Smile for the Christmas-Themed Birdie!

Oh ya'll, you would be so proud of me! I have officially (and before Thanksgiving too!) ordered my Christmas cards. Eat your heart out, Martha Stewart!

Each year, we do the photo cards of us and the cats (quit rolling your eyes...lots of perfectly sane people send out Christmas cards of themselves surrounded by cats. Shut up! They do!) and each year it sneaks up on me and suddenly it's the second week of December and I'm snapping pictures like mad in an attempt to get something halfway decent to send out to friends and relatives (who no doubt receive these lovely tokens of holiday cheer and go, "Good Lord, look at all the cats. We need to have an intervention") but between all the shopping and the decorating and the Charlie Brown Christmas Specials on TV, the whole thing gets all frenzied and all the cards end up arriving two days before Christmas and I swear that next year, I'm going to get them out earlier.

Well, this year I have finally done it! (Okay maybe not totally since they aren't technically in the mail yet, but I have the pictures snapped and the prints ordered and I'll go pick them up tomorrow and as God as my witness, those cards will be in the mail before the first day of December!)

I credit my success this year on some essential changes in strategy. First of all, instead of trying to get the two of us and five cats all sitting in the same place at the same time and looking in the same direction without anyone making a weird face or getting clawed to little tiny bits like we've done in photos past, this year I went with the much simpler two photo option. One of us, one of the cats. Period. (Of course, that's not to say that it was a cake walk to get Tony smiling at the same time he was sitting up straight at the same time at I wasn't caught by surprise with the self-timer going off, or equally easy to get five cats who can either be best friends or despise each other depending on what day of the week it is to stand still for a picture, but I managed it). Then, instead of taking them in to Walgreens or CVS to fight with the little Kodak machine to edit and get copies made, I just did my editing at home and emailed them to the photo department. And finally, instead of just doing photos and then painstaking stuffing each one into a Christmas card and writing some note on the inside, I've upgraded to the all-in-one 4x8 photo card with Christmas message already included. Now all I have to do is pick them up from the photo place, address the envelopes and toss them in the mailbox for pickup! Viola! Instant Christmas cheer!

So bring it on, Christmas. I am so ready for you!

And by getting the cards out right at the beginning of December, friends and family will have an entire month to make crazy cat lady jokes.

Hair Today...Gone Tomorrow! Okay, Still Hair Today

For all one of you who was curious about how things turned out with the haircut yesterday:
  • No bangs, faux or otherwise.
  • Long layers (apparently these control volume...who knew?) I did ask her to keep them long enough to ensure proper hair behavior during ponytail time.
  • Shorter pieces in the front to frame my face.
  • A tiny trim to shape up the ends.

She did take the time to blow it dry and flat iron it straight, which, considering the hour it took her, I will not be doing on a regular basis Thankyouverymuch.

(Although I do like how it looks when it's straight).

(Not to mention really shiny).

She did a pretty passive-aggressive sell for buying some salon shampoo and conditioner and straighter and smoother and shine serum, but I ignored it. (For $85 a bottle, that shampoo better be solving world hunger or something). Pet Peeve Time: It annoys me to death to be trapped in a chair while a woman with sharp scissors tries to do a hard sell on me for hair products. If I want them, I'll ask for them. Used car salesmen and timeshare pushers could learn a thing or two from this woman. The classier the salon, the worse they are about it too.

Anyway, fancy products or not, she gave me a great cut. I was really pleased with the result.

What do you think? My hair looks pretty good if I do say so myself. You should feel free to say so also.

Layers and Teasings and Bangs, Oh My!

Ya'll bear with me today. I have a cold.

Now, I know what you're saying. You're out there screeching "H1N1 flu!" and making the sign of the cross while wiping down the computer screen with Lysol. And if I had the flu, I totally wouldn't blame you.

But it isn't. It's just your average run-of-the-mill cold. Which on the up side, probably won't really kill me, but on the down side, it's all of the crappy cold symptoms and none of the sympathy.

(Moment of silence for my poor nose, which will probably never be the same again after this).

Anyway, as much as I know you're looking forward to a minute-by-minute description of all the sneezing and sniffling and OH MY WORD THE PRESSURE IN MY EARS, I'm not going to do it. Ya'll have all had colds...just remember back to how it was and pity me.

Instead, we're going to talk about a serious issue of national importance, and by that I mean my hair.

(Yes, again. Shut up).

I'm in serious need of guidance. I have a haircut scheduled in exactly 2 hours, and I don't know what I want. I'd like something different and, you know, stunning, but I have no idea what that looks like. I do know I don't want to go shorter...I'm just getting it back out to a length that I like after the last haircut's misunderstanding (I was gesturing at chin level for the length that I wanted the front and she thought I meant that I wanted all of it that length. And once you take that first hearty snip, there's no going back). So not shorter.

And I guess I could tell her to put layers in it again, but to be honest, I don't really see how they help. Mostly they just succeed in sneaking out of my ponytail holder halfway though my cardio so that by the time I've finished it looks like I went 15 rounds with my head in a blender. So no layers (or at least, not short ones).

And do I dare even think about getting...bangs? Normally, I wouldn't so much as consider such a ridiculous suggestion because I have a round face and a small forehead (two major bang no-nos), but the Seester (who also shares the genetic tiny forehead) recently cut her hair and the stylist gave her "faux bangs" which are really more side wisps than actual bangs but still have the totally enviable effect of looking AWESOME. And I am really really jealous. Of course, it's entirely possible that the faux bangs work on the Seester because she has straight hair, whereas if I tried to get faux bangs, they would scrunch and curl and poof and despite my best efforts end up looking like Sally from Peanuts.

Which looks lovely on her but is not so good when you aren't a little girl.

Or, you know, a cartoon character.

So maybe not with the bangs. Although that basically leaves me with just walking in and being like, "Well, I guess you could wash it, even though I did that this morning. But no cutting!" Which kind of misses the whole point of a haircut.

Not to mention I had to schedule this haircut two months ago because the holidays are quickly approaching and everybody is getting their Christmas photo hair styles, so if I canceled the appointment today I wouldn't be able to get another one until roughly 2012. (Which may or may not be the Apocalypse, in which case a snazzy 'do probably wouldn't matter all that much anyway). So, haircut good. Just as soon as I figure out what the heck I'm doing.

So any suggestions, oh wise Internet? Any advice you can give a round faced, no forehead girl with natural curl and a need to stay shoulder length or longer? I don't know what to do and I need ya'll to talk me down from the edge, because I'm beginning to see the wisdom behind Tony just shaving his head.

Today I Became a Flying Squirrel

So here's something that I don't normally get to say...

I went skydiving today.

My dad has always wanted to try skydiving, so last year I got him a gift certificate for indoor skydiving in Pigeon Forge. (I would have done "jumping out of an actual plane" skydiving, but my mother told me that if I in any way encouraged my father to throw himself out of a moving aircraft at 13,000 feet, I was out of the will). So we compromised with indoor skydiving (all of the flying, none of the plummeting towards Earth at a deadly rate of speed) and I told him that when he was ready to use the gift certificate, I'd go and do it with him.

So we did.

They start you out with a five minute video about how to stabilize yourself in midair, how to tuck and roll so that when you go ricocheting out of control (and you will) you can land without hurting yourself, and what hand signals you're supposed to use to communicate (because the fan is really loud and you can't hear in there). Then once we signed the waiver stating we wouldn't sue them if we died, they suited us up and away we went!

Here we are in our nylon jumpsuits. This man beside me, dressed in what looks suspiciously like a mouse mascot with a crash helmet, is my dad. I'm sporting the mauve/lime green/bright yellow combo. Stylish, no?

Thumbs up means "good to go" in skydiver-speak. We also learned the signs for bend your legs, straighten your legs, arch your back, bend your arms, straighten your arms and relax. Oh, and thumbs down, which means "I have grievously injured myself and need some assistance". (Luckily, we didn't have to use thumbs down).

"Good to go!"

The actual flying is done in a giant multi-story chamber with a big fan at the bottom and fluffy pillows all around the edges (for landings). The instructor flips on the fan and you get into "stable position", which is basically your arms and legs spread out and a slight arch in your back for maximum wind resistance. Then air speed picks up, and all of a sudden you've left the ground and you're flying! The feeling is incredible. It's not like anything I've ever experienced before. I never stopped laughing the entire time I was in there.

I will say that it isn't as easy as it looks. Even the smallest twitch in body position sends you rocketing off in some new direction. Because Dad and I were beginners, the instructor kept a hand on us to try to stabilize us somewhat. Dad and I took turns off back and forth as the instructor corrected our posture and took us through some spin moves. (Because my back is super flexible, I kept trying to arch up to the point that I was loosing my wind resistance. As soon as I would correct it though, I'd shoot up into the air like a rocket).

While Dad and I were flying, Mom was good enough to take some video from the observation deck. And because I would never consider denying you the opportunity to see me impersonate a giant fashion-impaired flying squirrel, I'm posting it below.

Oh, you are so welcome.

So when you're running around doing your Christmas shopping this year and you just can't decide what to get that person who has everything, I recommend indoor skydiving lessons. It's a great family bonding experience, and an absolute blast to boot!

Thanks for experiencing it with me, Dad!

On Presentations and Computers and Guys Who Borrow Laptops From Their Children Without Asking

So I had my client presentation today, and I am pleased to report that it went very well, thank you very much. (Not that I really expected otherwise, but it's always nice to feel like you did a good job on something, am I right?) I've been working on this particular project for the last month and a half, and today was the big meeting where I sit down with the client to report my findings and make recommendations.

Oh, and collect a check for services rendered, which is also nice.

Actually, the presentation part is always my favorite because I am a total PowerPoint junkie. I really have to watch myself with these things, because I can throw together 600 slides in no time if I'm not careful. (I was very good today...only 21 slides for an hour's presentation. Minimalist, yet still delightfully informative).

Of course, the whole thing almost fell victim to PowerPoint DISASTER because at the 11th hour, my laptop decided that it hated me and didn't want to work anymore. (It does this thing where it says the battery is charged, and it's acting like the battery is charged, and then all of a sudden without warning it goes, "Whoops! No battery!" and shuts off). You can never tell when it's going to happen either. 5 minutes? 10 minutes? 45 minutes? Doesn't matter. It's like playing Musical Chairs only instead of music and chairs, it involves unreliable technology and creative swearing. (This, as you can imagine, is not something that you want to happen in the middle of a presentation either).

Anyway, right as things were looking darkest for our heroine, I sent out a distress email begging for a loaner laptop and a guardian angel came through by stealing his daughter's laptop and giving it to me without her knowledge. PRESENTATION SAVED! Thank you Guardian Angel! (If you're reading this now, I put the laptop back in your office along with some thank you cookies which you can either choose to share with your daughter or eat yourself...up to you. I don't judge).

But it was a good presentation, and for a client that I like working with, so that made it a good day. And even better, I've been signed on for additional work creating a marketing plan for another division for this same company, so hooray! I will not starve.

Of course, at least some of what I made today will probably have to go towards buying a new laptop (snarl) since the chances of me being able to steal some poor girl's computer on a regular basis are slim to none. I guess I'll keep an eye out for Christmas computer deals, but I'm not really sure what kind to get. I need to stay PC so anything Apple related is out. (I like Macs, but I'm more comfortable in the Windows world- blame it on being a business major). Beyond that, any suggestions? I need it to have a good sized screen, be light enough to carry around, and be able to run massive PowerPoint files without breaking a sweat.

And by the way, if anyone else needs a Marketing Consultant, I am so your girl.

Discovering the Treadwall

I have a confession to make. Before today, I hadn't been to the gym in two weeks. And maybe two weeks doesn't sound like a super long time, but gym attendance is a slippery slope. (Make that a slippery, cookie dough covered slope, because Heaven knows that my chocolate chip cravings certainly didn't take a two week vacation while the rest of me just sat around doing nothing). The point is, once you miss one day, it's really easy to miss a second, and then a third, and then a fourth, until suddenly two weeks have gone by and you just feel sluggish and gross and full of imitation Pillsbury.

I told myself that it was okay to miss because I was busy doing important things, or because I was tired, or because I was letting my neck heal a little longer, but I think the truth was that I had just gotten bored of my gym routine. I love my gym and everything it offers, but I have the attention span of a caffeine-buzzed gnat with ADD, so I need to mix it up on a regular basis to keep things from getting stale. And so today when I forced myself out the door and over to the gym, I promised myself that I'd find a new class or machine or something to liven things up.

Hooboy did I find something.

Enter: The Treadwall. What's a treadwall you ask? Well, it's a rock climbing wall that rotates like the belt of a treadmill, so you can climb and climb and climb and never get any higher than a few feet off the ground. And because you can adjust the speed of the wall, you can get a great workout out of it.

Now, I'm not a rock climber. I don't have any experience with it whatsoever. But as soon as I saw the treadwall, I was like, "I have GOT to get me some of that". And I bounced over, clicked the speed to turtle, and scampered right on up. And you know what? It's FUN! I like that you have to think about where you're going next. It's a puzzle that you have to solve as opposed to just setting the speed on a regular treadmill and zoning out. You have to pay attention; otherwise your foot will be way over on this handhold and your arm will be over on this handhold, and you best get things straightened out because you are rapidly sinking back to earth on your little rolling wall o' fun there. It's like Twister meets Tetris.

Or something like that.

Anyway, I've only done the wall once, but I'm totally hooked on it. Not that good at it, mind you, but hooked on it anyway. I can climb for about 10 minutes, halfway between the turtle and rabbit speed before my arms start quivering and I have to rest. But that doesn't really matter, because I'm sure I'll improve as I get used to it. In the mean time, it totally did the trick of rejuvenating my workouts. I was so excited when I left today that I called everybody I knew and told them that they had to come try this thing out for themselves.

So. Moral of the story? Treadmill climbing wall rocks. (Hyuck, hyuck. Get it? "Rocks"?) If you get a chance to try one out, by all means, do it. It's a blast.

Just make sure I still get my turn.
A Treadwall. How awesome is that?

We Take Security Seriously Around Here

Bella has picked up this habit where she'll run up to you, grab your leg with her front paws and then slowly slide back down to the floor. It's a lot like being frisked for weapons from the knees down.

Just something to keep in mind if you ever come to visit while packing heat.

Don't make me call in a cavity search