The things we couldn’t do one year ago

There’s so much to say when nothing’s been said for so long. The problem is, where to start?

Let’s start with today. I went to see “Rock Of Ages” at the Marcus Center in Milwaukee. The show was amazing. The cast was adorable and talented. My co-worker/new best friend won the tickets so I even attended for free. Score! Rob went to his first Marquette basketball game of the season tonight.

When I got home, he said something that stuck with me: “We couldn’t have done anything we did tonight one year ago.” So much can change in one year. So much. New jobs; new place to live. Dexter doesn’t even have leash aggression anymore! It’s like Oshkosh never happened!

But it did. And we are reminded of it on days when I get to go to a nationally-touring musical and Rob attends a Marquette game.

This past weekend one of my friend’s got married in Illinois. Instead of taking off Monday (it was a Sunday wedding) we were able to be back in time for the work day. We live close enough to Chicago that it doesn’t take a day of travel to go down there and back.

In one year we’ve had four jobs, two apartments, one dog and 0 babies. For those keeping score at home, that’s 0 babies!

In a few weeks Rob will be starting a new venture. At the wedding this past weekend the first thing everyone asked after we told them about his new job was, “Does that mean he will be traveling less?”

“No, it means he’ll be traveling more.”

That’s what happens when you have more responsibility, unfortunately. In the last year Rob’s traveled to Colorado, Texas and Iceland. Yes, the country.

Each time he leaves I think it gets harder. How is that possible? So this will be a test for us, much like everything else this past year and some-odd months.

When we said, “I do,” I don’t think either of us could have imagined the life we lead. Yes, it’s difficult on some days but mostly we are doing great.

I think back about our nights spent in Oshkosh and I smile. But on nights when Rob goes to a Marquette game and I get to attend a Broadway show, I don’t need anymore reaffirmation that our decision to leave was the right one.

Rob’s new job will bring on new challenges and new opportunities. And it means our routine will once again be uprooted. But if there has been one constant in this short-lived union — it’s definitely change.

 

 

CrossFit: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…(seriously hoping this doesn’t kill me)

I walked past a gym near my building a hundred different times with Dexter. Loud pop music was always emanating from this industrial-looking building. Through the open door I would see men and women climbing ropes, flipping tires and bench pressing. As I leisurely walked past with Dexter the group would sometimes sprint outside and go right past me on the sidewalk.

I was slightly intrigued, slightly frightened by the amount of red faces and sweat-soaked humans coming out of this one building. The name of the gym is Badger CrossFit and to be honest, I had never heard of CrossFit. One day while walking by a woman with a water bottle in hand was going to her car. This woman was young, slim but not over-the-top in shape. It gave me the courage to ask her straight out, “What the hell goes on in there?”

She told me it was a CrossFit gym. You strength train, you have high-intensity workouts and as a woman, she’s never felt more empowered from a workout. And with that testimonial, I was sold.

That Saturday I went to the free class. Along with three other women we went through the basics of a push up, squat and burpee. We did a sample workout and I no joke, almost passed out. I stopped before the third round and had to sit down. I felt like a failure. Turns out, you need to eat before working out. But it was a Saturday morning and I rolled out of bed just 15 minutes before the class started. Lesson learned.

For some reason I wasn’t scared off and I signed up for the four-week elements class beginning the following Monday. Oh yeah, and did I mention that it starts at 6:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday Friday?

My first class I was anxious to say the least. I made sure I stocked up on a hearty amount of carbs before and walked to class (walking to the gym is one of the best perks about it).

I was also inspired by the all-female group that I worked out with during the free class. I figured if anything else it’s a good place to meet young professionals like myself. But during this 6:30 a.m. class it’s just me and one other guy who also happens to be a tennis pro at a country club and looks like he’s in incredible shape. Awesome. <– Sarcastic awesome.

We do our warm ups and review the squat and Tyler teaches us the push press. Near the end of the class we start our workout, which he explains is a “benchmark” workout to see where we are in our fitness level. We’ll do the same exercise on the 12th class to see how we’ve improved. Then he also weighed us and checked our BMI. Let me tell you how mortifying it is to have a man who can do an infinite amount of  pull ups and doesn’t eat sugar, grain or dairy check your BMI. Just for a second try to imagine the look on my face as he measured my stomach fat…

We’re doing this benchmark workout and I feel like I’m working hard but I’m managing. I’m pushing myself but I’m not passing out. All good things. My classmate is of course ahead of me in the round but I’m staying steady. Finally, it’s over and my heart is pounding. Eight minutes and 47 seconds of high-intensity and relief is settling in. I walk around the gym and take small sips from my water bottle when I see my classmate run to the bathroom.

Oh no…he’s not..he can’t be…really? That was the succession of thoughts going through my head when I heard him retching his guts out in the gym bathroom. Yup, dude totally blew chunks on my first day of class. And I swear my next thought was, “show off.”

When Tyler realized the turn of events he quickly walked over to reassure me the goal of this program was not to make you work so hard until you hurl. Thanks, that’s…comforting?

For some reason almost passing out and seeing a guy puke hasn’t turned me off from this new world of CrossFit. I’ve never worked harder or felt so out of shape before, but I am committed. I want to do this, I can do this.

Before each class I have heart palpitations because I’m anticipating the most challenging workout ever, but I’ve also never felt a bigger payoff than when it’s all done.

Since the first class I have been sore in places that I didn’t even know could be sore. Hopefully, by the end of 12 classes I’ll have results to share. No matter what though, I’ll definitely graduate this program a more empowered woman.

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world traveler.

It’s official. My passport is stamped and I’ve been yelled at by a customs agent. I can cross international travel off my bucket list.

Of course this is just the beginning. On the plane ride home from Mexico we were already talking about where to go next. Hopefully Switzerland with stops in France and Germany. Then, of course, Scotland, Ireland and England. The list goes on and on…

Mexico couldn’t have come at a better time for Rob and I. The first six months of marriage has been…interesting. You work so hard to plan a wedding, a honeymoon and then came the move to a new city and new jobs. You work so hard on everything else but your marriage and after six months, it starts to show. The mundane weekly routine of going to work, coming home, playing with the dog, making dinner, watching tv and going to bed takes its toll.

So, yes, there were fights. Stupid, stupid fights. The kind of fights you don’t tell your closest friends about because of course they will judge you and judge him (because even you are judging yourself for being upset about what it was.)

March 3 couldn’t have come fast enough for us. We went into the trip with the sense that this was so needed for us and we didn’t want to waste a moment.

The first three days were pretty uneventful, but that was the point. The cloudy skies and cooler temps (still in the mid 70s) made for the perfect lounge around weather. We ate great food and spent time at the poolside bar during happy hour. We took the shuttle into downtown Playa Del Carmen and walked around their “5th Avenue.”

Rob snapped this photo of me there without realizing I was supposed to pay the guy who owned the monkey for him to take the picture…whoops!

We walked along the beach and stopped at a tiki hut and drank a couple beers. It was everything I wanted for the week: to do nothing.

Wednesday the week picked up with a trip to Tulum, just outside Playa. The Mayan Ruins there are still being excavated and it’s adjacent to one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve seen. That day it was too windy to walk down to the water, but the view was amazing.

 

Thursday, we traveled two hours to the city of Chichen Itza, home to a Mayan temple that is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the W0rld. But first, we bathed in a sink hole that Mayans used to cleanse themselves before entering the holy city more than 3,000 years ago.

The main temple was an incredible sight and both Rob and I felt a gravitational pull towards the structure. Pictures can’t do it justice, it’s truly breathtaking.

On Friday temps reached over 95 degrees and Rob and I were like two little lobsters by the end of the day. Instead of having one last nice dinner out we ordered pizza and watched a horrible movie on HBO. The week ended better than I could have planned, hanging out with my best friend, eating pizza and drinking a couple coronas.

Nothing is ever perfect, but that week we came pretty close.

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The Resolutions Post

Like most things in life, I’m late at this whole resolutions post. Nineteen days late to be exact.

 After a whirlwind of Christmas it was New Years.

Normally my favorite holiday of the whole entire year, this one felt remarkably, meh. (That description can only come from someone who graduated with a journalism degree.)

Yes, it was our first one as a married couple, yes it was our first one together as a married couple living in Milwaukee. Maybe there’s just been so much change in 2011 that secretly I was like, “Really? It’s only been one year? It’s felt like five…oh yeah, and I’m not getting any younger. And that whole ’30 sounds terrifying’ conversation that was funny at 22 is not so damn funny anymore. Because in one month I’ll be 27 and in three years I’ll be 30.”

But thanks to a visit from Rob’s sister, Laura, the night that I wasn’t all that pumped to have actually turned out to be really fun. Fast forward to a week-long work trip and I’m just now getting caught up with phone calls to friends, family and this very neglected blog.

So, without anymore delay, here is what I hope to improve on myself in 2012:

Cook, Bake Healthier Meals.

Thanks to Pinterest, I have an unlimited resource to seek out healthy recipes. Some of my favorite healthy habits so far are swapping white rice for Quinoa and using black beans as a substitute for flour in baked treats. I love to cook and I plan to share all my successes and failures in the kitchen right here.

Get Fit.

Just do it. ‘Nuff said.

Be A Better Wife.

You know, roll my eyes less, listen more, don’t be so quick to anger, compliment more, love harder. The easy stuff. Sigh. Marriage is hard. Anyone who said it isn’t is a liar but that doesn’t mean it isn’t amazing at the same time. I think with the wedding, move and new jobs behind us, Rob and I have a slightly less stressful environment so we are committing ourselves to be a kinder, gentler version of Erin and Rob. 

International Travel.

This has been on my list forever and finally this year it’s going to get checked off when we arrive in Mexico March 3. Can’t wait to write that post.

Read More Books.

2011 ended with the Hunger Games trilogy and 2012 has started with “Devil In The White City.” Not so much uplifting reads but really good. Thanks to my Kindle from my husband for Christmas, I think this one is going to stick.

Write The Beginning Of A Novel

How cliche, right? But I kind-of-sort-of have an idea. No, I will not tell you what it is. Someday, hopefully, you’ll be able to read about it though. Plus, I have the best writer I know helping me out – Rob.

Join A Club.

Cooking club, book club, young professionals club? Yes, please!

Work My Business

Most know by now that I’m a Mary Kay consultant. The last half of 2011 I had to put it on the farthest back back-burner of my life and I’m hoping in the spring I can devote more time to helping women look and feel fabulous.

 

 

 

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Caution: amazingly-delicious christmas cookies ahead

Caution: Once you share these cookies at a holiday work party, family Christmas party or with your spouse you will never be allowed to bake any other cookie on/near Dec. 25.

They are also likely to add inches to your waistline.

And it’s totally worth it.

Recipe:
2 cups sugar
1.5 cups vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
Additional sugar
2 packages (10 or 12 ounces each) vanilla or white chips
1/4 cup shortening

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and oil. Beat in eggs. Stir in molasses. Combine the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well.

2. Shape into 3/4-in. balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

The baking time is key to keeping them a bit soft, so don’t keep them in too long – until the cookie springs back when lightly touched, and has small cracks on the surface. Remove to wire racks to cool.

3. Combine chips and shortening and melt together. This can be done on the stove in a small saucepan over low heat, or in the microwave. In the microwave, place shortening and chips in a bowl and microwave for 45 seconds. Stir, then microwave for additional 30 seconds and stir again. If needed, microwave for additional 15-30 seconds, until the chips are completely melted and smooth. Dip the cookies halfway into the melted chips; shake of excess. Place on wax paper and leave for 30-60 minutes until set.

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a christmas story

On Christmas morning, year after year, my mom lined up my brother, sister and I – in order of oldest to youngest – on the stairs. We were strategically positioned on the final three steps before the wall met the banister, so we were just out of view of the tree and the endless mound of presents we imagined were waiting for us.

Years later, my sister and I confessed that more often than not we knew what hid beneath the papered patterns of snowmen and ornaments much earlier than our mom thought. We mastered the art of unwrapping gifts using a safety pin to slice open the scotch-taped end – as well as acting surprised. Parents: Your bedroom closet is never a good hiding place.

Despite the Rockwellian image you conjure up at the thought of three children in pajamas waiting in anticipation at the top of the steps to see just what Santa had in store for them, Christmas wasn’t always perfect. One year it was necessary to use fishing wire to keep our tree from falling over. We tied one end to the top of the tree and the other through a hook drilled into the ceiling originally intended for a hanging planter.

My mom didn’t hang stockings with care, but I’m pretty sure she dropped a few f-bombs when she thought about how she was going to pay for three children’s Christmas presents on a Catholic school teacher’s salary. I was always missing someone that morning – mom or dad, whose ever turn it wasn’t.

This being my first Christmas as a married woman I expected it to feel different than others in recent years. Maybe I would if there was a single spec of snow on the ground – seriously Mother Nature, WTF?

That’s where Rob comes in. He’s been playing the Glee Christmas CD on repeat since Oct. 31 and I can’t even count the times Michael Buble’s version of “I’m Dreaming Of A White Christmas” has played through his headphones. It’s got to be at least 50…

He’s tried so hard, too. Our one-bedroom apartment isn’t exactly the place for superfluous decorations, but without any prompting I came home from a long night at work in early December to find our kitchen cabinets outlined in colored lights. A piece of artwork in the dining room was swapped out for an advent calendar. We slow-danced to “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” in our livingroom.

For him and his family it’s all about tradition this time of year. The family always travels to Naperville on Christmas Eve where his aunt and uncle host a smorgasbord. There’s a fish course, a meat course and a dessert course and don’t even try to use the same plate for two of the same courses – it’s a punishable offense.

After dinner there’s a Christmas program where everyone sings a selection of “Twelve Days Of Christmas,” “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” or “Jingle Bells.” Christmas morning the family goes to church and brunch is held back at grandma’s.

I guess I’m still getting used to the fact that what’s his family is now our family. His traditions are now our traditions. When I really think about it, I’m glad that our kids will have a routine around the holidays. One that will most definitely include a picture on the stairs.

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plotting out our lives at applebee’s

The last thing I wanted to do tonight when I got home was leave again. Work has been mentally and physically exhausting and oh yeah I haven’t worked out in forrrrreverr.

But Christmas with the in-laws is Sunday and so that means I need to actually start my Christmas shopping. So when Rob asked me if I wanted to make a trip to Best Buy to pick up a few cds I wanted to cry but I kept my black peacoat on and out the door we went.

“You’re driving,” I said to Rob, which in our marriage is code for “this is all your fault you’re making me do something I don’t want to do.”

“We’ll pick up fast food on the way,” he said.

Yes, I can be bribed with fast food. I would give anything to just have a McChicken in hand and not have to touch the dishes in the sink and actually cook something.

While Wauwatosa differs from Oshkosh greatly in many, many, many ways, one way Oshkosh scores points is the amount of readily available fast food places in all parts of the city.

Needless to say after our trip to Best Buy (where we also scored “Elf” on Blu-Ray) we failed to find a fast food place that was within a justifiable distance to travel to eat a breaded piece of “chicken” loaded with mayo.

At this point my hanger – hunger induced anger – was reaching detrimental levels and I can no longer be held accountable for giving the look of death or anything that comes out of my mouth.

Rob knew we were reaching emergency levels and decided to pull into Applebees. I won’t even mention what I said when he didn’t even think to order me an appetizer – couple that with both of our complete inability to order off a menu (why must restaurants offer so many choices?!) and it was not a very pleasant conversation.

Our server, Sam, arrived with buffalo wings and my hanger passed as quickly as it came and my ability to be a human being emerged.

On our way out the door before Best Buy I grabbed a reporter’s notebook. A couple nights before we had written down our Christmas lists along with our family members and I was going to review it at dinner. But a conversation about warm-weather trips at work today made me flip to a new page and start an entirely different list.

It’s no secret after you get married the most frequently asked question you hear is, “When are you going to start having kids?” Ugh. To be honest, I was very baby crazy before we got Dexter…

Oh, Dexter. Thank you so much for making me realize how out of my mind I would be to have a child right now. I love him, but he’s enough – for the next five years.

At least that’s what we decided at Applebee’s tonight. Our biggest priority: Get out of debt.

Which, by the way, sparked an interesting conversation about a new program that I want to head called, “Adopt A Young Family In Debt” program. Anyone with a net worth of $10 million or more donates $100,000 to a young family with student loan debt to be used solely to get out of debt and in turn be able to pump more money into the economy. Think about it! I’m on to something…

But after getting out debt our biggest priority is traveling. Rob and I have the same political views, core religious beliefs and values despite the fact that we grew up radically different. Rob’s family emphasized travel and seeing the world and I….went to Chicago? I love my family in Chicago but I’ve never traveled overseas. It’s something I want to.do.so.bad.

I know getting out of debt and traveling the world are two very opposite goals but I think we have a good plan in place.

While eating a spinach and shrimp salad I started to dream. Ireland. Mexico. Switzerland. Britain. Scotland. Australia. Egypt.

Our sisters live in Washington D.C. so we also want to do a mega New-England tour hitting Boston, New York City and D.C.

Ultimately, Australia and Egypt didn’t make the final list but I think the rest are doable. Then, our plan is to go back to San Fran on our five-year anniversary.

So, sorry world. NO little Eberts until 2016-ish. Besides, I don’t think our marriage would survive pregnancy hanger. Poor, Rob.

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it was a long walk

I woke up that morning at 5:15 a.m., threw on a pair of running shoes and hit the pavement. I didn’t get very far. I went down the street to South Park, where Rob proposed. I looped around the park three or four times before ending up on the ledge of the stone bridge overlooking the very pond where just a little over a year earlier I saw my future husband down on one knee.

The whole day I was hiding behind a smile. Yes, I was happy. But I was waiting for the moment I walked down the aisle to be over. I am emotional – I cry at commercials and episodes of “Glee.” I just needed the second verse of “Come What May,” to begin already.

Moments before my mom brought me aside and said, “I need to talk to you.”

“Shut up. Don’t make me cry.”

I can’t believe I just told my mom to shut up. But if there’s one day you get to toss out a few “shut ups” I guess it’s your wedding day. I still wonder about what she might have said if I allowed her to speak. Nope, I was wearing eight layers of mascara and fake eyelashes and oh yeah, bright blue eyeshadow. Clown tears. I would have shed clown tears.

Sorry, mom.

Finally, it’s time to walk down the staircase. My mom and dad are in place. The doors open and I walk out on the downbeat.

Be careful what you wish for. All the planning, all the will-this-ever-end moments of picking out fake flowers and finding the right shade of navy ribbon just days before the ceremony are over and somehow it’s five months into your marriage already. You’ve had big fights – big, BIG, fights. You’re living in a different city, working a different job, own a new car, have a dog to take care of. I can’t imagine what we’ve been fighting about…

Going back to the day. Like I said, I wanted the walk down the aisle over. I was just about to cry when I approached the last row of seats, and no, it wasn’t because it was 85 degrees in July and I was wearing a long dress outside, it was the overall emotion of the day catching up with me.

Was Rob going to think I was beautiful? More importantly, were my guests going to think I was the “most beautiful bride?” (Don’t judge me.) Were people going to “get” my centerpieces and escort cards? My mind was racing, so much so, I couldn’t even look up.

Erin, this is your wedding day. You’re only chance to walk down the aisle.

At this moment I think my mom and dad are behind me but I’m not sure. I’m half laughing, half crying, half trying to smile so my pictures are facebook worthy. I know that’s too many halves but you’re not thinking very clearly during this awkward walk in heels.

So I looked up.

I didn’t care about the way I smiled, if I started bawling or had a big thing of blue eyeshadow running down my face as I looked at the camera.

This blog is going to be about what’s happened since that moment. This definitely isn’t a “and they lived happily ever after” type of blog. Because like that walk, I think in marriage there are times you want to laugh, cry, keep it all inside in case someone else is watching. But then there are those moments when you look at the person and you think, “There is not anyone else in the world I could possibly love more.”

And we’re far from perfect, but this is our ever after.

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