Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I Love the 80s Too - Part II - Do you remember...

Since my fellow children of the 80s seemed to like my last blast from the past, I figured I'd do another one. With all the 80s music I listen to, trends keep popping in to my head. How many of these do you remember?
The guys in Duran Duran ALL
rockin' Capezios!

Capezios - I guess these were supposed to be dance shoes, but these stylish leather lace-up numbers were the shoe of choice (with or without socks) for Duran Duran in the early 80s, so naturally I had to have a pair (or two). I believe I had them in white and in grey.

The "Preppy" Look - This includes a whole range of garments and accessories. Collared polo shirts (especially Ralph Lauren's Polo), with the collar 'popped' of course, were huge for both guys and girls. The Super Preppies of course wore Oxford shirts, preferably with argyle sweater vests and socks. I believe I owned a sample of each - none of which flattered my body type at the time, but that's what trying to fit in is all about, right? ;)

Leg Warmers...worn over jeans...in Florida - Yeah. These were popular in the early 80s. I'm really not sure why. Looking back, it seems pretty stupid.

Parachute Pants - What can be said about parachute pants? Well, they had a heck of a lot of zippered pockets, they were shiny, and they were relatively waterproof. They were the IN thing in 1983-84. Watch any music video from that time period and I'll bet you see at least a dozen pairs. I had them in black (which I wore with my white Capezios to the Duran Duran concert). 

Neckless (sometimes armless) Sweatshirts with Asian Writing - Yes, I had one. It was grey with a red circle and black Asian writing. What did it say? I have no clue. Probably, "I don't know what this shirt says, but I think it makes me look cool, but it doesn't."

Coca-Cola Shirts - How on Earth did a soda brand become such a hot fashion trend? These were collared rugby shirts with the "Coca-Cola" logo emblazoned across the front, and they were extremely popular around 1983.
10th Grade Yearbook Photo
Wearing my Add-a-Bead necklace
and Limited sweater.

Add-A-Bead Necklaces - Gold was IN in the 80s (just as Mr. T or Spandau Ballet!). Add-a-bead necklaces were long, thin gold chains adorned with gold beads interspersed with more colorful beads. Mine had black cloisonne (continuing that Asian trend). 

Blazers, Sweaters, Shirts, etc. with HUGE Shouldermapads - This was a late-80s trend that I rode right into the 90s. I loved my big old blazers that made me look like a linebacker with tiny legs encased in...

Stirrup Pants - Yet another trend that I wasn't really sorry to see go away. Were we afraid that our super-tight legging was going to ride up and expose too much calf? I owned many pairs, though I was never an equestrian. The stirrups looked ridiculous when  worn with...

Sam & Libby Ballet Flats - Although these were the most comfortable shoes I think I've ever worn. But the stirrups made a little more sense when worn with...

Reebok High-tops - Really, what WAS the point of the high-top? Was the double velcro strap there to protect weak ankles? (And I know this is gonna make me sound like a total white girl, but are THESE the "Reeboks with the straps" that Shawty is wearing with her Apple Bottom Jeans? Cause, if so, I think she's a couple decades too late!) Of course, with the Reebok high-ops, you HAD to wear big ol'

Slouch Socks - often multiple pairs in mulitple colors. Better hope your shoes were a little loose to start with.

Banana-clipped hair.
Banana Clips - This was a fashion trend that I was able to work, because these long, banana-shaped (hence the name) hair clips worked great with curly hair (and curly hair was definitely IN in the 80s - the bigger, the better). You'd bend your head forward and start the clip at the base of your neck. All of your hair would be caught in the banana comb, which clipped on top. Then, curl the bangs into a ginormous wave (or roll them under) and spray the heck out of everything! (A little aside about the dangers of hairspray in the 80s. While working at KayBee Toys, I was fixing my hair in the bathroom, grabbed an aerosol can and started spraying, only to realize that it wasn't hairspray I was spraying, it was Lysol. :( Guess I can't be too hard on Rob for my recent vinegar spritz. I need to pay more attention. My hair was microbe-free, anyway.)

Bracelets (and tons of them) - It was not unusual to see girls in the 80s nearly up to their elbows in bangles. Skinny, sparkly bangles, plus those thin, black rubber bangles that are basically O-rings. We can all credit (or blame?) Madonna for starting that trend. 
This photo shows not only my Z Cavarrici's with the crazy
looped belt, but my niece is modeling an acid-washed jumper
and hair scrunchy. Very late 80s!

Acid Washed Denim - Acid-washed denim was huge in the late 80s. Everything from jeans to shorts to jackets to dresses. I'm embarrassed to say that Rob actually owned a pair of black acid washed jeans until I secretly put them in the Goodwill bag a couple of years ago. He still asks me where those pants are. SMH. 

Z Cavarrici - Now, Z Cavarrici's were more of a late 80s trend. I really got into these, because that time was my post WW days. I could actually wear pants that accentuated the waist line. For those of you unfamiliar with the Z Cavarrici style, basically they were high-waisted pants that were fitted around the top, then kind of puffed at the hip. An excessively long belt was worn that was threaded into kind of a loop to the side. I LOVED my Z Cavarrici's and I also loved my...

Express Foldover Waist Shorts and Jeans - Seriously, WHO came up with this idea? These high-waisted pants had a button fly that if buttoned all the way up would form an upside-down pizza slice up to your chin. They were very comfortable though, kind of like having your top button undone and they were oh-so-stylish!

Places to Buy 80s Fashions - This could be a blog post in itself! Hot clothing stores of the time: Express (amazingly, still around) and its sister store The Limited (gone), Burdines, Jordan Marsh, Renegade, Cacique (Isabel's choice for cool shoes), and Chess King (for the guys). I know there are lots more, but those were the only names I could remember.

RECORD stores - Back in they heyday of vinyl albums and cassette tapes, there were actual record stores! Peaches (who had a crate?), Musicland, Recordland, and my favorite, Specs. Record stores also carried posters, pins, and other assorted band memorabilia. Specs carried imports. I can't tell you how many Japanese Duran Duran books I own that I will never be able to read. Then again, I didn't buy them for the articles...

Glamour Shots - This was a late 80s, early 90s trend. I got mine done around 1991 (I think). How I wish I could find all of them. I remember they dressed me up in a leather bustier and jacket and tried to get me to look sexy. It did not work! I've always been way too much of a goofball to pull off "sexy." LOL! The funniest part about my Glamour Shots experience was the fact that I'm 99% certain that the "woman" who did my hair and makeup either was a man (or had been born a man). "She" was quite striking, but her wrists weren't exactly dainty. She knew her way around a makeup kit and hot rollers, though!

I literally could go on and on, but I'll save some of the fun for later. Hope you this latest trip back in time brought back some good memories that made you smile! :)

With Love and Aloha ~ Nancy

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Weight For Me! Part II - Learning the Value of Discipline and Moderation

Me in 1989
Average/healthy weight
Miss Part 1? Read it first by clicking here.

By late 1989 - early 1990, I had started a new phase of my life in many, many ways. First and foremost, I met and started dating the man who would eventually become my husband, best friend, and greatest form of support that I could ever wish for. I'd like to preface the next part of my journey by saying that Rob has never, EVER said anything negative to me about my weight or my body. All of the body issues that I have had have been personal. He has always told me that I am my harshest critic, and that is a title that I can't deny.

As I mentioned, my former boyfriend "planted the seed" in my mind about working out. Even when I was on Weight Watchers and exercise was encouraged, I never worked out. I never understood the power of exercise UNTIL I started working out.

Super-Skinny 90 lb. Me
I'll never forget the first day I decided to ride my bike down to the beach for exercise. It was February and there was a cold (for Florida) wind blowing from the north. Having no concept of biking and the effect of wind, I decided to ride south on A1A down to Commercial Boulevard. No problem. Needless to say, it's a miracle I made it back. It was HARD pedaling against that cold wind, but I made it - I was incredibly sore the next day, but I had done it. I had gotten started. So began the fitness routine that changed my life.

For the next year and a half, I biked from my parents' house in Pompano, up to Hillsboro Boulevard in Deerfield, down to A1A to 14th Street Causeway and back - 12.5 miles round trip - five mornings a week (often just as the sun was coming up). I was finally able to lose those last six pounds that I couldn't lose on Weight Watchers, and then some. For the first time since I was eight years old, my legs were THIN! The more weight I lost, the better I felt about myself (it really is a vicious cycle). I started doing Jane Fonda's workout tape - aerobics and weight training - too. I was nothing but skin, bones and lean muscle and I felt great, but I didn't think I was thin enough. 

Healthy on our first
wedding anniversary.
I started "dieting" again. I had an eating ritual that I followed nearly every day. A small bowl of cereal with no milk, carrots and few rice crackers for lunch, a very small dinner, and fat-free frozen yogurt. Eating so little and working out so much, it's no surprise that my weight kept dropping. I had dropped below 100 pounds and wanted to lose more...then 90 pounds. I weighed myself every morning. I wanted to see how low my weight could go. (Now, I can see how sick I was...but back then, I had no idea.) I don't remember the exact number, but I think that my lowest weight was around 85 pounds. Everybody told me I was too thin. One morning, I was sitting at the breakfast table and my father told me that I looked like I belonged in a concentration camp. But I didn't see it. No, I didn't see a fat girl when I looked in the mirror, but I didn't think I was thin enough. So, how did I stop?

Rob and I got engaged in the summer of 1991. This is around the time I was at my lowest weight. One night, Rob took me to the beach. He took my hands in his and looked me in the eye and told me that he was very concerned about my health. He told me that I either had to start eating and gaining weight on my own, get help, or he couldn't marry me. That was the wake-up call I needed. I was lucky that it was that "easy" for me, because eating disorders can (and often do) have dire consequences. I weighed around 92 pounds when Rob and I got married in May of 1992. I was healthy, though. I was eating, but I was exercising to balance things out. I learned that exercise was the key to being able to eat (pretty much) what I wanted and stay a healthy weight. 

Pregnancy workout.
Less than one month before
Chase was born.
I continued to work out four to five times a week throughout my pregnancies. I gained less than 25 pounds with each pregnancy (I actually weighed less when I gave birth to both of my children than I weighed when I started Weight Watchers at age 17), but I was very healthy and gave birth to two healthy, beautiful babies. I truly believe that working out (along with good pregnancy genes) helped me have very easy pregnancies and deliveries. I resumed working out a few weeks after I gave birth and lost the baby weight pretty quickly (of course, I was 25 and 28 years old at the time!).

Today, I maintain a healthy, average weight for my height. (Wii Fit says, I'm "Normal" ;) ). I do not "diet" at all, though I don't profess to be the healthiest eater (I don't eat nearly enough fruit and vegetables - mainly because when I buy it, it goes bad before it gets eaten). I love food - especially carbs (sweets, pasta, etc.) There is nothing that I don't allow myself to eat. For the most part, I try to stick to the "eat half" rule. For lunch, I eat half of a sandwich (and Sun Chips). When I go out to dinner, I either split something with Rob or eat half of what I'm served and take the other half home. I always have chocolate in the jar on my desk at work, and I'll eat a couple every afternoon. If I crave Publix cupcakes, I'll buy a half dozen. I may eat all of them myself, but I do it over the course of six days, not all at once! I have learned not to deprive myself. Moderation is the key. 

Working out is always more fun with a friend.
I still work out AT LEAST four times a week. I do not (nor will I ever) belong to a gym. Working out in public is not for the chronically uncoordinated. I have a treadmill and an awesome stationary bike at home that I can drag up to my computer desk and surf or blog as I work out. I am soooooo thankful for Denise Austin! She has made it so much easier to stay in shape because she actually makes manageable (10-30 minute) workouts - everything from cardio to yoga to toning to pilates to weight-training. You name it, Denise has a workout DVD for it. I try to ride the bike every other day and do yoga or weight training on the in-between days. (I've gotten out of that routine a little, and I'm trying to get back into it.) Getting older definitely doesn't make things any easier! The bottom line is, I'm healthier and more fit at 41 than I was at 14, and I'm happy about that. 

I hope that talking about my weight journey will help inspire others and help them realize they are not alone. I know how hard it is (both physically and emotionally) to lose weight (even though I was never obese, I know how hard it was for me to lose that first 20 pounds, so I can relate!) and I know how psychologically difficult it is to gain weight when (in your mind) you think that you aren't thin enough. I have plenty of friends and family members who have struggled and found success. Every one of their stories is an inspiration to me and makes me smile, primarily because their success has made them feel better about themselves and recognize the strength and beauty that lies within them. Equally inspirational to me are the friends and family members (and celebrities, like Adele) who may not be "perfect" by society's standards, but who love themselves just as they are and make no apologies for it. Now, THAT is beautiful.

If you are struggling, need moral support or just someone to talk to, you know where to find me! <3 

WIth Love and Aloha ~ Nancy

Weight For Me! Part I - Growing Up Chubby is Not a [Pretty] Plus

The Nancy my school
friends remember.
Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with many people that I grew up/went to school with (and haven't seen since). One comment that I always seem to get from old friends is how different I look. The reason being, from the ages of 9 through 17, I was what was euphemistically called (in Sears lingo) "Pretty Plus." This two-part blog post is about my journey from skinny little kid to chubby adolescent to healthy teenager to anorexic young adult to [relatively] fit and healthy woman. If you've ever been overweight (and unhappy with yourself), I hope this post helps you realize that you are NOT alone. If you are overweight and love yourself as you are, God bless you. That is awesome! :) All that REALLY matters is who you are inside - society just makes it really tough to remember that.

Skinny me in Grade 3
I started out as a pretty skinny kid. Right up through third grade, I was as tiny as any of my friends. Then, the summer between third and fourth grade, the "Villa Gene" kicked in and I returned to school the following August significantly plumper than I had left the June before. I call it the "Villa Gene" because every female in my immediate family - sister, nieces, daughter, and some cousins - seem to hit that awkward phase around age nine or ten, when we began "filling out" (and, unfortunately, I'm not talking about our chests). As if impending puberty isn't horrible enough, why not throw a few extra pounds on? Now, I will admit wholeheartedly, I did nothing to prevent this from happening. I was never even remotely athletic as a child - I even hated P.E. when I was a string bean. Being heavy just made P.E. that much more humiliating. 

The summer the Villa Gene took over
Days in school I vividly remember, and dreaded like the plague:

1. Weights and Heights Day - Remember when the school nurse and/or parent volunteers came around with the scale and weighed each boy and girl and measured to see how tall we were getting. For the heaviest girl in the class, that was NOT a fun day. I speak from experience. To make matters even worse, I remember my fifth-grade teacher holding my face in his hands and telling me that I needed to lose weight. (True story...)

2. Field Day - Most kids LOVE Field Day - a day set aside to run relay races and basically play outside all day. Not this one! Try being the biggest and slowest person in your class during a relay. Back then, I think I would have rather died than go to school on Field Day. Even when my kids had Field Day when I was a relatively-fit adult, I could not volunteer. It brought back way too many bad memories.
Yes, I do love chocolate.

3. The President's Physical Fitness Test - Put up against other 41-year-old women today, I think I'd score pretty damn well. As an overweight, out-of-shape pre-teen girl, though, this was the one test in school that I BOMBED. I know you had to be able to do a somersault, so my father tried to teach me at home how to do one. TO THIS DAY, my brother-in-law says that is the ONLY time he ever saw my dad lose it. When I was in 7th Grade, Coach Hall actually "gave" me one chin up because I couldn't pull my body up with my flabby, weak arms. I was pretty pathetic.

Horizontal stripes are not flattering.
I AM wearing shorts, by the way.
4. Dodge Ball Days - Let's face it, any day when a chubby adolescent girl has P.E. (and doesn't have a note to excuse her from dressing out) is NOT a good day. Being picked last (and understandably so) for any competitive sport; any kind of test of fitness, speed or agility; running laps around the track; anything that required the least amount of coordination was just demoralizing. But nothing, NOTHING can compare to the horror that was dodge ball at Pompano Beach Middle School. My middle school friends can attest to this. Let's face it, as an overweight, unfit girl, I might as well have had a red bulls-eye painted on my body. I can still smell the fear and fight a panic attack every time I go into the PBMS gym to this day. 

Other assorted humiliating incidents I endured as a not-so-thin girl growing up in the 80s:

1. Overhearing a friend's mom tell her not to eat any more at lunch, unless she wants to end up looking like Nancy.
2.  Having a not-so-thin-himself kid constantly tease me about how tight my clothes were.
3. Having to shop in the "Pretty Plus" department at Sears because clothes in the regular girls department didn't fit me.
Me in 9th Grade.
Not "fat" but not "skinny."
Check out the JT bangs!
4. Not being able to wear Jordache or Sergio Valente jeans, because they were not made to fit over legs greater in circumference than a baseball bat, or shop in popular teenage girls' stores like 5, 7, 9 (because I couldn't wear a 9 - much less a 5 or a 7!) 
5. Having to lie down on the bed and suck in my stomach to get my Guess jeans to zip (and they weren't a size 5, 7 or 9 either).

Even in high school, when I would have loved to have a boyfriend, but knew that the guys that I was interested in would NEVER be interested in me; when I would have loved to wear the skinny jeans and cute mini-skirts that girls were wearing; I really didn't make a major effort to change my eating habits (which were HORRIBLE - we're talking a lot of burgers, fries, chips, candy, Jessica's Cookies, etc.) and NO exercise. It wasn't until my Senior year in high school that I finally made the decision that changed my life. In January 1988, at age 17, and nearly 140 lbs. (which was a lot for my 5'2" frame. = To be clear - I was never "obese," but I was definitely a good 25-35 pound too heavy for my height.) I joined Weight Watchers.
At  my heaviest (right before I joined
Weight Watchers). You can just tell that
I was not happy with myself.

Back then, Weight Watchers didn't have the cool online tools and the Points Plus program. Famous young people were not promoting their success with Weight Watchers on TV. I went to meetings every week. (I was the youngest at mine until my friend, Jen decided to join with me - Thank you, girl! <3). Weight Watchers didn't have all the food choices they have today either. Basically, you got a new "menu plan" to follow each week. I set my weight-loss goal at a healthy 112 lbs. The first week was hell - nearly all salad. I had never been a big fan of vegetables and fruit, but when that was practically all I could eat, I learned to love them. As the weeks progressed, I could gradually add more variety back into my diet. I stuck to the diet plan pretty religiously. I managed to avoid the temptation of the clubs at school selling M&Ms, avoided eating mall food when I worked at Kay-Bee Toys, etc. I remember one weigh-in after a week that I had been so good, and I had GAINED a pound or two. I was devastated. I stuck with Weight Watchers until I hit a plateau at 118 lbs. I stopped going, but by then, I had learned how to eat healthily. I made up my mind right then that even if I didn't get down to my goal weight, I would never let my weight get as high as it had been because I never wanted to have to lose it again.
Healthy and happy.
One year post WW.

At 118 lbs., I was healthy. I had dropped several sizes. I could wear the cute clothes that I wanted to. I finally had boyfriends (which is kind of sad, when I really think about it!). After eight years of being overweight, spending what should have been the best time of my life as a quiet, shy, chubby girl, I finally felt pretty good about myself and had started to come out of my shell. About a year after stopping Weight Watchers (but maintaining my weight loss), I started dating an older guy (NOT the guy in the photo) who I was crazy about. One night, he took me out to dinner. At the end of the meal, he looked at me and said, "You don't work out much, do you?" (True story.) I don't think that he said it to deliberately hurt me, but that one phrase struck a chord in me that changed my life forever. Needless to say, we didn't have many more dates. Shortly thereafter, I began a diet regimen and workout routine  that not only helped me shed those last six pounds, but took me to the brink of anorexia. Lucky for me, around this time I also started dating a wonderful guy (who ironically was a former world-champion athlete, who won a medal for his performance on the President's Physical Fitness Test in school AND who had a "No Fat Chicks in Bikinis" bumper sticker on his 280Z in high school) who saved me.

To be continued...

With Love and Aloha ~ Nancy

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Austin - Keeping it Weird

Thanks to my job with VocabularySpellingCity  (shameless plug), I had the opportunity to visit Texas for the first time ever. More specifically, I visited the state capital, Austin. Having been a travel reference book editor, I knew a little bit about the city beforehand. One feature of Austin that always stood out in my mind was the bats that congregate under the Congress Avenue Bridge. They actually offer boat cruises where people can go underneath the bridge and watch as hundreds of thousands of these flying rodents ascend en mass from underneath this bridge on warm Spring/Summer evenings.

Photo courtesy of Capital Cruises/AAA Texas
I learned that the hotel we were staying at (the Hyatt Regency Austin) was located right on Lady Bird Lake, adjacent to the Congress Avenue Bridge. I did my research and learned that the bats normally aren't around in the winter, so I figured I was okay. Mind you, I'm not completely creeped out by a bat or two, but hundreds of THOUSANDS? No, thank you!

A couple weeks before our trip, I checked TripAdvisor for the latest reviews of the hotel (1. Because I'm anal like that, 2. Because I love to write reviews for TripAdvisor., and 3. Because I'm waiting to be "discovered" by TripAdvisor.) The latest review mentioned that there were bats INSIDE the hotel. "No WAY!" I thought. I did not tell my travel compadre, Bob, who has a intense bat-phobia, because I knew he'd try to change the reservation immediately.

View from my hotel room (right next
to the Congress Avenue Bridge)
A few days before my trip, my niece, Ashley (who lives in Texas) asked me if I had my tie-dye ready for Austin. I jokingly asked her if it was ultra-groovy and hip and she told me that they sell T-Shirts that say "Keep Austin Weird." Hmm... More about that later.

We arrived at the hotel, which had this awesome atrium lobby that went all they way up to the 16th Floor. My room was on the 11th Floor. Once I got of the elevator, as I was walking down the open corridor, a flash of black caught my eye. It looked like there were a few birds flying around high in the atrium. But they were NOT birds...they were BATS! The inner Wang in me desperately wanted to capture them on film, but those little boogers are FAST! I wondered if Bob saw them (his room was on the 12th Floor). We went out to dinner that evening and he didn't say a word. When we returned to the hotel, I could actually hear the bats twittering (or whatever you call bat sounds) as I walked in the lobby. Still, no comment from Bob. We started up the glass elevator and I got tickled. He asked me what was wrong. I told him not to look up. He acted like I had lost my mind. I got off on my floor and didn't say another word about it until the night before we checked out. (I actually didn't see the bats again after that first night.) When I told Bob, his eyes got huge and he said, "Shut UP!" It was hilarious. He swears he'll never stay at the Hyatt again.

Now for the WEIRD...Here are some weird things I observed while in Austin.

As I was waiting in line at "Downtown Burger" (a trailer located across from the convention center that sells very reasonable hamburgers and does one hell of a business considering the price of convention center food), I heard an unintelligible man's voice SHOUTING. I eventually realized it was a homeless man on a bicycle (at least he wasn't vehicleless) who was yelling gibberish to the  patrons of Downtown Burger. The woman in front of me just shrugged and said, "Well, that's Austin for ya." Weird...

The operator of Downtown Burger bore a striking resemblance to the Soup Nazi! "No beef for YOU!" Weird... (But he was a really friendly guy.) 

Bob and I passed two trailer parks on my walk to Chuy's on Barton Springs Road. Both had BMWs parked in front of trailers (according to Bob, this meant a hooker resided there). But the WEIRDEST thing I saw was a mannequin perched atop a trailer, adorned in a Santa hat, lingerie  and red Christmas lights. She was lit after dark (as I'm sure many of the residents typically are). Classy (and weird).

I believe I saw more bicycle shops on our 15-block walk to Chuy's than I have in my entire life. We must have passed at least four. Apparently Austin is a very "fit" city. Then again, even the homeless man had one!
I saw a ton of neon, plus plenty of unusual "signage" in Austin. Clearly they have different codes in place than they do around here. Drop that stuff in Lighthouse Point and the Code Inspector would be all over that like white on rice! A little weird (but I kind of liked it).

Jose Jalapeño  (on a steeeck) must have been thrilled to get out of Texas. It seems that hot peppers (particularly green chilies) are the ingredient of choice in this city. Take a gander at the menu in any given restaurant, and I'll bet you find at least five dishes that contain hot peppers. Chuy's House salsa was some of the spiciest I've ever eaten (but goooood - and the Margaritas did a great job putting out the fire). All of the cornbread I ate in Austin had jalapeños in it. At Downtown Burger, you can order your burger with (you guessed it)  jalapeños. At the airport, I even saw a dark chocolate bar laced with chipotle (which sounds pretty gross...and definitely weird).

The next bit of weirdness, I sorry to say, I didn't get to see first-hand. I spent the last afternoon in Texas hanging out with my niece and her family while Bob took a long walk around downtown. He told me that he passed by a store that he knows would have caused me to whip my camera out and snap away. It was (allegedly - I couldn't find it online, so I still don't know if he's messing with me) a men's underwear store called the "Men's Package Store." That's pretty weird (but hilarious!).

(This really has nothing to do with Austin, per se.) Prime-time television shows that normally start at 8:00 p.m. are on at 7:00 p.m. in the Central Time Zone. (OK...now I "GET" 8/7 Central) I found this quite frustrating, as I missed both Dirty Jobs AND the Big Bang Theory. Even thought this television schedule would really suit my 9:30 bedtime, I found it quite weird.

Weird as it may have been, Austin WAS a very cool city. I wish I could have seen a little more of it. Maybe next year...

With Love and Aloha ~ Nancy

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day with Mr. Romance

I LOVE Valentine's Day. Hearts, flowers, candy...all of it. I just love LOVE! When I love someone or something, I love with all my heart. Over the years, I have loved from afar, I have opened my heart and been rejected (THAT'S not fun!), I have loved and lost, and I have had my heart broken plenty, but I still believe that love is the most important thing on Earth. 

I spent the first 16 years of my life wishing for a Valentine. I did get that one valentine from my neighbor, Danny Tarrington (sp?) when I was really little that said, "My heart is yours." (and my brother always teased me that it said, "My fart is yourn."), but that doesn't really count, does it? I had my first real valentine when I was 17. I don't really remember much about that first special Valentine's Day, but I am sure I was a happy girl to have been in love and have been loved back. 

Rob and Me shortly before our
1st Valentine's Day
The next Valentine's Day (my first year in college) was Valentine-free. I was crazy about a very close friend of mine (who went to college out-of-state). We never officially dated, but we hung out together, sent each other letters (this was long before e-mail) and even sent each other Valentine's Day cards. Much to my disappointment, nothing ever came of our relationship. (I later found out that he wasn't really interested in girls (in that way). My heart was broken, but I got over it. By the following Valentine's Day, I had my "Forever Valentine," my husband, Rob. He is an amazing man, but "Mr. Romance" he is not.

Don't get me wrong, I love my husband and I do believe he loves me. He has been my Valentine (i.e., put up with me) for the past 22 years. He is the best father my children could ever wish for; a kind, loving husband; and my very best friend too. But romantic? Not so much. 

Many Valentine's Days ago, I decided to cook and serve a romantic candlelight dinner. Rob was pretty quiet, and didn't seem all that thrilled. (I'm really not a bad cook!) After a few moments of silence, I asked him if anything was wrong. He tentatively responded, "I kind of like to see what I'm eating. Do you mind if I turn the lights on."  OK, I'll give him credit for the fact that I had to coax it out of him, but REALLY? Needless to say, that was our last candlelight dinner. 

Past Christmas gifts from him have included "The Clapper" (Note: I was under 30 at the time!), a lawnmower (yes, I do yard work), a microwave, and wiper blades. One year, his father gave his mother a snow plow, so I'm guessing there is a genetic influence here. In all fairness, neither of us is the type of person who expects extravagant gifts from the other - especially during tough times. He has given me many nice things over the years too, but practicality often trumps romance.

Rob has had his (albeit rare) romantic moments. Like the time that he buried my engagement ring in a Publix cupcake (Mmm...my favorite!) and proposed to me on the beach (which I love). That was very thoughtful and I appreciated it immensely. (Never mind the fact that he preceded popping the question with, "Do you want me to get down on one knee?") He does usually buy me flowers for Valentine's Day, our anniversary and my birthday, in spite of the fact that he "doesn't see the point - they just die." (How romantic!) But, he knows I love them, so he makes the effort. I give him credit for that.

This year, I received my Valentine's Day gift two days early. Now, don't be jealous, ladies! I got a Bissell steam cleaner for the carpets! But, you know something, Rob cleaned the carpets for me...I guess that is kind of romantic. I DO love a clean house! Hmmm...maybe he's more thoughtful than I give him credit for after all. I think I'll keep him. ;)

Happy Valentine's Day With Love and Aloha ~ Nancy