29 October 2014

Grocery Store Wars

Earlier today, a friend, who is new to Indianapolis, asked me where I do my grocery shopping. It took me a minute to answer her question as I really had to think about it. I never thought I would have the problem of having too many grocery stores to choose from, but alas, that's the position I find myself in. There are at least 6 grocery stores within a 10 minute drive from our house: Whole Foods, Marsh, Super Target, Trader Joe, Kroger, and Fresh Thyme. They all have their place but the time has come for me to commit and name a winner for my favorite grocery store.

Whole Foods

Theme: Healthy and Organic Foods
Cost: $$$$
Size: Medium
Pros: Prepared Food Options, Fresh Fish and Meats, Produce Options, Unique food items, Cool Factor
Cons: Cost, Difficult to find typical ingredients

I love the healthy options and homemade prepared foods at Whole Foods. I usually go here when I want an excellent cut of meat, fresh prepared sausage or ground meat, fresh seafood, and desserts. Their produce is quality but the prices are too high for my liking; especially when I have other store options. I rarely buy any pre-packaged foods from here for the same reason. In a pinch, this is a good place to go when you need a prepared lunch or dinner on the go. Most stores have a salad/soup bar, impressive deli counter, and a hot food bar with varying options. Some of the larger stores even have a beer/wine bar inside. All in all, this is a lifestyle store and not for someone on a budget.

Marsh

Theme: Traditional Grocery Store
Cost: $$$
Size: Large
Pros: Wide Fresh and Frozen Seafood Selection, Cheese Bar, Sales on Canned Goods
Cons: Cost, Difficult to find unique food items, Deli and Bakery Goods not Homemade

Marsh is a major chain grocer in Indiana so it's your typical grocery store set up. Each store is different but the store I shop at went through a major renovation within the last couple of years. The renovation improved their produce, deli, sushi, seafood, meat, wine/beer/liquor, bakery, and hot/cold food bar areas. While the renovations did improve the store, the quality of their prepared food options is not that great and does not appear to be fresh or homemade. Additionally, many of their pre-packaged food items are more expensive than at competing stores. This store is the closest to my home so I usually go here when I need a few things quickly. I also go here occasionally for seafood. They have an extensive frozen seafood section, including various fish varieties, crab legs, lobster, scallops, shrimp, etc. All in all, it's a solid neighborhood store but again, not the place to shop if you're on a budget.

Super Target

Theme: Everything under the sun
Cost: $$
Size: Huge
Pros: Cost
Cons: Size, Difficult to find unique food items, No Quality Deli, Bakery, or Hot/Cold Food Bars

I love Target!!!! And I love Super Target even more!!!!! I can just about get everything I need in life at this store. I used to do most of my grocery shopping here but recently I have changed my (and by default, the family's) diet to more clean eating and less processed foods so Target is no longer on the top of my list. I still shop here for canned or pre-packaged foods when I need them because they tend to have the best prices. I also get most of the family's personal care goods (e.g. lotion, toothpaste, medicine, diapers, etc.) from here. The produce section exists but is…ehh. You can find some good deals on fruit sometimes but it's not necessarily the best quality. There also isn't a fresh meat department which is a must for our family. All in all, it's an awesome place, especially if you're on a budget, but doesn't offer many options for fresh and healthy foods.

Trader Joe

Theme: Healthy and Unique Foods
Cost: $$
Size: Small
Pros: Cost, Wine, Produce, HMO-free meats, Healthier Pre-packaged Food Options, Unique Food Items
Cons: Difficult to find typical food items, Limited Produce Selection, No Fresh Meat/Seafood Section, No Hot/Cold Food Bars

I find myself shopping here the most as of late. I appreciate the small size of the store and know that I can get in and get out without a fuss. I also appreciate the friendly customer service. Because the store is so small I know where everything is and can order my shopping accordingly. Their fresh foods and packaged fresh (and previously frozen) meats are consistently of good quality. They have an awesome wine selection at varying price levels. Most important, their prices are reasonable and don't fluctuate. What they are lacking is a fresh meat/seafood counter, deli counter, and hot/cold food bars; but I suspect if they included these things, it would slow down the customers ability to get in/out of the store quickly. All in all, this store has cornered the market on how to present healthy food options in an non-intimidating way. And it doesn't break the bank.

Kroger

Theme: Traditional Grocery Store
Cost: $$
Size: Large
Pros: Cost, Improved Produce and Organic Foods Section, Improved Deli and Bakery
Cons: Better Store Alternatives

Kroger is a national chain grocer. The store closest to me just went through a major renovation in order to compete with a new grocery store that just opened across the street (Fresh Thyme). Before the renovation, the store wasn't that great. The lighting was dark, the produce wasn't especially inviting, and the fresh meat/seafood section was limited. Since the renovation, the produce section is brighter and has more options overall but has specifically added more organic options. The deli and bakery have also been expanded, and they have added an aisle specifically dedicated to healthier pre-packaged foods. While I appreciate the updates, it almost feels like it's a little too late. However, what they do have going for them are their prices, which for the most part, are pretty reasonable. They also run a lot of specials and accept most coupons. All in all, it's a solid grocery option now that they have updated the store.

Fresh Thyme

Theme: Healthy Food and Personal Care Store
Cost: $$$
Size: Medium
Pros: Bulk Food Section, Deli, Fresh Fish Section
Cons: Cost, Difficult to find typical food items

This store is less than a month old so it's still working out it's identity. It's had a lot of good sales/specials during its first weeks of opening but I have a feeling those prices won't last. It reminds me of whole foods but not as good. I also don't like the way the store is arranged. It seems a little disjointed and this makes it difficult to find things. What I do like about it is the bulk food section. It's self serve and you can select the amount of grains, legumes, nuts, dried fruit, and candy you want. A bonus are the machines that churn out fresh nut butters. My favorite is the roasted honey peanut butter. The deli and fresh seafood sections are solid and offer great quality selections. They also have a fresh juice bar which is pretty cool (unfortunately, it's stuck in the back and unnoticeable unless you're already back there for something else). The pre-packaged foods are limited in selection and are more expensive than the same/similar good at other stores. All in all, the store needs some more time to find its identity but will probably land somewhere between Whole Foods and Trader Joe.

AND THE WINNER IS…

TRADER JOE!!!!!!

Like I mentioned, Trader Joe is my go to store for the ease of the shopping experience, quality of the goods, and reasonable prices. When I need something Trader Joe doesn't have I usually shop at Super Target or Fresh Thyme (which has edged out Whole Foods).


20 October 2014

Quick Weeknight Meal: Penne with Shrimp and Broccoli

I typically cook dinner 4-5 times a week. I don't always have a lot of time to prepare a meal so having a few quick meals in my arsenal is key. For the most part, I like fresh and healthy foods. As a general rule, I stay away from processed foods (I do have a weakness for pasta and rice) and foods with a high sugar or salt content. Since I'm the one doing the cooking, by default, Jimmy and Carter eat like I do; except, Carter doesn't really like sauces or foods that are mixed together and Jimmy has a threshold on how many green veggies he'll eat. So when Jimmy is traveling I take the opportunity to enjoy all the veggies he doesn't like.

Today, I decided to make Penne with Shrimp and Broccoli. Carter loves pasta but he doesn't like sauce so I made whole grain penne and mixed in some olive oil, salt, pepper, and italian seasoning. Part one of the meal done. While the pasta was cooking, I steamed some fresh broccoli. Part two of the meal done. For part three of the meal, I decided to sauté shrimp. Usually, I use fresh uncooked shrimp but because it takes a lot of time to take the shell off, clean and devein I have started keeping frozen cooked shrimp in the freezer for quick meals like this one. I first thawed out the shrimp and then sautéed them with a little butter, salt, pepper, fresh lime juice, and tangerine balsamic vinegar. The entire meal took about 30 minutes to cook and that's only because it took time for the pasta water to boil. Quick and healthy (a little butter never hurt anyone). I served mine with a little parmesan cheese on top and it looked like this:


Carter doesn't like his food all mixed up so I served his like this (and he asked for seconds and thirds - score!):


After we ate, I decided to do something different with the leftover broccoli and pasta. One of my favorite quick pasta recipes comes from "Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook" and it's called Supreme Green Spaghetti. Here's the recipe:

8 oz uncooked spaghetti or other pasta
1 lb frozen chopped spinach or broccoli (I always use fresh spinach or broccoli and steam it)
1/2 cup skim milk (or heavy cream if you like your sauces creamy)(or soft tofu if you don't do dairy)
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp melted butter (or olive oil if you don't want the butter)
Salt to taste
4 tsp grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Prepare pasta as indicated on the package. Cook spinach or broccoli as directed on package or steam if you're using fresh veggies. Transfer all ingredients except the pasta to a blender and puree until smooth. Pour sauce over the drained and hot pasta. Stir to combine and sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese.

Now, this is the normal recipe and it comes out delicious with a very simple but savory taste. However, tonight, I wanted to mix it up a little bit. This is how my ingredients differed:

Whole Grain Penne pasta (leftover from dinner)
1 1/2 cups steamed fresh broccoli
1/4 cup 2% milk
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp grated Parmesan cheese
3 small fresh basil leaves (would be delicious with fresh mint as well)
2 tsp tangerine balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

I put everything, except the pasta, in a blender and pureed until smooth. I poured the sauce over the pasta remaining in the pot and then warmed up the dish on the stove on low heat for a few minutes. It was so yummy I ate dinner twice tonight. Here's what it looked like:


I can't wait to eat some more for lunch tomorrow.

19 October 2014

My Baby Bump

When I was pregnant with Carter I exercised sporadically, at best. Usually when my energy levels were super low and I needed a boost of endorphins or when my lower back pain was out of control and I needed some good old fashion stretching. Even then, I didn't start working out until well into my 2nd trimester because I was so sick during the 1st trimester I could barely get myself up and out the door for work each morning. I had always heard that if you're in shape before becoming pregnant your body will return to its pre-pregnancy self quicker once the baby comes. Similarly, I heard that working out consistently during pregnancy would ease the birthing process. While I felt pretty good during the 2nd half of my pregnancy, my birthing experience was terrible (a topic for another post) and I ended up having an emergency c-section.

Armed with this experience, when I became pregnant with Savannah I decided to take a different approach. I was determined to have a vaginal birth after the terrible experience I had with Carter's c-section (vaginal birth after c-section or VBAC) and was prepared to do everything I could to have a natural birthing experience. What this meant to me was exercising consistently throughout my entire pregnancy. I worked out 3-4 times a week, including cardio (row machine, running, stairmaster, kickboxing class) and light weight lifting. I also did exercises to keep my core strong. Of course, once my belly got to a certain size, I no longer did traditional crunches or any other ab exercises where I was lying on my back. However, I did do planks (traditional and side), push ups, and some yoga poses (upward dog). Little did I know, what I thought would help me have a successful natural birthing experience and get me back to pre-pregnancy weight quickly after the baby, ended up having the opposite effect. I ended up having another emergency c-section and I still have MY BABY BUMP!


This is what my stomach looks like now and Savannah is 4 months old.  I'm probably the same weight I was pre-pregnancy but my stomach is still poking out. Now, I know my stomach isn't huge in this pic but it's not what I remembered happening after Carter so it's out of the ordinary for my body. With Carter, I was back in a bikini with a flat tummy in 5 months; and I wasn't working out nearly as intensely or eating as clean as I have been for the last 2 months. This prompted me to do some research and I discovered that I have a condition call DIASTASIS RECTI.

Diastasis recti is a separation between the left and right side of the rectus abdominal muscle, which is the muscle that covers the front surface of the belly area and creates a flat belly when defined. About 30% of pregnant women develop this condition due to increased tension on the abdominal wall. The risk is higher with multiple births (e.g. twins) or with multiple pregnancies. The risk is also higher when 
women who are more than 12 weeks pregnant do exercises that stress the abdomen (e.g. crunches, planks, upward dog - basically, everything I was doing). Making matters worse, women with tight abdominal muscles prior to pregnancy are at a greater risk because it's more difficult for the muscles to stretch with a growing uterus. Prior to Savannah's pregnancy I was probably in the best shape of my life. Not only was I competing in half marathons and sprint triathlons but I was also doing crossfit a couple times a week (shout out to Crossfit Zionsville). Again, I thought this was a good thing. Not so much!
Once I made this disheartening discovery I contacted my doctor who then referred me to physical therapy. I have now been in physical therapy for 2 weeks and have seen a little improvement. The bad news is that everything I've been doing for the last 2 months to lose MY BABY BUMP (e.g. crunches, v-ups, etc) has likely made it worse. Great! The good news is with the proper exercises I should be able to bring the muscles back together. Basically, I need to strengthen the transverse abdominal muscle (and not the rectus abdominal muscle) which gets its nickname as "the corset muscle" because it has the effect of pulling in a protruding abdomen. What this means practically is that I walk around with my stomach sucked in all day to try to strengthen this muscle. To give you an idea, here's what my stomach looks like sucked in:

Big difference, right? The key is doing this and still being able to breathe normally. I'm getting pretty good at it. Unfortunately, after I eat, all stomach sucking in is a complete fail; so definitely loose clothing when I go out to eat.

I'm glad I found out about my condition relatively early so I can start the work to correct it, but I'm kind of disappointed that I wasn't equipped with this knowledge during pregnancy. What makes it worse is that I actually did research on exercises to avoid during pregnancy and discussed the same with my OB/GYN. Of course, the research revealed that I shouldn't do crunches or exercises on my back; however, it did not reveal that I shouldn't do planks, push ups, upward dogs, stretch my back on a stability ball, or any other exercise where I stretched my abdomen. Likewise, my doctor did not caution me against these exercises.

If you think you may have diastatis recti, there are plenty of online resources that fully describe the condition, demonstrate how to test for the condition, and provide exercises to repair the condition. You should also consult your physician and/or a physical therapist.

As if pregnancy wasn't hard enough...

16 October 2014

Taking Charge of Your Fertility

It's been over a year and a half since my last post in March 2013, which was about reducing Carter's tv and iPad time to only weekend use. I'm glad to report that we are still going strong with that rule and it's working out great! Carter started full time preschool in Fall 2013 and is in preK this school year so Monday thru Friday he is focused on school and other learning activities.

I've been thinking about returning to this blog for a long time but the thoughts never made it to the page. My life has changed a lot since last year. Carter is 4 years old and full of energy and attitude. We also have a new addition to the family, Savannah Rose Doss, who just hit her 4 month birthday and is such a joy. It took us over a year to become pregnant with Savannah and recently I have come across many women who are facing the challenge of becoming pregnant. This reminded me of our struggle and prompted me to share this post.

With Carter, fertility wasn't even a thought because we literally became pregnant 2 weeks after I stopped taking birth control pills. I had always envisioned it would take months because I had been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) which caused my menstrual cycle to be infrequent and irregular. So imagine my surprise when a pregnancy test showed the "+" sign only 2 months later (and I was nearly 2 months pregnant). After contemplating for a year whether we wanted more children, Jimmy and I started trying to get pregnant again just after Carter's 2nd birthday in June 2012. Just like before, I stopped taking my birth control pills and expected to get pregnant quickly. After several months had passed with no success, I decided to visit my gynecologist to make sure there was nothing reproductively wrong. I was dismayed when the doctor's first suggestion was to put me on Clomid to stimulate ovulation and increase the number of eggs released from my ovaries. In general, I am anti-medication when other methods have not been considered, so I did not agree with this approach. In fact, it prompted me to find a new gynecologist.

After a couple more months trying to get pregnant on our own using the Ovulation App on my iPhone, I recalled that a friend of mine (who also had trouble getting pregnant) recommended a book called "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" by Toni Weschler. My friend read this book and followed the methods suggested and successfully became pregnant after years of trying. After recalling this conversation, I immediately went to my local library and checked out the book. I was immediately mesmerized by its contents. In her book, Toni discusses the Fertility Awareness Method, which is basically learning your body's ovulation schedule in order to pinpoint the optimal times to become pregnant or to avoid becoming pregnant. I was shocked at how little I actually knew about the female menstrual cycle. I had always had an irregular cycle but now I finally understood how to discover the regularity in my irregularity (if that makes sense). Most ovulation products are based on a 28 day menstrual cycle so if you don't fit into that category they likely will not work for you. The book shows you how to chart your body temperatures and how to monitor your vaginal fluids so that you can pinpoint when you are ovulating. Let me tell you…it took some work…but it was work I was willing to do because I was not interested in taking any medication.

In June 2013, after a year of trying unsuccessfully, I began sleeping with a thermometer on the nightstand next to my bed and the first thing I did each morning was take my temperature and write it down on the fertility chart I was keeping. Once I got into the routine it really wasn't that tedious. I also had to write down the consistency of my vaginal fluids, when we were having sex, and whether I exercised or traveled (which could affect body temperature). It took me almost 2 months of charting before I completed my first cycle which turned out to be 40 days instead of the normal 28 days. My next cycle was 50 days. So in 3 months I had only had 2 menstrual cycles. Based on this information, I had to go about trying to pinpoint my ovulation schedule. This was not easy to do since my cycle was different in duration each time but I did my best with the information I had collected so far.

Around mid-October 2013 my body started to feel different. I started feeling lightheaded and fatigued when exercising and my appetite became voracious. I hadn't taken a pregnancy test but I knew I was with child. Based on my charting, I was able to estimate the date range of conception because I had recorded each time we had sex, and the changes in my temperature readings indicated when I was ovulating. Oddly enough, my estimate was better than the estimate given to me by the ultrasound tech at my first doctor's visit. Her estimate was based on the first day of my last menstrual cycle but because I know my cycle is irregular I was able to tell her that was an incorrect way of determining the date of conception for my body. This was confirmed once she completed the ultrasound. In that moment I felt very empowered and in tune with my body.

I won't bore you with the details of 39 weeks of pregnancy but Savannah Rose Doss entered the world on June 12, 2014 and I believe I owe her life to the grace of God but also to the knowledge I obtained from Toni Weschler on how to take charge of my fertility.

This post is not a commentary on which fertility choice you should make if you are having difficulty becoming pregnant. I understand that there are many barriers to becoming pregnant and that they are not all as simple as having an irregular cycle. However, whatever your barrier may be, I would still recommend "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" because at the very least it will help you better understand your menstrual cycle and how it factors into you becoming pregnant and maintaining a viable fetus during the early stages of pregnancy.


05 March 2013

No TV...No Rest...for Me

So last week I decided to try an experiment with Carter. No tv and no iPad Monday-Thursday. It's not like his usage was out of control but he has the tendency to "forget" to go to the bathroom whenever he's watching "Team Umizoomi" or a "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" video for the five millionth time on YouTube. Well, I was so happy with the results that I decided to keep it going this week.

Update: it's only Tuesday and I'm exhausted. This whole no tv and iPad thing has the indirect effect of creating a lot more work for me. Now that Carter no longer has his tv friends to keep him company, I'm his new favorite playmate. I have read more kids books, played with more puzzles, and sang more nursery rhymes in two days than I care to repeat. Last night, after I put Carter to bed (at 7:30 pm mind you) I was so pooped, I was ready to climb into bed myself. In fact, I can barely keep my eyes open while I'm typing this. Man, being a parent is a lot of work. You'd think I would have accepted this by now but I keep getting reminded of the fact in new and different ways. And the scary part is I'm just getting started (laughing...no crying hysterically)!!!

How apropos that our pastor's sermon on Sunday mentioned how selfless mothers are with their children. His reference involved new moms getting up for night time feedings and how this is not because it's something we want to do, but rather, it's completely for the best interest of the child. Well, I'm going to borrow that sentiment for what I'm trying to do by reducing Carter's tv/iPad time. Clearly, doing so is not good for me (at least not in the short term) but I believe it's in his best interest to explore different activities and find some enjoyment outside of technology.

I'll let you know how we're doing in a few weeks. Pray for me...please.

29 January 2013

Apple Cinnamon Muffins-So Good I Had To Post

I made some apple cinnamon muffins this morning for a play date. They were so yummy and easy to make. Here's the recipe:

Muffin Batter

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil


Topping

1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons cold butter, sliced


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease or line 12 muffin cups with baking cups.

2. For batter, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a large bowl. Once combined, add eggs, milk, and oil, and stir until a smooth batter forms. Fold in apples and stir lightly.

3. Spoon batter into muffin cups.

4. For the topping, combine flour, sugar, and cinnamon in small bowl. Add slices of butter and then use a pastry blender, fork, or your fingers to mix ingredients together until crumbles are formed. Distribute crumbles evenly on top of muffins.

5. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when middle of muffin is pierced.


02 December 2012

The Cabo Journal


Here are the rest of my journal entries from our Cabo trip this year.

Nov 4, 2012

We woke up bright and early this Sunday morning still not adjusted to the new time zone. We had our coffee and sweet bread and enjoyed the sunrise from the balcony. The day before we scheduled a timeshare presentation for this morning in exchange for a car rental credit, a dinner cruise, and free breakfast. We were told the presentation would be 90 minutes. In the end, it was more like 5 hours from the time we got in the car to head to San Jose del Cabo (about a 25 min drive) to the time we retrieved our car from the valet. We all felt like we had been beat up and remembered why we don’t sit through these presentations. Our salesperson, Debbie, was great and gave us a fairly good expectation of how long everything would take. When we got down to the end and said “no thank you,” she went and got her manager, Alex. Alex, of course, came over to give us his “best offer.” When Jimmy continued to explain why we were not interested, Alex very abruptly said, “Well, this is by best offer. If it works for you great. If it doesn’t fine.” And then he turned to Debbie and said “tell them this is my final offer,” got up and walked away. This is when Jimmy started to morph into his alter ego: Mr. I WISH A MF WOULD DISRESPECT ME! As soon as Alex disrespected us all, any chance of them making a sell went out the window. Instead of recognizing this and letting us go, in walks a second manager to again give us their best offer. When Jimmy gave him the “I would not buy anything even if it were free” speech because Alex disrespected us, this man still continued to talk. This enraged Jimmy, and all of us quite frankly, and we started to zone out. We were finally sent to what was supposed to be our final stage where we were given a survey. Can you believe they were still trying to sell us a vacation program. At this point, I had to get up and wait outside because I couldn’t listen to anymore sales pitches.  What’s crazy is that the original price they gave us was approximately $125,000 and by the time we made it to the 5th person, it was $3000. True, it wasn’t for exactly the same product but that price swing is insane and leads me to believe that some folks are being ripped off and are actually agreeing to a $100,000 plus price. Crazy!

When we finally got out of there, we all felt like we had just done battle. We were exhausted, hungry, and desperately in need of an alcoholic beverage. We had already missed the Colts/Dolphins game and were on the hunt for a sports bar where we could enjoy the rest of NFL Sunday. Thankfully, we found a cool rooftop bar in downtown San Jose del Cabo called Shooters where we enjoyed a good lunch and several cold beers and margaritas. We headed back to Cabo San Lucas after the day games, parked the car, and headed back out to catch the night game at a sports bar in walking distance to our condo. We stopped at a bar with only one person in it so we thought we would enjoy the game in peace. Little did we know, this one person, who we called Island Eddie, talked more than all of us combined. His eyes lit up when he saw us come in and he gravitated to us immediately. He was clearly intoxicated but thankfully he was a happy drunk and provided us with a lot of laughter and two rounds of shots.

We made it back the condo a couple hours later, climbed into bed and called it a wrap for day 2 in Cabo.

Nov 5, 2012

Antwain (Jimmy's cousin) had his mind set on playing golf and was even considering going on another timeshare tour to get a free round on a $300 per person course. After hearing no other takers, I reluctantly agreed to play with him but qualified that since I haven’t played or even swung a club in several years (5 or 6 to be exact), I would probably only be good for 9 holes. I convinced him we should just pay the money instead of subjecting ourselves to another timeshare nightmare. He made the reservation for 1pm and we were set. Because I hadn’t planned on golfing, we had to make a quick run to Walmart so I could get a collared shirt. I grabbed a purple one to match my sneakers (If I sucked, at least I would be cute) and we were good to go. $288 later we were tee’d up at Hole 1. I won’t take you through the play by play but let’s just say that I performed way better than I thought I would. I even got a couple of bogeys and double bogeys. Antwain was shooting for at least one of us to get a par but it didn’t happen. I think at some point both of us had a chance on a par 3 but our short game (namely the fact that neither of us have any accuracy with the pitching wedge which by the end of the game led me to using my putter if I was anywhere close to the green) killed us. I also felt more confident about my game when after the first 3 holes, Antwain had lost about 4 balls. Who knows where they went. I guess the dessert sands and bushes needed them more than he did. 

The course was beautiful and for a quick second almost renewed my enjoyment for the game. I felt like those lessons I took at the Lansing Country Club when I was 8 were finally paying off. Then we got to hole 15 and like clockwork my enthusiasm had passed. I don’t know what it is. Once I get to about the 3 hour mark of hitting and chasing after a ball in a golf cart, I’ve just had enough. I’m sure Antwain could tell when my interest got lost because that’s when I started the serious conversation...marriage, kids, life, etc.  He teased me for it later but I warned him I was only good for 9 holes. I was actually proud of myself for stretching it out for a few more. It was getting dark by the time we got to Hole 17 so we turned on our speed golf skills and decided to skip Hole 18.  On the car ride back to the condo we were hoping that our respective spouses had prepared us a delicious meal but were sadly disappointed when we walked in to a scentless kitchen. Shawntee informed us that Jimmy had just left to watch Monday Night Football and that she was waiting for us to get back with some food. So the three of us headed out to find Jimmy so we could eat. Once we finally found him, he was finishing up the last of his tacos and beer. “You didn’t wait for us” I proclaimed. He showed no remorse and suggested we get the 4 taco + 1 beer special for $7. Typical. We ate while watching the Saints demolish the Eagles and then walked back to the condo and called it a night.

Nov 6, 2012

Election Day! I couldn’t wait to get up this morning and turn on election coverage. I planned on staying glued to the tv. Unfortunately, the only news station we had in English was Fox News. Boo! But I guess it’s better than nothing. We kept it on mute for most of the day so we could read the headlines. When the polls started closing around the country we turned the volume back on and gathered on the couch to see the results unfold. The strange thing about Fox News' coverage initially was that they were very quick to call states for Romney and register his electoral votes on the screen but in the same scenario where Obama was clearly the winner of a state, they would not give him the check mark. Using this tactic, they skewed the results in Romney’s favor for as long as they could; until they couldn’t. Then, after they finally announced that Obama had won Ohio, Karl Rove, who was one of their commentators for the night went on a 20 minute rant of how he thought it was too soon to call Ohio and that he would err on the side of caution after what happened in the 2000 Election. Dude, give it a rest! When your co-commentators say it’s over it’s time to let it go. The fellas went to bed after the results were announced but Shawntee and I stayed up for the speeches. Although, I kept dozing off during Obama’s speech (due to exhaustion not disinterest) I went to sleep thinking happy thoughts. 4 more years!

Nov 7, 2012

We spent most of the day at the pool (and by we, I mean me because the blazing sun sent the others back inside within an hour). I love heat and sunshine! That’s what inspired me to apply to virtually every law school in Los Angeles. I knew the odds were in my favor and I would be accepted to at least one of them. I couldn’t take the dreary gray days of Michigan and 4 months with no sunshine. I don’t think depressed fully explains how that type of weather affected me. But I digress. So, while at the pool, we started talking to a couple of retired guys visiting from Canada. Turns out they were subjected to the same “5 hours in purgatory” timeshare presentation we were. We shared some laughs about how they wouldn’t take “no” for an answer and how they sent all the failed attempts out the back door to get on a sketchy van to pick up our prizes.

Later in the evening we claimed one of our timeshare prizes by going on a Sunset Fajita Cruise. At first we were skeptical because there were more people in line than the boat appeared to be able to hold, but it all worked out. We took some great photos of Lovers’ Beach and The Cove and it was neat seeing how developed the coastline was from a panoramic vantage point. After the servers dolled out the fajitas and bottomless drinks, we headed to the top of the boat where the dance party had begun. We did the Cuban Shuffle, The Percalator, The Wobble, and a couple other line dances I don’t know the name of. In the end, it was a lot of fun (which is usually the case when an open bar is involved). We de-boarded and headed back to the condo for more rounds of margaritas and Uno. I was sleep by 9:30pm. It must have been all the sun I soaked up.

Nov 8, 2012

Thursday came so fast. Including today, we only have 2 full days left. On Monday, it seemed like we’d been here for longer than 2 days but now it feels like we just got here. I can already tell today is going to be a chill day. Jimmy is nursing a hangover after drinking way too many margaritas last night and Antwain and Shawntee are sleeping in. Every morning so far, Jimmy, Antwain, and I have gone for a morning run. By the looks of things so far this morning, I think we’re taking the day off. I was planning on going to the beach today but I might just opt for the pool again. We’ll see where the day takes us.