Next Time You’re Having a Bad Day

Next time you’re having a bad day, picture this.

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I’m not exactly sure when or how this happened. I had training in Topeka a week and a half ago so I reserved the green Volt for my up and back trip. People always ask me why I take the garish, obnoxiously wrapped Volt as opposed to the other, much better, cars in our fleet. When I need to reserve a vehicle, the green Volt is usually the only one that’s available because no one likes it. I don’t even bother checking the other cars anymore. I just automatically reserve the ugly green one.

Anyway, I noticed that the tires are really sensitive to temperature changes. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve gotten the low tire pressure alert and had to air it up. It’s not too bad when I get the alert message in Wichita because I always know I can get free air at any of the QT locations in town. I hate it when it happens while I’m in Topeka because none of their gas stations have free air. You have to put money in the machine and I never have any quarters on me.

One of the times it happened a few months ago, I just happened to visit one of my friends in Topeka. Her husband owns an air compressor so he took care of airing up the tires for me while we hung out. That was convenient. However, they’re super busy people too so I can’t just pop in every time I need air in the my tires.

There’s a BP down the street from my hotel – my home away from home – that has an air compressor but it costs .75 cents to make it run. These days I just make sure I always have a bunch of quarters with me.

On this particular day, I got to Topeka an hour ahead of the 10 AM training start time because I normally leave the house at 7 AM so I just left at my regular time. Anyway, it worked out because our project manager sent a meeting request the night before about a 9 AM meeting. I didn’t see the email but I just happened to be in Topeka already so I was able to attend. I remember getting a text asking if I was coming to the meeting as I was parking the car. “What meeting?” I thought. Note to self: check work email before going to bed at night just in case there are last minute meeting invites.

I parked a little sloppy because, even though I was an hour early for training, I was running a few minutes late for the 9 AM meeting. Maybe there was a tire pressure alert but I didn’t notice it because I was in a hurry? I really don’t remember seeing it, though. The only notification I got was an email from the fleet manager along with a picture of the flat tire. One of my coworkers saw the car in the garage and reported it. That was fortunate because they were able to replace the tire while I was in training.

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Here’s how the tire looked when I returned to the parking garage. Brian was worried that they were going to replace it with a spare and I wouldn’t be able to go faster than 50 mph on the turnpike. They got a real tire on it, though. And, I’m glad it was fixed while I was in training because then I didn’t lose any time. I was able to hit the road, instead of still trying to get the flat tire situation dealt with, right after training.

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I was feeling pretty lucky. However, I did have a moment of panic when I first turned the car on. I sat in the car and emailed the fleet folks before actually leaving because the tire pressure monitor had the tire at 17 psi. I had to step out of the car and look at it again. It looked fine to me.

As it turns out, there’s some kind of process that you have to do after a tire is replaced in order to reset the tire pressure monitoring system. They told me everything was fine. The system just needed to be reset.

It felt weird driving all the way home with the tire pressure alert on and saying the pressure is at 17 psi. I’ve seen the alert as low as 25 psi but I’d never seen it show all the way down to 17 psi before.

When I took the Volt to Topeka again last week, the system had not yet been reset. This time, instead of showing one of the tires at 17 psi, it just said that the tire pressure monitoring system needed maintenance. Driving without the aid of the system was weird but not as weird as it saying one of the tires only had 17 psi.

I can’t really feel the nuances of the driving experience unlike my dad who can tell that there’s something wrong with a car by the way it drives. He can feel things. I don’t have that same skill. I can’t rely on sight either because all tires look flat to me even when they’re perfectly fine. I tend to rely on the tire pressure monitoring system a lot.

I was a little bit uncomfortable driving the car without it working. However, I reminded myself that Bebot didn’t have a tire pressure monitoring system. I drove it for years and turned out just fine. LOL.

I did send an email to our local fleet supervisor to inform him of the maintenance alert, though. The car can get me from point A to point B fine but it would definitely make me feel better to have the tire pressure monitoring system functional again at least before my next extended trip.

Pneumonia – Round Two

You may or may not have known this but I spent last Sunday at the ER because of pneumonia. This is my second brush with it. The first time was in December 2014. I was so glad when I managed to get through this last holiday season without pneumonia because I’d heard that after you get it you become predisposed to it. Now that I’ve had pneumonia a second time, I see what they mean.

I hadn’t been feeling well for a while but I didn’t realize how sick I really was. The problem with me is I’m such a workaholic that I tend to overestimate my health and underestimate how sick I am because I hate missing work. I’d been traveling a lot for work the last few weeks and so I thought I was just exhausted from all of the traveling but I did think it was really weird that I was running out of breath really quickly.

For instance, just getting on and off the plane was making me out of breath. And, when we were at Laclede in St. Louis and we had to walk across the street to their other building, I also felt out of breath. It seemed really strange to me that I was constantly running out of breath.

Because I’m a crazy person who doesn’t like missing work, I pretty much continued on like normal. We arrived back from St. Louis late on Wednesday night, and then I worked for about an hour before bed, and I got up early the next morning to be in Topeka by 8:30 AM the next day. I could have taken the meetings via video conference but (a) it’s better to attend in person and (b) the customer relations and key accounts group had a very important quarterly meeting (it was a celebration of Coleen’s retirement and Terry’s final one). I wanted to pop in for that even for just a few minutes.

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Here’s a selfie of Coleen and me. Don’t mind the raccoon eyes. It was kind of an emotional meeting. I don’t think I was the only teary-eyed person there.

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Anyway, I wanted to be back in Wichita by 5:30 PM to make the PowerGEN mixer but I didn’t end up leaving Topeka until after 3:30 PM. We still had to take care of the dogs and return the company car back to the office so Brian and I didn’t make the mixer until 6:30 PM or so. I’m so glad we went though because it was a great turnout.

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I went to work on Friday but it was a blur, probably because I was so out of it. Fast forward to Saturday… After teaching my Zumba Fitness class on Saturday morning, Brian and I had lunch at Asian Bistro because I felt like pho would make me feel better. The broth usually helps to open up my chest and soothe the congestion.

I really didn’t feel well so I went to bed in the “sick room” immediately after we got home from lunch. Slept in the “sick room” instead of our bedroom because Brian had stripped the bed to wash the sheets.

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BTW, the “sick room” is the guest bedroom next to our office which is the room that grandma stays in whenever she’s with us. Jenni also stays in this room on occasion. It’s the room with the most comfortable bed in the house. I’m calling it the “sick room” because it’s usually the room I end up in whenever I’m sick. The last time I had pneumonia, I stayed in the “sick room” for a few days. Brian put one of our cameras in the room and just kept a watchful eye over me.

But I digress… We had it on the calendar to clean the living room, dining room, and kitchen this weekend because our neighbors Jim and Karen would be staying with us on Monday night. Since I was sick, I was completely worthless and of no help to Brian. Brian did all the cleaning himself. He even did the laundry, which is my job. He did all of this while I slept in the “sick room.”

He did check on me a few times and determined that I wasn’t running a fever. After doing housework, he spent the rest of the evening playing video games downstairs (I can’t complain; he earned his video game time that weekend) until I got up to move to our bedroom and was finally ready for bed.

I pretty much spent the entire day on Sunday in bed while Brian did errands and mowed the lawn. I did get up briefly to eat lunch (Brian made us ham sandwiches) but then wen’t back to bed. Later in the afternoon Brian took a shower and was getting ready for bowling. I really wasn’t feeling well and so I just slept the entire time without showering even after my Zumba class on Saturday. That’s gross, I know. I smelled bad and was feeling gross so I decided to get up and shower also. I ended coughing violently while in the shower and vomitted my lunch (in addition to the ham sandwich, I had BBQ flavored potato chips, chocolate cake, and ice cream) so you can imagine how putrid and brown the shower floor was. It kind of looked like I pooped a diarrhea poop in the shower. But I was grateful it was just in the shower because I was able to wash all of that gross stuff down the drain. The violent puking shook me so much that my head hurt. I really didn’t want to go to the ER but I didn’t want to miss work this week so I finally caved and asked Brian to take me.

When we got to the ER, they found I wasn’t getting enough oxygen and gave me a breathing treatment which helped tremendously. They also checked my temperature and got 100.4 which was a surprise to me because Brian told me that I didn’t have a fever.

When the nurse left, Brian was like, “You should ask them to take your temperature again because you could be hot from just getting out of the shower.”

They got 100.7 the second time around. I had a fever after all. I guess no one is perfect. LOL. As wonderful as Brian is, he isn’t a doctor.

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Anyway, I got the same ER doc this time that I had the last time when I had pneumonia but he didn’t remember me. I suppose enough time has passed and he does see a lot of people (or I’m simply not that memorable). The crappiest part about the whole ER visit was that they had to stick me seven times to draw blood and attach my IV.

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The whole getting blood drawn bit is always so traumatic because my veins never want to cooperate. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been through it, I will never get used to its unpleasantness.

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Brian figured that I would have some massive bruising as a result. He was right. These are what my arms looked like after five days. Even today the bruises are still there. I know that the bruises will eventually go away but it’s taking a while.

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The crappiest part about getting pneumonia over the weekend is that we missed Rune’s birthday celebration on Saturday and Jay’s birthday celebration on Sunday. I didn’t get to teach my Sunday Zumba class (huge thanks to Charis for subbing) and we missed Tulip Time at Bartlett Arboretum and the season opening of Old Cowtown Museum. We obviously missed bowling because we were at the ER instead. And, I also missed spending time with my little sister. I hate being sick because I always end up missing out on so much stuff.

The ER doctor prescribed some good stuff. Besides the breathing treatment, they gave me some steroids through my IV. I also got some strong antibiotics. It sucked that I’ve been on medication all week (just finished my last one yesterday) but I think it really did help because I’m feeling tons better. I could tell I was feeling better because I actually managed to have a great time while I was away on business this past week.

Check back in a few days for a recap of my most recent work trip, which I consider to be my best work trip ever.

Cram Post Cont’d

I finally got Nickira’s Christmas present to her after hanging on to it for a couple of months. Ironically, it was the first Christmas present we purchased and it was the last one we had left at home. Nickira asked for the Barbie shopping mall back in October. I agreed to get it for her and asked her mom to make sure no one else got it for her for Christmas. I think she pretty much forgot that she asked for it. LOL.

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The package arrived back in November and we just hid it in the office. I wanted to give it to Nickira before Christmas but she ended up going to Texas and didn’t return until after the holidays. Instead we just hung on to it until she got back and I gave it to her on our first meeting of the year.

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Nickira set it up in her room the same night she got it and texted me a picture of the completed mall really late. I think it was well after midnight. I didn’t see it until the morning. She said it’s right next to her dollhouse.

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In other news, my boss just celebrated her 60th birthday. Brian and I were fortunate to be there for the surprise party. Carmen and Nick were there too, which is a good thing because besides Ginger’s kids we didn’t know anyone else there.

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Speaking of kids, we’re seeing some progress with Molly and Saki. It’s slow but I think they’re starting to get along bit by bit. They still fight at least a couple of times a day but I’m optimistic that the fights will eventually become less frequent.

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Saki is growing exponentially quick. She doubled in size in her first month. When we got her she was only 4.5 lbs, about half the size of Molly. When we took her to the vet for her pre-spaying assessment and treatments she was 7.5 lbs. I left for Topeka that Monday and when I returned a couple of days later she was 9.5 lbs. That was about two weeks ago. This morning Brian took her to the vet to get weighed and she’s now 10.5 lbs. She is officially way bigger than Molly who tops out at about 8 lbs on a good day.

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We mailed out our “Happy New Year” cards a few weeks ago to make up for not sending out Christmas cards this year.

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I love Mixbook because they have really cool templates that you can easily customize. I was able to design the card with just a few clicks. I rushed the text a little bit and later found I omitted a few things. Oh, well. That’s what I get for rushing. Overall I was really pleased with how the cards turned out, though.

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That’s it. That pretty much catches us up, which is good because Brian and I are leaving town tomorrow and we will not have access to internet.

Come back next week to hear about our adventures on the first ever Zumba cruise!

Incoming Cram Post

So, I have 30 minutes before I have to get up and about and I need to catch the blog up on everything before I am a couple of months behind.

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Missy’s class had the honor of being my very last Zumba class of the year. She was subbing for Sasha downtown on December 31. It was supposed to be a 30 minute class, but we turned it into an hour-long mini-Zumbathon with me, Todd, Holly, Abby teaching a few songs. Above is our “before class” pic. Below is our “sweaty mess” after class pic.

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Brian dressed the part but didn’t shake it with us. He was just there for moral support but it worked out well because then we had someone to take our photos.

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Later that evening we had dinner with Jenni and her friend Adam.

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It was a quiet NYE as the NYE party that we were all supposed to attend got canceled due to weather. It was nice being able hang out at home and not having to drive home after too much “celebrating” although it didn’t matter much for me because I could not drink as I was on antibiotics.

Nothing against Jenni and her friend but that night made us realize that we prefer to someone else’s party on NYE so we can leave right at 11 pm and be home for our annual NYE tradition. This year was the first year that we missed ringing in the New Year in our own special way and it’s because we had people in our house until past midnight. I suppose we could have excused ourselves to follow through on our New Year tradition but that would have been both rude and weird.

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Despite missing our traditional NYE thing, 2016 is off to a great start. I taught a Zumba class on January 1 to an awesome and enthusiastic group! Of course, I bribed them gifts and that might have been why some were more enthusiastic than usual. But, you have to incent people every now and then. For instance, my mom hasn’t come to one of my classes in over a year because “it’s so far from Derby” but with a little bit of coaxing and bribing I was eventually able to persuade her to attend.

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Chiding aside, I am happiest about being able to teach class on New Year’s Day. I wanted to teach so badly last year but I had pneumonia over the holidays and couldn’t. The New Year’s Day class happened this year and everyone seemed to have a great time.

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The high energy of the New Year’s Day class is now the standard for 2016 for me.

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P.S. Huge thanks to Charis and Abby for leading some songs and bringing their positive energy. With their help, we were able to create a mini-Zumbathon. I had a blast!

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I hope this isn’t the last time this year that mom and Jenni make it to one of my classes!

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A couple of local dancing superstars, Gina and Abby, were in class which was a huge treat. Abby taught a song that was super fun to do. Everyone loved it! The only thing that could have made the day better was if Gina could have taught a song too. Maybe we can work on that for next year’s class!

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Another huge accomplishment was our organized pantry.

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It had gotten really out of control so Brian spent a good amount of time organizing everything. This is him trying to explain to me where everything goes.

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Brian got chicken adobo as a reward. Most people think I can’t cook because I rarely ever do. I really can cook. I just prefer not to. LOL. It’s like Molly and barking. She can bark. She just doesn’t. I leave the cooking to the people who enjoy it.

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The chicken adobo I made was really good, though. I’m thinking I really should make it more often. Maybe after we return from vacation.

Alright. I’m out of time. The blog is still way behind. I will try to make another cram post this evening. Stay tuned!

One Year Ends and Another Begins

It’s that time of year again when we look back on the previous year, recall what went wrong (or right), and reflect on lessons learned. Before we begin recapping 2015, allow me to briefly recap the past few years.

The year 2014 was a fantastic year for me but it ended pretty rough. I got sick and ended up with pneumonia. Right then I knew that I was in for a rocky year but I remained optimistic. And, despite all of the ups and downs of 2015, I managed to avoid a trip to the ER so I consider that a win. LOL.

So what else happened last year besides not having to go to the ER?

I got to visit one of our partners’ call centers in Saint George, UT. Their office is near Las Vegas so we ended up flying in and out of Vegas for the trip. It was fun and I got to meet some really cool people but it was rough staying in a different hotel room every night.

Brian and I had the opportunity to attend several great fundraising events like the Heart Ball, Celebrity & Chef Cook Off, Labor Run, Zoobilee, Light Your Heart, Brew Ha-Ha, Boo and Brew Ball, and the Second Wave anniversary party at the Wichita Art Museum. We also participated in Cards for the Cure, which our friend Jay masterfully took down.

Brian was laid off from Viega after seven years but we didn’t let that hamper our spirits. We still celebrated Super Pi Day on March 14, 2015. It worked out for the best though because then Brian was able to do some traveling with me when I had to go to Washington, DC for a work conference. We both got to visit Washington for the first time together. During Brian’s brief break from employment, he dabbled in travel agent work and helped our friends Jay and Becca sort out the Travel Junkie CRM before eventually changing careers and joining Edward Jones.

Besides Saint George, UT and Washington, DC, I also had the opportunity to travel to Charlotte, NC when I got a free registration to the annual CS Week conference. While there I got to visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame and had the opportunity to meet NASCAR legend Junior Johnson.

I also got to visit New York while I was in New Jersey for a utilities workshop. Darcy and I traveled together. It was both a fun and productive trip.

I got to help with the 2015 Youth Entrepreneurs Summer Partnership program at my work and also participated in some great team building activities with my coworkers. We learned how to do makeup one time, and we also did community service work at the Kansas Food Bank and the Wichita Art Museum.

I had fun hanging out with my little sister from Big Brothers Big Sisters all year. Here are some of the things we did: Starbird-Devlin Cars for Charities, Big Fish at Century II, learning some Zumba, painting at the Big Brothers Big Sisters office, Bartlett Arboretum, bowling (a few times), roller skating, playing at Get Air (the trampoline park downtown), celebrating with other matches at the Big Brothers Big Sisters holiday party at Botanica, etc. It has been a wonderful year and Nickira is growing so fast. Her feet are actually bigger than mine now.

Besides doing more community service this year than I ever have (I actually qualified to request Tier 1 and Tier 2 volunteer time matches at work, which I asked to be donated to the Greater Wichita YMCA both times), I also got to do other enrichment activities such as joining the Andover Rotary Club (thanks to my friends and coworker David for recommending it), and Brian and I both completed Citizen Police Academy.

Brian and I got to see some good concerts from artists we’d never seen perform before: The Avett Brothers, Moreland & Arbuckle, Here Come the Mummies, and John Fullbright. We missed the Avett Brothers the first time they came to town so we vowed not to miss them again this time around. Here Come the Mummies was a complete surprise. We thought they would be hokey but they were actually amazing. The others were at Bartlett Arboretum. That place is completely enchanting. I can’t believe we’d never been there until now.

Besides the disaster of Brian getting laid off from work, I also had a couple of disasters with my phone and my car. UBreakIFix saved my hiney, not once, but twice. Then I wrecked both the front and back ends of my car shortly after paying it off. Isn’t that just the luck? I had to take care of the front end damage, which was actually more expensive, myself because no other car was involved. It was me vs. a parking stop. LOL. The back end damage was a minor fender bender (rear-end collision) in downtown Kansas City. It cost about half as much to fix but it wasn’t my fault so I didn’t have to pay for the repairs that time. What a relief!

Brian wasn’t the only one who had some work changes. I started working on a new project at work. It’s a major one that’s a three-year commitment. It’s so huge that I had to move my office from one end of the building to the other and I’ll be reporting to someone else this year.

We celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary in a low-key way by going on a moonlight horseback ride in the Flint Hills and having a nice quiet dinner in Mulvane. Our anniversary this year was simple but it’s definitely one of the more memorable ones.

We had some friends who turned 50 this year and threw the most amazing parties. We also got to attend Christina and Jake’s wedding at Exploration Place. That was another great party.

Lastly, we added two new family members. Brian got a new car he named Rex because it’s a Lexus RX 350. It’s a 2015 but we got a heck of a deal so we didn’t have to finance. That happened during the week of Thanksgiving so we just called it his Christmas present (for this year and the next few years – LOL).

In December we won a puppy in the live auction of the Light Your Heart event. We named her Saki. Life hasn’t been the same ever since. For all of us.

Saki is very sweet and is an amazing dog but it is an adjustment. Molly is on senior dog food and Saki is on puppy dog food. We now have to buy two of everything so they don’t get jealous of one another. There’s also the additional vet bills. Feeding times are now a two-person effort because we have to make sure they don’t kill each other. Brian and I are fine with the changes, but Molly is taking a long time to adjust. They have good moments but the two still fight a lot. Even though we’d been thinking of getting a companion for Molly for a while (ever since we found out that our favorite neighbors and their two dogs would be moving to Orlando), this is probably the most spontaneous thing we’ve ever done. And, Brian and I are not spontaneous people.

We have sit-down meetings with each other to plan our budget at the end of every year and halfway through. We schedule everything months in advance and have a strict calendar. Heck, we use a spreadsheet to plan our Thanksgiving cooking! We were definitely not as prepared as we usually are for this change.

That’s pretty much our year in a nutshell. It was a rollercoaster with lots of ups and downs but I feel blessed for all the great things that happened. Like I said, I didn’t have to make a trip to the ER so that in itself is a win.

I’m optimistic about the coming year but Brian tells me that I’m optimistic about the new year every year. For one, we are already off to a great start compared to last year. Last year I wanted to teach Zumba on New Year’s Day but couldn’t because I had pneumonia. This year I was able to make it happen. I turned the event into a mini Zumbathon/party complete with gift drawings and two other instructors leading songs. We had such a blast.

I believe that great things will happen for us next year and I look forward to recounting them around this time next year. I’m hoping that going on the first ever Zumba cruise, which is less than a month away, will be only one of many highlights that I’ll be sharing with you this time next year. Brian and I are both super excited (me more so than Brian as can be expected – LOL).

Happy New Year, Everyone!


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Hanging Out with the Dills

Becca and I got to hang out right before Christmas. I just happened to be off work and wanted to get my nails done. Luckily Becca was free and was able to go with me. I took her to my favorite nail place.

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I decided to deviate from my usual neutral tones and picked out glittery nail polish.

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I took Becca back to the Travel Junkie office and then the four of us met up later that night at Hibachi Boy. It’s their first time trying it.

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Then, since we were already on our side of town they came over for drinks. They also got to meet our newest family member, Saki.

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We were really glad that they brought their niece Addi over because we needed someone to run Saki ragged. Saki is so full of energy that she annoys the crap out of Molly, our other dog. Molly gets so irritated that she ends up snipping at poor Saki, which makes me feel bad because Saki is a puppy and doesn’t know any better. She just wants to play.

Saki met her match with Addi. Saki actually ran out of energy before Addi did. So glad that Addi came over to play with Saki because I usually run out of breath chasing her around. It was nice to get a break and also be able to visit with the Dills while Addi and the dogs played. 2015 has been a really busy year for us and we haven’t been able to spend as much time with our friends. It was really nice to end the year spending some quality time with the Dills.

Getting in the Spirit

It’s Christmas Eve eve! Can you believe it? This year has gone by so quickly.

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We started celebrating early in the month when we had our Optima Customer holiday party, which was a nice break from our long days and busy schedule. Ever since this project started in October, it has consumed my life. I missed out on several things that I had planned on attending/completing the latter part of the year namely, the First Contact Resolution workshop in San Antonio, Six Sigma Yellow Belt training, the CRC and C&I joint Christmas party, and the team building and volunteer service day at the Wichita Art Museum that I organized. And those are just the big things, I’ve missed pretty much every Rotary meeting since our October project kickoff (although I did get to participate in the Andover Caring & Sharing volunteer activity) and I’ve had to bow out of several other obligations (thankfully, I’m getting great support from my teammates and boss). I guess my life will just have to be on hold until we’ve seen this project to fruition.

The hours are long and the work often seems overwhelming but at least the people I’m working with are amiable and fun. Everyone is super knowledgeable and I’m learning a ton which is really exciting for me. I thoroughly enjoy learning new things so when we began current state interviews immediately after the project kick off I remember telling everyone it feels like Christmas because I’m learning something from every single person I come in contact with. I’m like a really dry sponge just absorbing everything. Anyway, fast forward two months and now it really is Christmas.

I’m still really excited about everything I’m learning but I am starting to get bummed about missing out on stuff. And, I really miss having a routine. I guess I’ll just have to make new routines.

I missed Customer Service Week festivities (which we celebrate in the CRC during the week of Veterans Day) and other fun stuff in the CRC. I remember being at work late one evening to take care of stuff and we stopped by Faith’s office because I just had to show Brian her elaborate Christmas decor. She happened to still be in there making even more decorations. We got to visiting and Brian saw the photo booth pictures we had taken last year that were up on Faith’s cabinet walls and I made a comment about how we didn’t have a photo booth this year for Customer Service Week. Faith told me that we did have one and showed me a punch of the pictures she and others took in the photo booth. I just happened to be in Topeka that day and missed it.

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Here are some pictures of Faith’s amazing Christmas decorations.

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Recently, we had a holiday decorating contest at work. I pretty much missed most of it too but I did take pictures while I was at work late one evening.

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The participation this year was so much more than we had seen in previous years and the level of creativity was out of this world. Everyone really got into it. It was great to see and helped get in me in the spirit because up until then I really wasn’t feeling the magic of Christmas. Probably because I’ve just been so busy.

In years past I’ve usually got my trees (one upstairs and one in the basement) up by Thanksgiving and I’m usually done with Christmas shopping by then too. This year I’ve been so busy that I decided to only put one Christmas tree up (the one upstairs) and I’ve really started to question the whole gifts situation. I know of others who only get presents for children in the family and not any adults. I’m pitching that idea to Brian for next year because that would really save us a lot of time and stress.

This year I wanted to crochet presents for everyone but severely underestimated the time it would take to complete each present. Since I started later based on this incorrect assumption I was only able to complete three crochet projects and then had to come up with a backup plan for the rest of our giftees. That left us scrambling for presents last minute. Well, it feels last minute for me anyway, since I’m usually ready well ahead of time. Christmas seems to have snuck up on me this year (I suppose that’s what happens when you’re busier than usual) and I feel completely unprepared.

Here’s one of the three completed projects. Maybe next year I’ll be able to complete more. Or, if Brian goes for the “no Christmas presents for adults” idea then I may not have to make any at all except for the ones that I wish to make. That would be less pressure for me to get these crochet projects done. LOL.

Anyway, it’s nice to finally be off work. I’m still working a little to stay caught up but I’m grateful that I can just work remotely and whenever I feel like it (which is usually at odd hours of day). Since I’m on vacation, technically any work I do is just extra. For now I’m done checking email until after Christmas so I can finally start truly getting into the Christmas spirit. I hope you guys get a good long break from work and have a wonderful holiday season!

Let’s Catch Up

This blog is ridiculously behind. I’m going to attempt to catch us up.

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Did you all see that awesome rainbow that happened last month? It was on October 22. It was an amazing double rainbow. One really vivid one and then another faint one around it. It was a full rainbow too. You could see the arch from end to end. I usually miss these things but I’m so glad that I got to see it. It’s the most beautiful thing I’d seen in a while. I even got a picture of it; though the picture really doesn’t do the rainbow justice. It was amazing. I hope you guys got to see it too.

I love rainbows because they always brighten my day.

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Speaking of brightening someone’s day, my extended team (extended because Faith and Amy joined us) and I did a volunteer service day at the Kansas Food Bank. We packed several “Bob Box” pallets from eight to noon.

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It was a wonderful team building activity. We not only got to work with one another but we also worked with these ladies from a local church who regularly volunteers the food bank and some employees from Cox Communications who volunteer during their lunch hour. The church ladies arrived around ten o’clock and the team from Cox arrived around eleven. We had such a blast the four hours just flew right by.

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I took this photo before everyone showed up. We had a pretty good assembly line going on with just the six of us.

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We spent the day bonding as a team offsite so it was a nice break from the daily grind. I like it when we do fun team building activities like panting or crafting and such, but I really like team building activities that involve community service or volunteerism because then we’re not only having fun bonding but we’re also giving back to the community at the same time.

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Here’s a picture of us with Kansas Food Bank President & CEO Brian Walker accepting our $1000 donation.

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The best part about Westar Energy is that the company encourages employees to do volunteer work and has several matching programs. One of these programs is a team building service match. If we have five employees from the same department do a four-hour service project for a nonprofit then we can request for a $1000 grant from the Westar Energy Foundation to match our time. Of course, the organization and the project have to be vetted first, but it’s great that our company is supportive and encourages community service and volunteerism by donating funds to the projects and nonprofits that employees support.

This was on Friday, October 23. It was a great day for doing volunteer work and bonding with my team. Not so much for the diet, though.

The six of us went to District Taqueria for lunch. I’d never been there before but had been meaning to because it’s owned by the brother of my former dental hygienist. I’m so glad Nykole recommended it. The food was delicious. I have a separate blog post for that because I went back with Brian a week later for my birthday lunch.

Dinner that night was a Granite City with Brian’s Edward Jones office family. His boss (who is also our friend Rune) wanted everyone and their families to get together and meet. Dinner guests consisted of Rune (financial advisor and boss man), Kristen (Rune’s wife who also used to work in their office and still fills in from time to time), their son Eirik, Deb (the senior business office administrator at their office), her husband Mike, Brian (new kid on the block), and me (supportive spouse).

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It was a great start to what would be a crazy-busy weekend consisting of groceries with grandma (which Brian usually does while I teach my Saturday morning Zumba class), brunch at the Good Egg, Connie’s 50th birthday extravaganza at the Kansas Star Casino, the Boo and Brew Ball (a benefit for Dress for Success Wichita), packing for Topeka, and bowling. I’m blogging separately about the birthday party and the Boo and Brew event because I have quite a few pictures to share.

We have been so busy lately that the year has just flown by. I’m hoping we’ll catch a break here eventually because we are so behind on house chores it’s not even funny. My having to work in Topeka four days out of the week doesn’t seem to help matters any. More on that in another post also.

We caught up a little bit but not quite enough. Hopefully I’ve have more time to blog this weekend so we can get completely caught up.

Until then, have a fabulous weekend everyone!

Guess Whose Birthday is Just Around the Corner

In other news, mom got us new bedding as my early birthday present.

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Molly likes it.

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For Boss’s Day last week my team got me a deliciously beautiful fruit bouquet. Brian doesn’t really eat fruit so I just shared it with everyone at work. The chocolate covered strawberries were my favorite.

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Brian and I went to the opera for that evening.

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He’d never been to the opera and neither have I so it was a first that we got to experience together. We saw The Grand Duchess , which is a great introduction to opera because it’s light hearted and comedic rather than tragic.

Kaitlyn Costello was marvelous in the lead role. None of the other actors were even close to the level of performance that she gave. They do such a good job with makeup and costumes that I didn’t realize she played Anita in West Side Story last year, which was my absolute favorite show last year.

Speaking of music theater, while we really enjoyed the opera, Brian and I decided that we prefer music theater because then we don’t need subtitles. LOL. Jokes aside, Music Theatre Wichita does a phenomenal job of bringing the best productions to town.

Speaking of performances, I really wanted to see Norah Jones on Thursday but we were not lucky enough to get tickets. They sold out within a couple of hours. Instead I got some tickets to Light in the Piazza, which is another opera incidentally.

I’m hoping that Nickira will want to go to it. We’ve seen a couple of Music Theatre Wichita performances together (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Big Fish) but this will be our first opera if she agrees to go. I hope she does.

Lots of things going on this coming weekend, as is typical these days in Wichita. However, the event I’m looking forward to most is my vacation day off work on Friday!

I don’t usually take my birthday off but it happened to fall on a Friday this year so it’s the perfect opportunity for a three-day weekend. Brian and I were initially going to go to New York until we realized it’s the weekend of the great New York City marathon, which explains why we couldn’t find a decent hotel for less than $600 a night in the entire city. Even though our travel plans got nixed, I decided to keep my vacation day because I really need a break from work. The long days have finally caught up to me.

I still won’t get to sleep in because, in true Ching fashion, the day is already jam-packed. Meeting at the YMCA at 8 AM, massage at Sveta’s at 10 AM, taking Brian to District Taqueria for lunch, quality time in the afternoon, dinner at Sabor, then dancing at Oeno. Don’t even let me get started on Saturday and Sunday activities.

I may need to have a makeup vacation day after this vacation day. LOL. Until next time. Have a fantastic week, everyone!

Mom’s Birthday Surprise

We’d been so busy that I hadn’t seen my mom for a while. Usually I’m really good about organizing some sort family dinner or other get together to celebrate birthdays and such. We have had absolutely no time for anything lately. Despite that, we wanted to make sure that she knew that we didn’t forget about her birthday.

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I was scheduled to sub for her bowling team on October 7, the day after her birthday, so we decided to surprise her. For her birthday present this year, I got her bowling jewelry. She got earrings and a matching necklace.

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Brian and I ordered ice cream cake from Dairy Queen, which Brian picked up on his way to the bowling alley. She totally didn’t expect it. We shared the cake with the opposing team and still had some left over which we ended up giving to the concession employees at the bowling alley.

Happy belated birthday, mom!

Speaking of birthdays, guess whose birthday is coming up in ten days? 😉

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