Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Post Staycation and Sports Team Bliss

Bears beat Eagles and look like a playoff calibre team: We have had some lucky breaks go our way this season.

  • We won our first game against the Lions because of a dumb rule.
  • In Week 5, we faced Carolina rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen when Cutler missed his first start as a Bear with a concussion.
  • We had a bye week when we needed it most and got to play the Buffalo Bills.
  •  Our short week Thursday night game was against Miami who was down to the waterboy as backup QB.
  • And then we got 10 days to plan for our game against the Eagles.

We also get the patriots coming off a monday night game so they will have 1 less day to practice.  I just hope we don't get caught up in a trap game against the Lions on Sunday and I hope we don't miss the playoffs because of the seeding rules of the NFL. We could be 10-6 or 11-5 and lose the wildcard while an 8 and 8 team from another division goes to the playoffs.


Home for the Holidays:  I always try to take the three days before Thanksgiving off if I can so that I have time to get things in order.  Usually it's cleaning up my place but in recent years I use the time to work on my mom's house. 

This year I was extremely productive.  I used each day efficiently and effectively by creating a manageable goal for each day.  Usually I defeat myself by having too many things on my I-want-to-accomplish list but this time, I kept it simple. Each day I had one thing I wanted to do.  If I finished early, I would go to my auxilary list and work on something else, but if I didn't, no worries.

I also factored in the weather to help me. It rained last Monday, so I used that day to clean and organize the den. It's amazing how much bigger a room can seem if you just move a piece of furniture from one side to the other.  We had two matching dressers "facing"each other, with one being right in the path when you walked in the door.  I moved it next to it's twin and suddenly the room seems twice as big.

Before Scrapping

Before Scrapping
On Tuesday I went to my mom's do to the pre-painting setup.  I usually set myself up to fail on these projects because I don't allow enough time for the prep work.  So Tuesday was all about that.  I scraped off all the loose paint. Unfortunately, it was too cold to caulk, not to mention getting dark when it was time to do so, so I had to factor that into my weekend.

Finally, we secured a church and set the wedding date.  We also introduced the in-laws - no shots fired.

After Scrapping

After Scrapping

Friday, November 19, 2010

Now the Fun Begins

About five seconds after we got engaged -- actually 5 seconds after we shared the news with someone beyond our cats or the lady who sold me the ring -- the wave of questions started pouring in. Having answered them as best we could, one particular question stood out: Have you set a date?

We have to set a date for several reasons. It's much easier to ask people to save a date if you give them a specific date instead of a vague, Fall or September or some Saturday in 2011. However, to save a date, we first needed to figure out what kind of wedding we wanted. After mulling it over for a while, we've decided to go with a church wedding in Chicago although a destination wedding isn't completely off the table.

The irony is that a few years ago, I was involved with several young adult programs at local catholic churches that I probably could have had my pick. Alas, I've lost much of my church cred in the last couple years by not attending regularly. And I'm sure the whole living in sin thing probably negates the rest.

When I went through RCIA, we had a class on the Sacrament of Marriage. I'm going off decade old memory here, but as I recall, the general rule is that any catholic can get married at any catholic church.

Now for the fine print. said church has the right to require at least one, if not both, of the married couple to be members of that Parrish in good standing. That means at the very least, you cannot just become a member the week of your wedding. Usually they want you to be a member for at least six months though a year isn't unheard of. In a very small congregation (read:we need money) sometimes a donation can cut through a lot of the rules.

So is the couple that relocated to another city and hasn't found a church they like forced to go back home to wed? No, there are a couple of procedures that can be helpful. You can request a wedding at an alternate church. It's up to that parish to decide if they want to honor your request. You can also petition to have a catholic wedding at a location that isn't a church. This is handy if say you really want the priest you grew up with to marry you, and he is available but the church isn't available that afternoon.

All of these procedures sound flexible but are also opportunities for stress. I've heard horror stories of power-hungry priests who make couples perform back flips and summersaults just to get their day before God.

SigOther and I are exploring the church wedding but if it gets to be too much hassle, I hear that Costa Rica is a great place to tie the knot.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

People Sure do Love a Good Story, but this will have to do

Sig Other and I got engaged on Halloween. We actually got the ring several hours earlier but had to wait until midnight to actually cast the spell. Actually, I choose Halloween because people always ask us when we met or how long we've been together and the answer is "we met at a fourth of July party on the actual 4th of July."  So the holiday theme holds, plus it's an easy way for me to remember.

Everyone wants to know the story behind my recent engagment. I should make something up because the truth is, while I can guarantee it wasn't the Worst Proposal in the History of Humankind, it won't go down as the most romantic or entertaining or anything. Because there really isn't a story, at least not in the traditional sense.

What people wanted to have happened:

While out running errands one Saturday, we stopped at a jewelry store under the pretense of getting her a silver watch for her birthday. While there, I suggested she look at rings and in the process determined her ring size.

We just happened upon a ring she really, really liked. In my best Polish, I told the jewelry to pretend that the ring wasn't available in her size but could be ordered and would come in few weeks.

Disappointed, we left the jewelry and walked up the street to Stanley's West A&G International Fresh Market store where we do the bulk of our shopping. I pretended that I left something in the car and told her I'd meet her at the deli. I went back to the jewelry and bought the ring she adored.

Later that evening, when we left to go to a Halloween Party, I made an excuse to go back upstairs while she waited in the car. I set the box on our dresser between two candles. When we got home, I made sure I got into our bedroom first to light them. She walked in and saw the box and knew what was coming.

What Really Happened:
People ask if I planned it this way or how long had I been planning to do it. Well let's back up a bit. For months I've been asking Sig Other to find out her ring size. She doesn't wear a lot of jewelry so I haven't been able to do the "sneak off with one of her rings-thing" to get the size.

Each week we'd talk about going to one of those there jewelry shops but it never quite happened because we only have so much time in our weekend to do the domestic tasks that are the reality of being in a relationship. Sidenote: Sig Other has a non traditional work schedule and attends school so her time is limited, especially the cross section of time that corresponds with Retail America.

I even enlisted the aid of her sisters and her mother to try and get the ring size. You'd think three female relations would be have a vested interest in getting their blood relative hitched, but alas, they too couldn't get it done. In all fairness, 2/3 of them live out of state and the one in Chicago just had baby#2 so she's a little preoccupied.

Eventually I realized that I had to take action. So as in the fantasy version, while on our way to do some grocery shopping at Stanley's West A&G International Fresh Market we stopped at a jewelry shop up the street.

The plan was to just get her ring size but while we were there it made sense to find out what she liked in a ring. We looked at a few traditional ones but nothing really grabbed her attention. So I showed the jeweler a picture of something I had in mind. I didn't want the diamond to be the center piece because almost everyone goes with the diamond engagement ring. Nothing wrong with that but I wanted something a little different, so I suggested a sapphire center piece with diamonds along the side. My Polish Peeps did not disappoint. They found one that she liked and we talked about how the matching wedding band can fit with the ring and all that stuff.

I did go back to the store while she was grocery shopping. And she did think I was simply ordering the ring, but because we had found a ring she liked that cost half of what I had budgeted, I grabbed it.

They put the ring in a box and then put the box in a pink gift bag, the kind that you see at baby showers and adult toy parties. I really didn't want to walk around carrying that so when I caught up to her at the grocery store, I asked Sig Other to put the bag in her purse for safe keeping. She immediately figured out what was in it and never gave me the bag back.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Beginning of the End, or a New Beginning?

When I ran the Soldier Field 10 Miler in May, a lady at the massage table who was working on my leg suggested I might want to get an MRI.  I told her how my knee had locked up late in the run and she said she heard some clicking.  So with the Chicago Marathon and the Monster Half Marathon behind me, I finally got the MRI I've been putting off. 

I opted to get both knees scanned, even though the problem child has been my left knee.  My right knee is beginning to feel like my left knee did once upon a time when this all started.  My theory is that my body has been compensating for whatever is wrong with my left knee.  Turns out I might be on to something.

The guy who did my MRI -- I don't know if he is a doctor or a technician -- isn't allowed to give an official diagnosis.  But let's face it, he sees these day in and day out.  He asked me what I did for a living.  When I told him I work in IT, he asked if I ran marathons.  As in plural. Because we both knew that it would take more than one to do the type of damage that he is seeing and I'm feeling.

So this might be the end of my running days. But it could also be the beginning of another Runner Renaissance.  Maybe I get scoped and with some therapy, I run better than ever. Or maybe that's it.  Maybe my running career truly, finally comes to an end.

If that's what happens, then okay. If I must sit on the sidelines, then all right. Because I'll always have my Personal Bests.  My 1:33 half marathon, my 31 minute Shamrock Shuffle (8k) and my 3:30 marathon times.Those can never be taken away from me.

I was only supposed to run one marathon.  Get it off my Bucket List and then get on with my life.  But my ego made me go back and try again.  But I also made a lot of friends on the journey and that is the true victory.