My Valentine

I know I recently wrote an entry all about the special dude in my life, but today I thought I’d reflect back on our Valentine’s Days that we have spent together in the past.  This will mark our 5th V-day together, though the first one we spent together was not really us celebrating the holiday, so much as it was me tricking him to come out with me and him tricking me into thinking I was buying our drinks all night, when really he was.

I’ll elaborate…  Eddie and I went on our first date on February 12, 2008.  He didn’t want our first date to be ON V-day, because then what if it’s awkward, we don’t get along as well as we did on our friendship interview, or whatever.  There would be these expectations because it was this romantic holiday… so, we went out a couple days before.  Our date went well, and if my memory serves me correctly, Valentine’s Day was on a Friday that year.  I texted him after work and casually said that I was going out for a drink after work, and if he’d like to join me, he was more than welcome.  I knew he’d come.  He liked me:)  Sure enough, after finding his way to the bar after bad directions on my part (I’ve lived in this area my whole life, but apparently I didn’t know that the street I “thought” the bar was one, was actually a block to the west… so he was standing on this vacant corner, calling me, thinking I was tricking him!), he and I spent the evening together flirting, playing pool, and having a few drinks… that I thought were being put in my tab.  At the end of the night, when I went to close my tab, the only drink on there was the original one I’d purchased before he got there.  Tricky, that boy.  About a week after that V-day date, we became an official couple.

Not officially a Valentine's Day image, but this is our first picture together, about a week after V-day 2008.

 
The next year brought us falling madly in love, Eddie’s romantic proposal on Navy Pier in Chicago (in the freeeeezing cold!), and our first Valentine’s Day as an official couple in 2009.  Eddie got us reservations at the same restaurant we had our first date at the year before, and we had a delicious Italian meal.  Before dinner though, I had created a scavenger hunt for him through my apartment to find all his Valentine’s Day goodies… my clues even rhymed.  I was pretty badass.  After dinner we went to a local cupcake place and got some cupcakes for the road, then went back to my apartment to enjoy them, along with the makeshift cannolis I had tried to make.  They weren’t good, but Eddie pretended like they were.  I also got a dozen Gerbera Daisies–my fave.
 

Valentine's Day 2009 before dinner at Biaggi's.

 
2010 brought our first married Valentine’s Day!  We were fortunate enough to get to go away for a weekend to celebrate!  I ended up having the Friday and Monday surrounding V-day off as holidays for work (Thank you Abe Lincoln & all Presidents everywhere!).  We drove down to Gatlinburg, TN for the weekend.  The drive down wasn’t bad–about an 8 hour drive, but weather was pretty good until we got there.  When we got there, there was snow, but not bad snow by Illinois standards… however, in Gatlinburg apparently there are not snow plows and salt trucks like we’re used to up here!  Roads and sidewalks were soooo slick, and unfortunately because of the weather we weren’t able to drive through the Smokies because all the mountain roads were closed!  We still managed to have a great time though!  We ate at Bubba Gump, the Hard Rock Cafe, went to Ripley’s and the aquarium, and also took a giant cable-car-type ski lift up one of the mountains to this ski lodge/resort place.  Once we were there, we had the option of taking a regular 2-person ski lift farther up the mountain… dangling over terrifying pits that would likely take your life if you fell… I was TERRIFIED to ride one of these things.  It took probably 30 minutes of convincing on Eddie’s part to convince me to jump on the ski lift (while hoping that it doesn’t knock me off the ledge into one of the scary pits of doom).  Finally I got on… and practically hyperventillated all the way to the top of the mountain!

Valentine's Weekend 2010--My look of terror after jumping on the ski lift! Nothing says romance like the possibility of falling to your death!

 
Last year for Valentine’s Day, Eddie got us reservations at a top-secret location.  He made me put a blindfold on as he drove through the streets of town, turning unnecessarily, trying to throw me off.  I have an excellent sense of direction though (just ask him about the time we went hiking at Kickapoo… that’s all I’m sayin’), and knew exactly where we were before I even took the blindfold off!  It was still a surprise though, and a tasty dinner to boot!
 

2011 Mystery V-day Dinner!

 
This year Eddie and I are staying home for Valentine’s Day!  Eddie’s making what is sure to be a super tasty dinner, and I’m in charge of dessert.  We both made gifts for each other, though I’m sure my Pinterest-inspired gift will not be nearly as cool as the gift he’s been constructing in the garage for days… all I know is that it involves wood, glass, mirror, white paint, and pink glitter… the possibilities are endless!  It’s sure to be a nice night in, celebrating the ones we love the most! 
 
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Valentine’s Day Swap!

I had the pleasure of participating in a Valentine’s Day Swap via my pal Meg’s blog!  She and two other ladies hosted the swap:

I ended up getting paired up with two lovely ladies instead of the traditional one partner–but it was OK, I enjoyed getting to shop for twice the goodies!  My first partner was Rachel.  She sent me some really great goodies, pictured below!  I got a great bright pink makeup bag (my favorite color), along with a new eyeliner (much needed), some MAC eyelashes, and a gorgeous pair of earrings!  I have been known to be picky about my jewelry, but these are earrings I would have totally picked out myself!  I love them!  She also included a heart-shaped Reese’s peanut butter cup, but I ate that sucker up!

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My second partner was Mrs. Monologues!  She sent me some great Valentine’s Day goodies too, but unfortunately one of my items didn’t make it in one piece!  Super bummed about that, because it looked like a super cute pink heart V-day mug–accidents happen though!  The other items arrived perfectly in tact though!  She got me a super cute pair of pink heart socks (not pictured cuz they’re in the laundry!), along with some holiday cookie cutters (perfect, because I love to bake!), and these great V-day pencils!  Some of the pencils have little owls on them, and I totally love owls!!!

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I hope you ladies also had fun and enjoyed your goodies!  I had fun picking them out, and I hope to get to do swaps again in the future!

Dogzilla

We are fortunate to have a fairly large back yard for our girls to run and play in.  Our neighbors across the street also own the vacant lot next door to ours, and the wife runs an in-home daycare.  Oftentimes the kids will play in the vacant lot on the swingset or just run around being goofy kids.  Usually when the dogs are out, they will venture up to the fence to say hello.  I guess one day, one of the kids must have lost their naked Barbie in the exchange…  because Dora found one.

She looks so triumphant!

 
 

2012 Goals Progress (1 of 12)

I’ve been diligently working on my 101 in 1001 up there for a couple years now.  However, this year I decided I’d also have a list of goals for the year, on top of the 101 I’m already working on.  I jotted down 10 things I’d like to accomplish, and I plan to review them monthly to see where I’ve come with them, as well as remind myself what more I need to do to complete them!

1.  Send 12 letters via snail mail (In Progress: 1 of 12)

2.  Read at least 1/2 of my “to-be-read” (TBR) list (In Progress: 4 of 25)

3.  Create a family blog  (Complete!)

4.  Get 50 followers to new blog (In Progress: 8/25  There are 8 of you!  Wahoooo!  Sidenote: subscribe!)

5.  Write in new blog 50 times this year (In Progress: 6/50)

6.  Earn $100 in amazon giftcards via swagbucks this year ($0/100 so far)

7.  Give 10 handmade gifts (In Progress: 1/10)

8.  Complete Pinterest 12 in 2012 board (In Progress: 1/12)

9.  Set up guest room (No Progress)

10.  Use nook to rent library books at least once/month (In Progress: 1/12)

Meet the Fam

Eddie and I don’t have kids yet, but we do have a houseful!  We’ve got three cats, which I had before we met, then less than a month after getting married, we decided we wanted a puppy.  For the next 6 months, I wanted to give her back.  But now, I’m glad I didn’t!  Almost a year ago, we also happened to adopt a second dog, though we didn’t initially have plans to.  Sometimes you pick them, sometimes they pick you.  I’m proud to say that all five of our animals are shelter pets (nothing against those who don’t adopt shelter pets, but for me, that’s where it’s at!).  So, this is our big happy family.

Five and a half years ago, I had just gotten my first “grown up” apartment, and I was determined to get cats!  Our local shelter has a BOGO type of deal with adult cats, to encourage people to adopt adults.  Everyone wants a cute kitten, but sadly adult cats get looked over a lot.  So, I went probably half a dozen times, making sure I was getting cats that were a good fit for me. 

This cat was always laying on a bright pink blanket when I went, and loved to be petted.  I knew she was for sure one of my two!

My pretty girl, or PG for short!

 I also would always be approached by a gorgeous (but slightly overweight!) gray tabby.  He would jump on me and let me pet him every single time I was there.  Long story short, I ended up coming home with a cat that looked identical to that cat, but his personality was just the opposite.  This cat is a cranky old man, but I love him.

Every once in awhile he'll jump up on your lap and accept a few pets... before biting you and running away.

About a year later, I was working as a case manager for adults with developmental disabilities.  Sadly, one of my clients passed away suddenly, and I took on the task of finding a home for her two shelter cats–a cute cuddly kitten, and an adult cat with vertigo.  The kitten was easy to find a home for, but Sam was kind of a special-needs kitty, and I decided to take him in.
 

He's dizzy from time to time, but super loving!

 
Although the cats didn’t quite like it when we first brought a dog (and then another!) into the house, they (mostly) got used to it.
 
The first dog we got was a 12 week old puppy–a coonhound & shepherd mix.  Two smart breeds.  Too bad Dora didn’t get the smarts…

Dora has also developed epilepsy, so we now have two special needs animals, but with meds, she stays seizure-free and goofy as can be!

Our little Lucy is Dora’s total opposite… she’s small, not nearly as feisty, and kind of afraid to have fun (and she hates toys!), but somehow she and Dora make their friendship work.  I can’t remember what our house was like without her spunk!
 

Lucy is a huge smiler, I love it!

 
It’s a whole lotta legs going on in our house, but we make it work.  There isn’t anything like smooches and snuggles from furry family members (my husband included)!
 

Best friends!

 
 

January, in Photos

As part of my 101 in 1001, I want to complete a Project 365.  For those unfamiliar with the project, the goal is that you take one picture per day, for a year.  At the end, you’ve got a year of your life, documented in photos!  I decided to start this on my birthday last September, so instead of a calendar year, my project documents my 28th year of life.  I guess technically it’s a Project 366, what with this being a leap year and all!  I’m a little over 1/3 done with the project, and each month here on out, I’ll document that month’s pictures.