Inspired by dear T . . .

Friday's Positive Thought - I really love date night with hubby on Friday nights. You would think that with us living and working together that we would be sick of each other and wouldn't need to reconnect but Friday Night Date Night always allows us to do that. We spend most of our evenings unwinding in our own ways not really sharing with each other. We went to Ruth's Chris for the first time and finally used that $25 gift card from there that I got from MyPoints.

Saturday's Positive Thought - It would seem that we have upped our price range for our house-hunting foray. Woo hoo! Heck, I'm not complaining! Ryan does not come to decisions like this without a lot of research and foresight and heckling of our realtor so I am happy that he has finally come to the realization that I've had for months.

Sunday's Positive Thought - Our internet and cable went down for a few hours. This allowed quiet time without the TV blaring and a couple hours of reading before the internet came back up. I suggested to Ryan that we have one night where we don't turn the TV on and he said just name the night. I will really have to consider this.

So I have mentioned in passing that Ryan and I are finally getting serious about looking for our first home. We started the process by getting pre-approved which was no problem. We are incredibly ideal candidates in that our credit scores are very, very high and even at the high-end of our first-home budget we'll still be in a very low debt-to-income ratio. We found our realtor and actually our pre-approval guy through a friend of Ryan's from college that is a realtor down in Richmond, VA.

We've been out two or three times with her. We know what general area that we want to live in. We pretty much want to stay in the area we currently live in now because of it's fairly central location. We live between two major highways which gives us easy access to the whole area and we're very close to downtown DC. We are also a highway away from our work place. We have a reverse commute since we live closer to the city and our workplace is further out. All that being said, we are going to be sacrificing space and price for location.

We have figured out 2 neighborhoods that we really like. One is the one across the street. The other is a bit further South from here but in a great area. When I ride my bike on the W&OD trail I pass through this area and neighborhood all the time on the way to work. The houses in both areas are essentially the same. None of them are new but many of them are re-done. Some of them are foreclosures. The biggest difference between the areas are the neighborhoods themselves. The further one is in a bike and walk-friendly area close to a main street and businesses. The people there can afford to maintain their properties better than the people in the other neighborhood. That neighborhood, however, has a prime location.

We are essentially looking for a detached, single-family home with at least 3 bedrooms and at least 2 bedrooms. It would be nice to have a basement or work area for me really. We want at least 1100 square feet since that's what we live in now and Ryan wants lots of storage since he seems to think I have too much "stuff." We've seen a lot of great houses and some potentials but nothing yet we're ready to make an offer on. I can't wait till we find our house and we make it our home.

Back from Vegas

Ryan and I were in Vegas Saturday through Wednesday of this past week. We took advantage of my parent's timeshare there but did not stay the whole week like they did. The place is really nice and is one block back from the strip at the Marriott Grande Chateau. They are right next to the Planet Hollywood which use to be the Alladin. All the rumors you've heard that Alladin/Planet Hollywood has the best buffet are true. Even if it is now the Planet Hollywood, the buffet is still the same. I didn't get to partake as many buffets as I wanted as my dad insisted on eating on the cheap at times and cooked breakfast for us most mornings. God bless Ryan as this was his first vacation with my dad. My mom has a point when she says that I'm the only child of the three siblings that will vacation with my dad. My infinite (well almost infinite) patience comes from having to deal with my dad growing up.

The first night we went walking along the strip and into the Bellagio. We went to see the very small American post-modernism exhibit in their art gallery where my dad tried to strike up a conversation with every Mexican and Asian man we came across, especially if they were about his age. He likes to attempt to talk to them in their native tongues never mind that his vocabulary in it might be limited. It was obvious the Asian man working the exhibit did not appreciate my dad's attempts at conversation with him.

On Sunday, Ryan and I spent the day getting tickets for the evening. We got discounted meal tickets at the Brazilian steakhouse in Planet Hollywood, Pampas. It was no where near as our favorite local Brazilian steakhouse here at home, Chima, but at $22 Pampas was forgivable. We took my parents there more for the experience than anything and they enjoyed it despite that my dad didn't listen to my mom's attempts to tell him that we were having dinner at 5 PM that evening so we could catch the 7:30 PM Mamma Mia! that we had tickets for. My mom and dad really enjoyed it. My dad didn't even fall asleep once! I enjoyed it too and I'm pretty sure that Ryan that did despite the fact that he said that it was "girly." The fact that the music was all Abba really made the show. My mom and I couldn't stop dancing. I didn't enjoy the ending of the story line as much but it was still definitely worth seeing.

On Monday, my mom tried to take my dad to see Phantom of the Opera but he had drank most of the day and pretty much slept through the whole thing. Meanwhile, Ryan and I saw Blue Man Group. (We couldn't get tickets to Cirque du Soleil's Ka). We had seen a documentary on PBS about their show and it was pretty much the same show but the show is phenomenal in person. We sat in the very back middle of the floor and got to start the paper trail to the stage. Their show is unlike any out there. It is incredibly original and about as interactive with an audience as you can get. They even came out to mingle and take pictures with the audience afterwards. Their show is truly an assault on your senses and is amazing. Yeah, the Blue Men kinda creep me out too but seriously the show is awesome.

Tuesday, Ryan and I and my mom went to spend the day at Mandalay Bay after getting a referral from one of my friends at work. His suggestion definitely did not disappoint. They split the men and the women at the spa so we each have our own facilities. Ryan and I both got hot stone body massages (not together since they only do Couple Massages on Thursdays and Sundays) and I opted for a deep pore cleansing facial. I was, however, talked into a $35 upgrade on the facial that I don't regret. My mom just got a regular facial. The nice thing about getting services at their spa is that you have access to all their facilities for the day even if you get one service. The only thing we didn't get access to was their many swimming pools but we were only really interested in their fitness centers and their spas. After that we had the steak lunch my dad had waiting for us back at the timeshare and we were all starving. Mom and I then went to the local Ross for some discount shopping at the northern end of the strip. I scored two pairs of black shoes (one pointy-toed and heeled and one peep-toed and heeled), two shirts, a khaki summer dress, and a white "leather" bag for my friend, Hannah, (who was also keeping Aja for us while we were gone), and some lingerie for a little over $100. That evening Ryan, me, and my mom went to the Planet Hollywood buffet after waiting for my dad to return from wherever it is he was. I've realized that I was bound to be an independent soul with two parents who don't like to answer to each other. :P

We left Wednesday morning and I slept most of the way home. We left sunny weather in the 70s to return to Baltimore's low 60's, grey, wet weather. It is now Saturday and I'm still incredibly exhausted. It wasn't like we spent a lot of late nights out or anything like that but definitely the walking can get to you. Plus, I think I was probably a bit overstimulated. Being an introvert will subject me to such exhaustion. My parents returned to Baltimore this morning and stopped at our place to pick up Aja who is now officially on vacation. They stayed most of the day which I wasn't really expecting and we had to cancel our appointment with our realtor. She did tell me though that the house we had been wanting to see, a great deal on a foreclosure in the neighborhood across the street from us, was already under contract. We had tried to see that house before we left for Vegas to no avail. I guess it just wasn't meant to be. Ah well, we keep trying, right?

Tomorrow we have no real big plans. We're going to mass in the morning. Yes, I'm aware we've become those "ChrEaster" Catholics that only go to mass on the big holidays but that will change once we have kids. It's holidays like these actually where I wish we had kids to do all these fun holiday, traditional things.

I've got a lot of work to do at work this week and will probably get a head start tomorrow. I hope I'm well-rested before Monday.

On another note, I finally kicked my butt into gear and got myself to the mall since I wanted to hit the Sephora and return something at Ann Taylor Loft. I love living so close to such a big mall open till 9:30 PM. I read up on reviews on Boscia Clear Complexion Kit and decided to get it a try. I'm really excited about it as it's preservative-free and pretty natural. After my facial at Mandalay Bay, I've been on this natural beauty product kick. I'll let you all know how it goes!

Labrador Retriever

The Caretaker

Your family is what makes you tick, and you never "flea" from an opportunity to hang out with the whole gang. A family picnic complete with hot dogs, deviled eggs and a refreshing swim in the lake is hard for you to stray from. Your sparky temperament and dogged intelligence mean you are not only a blast to hang out with, but great to work with as well. Your close pals appreciate your patience and forgiveness, knowing you'd rather let sleeping dogs lie than dwell on the mishaps of the past. Your dashing good looks may one day lead to a modelling career, if only you can tame the unfortunate clumsiness that sometimes causes you to go flailing from the catwalk.
What dog breed are you? I'm a Labrador Retriever! Find out at

Bad Dog!

This weekend, Nicole came to visit but had made plans with one of her friends in the area for today. I scheduled an appointment with our realtor since we didn't have next weekend to look at houses. More on Nicole's visit and our time with the realtor in another post. Anyway, I had made me, Ryan, and Nicole some breakfast and left it on our dining table. We left Nicole to lock up since her plans had changed and left Aja behind. When we came home this afternoon we found two pieces of bread that HAD been on the table when we left that morning strewn on the floor. I hadn't seen the table and I asked Ryan if all the food was gone and sure enough it was licked clean. She helped herself to half a bowl of scrambled eggs, a few strips of turkey bacon, and some turkey cold cuts. A feast for dogs!

Nicole left a note saying that Aja had gotten into the food while she was upstairs blowdrying her hair so even though it was pretty evident what had happened with the incredibly "clean" dishes with a few dog hairs in it Nicole told us everything. This is the first time that Aja has ever actually gone up on the table that I know of. We had been cutting back her food to help her lose some weight and I think temptation was just too great. Needless to say, Aja has not been in our good graces all day.

Two weekends ago, Ryan and I went to see my best friend's 'little' sister performance at GWU. Their family is incredibly musically-inclined. My best friend is an amateur tenor and she has an amazing voice as well. She sang my wedding and together they did a duet. I took video of her performance during their very-entertaining one-hour cabaret. My best friend took video the night before. He then combined both our videos to produce the following below. Hope you enjoy it!

My Independence

My dad knew when I was young that I was going to be an independent one. I think it was about the time I started walking. Growing up, my mom would always get mad that I would never check in with her when I was out. When I turned 16 and could drive, I got a job at the Sbarro in the mall so that I wouldn't have to answer to my parents as to how I was spending my money (not that I'm frivolous by any means, my mom taught me to shop the sales well.) I don't like being micromanaged at work (thankfully I'm not) and like to come and go as I please. I knew I had outgrown my ex when I knew he would start questioning why lately I seemed to want to do something or not.

I love my husband incredibly and I think there is no one better for me than him but my inner independence struggles sometimes with the fact that I do have to run things by someone else. If I want to buy something significant, say a very nice bike, I can't just pay for it and take it home. Well, I mean, I could but my guilt gets the best of me. (There goes our favorite "G" word, T!) I'd say that we are a fairly independent couple. Even at home we do our own things and we have no problem with the other one going out and being social without the other one but again I feel rather guilty if I'm out too long (unless it's one of those things that is understood will take a while) or I'm buying something as I'm clearly the shopper in this relationship. He's never complained about these things either but I feel guilty anyway.

It's not that I don't love my parents and my husband and everyone else I should answer to, it's just that answering to people is not something I think of right off the bat. I could see it being rather discourteous that I don't think of these people while making decisions. I'm not use to having to negotiate and I realize that's been fairly selfish of me. How did I manage to go this long without having to do so? Well, to the point that I actually notice it? But I'm not inconsiderate truly, I am just use to doing things my way and not being questioned. I am truly blessed to be with people that allow me to be who I am and to be able to afford to do the things that I like to do. I guess the fact that I do feel guilty means that I'm not a horrible, inconsiderate person after all . . . at least a little bit.

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