Tag Archives: postaweek2011

How Words With Friends Stole Christmas

I have read so many posts these last few days about favorite books of 2011. Every time, it reminds me of two things: 1) I clearly follow bloggers aligned with my interests if they all love to read as much as I do, and 2) I kind of forgot to read this year.

When I left for our trip to Ohio to spend Christmas with JB’s family last week, I was so excited for the new books I had downloaded onto my Kindle. I even promised a review of them when we returned in my last post.

Well, we’re back. And unless you want to hear about the first third of The Art of Fielding, I got nothing for you.

There are many parties to blame for this, none of which are me, of course. First, there is Martha Stewart. The winter edition of her Weddings magazine had hit the stands and it basically jumped out of the airport bookstore into my bag. So most of the flight to Cleveland was spent reading about crafty wedding DIY projects that I will never DIY.

The next excuse is fuel for the fire of the e-Reader vs. traditional book debate. Halfway through our trip, I knocked my Kindle off the couch (consuming a mixture of wine, chocolate, nuts and cookies between meals will make you kind of clumsy). It fell onto carpet, but for whatever reason, it damaged the screen. I tried to read on the Kindle app on my iPhone, but it’s not very practical for long-term use.

So I was left with no option. After a couple  of days of watching JB and other family members of his stare down at their phones instead of each other as they searched for two-letter words that no one has ever heard of but somehow add up to 54 points, I wanted in on the Words with Friends action.Scrabble Points Throw Pillow

I had defiantly denied requests to join this mobile game. My main reason being that I didn’t want my friends to see what a limited vocabulary I possessed. Many people assume because I like to read and write or because I have a journalism degree, that I must have a generous grasp of the English language.

But I don’t. I’m frequently using a thesarus to sound smarter. And it actually wasn’t in my journalism studies when I noticed this, but rather in graduate school for my counseling degree. You do a lot of reflecting of emotions in counseling sessions, saying back to the client what they were emoting, but using a different word for that emotion (so it’s not parroting) and ideally, a word with deeper meaning that maybe the client was having a hard time expressing or realizing on his/her own. And while I role-played with classmates, I always struggled to find another word for “happy” or “sad” or “surprised” or “disappointed.” Or the word I often defaulted to — “frustrated.”

All this to say that since then, I have been very cognizant of my not-so-way with words. And I didn’t want to play with Words with Friends and expose myself to the three friends who had asked me whole world.

But as it turns out, Words with Friends has NOTHING to do with vocabulary! Or being smart. Or knowing what words are at all. It is all about trying every combination you can with the letters you have to find a word that includes a triple letter or double word tile. I probably recognize only 60 percent of the words I play, but man it feels good when the “sending move” screen comes on and you know your word has been accepted. Fifty points for “Xi” — awesome! Just don’t ask me to use it in a sentence.

JB’s father kept saying we all looked like 19-year-olds with our heads buried in our phones playing the game against each other. I think he was being generous by giving us 19 instead of 12, but it did take over the week. I’m still cutting my teeth on the game so I’m only playing JB (and another player whose screen name is one-off from JB and I accidentally started a game with him). JB had to go back to work today and his moves became very infrequent. It was so annoying.

Yep, I’m hooked.

Are there any mobile games that you are addicted to? Anything “take over” your holidays? Did you know “neif” was a word? (For the record, WordPress did not).

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You Know It’s The Holidays When…

After withdrawing cash from the ATM, the account balance on your receipt forces you to rush back to work and go online to check your account activity. You are ready to call the bank to inform them that your account has been compromised and someone has depleted your funds. This can be the only explanation for the balance amount. And it turns out you are right. Someone has depleted your funds. You. All you.

You devour three Hershey’s Kisses Candy Canes in your office before you even take off your jacket in the morning.

You’re wearing the same “outfit” to work that you wore to run errands this weekend.

You’re watching people eat bugs and swim in cow blood. I guess it’s subjective in terms of what television makes you puke. JB would probably say Grey’s Anatomy or The Bachelor are pretty nauseating. However, it is only when those and all the other shows are on holiday hiatus that you may find Fear Factor acceptable television.

You think obsessively about what you are going to wear to spend the holidays with your future in-laws. Will the grandmothers think this sweater is fashionable? How many pairs of boots fit in my suitcase (Do I need every pair I own?)? Did I wear this last year? Are these pajama bottoms cute for Christmas morning?

Above else, you are steeped in tradition. One of my personal favorites is the Secret Santa-esque gift exchange my high school friends and I arrange every year. We do everything through the great website Elfster. This year, JB and I hosted a potluck brunch for the exchange. Check out the tortas JB made (one with sausage and one with chicken sausage for his kosher-style fiance!). I was so impressed, especially because he did it all with me pacing and stressing that we wouldn’t be ready for our guests. I like to call that the “front of house” duties.

The friend who was assigned to me got me exactly what I wanted — an Amazon gift card. I had depleted it five minutes after our guests left to purchase the books I want to read over the break — The Marriage Plot and In the Garden of Beasts. I’ve been longing for some reading downtime and will review them on the blog once I finish them.

This is truly a fun, stressful, busy, relaxing, gorgefest time of year. I hope it is the same for all of you. And with permission to post, on behalf of the future Mr. and Mrs. JB, best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season and a wonderful new year!

Goodbye Letter… To My Condo

Dear Condo,

I’ve heard the expression that the best days of being a boat owner is the day you buy it and the day you sell it. While I have never been a boat proprietor, I imagine it’s one of those sayings that is funny because it’s true.

I wondered if I would feel that way as a homeowner. I surely was excited the day I bought you. I rushed back to work and joyously showed my new keys to all my co-workers. I couldn’t wait to get you some new carpet and update your kitchen appliances. I couldn’t wait to make you my own.

A little over four years later, I showed up today for the “seller” closing appointment and signed you away to a new owner. Though a huge relief and I am beyond grateful for the relatively quick sell, it wasn’t quite the same rush I had the first time.

Although I had already moved out of you, it was comforting to know you were there. Yes, you were there with a mortgage and an electricity bill that I was not particularly sentimental toward, but you also still housed all of the furniture I had lived with since my first post-college apartment.

Remember when I actually used your new kitchen appliances? That one time? We cooked dinner for JB and set the little table that had never been set before. JB was so touched. I told him it was the beginning of me learning to cook.

I haven’t cooked dinner for him since, but you sure provided a great setting for what has turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

Yes, with home ownership comes the handyman (who might just happen to drunk dial you), HVAC repairmen, plumbers, and Home Depot visits. Many Home Depot visits. Until the day I die, I will not understand why there have to be so many options for toilet seats. But you seemed to sense my lack of resourcefulness and gave me very few problems. Thank you for that.

Friends who visited often referred to you as “cozy.” My niece and nephew named you my “little house.” Yes, you were small. But you were the perfect size and place for me to transition to the next stage of my life.

I know the new owner is excited to make you her home. Enjoy getting all dolled up! What an exciting new adventure we both have ahead of us.

XOXO,

Caryn

Macy’s Day Parade and Me

Traditions abound this time of year. Most of these center around time spent with family and friends.

But one of my favorite holiday traditions is one that I keep for myself. Thanksgiving morning, wrapped in blankets (ignoring the high today of 70 degrees), drinking hot chocolate and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I don’t know when this tradition started in my adult life or how no one has managed to infiltrate it. I do know JB loves the guilt-free pass to play golf. (Don’t worry, I did invite him to join me in my holiday tradition of watching Love Actually, I’m not a monster!)

But back to the parade. As if Matt Lauer doesn’t have the most amazing job already (in addition to “Where in the World is Matt Lauer?”, just yesterday he had the privilege of interviewing this couple for absolutely no good newsworthy reason), he guides us through the three hours of parade coverage with Al and the current female co-hosting The Today Show.

Some people think you can just tune in at the second hour, when the parade floats have made their way to 34th Street. But for me, the first hour has some of the best action — the Broadway performances!

A great lead-in for the high school drill teams (miss you!), marching bands, and floats that will soon take over the TV screen — starting of course with Tom Turkey and ending with the much-anticipated arrival of Santa Claus.

Sure, there is a lot of NBC self-promotion and horrible lip-syncing. And it appears that the producers drink a vat of adult eggnog (which I will soon be imbibing!) and then assign the performers to their spot on the parade. Avril Lavigne on the Cooking Channel float? Um, okay!

But it is all part of the parade experience. As is crying during the St. Jude commercials and its meaningful tagline delivered every year by Marlo Thomas: “Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not.”

This solo tradition comes at a reflective time for me as I am just days away from turning over the keys to my condo — selling my home of four years that was a symbol of my independence. Combining traditions is truly wonderful and I’m so excited to do so with JB and his family, but I think having a few of your own is just as important.

One day I will, hopefully, share this tradition. I can picture myself sitting on the couch, wrapped in blankets, and sipping hot chocolate with a little baby on my lap. Sure, as Baby grows up, we’ll have to deal with questions about Santa and why he doesn’t visit our house and how that isn’t it fair and that Baby wishes he could live with Baby’s friends who have Christmas trees because they are more fun and Baby hates me for ruining his/her life.

On second thought, maybe Baby can go to the golf course with daddy. This tradition is mine.

Happy Thanksgiving! May we be thankful today and every day for the blessings in our lives.

Do you have a tradition that is all your’s? What is your favorite Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float?

Get Smashed

With cake of course.

Balance Overload is celebrating its first birthday!

While I have been a pretty neglectful mother over the past couple of months, I couldn’t let this milestone go unnoticed. On November 17, 2010, I wrote my first post and told five people. It would be another month before I would reveal to the masses (Facebook) that I had started a blog.

It took awhile to get comfortable with the fact that I was writing about myself, my life, my thoughts and reflections, and it was out there for the world to see. But mostly I was worried. Worried that friends and “friends” (Facebook) would think I was vain. “Why does she think anyone cares that much about her mundane life that we would want to take a break from writing status updates about our mundane life to read it?,” they thought in my imagination.

I still worry about that. I still wonder sometimes what am I actually writing about and why do I think anyone cares? Moving forward, I plan to really evaluate little Balance Overload and try to determine the direction I want to take it. I thought this would happen naturally as I started writing, but honestly, I am still not sure. I feel I want more focus. I feel I want to give more to those who read it, so it’s not just a story about my life, but that I offer something readers can take away. Food and recipes are out — but surely there is something else, right? It might be a whole new blog. Who knows?

There is a quote I snagged from a blog awhile ago that said: “Think of something valuable and share it with the world.” I wrote it down on a Post-it note and it’s in my office. I’m still trying to think of my something valuable.

But let us not forget that this is a party! Blogging this last year has been such a wonderful experience. I reunited with my first love of writing and I feel I connected with some of my friends in a different way. I even made new blogger friends for who I am so grateful for every time I read one of their posts or they comment on one of mine. I can’t thank you enough. There are some amazing writers and creatives out there who have so many valuable things to share — I’m blown away.

Thanks to everyone for all of your support and encouragement of my little hobby! And you are such gracious guests, I know you won’t even mention that I clearly messed up and thought the anniversary was today and didn’t realize it was actually yesterday until I linked to my first post. I hope this is not an indication of what I will be like as a real mother one day.

Have a great weekend and a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Life In Bullets

You might recall I have a blog. She’s been a little silent through October and up until now, which is ironic because the month itself was anything but (not to mention that I am usually anything but). Professionally and personally, October always seems like the busiest month of the year. Am I alone in feeling that way?

But we soldier on. So, in soundbite format, here’s what’s been occupying my time in the last month:

  • One strike away. Twice. Heartbreak.
  • Siri.
  • The new television season.
  • American Horror Story on FX.
  • Reading online obsessively about American Horror Story.
  • Having nightmares because of American Horror Story.
  • Attending weddings.
  • Planning a wedding (I have a dress!).
  • Alternating between sweaters and flip-flops because Dallas is ridiculous.
  • Trying to find the right energy bar or post-workout food/beverage to stave the blurry visions and headaches off I’m getting after my personal training.
  • Drinking more water.
  • Forgetting to drink more water.
  • Turning 34. Will it be as busy as 33?
  • Trying to figure our where in the world is Matt Lauer — otherwise known as the annual reminder that no matter how great it actually is, your job totally sucks in comparison.
  • Counting the minutes until Thanksgiving.

What’s missing from this list? Books. Blogging. Google Reader. The part of me who loves to read and write has been absent lately. While I have my theories as to why (most of them surrounding horrific scenarios derived from American Horror Story), I think it’s just a simple matter of focusing on other things.

I miss reading and blogging and I think my life is fuller and more balanced with these hobbies around, but I also don’t feel the need to force them. They then move from hobbies to obligations. It’s kind of how I feel about our “passions.”

Hopefully my inner hipster-sitting-in-a-coffee-shop-with-a-composition book-and-an-e-reader will resurface soon. In the meantime, please share some book recommendations below and/or what you are enjoying this new TV season!

Thanks for reading!

Happy, But Not Satisfied

This weekend, while escaping to San Antonio for a brief getaway, JB and I consumed our eighth bowl of guacamole in 24 hours as we watched the Texas Rangers clinch their 2nd consecutive World Series bid. I even broke my stringent rule of not sitting on the same side of the table when out to dinner (I hate when couples do that) so JB and I could both be in prime TV-viewing position.

We cheered too loudly in a we-think-we’re-in-a-sports-bar-but-we’re-not type of way during the exhilarating 9-run, 3rd inning. And later, we high-fived from our hotel room (in bed by 10p.m. each night!) as the celebratory pile-on of players and coaches happened on the field about 300 miles to the north of us. I lived vicariously through Facebook updates and pictures of friends in attendance.

But as the longest-tenured Ranger’s Michael Young said, we’re “happy, but not satisfied.”

This year, it’s not enough just to go to the series. This time, we have to win it! We’re favored, we’re expected and anything less won’t be good enough. But anything can happen, so in honor of our World Series run starting on Wednesday, I am re-posting my Why I Love: Baseball post that ran this past March to mark opening day of the 2011 season. Who knew what our season had in store at that moment?! And it’s not over yet.

Go Rangers!!

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Why I Love: Baseball

The state pride!

The noise of the fans!

The Captain!

The awesomeness of the game! (ok, and yes, men in baseball uniforms. Sue me.)


Happy Opening Day people! Beyond the start of baseball season, it’s also a glorious sign that summer is around the corner. My interest in baseball started as a boy-crazy middle schooler who watched the games on TV because I thought the 2nd baseman was cute.  It blossomed into a true love and respect for the sport and it has weathered salary strikes, losing seasons, and just average-looking 2nd basemen. I even kept the stats for my high school varsity team, which is ironic seeing as I dropped a statistics class three times in college before accepting that the psychology minor wasn’t going to happen.

These pictures are from a playoff game last year, but *one day* I will take off work to spend the Rangers home opener at the ballpark. So get up your antlers, do the claw, and brush up on your singing, it’s time to go out to the ballgame. Best of luck to the Rangers (Cliff Lee who?) and to your team of choice.

Unless it’s the Yankees.

Does baseball opening day mean anything to you? Any special memories related to baseball? And if you want to read about other things I love, here is a movie and here is a teen-focused, country cross-over star.