Staycation, Day 1

And what an eventful day it was!

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It really is a lovely city.

I took Chris to the T this morning, stopped and got a few breakfast items, and came home and made breakfast.

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Holy crap. This bacon.

Then I left and met Chris downtown for lunch. Some of her friends couldn’t make our engagement party — with lame excuses like “we are in Michigan” and “we were so exhausted we couldn’t move” — so we had some celebratory lunch meatballs and poutine.

But I decided it was a good idea to park at the casino and walk to her office. It’s 1.5 miles, which is no problem, right?

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Except it was about 126 degrees, and I was drenched in sweat by the time I got there. Whoops.

After lunch, I had four hours to kill, so I walked to Duquesne, my alma mater. I went to the Starbucks on campus and thought things like, “If they have this on campus, they probably don’t need my money.”

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Then back to the casino to gamble with the change I cashed in that morning, but this time I took the T. Too bad I got off one stop early. Sweaty again.

But I won $20 playing blackjack, and later I made it rain twenties in the car. Because I’m cool like that.

Anyway, Chris and I went to see a wedding venue tonight and absolutely loved it. It will be difficult to top. And true to form, we got lost on our way there. Another accidental tour of a Pittsburgh neighborhood one or both of us didn’t know existed.

Then in the drive-through, I told the woman that we didn’t need ketchup because “we have some at home.” Chris is still laughing at that…even though I think it’s a perfectly acceptable response.

All in all, a productive day with a crap-ton of walking. Good — I needed to work off that bacon!

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The above-mentioned meatballs and poutine.

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Vacation

I’m off work until next Monday. Hooray! I’m in a waiting room for a while today (stuck watching awful TV — makes me appreciate work), but after that, I’m free! Mostly.

I have a hard time relaxing — or so I’m told. So I’m trying not to give myself too many projects and actually just…relax. Turn off. Sleep in.

Monday I’m venturing downtown for lunch with the lady and some friends, and then I’ll kill a few hours while she finishes up work. After, our first appointment with a wedding/reception venue. Yeah!

I’m weirdly nervous. What if I don’t ask the right questions? What if we love everything about it, even though it’s inconveniently located? What if (insert a million ridiculous scenarios I think of because I’m a worrier)? Sigh. Sometimes it gets busy in my head. AKA all of the times.

Lunch plans Tuesday with a friend I haven’t seen in ages and my mom’s birthday Friday round out my official plans. Other than that…nothing.

What if I waste my week? What if I pick the wrong things to do? What if I’m horrible at relaxing?

Spoiler alert — one of those is already true.

I’m going to try and blog every day next week. Yeah!

Please enjoy this picture and have a great Friday.

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I bet this would help me relax.

Party Times

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Picked these up at Pride last weekend. We loved them.

Weeks and weeks of planning for one glorious, wonderful afternoon. We were surrounded by our family and friends and felt so much love, I welled up several times that day. So, yes, it was all worth it.

I freak out under stress — like, yell, cry, and then eat a whole lot — but I remained surprisingly calm. And I can honestly say it was surprising because, well, Chris was surprised. (I asked. She answered.) Our families met each other — my mom, brother/sister-in-law, and aunts representing my side; Chris’ ginormous family including local, North Carolinians, and Rochester, NYers, plus family friends and our friends. Almost 50 people crammed into our yard, and we actually had enough room. Well, almost. I thought some people would sit inside with the AC, but they decided to enjoy the not-sweltering weather…and we had almost enough chairs.

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Someone tried to give us this baby as a gift, but I made Chris say no.

The weather was iffy in the morning, but it turned out okay.

Also, our place was a rainbow of awesomeness. Chris has been Pintresting rainbow ideas for months, and it paid off. Her sister came over in the morning and helped decorate and make some dip. Her brother helped make some rainbow bread, fix our new (leaky) beverage jug, and carried all of the things. And all the while, yours truly was working. I’m so lazy!

Please enjoy these pictures of our hard work.

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The rainbow-streamer section above the dessert table.

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Backyard balloon time on the clothesline.

And so. Much. Food.

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That’s my sexy cankle. You’re welcome, Internet.

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Rainbow bread. Tastes like regular bread but so much more fun!

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Chris, my mother, and me. A lot of people told us we looked alike, which I’m not used to hearing.

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Chris, her mother, and me.

I do want to say that I am so grateful for everyone who was there (and those who couldn’t make it — we are grateful for you, too!). The entire day just had such a wonderful, positive vibe, and it was so overwhelming and humbling to feel all of that. I am thankful for my family and friends, and I am thankful for the family that I am marrying into. I have been in relationships with people who were not…super welcoming of me and our relationship, and Chris’ family is the opposite of that. Her extended family will soon be mine, with all of the hugs I want. (I do not like hugs, but I hugged so many people this weekend. You’re welcome, Chris’ family. You’re. Welcome.) I am also happy to be marrying someone that my family likes so much and who gets along with them so well.

So much love this weekend. So much gratitude and happiness.

Party Prep

The engagement party is tomorrow! We are having around 50 people in our house that comfortably holds roughly 7 people. Chris just keeps telling me it will be fine, so I’m trying not to stress.

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This is our favorite beer — well, one of — from our trip to Germany last year. Nowhere in the Pittsburgh metro area sells it. We needed to special order it, but we are bad at remembering to do things like that. Luckily, her cousin gave us six of them as an engagement present. Delicious, delicious presents. That helps with stress.

Cheers to good weather tomorrow, kids.

Fathers’ Day

I’ve been on a bit of an accidental blog hiatus. There’s something that’s been rattling around in my brain that I’ve been wanting to write about, and I can’t seem to get past that roadblock. Also, I’ve been pretty busy with work, food prep, party prep, and the new season of “Orange is the New Black.” I can’t quit you, Alex Vause.

Some random info:

  • Whole30 is over. Thursday was the last day of reintroduction (day 42, for those of you counting). Chris and I were both afraid we’d go on some sort of binge yesterday. I pictured myself rolling in to work with doughnuts for a necklace and a Frappuccino as big as my head. Instead, I went to Chipotle and got my pre-Whole30 healthy-ish go-to (plus guac) and an iced coffee from Starbucks. The giant basket of chocolate on my desk was only reduced by three four pieces by yours truly. And it was Sarris chocolate, so that explains it. All in all, I’m doing okay without the training wheels.
  • Last night, my post-work treat — my favorite German beer (a grapefruit radler). Hooray!
  • I’ve been walking on my break every day for the past few weeks. Well, except for Friday, because I wrote this blog instead. It’s because I care. You’re welcome.
  • Today is the last big day of preparations for the engagement party. We’ll do other random stuff next week, but it’s the big push. I do love a good to-do list.
  • Sunday – Pride and Arts Fest! It’s an especially exciting Pride this year, what with having that giant “we can get married” thing to celebrate. Universe, let’s not ruin it by making me run into any exes, friend-wise or romantic-wise.
  • Just kidding about that one above. I know I’ll run into someone. It’s not that big of a city. I just hope it’s civil and not awkward.
  • Oh, yeah, and one other thing. It’s Fathers’ Day weekend, and I hate Fathers’ Day. Because it makes me miss my dad.

me dad

Yeah, that last one – that’s the thing that’s been rattling around in my head.

For those of you who don’t know, my father passed away 11 years ago in July. I was 26 at the time. Not super young, but…young enough. I think about him a lot. I can’t say it’s every day, because who keeps track of that kind of stuff? “Well, that’s the third time today, I thought about him. Only once yesterday. Better try for four tomorrow.”

I’ll try to keep this brief because not everyone needs to ugly snot-cry about my dad, but I do want to talk about him a little. Since it’s Fathers’ Day, let’s celebrate him a bit, shall we?

I played basketball for seven years and volleyball for four, and he never missed a game…until I could drive myself. He would sit in the stands and (embarrassingly, at the time) have his head buried in a programming book, but he was there, damn it. And I will always remember that. Oh, and I wasn’t any good at any sport ever. I’m a non-lesbian-stereotype there. And yet…he was always there.

He is the reason I was able to get a B in Calculus my first semester in college. In high school, a B would have mortified me, but I was happy to get it in that class. He had graduated with a minor in math 20-plus years before and was still able to teach me more effectively than the PhD who taught the class.

The man had zero fashion sense. Like, zero. So embarrassed when he would roll up in his steel-toed-dress-shoes-white-undershirt-and-sweatpants combination to pick me up at school. (I guess that one isn’t very celebratory. But very true.) For a big work trip to Germany, my mom had to color-code his shirts, pants, and ties so he knew what would go with what.

He could do anything. For serious. I realize there’s a lot of daddy/daughter hero worship in that sentence, but it isn’t far from the truth.

When I was a kid, he read to me before I went to sleep every night, and every night, I wanted him to read some “Sesame Street” book that almost all of the words began with L. I could tell he grew tired of it, but he always read it. I mean, obviously as a kid. He didn’t read to me in high school.

He taught me how to drive all of the places. After I got my learner’s permit at 15, he taught me how to drive in the hills (and highways) of West Virginia. Towards the end of my freshman year at college, he handed me the keys and told me I was driving home, and I had my first experience with the musterbluck of the four lanes on the Fort Pitt Bridge. He taught me how to drive a standard — well, tried to. (Insert joke of your own making.)

He grew up in a rather secluded part of West Virginia, not the most liberal or open-minded of places. He had gay friends as long as I can remember. After hearing raised voices at a family Christmas, when I asked what my mom and others were shouting about, he just told me to “close [your] ears.” He didn’t want me to hear that his mother was sending the preacher to talk to her gay nephew because “the bible said it was wrong.” When I came out to him, he said he was surprised but that he didn’t really care. I think he was mostly concerned I was going to run my mouth to the wrong person. Hasn’t happened yet, Dad, and I’m almost 40.

Sometimes I get sad because I look at other fathers – ones I judgmentally deem worse human beings than my father – and think, “Why him?” Well, because. That’s why. No one knows, and that’s just going to have to be okay. So stop being such a snotty punk, huh? I know. It’s one of the few things I let myself wallow over because, well, I miss him.

I’d be interested to hear his take on all this gay-marriage-legalization business. I wish he could help me with some home maintenance and repair stuff. I wonder if he’d like the tiny garden we planted or think it’s ridiculous. I wonder if he would have laughed at my “cutting a snake in thirds” story. Maybe not. He was a pretty quiet guy. (I take after my mom.)

And I wonder what he would think of Chris and our ridiculous life. I’m pretty sure he’d like her (he always liked my pretty friends), but I’m not sure he’d think much of her (now transferred to me) wanderlust. He liked being at home — in the house he built, the house that my mom still lives in. The house that they moved into the basement of a few weeks after my brother was born; moved upstairs when my mom was pregnant with me. Probably think it’s good that we’re getting to do something we like, but maybe not understanding why we like it. You know, like when I got that degree in Theology. (“You’re going to study what?”)

He wasn’t perfect, but he was a pretty good guy. And I miss him. Not every day, but…a lot of them.

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Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad. I hope wherever you are, you’re doing something awesome. And that no one is making you talk.

Hello, Dairy

On the 31st day there was dairy. And it was…pretty good.

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The caramel macchiato was not as good as I remembered, to be honest. But the frozen yogurt was delicious! And I bypassed my normal “let’s try all of the candy!” for some fruit. Spectacular. The yogurt kind of froze the berries and pineapple, and it was super yummy.

That was Sunday, so now two days of clean eating and then…legumes tomorrow? I don’t think we decided. I guess we should.

It’s nice to introduce things back in, but I don’t want to fall completely back into old habits.

I’d like to take a minute to wish a happy birthday to my friend Beth. She’s one of my closest friends from high school despite never attending the same one. Maybe that’s the secret?

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And she’s my most frequent commenter on this blog, which is greatly appreciated. Happy birthday, Beth!

Day 31

Well, we did it. 30 days of Whole30 accomplished. No cheating, no splurging — just 30 days of following the (rather strict) guidelines set out by this plan. I’m very, very proud of both of us. Personally, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about my food habits and when and how I use food as a crutch. I’m sensible enough to know that this will still happen, but I feel like I’ve got enough of a handle on it to realize when it is. I’m okay with an occasional ice cream or Rita’s or Starbucks treat, but I want it to be because I want it, not because it’s there.

Soon after I woke up this morning, even before my coffee (with coconut milk, naturally), I weighed myself, and I was happy to see that I lost 13 pounds on Whole30. Basically, I’m almost back to where we were before our friend Michelle’s wedding when we sort of stopped counting calories.

I’m mostly happy about the fact that all of my capris and shorts from last year fit, with the exception of a pair or two that are a bit too large. All around, a wonderful experience I would recommend — good learning experience with good results.

Chris and I were saying this morning that maybe we should just continue, but we aren’t. We’re beginning our reintroduction today with dairy, and we’ll see how that goes. We’re treating ourselves after a loooong weekend of yardwork to a Starbucks drink that isn’t plain iced tea or coffee and probably frozen yogurt tonight. I’d say I’m equally apprehensive and excited. But the thing is, I know I can do another reset whenever I want to. I mean, I did the first one.

We found some really delicious recipes on Whole30, so that might be another whole blog post on its own. Whether we’re following the program or not, I know that some of these will be staples in our meal planning.

Onto other things non-Whole30-related…

Our long weekend of yardwork deserves its own post, but I’ll just briefly sum up here. The yard was a bit of a musterbluck when I bought the house five years ago. For multiple reasons, not much got done the first year. Then, I unexpectedly took over the mortgage and other bills by myself, so nothing in the budget for things like that when everything was going to silly luxuries like food and heat. After Chris moved in, we slowly started doing things around the house, and with our upcoming small engagement party, we decided it was time to kick the yard into shape. (Yes, the party really is small. I wish we could have invited everyone. Our house is small, and our families and close family friends are large.) The hillside has disappeared under a bed of mulch and edging, the eyesore shrubs were cut down, the ivy has been tackled, blocks have been pulled out by a truck, and the cement path to nowhere is now a nicely filling-in patch of grass. It’s almost ready to be destroyed by 50 of our closest family and friends.

I also accidentally cut a snake into thirds, but that’s another story for another time.

Between the yardwork and my actual job, I haven’t had time to do much of anything, which is why no blogging for so long. So sad. I know you’re sad, too. So sorry. Please take this picture of my cat as an apology.

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P.S. I feel like you can see a difference. This is at the end of April…

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And a couple days ago…

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