Santa's Favorite Elf

With a face this cute, how could he NOT be the favorite? 
The holidays are right around the corner, and we're getting ready for our annual holiday travel circuit.  Posting will be light for the next two weeks although I'm going to try to continue posting some post-worthy photos or updates via my phone, made all the easier thanks to Swype!

Just in case I don't get a chance to say this later in the week, have a great Christmas, New Years, and holiday season!

2nd Wedding of the Month

Last night was the second wedding that we had in the month of December.  I can't get over that we've been to 3 December weddings in the last year, and not one before that.  So if 2010 (and December of 2009) was the year of the December wedding, it seems like 2011 is going to be the year of the Sunday wedding. We already have two Sunday weddings for next year (one definite, one likely) and we've never been to a Sunday wedding before, ever!  Crazy, right?  (We were also at a Friday wedding this year, also a first.)

I think the off-season and off-day weddings are definitely a sign of the economy.  People want to be able to have the wedding of their dreams without going totally broke, and most places over serious discounts for any non-Saturday events.  The cons are that the weather could possibly be horrible in December and you may lost some guests on Fridays or Sundays because of work schedules, particularly when there is any sort of traveling involved.  We pondered an off-day wedding ourselves for a millisecond but ultimately decided that we wanted to stay with a traditional summer Saturday so that we wouldn't run the risk of any of our guests not coming due to travel concerns, especially since nearly everyone was coming from out of town.

But anyway, back to the topic at hand!

Saturday night we went to a wedding, out near the Pittsburgh airport.  It was a co-worker of DH's so I didn't really know the couple that well (at all, really.)  I knew two of the other couples that I met on other occasions, but no one else, so I wasn't really sure what kind of time I was going to have.

I wore the black and white lace dress that purchased in the fall of 2009, as a second dress option for DH's brother's wedding last December. At the last minute I decided to have the first dress I purchased altered and ended up wearing that.  I had buyer's remorse because it was too late to return this dress, and it definitely wasn't cheap.  But since then I've worn it twice and am now glad that I kept it - it's perfect for these fall and winter events and I really do love how it looks.

DH wasn't feeling great, so he was the DD. That always helps me to be more social at these somewhat awkward sort of events.  It also helped that the food was delicious (Fillet Mignon and chicken with mashed potatoes) and they seriously had the biggest cookie table I have ever seen in my life.  And to top it all off, they had a great DJ who did an amazing job of mixing the songs together so that there was never a moment of downtime and played stuff that kept people dancing the entire time.  So even though I didn't know anyone going into it, I ended up dancing more than I do at some weddings where I know everyone there!

I feel like they spared no expense for this wedding, from the food to the venue to the vendors.  Everything was so nice.  I'm sure that it cost them (or their parents) a small fortune, but I think that the guests really did have an amazing time because of it all, and the bride and groom were definitely thrilled with the way that everything turned out. 

So, I'm definitely glad that we went to this wedding - it was a great way to spend a Saturday night.  Congratulations to the happy bride and groom!

He is a gift

This post should be a rant about how the shipping industry needs to improve their packaging materials, or even better, have more box size options so that a small order doesn't have to be shipped in an inappropriately ginormous box that thus requires tons of packing materials.

But why rant about that?  I did that at home, to myself and I'm over it now. 

I received a package from an order last week and could not believe how much brown crumpled up paper they used to stuff the empty space in the box.  I started pulling it out and quickly realized that it was all one big piece of paper off of a huge roll.  I handed the end to DH and started pulling, and seriously, I could not believe how much paper was in there.

"I feel like we should do something with it," I said casually.

"Let's make me a mummy," DH said.  Then proceeded to post these pictures to his Facebook page, with the album caption "I Am A Gift." 

So he stood up and spun in a circle while I wrapped the paper around him. We had more than enough to go around his body dozens of times.  Then he stood next to the tree and I stuck a bow on him.  How ridiculous, right?

Murph wasn't sure what to think

I think my sister said it best when she said, "It scares me to think that that's what you two do with your spare time." 

It's true. 

He Truly is the Best Man

The first weekend in December we attended a wedding in the eastern part of the state.  DH was the best man as the groom was a good friend from high school. 

The Country Inn - I slept fine, but DH thought the beds were horrible

We stayed in a hotel that was within walking distance of the banquet hall where the ceremony and reception would be taking place, although we were surprised to learn that other than the maid of honor, we were pretty much the only ones staying in the hotel for the weekend.  So much for hanging out in the hotel! Oh well, I enjoy staying in hotels and even though I hate spending the money on a basic room to sleep in, it was a cost that we couldn't avoid, so I might as well make the most of it, right?

The ceremony was short but very sweet - actually very similar to our own wedding ceremony.  The bride and groom recited personally written vows and there were definitely some tears.  Immediately following the ceremony everyone headed directly into the reception, since it was just off of the lobby of the banquet hall.  There was a lot of downtime for me, since DH had to go and get pictures with the wedding party and I didn't really know a soul there.  But I befriended the wife of one of the other groomsmen, so it was nice to have someone to talk to during that hour long wait for them to return from getting pictures.  

DH gave the man speech, and as always with his speeches, totally rocked it.  His speech was funny but still meaningful and other than one slip up where he forgot to make a point he was driving towards (and I'm not even sure that anyone noticed) the speech was a hit.  Later, in the hotel room some of the bridesmaids came up to our room to have a drink and weren't surprised to learn that he was a public speaking teacher, based on his excellent delivery of the best man speech.

 Dancing followed and thankfully I had been loosened up by a few drinks or else I probably would have steered clear of the dance floor.  It was a small-ish reception and there weren't very many people dancing.  I enjoy dancing at weddings but not when over three-quarters of the room is sitting down and watching. But fortunately I was able to ignore any self-conscious feelings and ended up getting some cute and fun pictures on the dance floor.

The happy bride and groom - I blame my slow shutter speed on her half-closed eyes, but it's still a good picture!

DH with the groom!

With one of the other groomsmen

Us with another groomsman

I decided to wear the dress that I bought last year for DH's brother's wedding, which I wasn't sure that I would ever wear again since it was dressier than something that I would generally wear to a wedding.  But I figured that since DH would be in a tux it would be more than appropriate for me to be dressed up more than normal as well, and I'm thrilled that I got a second wear out of this not-so-cheap outfit. 

For every wedding that we go to, I try to get at least one good picture of us together (since I'm always taking the pictures, I rarely am actually in them.)  You would think that this goal of one good picture would seem doable, but you'd be surprised at how often I fail.  Success on this account though - I love the picture above and we both look great!
This was my second December wedding (we went to one last December as well) and although I personally would be afraid of having a December wedding myself (the weather this time of year is just too unpredictable) I have come to appreciate the December weddings far more than I thought I would.  Weddings - especially when you have to travel to get to them - can be exhausting and having a half-dozen weddings crammed into three months each summer often led to a feeling of burn out near the end of the summer and spreading them out through the year has really helped me to prevent that burned out feeling.  Believe it or not, we have yet another wedding next weekend.  Fortunately that one is closer to home so no hotel stay will be required. 

Anyway, congratulations to the bride and groom!


Does anyone out there use FeedBurner for their blogs? 

I signed up awhile ago and never really did much with it, but I feel like I didn't configure something correctly.  The stats and subscribers seem way lower than I think is true and I feel like my blog feeds didn't transfer over properly. 

Any suggestions for what I can do?  The "help" features didn't really help me at all since it seems like I did everything right.

And what is the purpose of FeedBurner?  What makes it better than just posting through Blogger and using a stats tracker for numbers?  I am failing to see the benefit but I know that a lot of people think it's a good thing, so I feel like I must just be missing something.

Help! Please!

I love Swype

Many many months ago I signed up to be part of a beta testing group for a phone application for Android phones called Swype.  I had all but forgotten about it until the other day I woke up to find an email in my inbox welcoming me to the beta test!

I downloaded Swype that night, watched the tutorial, and practiced for a few minutes.  I was not catching on and deciding that I needed to try it again the morning.  By lunchtime the next day, after reviewing some of the tutorials again, I was nearly an expert.

What the Swype keyboard looks like

If you haven't heard of Swype then you probably have no idea what I'm talking about.  It's basically a virtual keyboard for smart phones that allows you to drag your finger across letters instead of having to peck them out with your thumb.  You lift you finger at the end of the word and the program automatically inserts a space.  Then you just go to the next word.  If it's not sure of what word you swyped then it gives you a list of' "best guesses" to choose from. 

The blue line that you see on the keyboard in the picture above is showing you the outline of the letters that you swyped over.  (I was not spelling a word, since I was using my left hand to do that.)

In a few short days, Swype has completely changed how I type on my phone.  It is so much easier than pecking letter by letter and is widely accurate.  I have no doubt that it's going to catch on big time and I am thrilled to be part of the group of early users for the original Droid phone.  The beta is currently closed, but if you're interested you should still sign up. It was closed when I originally signed up too, but I was eventually invited and I am addicted! 

I can write longer texts, full blog posts, and more thoughtful emails, things that I didn't usually because of the time involved with thumb typing.  If you get an invite for Swype, I highly recommend that you give it a try.

Todays project

Todays project was to put together the first of two desks for the new office/spare bedroom. It took many hours and a lot of kneeling but it's finally done! I'm not sure when we'll get to desk number two but for now I'm just excited to have made any progress in this room at all after two weeks of nothing.

This desk is replacing DH's massive wooden executive desk and my junky dorm room plywood desk. My new desk will be just like this one but with a hutch on top. Hopefully it will fit in this room without looking too crazy.

I can't wait until it's all done!

I am an evil person

After all of my talk about wanting to kill the choosy mouse I wasn't prepared for what I just experienced tonight.

I decided to check the mouse traps and I noticed that one ofthe older traps had been set off. This trap was pet proof - it was a little plastic tunnel that only mice could fit in. DH asked me to confirm that it was definitely a mouse since these traps were enclosed so I opened the trap a tiny to look for fur.

I nearly burst into tears when a tiny nose and whiskers popped out trying to escape. In my utter shock I dropped the trap into the trash and let out snap shut again. I ran out of the room.  DH could not believe that the mouse was still alive anddidn't want to go into the room. But there was no way I could face that mouse again. He knew that I knew he was alive. I am an evil human being.

Eventually I convinced DH to tie the bag. I felt horrible letting the mouse die a slow and painful death like that but he would have suffered either way. He was probably hurt too much to recover even if we had set him free outside. I wish I could have given him a more humane death, but the damage was already done.

Choosy mouse, if that was you, I am sorry. I never meant for it to end this way. May you suffocate quickly in that trash bag and go to mouse heaven with all the other mice. I hope that you have a happy life in a place better than our attic. I am sorry.

Choosy mice do NOT choose Jif

There's a mouse in our house. In fact, there were way more mice than that, but we've killed the others.  Now there's just one mouse left.

The choosy mouse.

This is not the choosy mouse - this was a sanctioned mouse living in our house over the summer

This mouse will not take our bait.  He is smarter than the traps we've set, and we've set multiple different types of traps.  His friends liked our organic, all-natural peanut butter, but he wasn't biting, so we switched to Jiff, figuring that surely choosing mice would chose Jif.

He turned his pointy little nose up in the air when he saw our Jif trap.

"Pssshaw," he said, with a wave of his hand. "I am far too choosy for peanut butter."  And then went about his business scurrying back and forth on the board above our bed, keeping me awake at night, making nests and pooping in our insulation.

Warning: Please do not continue reading if you are at all squeamish, currently eating a meal, or don't like to hear about dead animals.

Last night was the last straw.  The mouse was making enough noise that I had dreams that squirrels and Boxer dogs were in our attic, and that a squirrel dropped into our bedroom and our cat helped me catch it with my bare hands. (No we do not have a cat.)  It sounded like the mouse was taking a baseball bat to the boards of our attic.  It was so loud.  And right above our master bed.  The noise was so obnoxious that around 12:30 a.m. DH went to sleep in the spare bedroom.  I then spent the night on the couch.  How in the world did the woman of the relationship end up on the couch!?! I hate sleeping on couches and thus didn't really get any sleep.  Murph was also annoyed by the noise and kept letting out low "woofs" every now and then.  Not helpful, Murph.

So today the action that we needed to take was clear - set more traps.  We prepped the traps with cheese (instead of peanut butter, see above) and then made a fun box with holes in it for the mice to play in.  If all goes well, they choosy mouse would go into the mouse playhouse, crawl along the wall of the box to the trap, and meet it's stupid little demise.

I being the brave one in the house (or, at they very least the one not terribly bothered by dead mice) popped my head up into the attic with a flashlight and quickly exclaimed with glee, "We got a mouse!!"

YES! Perhaps it was the choosy mouse!!!

So I donned a rubber glove and after arguing with DH about my wish to use our kitchen tongs to extract the mouse and trap (yes, I understand that we sometimes use those for food but we can wash it - I lost that battle) I went back up into the attic to get the mouse.

"There's a lot of poop around the mouse," I said.

"Well he probably pooped himself when he died," was DH's response.

"I don't know," I countered, "There's a lot of poop."

Upon closer inspection I discovered that the poop was not from the dead mouse but instead from the other cannibal mice that were feasting on him.  The choosy mouse is a cannibal.  I could see internal mouse organs and there were pieces of mouse all around him.

But suddenly the solution was crystal clear!

All we need to do to catch the choosy mouse is to bait a trap with a dead body of his own kind!!!

However, first we're going to see how things go with the mozzarella and the mouse playhouse.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we don't have to implement what I will now refer to as "Plan C."

I'll keep you posted.

Who are you? Please tell!

I use to track my blog statistics.  It's not like it really matters to me how many people read my blog, but since I tend to get so few comments ( *sad face* ) I like to know that anyone is reading out there. If no one was reading at all, I might give it up.

So occasionally I'll log into sitemeter to make sure that at the very least my mom hasn't quit on me, and I never cease to be amazed.

I have learned to recognize the IP addresses or locations of some of the people that I know who read this blog - my parents, some relatives, and a handful of "real life" friends.

But I also have a fairly regular reader from Ottawa, Canada.  Who are you!?!? I would love to know!

What about the Rochester, Michigan reader?  Or the Little Rock, Arkansas reader? What about the person from Missouri? Or the handful of readers from various locations in California? 

I don't regularly check my stats - there's really very little purpose other than my curiosity.  But what I have found to be really helpful is looking at the "Referring URL" for people who went through a search engine and came to my blog through that.

There are also always a handful of readers each and every day that came across my blog from a search engine, and the majority of search engine referrals are for
  1. Stink bugs (No surprise here, considering the recent epidemic)
  2. Creaking bed slats (I wrote this so long ago! Apparently there is a great need for information related to creaky beds!
  3. Tulum, Mexico or cenotes in general (That reminds me, I need to finish my recaps soon)
  4. Co-ed Shower - Which was a co-ed wedding shower and nothing dirty or weird, but I get SO MANY hits from that
I've also learned that:
1. People use the "Bing" search engine more than I thought
2. People can't spell to save their lives
    But anyway, to get back to the topic at hand, if you are reading this, I ask that just this one time, please leave a comment to say hi!  Tell me where you're from and how you came to find my blog!  And if you're comfortable doing so, leave a link to yours - I would love to share the blog love!

    Not exactly best friends

    The weekend after Pitt's Homecoming, we had more house guests including one canine.  You may recall a few months ago when Murphy first met Winston.  They got along well enough (which is all relative when you're talking about Murphy) that we dared say they might even be friends.

    Come on guys! Try to be friends!

    Well, after this latest meet-up I think it's safe to say that they're not exactly best of friends.

    Maybe if we do this you'll become friends!

    I know it's not fair to compare another dog with your own, because the other dog will never win, but it's hard to avoid making a comparison.  Murphy is so calm; Winston has crazy puppy energy.  Murphy listens like an angel; Winston could care less what you're saying, even if he hears you.  Murphy never bites; I think Winston bit at me at least 10 times that weekend.

    Maybe because we made him wear this pumpkin costume

    Murphy is used to being the alpha dog, and most other dogs - including Dillon the pit bull - have accepted that without much fuss.  Only once has Murphy ever given up the alpha dog role, and that was to his friend Sydney.   In each of these scenarios the dogs determine rather quickly which dog is going to be the boss, and which is going to be the boss-dogs wing man (er.. wing dog.)  But for some reason that balance of power did not play out with these two dogs, which resulted in one of the most vicious fights I have even seen Murphy be a part of over a rawhide that Winston was trying to steal.  He's a dog, he's going to steal rawhides.  I get that.  But he fought back so viciously and Murphy stood his ground so firmly that I had to jump in, and for one of the first times ever I was really worried that one of them was going to get hurt. 

    Having another dog in the house - one that I don't love nearly as much as I love my own - is hard, because while I consider myself to be a dog lover at heart and want to love all dogs, the truth is that most other dogs just aren't that great in my eyes.   I'm guessing that Winston's owner, a friend of ours from college, will be sad to hear that I don't love Winston, but hopefully that's ok - I can't love all dogs, and it's natural to favor your own pet.  In fact, I'm sure that Winston's owners love him just as much as we love Murphy, and that's why I truly believe that there's a dog out there for everyone.

    We watched Winston for an entire afternoon and evening while they attended a wedding and reception and it was one of the most stressful and taxing evenings I've had in a long time.  It was like putting two mortal enemies together in a room and trying to keep them from killing each other.  We took them on a walk hoping that it would wear them out and put them to sleep and while Winston did get tired (he only walks on three legs so he wore out pretty quickly) he wasn't actually sleepy once we got back.  Murph on the other hand was ready to veg out on the couch but Winston kept barking and running up to him.  Dave laid on the couch and I took the loveseat and we just laid there trying to keep the dogs calm, but Winston barked and whined the entire time.  It was excruciating.  I don't feel comfortable disciplining a dog that's not mine.  So we didn't really do anything.

     The little tripod

    I talk a lot about how I want another dog, maybe even more.  It's true - I feel like I have the room in my heart to love a second dog just as much as I love Murphy, but every time I actually have a second dog in my house, I immediately realize that it might be a bad idea.

    First of all, Murphy doesn't love other dogs, but he absolutely loves us, and I would hate for him to be miserable for the rest of his life simply because I thought it would be cute to give him a "brother."  Secondly, I realized recently that I don't think I could love a second dog as much as I love Murphy.  I think he would always be top dog in my heart, and would that really be fair to the other dog?  DH feels the same way, and doesn't think that he will ever love another dog as much as he loves Murph (and he means EVER, as in "we should never get a dog after Murphy because he will never be as good and we will never love him as much.")

    "Maybe if I stand up here, he won't be able to reach me"

    I want another dog, someday.  But not while we have Murphy.  He is the perfect dog for us and he deserves the undivided attention that comes from being the only permanent canine in the house.  Visiting canine guests are always welcome, but I think I'm finally at the point where I've realized that Murphy doesn't want - and will probably never have - canine friends.  That's a big thing for me to say - I'm giving up my dream of ever having two dogs.  But he's worth it. 

    We love you Murphy bug! (Most costume-tolerant dog ever.)

    Door No More

    Remember this door?

    Turns out it's pretty unlikely that we're actually going to get it now.  First of all, Home Depot is super annoying about getting back us (read: they don't get back to us.)  After waiting for a phone call with a price estimate three weeks after they took the measurements, they call us and tell us that we have to come in.   So so told them we'd come in.  And then we didn't.  Take that, stupid Home Depot.

    But now we're in a bind - we need a new door.  And we have no base price to compare other prices to, if we do end up shopping around.  We're thinking about going to Home Depot, getting the price for comparison but not ordering the door through them (because their customer service has been atrocious) and then shop around with some other places to get something comparable. 

    It sounds like such a pain in the ass but what else can we do?  We either invest the time into looking at other options, or we suck it up and give Home Depot our business even though they have certainly not earned it.

    And even if we do decide to shop around, we don't know where to begin looking, other than Google which is not a good indicator of customer service or quality.  Has anyone ever purchased a door from a place other than a big box company like Home Depot or Lowe's?  If so, who were they and were you happy?

    Homecoming Tailgating

    The morning after the Homecoming party in the Cathedral of Learning, we woke up bright and early (8:30 a.m.) to get ready to tailgate.

    I hate noon football games.

    Me and 9 a.m. tailgating do not mesh well.  At least not at first.  After about the first hour I forget about the time and warm up to the fact that I'm sitting outside, in a parking lot, drinking an adult beverage in preparation for watching a contact sport in a stadium. Tailgating is fun, no matter what time of the day it is. 

    First of all, can you believe that parking lots were charging $30 for a college football game!?!??!  Outrageous, I know.  My plan was to find a scalper that we could purchase a parking pass from, but we didn't see any and traffic was crazy.  But I refused to pull into a lot that was charging $30.  $30 to put my car on their asphalt and let it sit there.  Ridiculous. 

    So we finally found a parking lot that was charging $20 - still ridiculous in the grand scheme of things, but I was just happy to get my way and not have to pay $30.  So we're all excited pulling into this lot, and as we start to navigate towards the end of the rows of already parked cars, the traffic director guy waves us past the last car towards the end of the lot.  We furrow our brows in confusion, but what could we do?  He had a bright orange flag and we only had a small sport utility vehicle.  Ok, well I guess we could have done something, but we obliged him with his flag waving and parked where he instructed.

    Right next to a dumpster.

    At the very end of the parking lot.

    With no other cars near us.

    Don't believe me?  Here is proof :

    Do we smell funny or something? 

    And 10 minutes later...

    Well, might as well get comfortable

    How strange, right?  In truth, there eventually were cars parked next to us, but all of the people in them got out and walked away.  Who parks for a football game at 9:30 a.m. and then leaves?  Hopefully they had a more bouncing tailgating party to get to. 

    But we made the most of it, eating Subway for breakfast....

    And making fun of ourselves for apparently scaring away other people.

    Look!!! There's another vehicle!!!!

    We headed into the game shortly before noon, using the 100 level tickets that I had purchased from Stub Hub that were $4 dollars cheaper than the 500 level tickets that the Pitt box office was trying to sell.  Take that!

    It was a cool but sunny day - perfect weather for football, really.  And we had good seats so we could really see the game. 

    But DH and our guests were distracted by this man, who was sitting in front of us and apparently looked just like Saturday Night Live star Andy Samberg.  I haven't watched SNL in years, but I admit that I see the resemblance.

    Picture from
    Have you ever tried to subtly take a picture of someone else sitting right in front of you?  Don't bother.  There's nothing subtle about it.  Thankfully Andy look alike seemed to be drunk enough not to notice. 
    I had a great day.  The craziest thing about morning tailgating is that you get home at like, 4 in the afternoon!  You still practically have your entire day left and you've already done so much.  We decided to take advantage of it by taking a quick power nap and then starting back up with the festivities by having a bonfire.  Love it. 

    Can't wait to tailgate again (hopefully) next year.

    Happy 100th Birthday, Pitt News

    The last weekend in October was Pitt's Annual Homecoming celebration.  DH and I are both proud Pitt alums but as I think is probably the case at any incredibly large university, it's harder to get excited about a big, general event because so much of the collegiate experience for students at large universities are the little sub-groups that students create for themselves.  At smaller schools you can go to a homecoming event and feel relatively confident that you'll see at least a few people that you know.  But at Pitt events, it's extremely likely that you'll show up and not see one single face that you recognize unless you planned to meet up with people.

    For us, our biggest subgroup was being part of The Pitt News, the university's student newspaper.  This year marked the 100th anniversary of the Pitt News being in print, and so Pitt's Homecoming theme was loosely centered around the student newspaper.

    The Cathedral was all lit up and the pumpkins spelled "Homecoming"


    We had never attended a Homecoming event before, but we decided that this was going to be the year if we were going to go.  Besides, it was free so we figured that we had nothing to lose than a little time.  We had low expectations so maybe that's why I so impressed.

    View from the second floor

    First of all, the Commons room was all lit up and decorated for fall.  Right at the entrance there was a Pitt News table and we immediately saw people that we knew.  It took us almost half an hour to meander our way to the back of the room where the free drinks were!  That's right, free drinks and free food.  It may sound childish, but drinking an adult beverage in the Cathedral felt downright scandalous, and I loved it.

    I ran into people that I haven't seen in ages, including the person who hired me for a job at the Pitt News on the spot when I went for my interview simply because he liked me.  I often think about the "ifs" in life - if I hadn't gotten that job that day and instead was employed somewhere else on campus, I would most likely never have met my now husband. 

    Did I mention how much I loved free drinks in the Cathedral?

    Wearing my Pitt gold glow necklace - DH refused to wear his blue one

    Some of the nationality rooms had blown up images of some of the front pages from the last 100 years of newspapers.  The quality of the reproductions was horrendous and for the most part all of the images just looked like big black blobs, but the idea was nice, and we spent some time walking through some of the rooms, particularly the room that held the papers from the years that we worked there.

    Here's what we didn't know - free drinks usually mean limited drinks, and when I excitedly acquired two more drink tickets (each person was given two at the door) I was disappointed to learn that there was only red wine left.  I pretty much HATE red wine.  But it was free, so I took two and went back to share with others. 

    After the festivities in the Cathedral ended, we decided to go to our favorite bar/restaurant in Oakland, where we met up with a few of the current Pitt News staffers.  DH asked the question that he had been dying to ask:  "Do we seem as old as older Pitt Newers seems to us?"  Basically, "Are we as weird and boring and lame as those other people?" (They knew who we were talking about.)

    They were kind enough to say no, but there's nothing like a Homecoming event full of 18 to 22 year-olds to make two almost-30-somethings like us feel our age.

    We Ran The Lights! Well... sort of

    On Wednesday morning I remembered that the Run The Lights event at Hartwood Acres was tonight.  Hmmm... what's a girl to do?  Wednesday morning was something of a hurricane, with crazy wind and tree branches everywhere.  Would I really want to run in that?

    I e-mailed my sister that afternoon to see if she was still interested in going.  Turns out she was not.  Shoot.  So now I either need to make the decision not to go or try to convince my husband to go with me.

    Thankfully he made that decision for me.  He agreed to go with me as long as I was with walking instead of running.  I was ok with that.

    So we headed out shortly before 7 p.m. and arrived around 7:20 or so.  It was then that we both realized that this is event is waaaaaaay bigger than we had ever imagined.  We had to wait in line just to pull into the parking lot.  Then we had to be directed by at least a half dozen police officers who were directing traffic until we were finally pointed to a parking space.  Phew.  I'm happy to report that that was the worst part of the evening.  I was majorly regretted my decision to do this when we were sitting in traffic for 15 minutes prior.

    So we loaded a school bus and headed to Hartwood.  Once off the bus we gave a monetary donation, got some jingle bells, and utilized a really nasty port-a-potty that was so dark it was only usable thanks to the flashlight app on the Droid.

    And then we were off.

    First, I will say this - after walking through the lights at Hartwood Acres, I can't understand why anyone in their right mind would want to drive through them instead.  Walking through them is such a better experience.  You can see everything without having to crane your neck to look at your window.  You can hear the music.  It's a more all-encompassing experience and I highly recommend.

    That said, Hartwood needs to extend this event to two nights instead of just one.  There were SO. MANY. PEOPLE. there.  It was ridiculous.  Some people were trying to run (it's called "Run the Lights" after all) but the majority of people were just walking.  And by "walking" I really mean taking a super leisurely stroll.  The path is really just a one lane road, so a family of 5 walking side by side can easily fill the entire path.  On top of that, many sections of the course were two-way traffic meaning that usually meant that only 3 or so people wide in either direction was appropriate unless you wanted to run into someone.

    Whenever there was a clearing in the opposing traffic DH and I would jog around the clusters of slow walkers, then go back to walking until we caught up with the next cluster of slow people.  It was sometimes annoying, but we actually got a better workout since we don't usually incorporate short jogs in our normal walks together. 

    We decided to skip the free cookies, hot chocolate, and coffee that was offered just after the Hartwood mansion.  After all, I skipped my CCAC exercise class to do this, so there was no way that I was going to negate my workout by eating more calories!

    We finished in what felt like record time.  My general thoughts on this experience are as follows:
    1. Do this at least once in your life - it's worth it
    2. Go early or go late - do not go right after dinner

    And, well, that's pretty much it!  It's so much cooler to walk through them than to drive, your donations go to charity so you can feel good about yourself, and you get a workout. Of course, it's not happening again until next year, but mark your calendars now!

    (Or don't... since the date for next year hasn't actually been determined yet.  I've failed.)