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Archive for May, 2011

I’m just going to get this out of my system – the worst part of our trip was the travel day home. So I’ll just go ahead and bitch about that first, and then I can move on and tell you about how awesome the rest of the trip was.

So here’s what happened…

We woke up at 6am Italy time (12am Michigan time) and took a shuttle to the airport. We checked in and found our gate with ease, but when Mike asked to move to an exit row, he was rejected several times. Which for a 6’8″ dude, that’s really bad news. We were very early, so we relaxed and read for awhile, and eventually realized our flight was going to be delayed. No problem, we had a long layover in Chicago, so this just meant less waiting there!

We finally boarded about an hour late and took off almost an hour after that. But the good news is that our flight must have been moved to a different type of airplane because when we got on board we realized we were, in fact, in an exit row! (This was not true when we checked our seats online last week.) I think that exit row saved our sanity.

Unlike our flight to London, these planes did not have personal TV monitors, so we had to look forward to 10.5 hours with no movies to pass the time. Even for an avid reader like me, reading gets old after that long. Plus the food was awful, and we only got one meal despite the long flight. Delta (operated by Alitalia) by the way.

As we finally approached Chicago, we were told the weather conditions weren’t ideal and it would delay our landing by about an hour. When we finally landed, the turbulence nearly made me vomit, and I was never so glad to finally land. By that time, we were so late, we knew we’d miss our connection to Detroit, but luckily because of the weather, that flight was delayed, too. HOWEVER! We still had to connect in Detroit to Grand Rapids, and there was no way we’d even kind of make that flight.

So we waited in a god awful long time only to find out that there was absolutely zero they could do for us. Either we wait in Chicago and catch a flight in the morning (with a connection in Cincinnati) or we fly to Detroit and get stuck there overnight. No problem, we’ll just rent a car! We were only 3 hours from home afterall.

We dragged our luggage to three different rental car companies only to be told three times that they don’t rent one-way vehicles. And even if they did, it’s Memorial weekend, they’re out of cars.

Plan C? Get someone from home to come pick us up. We could not fathom being so close to home and not getting there until midday the NEXT day. Fortunately his brother agreed to do it, so we pulled our luggage into the nearby Hilton bar for dinner (Chicago O’Hare has no food options outside security, by the way), then sat in the hotel lobby to read and make phone calls for a couple hours.

Three hours ticked by and his brother was still not there. Four hours… still no brother. We’re not sure what he was doing, but after four hours he was still about an hour away. We knew he was doing us a huge favor though, so we sat patiently. But at the 4.5 hour mark, I hit a wall. I had been up for almost 24 hours, I had been sitting in a hotel lobby and/or airport waiting area for far too long. And I couldn’t think of anything to do but cry.

Mike has known me about 2.5 years and has only seen me cry maybe twice. Not because I hide it, but because I just don’t cry that much. So you know how bad this was getting. I wanted to just give up, go back in time, get a hotel room and leave in the morning. At 5:30, waiting for his brother seemed like a valid option, but by 11, it was the worst idea either of us had ever had.

Finally he got there, and Mike, bless his heart, zipped us to Grand Rapids in just over three hours (we had to stop for gas and coffee). Unfortunately, we still had to pick up the cats from his mom’s house and then drive to our apartment an hour away. When we rolled in at 3:30am, after being awake for nearly 34 hours, I think I made out with my bed. I’m not sure, I was delirious by then.

You know what though? It sucked (huge balls), but it was worth it. In the moment, maybe not, but in hindsight? Worth it. Because our trip was bad ass.

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When people hear that Mike and I each kept our own surnames at marriage, the most common question we get is “What about the kids?” And we’ve mulled it over greatly, and decided that we’ll hyphenate their last names.* The decision to hyphenate was a hard one for me. I kind of hate hyphenated names, but it was the best compromise for us. And Zone-Morris really isn’t a bad name.** In response to that, the most common question is “But what about when they get married? Pretty soon there’s going to be a Jane Marie Zone-Morris-Smith-Miller walking around. The horror!”

To that I say, whatever dude. I figure my kids can do whatever they want when faced with that decision. I admit, I’ll shed a tiny tear if they someday drop Zone, but I won’t take personal offense. I won’t make them feel bad. At least that’s my plan. I’m free to make my surname decisions, Mike’s free to make his, our kids will be free to make theirs when the time comes.

ANYWAY! The point of this is to direct you to this interesting real life scenario on one of my favorite naming sites.*** Seriously I find this name shit fascinating.

*We reserve the right to change our minds when actual children appear.
**Those are code.
***It’s actually a baby name site, but I like how she tackled this issue.

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Mike: Something something something, trying to be funny (I don’t really remember what he was saying)

Shannon: *feigned smile*

Mike: Blah blah blah (again, don’t remember)

Shannon: *eye roll*

Mike: Exactly how often are you annoyed by me rather than entertained?

Shannon: Oh. You’ve noticed that huh?

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Shannon and I did not marry for money. This is indisputable. Fortunately, we love each other. I saw this fact clearly yesterday in a conversation about moving.

We were sitting in a movie theater lobby waiting for a movie to start, and began discussing what we might do in the next year about our living situation. We have both been sort of anti-house-purchase in the past. Too much work and too much risk. Too hard to move away if you need/have to. But lately, now that we are pretty sure we want to settle in a particular area, we’ve started to consider it. We can get a pretty good deal right now, and probably buy a house that we can grow into and possibly make money off of some day.

We started talking about when we might want to start looking last night, but that discussion quickly turned to the dreaded down payment. It turns out that, when you pay for a trip to Europe and a mini-van in the same month, it doesn’t leave much money for a home down payment. Where would that money come from?

Shannon offered that she had savings bonds given to her by her grandparents. All totaled, they would help us toward a down payment, but not give us one. Then she turned to me and jokingly asked “what do you bring to the marriage?” I replied, not jokingly but in a joking tone, “a van payment and some student loans…oh, you probably meant assets…yeah, nothing.” Sad day for me. Fortunately, Shannon didn’t care (or already knew that fact and had come to terms with it).

The bottom line of our discussion: we have no house down payment. We may have to move into yet another tiny apartment and save for another year to collect a down payment. Any suggestions?

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On the menu, pt 3

Here we go again! If you’re interested, here Part 1 and Part 2.

This is the menu we worked from this week:

We decided to “cheat” on Monday because we found a pulled pork recipe that included Dr. Pepper and we didn’t want to wait until the right menu day.

Mexican Monday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches

We took the recipe from the Pioneer Woman, my new favorite food website.

Salad Tuesday: Spinach Salad

Mike was starving on his way home Tuesday, so he ended up picking something up for himself. So I threw together this salad when I got home. Originally we were going to include bacon and hard-boiled eggs, but I got lazy. Instead I had spinach, shaved carrots, sharp cheddar AND bleu cheese (love cheese!), shaved almonds and french dressing.

Pasta Wednesday: Baked Mac & Cheese

This was supposed to be our Thursday casserole, but since my plans fell through Wednesday and it is a pasta dish, we made it Wednesday night instead. Mike makes a homemade cheese sauce (so yum) and he made the breadcrumbs too. God I love him

Thursday we decided to make another switch to the menu. See how flexible we are! We decided we wanted to grill on Friday, so we moved our order-in pizza to Thursday night and grilled Friday night.

Pizza Grill Friday: Grilled Pork Chops and Apples with Sweet Potato Mash

I’ll be gone tonight, so no planned meal, and Sunday, of course, we’ll be at our Moms’ for Mother’s Day.

Here are some meals we made last week that didn’t get onto the “green board.”

Mexican Monday: Tacos

Salad Tuesday: The Wagon Wheel

We used a gift card to treat ourselves to dinner at local place. Mike had a patty melt and I had a calzone.

Pasta Wednesday: Five Cheese Pasta

Mike made a delicious five cheese sauce and put it over pasta.

Casserole Thursday: Chicken & Stuffing Casserole

I saw something like this on a food site and mentioned it to Mike, so he made up a recipe that turned out really good.

Soup/Stew Sunday: Corn Chowder with Chilies

This is a slightly modified (for the ingredients we had on hand) version of the Pioneer Woman’s recipe.

That’s it for now!

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Not yet cruel

At what age do kids become cruel? When do they stop being innocent and start hurting each other senselessly?

Today I spent a couple hours with my nephew, who is in kindergarten, at his school’s Special Person’s Day. I noticed something at recess that made me pause and ask those questions. I know it’s coming, sadly, but in kindergarten these kids were not yet cruel.

On the playground, there was one boy who appeared to be somehow challenged. I fear that someday this is a kid who will be ostracized and ridiculed, but today at recess, nobody seemed to notice anything different about him. He didn’t receive any special attention, he just fit in, like no big deal. He had to wait just as long for his turn on the tire swing, and his turn only lasted as long as everyone else’s. When he couldn’t get onto the tire swing on his own, a couple of boys (including my nephew) gave him a hand, the same way they helped anyone else who needed it.

Something about how much this boy’s challenges went unnoticed made an impression on me. I wish I would have asked his name so that in a few years I can ask my nephew if anything has changed. Because unfortunately I imagine it will.

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