Thursday, December 31, 2009

The “Zeros” Decade in Review

As the first decade of the 2000s comes to close, it marks an interesting point in my life to ruminate on the first decade of my adulthood.

I entered 2000 as a 16-year-old child and will enter 2010 as a 26-year-old woman. So I thought I take an opportunity to reflect upon the "zeros" decade...

I ring in millennium at a friend’s party. All Y2K fears are unfounded. I get varsity letters in two sports. I start to date my first love (spoiler alert, he is not the Mr). I complete my Junior Year of High School. I travel to Australia. The USS Cole is attacked. "First Love" and I are so in love and swear we’ll be together forever. George W. Bush narrowly wins the Presidency. We all learn about hanging chad. I submit my college applications.

(2000 - High School tennis)

George W. Bush takes office. I’m accepted into several colleges and chose the University of Southern California. I graduate from High School. I turn 18. I register to vote. I spend a summer traveling across Europe. I move into the dorms at USC and begin freshman year. I stay with First Love, long-distance. I rush and join a Sorority. The September 11th attacks happen. I watch the tragedy unfold but somehow still attend classes and parties. I meet many of my current closest friends. The US goes to war with Afghanistan. I finish my first semester with a 3.7 GPA. First Love and I decide to “take a break.”

(2001 - Senior Portrait)

I return to USC. I get my first fake ID. I frequent the campus bars. The European Union launches the Euro. I date several guys on and off – including First Love. The dot-com bubble bear market reaches bottom. I get my first internship in Public Relations. I move into my Sorority house and become House Manager. I maintain an honors-level GPA. I struggle with emotional “Sophomore slump” and consider leaving USC to be a ski instructor. I decide to stay at USC.

(2002 - Hawaii)

I begin to date a guy that I never liked. We date for months. I complain to my Mom that I’ll never find “the one”. The US starts the Iraq war while I’m on Spring Break in Mexico. Bush declares “Mission Accomplished.” It’s not. I break up with “guy I never liked” and beg “First Love” to get back together. We do. Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes Governor of CA. I meet the man who will become my husband (the Mr.) at the campus bar. I am invited to join several academic honors societies. Wildfires blaze across Southern California. My family and friends evacuate their homes. I break up with First Love for the last time. I am elected Vice President of Membership for the USC Sorority Panhellenic Council. I start dating the Mr. I celebrate Christmas and New Years on a two week Caribbean Cruise.

(2003 - San Francisco)

Trains in Madrid are the targets of a terrorist attack. I intern in Investor Relations. I turn 21. I join Facebook. I orchestrate a large part of a successful USC Sorority Rush as VP of Membership. The Mr. and I tell each other that we love each other. I vote in my first Presidential Election. George W. Bush is re-elected. I interview with a large consulting firm and receive a job offer. I accept it. The Mr. takes me to a Christian church for the first time in my life. I complete my last class at USC. I get my first iPod. My family takes a cruise to Mexico. The Tsunami swamps Indonesia.

(2004 - Sorority sisters)

I watch the USC Football team win the National Championship in the Orange Bowl, in person. I work at several ski resorts before settling into my real job. I continue to date and attend church with the Mr. I graduate from USC with honors. I start my job at the large consulting firm. I move to Manhattan Beach, CA. London subways are attacked by terrorists. I become a follower of Jesus Christ and begin to know Him as my Lord and Savior. Hurricane Katrina wreaks havoc on the South. I survive my first project at large consulting firm and begin a new one. The Mr. moves to Long Beach, CA to work in mortgage banking.

(2005 - USC Graduation)

I continue to work for large consulting firm at several clients. I achieve “diamond” status at Hilton from traveling so much. I join a Church life group and attend with the Mr. I am baptized. My Mom and I travel around the Midwest for a summer vacation. While there, the London liquid terrorists are stopped. We are the first to experience the new travel rules. Arnold is re-elected Governator. Saddam Hussien is killed. The Mr. and I celebrate the holidays together for the first time.

(2006 - Dinner in Manhattan Beach)

The Mr. and I become members of our church and lead a small group. Nancy Pelosi becomes the first woman Speaker of the House. The Mr. leaves the suddenly shaky mortgage banking industry for a job in insurance. It was a good call. My uncle has a massive heart attack and stroke. My family spends weeks in the ICU with him. He miraculously survives. The Virginia Tech shooting happens. The Mr. proposes to me on the beach on my 24th Birthday! I start planning our wedding. “Don’t Stop Believing” tops charts thanks to the Sopranos. I receive a huge promotion at work. The Dow Jones industrial average records it’s highest ever close. I’m a Bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding. Wildfires ravage San Diego again. My parents evacuate their home for an intense five days. Unlike many others, their house survives. My grandfather dies after his battle with Alzheimer's.

(2007 - Right after the Mr. proposed!)

I begin a wedding blog to be wedding planning outlet and get hooked. The Mr. and I purchase our first condo in Long Beach, CA. The China earthquake kills 90,000. I spend most of my spring and summer living and working in San Diego. I have my Bridal Shower and Bachelorette Party. The Mr. and I wed on 8/16/08 in San Diego. We honeymoon in Maui. John McCain selects Sarah Palin as his running mate. Wall Street falls apart. Barack Obama is elected President. I start The Newlyweds Next Door. We celebrate our first married Thanksgiving and Christmas together with our families.

(2008 - Wedding Day)

We watch USC win the Rose Bowl. The miracle on the Hudson River happens. We vacation in Breckenridge, CO and the Mr. falls in love with Snowboarding. Barack Obama is inaugurated. We vacation in Arizona. We worry about losing our jobs, but stay employed. Our new family member, Judah the kitten, moves in. Michael Jackson dies. I’m a Bridesmaid in a friend’s amazing wedding. We celebrate our one year anniversary. The H1N1 outbreak and vaccine scare Americans. We vacation in Boston. USC has one of its worst football seasons of the decade. But we are still fans.

(2009 - First Anniversary)

What will the next decade bring? ...

All I pray is that it brings faith, hope, and love.

(And a big house with a couple of kids wouldn't be bad either).

Considering that I'll be 36 by the time the two-thousand "teens" end, I'm sure there will be more change in my life in the next decade than I can even imagine.

Happy New Year to you all. Thank you for being my blog readers, my cheerleaders, my support group, and most of all, my friends. May your next year and decade be filled with peace, prosperity, and passion.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas 2009 Highlights

We had a fabulous Christmas in San Diego. Lots of great food, family, and fun!

The best part was Christmas Day dinner that my parents hosted for 18 people at their house. Here is the amazing table-scape that my Mom and I put together.

Photos don't really do it justice. But I loved the floating candle & flower displays that we put together. (These are so beautiful, easy, and inexpensive to make!)

We also had a ton of fun opening presents on Christmas Eve.

And of course, we had to see a football game! We saw Utah vs. Cal in the Poinsettia Bowl. Great game!

Hope you had a great Christmas!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Housewife for a Week

I have to take mandatory “paid time off” from work this week (which, for the record, I’m 100% fine with). The only unfortunate thing is that Mr. has to work this week. So you know what that means …

I’m a housewife for a week!

Considering that I will likely always be a working wife (and sometime in the future, Mom), this “housewife” stuff is rare and uncharted territory for me.

I started of this morning making a schedule of what I need to accomplish this week and what events I have planned for the week so that I don’t waste my entire week blogging, facebooking, and catching up on my DVR.

My main activities this week will be:

  • House cleaning and organizing
  • Taking down Christmas decorations
  • Installing new software on my computer and doing some digital scrapbooking (The Mr. got me Photoshop Elements for Christmas!)
  • Working out (ugh, those holiday lbs)
  • Catching up on old emails
  • Errands (Target, Costco, REI)
  • Working on our wedding album (yes, I know I’m a year late on this)
  • And maybe if the Mr. gets lucky, a little bit of cooking

I’m also having dinner with a bloggy friend and meeting my Mom in Orange County for some shopping! So it’s not all work.

I'll also definitely have some new blog posts this week, so stay tuned.

Is anyone else out there a housewife for a week?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmastime checklist

Attending Christmas parties? Check!

(This is the dress that I ended up wearing to the party on Saturday. A black velvet dress with a red belt paired with boots and tights. I loved it! Thanks Mom!)

Christmas cards from friends and family displayed in our entryway? Check!

Presents purchased? Check!

Gifts wrapped and bags packed? Almost check!

Ready for Christmas in San Diego? Check, check, check!

In just 6 hours my Christmas break officially starts. I am so excited! I may not be blogging much until after Christmas, so if I don't post before then, hope you have a very merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2009

There's no place like home for the holidays

Tomorrow I drive down to San Diego for the first of three LA to San Diego round trips that I'll complete in two weeks. For those of you not from So Cal, depending on traffic one way can take two to three hours.

I guess that's what I get for moving away from all of my family in San Diego, buying a condo in Los Angeles, and "planting" myself here. A good decision? That's a topic for a whole different post....

This weekend I'm going to San Diego for my godparent's Christmas party on Saturday and the Charger game on Sunday. I'm very excited!

For the party, I was going to wear a grey sweater dress like this with boots and some fun red accessories.

But I was lamenting to my Mom that I didn't feel festive enough so she apparently bought me three dresses at Macys to potentially wear. So we'll soon find out if any of those work! I love Moms.

Is anyone else doing a lot of driving to see family this holiday season?

Also, I need some advice....

We're doing a legitimate White Elephant gift exchange between all the "kids" (and spouses) of my extended family (ages 20-35) on Christmas night. The gift has to be new and around $30. Any ideas? NOT a gift card, LOL!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Hate Gift Cards - a Rant

I know this might be a bit Scroogey and I may be looking the proverbial "gift horse in the mouth", but I hate gift cards.

I know they have allegedly been the "hot gift" for Christmas the past few years due to some marketing genius, but they suck.*

A few reasons why gift cards are an awful awful gift....

1. The store always wins.
Whenever I'm using a gift card I feel like I'm playing some bizarre Price Is Right/over-under game where I'm trying to spend exactly $25 or $50 or whatever my gift card is worth -- calculating tax doing all kinds of crazy mental math. I don't want to be over because the only reason I'm at the store it to spend my free money -- I'm not trying to spend more money at the store. And I don't want to be under because I don't want $3.27 left on the card that I'll either never spend or carry around in my wallet for the next three years. I usually end up going over and the store scores a cool few extra dollars from me that I never would have spent without the infernal gift card.

2. You have to remember to bring the gift card to the store.
I'm not going to carry around 10 gift cards in my wallet for the off-chance that I happen to stop into Ikea/Williams-Sonoma/Bath & Body Works on my way home from work. Case in point: I still have a $15 Best Buy card from last Christmas (I know because it has a dancing Santa on it) that I have not yet used. Not because I don't shop at Best Buy, because I never remember to bring the dang thing with me. **

3. There is an amazing alternative to gift cards.
Did you know there's something that works just like a gift card except it can used at any store, never expires, has no restrictions, and you can always carry it with you? It's called cash (or a check). Cash can be used for all kinds of amazing goods and services! Feel weird about giving cash or check? Remember a gift card is just restrictive, annoying cash.***

I'm not trying to be a brat about the whole gift card thing, I'm still a very thankful and gracious gift receiver. I'm just stating the truth; gift cards are a giant pain. I've made a personal vow to never give gift cards except in extraordinary cases.

Does anyone share my sentiment, or am I alone in my gift card loathing?

*I will admit there is a time and place for gift cards -- like giving someone a gift card to the place where they set up their wedding registry. But that's about it. Giving someone gift cards to a random store as a wedding present? Not cool. I still have some of those over a year later.

** Another acceptable gift card one to a place that you know I frequent, like Starbucks or Trader Joe's. That would be considered acceptable because I would carry that card with me in wallet and would not be worried about over/under because I pretty much visit those places weekly.

***Don't even get me started on the Amex or Visa "anywhere" gift cards. That's a whole separate rant.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Taking Charge of My Fertility

Note: this post is for all of the ladies who read this blog. My one or two male readers can just skip this one. K, thanks!

A few months after I started blogging I started to hear more and more about a certain book, "Taking Charge of Your Fertility", particularly around the TTC, baby, and mommy blogs.

I'm a pretty voracious reader, so I thought, "hey, this could be interesting" and headed down to Borders to grab a copy.

The book was very interesting! I definitely learned way more about my body than I had ever learned in any high school class. But a lot of the book, particularly the parts about cycle charting and ovulation, didn't apply to me at the time because I was neither trying to get pregnant nor trying to use natural birth control.

Flash forward almost a year later ...
For the past several months I've had what I believe to be side effects of "the pill", as well as some other "female problems" related to aunt flo (I'll spare you the details). So I've decided to go off of the pill and use other forms of contraception to let my hormones reset and to allow me to chart my cycle to see what is really going on.

Taking Charge of Your Fertility talks about how to use "Fertility Awareness Method" (FAM) as a form of natural birth control. Has anyone out there used FAM as an effective birth control method? If so, please let me know your "best practices."

Obviously, I can't use FAM as my primary birth control method until I've charted my cycle (using basal temperature, cervical fluid, and cervix position) for several months to establish a pattern and let the hormones get out of my system. So in the mean time, I've been researching other birth control methods. I found a really cool interactive Birth Control Effectiveness Chart. Does anyone have experience with any of the female "barrier methods" listed in the third row?

The irony of this whole situation is that one of the reasons that I want to chart my cycle is that I'm afraid that some of my female problems could indicate infertility (although I have no solid evidence for this outside of personal paranoia). But now I'm also afraid that I am going to get pregnant before I want to be!

Note: Sorry if any of you find this post boring or disgusting. One of the reasons I love blogging so much is that this community of women offers such great and diverse advice that I could never find in just my circle of real-life friends.

Regardless, I'll be sure to keep you all updated on how it goes!

PS- Thanks for all of your sweet comments on my sicky post. After a weekend of lots of rest I am feeling much better!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sicky Equation


+ this

+ this

= One sick Friday working from home.

I have an awful head cold (thanks goodness, it's not H1N1). I blew my nose so many times that I made the Mr. do a special run to CVS to get the Kleenex with aloe in it. Now I just need to get through eight more hours of work. TGIF.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

The Newlyweds Next Door have been busy "making the yuletide gay."

How so?

Let's take a tour!

Welcome to our condo...

When you walk in the front door you'll see our "Beach Tree"...

{click any of the images to enlarge}

This tree has always been a dream of mine and this year I finally did it!

It's all white shells with turquoise balls and ornaments. I just LOVE it.

I made pencil starfish and sand dollar ornaments using starfish and sand dollars left over from our wedding by hot gluing blue ribbon to them. Super easy and looks great!

I also picked up some fun turquoise ornaments and balls at Target.

This beautiful starfish ornaments is from our trip to Nantucket. A perfect memory of fall 2009.

Next you'll see this sparkly Santa on the pantry door in our kitchen.

And our dining room table scape.

When you step into the living room, it's aglow with lights! We hung icicle lights all along the inside of the floor to ceiling window in living room so you can see our unit all lit up from the street (which is cool since we can't display outdoor lights in our condo). It looks very cheery!

And of course, you'll see our main tree.

There's no theme to this tree. Just my favorite ornaments.

Some from my childhood...

And some from recently...

Things that's I've made and bought...

Uh oh... look who's hiding out, determined to destroy my tree...

Next you'll see our living room bookcases, that we changed for the time being to display some fun Christmas items.

Including this nativity scene that I've had since I was little.

Hope you enjoyed the Christmas tour! Can't wait to see all of yours!

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The cat is fine! And reflections on pet parenthood...

I'm happy to report that this morning our silly cat, Judah did pass the string! Hallelujah! I am so relieved.

Of course, my cooler-headed-husband thought Judah was going to be fine the whole time, and of course, he was right. (side note: does anyone have a husband who is right more often than they are? Does that drive you crazy? I thought wives were supposed to be right all the time! Anywhoo...)

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post with words of encouragement and stories of their dogs eating string! Like Ams said, I also used to wonder why people freaked out about their pets so much. But it's crazy how fast these little creatures become part of our families, isn't it?

But it definitely got me thinking, "if I can be this crazy over being a cat-momma, how am I going to be as a real momma?" I don't want to be the crazy mom that freaks out every time her kid eats a leaf or dirt and has the pediatrician as speed dial #1 in phone. How do moms not die of stress over their kids?

All is well that ends well. I'm off to the final USC game of the decently dismal season. Go Trojans!

Friday, December 04, 2009

9 Lives?

I'm literally sick with worry right now.

This afternoon while I was on a conference call from my home office, I saw our cat, Judah, eat a 7 inch piece of yarn/string off of the tweed chair in our office. I ran over to him but he had already swallowed it!

As soon as my conference call was over I called the vet to see what I should do - I called the regular vet and the emergency vet. Both of them advised me to wait 12-18 hours to see how he does because it's possible that he will just pass the string. But there is also a chance that the string could get caught up on his intestines and require invasive surgery!

Right now Judah's happily running around the house, and not showing any of the signs that he's sick from having the string caught in his belly -- but he wouldn't likely show those until tomorrow. I'm so nervous!

I keep praying that he'll pass the string and I won't have to decide to pay for expensive surgery or not. I'm hoping this is just one of his 9 lives!

To make matters worse, I'm not sure I am even for doing expensive surgery on cat. This is why...

When I was 15 I had a cat that got bit by a rattlesnake, but we didn't know that. He was acting all funky, so we took him to the vet. After many hours at the vet, they finally realized that it was snakebite and administered anti-venum. But it was too late. And we were stuck with a dead cat and $2,000 vet bill. My Dad made me pay 1/2 of it to teach me "responsibility" -- which ate up every babysitting dollar I had ever earned and then some. I vowed then that I'd never take a pet to emergency care again. But now, 11 years later, with my sweet cat that I love so much, I can't bare to think of losing him!

I'm not going to ask you to pray for my cat, because there are so people out there who have sick children or who have lost a family member that need prayer much more than a cat does. I'm just sharing this because I'm scared and sad and I need an outlet.

My little guy...

He's such a character; sleeping all twisted in my office a few weeks ago...

I'll keep you updated on how he does over this weekend.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

It takes a (Christmas) village

A couple weeks ago I blogged a bit about the Christmas Village that my Mom and I set up every year in San Diego at my parents' house.

This year's village is all set up and it looks great!

{Click any photo to enlarge}

Here is a look at some of the areas of our village...

(Note: our entire village is Department 56 Dickens Village Series)

The "homes" area...

The "churches" area...

The "commercial" area (shops and restaurants)...

The "seaport"...

Every year we buy a new house or shop for the village. This year we bought an art shop and gallery. It's so cute with the little paintings in the window!

And just for fun, here is how it looks while we're setting it up. You can see how we totally transform that table!

If you have any pictures of your Christmas Village, post the pictures and put the link in the comments! I'd love to see how you set yours up!
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