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Monday, January 31, 2011

When our bumper flew off on the freeway.

This wasn't the post I had planned to write today, but then again, you never really plan on your bumper flying off of your car while going 75 mph in equally strong winds on the freeway, now, do you?

Oh yes, you read that right. Matt and I were on our way down to LA for our romantic pre-Valentine's date (we always celebrate a little early and/or late, and he'll be TDY over the holiday this year anyway), when suddenly, we heard a popping sound coming from the back of our car. It was followed shortly by another loud popping sound. I immediately thought we must have popped a tire and turned to Matt to ask what it was. "Um, that was our bumper," he replied, and explained that he saw it fly off in the rear view mirror. Can you imagine? Thank goodness there weren't cars close behind us.

Naturally, we got off at the next exit so we could backtrack and luckily found our bumper on the side of the freeway. And what do you do with a bumper that has fallen of your car? Why, you stuff it in the back seat of your two-door coupe, of course.
We were laughing hysterically at the extreme ghetto-ness of our situation, and we weren't about to let it ruin our day. So with our bumper in tow, we continued our drive and enjoyed our date. When we got to a posh mall later that evening, we decided to try stuffing the bumper in the trunk. You should have seen the looks we got. Priceless.
Unfortunately, it didn't really fit, so back to the back seat it went... and remains, until we figure out what on earth we are going to do with it. Since Google told me that it's mildly illegal to drive without a bumper in California, we're going to have to solve the problem soon. Trouble is, the repair could potentially cost more than my car is worth. Oh geez.

*PS: Once upon a time, four years ago, a lady rear-ended me in a storm during midterms. She got a ticket for it because it was obviously her fault, and I started to file a claim with insurance but never finished. I was so busy with school and work, and felt so bad because she obviously didn't have a ton of money, that I never got my bumper fixed. Instead, I just jimmy-rigged it back in place and dealt with the looseness and paint marks. Go ahead, ask me how much I regret that decision now...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Venice Beach

Today, Matt and I are headed down to Orange County for a long-awaited visit to our favorite beach. It's not swimming weather, of course, but I'm so excited to feel the sand on my toes and just listen to the waves crash on the shore.

This little beach trip reminded me that I never blogged about our visit to a wildly different beach in California -- the one that everyone says is "sooo LA." Although, I must say, Venice Beach is so not the kind of Los Angeles that we've fallen in love with. We knew that heading into that Saturday beach trip, but figured we had to cross it off our list at some point. It's fascinating, to say the least. Observe:
The boardwalk is crowded with tourists, shops, sidewalk vendors and street performers.
The most ridiculous of these shops is the medical marijuana doctors. There were at least a dozen of these when we went to Venice Beach last August. An employee would stand outside, handing out flyers and inviting people to come inside and get cleared for medicinal marijuana. Even more ridiculous than the existence of these shops was the shockingly high number of customers inside each one. Seriously.
Further down the boardwalk, we encountered the designated graffiti areas, where spray painting walls, trash cans and trees is entirely legal.
Next, there is the skate park, which is actually pretty entertaining.
Not too far away from the skate park is a huge collection of courts -- basketball, tennis, etc.
Then, of course, there is the famous "Muscle Beach," where meatheads pay about $10 to workout for hours in front of thousands of people at the beach. We tried to get a picture of the fake & bake superstar in the yellow speedo below, but he moved to a different machine right before we snapped a shot. Along with the paid gym are a bunch of free apparatuses that anyone can use, and we had fun playing around on them for a little bit. 
Lastly, the actual ocean, which seems to be a big afterthought with all the crazy busyness of Venice Beach. We spent the bulk of our time enjoying the cool Pacific water on a hot August day. That was more like it.
So there you have it: our least favorite beach in LA that you can't help but visit just to see the spectacles. I must admit, though, despite not loving Venice Beach, seeing these warm swimsuit pictures has me itching for summer!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cross country skiing and a little frostbite

On New Year's Day (the fourth anniversary of our first date), my family went cross country skiing for the first time at Soldier Hollow, which is where the cross country skiing events were held for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
This was yet another one of my parents' awesome memory-making Christmas presents to the family. On Christmas morning, we unwrapped a box with toy soldiers on skis and Christian immediately figured out the activity.
January 1st was a beautiful day in Utah -- bright and sunny with hardly a cloud in the sky after multiple days of constant snow. The mountains looked gorgeous on our drive up to the resort! It would have been the perfect conditions for skiing, if not for the extremely low temperatures. The high at Soldier Hollow that day was 13 degrees. Needless to say, we bundled up!
The babies loved hanging out in the lodge and getting their skis on. Joshie especially loved having his trail pass clipped onto his pants. He proudly announced "I'm official!" to anyone that would listen.
With all our gear ready to go, we took a quick family picture and hit the trails!
As usual, the babies caught on really fast and were pros! It was adorable watching them shuffle around on their skis.
We fully enjoyed maneuvering around the fresh snow in the beautiful Utah mountains. 
After awhile, the babies got tired and started hitching rides with the big kids.
Around that point, we mixed up our easier trail with the Olympic trail and ended up on some pretty steep hills...
... which naturally resulted in a few of these.
But eventually, we found our original trail and made our way back to the lodge.
My parents, the babies and Heidi all headed home to conclude a perfect day of cross country skiing. The boys and I stayed behind to go out on one last run. It's never good when you predetermine the "last" one of anything, is it? At that time, the sun was starting to set and the trails were going to close soon. Oh, and it was -11 degrees.
I only went a little ways before my hands started to really hurt, so I gave my brothers my gloves since I wouldn't be needing them and headed back to the lodge. That's precisely when I managed to get frost bite on my fingers. I'm not just talking about cold fingers or a little bit of frostnip -- we're talking full-fledged frost bite with blisters, lost feeling, peeling skin --still, almost a month later-- and the whole deal. Seriously.

I later learned that I did absolutely everything wrong to get it: letting my hands get wet in extreme cold (when I took a little fall and landed in five feet of powder on the side of the trail), then warming them up inside the lodge, then taking them back out into even worse cold, then giving away my gloves and exposing them fully to the bitter conditions and a slight wind, and then, if that wasn't enough, carrying my freezing metal poles with my bare left hand from the trail to the lodge. I would have been okay had I not given away my gloves but apparently, Mother Nature isn't a big fan of charity.

Anyway, Matthew turned back not long after I did, so Christian and Matt decided to go on a few hard trails since it was just the two of them. We started to get a little worried when it got darker and darker and there was no sign of them.
Finally, when it was pitch black and the trails had been closed for over an hour, look who arrived! They'd gotten lost and had a hard time finding their way back since it was, after all, pitch black outside. It was also beyond freezing. Look at the frost on their beanies! Poor kids. We hurried and warmed them up and then blasted the heater the entire way home.
And thus ended our crazy fun adventure at Solider Hollow. We all agreed that next time, we'll go when it's about 40 degrees warmer. You know, like 29 degrees instead of -11.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pride, prejudice and pizza

My name is Ashley and I just ate a whole Totino's pizza all by myself. At one o'clock in the morning. And I liked it.

See, in the middle of my 9-hour workday, I went to the freezer to pull out my Lean Cuisine only to find that my dinner had been thrown away by the fridge police. It was an extra busy day in the office, with 34 local high school games and a staff that is still two people too small. This meant I didn't have time to leave to get food, so I settled for Gardetto's instead. It was the "healthiest" thing in the vending machine, but it was a bad choice. So I'm starving and my stomach hurts from the crappy vending machine "dinner," and we're working away to make deadline... and then we miss it. By 12 minutes, which is like a week in newspaper time. Everyone was about as happy as my tummy when I finally left the office at midnight.

Matt, being the awesome husband he is, cheered me up and agreed to cook up some cheap pizza so it'd be ready for me when I got home 45-minutes later. It hit the spot.
This reminded me of the last time we ate Totino's pizza (it really isn't often, I swear!). I covered a daytime wrestling meet on a Saturday in December and was miraculously able to be home from work at 8:30 p.m.--just in time for a late dinner. It had been a long, long day, though, and I didn't feel like cooking (which made me feel guilty because I'm never home to cook dinner anymore). So instead, we popped some Totino's in the oven, grabbed some hot cocoa ice cream (heavenly) and cuddled up to watch the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. At that moment, I realized that I am either the worst wife ever, or Matt is the best husband ever to subject himself to such an evening. I think I'll go with the latter.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Elf, Part 3: Cookies, snuggles and NYE

With snow angels and ice skating complete, we moved on to the third item on our Elf Day agenda: eating a whole roll of Toll House cookie dough as fast as we can.
This turned out to be more challenging than we thought, because my mom bought the "big batch," thinking that we'd eat some dough and use the rest for cookies. This was obviously against the rules, however, since Buddy clearly states "a whole roll." To make matters even more difficult, we had certain family members wimp out of the cookie dough eating race and therefore had to divide the roll into only six pieces. These chunks were big enough to make six or seven cookies each! If we were using our own cookie dough recipe, this would have been no big deal, but -- no offense to Toll House -- their cookie dough isn't nearly as yummy as ours. But we bucked up, ignored the warning label, and got to work.
Since there was slight variation in the sizes, Christian had us draw straws to see which one we had to eat. We go all out in my family, if you can't tell.
Then, the race began!
It started out a lot more delicious than it ended, but we were successful! Christian blew us all away, finishing his piece in just over two minutes (yes, we timed it). Next time, we think we'll go with the smaller package and more people.
And then, to finish, we snuggled! We cuddled up and watched the movie that inspired it all.
Oh, but the night wasn't over yet. Elf Day was originally scheduled for the 29th, but weather pushed it back a couple times and we ended up doing it on New Year's Eve. We wrapped it up just in time to switch gears and say goodbye to 2010. As usual, we watched Dick Clark's Rockin' New Years Eve to see the tape-delayed ball drop in NYC. The babies had fun jumping to the countdown.
Then we made lots of noise and didn't set off a few little fireworks in the snow, because that would be illegal.
Lastly, we toasted the new year with some good ol' sparkling cider.
Welcome, 2011. We've been waiting for you.
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