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34th Birthday

April 15, 2011 - 12:20pm

Last month I turned 34 and I ate an entire cake.

Happy birthday to ME!

Just kidding. But I think I'll do it next year. Eat the entire cake without my hands. Someone put that on the calendar for 2012.

My birthday started early with an unexpected visit with Christian. I was working in Nashville and he was driving through so we got together for a couple hours and caught up. It was a wonderful gift!

Christian & Erica

Then Chris and I went to Texas. He flew into Dallas to spend time with his family and I met him there. The night I arrived, we hung out with Travis, Jimmy, and Matt at Jimmy's restaurant, a wing place. It was *so* much fun catching up with them. I can't believe it had been well over a year since we had hung out. Definitely need more trips back home. (Or we need to convince these friends to visit Phoenix!)

Travis, Chris, Jimmy

Chris, Matt, Travis

The next morning we had a lovely breakfast with Chris' mom then hopped in the car and drove to Austin. I wanted to attend the "Old Timers Ball," which was really the whole reason for this trip to Texas. Years ago, I regularly attended SXSW in Austin since I was living only a few hours away in Dallas. I made a lot of good friends there and I've been missing seeing them each year. Since I'm not working in the Internet industry, it doesn't make any sense for me to attend the conference. But the Old Timers Ball was a great excuse to show up. The Old Timers Ball was a happy hour for old friends to get together. I *really* enjoyed seeing many old friends (Alison, Andrew, Christine & Mike, Ari, Jefe, Mark, AB, Helen Jane, Kevin S, A Bischoff, Jason, who wasn't at the happy hour but we bumped into on the street) and especially getting quality time to hang out with Alison & Brendan.

Helen Jane, Erica, Anna Beth

Alison, Erica, Ashely,

Chris & Brendan

Michael & Erica Erica & MD

Chris and I enjoyed the rest of the weekend in Austin with friends. Our friend, Jeff and his friend, Cindy, came up from San Antonio for the weekend. We had an absolutely amazing dinner at East Side Showroom. We also got together with my friend, Cindy and her boyfriend, Josh. It was great to see how much happier Cindy is in Austin than she was the last time I saw her in Chicago. They suggested lunch at Eastside Cafe and I enjoyed seeing how east Austin is changing.

Cindy & Jeff

Erica & Cindy

It was pretty fun hanging out in a hotel room with Chris since I'm usually in a hotel room by myself. Shoot, what am I talking about? EVERYTHING is more fun with Chris! I wish we never had to be apart.

Hanging out in the hotel room

On Sunday, after a lovely breakfast with Alison & Brendan, we drove back to the Dallas area (Arlington to be exact) and my parents hosted a birthday dinner for me. It was just like old times - I got to pick the meal and there was delicious cake! Chris' family also joined us, which made it extra special. I was especially happy that Wes, Chris' nephew, could join us since he was on spring break.

Erica & Parents

Dot, Emilee, Rilla, Wes, Chris

It was a great birthday! I'm glad I got to spend it with friends and family. My resolution for 2011, which was to spend more quality time with the people I love, is definitely coming true.

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Bench

April 12, 2011 - 9:57pm

So I've had a couple people ask what in the world we're building in the backyard. (See recent posts.) Here's a rendering Chris did in Google SketchUp. It's a bench around the fire pit. Yes, the wall will be painted red!

Backyard Bench Rendering

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Backyard Progress

April 9, 2011 - 6:56pm

We made great progress last weekend on the backyard. With our good friend, Joe's help we were able to pour the footer for the bench. I planted herbs along the walkway in the garden and got the sprinklers reprogrammed now that it's warming up in Phoenix. The new dining chairs arrived and they're beautiful. Since the wood is teak, I spent a few hours treating them with teak oil, which brought out the best in the wood. I'm really happy with the chairs. While I worked on the chairs, Chris welded together the base of the dining table. He has really improved with his welding and the base looks amazing. By Sunday evening, I was ready to tumble into bed from exhaustion but I felt so much satisfaction at what had been accomplished. It's good to work hard.

Footer before Concrete

Chris & Joe & a concrete mixer

Footer After Concrete

Chris Welding Metal

Table Base

Patio Dining Chair

Spent the work week in Nashville. Though it was stressful and busy, it ended quite well. I'm lucky to have such a hard working coworker on this project with me. I left feeling much satisfaction at what we accomplished. It's good to work hard and make the customer happy.

Chris is in Denver this weekend for a school trip. I'm sad we won't be spending the weekend together since we spent the week apart. But I hope he has a fabulous time. Right now I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with myself other than attend Amanda's baby shower. I'll make an effort to get the house really clean...address all those little things I've let slip.

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A Tool I Should Have Known About Sooner

March 29, 2011 - 5:11am

On Sunday, Chris and I had to dig a ditch 30 feet long, a foot and a half wide, and a little over a foot deep. I was convinced that this would kill me. The plan was to hire day laborers to dig the ditch for us, because I didn't want to die. Then we talked to Steve who suggested we rent a power shovel. I wish we would have known about this tool sooner. It's an electric jackhammer with a spade attached to the end. It does all the work digging down so you only have to shovel the dirt out. It saved us. What would have taken a full day or more to complete took us only a few hours. It is my new favorite tool. Though this is probably the last of the digging in the backyard.

Power Shovel

Power Shovel

So, we've started back at the backyard remodel. We're having a party in May for Chris' graduation and we want a few more things to be complete. Guess we'll be pretty busy the next few weekends.

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Nissan Leaf

March 25, 2011 - 11:05pm

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf

We got an all-electric Nissan Leaf today from Pinnacle Nissan in Scottsdale. Our experience was great, especially with Walter Dolan, our salesperson. I'll tell the entire story soon, but right now I'm going to go drive my new electric car!

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My Husband is Awesome

March 25, 2011 - 2:10pm

Chris & Erica on St. Patties Day

Chris is awesome. I'm so lucky he is my husband. He is in school full time, working an internship part time, and he's managing three major projects at the house. He's my own personal project manager / general contractor. He gets stuff done! He makes great decisions and keeps me informed. He's amazing. I really, really appreciate all the stuff he's juggling right now.

    Just this week Chris:
  • scheduled and supervised the installation of the electric car charger
  • ordered patio chairs, which entailed calling the manufacturer then hunting down a vendor who would actually take the order
  • configured the car charger to connect to the wireless network (with lots of help from Ryan)
  • got the car charger installation approved by the city
  • wrote a paper for school
  • met with at least one group for school
  • is coordinating a major trip for school and 12+ of his classmates
  • filled out paperwork and scheduled the pick up of our new car (yep, we're scheduled to get our Nissan Leaf today!)

Chris is also extremely patient with me traveling every week. We'd both prefer if I were home every night so that we could be together. But he understands that I like this job and is supportive of me. He's so supportive that he drives me to the airport on Monday mornings and picks me up Thursday nights. This week he took me to the airport at 4:15am for a super-early flight. If I get home early enough on Thursday, he'll take me out to dinner. He's always on time and he's always happy to see me. Even when I'm tired and grumpy. He's awesome.

I have never done anything in my life to deserve such an awesome husband. I'm so lucky.

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Dogs

March 24, 2011 - 2:34am

Apparently Mac and Stewie told Chris to tell me that they miss me. I miss them a lot when I'm on the road too.

Mac

Stewie

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Karen & Madeline Visit Phoenix

March 23, 2011 - 2:22am

Karen, my older sister, and Madeline, my 2 1/2 year old niece came to visit us in Phoenix a couple weekends ago. They needed to see some sunshine and I needed to see them! It was so great to be together. The first thing they did when they arrived was go out to the backyard and take off their shoes. It was in the high 70's or low 80's the entire weekend - gorgeous, especially when you're coming from a Seattle winter.

Aunt Erica, Madeline, Uncle Chris

We did all sorts of fun things like visit the Phoenix Zoo and ride the train at the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale. I loved that Briana went to the zoo with us and that she met Karen for the first time. I'm glad they were able to talk about motherhood since Briana is expecting her first child in July. Karen is a great mother so I'm sure just seeing her with Madeline was excellent.

Briana, Erica, Karen, Madeline

Koala

Madeline & Karen in the petting zoo

Chris, Madeline, Karen

Train

My niece is so awesome. She kept us in stitches with all the things she had to say. Sometimes when she was getting tired, she'd just keep talking but using words none of us understand. It was super cute. We were really happy that she immediately warmed up to Chris since she was pretty shy the last time she saw him. Oh, and she was a total champ with the big dogs! It only took her about twenty minutes to get comfortable even though they're as tall as her! I loved that every morning she'd say, "Hi Mac. Hi Stewie." She'd also stand where their wagging tails would hit her in the stomach and she'd just giggle.

I especially loved when we were looking at the flamingos at the zoo, she was standing on one leg too.

Flamingos stand on one leg

Madeline's energy and courage at the playground was quite impressive too.

Madeline on the slide

It was a great visit! The only thing that would have made it better is if Jason could have been here too. I so appreciate his service to our country as he serves in Iraq for the United States Air Force.

View all the pictures from Karen and Madeline's Visit to Phoenix.

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Travel

March 18, 2011 - 1:06am

Here's a picture of me in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport on a Thursday night. I'll be home in a few more hours and that makes me very happy.

Erica in DFW Airport

I travel a lot for work (weekly). I try not to complain too much about life on the road because this is the life I've chosen. Plus, I really, really like my job which almost makes up for all the hassle of travel. However, I've been compiling a list of things to complain about from the road and I've got to get it out. Part of it is to appease myself and complain out loud. Part of it is for history so that someday when I'm not in a traveling job and I get all nostalgic about it, I can remind myself that it wasn't all smiles and lollipops.

*WARNING: Complaining Ahead*
(you can just stop reading, really, it won't hurt my feelings)

I really hate getting travel confirmation email about next week's travel when I'm not even home from this week's travel. It's like I'm being taunted by the travel system.

Hotel staff sometimes touches my stuff. Dear staff, I appreciate having a clean room, however, I don't think it's cute to come back and see all my cosmetics neatly lined up on the bathroom counter. If I hung my coat on the chair, I expect it to be there when I return; don't make me hunt for it in the closet. And please don't put the hairdryer away because I'm just going to get it out again in the morning.

If you have a window or an aisle seat on the airplane, you do not get to use the armrests in the middle. Those armrests are for the person sitting in the middle seat.

I think there are more loud cellphone talkers in the airport than anywhere else in the world. I hate loud talkers. I especially hate men who think they're important therefore have to talk loud on the phone in the airplane before it takes off.

I hate it when the woman at the front desk of the hotel asks me how my stay was. She knows I'm a regular as she sees me every week and we have nice conversations every week. But when I check out, she asks me how it was. It was exactly like last week and the week before and the week before and... If it was bad, I'd just change hotels.

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