Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tami Taylor Is My Hero

Little known fact about me.
I want to be Tami Taylor when I grow up.

I don't know how many people out there are Friday Night Lights fans, but whoever you are, you need to jump on Netflix and get with it.  That show was very likely, my favorite show of all time.  I loved it, like I love coffee and chocolate and my husband. Well, maybe slightly less than I love my husband.

And I miss it.  I'm still in mourning.  I miss it to the point that now that it's football season, I'm secretly pretending that there is Friday Night Lights out there, somewhere.  Almost every time I sit in my chair in the living room, and prop my feet up on the ottoman to watch whatever Michael is pulling up - things like The Sing Off, or NCIS or whatever - I think to myself, I would really rather be watching Friday Night Lights.  And, I even mean re-watching it.  I miss it that much.

Tami was my favorite character.  I want to be her when I grow up! I realize I'm 31 years old, and that ship has kind of sailed... but I do want to be like her.

And, when I'm getting dressed for work, or whatever in the morning, I stand in my closet and look at the rack of clothes, some of which are too small, some of which are too big, and some of which I am just plain sick of, and I ask myself -- Self, what will make you look and feel the most like Tami Taylor today?

And then, I roll my hair.
Because, I want to be like Tami.

To me, Tami Taylor was the perfect mix of hot/sweet/cute/sexy/good wife/good mom/good role model for younger girls/career rock star/fun partner/wanted to have it planned out/good advice giver/listener/person who didn't take any crap.

And, I want to be all of that rolled into a cute package with blonde hair!
I will never be tall enough, though.  And, I'm okay with that.

I do have the "y'all's" down, though.  Just ask my co-workers, who constantly mock me for it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The View From Here

Michael bought me flowers yesterday.  In the sense that I was at the grocery store, saw these were marked down to $1.99 and figured I could splurge a little.  So, when Michael met me at the car to help me bring the groceries in, I let him know that he bought me flowers.

He was glad he did. Haha :)

I am home for four days, and this next time I travel, Mr. Wonderful comes with me.  So, yay.

Hoping to crank out a real blog post later today. We'll see.  Enjoy your world today, people. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

The View From Here

Something crossing. I have no idea what these things are. Flamingos? Ostriches? A combo meal?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Q&A: On Traveling, and Caregivers

The number one question I get asked about traveling out of town for work:

Who takes care of Michael when you're not there? Do you hire caregivers?

Answer:  It's a combination of this: He takes care of himself/friends/yes.

Here's the thing.  Michael is very independent, especially for someone with his level of injury (C5/6 quadriplegia).  Once he is up in his chair, he can take care of everything else, himself.  I'm so very proud of him for this!

He can fix his own meals, take care of his own hair and teeth and pills and what not in the bathroom, take care of the dogs, clean up after himself (and the dogs), run to Target if he needs anything... I mean, the list is endless.  And, he's all the time figuring out new things that he can do on his own.  He is amazing, I tell you!

So, he really only needs help getting up in the morning, and getting to bed at night.  He just can't lift himself from one place to another.  It's not the kind of thing he can McGuyver.  Just doesn't have those muscles.  He's a pretty low maintenance quadriplegic, though!

When I am out of town, we hire home health providers to help him get bathed, dressed and transfer him from bed to wheelchair in the morning.  They will also help him go to the bathroom, if that is necessary on that particular day.  In the evening, friends help him get transferred from wheelchair to bed. 

Michael takes care of arranging all of his care.  I think after about 9 months of this, I have finally caught on to the idea that I don't have to worry about it! I try to not ask too many questions. :)

Sometimes, friends will come over for dinner, or Michael will hang out with them somewhere else, then they'll come back to our place, and "toss him" in the bed.  I cannot express how thankful I am to these friends!  You know who you are, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!  Then, in the morning, the home health care providers come and get him up. 

We have this system down now.  There are still a lot of "R U OK?" and "Up and at 'em." text messages that fly between the two of us, though.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Room Service & Alone Time

Yes, that's a steak and a salad here in my hotel room.
Otherwise known as Room Service.
Otherwise known as, yes, I miss my dear husband, but I am enjoying my time in my Orlando hotel room alone tonight with my steak, my salad, and myself.

I was bummed (again) to see that I have no MTV and/or TLC, so that means no "Teen Mom" and/or "Toddlers and Tiaras."  Darn it.  I only have cable when I'm staying in hotels because we are cable free at home.  I really don't miss it.

But, when I'm alone for a night, living the single girl life, I do love those shows and some Milanos if you know what I mean!

Michael is hanging out tonight with some old friends from Florida who are in town.  We got to chat earlier while they went to see the Lincoln Memorial at night.  I know he is having a great time.

What a good night for both of us.
I am so thankful for good friends who help him out when I'm not there.

Well, I better get to sleep... long day tomorrow.  I will be working my tail off!

P.S. My favorite part of room service is always the mini ketchups and mini A1 sauces.  I secretly want to start a collection of those.

The View From Here

It's crazy how the flowers on our porch have exploded with growth and color in the past week or so.  Just after we stopped watering them, figuring it was the end of Summer, and their death was imminent.
New life is never bad, though. So, welcome, dear flowers!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Doctor's Appointments & Dunkin' Donuts

Yesterday we drove to Charlottesville for a couple of appointments for Michael. He had to have a few tests done. He came through everything fine. Here's the play-by-play from my brain while he was in there:
I’m sitting in a Dunkin’ Donuts in downtown Charlottesville right now.
Michael is at doctor's appointment, having a couple of tests done.

I couldn’t get any internet service in the doctor’s office. I was kind of glad, though, because I don't particularly like hospitals and doctor's offices.
So, I went to the lobby. No internet there either. So, I went to my car, and fired up the 3G hot spot.

While I was working on my computer, getting things arranged for a work trip later this week to Orlando, I had the window rolled down. I was sitting in the passenger side. Which, by the way, it is a weird perspective to sit in the passenger side of your own car. My car seemed much dirtier! Eew. Note to self: Need to clean car.

Anyway, when I was sitting there, I overheard some talk radio to my right. There was a husband sitting in his car, waiting. Then, someone wheeled his wife out to the car. She had no legs. I intentionally did not stare, even though I will admit, my human nature did want to see how he got her in the car. I looked at my computer screen, working on travel arrangements and press credentials. But, out the corner of my eye, I did see him snap the armrest off of her wheelchair, and put it, the chair, and a transfer board in the trunk. “How are you feeling?” he asked her as they were driving off.

That’s love driving that car.
And I didn’t need to stare to see it.
I know this life.

The internet was still really slow, so I fired up the Starbucks app on my iPhone, and started walking. But, I felt like I was getting too far away from the hospital, so when I saw a Dunkin' Donuts, I stopped. That'll do.

This is my first time not being in there with him for any kind of doctor appointment or procedure or anything. (Well, that I have taken him to) He has gone on his own to regular doc appts. It felt a little strange about an hour ago. But right now, surrounded by the pink and orange at Dunkin’ Donuts… I have to say, is way happier than being surrounded by the sterile, painted white cinderblock walls on the 2nd floor, but feels like a dungeon at UVA Medical Center.

And you know what? I actually don’t feel guilty. Because I think if Michael knew I was here right now, with a latte', he’d smile. He is always worried about me and how I’m handling all of this medical stuff.

That may or may not be because I have cried in many a parking lot over the last two years
I think I may be onto something here.

There’s a black guy sitting across from me who is maybe 20 years old, checking me out. They always love me.

I wish my phone would ring.
I should probably set the latte’ down. My hands are shaking.
I don’t think caffeine is good for the anxiety.
Focus on orange and pink, orange and pink, and funky jazz… funky jazz… I am in a happy place.

Oh man, my heart is pounding. But this latte’ is so good!

Note: At this point, Michael called, he was all finished. All is well with the world.
We will be back again in a few weeks, or a month or so. Deep breath...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How to Make Pumpkin Bread

Fall is in the air. Football is on TV.
To me, that means it's Pumpkin time!

Yesterday, I bought my customary Yankee Pumpkin Cream Pie candle.
It always leads me down this road... to baking pumpkin things.

This afternoon, I was going to go to the gym. But, I ended up getting a massage from Michael, falling asleep in my blue chair, then waking up with the desire to bake. I blame the candle.

I didn't think I had any more pumpkin left from last year, but lo and behold:
This is why it pays to have a well-stocked pantry. This is also a lesson in organizing said pantry.

I found this recipe online for pumpkin bread that is modeled after the pumpkin bread at Starbucks. (Would you believe, I've never actually had the pumpkin bread at Starbucks?) I altered it just a teensy weensy little bit.
What you need:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (smooth)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 15oz can of pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

You can make this with or without toppings. I chose to top it with pumpkin seeds, brown sugar and dried cranberries. Walnuts or pecans would also be good, and/or chocolate chips. You could even go a little out there and top it with apple slices. I bet that would be good!

What you do:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. I'm pretty sure everything delicious starts at 350 degrees.

2. Butter and flour two loaf pans. Yep, you get two loaves of pumpkiny goodness. What a blessing!

3. Beat sugar, brown sugar, oil and applesauce together.
You don't have to use a stand mixer but if you have one, don't you want to use it as much as possible? I do. It's fun!

4. Mix in pumpkin and eggs.

5. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, whole wheat flour, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.
I suggest doing this slowly, with a whisk, twisting. Mix it up real good.

6. Put half of the dry ingredient mixture in with the pumpkin mixture, and blend slowly.
Then, add the rest, and blend it all together slowly. Don't overdo it, blend it just enough so that it's all together.

7. Pour the mixture evenly into your two loaf pans.
If you want to be like me, spill 1/8 of it on your counter top. Clean it up with your fingers, then lick them.

8. Top your loaves, if you like. If you prefer to keep them naked, I promise not to judge.
I topped these with pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, and some brown sugar. I resisted the urge to drizzle them with butter.

9. Bake them at 350 degrees for about an hour.

10. Let them cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Or, again, if you want to be like me: Torture your husband by taking the loaves out of the oven, putting them just out of his reach on the counter, then leave the house to go bowling for two hours. :)

11. Enjoy!
We ate ours warmed up with a little bit of butter. Y.U.M.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Coast to Coast in 10 Days: California & Florida

My job definitely has some perks. After months of covering presidential campaign events in Iowa (we will be back there soon), the presidential race has finally popped in some of the most beautiful parts of this nation. California and Florida. I have spent 6 of the last 11 days on these different coasts. Here is a little behind-the-scenes tour of work over the last couple of trips.

A couple of notes:
1. This post is going to include like 47 photos. So, if I were you, I wouldn't even bother pulling it up on my phone. Save it for the computer.

2. If at any point it looks like I am not working in these photos, keep in mind that I happen to 105% LOVE my job, and it almost never feels like work, so if it looks fun, it's not because I'm goofing off, not working - it is because I love what I do, and it IS FUN.

We got off the plane, and before I could even change out of my yoga pants, we were in Malibu. This is my first time to EVER have my toes in the sand on the Pacific coast! I was remembering my Malibu Barbie I had as a kid. I loved her and her pink convertible. I did not see her.
We proceeded to get video of the beach, surfers, and naturally - bury the host of our show, The Brody File, in the sand. This had an actual point. Click on the link to watch the show (the buried-in-the-sand part is at the very end).

Then, we visited Joni and Friends.

The next day, the GOP Presidential Debate was held at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA.

Before the debate, we did a live shot via Skype.
And a standup for our story about the debate, the next morning.
Here's a little behind-the-scenes stuff for you. At presidential debates, there are always hundreds of media. And, it's all very organized (generally) as far as who goes where, print, radio, TV, etc. You see that little "CBN" sign in the corner of the above picture?
That is our designated 'standup' spot. For my non-TV-news friends: A standup is the portion of a report that a correspondent does on camera.

During the debate, we are not ever actually INSIDE the debate hall. The media has assigned areas in what is called a "filing center." Which in this case was a not very air conditioned tent outside, that had lots of TVs and wireless internet.
After we finished our live shot and standup, and claimed our space in the filing center, we were lucky enough to get a private tour of the Reagan Presidential Library!
The Library is incredible! We breezed through there very quickly, though, so I definitely want to go back another time, when I have time to play with all of the interactive exhibits and see Air Force One!

Like children, we took silly pictures at the presidential podium. It's funny, because we see this kind of thing every day, yet when the opportunity presents itself...
This picture of my co-worker, Steve, really puts into perspective just how short I am!
Yikes. Get that girl a pelican case or a step stool!

After our tour, we visited the cafeteria...
Where I enjoyed my split pea soup.
And, we hunkered down for the debate/editing our story about the debate, which always takes us into the wee hours of the morning.

The next morning, after a couple hours of sleep, we made our way to Hollywood! This was my first time to Hollywood. I was surprised that it wasn't glitzier or shinier than it was. It always looks so ritzy on TV but in person, I thought it felt kind of old and dumpy. Sorry for the dis, Hollywood. You were still cool, though.
We walked right by the Kodak Theatre. Now, I'll confess, I hardly ever watch any movies or TV, so there was a lot of stuff that is apparently very cool in Hollywood, that I had no idea about. But, I do know this is where they host American Idol.

We walked down the Walk of Fame.
That was pretty cool (when we got to some names I recognized.)
I even found a star that appeared to be unclaimed. So, I claimed that as my own!
Hopefully the stars are cool with that.
We taped the Brody File Show in front of some famous Chinese Theater. Forgive me. I'm big on politicians... not on actual celebrity stuff..
Then we went to "Hollywood and Vine," which is apparently a very famous intersection, and interviewed a GOP strategist. I did my duty of walking behind Steve, so that he wouldn't run into anything while he was taping the interview.
Oh, and I got my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season.
Iced.And, on our way to the airport, we drove/hiked up to the infamous Hollywood sign to get some shots for the show and take pictures of ourselves.
Someone should have told me it would be okay to put the latte down.
I mean, seriously. Because, here is our team pic at the Hollywood Sign, and one sip of a PSL is in the photo.

Then, I was home for two or three days, during which we drove to MD to get M's new wheelchair, and I went to a football game, a baseball game, and church.

Then Sunday night... off to FLORIDA.
The trip to FL was quicker than the California trip, and we didn't shoot the show there (since we had just shot it in CA), so there aren't as many pics of Florida.

Unfortunately, that trip started out with a major flight delay, and we ended up flying into Orlando and driving to Tampa, instead of flying into Tampa as originally planned.
Needless to say, I was very happy to see my waffle the next morning.

That day, we went to the filing center, did our setup there, did another Skype live shot (no pics this time, sorry) and a standup outside. Then, we made a run to Cold Stone Creamery, where I "loved it" - probably a little too much! We also shot an interview outside the Hard Rock Casino. That had nothing to do with the casino.And, back to the filing center to hunker down for the debate, story about the debate, etc. etc. The same thing as California, only we were up much later into the not-so-wee hours of the morning because we were back on East Coast time.

After a quick nap, we had breakfast the next morning, no waffle for me that day, and we headed to Clearwater Beach.
Aaahhh. Yes. I spent most of the day in the van, writing The Brody File Show, and producing it remotely, until the battery in my laptop died.
Then, I joined the boys.
They were interviewing random Florida voters on the street. Definitely an interesting bunch!
We had time for a very quick lunch, which was the most amazing food I've had since I don't even remember when. Such a shame we had to scarf it down.
On our way back to the car, I saw this very random assortment of offers from a shop.
Everything you need there, huh?
We popped in a tourist shop, where I contemplated getting Michael this shirt (and wondered why anyone would need THREE of them?)
I also contemplated getting myself this hat, but then I sa how I looked like a truck driver when wearing it.
So, we left.
And headed to the airport.

I was sad that we couldn't spend more time in Clearwater, because Michael has soooo many dear friends there, and I have some other friends in the Tampa area I wish I could have seen, but there just wasn't enough spare time. Maybe next year. We will be back for the GOP Convention in 2012.

Thankfully, the flight home was uneventful, and I was able to sleep for 24 hours, then we went out for our *real* Anniversary dinner. And, I went grocery shopping. And (at least somewhat) cleaned the house.

I went back to work yesterday, and filled out expense reports and paperwork for my next trip (Orlando). Monday, we head to Charlottesville for the whole day of doctor stuff/testing for Michael. And Wednesday, I get on another plane.

All I have to say is I think I will definitely be using that house cleaning Groupon I bought a while ago, and I am looking forward to using all these Hilton points at some point in the future for a trip for me and the Hubs!