Monday, May 10, 2010

We're moving...

.. to! Thanks to my bro for hosting us! Please update your links and google readers. Goodbye blogspot.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Few Updates

Phew. A whole lot has happened since we last posted! Some points of note...
  • I (Sheila) have officially completed my J.D./C.N.M.!! I haven't really been able to process the fact that I'm done, simply because life has just been so busy! With loan counseling, fellowship applications, meetings, major cleaning and housework, celebrations, parties, etc., I feel like I haven't had a minute to breathe! Although I always get guilty before a vacation, I'm so glad we're going away. It forces me to take some time to breathe and recoop before starting bar exam prep.
  • Joe is still working away. Anyone who knows Joe well knows that he never does work halfway, especially when it comes to school! Studying tires him out, but I think he enjoys learning, which is one of the things I love most about him. He inspires me to thirst for knowledge!
  • We've finished a series of unintended projects at home! The bed thing ended up being a lot more work than we expected, including reorganizing our whole bedroom, getting new sheets, makeshift nightstands, etc... Then we found two very gross but fairly sturdy bookcases on the street! Once we brought them in, I had to paint them asap just to get them out of the way. A few "improvements" are below :) Being at the same apartment for awhile has made little changes and improvements feel special!Bookcase #1
Bookcase #2
New Bed ...+ Sheets that fit!

  • The Cavs! Watching the finals is exciting - we really hope we can go all the way, win the whole thing, and bring Cleveland some joy and some positive publicity! I just hope that graduation and vacation don't make us miss out on any really crucial games... Then again, it's no fun to watch painful season-ending games... Not that there will be any ;-)
  • We're moving this site over to wordpress soon, courtesy of my bro! I'm looking forward to having a more unique design and an easier formatting process! We'll keep you posted.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Not done decorating/rearranging... or even making the bed...., but with all that bed talk, I needed to post a picture of our new home ;-) It's so hard to leave it... Thank goodness finals give me the perfect excuse to stay in bed all day! ;-)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day, I thought I'd share some interesting/cool links I've seen over the past few months. I created a fictional nonprofit program for a course with a few really bright ladies - our focus was creating workshops where people in the community could dialogue about green living ideas, tips, and facts. In evaluating the reasons for potential funders to adopt such a program, we had to find some evidence of need. I've come across a lot of great stuff lately - while the 'green' movement is picking up somewhat and attitudes are changing, we found that actions are much harder to change. I believe it... my bags have been sitting in my study for 3 weeks waiting to be recycled. Eco-guilt is on the rise, and community accountability can help us to make changes and kick the guilt. Some thoughts:
  • From a recent google buzz - Most plastic bags take over 400 years to biodegrade. Plastic bags cause over 100,000 sea turtle and other marine animal deaths every year when animals mistaken them for food.
  • If each U.S. home replaced just one of its incandescent bulbs with a CFL, the electricity saved each year could light 3 million homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equal to that of 800,000 cars.
  • Apartment Therapy is an interesting site with eco-friendly tips for apartment-dwellers. Sometimes it feels like a lot of 'green' decisions are made by homeowners only (energy-efficient appliances, gardening and planting trees, etc.), but there is a lot that renters can do as well! We can control our use of utilities, recycle, and even plant indoor gardens!
  • The idea of Creation Care is gaining steam in the Christian community. I'm sure there are some IV Press books on this very issue... ;-)
  • Finally, a productive use of all those pesky plastic bags - make your own flowers that never die! Well, apparently they would take 400 years to die (see above).

Flowers made from plastic bags - More DIY How To Projects

Monday, April 19, 2010

Now, seriously...

Joe and I celebrated my last day of law school classes by making a little trip to buy a frame and headboard for our new bed ... Guess where we went?

Hmm... Any ideas as to where we bought our bed frame?

Where could we possibly be with such tacky statues?!?!

Thaaaat's right! Norton Furniture!! We negotiated our purchase with Marc... He actually said, "Make me an offah!" in that sly, raspy, creepy voice!
Then they took a picture of us and put in on the wall with over 40,000 other customers!

His name is Marc, and we could count on it!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Accomplished Abers

I’m not really big on Internet fads. I never got around to doing the 25 Interesting Things About Myself on Facebook (mainly because I felt that a lot of people were putting up things to try to portray themselves as someone who they are not, and I don’t play that game) and I have never uploaded a photo to Facebook (despite the fact that I took a ton of great pictures of Cleveland from the Goodtime III with the intention of putting them on Facebook!). So, when a bunch of people started making the 101 Things in 1001 Days lists, I remained very skeptical and figured that these lists would, to paraphrase Shakespeare, be “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”, that nobody would do anything they put on these lists, and that instead everyone would make a laundry list of reasons why they couldn’t accomplish their goals.

Well, I am very proud to say that Sheila has done a great deal of the things on her list! In just two months, she has already completed 12% of the list! It has been truly amazing and enjoyable watching her ardently and intentionally complete these tasks. I have come home from school some days to find her hard at work on daunting projects such as cleaning our extremely messy closets or baking cookies for Sara, and I am always happy to see the proud smile on her face that comes from working hard and doing something new (and doing it well too!) Sheila has done activities such as cook an Irish meal to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and a Persian meal to celebrate Noruz (Persian New Year). She knocked out a few on our trip to Pittsburgh—we went outlet shopping (a first for Sheila!) and scored some great deals. Additionally, we toured the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, which was an incredible experience—never once did I think that breathtaking art could be made with urine!

The 12% figure is actually deceiving because it does not take into consideration the progress that Sheila has made on some of her other, longer-term goals. For example, one of her goals is to watch all 10 of the movies nominated for Best Picture this past year. We have seen 5 of them, and District 9 is ready and waiting to be watched soon. She also has the goal of visiting all 4 of Michael Symon’s Cleveland restaurants; we have been to 2 of them! Additionally, she has tried hard to make a week-long meal plan for us several times, but unexpected fun times (such as Paul and Luke having us over for dinner on Friday) keep shakin’ things up!

Many of her other goals, such as graduating from law school and passing the bar, will be accomplished within the next few months too. I’m sure we’ll make our annual trip to Niagara Falls sometime this fall as well, and who knows, maybe we’ll finally go to the scary haunted house up there! One of her goals is to attend a Cavs game (preferably in the Finals)—I’ll be happy when that goal is accomplished! I’m sure we’ll also go to an Indians game—they’ve been playing very well, so that goal might be accomplished sooner rather than later! We didn’t get to go to one last summer, which made me sad because it was the first season that I can remember in which I did not get to attend at least one game.

Anyhow, I am very proud of Sheila and all that she has accomplished. Ever since she made this list and begun embarking on new ventures, I have definitely seen a positive change in her personality and demeanor—she often has a glowing smile on her face and is enjoying life much more than she was earlier in the semester. Her experience with this has made me think seriously about making one of these lists; if I do, I hope that I can live up to her hard-working example and complete it!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Good Night's Rest Awaits Us!

We bought a mattress today! It was hard to stop second-guessing ourselves on what constituted a good deal. We're used to having things that are just functional, but with my back pains, it was really difficult to make a choice that was a little more than just functional. Buying mattresses, I have discovered, is not too different from buying a used car. These salesmen can be really pushy! I also think there should be a sign above my head: "Just because I look young doesn't mean I'm an idiot and you can swindle me! And yes, I did say "my husband", so stop gawking and saying that I'm simply too young to be married!" .. but that would be kinda cumbersome... Anyway, we haven't bought something this expensive in years. I guess it's part of being an adult! :-p

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

1-800-M-a-t-t-r-e-s (s?)

When my mom came to visit a few weeks ago, she asked how old our mattress is. I'm not entirely sure, but I do know that it is the mattress that was in Joe's mom's house before they even lived there. Long story short... I'll give it an estimate of about 30 years old. Old. Joe can correct me if he so desires to participate in this blog ;-) ;-)

On a related note, I've been thinking about getting some help for my frequent back pain. I have scoliosis (I have the charts somewhere around here, taken when I was around 16 or 17, showing the odd curve of my back), but the doctor said it wouldn't need to be corrected - I would just struggle with some pain as I got older. Well, either "older" is here, or my mattress stinks, or my books are too heavy, because this pain is getting really annoying.

Which brings me to our search for a new (bigger!!) mattress! What do you sleep on? Has your mattress been passed down your family, or did you buy it yourself? If you got it yourself, what did you look for? I've seen everything from Memory Foam to Sleep Number to Posturepedic... we want to keep the costs down, but we also don't want to end up buying another mattress in a few years because we cheaped out.


On a side note, I am in love with this bed frame (ignore the heinous bedding!):

Thursday, April 1, 2010


A few life updates (mostly rehashing, with some detail)...
  • Joe was offered a job for the next year with the ACLU! The ACLU defends individual constitutional rights. Among other legal work, he will get to teach students about their legal rights! We're really excited that he got such a great job and that he'll be able to take off some time, work throughout the next school year, and have some extra money to cover living expenses!
  • I (Sheila) am officially taking the Ohio bar exam on July 27-29 in Columbus. To prepare, I'm taking a 10-week review course that I will hopefully treat like a 9-5 job this summer. That way, Joe and I can have the same schedule and I can still feel like I have time in the evenings to relax and play some tennis while it's warm :) It's going to be a grueling 10 weeks that will hopefully pay off with me actually passing the bar!
  • We're going to Riviera Maya (near Cancun, Mexico) from May 17-21 (right between graduation and my bar course!). We found a great deal and we're so excited!! This break will be a really great motivator so I can get through exams and refresh before starting the bar course. I wish we could somehow see Maya while we're down there!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Irish/Persian Celebrations

Some recipes and pictures from recent culinary endeavors.. These are on facebook, but I thought I'd post the recipes since I always end up losing the links within a few months! I always love cooking, but themed nights are the best!

St. Patrick's Day

Guinness Beef Stew
Irish Soda Bread
Found here from Food Network

Irish Coffee

Fill half of glass with Irish Creme (Baileys or other - we used Carolan's) and top off with hot coffee.

Persian New Year


Found here from Feed Me That (varied- I used pomegranate juice instead of pomegranate molasses and added in some of my mom's suggestions)

Persian Rice

Family Recipe. Made with 1 cup rice to 1 1/2 cups water, boiled with lid on for around 20 minutes. Mixed 2 tbsp boiling water and a pinch of saffron to make a saffron liquid. Pour on rice.

Persian Ice Cream
(Image from here - I didn't take a picture of mine)

From a family recipe- Pour 1/2 pint of cream or half-and-half into tupperware and freeze for 3 or more hours. Remove from freezer and use fork to chip frozen cream. Soften french vanilla ice cream. Add 1/2 cup rose water, a few drops of water, and frozen chipped cream.

Pomegranate Margaritas

Not a Persian recipe, but it went well with the meal! Fill shaker with a few cubes of ice, fill halfway with pomegranate juice, add 2 shots of tequila and one shot of triple sec. Shake and strain.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Ahhh, I love to decorate! Hence the constant additions to our apartment, despite the fact that it'd probably be a lot more 'chic' with a little less kitsch. I gotta be honest though, I love me some good kitsch! (Not in a TGI Fridays way or anything...) I'm hoping that when we have a bigger place one day, the stuff will all get spread out so it color-coordinates in some way. Or maybe not.. I love color!

So I was inspired by the absolutely gorgeous apartment of the couple in P.S. I Love You (one of my favorites for a nice romantic sob-fest and a lovely depiction of Ireland). I don't think there's a name for my favorite decorating style - but this fictional apartment is it! And much to my delight, there is actually a blog that deconstructs rooms from films and television - and tells you where you can find the decor (..even if no one can afford it)!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Happy Birthday to Joe!!

This is my husband, Joe. 29 years old today and still a kid inside, with wisdom and knowledge beyond his years in many ways. I love his inner youth, but I'm grateful for each of his 29 years!

So since it's the last year of my hubby's 20's, and I want him to go out with a bang! I'm so excited to make him a special meal just for his quirky tastes (Rachael Ray's brussel sprouts, Guy Fieri's Spicy Cherry Ribs & Das Pear Pineapple Strudel), give him his gifts, enjoy Saturday at the Cleveland Ice Wine Festival, and finally celebrate with a night out to dinner with friends!

To remember Joe's 29 years, I thought I'd swipe some adorb pics from our wedding slide show ;-)

Just look at this little smilin' baby! He always loved stuffed animals.. he just gives them all to me now ;-)

Now he's lost his alien-ness and is OH-so cute!! Firemen don't drink out of babas, little Joey!

Oh my gosh, this crazy outfit is to-die-for. Now this, my friends, is a child of the 80s!

9 years old - 20 years ago!! And still in his Cleveland gear to this day!

Aw, look at the lil' alter boy! Still in prayer!

He's finally got that teen-look about him. And still totally fashionable (for the 80s) in his denim outfit ;-)

Joe at his undergrad graduation - I'm finally "in the picture" (pun intended!)

Hope you enjoyed this blast from the past! Happy Birthday, Babers :) Can't wait to celebrate every year to come with you!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

House Parties for Products?

Oh my gosh... I just found this online - it's a program/deal where we would host parties in which we promote certain products at house parties and in return we and our guests receive free products and promos! :) Now I wouldn't host a party for just anything... (achem... Poise diapers for women with leakage Party?!? This is actually an option...), but if I believe in a product, I would definitely be willing to set up a totally sweet party and bask in the free products!!

I applied for the Green Earth party, which promotes green living and eco-friendly toilet paper and paper towels. I am all for living green, but these products tend to be super-expensive and not-so-comfy! In fact, there was a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode about the discomfort of eco-friendly toilet paper ;-) But I would definitely be willing to try out some affordable eco-friendly products! If we are selected, we would receive and distribute a number of products like free samples of toilet paper/paper towels, reusable shopping totes, coupons, and more :)

What do you guys think? Would you go to this kind of a party? What about a party for another product or product brand? Is it cheesy/sleazy?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Anyone have any energy-boosting tips? We've both been so tired lately, despite getting enough sleep. People suggest exercise a lot, but isn't there a learning curve on that? It's always so tiring at first! Another suggestion was taking cold showers... There's gotta be some better stuff out there!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Added to the collection of leftovers in the fridge...

Oh, quiche of every sort... How I love you...

She-She's Quiche ;)

5 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup shredded cheddar
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/3 package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
a pinch of nutmeg
frozen pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out pie crust onto tart pan, making sure to roll the crust up to the edges of the pan. Combine first 8 ingredients and whisk until blended. Pour into prepared crust and bake 35 minutes until crust is browned and egg mixture is set. Let cool and enjoy!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ethnic Dishes & 101 Things

Look what Joe and I found on facebook via my cousin- the first blog of Persian Recipes! I really need to get back into doing some hearty Persian cooking. With both Persian New Year (Nowruz- 3/21) and St. Patrick's Day (3/17) coming up, I'm looking forward to blogging about some yummy meals from my heritage, and hopefully I can share some food with some of you! :)

Plus, I'll get to cross those two items (cooking a Persian and an Irish meal) off my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days! I think I'll try and add a page to this blog so I can keep myself accountable to do my 101 things.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On Women, Careers, and Children

I’m thinking a lot about the “choice” of motherhood and career, and whether one has to make a choice, or whether we can have it all. It’s been a very draining experience to think through all this. Some thoughts…. (many raised in Gender and Law by Bartlett & Rhode):

  • A study of women who received MBAs from the University of Chicago School of Business in the last 10 years found that only half of those with children were in the workforce… a study of female graduates of Yale currently in their mid 30s to late 40s found that 90% of men and 56% of women were in the workforce. (from a class handout)
  • Poor Women/Rich Women and Child Care - One theory is that society in general, and in particular wealthy women, divide “spiritual” and “labor-related” aspects of child care. They might work outside the home or go to tennis lessons (as we saw from Trey’s mother on Sex and the City!), but while they read to their children before bed, they don’t partake in the “menial” tasks such as cleaning and laundry, and instead hire someone, usually of lower class and often of a minority race, to take over those tasks. Women make up 90%, and women of color make up 30%, of this work force – with the tendency of low wages, high turnover, and sometimes unsafe/exploitative working conditions. At the same time, mothers who can’t afford not to work must drop off their children for child care (unless her paycheck would be basically the same amount as the child care cost, in which case, it might not be worth it, and we would have to talk about welfare). Although there’s the issue of choice here, there’s still the question of whether these women are selling their children short, or whether we should even be asking that, considering that (most) babies have fathers as well… isn’t it their responsibility too?
  • Nannies, or as they once were, “Mammies”, may sacrifice time with their own children for the sake of their jobs caring for the children of their boss or “mistress”. This can cause pain and bitterness for the nanny’s children… for a poignant picture of this, read Thrity Umrigar’s book, The Space Between Us. (She’s an English professor at Case!)
  • Despite the fact that the U.S. touts its family values, many other countries make it far easier for women to become parents by providing child care, more maternity and paternity leave, and flexibility for working from home. Some of these things make it possible for women to be better employees, and some make it possible for women to be better mothers. So is this pro-family values, or anti-family values? Either way, they are options that allow women to make choices. The truth is that other nations often take these steps to incentivize population growth… the U.S. doesn’t really have that problem.
  • Some people suggest that women’s tendency to work in caretaking roles should be valued to a much greater extent – without women to care for and nurture children, where would our society be? They suggest a subsidy for this type of work to reflect its valuation as true “work”. At the same time, I don't really see how the market can work that out.
  • With all this coming up, I came across two articles - one about the emergence of Househusbands and another about the positive aspects of Young Motherhood, both with unique and interesting perspectives on the matter!
  • I can't say that I have any official positions on these matters - only that I see and understand a variety of angles and that everything pains me. I hate the feeling that one day I will probably have to make choices between being a great employee and a great mother. It makes me just want to do one well, for fear of being stigmatized as a “lazy worker” or making choices that limit my child’s opportunities. And then, that’s just if I want to be an average 40 hr/week worker. Can I ever be a true leader? Start my own nonprofit? Run a business? Run for public office? Are these realistic choices or do they foreclose the possibility of being the kind of mother I want to be? Why is having a family the norm – is it an acceptable choice to be married… without children? Will it limit my life experience… would it be in line with my faith? Do I want to work for fear of the possibility of not living up to my career potential, or do I want to have children because I fear failure in the workplace? I am feeling all these things. Okay. Time to pick up the pieces of my scattered brain.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Crasy Daisys :)

Check out my Valentine's Day gift to myself ;-) - also check out Marnia's Daisy Store on Etsy! I know not all of you have met Marnia (Maya's big sister!), but those of you who have know that she is a real joy to everyone she's around! She custom-made these adorable flowers for me in yellow, red, and purple to match in our multi-colored living room. This style fits our place really well, but if you check out her other designs and colors, they'd be cute anywhere and would also make great brooches for coats!

~ Sheila

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Some people seem to be wondering what the big deal is about cruising. If you're curious, here's a great article about the cost-effective benefits of cruising!

In the meantime, I've been thinking about how great it would be to go on a group trip with some friends. I haven't done so since high school! Well, scratch that - if it counts, we went on a group trip for W&B's wedding in Atlanta - I've never had 11 hours on the road fly by so quick with such great company! So, whatdya say, let's go on a trip together! Besides, we all need to give Mike a good time.. he's been working like 70+ hour weeks and totally deserves to enjoy some days off! Who's up for it? Somewhere in the toasty south? Or maybe Disney World?! Anywhere fun, temperate, and affordable :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Wine, Chocolat, & Cheese Party!

Joe and I have been talking about throwing a wine, chocolate, and cheese party for about a year now - ever since we started enjoying varieties of all three! So, when Holly proposed Chocolat (Only 62% fresh? Seriously, rotten tomatoes...) for her movie night movie, we got really excited about the possibility of pairing the movie night with a tasting!

So, to prepare, first thing's first... a little kitchen update. We had to say goodbye to Santa's Bag. What's Santa's Bag?
Well, when Joe and I first moved into our place, we were a little limited on the furniture and thriving on the gifts. We had a brand new microwave, and nowhere to put it! So we took its box and styro packaging, sealed it up, and put a giant cloth target gift bag over it. We flipped it over, and wa-la, a microwave stand! (I call it the Santa bag since it is large and red enough to hold Santa's gifts!) Anyway, my mother was kind enough to recognize that this was probably not a good idea, and 2.5 years later, we gave our nuker its very own stand.
Okay, next duty - take a nice trip to Trader Joe's! If you're as big of a TJ's fan as we are, you must see this video. So cute. Everyone buys unnecessary items in cool packaging at TJ's. Having the privilege of picking out cheese and wine at TJ's... well, let's just say it was a little overwhelming. We ended up with a few reds (a cabernet and a merlot for sangria), a Riesling, a Champagne, and a few cheese (stinky, soft, and some weird cheddar from Ireland with porter in it!) Our friends were gracious and brought more wine, cheese, and chocolate! But before that, I had to make the truffles. I figured... with only a few ingredients, how hard could they be? Boy, was I wrong!

Ingredients for the inside of the truffles... easy enough, no? Chop the chocolate, melt some in a pot over the stove, mix in a little heavy cream to temper, and then pour it back over the remaining chocolate in the bowl and stir. Not so bad....
Next, I had to spread the stuff out and let it cool at room temperature for 4+ hours. Not so easy when your kitchen is a sauna! Then I had to scoop teaspoon-sized bits and let them sit for awhile in the fridge so I could roll them.

Finally, after rolling all 77(!) of those suckers, I had to coat them in a chocolate glaze (chocolate chips melted over boiling water and quickly cooled to whatever particular degree I couldn't measure because I don't own a candy thermometer... really, who does?) , then dip them in
toppings, and let it all sit some more!

Toppings: Pistacious, Coconut & Cocoa Powder

(Phew! Never doin that again!)

Okay, back to the party. We pulled out the ole' (well, new) wine glasses, delicately placed our chocolates on platters, made labels for each wine and cheese selection, popped the corks, and CUT THE CHEESE! Hah. Really. Here was our bountiful spread... Wine was drunk, Cheese was funk(y), and Chocolat(e) was... well... irresistible!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Oh when the Saints go marching in...

Geaux Saints!!

This year we are both so pumped for the Superbowl! I (Sheila) have to mention that New Orleans has a special spot in my heart for several reasons. A dear cousin of mine is a Hurricane Katrina survivor. She actually worked for the Superdome, which housed over 26,000 people when Katrina hit! It's easy to forget about the mess there, but one of my classmates at the Mandel Center worked for Habitat restoring and building homes in New Orleans, so it comes up often. Thinking about Cleveland's smaller downfalls (bankruptcy, river on fire, massive layoffs, etc.) and knowing how long and hard it is for us to bounce back, I truly believe we all need to root for New Orleans' survival and growth as a city. A football team can play a huge part in that effort. We hope to see all of you who are in Cleveland at our Superbowl party in a couple weeks!

Superdome After Katrina

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Carnival Pride!

The end of the semester and holiday season were so busy that they made the school year seem leisurely and relaxed in comparison! Fortunately, everything turned out well though--my last final went quite well despite the fact that I had a harrowing experience while submitting it and our Christmas celebrations with family and friends were very blessed and enjoyable. To top it all off, the Browns won their last 4 games and the Cavs beat the Lakers on Christmas Day! Needless to say, I was excited about going on the cruise and relaxing. Of course, I was super nervous before we left because I was afraid that we had forgot something! (As it turned out, the only thing that we forgot was my sandals. *Side note from Sheila: "And ONE of my flipflops!")

We have been on many trips since we got married, but this would be our longest one (longer, in fact, than our honeymoon!). Although we were a bit worried about getting bored, we were definitely excited to have some time to relax and to enjoy some sunny weather in the Caribbean.
Doing this day-by-day would be far too long, so I think I'll just cover the highlights and the lowlights of the trip. Of course, Sheila put up plenty of pictures on Facebook for your viewing pleasure!


--By far, one of the highlights of the trip was having the opportunity to spend a lot of time relaxing. I've forgotten how great it can be to relax and read all day long! I read a great book about three families on welfare, which taught me a lot about the intricacies of the American welfare system and various attempts to reform it. I also began reading Twilight, but this endeavor coincided with the beginning of the Jets\Bengals game, and I didn't get much read.

--Eating in the Normandie Dining Room. Every element of the cruise dining experience was fantastic. Initially, we were scheduled to eat by ourselves every night. However, we realized that doing that would mean that we would talk to nobody but each other for the entire week! Thus, we switched over to the late seating. We were seated with two older ladies who were friends and two younger girls who were sisters; we hit it off very well with them, and it was definitely sad to say goodbye at the end of the week. Sheila and I have been on three cruises together, and we have had great dinner companions every time! Our head waitress was named Martina and she was great--we had excellent service all week long and she was very friendly as well! I was particularly impressed with the fact that they picked up on my beverage preferences and towards the end of the trip I started getting an iced tea brought at the start of the meal without having to even ask for it. Of course, the food was amazing. The varied selection of food was impressive and I was able to try many foods that I had seen on the Food Network such as chilled fruit soups and various desserts. Best of all, everyone at the table ordered multiple items at each course, so we didn't feel bad about doing so either =)

--Our airboat ride in Port Canaveral. Neither of us had ever been on an airboat before, and I was especially interested in going on one after seeing Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian ride around on one when their car ran out of gas in The Everglades. Although the ride was frigid, the ride was beautiful and a lot of fun! We saw a ton of birds, including a very cute mother stork and her little flock of baby storks. Although we didn't see any gators in the wild, we did have the opportunity to see a tame gator and some other tame wild animals up close because a woman from a local wild animal rescue was there with some animals who are too tame to be in the wild and need homes. Sheila even got to hold the gator...and both of us even got to eat gator, since all who attended the airboat ride got fried alligator bites! It was yummy--a bit sweet and a bit salty!

--Atlantis! I had seen the commercials on TV and looked at it from afar during our previous two trips to Nassau, but I had never been there. We finally decided to make the trek over on our own after looking at the price of the shore excursion. All of the reports of crime in Nassau made us a bit nervous, but I felt pretty comfortable after I saw that the taxicab company was licensed and that it was operating in plain view right at the port's entrance, complete with a booth inside of the passport processing area. I didn't know what to expect, and both of us were pretty disappointed at first because it seemed that we couldn't see much without paying. We bit the bullet and paid using the money that we had originally been given for a different shore excursion--what a great decision! I had a blast--Sheila almost had to drag me out of there! The resort itself was gorgeous--I can't wait until we can stay there--and the aquarium and re-created Atlantis in "The Dig" were amazing! We talked about going to Bobby Flay's restaurant to share an appetizer for lunch, but unfortunately it was located in a part of the resort that was available to guests only.

--The piano bar! Sheila and I had a great time at the Schooner Bar on our last cruise and we were excited about hearing some live music on this one. We had been listening to a lot of Billy Joel and Elton John while studying for finals too. Anyhow, the guy at the piano bar was awesome--he played for long stretches of time without a break and everyone sang along and had a great time. Many of the entertainers on the boat talked way too much in between the songs or took too many breaks. The variety in songs could have been a bit better, but you can't beat hearing a lot of Elton John and Billy Joel on a regular basis.


--We had the misfortune of frequently sitting next to people who thought that it was perfectly fine to talk during the evening entertainment. I find that to be very distracting to my viewing experience and very disrespectful to the people who rehearse and work hard to put on great shows each night. Most of these chatterboxes were my age or younger. I don't know if they happened to congregate on the second and third levels of the theatre--we sat there because the seats were much more comfortable--but in any case, it definitely was something that hadn't been much of a problem on our earlier cruises.

--Many of the guests also seemed to be in a every-person-for-themselves mentality on the cruise and there was TONS of congestion and waiting. Lunch was especially bad--the lines were exceptionally long all of the time! Someone literally cut in front of Sheila to try to get some of the pizza that we had ordered and I had to literally yell over him to get our pizza. Is this how it is on longer cruises with more people? Man, I can't imagine what it's like on the Oasis of the Seas! (That's the biggest cruise ship in the business; it just opened up in December, and I am excited about going on it in the future!) People would stop and have conversations in the middle of a walkway like there was nobody else around or something.

--The weather was definitely a bit of a downer. I had expected it to be cold for the first few days, but the weather in Port Canaveral and Nassau was colder than expected. I didn't mind too much--I like it a bit cooler--but Sheila was pretty bummed. Fortunately, God blessed us with wonderful weather in Freeport, allowing us to take home some pretty nice suntans. In addition to the cold, the ocean was also pretty turbulent. I felt awful on the second day, but I'm not sure if that had to do with the brilliant idea of doing stomach exercises right after I ate or the waves. Praise God that I didn't throw up and that we were fine for the vast majority of the trip!

All in all, it was a great end to Christmas break, and it definitely helped us to get rested up after a long and hard semester! We were truly blessed and it was a fabulous time.

RIP Scruffy

Such a sweet dog. Isn't this a beautiful picture? He didn't look so 'spritely' towards the end. Anyway, sometimes it just feels good to care about something so innocent when the rest of the world isn't so blameless.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! Wow, we've been behind in posting. We're enjoying our break in Potomac, Maryland. Tomorrow we are headed out for not-so-sunny-and-warm cruising for a week! Here's our home for the next week, sailing from Baltimore, MD to Orlando, FL and the Bahamas:

Anyway, it's been great seeing some year-in-review blog posts and photos! Hopefully we'll get a decent post done soon, along with some New Years Resolutions. Thus far, the year is off to a great start... stereotypical resolutions aside, we are already feeling the need to rely on God deeply and faithfully this year. We are hoping that this year's events will include:
  • Sheila's graduation
  • Joe's second (hopefully awesome) legal job
  • Joe and Sheila's MPRE (professional ethics exam)
  • Sheila's Ohio bar exam (all three days of it...)
  • Joe's last birthday of his 20's
  • Our third wedding anniversary (and sixth year together!)
  • At least 4 weddings of dear friends - including another stint as a bridesmaid for Sheila!
  • Sheila's first permanent, full-time job
  • Sheila's swearing-in as an attorney
  • Our first law school student loan payment :-(
  • A highly unlikely move from the Lovenest in Little Italy
  • The birth of our first child (JUST KIDDING!)
It will certainly be a roller coaster year. So, we're kicking off the New Year with a bang. We can't wait to spend 2010 with you all. Bon Voyage!

Joe & Sheila