Sisterly Love

So, my little sister came to visit over the weekend. We had talked about her coming for her spring break, but since that fell over Easter, her dad nixed that idea for various reasons that reinforce the reasons he is on my short list of "people I really, truly do not like at all" but that I won't get into now because, well, I just won't.

Victoria came down Thursday evening after her soccer game. Friday, we went to visit Christopher Newport University, where she'll be spending the next four years. I had never been there, and was impressed! It was ranked #7 of up-and-coming public universities by US News and World Report last year, and they've done lots of renovations, so everything is sparkly new. Definitely different from the "traditional" accommodations at UVA. :) I really think she's going to like it there, and I keep trying to pretend that it's not totally weird that she's old enough to be going off to college. ;-)

After the college tour, we stopped in Williamsburg for a little retail therapy at the outlets, then had to boogie back to Richmond for some pre-prep for the Arthritis Walk, which was Saturday. I've been on the committee for the Walk ever since I left the Foundation, so as the Health Expo Coordinator it was my job to make sure I had enough tables and such for the sponsors to display their wares at the event.

Victoria had been gung-ho about going to the Arthritis Walk when we were planning her visit, but her enthusiasm plummeted when I told her I had to leave the house at 530am. :) Lucky for her, Bryan wasn't leaving that early, so he ended up on teenager duty while I went to get set up.
It was a perfect day for the Arthritis Walk, and, as always, I loved seeing everyone!

After the walk, we loaded in one car and headed up to Maryland to check out Mimi, and after many hours at the car dealership, left with a new addition to our fleet. The plan was to trade in my Eclipse, but they didn't want to give us much for it, so we decided to bring her home and sell her ourselves. Which means that now we have six cars. And two motorcycles. And a dirtbike. Um, yes, we need to get on the ball selling some of those. Anyone interested in buying a 2000 Eclipse, a 95 Saturn or a 93 Eagle Talon? :)

Between the Walk and our trip to Maryland, we were all pretty much exhausted by the time we got home, so the rest of the evening was spent hanging around doing nothing. We did watch Baby Mama, which I actually found funny. That was quite an accomplishment for me, considering the state of mind I was in just a couple of weeks ago about not getting pregnant!

Bryan had to work on Sunday, so Vic and I lounged around for a bit before hitting up Target and heading up to Short Pump to meet the friend she was riding back to Bath County with. I was sad to see her go... I don't see her (or my brother or my mom) nearly enough, and we had a great time!

Posted by ShoZu

Hungry Hungry Hippo

Lately, I am starving in the afternoons at work and have been frustrated because it's way easier to find junk food around here than anything remotely healthy. So when I stopped at the grocery store last night, I decided to pick up a few things to keep on hand. It wasn't until I put the bag down in my office and really looked at it that I realized I may have gone a tad overboard. :)

Posted by ShoZu


Meet Mimi

My new (to me) 2008 Saturn Vue! We found her online and she was such a great deal that we drove up to Maryland and bought her yesterday!

Posted by ShoZu


Wading through Memphis.

Mother Nature conspired against me this past weekend during my trip to Memphis, but I did not let her win! :)

Already my sightseeing time was short. I was there to give my opinions on certain advertising campaigns and such aimed at people living with rheumatoid arthritis, and that meeting was scheduled from 8am-5pm on Saturday. We also had dinner with the group on Friday evening. This left only late Friday night and Saturday evening for experiencing Memphis, since my flight left before anything opened on Sunday morning.

Friday I met several nice people at dinner, but everyone at my table decided they were hitting the sack early. I was a little bummed, because the night was still young. I called Bryan for a little encouragement, and he told me I needed to take my ass to Beale Street, particularly since it was only one block away. So I did. :)

Beale Street is the Bourbon Street of Memphis. There are lots of bars, clubs, restaurants, souvenir shops... that sort of thing. The street is closed off to car traffic so you can just wander around, and if you get stumbling drunk you don't have to worry about getting run over. I'm sure there's technically some other reason they close off the street, but I guarantee you this is part of the logic.

The first night I just walked up and down the street, only a few blocks, and took in the Memphis party crowd. They actually had a few bands playing in pavilions on the street, so I was able to hear some good blues without the awkwardness of going into a bar by myself. :)

Saturday's session was interesting. I'm fascinated by marketing techniques, probably should have been in advertising, so it was fun to see the campaigns this company is considering and hear and give feedback. Of course, I must admit I was a bit antsy for the day to be over so I could get out on the town!

I met a few people who were staying over Saturday night and we all decided to get together and go out. The forecast called for rain, and this time the weatherman was spot on. Our first stop we managed to achieve before the downpours set in. I headed to the Peabody Hotel with a girl named Jeni, who is from the Outer Banks. The Peabody is famous for its ducks. They live in a "duck palace" on the roof of the building, and every morning at 10 they parade them down to the lobby (via elevator) and they get in a fountain. They spend the rest of their day floating around this fountain, then at 5pm they parade them back up to their palace. Jeni and I got there at about 4:45, and already the place was so packed we couldn't really get a good view of the ducks. We did head up to their palace afterwards, though, and were able to see them up close and personal then. :)

As we left the Peabody, the rains began. We weren't sure where we were headed next, so we went to Beale Street for souvenirs and to see what was going on there. We walked around a bit, ended up at the Africa in April festival, which was plugging along despite the inch of rain on the ground, we picked up some souvenirs, and then kept on walking... we were not going to let this stupid rain impinge upon our tourism! We checked out a map posted downtown and realized we were near the trolley, so we went and hopped on. The trolley took us on a loop through downtown and down to the Mississippi River waterfront, and back up in time to meet our new friends for dinner. Along the trolley route we also passed the Lorraine Hotel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and which now houses the National Civil Rights Museum. We were bummed that the museum had closed before our session ended, but were also moved to see the 60's-era cars parked in front of the hotel, marking where King was shot. Next time I'm in Memphis, that museum is a must-see.

We picked up the rest of our group at our hotel and headed to Beale Street to get some dinner and hear some music. Jeni and I both had to go back to our rooms to change, as we were completely and utterly soaked. (The next morning, the flats I had been wearing were still so wet I could squeeze water out of them!) I had only brought two pairs of shoes, and since I had no interest in going home the next day wearing wet kicks, I walked back over to Beale barefoot. Sanitary? No. Effective? Yes. :)

We ate at a restaurant called Pig, and THANK YOU MEMPHIS for your awesomely delicious barbeque. :) I had ribs, and just thinking about them is making my mouth water! Our concierge had recommended this restaurant because of the entertainment, and he was right... the guys playing were awesome!

After we ate, Jeni and I and another girl from Marion, VA named Dana sat around and chatted for a while before we began hittin' the clubs. :) We had a great time chatting with strangers on the street, dancing, listening to a great R&B band... I even found a dude wearing Kanye West sunglasses and convinced him to let me wear his glasses and to take a picture with me. :)

Finally we headed back to the hotel, where the lamborghini from my previous post was parked. It was actually still there when I left the next day... wonder whose it was?

You can check out all of my pictures from Memphis here.

THIS is Memphis.

More about my trip to Memphis later, but check out these dudes with their grills. They were hanging out next to this Lamborghini, which was parked in front of our hotel.

I first noticed that two of the guys had grills, and asked if I could get a picture of them by the car. As soon as I said, "I wanna get your grills with this car," ALL of them pulled their damn grills out of their pockets and flashed 'em! Awesome. :)

Posted by ShoZu


What's up with me.

I feel like I've neglected this blog to some degree. I really don't have much explanation for that besides the fact that I haven't really felt like myself for a while now. But some stuff has been happening, so...
  • Had an awesome weekend this past one. Bryan's new position (since the fall) has allowed him to actually have a few days off during outage season, as opposed to the past 7 years where he was lucky to have even *one* day off between the beginning of March and the beginning of May. We did a lot of hanging out snuggling on the couch, went shopping (although I think we didn't buy ANYTHING now that I think about it), had dinner out, went to see Tracy Morgan at the National, went to Monument Ave. Easter on Parade, saw my friend Kim... I hate to sound cheesy, but I really love spending time with that man. I mean, I love HIM, period, but we have so much fun together and I'm still grateful and surprised on a daily basis that I was lucky enough to snag him as my husband. :)
  • So the shopping... the time has come for me to get a new vehicle. Sabine, my 2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse, has served me well, but she seems to be approaching her last leg. Also, when we eventually start a family, there is no way in hell I'll be heaving a car seat in and out of THAT tiny little thing, so I need to upsize. We went out Saturday afternoon to browse and see what exactly I *want,* since there are so many different options! I like the crossover SUVs and the small SUVs, so that's what we looked at. I think we have decided what I'm getting, but now we're stalking ebay and Craigslist like fiends until we can pounce on an awesome deal. I'll keep you updated. :)
  • I think a lot of you who read this know this, but for those of you who don't, we've been trying to get pregnant for quite a while now. Luckily for me, I know quite a few women who have struggled with the same problem, so I know I'm not alone, but it's been hard. I haven't wanted to talk about it too much for fear of jinxing us, but since we seem to be jinxed anyway, screw it. I'm not going to get into it too deeply right now, but that's why I haven't been myself. I'm used to setting my mind to something and being able to achieve it, so this trying to conceive (and NOT) business is foreign territory in a lot of ways for me. I reached a low point a couple weeks ago where I decided that I was going to stop putting my life on hold in anticipation of the enormous changes that come with becoming a parent and do the things I (we) want to do. And that decision has made a dramatic change in my mood. Yay for coming out of a slump, even if just for a while!
  • Although, I must admit, there's one thing in particular that has done wonders for my state of mind. I said we decided to stop putting things on hold, and one of those things is our next big trip. My boss was the one who said to me after we didn't get pregnant last month: JUST BOOK IT. Well, since she's a smart lady (and a doctor), we took her advice. And... WE'RE GOING TO SOUTH AFRICA!! WOOOOOHOOOOOO!!!! Yes, y'all, for two weeks in June we'll be trekking across South Africa in a six-passenger van, going on safari, checking out the beaches, seeing ELEPHANTS! (my favorite), ostriches, whales, penguins, riding a train... I mean, people, this is a trip of a lifetime. We've been talking about doing this sort of trip before we have kids, meaning going to some continent that we will likely not have the money to take our whole family to, and we finally picked a place and a time and we booked it. More details later... :)
  • Finally, I'm headed to Memphis this afternoon! My old boss from the Arthritis Foundation contacted me a couple weeks ago and told me that a pharmaceutical company was looking for people my age with rheumatoid arthritis for a focus group they were doing in Memphis. I told her I was definitely interested, and after a couple phone calls with the company, I was booking a flight! The drug company is footing the bill for all of my travel expenses, and in return I have to sit in a room all day tomorrow and give them my opinion. If you know me, you know this kind of thing is right up my alley. :) Plus, I've never been to Memphis, so I'm excited about that. The only bad thing is that I don't think I'm going to have a chance to see Graceland, because it's closed when I actually have free time. And that is about as tragic as Elvis's death, you know?


Two Birthdays for the Price of One!

My grandma and my mother-in-law both had big birthdays this past Tuesday, so in what has become an annual tradition, last Saturday the party was at my house!

It turned out that lots of people from the Grammer family were able to make it, even though we only had the birthday girl and her date from the Klinger side. We had a great time, with lots of food, drinks and fun. We even ended the evening with a little dancing!

Happy Birthday, Jan and Grandma! You can check out all of the pictures here.


Running Away, "All the Pretty Horses" Style

I was never one of those kids that felt the need to run away from home. My mom or dad might tell me differently, but I can't remember a single instance where I even threatened to do so. Even so, I have found my run away hero.

Wyatt McLaughlin is a 13-year-old kid from Amelia County, a pretty rural place that's about 30 miles west of Richmond. Last Wednesday, Wyatt packed up two horses in a horse trailer, then loaded the family's truck up with food, clothing, some extra propane tanks and the family dog. And then he ran away--or should I say, DROVE away.

Already when I heard this part of the story, I had some mad respect for Wyatt. I mean, seriously, what 13-year-old has that kind of planning ability?! Hell, I was still playing with my Barbies when I was 13! (Crap, did I just admit that to the whole world?!)

Anyway, on Saturday, news came that Wyatt had been found. 1200 MILES AWAY, AT A RODEO IN TEXAS!!!!!!! Holy crap, kid! YOU ARE MY HERO! I mean, yeah, I understand his parents were probably worried sick. I feel for them, I really do, but DANG! I'm not even sure *I* could load all of that up and haul a horse trailer halfway across the country. You know the kid's dad is pissed, he has to be, but I bet secretly he is incredibly proud of his son for having such awesome survival skills at such a tender age. :)

The other details you may want to know: Wyatt had been to that rodeo before with his family, so it wasn't like he just randomly found somewhere to go. Also, the news story speculated that he may have been trying to get to a girl he had been chatting with online. (What percentage of runaways these days are because of online relationships? It's gotta be, like, 75% or more.) Also, his parents had gone to Texas because they thought he might end up there, so they were there to round him up. Oh, and even though he's only 13, he is apparently about 6' tall, so he can pass as 18 or 19.

I hope that Wyatt did just run away because of some girl and not because his home life was awful... certainly if there were some sad circumstances motivating him I'd be less inclined to be in awe of him and more inclined to feel bad for him. But still...

You can check out the Times Dispatch's coverage of Wyatt McLaughlin's Excellent Adventure here and here. Also, if you've never read All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy, you should. Every time I think of Wyatt I think of John Grady, the main character, and Cormac McCarthy is an amazing author... one of my favorites!