Friday, April 30, 2010

Spring's Snow Globe

Earlier this year, the first dose of warm weather forced me to put the top down on my car and go for a drive on the back roads, as slow as I possibly could. Of course "warm" was only 50 degrees, give or take, and I still had to wear my coat, but it was absolutely gorgeous. Not to mention, this was the first time I was able to drive my car with the top down, and I was not going to miss out on that opportunity!
So my husband and I drove through the "country," turning onto streets that we (or me at least) had never driven on before. We drove under the speed limit and just enjoyed ourselves, pleased that there were rarely any other cars on the roads. When there were, we'd pull over and allow them to pass, so that we could continue our Sunday cruise at 20 miles per hour.
After driving for a while, we noticed large flocks of birds in the sky. Actually, large is an understatement. Flocks and flocks of geese just kept appearing. Every time one would pass overhead, we'd look at the horizon and see three, four, five more flocks headed our way (at which point, having the top down was making me a bit nervous!).
We came upon a house then, with a little pond in the back yard. There, was this huge flock of geese, flying together, down toward the pond, then back up toward the sky. Down and up, down and up, like a leaf tornado in the fall breeze. Instead of golds and reds and yellows like that of autumn leaves, here was this awesome, white and gray tornado of geese, hovering above the dark water, just as the sun was setting.
We sat along the side of the road for at least a half an hour, just staring at the flock, waiting for it to join the others that were passing overhead. But it never did. They just kept up their same routine; down and up, down and up. On one side of the geese storm, all white. On the other, dark gray. It was beautiful.
As we drove away, we kept looking back, only to see the same thing. It was as if they were stuck in a snow globe that didn't need to be shaken. They just kept flying, to nowhere.
Perhaps they were celebrating the coming of spring just as we were; flying in circles in order to take in the last few moments of winter; staying right there to enjoy the setting sun, which marked the beginning of spring.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Short Trip Down Memory Lane

I took a walk today through a section of my neighborhood where I used to live when I was younger. Before leaving my house, I didn't even think about seeing my old house or those of my childhood friends. I simply grabbed my ear buds (which I can not stand!) and decided that tonight would be the first of many walks to keep me active during the last two months of my pregnancy. But what I saw as I walked brought me back to a time of sprinklers and roller blades; I really enjoyed it.
I saw a part of the sidewalk that was broken and sticking up in the air, caused by a tree whose root was growing out of the cement. I remembered it being there when I was younger, but I couldn't pin point an exact memory surrounding it. Until now. My sister Amber, friend Katrina, and I used to ride our bikes around our neighborhood constantly--I remember joking that I loved my bike so much that I wanted to be buried with it. We had a special formation that we would ride in (I was a bossy child, so I was always in the front), a meeting place (that we always went to together), and a club name (that I wish I could remember!). And then there was that broken piece of sidewalk that acted as a ramp for our bikes. Funny how a broken sidewalk can bring back so many memories.
Next was the white fence that surrounded a neighbor's yard at the end of my old street. The man who lived there used to water his grass with a sprinkler, which would spray out over the fence and onto the sidewalk, just enough for us to get wet. Amber, Katrina and I would run up and down the sidewalk every time we noticed that the sprinkler was on. One day, the man who lived in the house told us we were welcome to come into his yard and play right in the sprinkler. In that moment, we were the happiest kids alive.
I passed an old lady's house whose grandson's name I couldn't remember, but I knew that we couldn't stand her. She was the "mean old lady down the street."
Then I came to my old house, whose porch was once a nail salon, classroom, tent... There was a little girl on the porch, with a big smile and short, dirty blond hair. The front door was open and the living and dining rooms--with their hard wood floors and bright white walls--were empty. Voices echoed through the house and I remembered when we first moved in. I remembered my pink bedroom, playing video games in the living room all night during sleepovers, falling down the porch steps one morning (and smearing the cream cheese from my bagel all over my face!) before school... I wanted so badly to walk inside and ask for a tour, as I'm always curious to see what the insides of my old homes are like today.
I passed the church whose parking lot served as our playground, with its big, metal fence that we used to be able to slide under as kids. In front of the church is a ramp that we used to roller blade down to gain speed. Sometimes, we would pretend that our skates were permanently attached to our legs, in place of our feet.
After the church came the alley where Katrina lived, whose house I spent many days and nights in. We used to hook up a sprinkler to her sliding board, creating our very own backyard water slide. At night, we'd leave the door open on her balcony while we slept on the living room floor. In the morning, her mom would make chocolate chip pancakes and Katrina would play "Love Shack" by the B52s. We'd laugh at how we were "almost" related, as her mom had dated my uncle when they were in high school.
I passed other childhood friends' houses and thought of how much fun we had, just being outside until the sun went down. Normally, thinking of those times makes me a little sad. But as I walked today, I was surprisingly happy to be reminded of the times I spent on that little street when I was younger.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Best Things In Life Are Free... Why Aren't Groceries?

I was talking to a lady yesterday about grocery shopping, and she could remember a time--approximately 40 years ago--when a week's worth of groceries for two people cost $35. I guess if you really got down to the nitty gritty, you could eat for a week on $35--if you had to. But between three meals and three snacks a day (which everyone should do and I have to do, according to my doctors), I find it quite hard to have a $35 grocery budget.
I came across some ideas a while ago on how to keep your grocery bill to a minimum. Make a list and a budget and stick to it; go in the store with a certain amount of cash and leave all other forms of payment (credit, debit, checks) in the car or at home; give yourself a time limit & try to "beat the clock" every time you go shopping...
I think the cash idea is the most effective (I wish I had done it when I went shopping earlier!). If you only have $75 in cash, then that's that. You might have to put a few things back, or just plan/budget better, but at least you know you won't go over your spending limit. And after going shopping a few times with that mindset, I assume it would have to get easier.
Overall, I think grocery prices are insane. Milk is almost $4 a gallon, and I just spent $6.49 on grapes! It seems the healthier you want to eat, the more expensive it is. It's no wonder America is home to so many obese people. Maybe if healthy foods were cheaper and junk foods were expensive, we could all lead healthier, happier, more affordable lives. But now, what sense would that make?
I know there's more to it than that, but wouldn't it be nice if you could get a week's worth of groceries for $35? $70 for a family of four?
What are your tips on saving money when grocery shopping?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Whoever said "They calm down once they're neutered" lied!

My cat is driving me crazy. She wakes me up at 5am by literally knocking on my bedroom door. She attacks my legs and feet, leaving me scratched and bitten. She spills her water dish on purpose, every day, because she likes to play in it. She drinks out of the kitchen sink whenever the water's running. She plays in the shower--while I'm in it--and knocks everything down. She runs from one end of my apartment to the other, at least five or six times in a row, on my hardwood floors in the middle of the night. Whatever she can knock down, gets knocked down. The list goes on, and on, and on.
A few months ago, I thought about giving her away. And I cried. She's been my kitty since birth and I love her to death, but she's driving me crazy!
I took her to get neutered a short time ago with the hopes that she would calm down and sleep all day like most other house cats I know. Wrong. Whoever started that myth is a trouble maker because it is not true!
So here I am, going crazy over a cat that I love to death, but can't stand anymore... Do they make sleeping pills for pets?

Monday, April 26, 2010

"The Piano" is Amazing

I came across this video a year or two ago and I thought it was absolutely amazing--I cried my heart out the first time (and several other times!) I saw it because it really touched me.
Here is this old man, telling his life story through music. You see a friend die in his arms, his wife fade from his life, and a boy from the past transform into a modern boy, whom I see as his grandson.
The music is beautiful, the animation is awesome, and the story is incredible; it breaks your heart, but forces you to smile in the end.

What do you think?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Where Does the Time Go?

I can't believe it's been a year! I've been planning on writing for so long, but just haven't--no excuses! But here I am, ready and excited to get back into the swing of things!
So where does the time go? This time last year, I was finishing up my last six courses in college, excited and nervous and so much more to be graduating. But I did it!
In May, I received my Associate in Arts in Journalism, but didn't have any real plans on what to do as far as a career. I just wanted a break from six classes, wedding planning, & a full-time job!
A month after graduating, I said "I do" to the love of my life, Kevin. We had a wonderful wedding and our honeymoon was perfect--it was literally the most relaxing, fun, best time of my entire life.
After the honeymoon, I just took it easy, continuing to work full time at a local restaurant with no real plans for the future. Then one day, my current job came to me.
My current boss--who I'd known since high school--came into the restaurant to drop off newspapers and asked me what I was up to. After explaining that I just received my degree, he told me that they were looking for help at the paper. I got an interview immediately and took the job in September.
I love my job. I'm always doing something different and meeting new people that things never get boring or routine. I love the people I work for, those I work with, and our clients.
A month after starting the job, I got another, pleasant surprise... Kevin and I were going to be parents! I was so excited, shocked, nervous... overwhelmed! But we couldn't be happier.
The months have flown by and now here I am, 31 weeks pregnant, expecting our little baby boy to arrive on June 28, a day after our one-year wedding anniversary.
So that's been my life for the past year. Things have been crazy and they still are, but I'm really excited about my new family and our future.
Hopefully things aren't so crazy that I miss out on another year of blogging!