Sunday, January 30, 2011

And another year... it begins again...

So, this busy season started off in full swing, oh January FOURTH. Why you ask? Oh only because I had a benefit plan audit that is a fiscal (meaning: September 30) year end that just rears its head the first of January as a swift kick to the arse to say, "Hey, remember me? I'm your 'gentle' ease right back into this hellish time of year...right at the first of January when no one wants to work after the holidays."

Hey, stupid EBP plan, I hate you.

Oh, and I should mention: it's a full scope. (Pretty sure there's only a handful of people that will appreciate my pain on me, without getting into the accounting lingo- it SUCKS).

Actually, I really don't HATE this particular client. I really quite enjoy it. But I do not like being thrust back in that early in January after eating my way through the previous two weeks. And by eating I mean, I was practically living in a sugar induced Christmas cookie coma. The revisit to WORKING is a harsh reality. So yeah, January 4th: WELCOME.

Oh, and by the way, welcome to the life you won't have for the next two (or four) months...with maybe only a slight reprieve thrown in there somehow. Ah, yes, tis that time of year indeed. And a quick question to myself: why oh why do I continue to stay in this profession this time of year? After 8 busy seasons in my career, it has not started to suck any less. Heading into these next 3 months makes me really question my sanity. I have to remember: short summer days, short summer days, six weeks vacation, six weeks vacation.... That mantra usually stops working around the end of February when I would like to flip off everyone not working 7 days a week, people that have seen the sun more than once in 2 months, and when I consider moving to a remote island to live in only a box...if only just to get away from my damn ten key, which becomes a key accessory for me during this time of year (a CALCULATOR for all of you non-accountants). It's pretty sexy. Oh, and I also start to dream about work. Like nightmares. It can be quite comical, actually.

Really, I swear, this is the profession I CHOSE.

BUT, on the plus side, my work recognized the work that I am doing by a promotion which I have to say was COMPLETELY unexpected but totally awesome. They usually don't do that mid-year (our year end is June) but for whatever reason they gave about 4 of us in our firm promotions in January. Sweet! I don't care if it was used for motivation going into this busy season, I'll take it. Onward.... and praying to god April will be here soon....

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Birthday Week.

Justin got a birthday week this year. No, not a day, not a little piece of cake. A WEEK. Why? Oh I don't know, mostly because I love him. Secondly, because he didn't want it so I thought I'd show him how a proper midwesterner celebrates. Also known as: we go overboard. Is that just a generalization? Maybe. Perhaps midwesterners are really just simple and don't have this trait at all but where I come from, we go overboard... much in thanks to my mom, which (hi mom!) isn't a bad thing at all.

Anyhow. A birthday WEEK. I had so much fun. I'm not so sure that Justin did but that's besides the point, right? I mean, when I was little I got presents on my brothers birthday and vice versa, so really what it's all about is me, right? I had fun. It was a great week. End of story.

OK, OK. It was NOT all about me. It was all about him. And how much I love him. But I sure did have fun.

What I did: I had 7 days worth of presents for him. Some small, some larger. Each arrived at varying times each day and had a little snippet for his birthday week and the present he was just about to open. I started it on the Friday before his birthday when family/friends came over for a pre-birthday celebration (his birthday was on a Tuesday) and it ended on the Friday after his birthday. Each card was for the following day.

Here's how it went.

Friday, January 21: I gave him a little present (one of his favorite Mark Ryan wines) with a card that told him to enjoy the wine but not too much as the bigger present that day was a day of skiing with Bailey (his oldest son) the following day.

Saturday, January 22: I gave him a book (nutritional stuff, you know, that crap we hippies/health fanatics up here all love) that was offset by another bottle of wine (Justin- no, not my Justin, a GREAT winemaker out of California) as well as a few small other items (snacks, etc) with a card that said to rest/relax after a big day of skiing which meant that it was a great movie day on the following day with son #2, Oliver. Oh, and by the way, skiing with Bailey? They had SO much fun.

Sunday, January 23: The card that accompanied the package said to get ready for the week ahead... and in it was a bunch of little snacks, coffee, a coffee mug, etc.

Monday, January 24: Another card that said the package was a little care package to take care of his body... (don't cover your eyes, it's PG rated here). In the package was a bunch of hygiene stuff- Shampoo/Conditioner, shaving cream, soap, etc. I also gave him a very emo booked called "soul happy", you know one of those lovey dovey quote books. Yes, indeed, I am one of those people that dig that shit. My partner is too. Our eyes may or may not have watered upon reading it together. Don't judge.

BIRTHDAY DAY! January 25: I did do a card on this day too. It accompanied a HUGE care package full of more bars/snacks, etc. as well as the cupcakes referenced in the prior post. That night I made him dinner, as I also mentioned, gave him a cycling book he wanted, gave him bookers bourbon (one of his favorites), Andrew Will wine (why is there seeming to be an alcohol theme here with health junkie snacks/books/etc intertwined... interesting...). The big thing I did was to compile a book for him from everyone (as most people who read this blog probably know because they probably contributed- THANK YOU!!) It was a little crazy getting it to all come together but it was magnificent. In the card on the front of the book was an IOU for a family photography session by the marvelous Tara of Red Thread Photography who took our friends Rich and Stacie's phenomenal wedding photos. The photos taken by her will fill the photo spot on the front of the book... exciting! Inside the book were pages and pages of email tidbits and photos that SO MANY people contributed to me for Justin.... basically telling him what they wanted him to know on his very important day. Some were funny, some were moving, some were simple, some were long-winded... but mostly, I was just flat out BLOWN AWAY by the response from people. I mean, I KNEW Justin was a great guy but this just blew me out of the water. He's amazing. The people in our life are astounding. To say he was touched by the book would be an absolute understatement. It was one of the most special things we have shared together. I had no idea it would be as cool as it was.

Wednesday, January 26: Hard to follow the actual birthday but I did it... with a card that said we might need to detox after the presents from the night before (no, not the book- the bourbon and wine). His detox usually means a big ride so to help with that I gave him a bunch of protein, a protein shaker bottle, bars, and anything else I could think of that he would love for working out. I think I did a good job.

Thursday, January 27: Gave him a card that said I was giving him something that held special memories for us and he had to guess what. It was a bottle of Knob creek bourbon (yeah, I know, I got carried away at the liquor store... why the liquor store? Oh, only because in freaking Washington you can't buy hard alcohol at any where else BUT a liquor store). Anyhow, when Justin and I first started dating, we created some very, um, SPECIAL memories that included knob creek as a base.

Friday, January 28: A card that said I'd take him out to dinner anywhere he wished. We went to sushi at Japonessa, in Seattle on Saturday night. It was amazing. Pictures, as follows are mostly from Friday night, the 21st when we had family over to celebrate his birthday with a mexican feast but it's all I've got.... The cake I bought him- German Chocolate from a local bakery. Actually this is the cake I usually request for MY birthday. I wasn't 100% sure what he loved most and wanted it to be a surprise so I picked what I loved most (ok, maybe that choice was all about me... ) But, come to find out he LOVED it (...and patting my back for that one....and thankful I didn't have to eat the whole thing by myself, although maybe that wouldn't have been the WORST scenario, except for the old waistline...)
After picking up the kids, Justin came home and was snacking on all of our pre-dinner goods... here with his aunt Drue (right) and her friend, um, crap I forgot her name (left).

Dinner... soo good. Here Drue, Oliver, and Jocelyn (his mom).

And with Baby oliver and Jordan (his brother). Baby Oliver was a big help with the present opening. Obviously. (BY THE WAY, is he the cutest kid ever or what?!)

Oops, Baby Ollie doesn't like this present, THROW IT! (Actually he didn't throw it at all but this picture still cracks me up).

"If you rub my head, you'll go up..." So, smart kid, he rubbed the head...

He went up and someone else, aka: a birthday boy, also got a workout!

Look at that trainer with 90 degree push up arms and a little scooter on the backside!

Someone's arms got tired but someone else still wanted to play....

I really have no idea when the above picture was taken, other than sometime that week when we drank some wine.

All in all, I think that Justin had a great birthday this year. It was a fun week, for both of us, although maybe just a tad bit embarrassing for him with all of the recognition. But that's ok, I've heard that embarrassment is good for the soul, especially as you start to age, and as I tell him, he is definitely starting to get up there in age.... (haha, I love you honey! When I'm your age in many, many years, you can tease me...) In all seriousness, I'm a big birthday fan and I wanted Justin to know how much he is loved, not only just on his birthday but each and every day.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A preview...

January 25 was Justin's birthday and he had a full birthday week in honor of the day. What? He spoils me, why can't I do the same for him? Seems fair. To keep the suspense building, I will do an entirely separate post of the whole of the birthday week and just post here some fun we had on his ACTUAL birthday....and fun basically meaning what we ate.

Starting off with the least exciting- I made him dinner. Seabass, salad, and mashed sweet potatoes. I could seriously spend the rest of my life only eating mashed sweet potatoes. I'm not kidding.

And runner up for the most exciting part of the meal: WINE. And not just any wine, Andrew Will wine. One of Justin's favorite winemakers. It is not cheap. But oh so worth it.

And the second runner up for most exciting: BIRTHDAY CUPCAKES. SO good. They are from Cupcake royale. Very cutesy but their cupcakes hold their own. I may be able to survive solely on mashed sweet potatoes, wine and cupcakes... wait, whose birthday was it?

Oh man, don't they look so delectable!?

And, another shot... the funniest part about these cupcakes was that I took them to Justin in the middle of the day at work. Um, and he's a personal trainer. Luckily he's not a meathead personal trainer and he actually believes in the concept of moderation. However, I think I may have given his boss a slight coronary by bringing things such as CARBS and SUGAR within 50 feet of him. If I had known then how good they were, I would have eaten one right there sloooowly in front of his face. Oh well, next time! Mmmm.... Birthday posting to be continued....

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

More and more...

I am a lucky girl. This boy spoils me and at the start of busy season, I was especially well taken care of....

I mean, who DOESN'T want a care package delievered in a Mickey's deep sea discovery lunch box?!

Look at all of thos goodies inside....

And flowers, too! It certainly made for a nice start to the crazy time of year....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Phoenix follow up pictures...

From the post here... the pictures that for some reasons I couldn't add in to the Phoenix post. These pictures are from Saturday night out at the Old Tortilla factory. Fun times with great friends.

All of us... Justin, me, Melissa and then Jen and Jessica in the front.

And Justin with his tequilla flight.... mmm....

Monday, January 17, 2011

A much needed trip to the sun.

The Seattle weather has been trying and exhausting. For the past 4 years. Ok, not really but when it hits January and the holidays are over and it's raining and raining and still not topping 45 degrees? JULY SEEMS LIKE A LONG WAYS A WAY. I mean, July at that point in time? Ask anyone in Seattle and July will NEVER get here. Are you kidding, why would you even ask that? We will DIE well before July gets here. From drowning. Or lack of vitamin d.

And I say July because June is by FAR the worst part of the year in Seattle. It's a sick joke. Everyone is enjoying this awesome perfect summer weather of 75-80 degrees. SHUT UP everyone who doesn't live in Seattle. I wish to never hear from you in June. June SUCKS. It's rainy, it's freezing, it feels like November. Without fail (oh, and as an aside- not like these first two paragraphs haven't been a massive aside- June was the month I moved to Seattle 4 years ago. From Phoenix. BRILLIANT. I thought that maybe it was the worst decision I'd ever made. And then I bought 250 sweaters and felt a little better about my life. After all, I hadn't "enjoyed" (ahem, barf) winter in all the years I lived in Phoenix...)
So yes. Back on track.

July was a long ways away. We were dying in Seattle winter...and even though it hadn't been that rainy, it was just cold. And blah.

So the only logical thing?

Book a trip to the Phoenix! I was well overdue for not only sun but some friend time, too. As a perfect pre-busy season getaway, we packed our bags and ranthehellasfastaswecould to the airport.

We left on Friday, January 14 at around 4pm. We got up at 4am, as is normal since we literally get to work at the ASS CRACK (wish I was joking) so we were quite tired as we normally are on Friday nights. It would be great some year if Halloween were on a Friday night. Justin and I could go as crackheads and we wouldn't even need any makeup because that's about how we look at the end of every week after a week of serious sleep deprivation catches up to us. It's REALLY hard to get to bed at a decent time when you don't get home from work until 7.30-8pm then get up at 4am. I know all of the parents of babies right now are flipping me off. WELL I'M SORRY, it still sucks. I am going to eat my words someday when I have a newborn, I know. Anyway, Justin's drinking coffee, above, so that we can make it through the night. We got in around 9pm and of course the first thing we notice? Warmth. At 9pm. Ahhhhh sweet relief. I could just feel my whole body relax. And I'm sure at 60 degrees, most Phoenix people had 4 layers on. We went straight to Scottsdale, where we stayed with my friend Jessica at her new house. Let me just say two things 1) I love that girl, she is so amazing so it was great to see her and 2) She might just be the best hostess (and best interior decorator) ever. Holy CRAP. First thing we did upon arriving after touring the house was go to find food. After a couple of failed attempts we ended up at sushi... and I think we stayed there until about 1:30am. It was so fun to catch up and enjoy wine and sushi with good friends.

The next morning, we got up bright and early and again noticed, ohmygod, the SUN. We had to ask Jessica what that bright ball of light was in the sky but eventually we figured it out. Ok, ok, I'll stop. Seattle isn't THAT bad... Above- Justin eating breakfast.

...and above, a picture of Justin's ass. Oh wait.... Actually Justin was fixing things, something he knows how to do very well (and I have to say, it's quite the handy trait).

So, on this first day in Phoenix? We headed straight to the Queen Creek Olive Mill. I had never heard of this but was intrigued so when Jessica mentioned it, I was all for it.

Of course it was WAAAY out but we got to soak in the Arizona desert on the way to it.

And, finally pulling in.... once there we met up with a few friends to enjoy the morning with, most notably Miss Jen (Hi, Jen! Why didn't I get a picture with you??)

We stayed there for pretty much all morning... tasting Olive Oils, eating, drinking, and mostly (for the two folks from Seattle), enjoying the sun... and getting sun burned. Awesome!

A picture of us. Mmmm that sun looks so nice right now.

We had a little experience with a bee. Jess doesn't like bees. Neither do I. After we left the Olive mill, we took Justin on a short tour of Phoenix... Tempe town, ASU, downtown Phoenix, Scottsdale... and then headed back to Jessica's house. Later that evening we met up with a group of friends who I miss dearly at the old tortilla factory in downtown Scottsdale. It was great fun! I have some great pictures that were given to me from that night that for some reason I can't add into this post. I'll put them in their own post.

The next morning, Sunday, we were off and running early again. As if we hadn't had enough wine already, we thought the idea of wine tasting was a great idea. Part of this was my fascination with the whole concept of Arizona wineries (really?! Arizona has wineries!)

We headed about 1.5 hours up north and our first stop was Alcantara. It doesn't look like you're headed to much driving in...

but HOLY CRAP I was BLOWN AWAY by their wines. I would have never in this whole world expected their wines to be as good as they were.

We sat outside, tasted and sipped on wine, ate, and enjoyed the sun (a common theme)...

And a picture of Jessica and I- the vineyard is in the background.

Justin and I. Yes, I'm wearing a sweater. Give me a break, it's colder up north!

And a shot of the Arizona mountains....beautiful. That state has a special place in my heart for sure.

After Alcantara, we headed to Jerome to taste more wines. I wasn't as impressed with the wines there, especially for the price. If I'm paying $40-$60 a bottle, it better rock my socks. It didn't. Oh well. It was still fun.

A shot of my favorite boy.

Oooh, and a grainy i-phone photo of us!

And a picture of Jessica and I wine tasting.

A picture from behind a building looking out across the valley into Sedona. Gorgeous.

Justin taking a picture of the same. Pretty cool.

Headed home to Scottsdale from up north was the most beautiful sunset. I swear, nothing beats an Arizona sunset.

And one more. Once we returned home, we were in for a TREAT for dinner. We went to a brazilian steakhouse. Um. What? No, I seriously did. I have never been to one of these and I didn't really understand fully what I was in for. So, you guys, there are little men running all over with slabs of MEAT that they cut directly on to your plate WITHOUT STOPPING (well, assuming your little flipper sign is flipped to "go" which basically means MEAT! MEAT! MEAT! AND MORE MEAT!) It was insanity! Needless to say, Justin was in heaven. I liked the salad bar... and the experience was definitely interesting.

The next day, yours truly was in heaven at my FAVORITE. PITA! PITA! PITA! I love pita jungle. We got there after a tour of my old stomping grounds in west phoenix. Holy hell, how did I EVER live out there? It takes years off my life just driving out there once, how did I do that every day??

Justin and his first pita jungle experience. He was a fan (how could you not be!?) After we ate at Pita jungle we explored a bit more then headed to the airport (sad)... It was a quick weekend but oh so fun... so much good food, good wine, good friends... full of love, happiness, and of course, sun.

Bye Phoenix... we'll see you soon... and bye to you, too, Sun... please visit Seattle again before July preferably.... A GIANT thank you to Jessica for being the best hostess, tour guide and friend that weekend! It was SO much fun, can't wait to do it again!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Boys boys boys...

Oh, now I have that Lady Gaga song in my head. Seriously annoying... You're welcome to whoever is now enjoying that song in their head as well....

The month of January (and the start to 2011) started off right with a nice little care package delievered to me in my office:

Everything I need: green juice, greek yogurt, gum, energy bars, underwear, and wine. YES! Who doesn't love surprise care packages??

....especially when they are delivered personally by this handsome guy (aka: the bearer of the gifts)... And, not to brag here, but I get about one of these a week. Not the guy, the care package FROM the guy. I love it. It's the little things, you know?

Later on that first week, we headed across the mountains to pick up the kids. And by heading across the mountains I mean headed into the white abyss. Holy WINTER up there. Not like the weather was much better in Seattle (truthfully, sometimes in the winter I'd rather have the snow than rain) but wow, it was freezing and snowy up on the pass! A good (and much needed) weekend for the skiiers as I'm sure they'd been anxiously awaiting the snow... We had a fun, low key weekend with the boys. In fact at this point, I have no idea what we even did. But, I'm sure it was fun. It always is.