to visit me, which it took me about five days to even remember it was that long ago. She still pretty much lives in Italy and comes back periodically. She is one of those friends who you can go years without seeing, months without talking to and when you see each other it was like yesterday. Can't go wrong with that! 

I didn't have my Spark on Thursday and I felt every bit of it. I changed that on Friday! This stuff is gold to me. 

I did then proceed to have a half-caff at Dunkins. After paying out the wazoo for breakfast on Thursday, we got smart and did Dunkins on Friday. 

Of course I had to pose and be silly for a minute. Like I said above, I love history. This hotel was built in 1839 and had these statue alcoves near our room and I posed.

We headed back on Friday, which worked out well. We were tired from walking miles and miles and miles around the city. It was humid and slated to rain. But before we headed out, we went to Captain White's at the Wharf (based on my local friend's suggestion) for the lunch. It took maybe 20 min to get our food, but it was worth it. So fresh, so affordable and so delicious. It was quite possibly the best lobster bisque I've ever had. Yes, it was hot and we had bisque. We had to!

After lunch we walked several blocks, trying to out walk the rain cloud that was headed in. It started to rain just as we flagged down a cab. We grabbed our bag at the hotel, made our way back to the train station and were on our way home to our girl! Who was home. Alone. Just kidding. My kind parents stayed with her and she had the time of her little life.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Up in arms

***This post has been sitting in my draft folder for well over a year. It covers a controversial topic and controversy isn't something I want to get into on this blog. However, after opening it up today and rereading, I am going to post it. I think that this was written shortly after the re-election of our current president and probably around the time of some heated gun control debate. I am not really sure of what the point the point of this was post was supposed to be. Obviously, in some way, I support gun control, education and usage.***

I try to stay out of political conversations and debates. Frankly, I just don't care what your political opinion or affiliation is. We are friends, let's leave it there. Unless of course we are on the same side of the topic. Right? Politics is the main reason why I don't like spending time on Facebook.

Anyway, there is a lot of talk over gun control right now and I feel that either way everyone is damned. If no one addresses it, then shame for not addressing it. If it is, then shame for it not being right, the right time or whatever.

My thoughts? I don't understand why people are up in arms about it. Get it? Up in arms? Arms? Anyway, in July of 2011, the hubs and I took a gun safety class. We took this class with the intent of learning how to use a gun for self protection, should anyone ever break into our home, and to buy one gun for this reason.

When we walked into the class, the first thing you do it pick up a prosthetic gun. For lack of better word, I called it prosthetic, because it wasn't real. It was rubbery or something. The instructors take note of how you pick it up and what you do with it. I am pretty sure that in addition to picking it up with my finger on the trigger, I probably pointed it right at myself or the hubs. That is what I see in movies: Put your finger on the trigger. Long story short, we spent all day learning gun safety, how to operate it, we learned how to use pepper spray, legalities of both and then went to the range to shoot.

My palms were sweaty, my arms were shaking but I did it. I pulled the trigger on a gun. I instantly felt empowered, strong and protected. I was still shaking, but the adrenaline rush I got from it was not something I expected to feel. People "like me" don't shoot guns. Whatever that is supposed to mean ...  I'm not a redneck? I don't know. I was just very resistant to the idea of guns.

We agreed upon and bought one. The hubs would occasionally take me to the shooting range for practice. What good is a gun if I don't know how to use it? And slowly, something started to change. I started to enjoy it.                        

Longer story short, we ended up buying more than just that one. And it has become more of a hobby rather than a form of protection. But you know what? It is done safely, we pay attention to what we are doing when we are doing it and it is all about following gun safety rules. Simple as that.

Here is my point: I don't remember being able to play with paints, markers and glue sticks in school if everyone couldn't use them properly and for their intended purposes. Think about it: bottled glue is not meant to be spread in a thin layer on your hand and peeled off once dry. We all did it, but got in trouble for it. Markers weren't meant for writing on the desks and when we didn't follow the rules, these items were taken away from us. So ... what should be done since we all (as Americans) can't seem to follow the rule with guns?

Would outlawing them and making us give them back solve things? Probably not. Are there people out there who use assault rifles for recreation? Yes, there are. Would I have had a different stance on gun control before taking that class? Yes, I would have.

So I will end this here: I hope that you all keep your minds and your hearts open.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Weekend in the Life

I remember the days of living for the weekend and then weekends became laundry and errand days and then I married a buy who works weekends. It used to be weekend evenings, but now it is weekend mornings. It actually coincides with Harlow's schedule; they go to bed at the same time and take an afternoon nap at the same time. I know that will eventually change but for now, it isn't so bad.

What does a typical weekend in our world look like? Take a peek:

There is a Friday a.m. cycle class at my gym. Harlow can enjoy the child care, I can get my spin on and since the husband is off, he comes along and plays basketball or runs. 

My parents live less than two hours away, sometimes we will meet halfway and visit with each other. If they forget something at my house, like the time my dad forgot his wallet, or if they are going to take H for a weekend we will meet up. This weekend we exchanged a lawn mower for a bike. My dad is working on hubs' bike and he gave us a lawnmower to use for the summer. Yes, adulthood sucks. 

Then it's lunch time. Harlow's schedule is pretty good now where she goes down for her nap between 11:30 and noon. Clearly she wasn't excited about the waffle holding her over. 

Daddy came home on a quick break for breakfast on Sunday. 

I tried toddler wearing for about five minutes - until I had to take something out of the oven! Harlow was clingy Sunday morning while daddy was at work, so I tried her out. This is a lillebaby and while it worked and it fit, it needed some adjusting. H is only 21/22 lbs so it's not like I am a rock star! 

I am almost done with my 24-Day Challenge and am LOVING the app that is so easy to use. But by day 20-something, I have it pretty down pat and forget to track things.  I did my upper body workout and added a 20 minute core class to the end of my workout. My weakest links are triceps and core. I am soooo sore today! Gotta keep it up!

This weekend's weather was absolutely beautiful. Warm, sunny and just perfect. So we spent some time outside at Freedom Park. Which has very little shade. You would never realize we moved from Las Vegas. It was 80 degrees and I was sweating, so we moved from the sunny park to the shady park closer to home. 

Memorial Day Monday and the gym was closed, so I got myself out of bed and went for a wog. I refer to my "running" as a walking/jogging combo. Jogging is even subject to ridicule because I am not sure I can even jog.  The morning was perfect: slightly cool, moisture in the air and a beautiful sunrise coming over the trees. I stopped to take more photos than jogging steps though. But can you blame me?

Plans were made to check out Tyler Arboretum. That place is just simply gorgeous and tons of fun for kids. They have tree houses! I didn't take any photos, but the friend I went with did. She happens to be an incredibly talented photographer, too! She has an 8-year-old son who enjoyed playing with Harlow and Harlow enjoyed calling him "Bubby." I look forward to taking my niece and nephew here, they will get a kick out of it. And I will bring the BOB stroller next time. My Chicco just wasn't cutting it, neither were my cute sandals.

That, my friends, was my Memorial Day Weekend in a nutshell. Big difference from my baby who couldn't even crawl last year.