Season’s cleaning….err greetings.

I don’t know about the rest of you….all two of you who read my blog (Thanks Katie and Teresa!)…but my massive cleaning endeavors can never be limited to just the standard “spring cleaning”. I like to blame our three rambunctious, dirt-loving Pit Bulls, but then I think ‘hey that isn’t fair’ after all it’s Andy’s fault too. hahaha. No, I could never be responsible for any mess that gets overlooked for long enough that eventually every inch of the house needs to be cleaned and straightened. Never! Well because I am such a procrastinator when it comes to cleaning…hang on, let me clarify so you don’t get grossed out, I sweep the floor every couple of days (just because our kids are short hairs doesn’t detract from the fact that 3 dogs is basically equal to a long hair that sheds all the time) and I keep up with the laundry, change the sheets, load the dishwasher every once in a while and run that…usually when we run out of silverware because we have an inordinate amount of plates and glasses. We could go for weeks! And when I have a second I clean my bathroom (note “my” bathroom. Andy is supposed to clean the upstairs one….Note to self “why did Andy end up with the bathroom that all our guests use?” bad idea). But even when I slowly work my way through the house to the different chores stuff still gets overlooked and eventually, I hit the point where I can’t stand it anymore. So I make a giant list and Andy and I embark on a “jam session” of cleaning.
The best strategy for us is to plan a party where a bunch of our friends will be coming over. This is the catalyst that starts the whole cleaning epidemic. And as long as the parties don’t get too out of hand usually we just have some paper products and food to clean up and then voila our house is magnificent (for a few days at least).
This is going to be a little bit of a crazy holiday season. Not only do I have some major deadlines at work, my architectural exams, and a hefty list of home-made holiday gifts to compete with, but Andy’s little sister, Emily, is also graduating from college on December 19th. So much of his family (and I mean practically everyone) is going to be in town. Somehow we have been spared from having any house guests, not by choice or anything, everyone just made other plans. But I am sure we’ll still have our fair share of visitors. So thank goodness I decided to have a holiday party this Friday so that the house will hopefully stay semi-clean for another three weeks until after Christmas. Fingers crossed on that one!
In other news my sewing room got a good rummaging-over this last weekend while I looked for my plastic quilting measuring thingy. I sew and craft, but I am definitely not up on the lingo. After years of putting off Andy’s quilt, I am finally getting to it! And just like the saying “go big or go home” it is going to be King-sized. Originally I had planned on just doing a twin-sized quilt, but that doesn’t really make sense considering the fact that we don’t have a twin-sized bed in our house. But ever the corner-cutter that I am, I am contemplating the idea of just making it a duvet cover for our bedspread. First of all, finishing 8’x8′ of fabric with my viking is do-able, but definitely not a fun way to spend a weekend. Secondly, I only have a few weeks and with all the other things I want to accomplish, I have to find some way to ease the pressure. So that is the initial plan, but we’ll see how it goes. Anyhoo, the rummaging for the plastic thingy led to me going through my stockpile of fabrics. The only positive thing about realizing the large amount of fabrics I have is the notion (hahaha sewing pun) that I didn’t pay for it all out of my own pocket. A lot of it is from my mom (super-cute suiting that will turn into at least one high-waisted skirt someday!) and some is from my mom’s cousin who used to make mardi-gras costumes (lots of crazy stuff). But nevertheless, there is a TON of fabric. Like enough that I could sew something new every few days for a year and most likely I would still have fabric left. Which reminds me I better take my Swedish companion in for a tune-up and oiling before I start any of those projects. How does that much fabric pile up? Well seven years of college, that’s how. But I am determined to get through all of it in the next couple of years (trying to give myself a nice long deadline). And I am going to TRY to not buy any new fabrics (minus linings and such to accompany the pieces I will be making…notice how I snuck in that little “get out of jail free” card) until I have used up what I already have. I am pretty sure most of it will need to go towards presents for other people because I definitely don’t need that many new clothes! Then again, who am I kidding?
I was going to end there, but you might be wondering if I ever found the plastic measuring thingy and the answer is no, but now that I bought a new one I am sure it will turn up. Isn’t that always how it goes?

"Patience is the art of concealing your impatience"

I found this quote while I was browsing around and it just really epitomizes the essence of how I have been feeling lately….and when I say lately, I could possibly be talking about the last decade or so of my life. I have always been in somewhat of a hurry. I fully consider myself a late bloomer. I spent much of my early teen years still playing with dolls and making up imaginary worlds where I lived. I was always so content with the amount of time I spent being a child. I feel like I was fully fulfilled and ready to move on. It seems as soon as I hit 15 and a half I transitioned from a little girl to this whirlwind of an impatient person. Ready for the next thing….looking ahead…planning meticulously the next twenty steps I would be taking in life…excited and ready, but also with a lack of spontaneity at times. I guess there were traces of this person while I was the playful child. I knew I wanted to be an architect when I was 7 years old. But I began experimenting with it by designing 400 room hotels where I would live and throw incredible masquerade balls and all my friends would come and stay with me there.
I think I come off as an extremely patient person or at least I consider myself to be very patient. But behind the patience there does seem to be this frantic mouse running about constantly thinking about what is coming next. It is almost as though my brain is never truly quiet. I am sure most women can relate to this; we are the ultimate multi-taskers after all. But even when I try to tell myself to relax, be calm, truly be patient, it is like pulling back on a locomotive….there’s no stopping it.
But there are always those things in life that no matter how best you lay your plans, you have absolutely no control over them and so you are forced to just wait it out.

Full Steam Ahead!

I received a very exciting letter in the mail on Saturday….suspenseful pause…it was the results of my latest architectural exam and I PASSED! WOOHOO! That means, officially I have completed three exams and I have four to go. My next one is a week from today, AAAAHHH (scream with me now) HHHHH. To give myself some credit I have been studying pretty hard for it the past five weeks, but definitely not as hard as I could be. The most difficult part of studying for these exams is that the material is very familiar. So as I read through the texts I think to myself dismissively “yeah yeah, I know this”, but then I am not focusing on the specifics of each topic. That’s what seems to get me on the practice tests. And of course they are trying to trick you, so it is almost a matter of getting used to their style of asking questions. But of course, knowing the material usually has a lot to do with it too.
Today was “conquer the graphic portion” day. I went through it on my own and then I thought “easy”. Well thank goodness for the ARE Forum where people post their drawings for others to critique. I realized the few minor (which could become major in a grading scenario) mistakes as a result of their tricky language. Sneaky test writers. It is like it’s their job to make sure you’re really paying attention to the directions or something? jeez.

My biggest issue is that procrastination is setting in! This is the first time that I can remember that I have not been extremely excited to study for something. Even on my breaks from school I would be researching something or catching up on portions of my textbooks that we didn’t get to. I know, I am a super-nerd. But that is just how I have always been. Well after graduating from Cornell, I went through a….lets call it a detox period, where I was still extremely addicted to school. I went so far as to set-up a meeting with an advisor to discuss a PhD. Well thank goodness he forgot about our meeting because it wasn’t until I was standing in the hallway waiting for him that I realized I was tired of school. I was tired of working 8 hour days, stuffing in two or three classes and then coming home to cram in a few hours of homework before bed. I was ready for new adventures. I had spent 7 years dreaming about sewing and crafting. Sure, sometimes I could squeeze it in, but most of the time the projects just sat in my brain.

It took me a few months to get approved to begin my exams, I finally received word in February and I scheduled my first test for March. Well I had seven months of freedom at that point. But I was excited to get my license, so I dove in with a lot of enthusiasm. But as time has gone on and I have to again put away my sewing projects, home improvement projects, violin practicing, etc. I am really starting to procrastinate. While one part of me is just trying to cuddle with Andy and the puppies and watch movies, the other part of me is trying to be motivating. I have actually started bribing myself. For my first test it was going out for margaritas afterward. Now I do that after every test, hahaha. For my second test, it was squeezing in some sewing projects for friends. For my third test, it was rereading the first two books in the Twilight series in order to get ready for my 4th test reward which will be to go watch New Moon with my friend Christina. hahaha. I am not sure how to keep myself going though. Especially because I am pushing my schedule. I was going to give myself 14 months to complete all seven of the tests, two months to study for each test, so April would be my last exam. Well March is the end of my company’s fiscal year and my boss is encouraging me to finish them before that. Since it takes 5-8 weeks to get the test results I am looking at basically one test a month and then hopefully the results come faster on my last one. On one hand, the good thing about pushing the schedule is that I am getting tired of studying, so it will be over faster. The bad thing is of course, that means I need more discipline, and less free time. But I think I can do it! GO super-Natalie!

4 Years and Counting

I think about my mom a lot this time of year. Usually around the end of October I start to realize that the anniversary of her death is approaching. I am finally to the point where it doesn’t result in random bursts of emotions. Don’t get me wrong, that still happens every once in a while. But it is definitely not as fresh as it used to be and definitely not as hard to get through the month. I get a call from my friend Dylan’s mom today and she tells me she is thinking about me and just wants to make sure I am okay. I guess November 12th is different for me than people might expect because it was really the day my mom’s suffering finally ended. She collapsed on November 1st and was admitted into hospice the next day, so the subsequent 10 days was very painful for all of us to go through, but mainly because we were all waiting for her suffering to end. We knew it was over on the 2nd and while I feel fortunate to have had the next 10 days to get more used to the idea of life without a mom, it was very hard for me to watch the last transition of her life. She taught a course where they discussed end-of-life care and I remember watching a series of videos called “on your own terms”. The videos discussed the legal aspects preventing medical professionals from “helping” people die even in the case of terminal illnesses. So I knew how she felt about the topic and I felt so helpless during her last few days. So November 12th is really almost a celebration for me. While I still wish every day that she was still here, I am so thankful that she is finally at peace. I love you Momma!

Happy Birthday Marine Corps

So as a present to Andy for the Marine Corps Birthday (November 11, 1775), Nathan and I bought him an awesome bow and arrow with eagles carved in it. We were on our way home to meet my Dad up at our place for dinner. But as we were passing one of the many cheesy Colorado souvenir stores on the 16th Street Mall, we got a hair-brained idea on how to say thank you? What says thank you than fake Native-American gifts. We debated over a miniature statue, or a baby Native-American in a papoose, but when I saw the bow and arrow with the eagles carved in it, it just said “thanks for defending America!”. Andy was elated with the gift.



He loved it so much in fact that later that night, as I was getting out of the shower, I heard a crash upstairs. I figured it was just the dogs, but when I got upstairs and asked Andy he was holding the bow and trying to hide it behind his back. hahaha. He had to be reminded that shooting arrows in the house was not a good idea.

Release Your Inner Hippie!

So….wait that is a terrible way to start a blog….redo.

I am on a quest to release my inner hippie….that is to say more than it is already released. I am a pretty big hippie as is, I take public transit, ride my bike home from work because sometimes I feel guilty about the resources used for public transit….okay just kidding I ride my bike home for exercise, but I had you going there for a minute. You were wondering if I shave my armpits weren’t you? Eeeww I made a sworn promise to myself years ago to shave my armpits no matter the level of hippie I achieve. It was actually during a date with Andy that this promise was made, we were at one of my favorite places to eat in Greeley, Teriyaki Bowl, and we got in line behind a couple. It was a summer day so sleeves were not a required accessory at that time of year. The woman was wearing a tank top and lifted her arms to rearrange her hair and bam! Andy and I were so horrified that we had to leave the restaurant. Wow I get distracted super easy!


Back to the point! Sorry. Andy and I are super into documentaries! And when I mean super into them I mean REALLY into them. We’ve watched documentaries on everything from female stuntwomen, to maximum security prisons, to human trafficking, etc. Thanks to Netflix a whole new world has opened up to us. Well last night we watched “Food, Inc”. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard similar information. We watched a documentary a long time ago, the name escapes me, it discussed the whole patenting of seeds by large companies and cloned food, etc. Anyhoo, as there is a tiny bit of environmentalist blood in me, I am a big proponent of buying local foods when possible and keeping my footprint on the earth semi-contained. You would be correct in assuming this is difficult to do when my job involves traveling throughout the country to design airports and that one of my favorite pastimes is to travel internationally, but this is most likely why I am so adamant about doing what I can whilst at home… I love the word whilst, by the way….again easily distracted.


So about six months ago we bought bulk beef from one of my co-workers family. The meat turned out to be amazingly yummy, plus we were not only supporting a local farmer, but also a local processing business. We don’t have the kind of dough necessary to shop at Whole Foods for all our groceries and/or buy all organic, but we do what we can when we can. In the movie, there is a farmer out in Virginia (too bad I was hoping that he’d be local) who runs Polyface Farm (http://www.polyfacefarms.com/default.aspx). This is an amazing guy! After we watched the movie I began researching similar establishments in Colorado and I stumbled across a site called “Eat Wild” http://www.eatwild.com/products/colorado.html. It lists all the farms around Colorado and you can even click on the link to map out where they are to determine which ones are closest to you! As this is a new discovery, I haven’t checked out any of these local businesses for myself, but I plan too. And I also want to compile a list of seasonal local items that are available at farmers markets and grocery stores. So like I said…out comes the inner hippie!