Thursday, September 29, 2011

10 Things...

I have had several people tell me that they love my blog. I encourage them to start their own blog, but they always tell me they have nothing to blog about. Below are ten qualifications you must have in order to know whether or not you will have an interesting blog. You need only to have six of the ten qualifications to start the blog.

1. Kids. If you have kids (age not relavent) or you plan on having kids in the future or you know somebody who has kids then you meet this qualification. People love reading about your kids, grandkids or imaginary kids. (Note: if you otherwise have five qualifications and own a pet, you may count your pet as your kid to qualify under this rule).

2. Unique Obsession. Do you have an obsession that you know is not healthy but you still obsess over it anyway? If so, you meet this qualification. This fascinates people. Example: shopping at Costco or watching a really bad tv show that we all kind of want to watch too (or do but do not admit it). People, your readers need to know if they are missing out on something. Its time to embrace your obsession.

3. Crazy People. Do you run into crazy people all the time? If so, time to check off another qualification. These crazy people can be your spouse, your family, your coworkers, the people that you run into at the DOT or courthouse. If you know them, we must hear about them.

4. Do It Yourself-er. Do you DIY? If so, pull out the camera and take progress pictures of your project because you just met this qualification.

5. Random Luck. Has your house been struck by lightning, have you won more than $5 on a scratch lotto ticket, got pregnant with triplets or has somebody bought your drink at Starbucks? Wouldn't you know- luck just hit again- another qualification.

6. Enjoy Blogs. Do you feel joy in your heart when you see on of your blogs has been updated? Are you excited to see what your friends and family are up to? If so, start sharing your stories with us because you met this qualification.

7. Travel. Do you take a trip every few months or so? It can be as simple as a day trip or as complicated as a trip to the moon.. If you go we need to know.

8. No Time. Do you have absolutely no free time that you could absolutely not start a blog? Well, guess what? You just qualified! If you are too busy to blog then you're too busy. Qualification met- are you there yet?

9. Good Times. Do you get together with friends or family at least monthly? Do you enjoy your time with your friends and family? Do you have some sort of group all tied together by a unque quality (religion, year of graduation, same profession). Congrats- you just met another qualification.

10. Bad At Keeping In Touch. Are you really bad at keeping in touch with people? Qualification Met. Use your blog to keep up with your friends!

Hope to see your blog up and running soon!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

More Fall Projects, Road Trips and an Impromptu Party

We My parents finished another Fall project today.

Out with the old:

In with the new:

I wanted to take a picture of the mailbox before it was laying on the cement, but my dad was working at such a fast pace it was lying on the driveway before I had my camera out. Good thing I checked to see if he took the mail out of the box before he tossed it. MidAmerican and Sprint may not have been paid otherwise.

We My mom also got some of my lawn tools out and vacuumed up some leaves! I couldn't help but feel like she was fighting ghosts when using this machine. In fact, my friend was recently telling me about her son being concerned about ghosts. I should have offered to come over with my leaf blower!

(Note: just in case you thought my parents do EVERYTHING at my house, you should know that while a mailbox was being installed and ghosts being fought, I cleaned up some items around the pool to prepare it to be winterized and Tommy broke down boxes so we could fit our patio table and pool furniture into the garage. Moral of the story is they really only do 50% 75% of everything).

This now brings my completed Fall Projects total to 4.5. Only 6 more to go!

While we were working outside my next door neighbor stopped by to ask me if we were going to the neighborhood party later this evening. (My parents were apparently also invited since they are at our house so much). I knew nothing about it. My neighbor claimed that he left an invite in our mailbox, but I never saw it. (I'm sure he did- I just really never saw it). We did stop by for about an hour. I am just thankful that he came over and invited us because I would otherwise be writing a blog about what a mean neighborhood I had that threw a party at the end of our driveway and didn't even invite us.

While we were finishing the Fall Projects for today, we decided to make plans for a road trip for Sunday. Of course a nice little trip to Omaha. This one planned just about 18 hours in advance, and we will be stopping at Costco!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Road Trip- Takekawa Style...

Tommy and I took a road trip to Chicago yesterday. We had a wonderful time. Here are a few rules we follow when taking a road trip.

Rule 1: Plan Last Minute. We spoke about going for a few weeks and did not officially decide we were to Chicago going until 1030 on Friday night. (We steal this last minute planning from the chapter about planning vacation: Tickets to Vegas - 48 hour advance purchase; Plane tickets to Houston in June- 7 day advance purchase. If going international, we like to give ourselves a little more time. Last Summer we went to Cancun - 17 day advance purchase.

Rule 2: Pack As Much Into One Day As Possible. We do not like to waste money on hotels. If we road trip, we are generally going to Minneapolis, KC, Omaha or Chicago. Yes this can make for a really long day, but I can totally justify spending more money shopping if we do not spend money on a hotel. We left at 530 am on Saturday morning and returned shortly after midnight. (Note: We do pack an overnight bag in case last minute we decide to stay overnight, but I do not think we have ever actually used our overnight bag).

Rule 3: Know Your Strengths.  My strengths are following the speed limit driving only 7 over the posted speed limit and driving early. Tommy's strengths are staying up late and being able to drive while I sleep. Therefore, I always take the first driving shift. When we left on Saturday morning, I drove until about 9am. This got us nearly to our destination. I took the first shift out of Chicago last night. and drove from about 830 pm to 10 pm. Tommy took the last shift of 10pm to 1215am. This worked out well because I was able to get us back out of Illinois (speed limit 65) and then Tommy drove once we got to Iowa (speed limit 70). I am learning that the reason Tommy likes to take the late shift is because I always fall asleep and this allows him to speed at a much higher rate than I would approve of. When he speeds when I'm awake I complain to him once every five minutes. When he speeds when I sleep, I wake up once every thirty minutes and yell and him to slow down! He then just has to wait a few shorts minutes until I'm back asleep to hit the accelerator.

Rule 4: Beware of Karma. Whenever I am traveling I ensure that I am constantly letting off good vibes. Our first stop of the day was Starbucks. I NEVER tip the barista because I already pay $4 for the coffee, but not when we road trip. I left a 20% tip on my coffee.  Halfway through our day Tommy kept our good karma going by chasing down a man who left his jacket at the table next to us. (I did this same thing in Vegas in April. This resulted in the guy being so grateful he bought our lunch and another round of drinks for us. I then walked into the Paris Hotel after lunch put three nickels into a slot machine and won $28.)

Rule 5: Plan A Meal. Tommy loves Diners Drive-Ins and Dives. Before we go to any city Tommy looks for a restaurant featured on the show for us to eat at. It is kind of fun to do this because we always end up trying a local place and the food is almost always very good. This was not exactly our plan for Saturday. We were supposed to go here:

We have been wanting to go to this restaurant for years now. However, we always just want to go for lunch because lunch is $26 while dinner is $50 per person. (I know- we are really cheap conscious of the money we spend.) Anyway, I made a big mistake while planning on going here. I neglected to read that lunch is only served on weekdays. So, we drove all the way downtown Chicago and paid for our parking to find that the restaurant was closed. However, we weren't too far from one of our favorite Chicago Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, that we drove the few short miles to Smoques BBQ.

I ordered this:

Yes. I got two sides of the mac and cheese. This is the mac and cheese I posted a recipe for a few weeks ago. I am glad we went here because I realized I am not putting enough bread crumbs on the mac and cheese when I make it at home.

Rule 6: Find a Costco. We always make a stop at Costco when traveling out of town. Not all Costcos are created equally. We find different things at different Costcos. Omaha's Costco is the absolute best Costco around.

We had a wonderful time in Chicago. There are a few other rules we generally follow on a road trip, but if you use these tips you will be sure to have a good time. Its also nice that we have Sunday to relax do everything we were supposed to do earlier in the week.  Go ahead- plan your next road trip, but don't plan it too soon!

Baby Girl Takekawa

If you have not heard already we are having a GIRL! After carrying this baby for several months and feeling the entire time (with the exception of about 8 hours) that it was a girl- it feels pretty good to finally know! Tommy, on the other hand, acts as if he just learned for the first time we are having a baby. Since our ultrasound and gender reveal things have become a lot more real for Tommy, and it is fun to see him enjoying the pregnancy now too.

Here is the photo reveal that the ultrasound tech put in the envelope that we opened Friday night:

While we were waiting for Tommy's parents to call us to open the envelope I studied the other pictures the tech had given us at our appointment. I saw one picture that looked like it could reveal what the gender was. I  quickly googled "20 week ultrasound boy versus girl" images and in thirty seconds determined that it was a girl. Not confident that my thirty second ultrasound tech class was a success, I announced to Tommy and my dad that I still thought it was a girl based on the picture. They looked at the google screen and told me not to quit my day job. As it turns out, I just taught myself to be an ultrasound tech in thirty seconds. In my opinion, the picture that the tech put in the envelope (above) is less indicative of gender than the one she left with the other pictures. She must have been having a bad day.

In celebration of the news, Tommy and I bought our daughter her first article of clothing: Jeggings!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

We're Having a Baby....

Today was the big day- our 20 week ultrasound. To be honest, I had a lot of anxiety going into this appointment. I suddenly regretted skipping my prenatal vitamin every few weeks. I regretted having caffeine. I regretted the Mike's Hard Lemonade I had drank BEFORE taking the pregnancy test. What had I done to my baby?!? As it turns out, the kid is pretty resilient. The ultrasound tech and doctor said everything was normal. I think it is perfect. I must say having this ultrasound today has turned me into a really proud mama! Yes, I am proud of my child for growing a spine, ten fingers, ten toes and four chambers in its heart. Does this mean that I'm going to be one of those annoying moms that is proud of my kid for the stupidest things? Probably Not. YES!!!!

Here are some pics from today's ultrasound. I apologize for the poor picture quality.

At this point, we haven't learned whether it is a boy or a girl. The information is contained in an envelope in my purse. We are waiting for Tommy's parents to get home and call us on Skype. We are going to open the envelope with them. As many of you know, I've been convinced the whole time that I'm having a girl. Suddenly sitting in the ultrasound today has me second guessing myself. I suddenly think its a boy. We will know in the next hour!

Last night, we were shopping at Costco. I became so confident last night that we are having a girl that I told Tommy if we have a boy we can decorate the nursery the way he wants it. This is what he wants to use to decorate:

Tommy likes LOVES Mickey Mouse. I first learned this about twelve weeks ago when he suggested that decor for the nursery. I was appalled by his suggestion. I mean, I love Mickey as much as the next person, but the whole room? This isn't the 1980s. I suddenly had visions that Mickey Mouse was the representation of America and that is what he remembers about coming to America. I was momentarily proud that we had an icon like Mickey Mouse to symbolize our nation to other countries. As it turns out, that has nothing to do with it. Apparently Disney World in Japan is far beyond the shabby Disney Land we have in the US of A. Ironically,  Mickey Mouse reminds him of one of his favorite childhood memory from Japan. Here's hoping he forgets that I told him he could decorate the nursery!! Stay tuned for the gender news!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Isn't it Ironic?

I have such a love/hate relationship with irony. Whenever I think about irony, I can't help but to play the song "Ironic" by Alanis Morissette in my head. You know the one....

- The old man who won the lottery and died the next day;
- The death row pardon that comes two minutes too late;
- The rain on the wedding day;
- The free ride when you've already paid;
- The good advice that you just didn't take.
- The traffic jam when you're already late;
- The no smoking sign on your cigarette break;
- Ten Thousand spoons when all you need is a knife;
- Meeting the man of your dreams and then meeting his beautiful wife;

Ok- you get the point. But my FAVORITE part of that song is:

"Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything's okay and everything's going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything's gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face"

Here are some ironic things that have happened to me over the past several months:

1. Becoming addicted to scratch lotto tickets and never winning more than a few dollars then finding out the ONE person that I ABSOLUTELY think is so evil in this world won $50,000 last week playing the same damn scratch lotto tickets that I have been playing! 
2. Investing so much into some friendships to find little return and then investing so little into other friendships and finding how wonderful, fulfilling and rewarding those friendships are!

3. Wishing your entire summer away waiting for fall to have forecasts that include 36 degree lows on September 15.

Sometimes as an attorney you worry about how irony may come bit you behind later in life. Example: You spend your life defending drunk drivers to have a family member killed by a drunk driver. This is the exact reason I do not do hardly any criminal defense work.

Has anything ironic happened in your life recently?

Fall/Winter Projects

Most of you know that Tommy and I have now lived in our house a little over a year. We My parents were amazing at getting things done for the first six months we lived here. Suddenly March hit and we my mom was tired of doing projects. The weather was getting nice, work was getting busier, and it was decided we would not continue to spend every weekend working on the house.

Now that summer is over and that work is supposed to be less busy, I have made a list of ten projects I would like to get done before the end of the year. These projects are small and large, cheap and expensive. We My parents managed to get 3.5 projects completed last weekend.

My dad installed a new faucet in our mainlevel bathroom:

My half project that I accomplished was switching out the door hinges and knobs in my house. This includes changing about 14 sets of hinges and approximately 20 door knobs. I bought the door hinges but not the knobs yet. I started switching them out. The fresh brushed nickel looks so much better than the rusty gold. I will be glad when the door knobs are done too!

My dad installed a new light in our dining room:


New Light:

I bought a bunch of lawn tools that I needed to get my yard in shape. I bought a leaf blower/vacuum, hedge trimmer and weed wacker. I had been using my parents' but I figured it was about time to return those items to them. Also, Menards was clearencing out some items. Also, these new tools I can actually start within the first three times. This alone is a Fall To Do List item because of course I had to research the heck out of what I wanted on top of price comparisions at the local stores and on the internet.

I have lots more projects to do this Fall/Winter. New carpet for the bedrooms upstairs, new mailbox (already bought the supplies!), create the baby's nursery and so on. I know the time is going to fly by so I really hope I keep up the good progress and get these projects done before the end of the year!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I Forgot About the Meatloaf!!

A few weeks ago I made a list of my favorite ten recipes. I completely and totally neglected to list one of my favorite recipes, ever! MEATLOAF! Click Here for the recipe. Let me tell you a few things about this recipe. I use two pounds of ground beef and one pound of pork rather than ground chuck and veal. Also, I add way more ketchup then the recipe calls for. I also had brown sugar the glaze. Lastly, I skip the parsley garnish. Sure the chopping of the vegis can be a pain, but this recipe will not disappoint even your pickiest of guests. Its one of the most requested recipes at my house. Also, I would never order meatloaf at a restaurant and would be disappointed if it were being served at a friend's house. But I still LOVE this meatloaf. I hope I have convinced you to try it!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I woke up this morning, and I really thought today was going to be a bad day. I read the Big Brother Blog and found out that one of my favorite players is being eliminated on tonight's episode. I had a hard time actually getting myself out of bed. I drove to work and noticed that my gas tank was nearly empty, and tried to stop at the Starbucks in Johnston but the line was so long I just continued on to work. I had to return a phone call to another attorney which I did on my way to work. That phone call consisted of the attorney basically telling me I was going to lose my hearing on Monday. At this point, it was only 8:30am.

I decided to stop in Ankeny to go to the Starbucks there. There were only three cars in front of me. I pulled up to the window and found that the lady in front of my kindly purchased my drink for me! Can you believe it?! That is the SECOND time that has happened to me! Why can't I have any luck on my lotto scratch tickets? Instead of celebrating my free cup of coffee I did decide to pay it forward and bought the person's drink behind me. Note: Next time you are going to do something generous find out how much it is going to cost you before you offer.

I decided I was going to turn my day around at that moment and so far I have tricked the world into having a good day!! Without this lady's generous act I would have given up on my day so early. I am thankful that there are people out there who still do random acts of kindness. Something so small really has changed my day today. I should consider more acts of kindness in the future! Stay tuned....

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

10 Things...

Here are Ten Shows I have set on my Tivo for the Fall:

1. Dancing with the Stars;
2. Amazing Race;
3. Real Housewives of Beverly Hills;
4. Jersey Shore;
5. Giuliana & Bill;
6. Divine Design;
7. Kourtney & Kim Take New York;
8. Sister Wives;
9. Kendra; and
10. Bethanny Ever After.

Some shows I will be skipping out on this Fall: Grey's Anatomy; Private Practice; Chelsey Lately; and Desperate Housewives. Also, I have a few shows finishing up yet from the Summer- Weeds, Entourage, Big Brother, Jersey Housewives, Flipping Out.... Wow- I have too much time on my hands! Now my next question for you- Can we still be friends?!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Love You, Fall!

Before I dig too deep into this post, I want to take a moment to explain to you why Fall started on September 1. I do not follow the solstice/equinox calendar. I could care less about the tilt of the Earth and the position of the Sun. Rather, to me, seasons always begin of the first day of a month, seasons are not equal in length, and seasons have more to do with what is going on in my world. For example, kids do not go to school in the summer. Therefore, Summer runs from June 1 to August 31. Fall runs from September 1 to October 31, Winter runs from November 1 to February 28 and Spring runs from March 1 to May 31. This makes sense, right? According to my calendar, Winter runs an extra month compared to the other seasons and Fall is the shortest, which is maybe why I love it so much.

Much like the days of the week, I spend considerable amounts of time thinking about what season I like the most and why. This is my ranking:

1. Fall
2. Summer
3. Spring
4. Winter.

In fairness to Winter, I really don't mind it from November 1 to December 31, but once the Christmas lights have been taken down, the family all return to their respective homes, I've watched Christmas Vacations three times, and have gotten a few days off of work because of the snow, I'm ready for Spring. January to March drags, which is why I'm particularly happy that my child will be born in the beginning of February. Maybe the rest of winter wont seem so awful if I have time off of work, don't have to shovel the driveway (sorry, Tommy!) and get to spend lots of time with my babe. Time will tell...

But for now, here is how I have gotten ready for Fall!!

You may notice this is not my new Fall Harvest Candle I picked up a few weeks ago at the mall. I am super excited to open that candle, but I decided to burn the rest of this Apple Orchid Candle because it smells good. Also, my Fall Harvest Candle I anticipate using into my Winter season.

I jazzed my candle up a bit by putting him in this Pumpkin decoration. It looks super cute at night when the lights are dimmed.

I went to Costco and stocked up on the Halloween candy. Ironically, since my pregnancy I have had NO cravings for sweets which is usually my downfall. This may be the first year that my candy actually lasts until Halloween. (Tommy doesn't care much for sweets either).

Here is a can of the organic pumpkin I have been campaigning for over the last month. I am having some family over for Labor Day and will treat them to some yummy pumpkin bars!

Now how cute is this guy? I picked him up last year at TJ Maxx and since then have been trying to find ten more to send to my friends because I love him so much. I placed him on the kitchen counter near the sink. I'm hoping this will motivate me to do my dishes more so I can look at this little cutie while I wash them. 

There is still a few things to be done. I felt comfortable putting out some of my Halloween decorations, but I have held off on the Halloween kitchen towels for now. I like them, but I don't love them like these other decorations, so I'll probably wait until after my party tomorrow to avoid judgments from my family. :-)

Also, I always buy a pumpkin and mum to put in front of the house. Here is the picture from last year. Tommy and I were at Costco earlier and were going to buy the mum, but we are going to hold out for purple or red mums as they only had yellow and orange today.
On a sad note, the coming of Fall does mean the soon closure of the swimming pool. It has a heater, but we do not use the pool enough to justify heating it full time. However, I do love waking up and looking at the nice view from my bedroom window in the morning. Sometime mornings while I wait for Tommy to get out of the shower, I pretend I'm at a resort and can relax all day. Sure the dreaming only lasts 5 minutes and its not very practical, but its much cheaper than prescription medication!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful that it is now September. I have nothing against August. In fact, I heart August, but there is nothing like sleeping with your windows open at night and waking up to the cool fresh breeze! A few weeks ago I couldn't wait until September 1 because that is when I had granted myself permission to put out the fall decorations and fall candle scents. You'll be happy to know that I was too tired to go get them this evening so it will actually probably not happen until after Labor Day which may be more appropriate anyway!

I am also thankful this week for lotto tickets. I have a slight addiction to these scratch off lotto tickets. It all started when my hubby came home from work yesterday and declared we should start playing scratch games. This was quite surprising coming from my husband. If you have ever met him you know he wouldn't waste a dime (one of many reasons I love him). Tommy said that he sees people come into the bank constantly having won thousands of dollars on scratch tickets. After Tommy mentioned this we watched Flipping Out on Bravo. Jeff, the main character on the show, was playing scratch games, and it looked fun.

Fast forward to this morning while I was getting gas at the convenience store. I mosied my way into the store causually glancing at the scratch tickets on the counter as if I purchased them everyday. As the clerk approached, I suddenly I felt overwhelmed seeing that I had the option from over 13 games and that the cheapest game appeared to be $2. I was only prepared to spend $1. I had the money and decided to still splurge on the scratch ticket, but did not know which one to choose. I asked the clerk which game was most popular so i could fit in with the rest of the scratch playing crowd. The clerk helped me purchase my ticket and I drove the 15 miunutes to my office dreaming of the things I could buy with the money I was about to win. I cooly walked into the office and closed my office door like the true addict I was about to become. I read and read the directions forgetting that these games were designed for people with second grade educations. My game did not go well. But I was pleasantly surprised that the game took me approximately 5 minutes to play.

All day I couldn't get the thrill of my first scratch ticket out of my mind. When I got home from work to share my excitement with Tommy, we went to pick out some more tickets. Alas, some winners! (Note to my non-scratch game player friends: If you use the machine, it does not provide change and you are forced to purchase the entire amount of money that you inserted in the machine. Praise Jesus it was only a $10.) This time I couldn't contain my excitement. I was thrilled. We drove the two minutes back home and I ran inside to find some change and start scratching. We had spent $10 and won $5. I'm not proud of these odds, but the thrill while playing the game, the dreaming of what to do if you win the money, it was worth the $5.

I am glad I waited over 28 years to play my first game. I cant imagine how much money I would have thrown down the tubes by now. I hope that after I throw a few more bucks down the drain with no return that I will lose the thrill and return to my dutch ways. In the meantime, if you have never bought a scratch off ticket, I highly recommend it.