Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An Abscess and an Absence

My short, one-and-a-half week at home was supposed to be a storm of productivity. Dentist appointment, doctor's appointment, hair appointment, clothes shopping, Goodwill-donating, tailor-visiting, laundry, unpacking, re-packing, gym, gym, yoga, gym.

Not that that all hasn't happened, but there's been a slight damper on my chirpy spirit, which has taken most of its toll on my gym-going: my Peritonsillar abscess.

I'm as befuddled as you are. It started out last Monday, after I left the dentist. I felt the beginnings of a sore throat, but it was a strange one in that it wasn't the back of my throat that felt badly, it was sort of off to the side. I took a cough drop and didn't think much of it, but last Wednesday, when I sat in the cold drizzle at the Red Sox game for four hours (and haven't posted pictures of it yet--bad little blogger!), I came home feeling all kinds of achy and generally flu-like. My neck was stiff, my throat was tight, and I had a pulsating headache.

Then, I felt the lump. On the right side of my throat, near my right tonsil. It started growing, and growing, and growing. Saturday we went to the beach and I came home a bit sunburned, and went to bed feeling a little warm. I woke up completely drenched in sweat (I just spent the entire summer sharing a teeny room with L. sleeping without air conditioning in 90 degree heat...I don't sweat that much when I sleep!), and knew I had had a fever. Plus, Saturday night I woke up and my difficulty swallowing was so painful that I cried every time I had to swallow. My body woke me up throughout the night because my saliva would pool at my throat and I would choke.

Basically, I knew something was bad news bears, indeed. This wasn't your normal sore throat.

I Web MDed it, because obviously I was looking to give myself a panic attack, and boy did I get one. I had every single symptom for a Peritonsillar abscess, which are the following, in case you're actually interested in my tonsils:

Progressively worsening sore throat
Difficulty swallowing
"Hot potato voice" (this is sort of funny, if it wasn't so painful)
Neck pain
Tender, swollen lymph nodes--usually only on one side (mine was on the right)
Lump in the throat, usually only on one side.
Ear pain on the same side as the infection
Uvula is shoved/stuck away from the side of the infection (mine was sticking to my right side)

While I diagnosed myself with having this, I read the treatment, and learned that in many cases the abscess has to be surgically removed by making a slice with a scalpel and draining it. Naturally, being the strong and sturdy person that I am, I cried for a good half-hour just thinking about it.

Why didn't I go to the doctor, you might be wondering? Well, I had a physical appointment scheduled for Monday, and I just kept saying that I would wait until then to see what was wrong. In retrospect, I do wish I had gone earlier, and if I had needed surgery, I definitely would have wished I had, since L. and Andrew fly in on Thursday night.

But, as you read, I did not need surgery! I did, however, correctly diagnose myself. The doctor confirmed the abscess and prescribed antibiotics to treat it. Even after one day, I feel SO much better.

Oh, and the "absence" part of this title? I got weighed when I got my physical, and asked them to compare it to my last two years' weights (so, two years ago would be before I lost any weight, and last year would be after my first summer of doing South Beach.) For some reason she couldn't pull up the data on two years ago, but I know it was anywhere from 155-158. I was 5'4 (well, still am) and a size 10. Last year, I weighed 149, which is surprising because I thought I lost so much weight last summer, and a size 8. This year? 138, and a size 6! Woo hoo! That was enough good news to make me temporarily forget about the abscess.

Oh, and PS: I'm doing something tonight to alter my appearance...I'll post before and after pictures after it's done!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Bloggy friend Meghan over at The Perfect Compilation Tape did a really great post last week about the indulgent, fun, and generally awesome things she does, only "sometimes." I liked the idea so much that I warned her I might share my own "sometimes"-ses. Here are mine:


...I stare at L. from across the room when he doesn't know I'm watching, and can't believe he's mine.

...I even pretend, when we're browsing through different aisles of a book store or at different ends of a party, that we haven't met yet, and try to think of what I would say if I just walked up to him and "introduced myself."

...I don't want to get dressed up and go out on a Friday or Saturday night.

...That's right, I'd rather stay in and read Portrait of a Lady for ENGL 447.

...I fill up countless virtual shopping bags, carts, and baskets online but leave the items in them, hoping the store will send me a coupon. Then I'll actually buy them.

...I don't do my makeup at home before I go out, and then I stop at the nearest Sephora and do it there, using super expensive products, for free.

...I look in the mirror and really, really like what I see. I'm so grateful to be a pretty, curvy, freckled, size 6 brunette with big brown eyes and a small nose.

[...But other times, I look in the mirror and all I want in the world is to be a tall, leggy, size 2 blonde with a small waist and even smaller pores.]

...I feel flattered, even validated, when other guys hit on me at the bar. I shouldn't need it, but I do.

...I want to receive my BA in English with Honors, smile that I did it, and then do something that doesn't even require it, like open my own cupcakery or dog adoption center.

...I'm terrified that I'll hate L.A. Or that L. and I will move there together next summer, break up, and I'll promptly be left alone and unable to make any friends.

...I write "to-do" lists but include things I've already done on them, just to get the satisfaction of crossing them off.

...Going to the gym is my favorite part of the day. I need to be alone and know I'm doing something good, just for me.

...I wonder if I would have been happier at a different college, perhaps one in the city, not in the absolute middle of nowhere.

[...But other times, I wonder with a strike of horror and panic how different my life would have been if I hadn't gone to Williams, and met L., C., countless other friends, and discovered my true academic passions in life.]

...I wish my parents had gone to college so they would have a better understanding of how hard it is for me.

...I get simultaneously terrified and quietly awe-stricken that L. might be "it" for me.

...All I want, in the entire world, is just to eat a carb. Any white, processed, sugary carb.

[...and sometimes, I do.]

...I stop and think, when I'm upset with another flaky friend, if I'm placing the blame in the wrong place, and if I'm really the one who let the friendship fall off.

...I love nothing more than to be one of the boys. A perfect day sometimes consists only of a football game and eating copious amounts of meat, all topped off with a few hours of obscenity-ridden, competitive video game playing.

...I love nothing more than to be the girliest of girly. A perfect day sometimes consists only of getting a pedicure and eating nothing but salad, all topped off with a few hours of oh-so-happily watching The Hills.

...I like my blog friends better than my real-life friends.

...I'd rather hang out with my boyfriend than my girlfriends. I'm sorry, girls, if that breaks some sort of unspoken "rule" or "code." But it's true. Because sometimes, he's much easier to relax around than you.

...I'd rather hang out with my girlfriends than my boyfriend. I'm sorry, L., if that breaks some sort of unspoken "rule" or "code." But it's true. Because sometimes, I need to vent/gush/talk about you, and you can't be around for that!

...I really think your show/play/game was boring. But I'll always go, and support you, and be waiting to hug you afterward.

...I'd rather go out with my mum than my friends, because she's drama-free and sometimes even pays for my dinner/pedicure/clothes.

...There's nothing better than getting out of the shower, swaddling myself in towels, and getting into bed and doing absolutely nothing.

...I'd rather blog than write a paper. And I do.

...but only sometimes.

What are your "sometimes" like? Are they guilty? Indulgent? Too shocking to put in print?
[But seriously. Spill!]

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Creepy, Random, or Otherwise Notable Keyword Searches

I've seen other people do posts in which they list all the strange and sometimes gross keywords that people apparently use to get to their blogs. Although, I suppose the weirder the things you blog about, the weirder the people that find their way to it. My keywords aren't particularly weird or gross, but some of them are amusing, and I've been wanting to do a post like this for awhile and so cultivating my keyword list, waiting for the right moment.

Oh, and if you got here using these keywords...well, welcome!


Okay, here we go! Please note that I've kept all spacing, punctuation, and capitalization (LEARN TO USE IT, INTERNET BROWSERS!) completely intact.

1. "things i said land meant tos ay"

This is not the name of my blog. Maybe in the Netherlands?

2. "aim: michellewthonel"

Okay, well, that is indeed my aim screenname, but I'm not going to lie, kind of creepy! I don't know what searching aim screennames really turns up, but I hope you found what you were looking for?

I guess now you guys can all chat me up on aim...

3. "'hanging out' nick friday chelsea -handler -clegg -clir"

I won't lie...I have NO IDEA what this means. Let's try to figure it out. Clearly this person wanted the phrase "hanging out" to remain together, because god forbid his or her search result turned up "hanging chelsea handler" or "out nick friday" or any other combination. It's also possible that this individual is skeptical of the "hanging out." Maybe, his or her friend Nick said that he was "hanging out" with Chelsea Handler on Friday, and this individual wanted to find web authentication of that. But I'm not really sure, then, what "clegg clir" means. And what are those hypens? I know people with the last name "Clegg." But no Nicks.

Any ideas?

4. "i met justin long"

Yes, I did.

5. "justin long old forge"

This one may seem cryptic, but it's not. The Olde Forge is only the most awesome wing-and-beer place in the world, and we go there a lot. Once, we went with Justin Long. And it was awesome.

I'd also like to take this moment to thank Justin (JLo, as my friend Rachel hilariously took to calling him) for bringing so much traffic to the ol' blog.

6. "things to make a fraternity house room awesome"

Well, to be fair, I did post about how I am going to live in a great row house next year, but it is NOT part of a fraternity. We actually don't have any, nor sororities. "Puh. We look down our nose at Greek life." (That was the Williams Administration. Not me.) But I am going to live in a row house, which I suppose was once-upon-a-time a frat house, and I'll definitely be posting on things to make a fraternity house room awesome. Maybe not in the way this gentleman is thinking, though...

7. "what is meant by 'social life?'"

Oh dear. If you don't know the answer to this one...I'm not really sure how to help you. I'm also not really sure my blog is the place to find the answer?

8. "what is meant by 'things?'"

Clearly this person is going through some sort of existential crisis. And honestly, I'm not even really sure what is meant by "things." That's one of the first rules they teach us in English college-- don't use the word. It doesn't mean anything. So I guess that's your answer?

(And I obvi. use the word. It's in my blog title, for pete's sake. Bad English major.)

(Who is Pete? I've always wondered that.)

(Just googled. Pete is St. Peter. How inapprops.)

9. "romantic airport"

I love this. I have sort of a thing about romantic airport reunions. In fact, it is one of my favorite things. I think airports are simultaneously the happiest and saddest places in the world, second only to hospitals.

10. "video of when Dwight says im ravenous after an Night of love makng"

Aside from this horrific spelling, can this person please just email me? And be my friend? Because I love you.

Oh, and I did post about the Office wedding, obviously. So this isn't as random as it seems.

11. "things to say at a family reunion"

Oh, Google-searcher. How I feel your awkwardness. Unfortunately, as you might have found in my posts on the subject, I am so awkward at family reunions, and tend to cling to my mother all night. So I don't think I'm the authority you're looking for here.

12. "things the groom is meant to say"

With this one, I can't be sure if the groom himself is doing the Google-searching, or if a wary bride is fearing that her man will muck up her special day. All I can say is this: say "love" and "forever" a lot and I think things will run pretty smoothly.

So, there they are. I think this is so much fun, so as long as people keep being weird (please do), I'll try to keep doing them.

Or maybe I have to post about some more weird things in my blog to rake in the gems. Umm. We'll see about that.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunset Hike on Mt. Greylock

I've just begun to eye the mountain of luggage and laundry that needs to be done upon moving back home last weekend, and I have about a million doctor's, dentist, hair, and other appointments. But this morning, I'm putting all that on hold and looking forward to catching up with everyone's blogs and sharing some pretty pictures we took last week on Mt. Greylock, the tallest peak in Massachusetts, on a sunset hike.

Growing up near the White Mountains in New Hampshire, I've become an avid lover of hiking. In high school, I would go twice a week during the summer, and sometimes on weekends. (If you're interested, some of the mountains I've hiked include Tuckerman Ravine, Mt. Washington (6,288'), Mt. Cardigan (3,121'), Mt. Moosilauke (4,802'), Mount Crawford (3,119'), The Flume (waterfall), Mount Major, Mount Tecumseh, and lots of others that I can't remember right now and would have to ask Big Relationship, who was my hiking-buddy.)

Unfortunately, once I left for college my free time to hike decreased dramatically. But I was not going to begin my senior year at Williams having never hiked Mt. Greylock!

L., Zeb and I packed up a bag and took a short-ish hike to the summit of Mt. Greylock, as we didn't get going until almost 5:30 and we were racing the 7:50 sunset.

First, we took the Money Brook Trail to the falls. Unfortunately, we've had the driest summer I can ever remember, so there wasn't much water to speak of.

The sun was setting fast, so we rushed to the top to make it in time to enjoy the sunset.

The Lodge on top of the summit. The top of Mt. Greylock doesn't even feel like Massachusetts to me. It has a very Pacific Northwest feel to it.

Now you can see why Williamstown is in the "Purple Valley." At night, all the mountains and the sky surrounding Williams become this deep shade of purple.

When the sky became more purple and blue than red and orange and the moon was finally out, we left the freezing winds on top of the summit (don't worry, we had driven a car up before the hike--we didn't want to hike down in the dark!) and got some warm, yummy food at Moonlight Diner, Williamstown's resident 1950s style restaurant. My only complaint was that we didn't have enough time to hike! I'm looking forward to doing a difficult, whole-day hike some Saturday this fall when we're back at Williams.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A [Tiny] Change of Heart

It's not really a secret that (at least, necessary disclaimer, at this point and time in my life) I'm not that into kids. I know that will probably change after I'm married and at the ripe old age of 50 (kidding), but at least at this point in my life, I can honestly see myself being happy and fulfilled with getting married, traveling, buying a house, getting my Ph.D., and finding my dream tenure-track job, all of which will keep me plenty busy well into my mid 30s.

BUT. The other night, something (small, albeit very small) clicked on inside me. While all of the above still remains true, I may have had a glimpse into the world of children-lovers. My boss asked me to babysit his two boys Wednesday night. Cameron is 5 and Alexander is 7. I usually sit for little girls, who are sort of a handful. They're super clingy, their attitude and mood can turn on a dime, and they can definitely fall deep into the I-know-more-than-you-and-I'm-not-afraid-to-challenge-everything-you-say kind of phase. (Granted, this is only representative of the girls for whom I've sat, but it seems to be an accurate portrayal of little-girl-hood.)

Anyways. My boss' boys are completely different. They're so sweet, and so smart. From the moment I walked in, they were clamoring to show me their field guides and encyclopedias and tell me all about their favorite animals. And when we sat down to eat dinner, they wanted to eat the mushrooms off their pizza more than the brownies they had baked that day for dessert! (Not going to lie, I just wanted the brownies.)

I think the sweetest thing about them was how much they love to read. I mean, it makes sense--my boss works in editing and publishing, and was an English major in college like me, so naturally his children would be exposed to that. But they really, REALLY love to read. Like, after dinner I expected they'd want to play a bit before we got ready for bed, so I announced that we'd play for 15 minutes and then start getting washed up for bed.

"Can we go now?" Alexander asked, bringing his plate to the dishwasher. "We really want to read."

It warmed my heart SO MUCH to see two little boys forgo playing in the yard to snuggle into bed with me and be read to. If all little boys could be like this, I'd have two right now! (Again, kidding.)

One of the sweetest moments of the night was when Alexander and I were waiting outside Cameron's bedroom for him to get changed. (He didn't want me to see.) I hand my hands folded on the balcony of the staircase, which was just at Alexander's eye level, and he was resting his chin on the banister. I don't think he thought I noticed, but he inched his mouth close to my hand and gave me the softest little kiss, thinking he was being secretive. I didn't do anything to spoil his cover, but I smiled the widest smile to myself.

After the boys got washed up, we all squeezed into Alexander's teeny bed and I read the boys a few chapters from a copy of Old Mother West Wind that was my boss' when he was growing up. (Too cute!) But after we were done reading and it was time to go to bed, the boys got very quiet and serious. See, they had gone on vacation in Florida last week, and had cable tv in their hotel room, which they don't get at home. They found a special on the Discovery Channel about the Chupacabra, which they are convinced is real, and lives in Texas. All night they had been nervously asking me questions about the Chupacabra, wondering if he could get upstairs into the bedrooms. I explained to them that the downstairs door was locked and anyway, I would be downstairs so if any Chupcabras wanted in, they'd have to go through me first. And anyways, I told them, we are nowhere near Texas. The sweetest, albeit saddest, moment was when Cameron looked at me with very large eyes, and said, "Michelle? Can Chupacabras get plane tickets to come here?"

I tried very hard to conceal my laughter as I said that there was no way that Chupacabras could get plane tickets, and that "they don't even let some people on planes." The joke, I'm sad to say, was lost on them.

I sat on the floor next to Cameron's bed in the dark as he went to sleep, and we whispered about airplanes and dinosaurs. After the boys were sound asleep and hopefully not dreaming about Chupacabras, I went downstairs to watch tv, and honestly? I felt a little pang of sadness that the boys were in bed! That has really never happened; usually, when the kids are in bed or the parents come home, I breathe a huge sigh of relief. Babysitting is a handful! But I was genuinely disappointed when the boys went to sleep, and my warm and fuzzy feeling I got from them stuck around all night. (Everyone has joked that L. has some competition, since I haven't stopped talking about them since.)

Today is sort of, kind of the last day of my internship. What I mean by "sort of, kind of" is that I started this internship last June and was supposed to be done last August. Then, my bosses (who I love) asked me to stay on through the fall. That turned into the entire school year, which then culminated in a second summer internship. That is technically supposed to end today, but I've been asked to stay on for a second fall to continue working on my project, so of course I said yes. I'll be heading home to New Hampshire for a couple weeks tomorrow and L. will be going home to Santa Barbara, and then on September 2 he and our friend Andrew will fly back and that Saturday, we'll be moving into our lovely little dorm for senior year. (!) I'm still pinching myself.

I don't really blog about work a lot (I work in an office of publishing and IT people--they're really good at the internet), but I really do love it. I'm really hoping that this internship helps me find a job in publishing, maybe even in another art museum, after graduation.

SPEAKING of which, L. recently found out that he's virtually guaranteed a research position in a lab in the Bay Area next summer, and my boss recently said he's got a great contact for me in San Francisco. I'm not going to lie, I'll be crushed if we don't move to LA. And since I grew up in the Bay Area with my biological parents, I have some great and not-so-great memories/associations. But I guess it would be an adventure...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Real or Fake?

Let me begin this post by saying that, at least until college, I had never once owned a designer label in my life. And actually...I don't really think I do, still, since the espresso-colored faux leather "Dolce and Gabbana" bag I carry around was purchased for a whopping $20 at a knock-off flea market. I've certainly splurged for the nicer things that I couldn't live without, like my bandolino boots. And my North Face fleece is warm, cozy, and honestly sort of par for the course for a New England liberal arts college campus. But usually the only times I splurge for things are when there isn't a satisfactory knock-off around. I don't believe you should have to have a lot of money to own great fashion. That's why I even devote a lot of my blog time finding cheap look-a-likes to the season's biggest fashion trends from pricier places.

HOWEVER. This is all not to say that I have something against labels, or that I'm an anti-capitalist who thinks that consumer culture is disgusting and going to be the decline of our society. Honestly? If I had the money? I would certainly treat myself to a pair of really nice shoes or a really nice bag. (I'm dying over the solid acorn Madison Maggie.) And even though my H&M one fits and looks just fine, who honestly would not want a Burberry trench coat? I mean, look, all I'm saying is if someone offered it to you for free, you wouldn't turn it down!

I don't really think there's anything wrong with rewarding yourself for working hard and feeling your best. Having a wealthy older gentleman caller or having your parents pay for these things? Different story. I can usually feel my best in an ensemble purchased from Old Navy and flip flops, but that doesn't mean that slipping something eye-catching and somewhat coveted doesn't give me a little thrill.

(Of course, high school Michelle would have none of this, and would probably slap present-day Michelle in the head.)

But I'm a woman, I've grown up, and I'm going to be starting my career soon. So why not put my best self out there? Why not make my outer self be as competitive and well put-together as my resume?

Anyways, that's a bit of a digression from what I wanted to talk about today. Which is shoes. More importantly, Jack Rogers sandals.

This should be proof of how rarely I covet major labels: until last weekend in Cape Cod, I had no idea what Jack Rogers were! Honestly! I'd always noticed and admired C.'s pair, but that's because I LIVE in sandals, hardly ever wear anything else, and they were metallic and looked sturdy and well-made. Which is sort of essential if you wear flip flops every day of the year, at least from March through November, and hate wasting money when they fall apart after a month. (I'm looking at you, Ciao Bella silver strappy sandals.)

This last weekend, however, Jack Rogers basically vomited all over my life. C., her mom, her mom's friend Trish, and their friend were all wearing Jack Rogers at dinner one night. I started feeling the itch. I had no idea that they were a major label, or how pricey they were. So I did a little research and found out I was totally under a rock, and that they were a big deal. More importantly, that the pair I wanted, the Hamptons Navajo in platinum, would run me $96.00. At least I could get them with free shipping on Piperlime, but still. Not cheap.This began a dilemma of sorts. I knew I would wear them all the time. I knew they looked great. And honestly? A little part of me liked that they would be recognized and well-appreciated at my somewhat elitist school, and that I'd be recognized for my put-togetherness by virtually any girl I walk by. Is that shallow? Maybe. Is it the hidden truth at elite colleges everywhere? Definitely.

But then, my good sense saved me. In that I found these. For only $19.99. A comparison:
Jack Rogers Hamptons Navajo flat sandals in platinum. $96.00.
Target Merona Enid Whipstitch Flat Sandals in gold. $19.99

I really struggled. My biggest fear was that the Target knock-offs wouldn't hold up, and I'd have to purchase three or four of them to get the same life that I would have gotten out of one pair of Jack Rogers, thus making the money saved irrelevant. But the reviews said they were super comfy and long-lasting--some people even said they were more comfortable than the real deal! And in trying on C.'s Jack Rogers, I've noticed that they're extremely slippery, and since I have a penchant for being clumsy, I didn't want to go flying down any carpeted staircases. Plus, I wanted the platinum color so that I'd be able to wear them with both silver and gold, and in reading the reviews I found that the knock-off "gold" version is really closer to a platinum color.

So, clearly, I went with the knock-offs. I feel good about saving the money, but I'm still apprehensive as to what the quality will be like. So perhaps a pair of real-deal Jack Rogers isn't far off for me.

Do you guys treat yourselves a lot more than I apparently do? Or do you also like finding cheap look-a-likes and saving money along the way?

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Nod to Cape Cod

Considering I hadn't been to the beach ONCE this entire summer, to say that I was dying to get to Cape Cod last Thursday night is an understatement. My poor pale skin was crying out to drink up some warm sun...not to mention my sinuses and overall health were begging for a long weekend away from the basement dungeon dorm that L. and I have had to live in this summer. So when C.'s family invited us for home cooked meals, sun and salt air, and a big, beautiful, straight-out-of-Pottery-Barn (and clean!) house, I decided that L. and I deserved a weekend away to get some color and enjoy our last week of summer together. (I'll be going home to New Hampshire on Saturday and I'll be bringing him to the airport so he can fly home to Santa Barbara for a week and a half, and then we'll be driving back to Williamstown for our senior year.)

After work Thursday, L. and I hurriedly threw some weekend things together, packed the car, and commenced the five hour drive to the Cape. We stopped at McDonald's on the highway to save time and money, and once we got into Chatham, stopped at the grocery store so I could pick up a bouquet of flowers for C.'s parents. Finally, we got in just before 10pm, and C. and her brother Chris walked over to the house to meet us, since C.'s family had been at a dinner party down the street.

This house...you guys. It literally was straight out of a PB catalog. I didn't get to snap many photos of it, but luckily, it's for sale! So here are some stock photos from the realtor. Sorry about the poor quality...I should have taken them myself!

When everyone got back home Thursday night, L. and I brought our things to our room. We were staying in one of the bedrooms that was clearly made for children. L. was basically like a giant walking around the room; he was too big for the bed, his head almost reached the angled ceilings, and he was about a foot taller than the closet doors. It was hilarious to watch! Here was our little kids' room in the upper-right. The kitchen was literally straight out of my future-house-design dreams. White cabinetry, brushed nickel (or maybe chrome) hardware, contrasting granite islands and countertops...sigh. I was in love. And C.'s favorite part of the house (mine too, I think) were the TWO giant window seats overrun by blue pillows, surrounded by four or five built-in bookcases that were, get this--color coded. It's so neat to use books as a design element, although I think finding my copy of Anna Karenina mixed in with the Hemingways would probably drive me a little nuts. But perhaps the room that got the most action in the house, though, was the open living room/dining room, or, site of our straight-out-of-a-movie dinner party Friday night.

But now that you've seen the house (well, probably about a quarter of it), you probably want to know what we actually did in it! When everyone got back Thursday night it was about 11pm, so we all sat and had a glass of white wine and caught up a bit. C. and L. and I had planned to take a bottle of wine down to the beach (which was about a 5 minute walk from the house!) and watch the Perseid meteor shower around midnight, but we were so exhausted that we opted to just call it a night and go to bed. Looking back on it, I really wish we had gone! The sky was so clear and it's so dark on the beach--perfect for viewing. Maybe we'll get another chance.

On Friday, L. humored C. and me by walking around town and poking into shops with us, and then in the early afternoon C.'s childhood friend who is also named Caroline (yes, it does get confusing) arrived and L., me, and the Carolines went down to the beach for the day. I was so absorbed in Anna Karenina and L. was so absorbed in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (I know, where have we both been?) that we lost track of time and sunscreen and before we knew it, we were r-e-d red. (Well, L. was bright red. I was more of a bronze.) But in any case, we were both pretty sore, and still are.

We also had fun trying to spot the little seals' heads popping up in all different parts of the water. But we didn't see ANY sharks!!! I was quite crushed, obviously, but I was still sort of excited knowing that if the seals were around the sharks probably weren't far off...

Around 5, C.'s parents, her brother, Chris, and her parents' friends Trish and Richard came down to the beach for some pre-dinner champagne and chips and guac, which was delicious.

You can sort of see my mandarin-colored Tommy Bahama bathing suit that I scored for half price at Mohegan Sun. And there's that trusty H&M shirt that everyone seems to have, which was perfectly nautical for the beach.

Then we all headed back to the house and got ready for what turned into quite an epic dinner party. As we were having pre-dinner cocktails, we all discussed what the college term "pre-gaming" was called when the adults were in college. Our Williams professors used to call it "getting primed," which I thought was pretty funny. Caroline said that while she was spending time in South Africa, they called it "getting on the jowl train," which was hysterical. But we all agreed that Trish and Richard's British (they're from London) version, "frontloading," was the absolute winner. We're hoping it catches on at Williams.

So, here we are, um, frontloading before dinner, courtesy of C.'s homemade Cosmos...

Then we proceeded to gorge ourselves on lobster and gourmet hamburgers...(and lots of white wine...)

And then...and then...things got sort of silly. This is the part of the evening that I said belonged in the credits of a romantic comedy, as we all danced to songs such as "My First, My Last, My Everything" and "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch" while doing the dishes and cleaning up...

Spotted: silliness.

After the dishes were done, we had conga-lined all throughout the house (I'm not kidding), and we had sufficiently pooped out the adults, the Carolines and L. and I headed into town to get ice cream at the famous Buffy's and then to get drinks at the Squire, which was surprisingly and sort of delightfully trashy for Chatham's standards.

Saturday morning we had to tear ourselves away from the house and pack up to go home. C.'s family went ahead while we stayed in town for awhile to get lunch and stock up on fudge before we left. We also couldn't resist a little drive on which we picked out our future houses...

C. and I both picked this one out as ours, and I didn't realize when I got a fleeting picture of it at the time, but it's the famed Hydrangea House of Shore Rd. Apparently artists periodically stop by to paint it, but they're more interested in the mounds of hydrangeas that line the walkway.

L. and I stayed over in Connecticut
with C.'s family Saturday night and saw Eat, Pray, Love, which I thought was excellent, if a little slow. I thoroughly enjoyed the "Eat" segment the most...it also reminded me that after this vacation, I need to maybe cut back on that a bit! Maybe it was because we had just gotten back from a beautiful trip, but Eat, Pray, Love definitely gave L. and I the travel bug. Maybe in the next year or so I'll have some cities and places abroad to include in my travel recaps! We'd love to visit Italy and Spain, if mostly for the food!

[Most images are by me but some are also by C.]

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Alpha Ring Giveaway WINNER!

Well, I'm back from my absolutely lovely Cape Cod weekend, and while I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that I'm sitting at my desk and not on the beach, I thought I'd distract myself with some exciting news...our giveaway winner!

I used random.org to determine which comment in our 19 entries would come out on top. Random.org selected lucky number 10, which turned out to be...

Congratulations, Emily Ann! I'll be emailing you soon with the details. I think we'd all love to know what kind of ring you're going to choose! Copper with a big E? Silver with a small e?

Emily Ann's blog is adorable so if you haven't checked her out, definitely take a second to do so! It will brighten up your morning...especially if, like me, you can't quite embrace the workweek yet.

I'm working on the Cape Cod recap but we crammed a lot into those few days so we'll see when I finish that. Plus, this is my last week of work (for the summer, anyway; I'll be continuing my internship in the fall), so I actually--gasp--have a lot to do! Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Last Summer Vacation, First Beach Outing

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, L. and I are taking a little trip this weekend! It involves lighthouses, beaches, and ice cream. Can you guys believe that I have not been to the beach this entire summer?! I had planned on going when we went to San Diego, but hello, 60 degrees and cloudy!

Thankfully, C. and her family have a beach house in Chatham, MA (or Cape Cod, for those who need the umbrella term), and have invited L. and me up for the weekend! So off we go, hopefully to get at least a little bit of color before the summer ends! Would that be too much to ask?

I can't wait for a relaxing weekend of beach reading, tanning, great meals, great company, and of course seeing the bff who I haven't seen in over two months!! I love C.'s family almost as much as my own. They're seriously the best.

Plus, I get to take a 6-hour road trip each way with L., and guess what? The radio in his car is broken. I just know he must be so excited for our distraction-free bonding!

(Seriously, though? We have the best road trips.)

Also...guys? Don't think I'm a crazy person, but like four Great White sharks have been spotted off the coast of Chatham in the last week. If you know anything at all about me, know this: I am completely and utterly obsessed with sharks. And not, may I add, only during shark week. I am a proud shark-lover 52 weeks of the year. So the fact that the beaches I will be going to will probably be closed due to shark sightings? It's like Christmas morning up in here for me. Wish me luck on a sighting!

(Plus, wouldn't that make for an awesome recap?)

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

(Oh, and ps? Yesterday I texted C. to ask for the address of the house at 11:40. I got a text from her with the address at 11:40. I checked my phone, and my text to her hadn't actually been sent until 11:41. Which means she sent me what I asked for before knowing I asked for it. This is why it's a tragedy that it's been so long since we've seen each other--although apparently our psychic-communication abilities increase while we're apart.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Times, They Are A' Changin'

I guess that my blog-improvement updates are becoming a bit of a monthly thing, huh? I'm so sorry for those of you who don't like constant change, but my mind--it's a sponge!--and I can't help but want to both showcase all the fun stuff I'm teaching myself about the blogging world, and make things more fun to read and easy to navigate for you guys on the site!

My two most recent improvements involve photos and a new feature-type idea. Firstly, photos. I'm every day learning as much as my stuffed mind has room left over for about css and Photoshop, and I've finally learned how to upload my photos so that they're consistently large without losing any quality. Now that I've learned that, I'm going to make the effort to take better photos (with the new Canon I'm getting this month!) and maybe even--gasp--edit them before posting them! I was inspired to do this by the quality and size of the photos in a few of my favorite daily reads like M Loves M, The Pioneer Woman, Cupcakes and Cashmere, and Young House Love, because I noticed the overall professional feel that clear, crisp, large photos gave to their sites, and I recognized how much having big, beautiful images really improved the reading experience of their blogs. Naturally, I wanted that too!

I also came up with an idea for a new feature that hopefully you guys will find fun, and that sort of goes hand-in-hand with photos. Though my blog is sort of all over the place (but that's why you love me...right?), I sat down and tried to think about what my favorite posts to write were. Above all, I realized that what I look forward to writing the most are posts recapping trips that I've taken and things that I've done, such as going to new restaurants, plays, out for drinks with friends, etc. Things that really reflect how I spend my day-to-day, and above all lend themselves to sharing photos. So, with that in mind, I created a new area in my sidebar called "Where You Can Find Me." Do you see it? In that section, I've listed all the cities I've traveled to, P.B. (post-blog; I didn't want to stretch it too far back!), and then assigned respective tags to all the posts having to do with those cities. I thought it might be a fun way to keep track of all my travel posts--after all, they are my favorite to write! (ps--My blog is a year old, and I'm boggled at how many cities I've been to in a year! That's a lot of flying for someone who is certifiably terrified of it!)

You might also notice that some of the cities listed don't have links yet, specifically, Cincinnati, Niagara Falls, and St. Louis. Those were three cities that L. and I stayed in during our cross-1/2-country road trip (we ended in St. Louis, his hometown) last summer, a trip that occurred right before I started this blog, so I'm technically including it in the time frame of "P.B." I'm going to write after-the-fact recaps of our visits to each of those cities sometime in the near future, and add those links to the list. Hope you're as excited to read them as I am to write them!

Oh, and as of tomorrow, I'll have another place to add to the list, since L. and I are leaving tonight and going away this weekend for one last summer mini-vacation. I have a post all lined up for tomorrow to let you know where! I hope everyone enjoys their last few weeks of summer. I'm personally looking forward to orange leaves, hot chocolate, and football, though!

I won AGAIN!

(Don't forget to enter the Alpha Ring giveaway before tomorrow at 5pm!)

Clearly my karma is building up a pretty nasty practical joke for me.

It will let me have all sorts of great things now, like finding $10 on the ground of the lobby of the movie theatre and winning the L'Amour dress in the lovely Freckles Chick's giveaway, but soon enough it will turn on me, and I'll be crossing the street under ladders with black cats while stepping on mirrors.


To add to this pile of cosmic back luck heading my way, I recently won yet ANOTHER giveaway!

See what I mean? It's too good to be true.

I won the Alex Keller necklace in the Bon Bon Rose Girls' Sizzlin' Summer Giveaway Week! That was a pretty awesome week, ladies. All my online-shopping urges were cured just by oogling the cute things you ladies were giving away.

The necklace is beautiful. I am so, so excited about it. It just arrived in the mail a few days ago.

Funnily enough, I was already planning on wearing gold strappy sandals and gold jewelery with my new L'Amour dress. Now I've essentially won my entire rehearsal dinner outfit for my brother's wedding!

Now if only I could win some gold shoes...

[Images via Alex Keller, Shabby Apple, Nine West]

What do you think of the green and gold combination?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Guest Post on Date Girl Diaries: The Bridal Shower Recap

(Don't forget to enter the Alpha Ring Giveaway! It will close at 5pm on Friday. Good luck!)

Remember in my last San Diego recap how I said that I would skip over the bridal shower details? That's because all the bridal shower goodness is in my guest post for today over on Date Girl's blog. She and her fiance are on a vacation in Carmel (color me envious!) so I agreed to do a guest post for her, and thought a bridal shower post would be perfect since she posted hers not too long ago.

So, if you'd like to see some awesome bridal shower ideas, tons of culinary-related loot, and the near-disaster that my present to my sister-in-law almost became due to bumpy shipping, head over to Date Girl Diaries and check it out!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Alpha Ring GIVEAWAY!

[Update: this giveaway has closed. Congrats to winner Emily Ann and thanks for playing!]

Remember when I posted about how I was wanting these adorable and stylish rings in a bad way, and then not long after L. was sweet enough to order one for me?

In your comments, you guys seemed to be really into the rings, and I had joked that I should contact Amy from Little Green Room and see if she would be interested in doing a giveaway for you guys.

Well, surprise! Not so much a joke! I did contact Amy, who is possibly the nicest woman on the planet, and she was thrilled about the idea of a giveaway. Which means one of you will win your very own alpha ring, with your choice of metal and custom initial!
The rings can come with an uppercase or lowercase initial...

and the disc can come in your choice of copper or sterling silver.

So, here's what you can do to win!

Leave a comment below with your email address. (Please take a second to visit Little Green Room, too!) Bonus entry if you're a follower (or become a follower) of Things I Said and Meant to Say! (Please leave a separate comment for each if you qualify for both.)

I'm dying to know, if you won, what kind of ring would you choose? Would you be like me and choose your boyfriend or fiancé's or husband's initial? Or, if the thought of wearing your significant other's initial creeps you out or if you're celebrating/spoiling yourself, would you get your own initial? In copper and lowercase? In sterling silver and uppercase? So many possibilities!

The giveaway will close at 5:00pm on Friday, August 13, and the winner will be announced on Monday morning.

Good luck!

[First image via me, second and third images via Little Green Room]

Monday, August 9, 2010

My True Story on Yes and Yes

Do you guys read Yes and Yes? I think Sarah Von is extraordinary and her blog is a huge inspiration to a large community of people. (So, in short, you should!)

Sarah does a series called True Story, which she describes like this:

"This is one of my True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/challenging/amazing things."

Well, not to label myself interesting or amazing, but Sarah posted awhile back about some topics she'd like to do interviews on for her series. Two of the topics asked for someone who had either been in the foster care system or adopted. I have been/am both of those things, and so I emailed Sarah and we did an interview, which she posted today. I do have to say, since things are usually relatively light around here, it's definitely a little bit on the heavier side. But if you'd like to learn a little more about me than what I usually write about, feel free to stop by and take a look.

Friday, August 6, 2010

San Diego Trip, Part III, or, TITANIC Disaster

[If you missed parts I and II of my trip recap, you can read them here and here, respectively!]

First of all, good job to those of you who tried to guess the mystery city in which we're having our next reunion in two years. It was...CHICAGO! Woo hoo! I've never been to Chicago but always, always wanted to go.

Now, Saturday, the third and final day of our reunion, was by far the most eventful. And by eventful I mean exhausting and terrifying, with more than a few familial spats. I won't lie, day three of a 24-hours-a-day reunion can get some nerves on edge!

The day at least started out beautifully, when we all traveled about 45 minutes to Vista, California, to Tiffany's mom's house, for her bridal shower. I won't post about that now, since I actually wrote about it as a guest post on Date Girl's blog for next week (I'll link to it then so you can all check it out!), but I won't leave you hanging without at least a picture of all the loot:

After the bridal shower, however, we were all feeling pretty pooped out from the exciting day and from possibly a few too many glasses of champagne. However, my brothers had planned for us all to board a San Diego harbor cruise from the Catamaran Hotel that night, as a good-bye sort of thing, and though I and most of the other girls would have loved nothing more than to stay home, throw on some sweatpants, and watch tv, we had to go.
The boat tour my brothers chose was on the boat called the Bahia Belle out of the Bahia resort, but we docked at the opposite side of the bay, at the Catamaran Hotel. The deal is that you get on on either side of the bay, and the boat runs continuously back and forth between the two hotels all night, taking about a half hour each way. You can stay on as long as you'd like.

Do you guys know the episode of the Office, Booze Cruise? Remember the boat they go on in that episode? Guys. I kid you not. We were on the SAME BOAT. Down to the hokey dance floor and live music and EVERYTHING.

The night actually didn't start out too badly. It was absolutely beautiful outside, even though it WAS freezing and all I had on were shorts, a tshirt, and a cardigan.

However, pretty much as soon as we got on the boat and pulled away from shore, things started going downhill. Neither Tiffany, Christine, nor I felt much like having a drink because of our long afternoon, and while that was fine, have you ever been the person not having a drink on a booze cruise? The loud, raucous people really started to wear on me and my poor headache not soon into the ride. Moreover, a big reason why we had gone on the boat was to see the fireworks at Sea World from the middle of the bay. However, we boarded the boat at 8:00pm. The fireworks didn't start until 9:50.

My mum and I cozied up on a bench on the top deck of the boat around 9:30 or so and I told her that I was exhausted and would really like to get off the next time the boat reached our shore. At that time, we were docking at the Bahia shore, and all those guests were waiting to get on. I had hoped that we could catch the fireworks on our way back to the Catamaran, and then unload there and head home, where I could crawl into bed. At this point it was probably about 55 degrees outside, and I was in shorts and sandals, but didn't want to go below deck because of all the drunk people and booming music.

And right at that moment, disaster struck.

While the Bahia guests had been waiting on the dock to board the boat, the boat officials had had them all line up on one side of the dock, making it easier for the passengers leaving the boat to unload. Well, all that weight on one side of the dock, combined with no doubt faulty maintenance, caused something very, very bad to happen.

Suddenly, everyone on the top deck of the boat was screaming and running to the railings. Then, they started yelling, "the dock collapsed! The dock collapsed!"

The dock had just given out, causing about 60 people all in dresses and nice clothes to fall about ten feet into the freezing bay. The outside air was about 55 so I can't even imagine how cold that water was--I know I was numb just standing on the boat. At very first, people sort of chuckled--you could possibly see how it could be funny, like that scene in It's a Wonderful Life where they all fall into the swimming pool under the gym floor.

Except, it really wasn't funny. People actually got hurt--one man broke his nose, another his arm, and countless others got bumps, bruises, and scrapes. Not to mention, they were all soaking wet and didn't have anything warm to change into. It didn't take long for the ambulances, fire trucks, and even search helicopters to start showing up. One particularly drunk, fratty boy started shouting rude things about the tax dollars and helicopters, and I really wanted to say, "Excuse me, but if you thought you had a little kid lost in that water, you'd want a search helicopter too."

The situation quickly became dire. The boat captain, who sounded aghast, came over the intercom to announce that we wouldn't be going anywhere for the time being. We were stuck on the boat for at least an hour, if not more. The fireworks did start going off, but they just felt so inappropriate. Then, we all had to remain exactly where we were standing so they could conduct a head count, which meant I had to stand in the freezing cold night air for another hour.

Finally, when the situation was under control, we started heading back to the other shore--at which point the boat turned the music and dance floor lights back on. Ugh! Christine, Tiffany and I agreed that it was so distasteful. People were shocked, tired, and freezing, and just wanted to go home, not dance and drink.

I was sort of bummed that a mini-diaster occured the last night of our reunion, because as good as it was, something like that can't help but put a damper on the festivities. But then we all got to talking and realized that there have been disasters almost every year in the last decade or two that we've held a reunion. Last year in Rome, NY, a tornado (!) touched down right near the hotel and caused the power to go out. Two years before that, a giant thunderstorm also caused the power to go out, leaving everyone stranded at someone's house. And two years before that, there was another tornado incident. Isn't that absurd! I hope we don't have any tornadoes in Chicago in two years!

By Sunday, I was sort of ready for a vacation from my vacation. Family reunions are exhausting! I'm totally looking forward to Chicago, but it was awfully nice to get off the plane, get back to L. , and even go back to work. Which is nice, because I think I managed to counteract the post-vacation blues! That's why, even though we were invited to a massive birthday celebration in New York City this weekend, I think L. and I are happy to have a relaxing weekend in. (Plus, the party is for the same guy who threw the New Jersey Pool Party, and I could not survive another day like that one) .

Hope you guys have fun (or not/relaxing!) things planned this weekend! I have a lot of fun posts planned for next week (including a GIVEAWAY!!!), so get excited!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Part II of the Family Reunion

[If you missed Part I, you can read it here!]

On our first morning in San Diego my dad woke up early to go play golf with some of the men, and my mum and I were left wondering what we were going to do on a cloudy, cool day with no car. Luckily, my brother Brad saved the day by calling us and asking if we wanted to go shopping with him at Seaport Village, a super cute coastal cluster of shops and restaurants arranged like, well, a village.

We were pretty shocked that Brad wanted to take us shopping. Neither he nor any of the other men in my family have much "patience" when it comes to it. (Which makes me so grateful for L.!)

But, we should have known there was a catch. Sure, we were going shopping--but he really needed our help picking out prizes to give out at the giant reunion dinner that night. Ha! We should have seen it coming.

I suggested that we find fun, handmade things that hail from San Diego, as sort of a neat souvenir for our family, who hail from all over the country from places such as Upstate New York, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Chicago, and Colorado, and put them together in themed baskets. Brad really wasn't very helpful with this, and we couldn't find any baskets, so I ended up getting some cute ribbon from a hat shop (which I suspect is where all the girls go when they're going to Del Mar racetrack), and tied little bundles of like-things together. We ended up with a San Diego coffee mug stuffed with San Diego-made coffee, a mexican cookbook bundled with homemade San Diego hot sauce, and this really nice hand-painted San Diego tile.

At our dinner, which happened at 6pm that night, we handed out the gifts to the oldest relative, the relative who had contributed the youngest generation to the family (my cousin Leigh with her baby Kinsley won that), and the family member who traveled from furthest away (this might have been us, but we didn't want it to look rigged.)

But before the dinner, my mum and I got back to the room after our "shopping" outing and
got lunch at the Blue Wave Bar and Grill, the restaurant at the resort. We got to sit by the window and stare out at the harbor and all the yachts, which was really nice. Plus, I had the most delicious Cobb salad of my life, so I was a pretty happy camper.

After lunch, we decided to go in the hot tub. On Friday it was approximately 62 degrees in San Diego and cloudy--just an awful day. But we had fun relaxing in the hot tub and then I huddled, shivering, in a towel while my mum went swimming in the pool. She's crazy! (Okay, okay, it was actually heated to 80 degrees).

My mum and I got dressed and headed to the dinner, which was being held in the resort's Sunset Room, a gorgeous function room overlooking the harbor, to help set up. I offered to be the name-tag giver-outer and the money-collector, since the all-you-can-eat Italian buffet was running people a pretty penny. I joked that no one was going to talk to me the whole night for taking all their money!

Here was the view out the window, which you can see behind Scott, his girlfriend Angie, and Brian and Tiffany.

I think this photo of my mum and me at dinner is so sweet. Don't you love my dorky nametag? She refused to wear hers! What a rebel.

We had about 60 people at the dinner, and after everyone finished eating, each table had to stand up and explain which branch of the family they were from. It sort of took forever, but it was nice to be able to trace the line all the way back. And then, the big moment of truth:

Who was going to host the reunion in two years?
Drum roll...

In two years, I'll be going to:


I'll let you guys try to figure it out. It would be tricky for me, but those of you more familiar with the city will probably get it. It's somewhere that L. and I have been dying to go and even considered moving after graduation, and we were planning on making a big stop there on our cross-country road trip next summer when we move to California. But now we'll be going in two years, so we don't have to! (Which means more time in Vegas!!!)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

San Diego Family Reunion: Part I

Our family reunion trip to San Diego was in full swing before we even left Logan Airport in Boston, since my parents and I woke up at 5am, threw our bags into the car, picked up my aunt Ginger and uncle Rich, and met my other uncle Ken and my cousin Tyler at the airport. I don't know if you guys have ever traveled in a group of seven, but that was a whole new experience for me. Sort of like in Home Alone, when they're all running through the airport and take up the entire plane? Well, except for that time in high school that me and 14 other students went to London. THAT was hectic. But mostly because I got lost and stood alone, crying. I was 14, and that's a story for another time.

Anyway. You all probably know that I'm terrified of flying, and if you don't, well, you should. So right off the bat I of course joke that if anything happened to our plane, half our immediate family would be taken out in one fell swoop. Perhaps that's morbid for pre-vacation talk, but guys, this is what I think about. Oh, and also, pre-flight, I got into the car to go to the airport, and promptly heard a loud "rrrriip!" It was, of course, my favorite and perfectly-broken in pair of Express skinny jeans, and now I'm skinny jean-less and the closest Express replacements are $80. So that happened.

I was delighted to find that our Jet Blue plane had individual tvs on every seat, so naturally I spent the six-hour flight (my parents like direct flights, ever since they missed their connection in Chicago. I'm more partial to layovers-- I like being able to grab something to eat, a new magazine, and stretching my legs) watching quality television like Cupcake Wars and Bethenny Getting Married. Understandably, the flight whizzed by and before I knew it we were on the ground in San Diego, crowding into our rental mini-van (which promptly dashed my hopes of a shiny black Escalade--thanks for that, Dad), and scouting out some Mexican food.

After what was probably the biggest lunch I've ever eaten in my life (it was so big I didn't eat dinner), we checked into the hotel, which was just as pretty in person as it was in those pictures I posted, pre-trip, here and here.


This is the front of our building, the Casa del Mar building. You can clearly note the CLOUDY SKIES because the sun hardly came out until the day before we left. I was devastated but the way I saw it was, I'd rather be in cloudy San Diego than cloudy Massachusetts or New Hampshire!

This was the view from outside my brother's villa. That's the smaller of the two pools and next to it is a little seating area where I sat Thursday night with my cousins Sara and Leigh and their husbands, Dave and Jared. Leigh's baby girl, Kinsley, just turned one, and she was adorably sleepy. But this was all around 10pm, approximately 5 hours after this photo was taken. So what happened before then?

Well, when we first got in, I had the special privilege of meeting my brother Scott's baby boy. See, Scott's not married or anything, and we suspect he probably might not ever be, but that didn't stop him from getting a baby all for himself:

His name is Halo (not after the video game, NOR the Beyonce song, NOR after the things that angels have, but after the parachute jump of the same acronym, High Altitude-Low Opening. He was in the Navy, after all. I think he's so ugly!

Since Thursday was a traveling day, my brothers didn't schedule anything big, but just had a little get-together that evening at their villa with some drinks and food. My future sister-in-law, Tiffany, put together QUITE the spread. She's really phenomenal. The poor girl was faced with meeting her fiance's ENTIRE extended family, and I mean ENTIRE--people that are so extended they don't even have the same grandparents or last names--and she totally rose to the occasion. She brought over her homemade guacamole, fresh shrimp, pâté and crusty baguette, egg salad sandwiches, and smoked sausages. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it! It was a relaxing night of mingling and trying to remember names of all the distant relatives, which we're all impossibly terrible at.

All the girls! Tiffany's Maid of Honor, Christine, who is the biggest sweetheart you'll ever meet, myself, my mum, and the bride-to-be, Tiffany.

And of course, the men. Pardon my brother Scott's awkward grimace-half-smile, and then the Best Man, Brad, my dad, and the groom, Brian.

Part II will be all about the big reunion dinner we had Friday night, which also revealed the location of our reunion in two years! (Hint: It's somewhere I've never been and ALWAYS wanted to go.)

Then, the juiciest for last, Part III will detail our disastrous boat ride on Saturday night and how we could have ended up in the bay. Very Titanic.

(Note: I'm not trying to create a false sense of excitement by breaking this up into three parts. It's just that I can only do so much blogging at work before I begin to feel guilty and/or need to close out my Blogger screen.)