Monday, August 30, 2010

Open house for all students…and expectant mothers

When you were growing up, did you ever have the back to school open house this time of year where you visited your new school before classes started? I remember something like this when I started both junior high and high school where I would go and find my locker and where all my classes were. My husband says he never had this…he just remembers being really confused on his first day of high school. I think that’s proof that it pays to check out unfamiliar territory ahead of time, if possible. Especially if you’re an ultra-planner like I am.

Yes, school open house is sort of what I was reminded of last week when I took the Family Birth Center tour at the hospital where I’ll be delivering my little boy in a couple months. I now know how far the birth center is from the hospital parking ramps (it’s far), and I’ve programmed the OB triage number into my cell phone. We even tried one driving route to the hospital and a different route home to see which was faster. Considering we had to stop for a train to pass on the way home, we’ve decided to take the first route (waiting for a long train while in labor would totally be my luck)!

Overall, checking things out ahead of time helped to set at least a few expectations, which does make me feel more prepared (and knowing me, soon I’ll be creating a well-organized checklist of what to do and what to bring to the hospital). And despite some of the not so pleasant things I learned about labor and delivery (especially considering I had my “preparing for childbirth” class the same week), it was pretty cool to see the room where I’ll meet my little guy face to face for the first time. It felt really real…scarily real at times. So real that I’m actually tearing up at this moment just thinking about it.

Yes, time is flying and the third trimester is here and my countdown to due date has begun…11 weeks to go! Ready or not…the times, they are a changin’ for this mamma-to-be.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Grin and bear it

My dentist told me last week that I need to floss more consistently. Yeah, don't we all. I sort of floss, sometimes. And I'm quite sure no one close to me would accuse me of poor personal hygiene--my peeps are pretty honest. But my challenge is that a good, thorough flossing for me takes at least 15 minutes. My mouth is full of permanent retainers and bridge work that I have to floss in, under and around. It's exhausting.

My mouth hasn't had an easy life. Six years of braces on top of I don't know how many other wires and dental appliances. I've lost count of how many teeth I've had pulled, but it’s more than ten (including four impacted wisdom teeth). I still keep a hefty supply of gauze around for the next big dental disaster. I'm sure my parents gave up several dream vacations to fund the "let's make sure Heather and Jenny can smile without shame" fund. (And I thank them!)

As an adult, I had to return to my orthodontist to have him fix a retainer. He pulled my childhood X-rays out of my file and said "Before you agree to marry any guy, you'd better ask to see his dental records." I laughed. He didn't. He looked me straight in the eyes and said "I'm serious. Your children could be doomed." Awesome.

So yeah, I could probably floss more (and I am trying). But with all the trauma these pearly whites have been dealt, let's agree that some Listerine and Colgate aren't half bad either.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Only in Wichita

I love amusing and random travel stories. I've heard quite a few since I work in the travel industry, and over the years I've collected a few unexpected anecdotes of my own.

Most of my travel has been to major cities, but it seems there is often something uniquely funny when you travel to a more remote area. I still get a kick out of the baggage claim I found when I arrived at my honeymoon destination on a small island in Belize. My husband's travel has brought him to some remote places too. Last week he found himself at the oh-so-exciting Wichita airport. While waiting to board his delayed flight, he sent me these text messages: "The guy working at the gate counter is now working on the tarmac directing a plane to another gate." That was followed by..."Oh, and now he's unloading the baggage." Someone needs to get this guy a cold beverage, because he was working hard! Apparently cross-training is required when you work in Wichita.

I'll spare you several other random stories of ghetto motels, arguing with flight attendants, etc. It's all par for the course when you're away from the comforts of home. Still, I'd love to hear your most amusing travel experience if you have one, so please tell!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Art? I think not

Last week, a co-worker asked me to create a logo for something she was working on. I had to explain (for the 99th time) that we have ONE logo. It's our company logo. Each separate little project or initiative you do doesn't get its own logo. I'm trying to uphold the brand here people. The problem is, when I say "no," my clients often seem to hear "why don’t you go create your own 'logo' using horrific clip art."

With all the nice photography out there, why oh why do you need to use cartoon images and every craptastic color of the rainbow to help get your point across? I used to have a crazy clip art file at my desk where I saved some of the best (and by that I mean WORST) examples. It eventually got tossed during one of my 10 or so cubicle moves in the last four years, but let's look at a couple recent examples:

Nothing says we offer professional injury prevention services better than this guy.

Another client last week suggested we create a logo to promote some continuing education classes we were offering to staff.

Perfect to promote your kid’s kindergarten field trip to the zoo, but NOT for graduate-level education.

And bless their hearts. People have so much fun creating their promotional flyers with clip art and are so proud to show me what they've made. I have to break a lot of hearts when I "fix" them to remove any trace of the perfect images they spent two-plus hours searching for on the Web. I know. I'm being too hard on them and none of you ever want to work with me. I show no mercy. While I might chose something bordering on clip art for this blog, that's only for the sake of irony.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sizzlin’ summer

I’ve had a busy, fun summer, but I admit that my wimpiness when it comes to the heat has dampened a few of my outdoor activities over the last month. I’m just thankful I’m only six months pregnant and not nearing my due date quite yet.

If you live in a year-round warm climate, I know you don’t have any sympathy for our 100 degree heat index day after day lately. However, we Minnesotans don’t sympathize with you in the winter when your 32 degree temperatures make national headlines (try lowering that by 50 degrees and we’ll pay attention). Besides, I did spend an entire summer during college living in Florida, so I get it and I’ve done this before, and I’m just thankful for air conditioning.

Even though the fall is my favorite season and will surely bring cooler temps, I’m always a little sad when the summer winds down. I cringe at back to school ads even though I’ve been at work all summer. And every year when the Minnesota State Fair comes around in late August, my friends, colleagues and I all say, “It’s state fair time already?” We all mean the same thing…summer went too fast.

Speaking of state fair season, who’s ready for something deep fried? You may want to stay away from Indiana though. Their state fair had a meat sundae, a Krispy-Kreme donut burger, and deep-fried butter.

Oh well, it’s summer and we in the Midwest will soon be in sweaters for months, so consume a few extra calories and enjoy what remains of the heat and humidity!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The 100th

Have you noticed how TV shows always do something special for the 100th episode? Phoebe gave birth to triplets on Friends, Alex and Izzie got married on Grey's Anatomy and Barney led a fabulous musical number on HIMYM. It's a big milestone, especially in these days when 10 episodes suddenly make an entire season.

So I want to do something special for this—the 100th blog post on Off-Key Duets. I want to thank you, yes YOU, whoever is reading this, and take a moment to celebrate with Jen. We started this on a bit of a whim just over one year ago. And now, after more than 5,000 visits to the blog from 38 states and 19 countries, we're still here and (perhaps most surprising to both of us) still have things to say on occasion.

It's been fun seeing friends and family weigh in on our random adventures, complaints and questions. And more than anything, it's been a fun way for me and Jen to stay connected with each other—and with you—in the midst of our busy lives.

This next year will be a particularly busy one. The busier we are, the more we have to write about...but the less time we have to do it! So we'll see what happens. No matter what though, we're thankful for each and every one of you who has taken a moment out of your busy day to check this site on occasion. Got something you want us to write about? Let us know—we're likely to have a thoughtful (or snarky) comment about almost anything.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My exotic summer vacation

Throughout the summer, I’ve seen friends posting photos on Facebook of their summer vacations. Between road trips, mission trips, and other vacations, it seems the people I know have collectively canvassed the globe this summer. Personally, I’ll be throwing my hat into the travel ring again this weekend, and I know you’ll all be jealous when you hear where I’m going.

Fargo, ND…here I come! Yup…take that all you friends who have enjoyed the beauty of oceans, pyramids, and Eifel Towers! I mean, just look at the photos on the visitor guide cover (click the image to enlarge). Where else can you find stoplights, people, an old boat (on land) and furry critters in nature? (Besides any city in North America, of course.)

In reality, I am pretty excited about this weekend. I’m reuniting with some of my favorite people in the world…my college gang of friends. I spent four of my favorite years up in the flat, frozen tundra as a student at Minnesota State University Moorhead (just across the river from Fargo). Also, it will be my husband’s first visit to North Dakota and Northwest Minnesota, and I’m looking forward to showing him around some nine years after my college days. The hubs, on the other hand, isn’t as excited and keeps asking me why we can’t all get together in Breckenridge, CO like we did last year. My answer? It’s not about the place, it’s about the people. Cliché? Perhaps. But true nonetheless.

Weather permitting (and it had better permit or we’re kind of screwed), we’ll enjoy outdoor picnics, strolls around campus, a baseball game, and more. Add some good friends into the mix, and it’s not a bad summer weekend if you ask me.

Here we come…Fargo or bust!